Although it is possible to paint your locomotive with a small paint brush or by using an aerosol spray paint, these methods are not advisable as they limit your opportunity to give attention to detail, and are more likely to disappoint rather than produce a desirable result. The best choice is to do this type of painting project with an airbrush which was discussed in part one of this article.
However, before you can actually begin your painting project it is necessary to mask your locomotive. In fact, you may discover that there are a number of paint schemes that have, and especially on diesels, two different colors. In order to paint your locomotive successfully you may have to mask for two color painting. The following information explains how to do this:
This process begins by cleaning all metal parts with alcohol or vinegar. Make sure you work in a well ventilated area. Next, wash your locomotive with a mild detergent, rinse, and then towel and air dry. Having done this, bend a coat hanger so that you may attach it to your locomotive. By doing this painting will be much easier, and you you’ll be able to maneuver the engine in whatever direction is necessary while painting. This initial step in the painting process can actually be done with an aerosol spray paint. Additional coats can be done with a small paintbrush which can then be followed with a final clear coat using an aerosol spray paint which will conceal most or all of the brush strokes.
Now apply a light color coat of your choice with an airbrush and allow to dry for at least 48 hours.
The masking process will require that you apply tape at the point where one color meets the next. The tape width should be approximately one eighth of an inch. The best place to purchase masking tape for a project of this type is at a local automotive paint supply store as it is more flexible and can fit into tight spots, and in particular where curves come into play. After painting the first section and it has dried, completely cover this area with masking tape. For this, drafting tape works best because it isn’t quite as sticky as most other tapes and there is less possibility that it will lift or damage the newly painted area of your locomotive.
Note: When using an airbrush for this type of project, make sure you adjust the air flow to about the size of a dime.
After insuring that the second coat of color has dried, take a razor knife or hobby knife and cut the second coat of paint away from the edge of the tape.
At this point, the only part of the project is the application of whatever decals you’ve decided to apply to your model. When you’re done with this, it would be a good idea to spray a thin coat of Testors Dullcote which will protect the decals, and will assist in blending the shines of the different colors.
If you’ve been modeling for some time you are most likely aware that real life locomotives were never all black. With that said, you will want to take a look at some prototypes, because in essence your goal is to create a three dimensional result that mirrors the prototype. When you buy your model, the basic shape is there, but you’ll have to add the shading as well as the color. Also, when painting a model train locomotive the methods or techniques are the same for both brass and plastic models.
Another consideration when painting your locomotive, is in choosing a time period where you will not have interruptions or find that you have to stop, because a project of this type which would include both masking and painting will take up to three hours and possibly more. The tools and materials that you’ll need will include an airbrush, compressor, respirator, mild detergent, small paintbrush, aerosol spray paint, hobby knife, masking tape, coat hanger, and Testors Model Master Semi-Gloss clear.