Tied down at the end of the Elkwater Branch in Big Chimney, WV. August 1976

Tied down at the end of the Elkwater Branch in Big Chimney, WV. August 1976

Monday, January 7, 2019

Freight Car Fail

Over the last 30+ years or so, I've probably painted and decaled over 200 cars and locomotives. Most of these have turned out pretty well. So one would think that I have developed a bit of knowledge about what works and what doesn't when spray painting rolling stock and applying decals. While that might be true, it certainly doesn't mean that I've remembered everything I've learned.

Last fall, I purchased some the of the beautiful Fruit Growers Express decals that Dan Kohlberg is producing. He makes a wide range of decals for 1960's to 1980's freight cars, primarily for mid-western roads. Here's a link to his website: http://paducah.home.mindspring.com/. My plan was to build one of the old Details West FGE kits and letter it for a CWE FGE car. The DW kit was lettered for the L&N but was missing the end lettering, a common trait of car kits from that era. Also, the car color seemed to be too light, especially compared to photos I've found and the more recent run of Athearn FGE cars. So that was it- this car would become a CWE FGE car.

A quick check of the paint rack revealed that Tru Color C&O/B&O Yellow was a very close match for the recent Athearn FGE cars. I had replaced the stirrup steps and added cut levers to two of these cars, and I painted them using the Tru Color C&O/B&O Yellow. So it was off to the paint both with the DW car.

After going back and forth over the car with my airbrush for about two hours, it became apparent that covering the black lettering with the yellow paint was going to be a challenge. Not to be deterred, I continued spraying for what seemed like another two hours. Finally, the black lettering was covered. And the finish on the car had the texture of 120 grit sandpaper. Sigh...

So I had another bright idea- give the car a good covering of Testor's Glosscote. I've never had any success fixing a rough finish like this in the past, but I'm sure it might be different this time. Sure. And after a week spent curing in the paint shop, the finish looked nice and shiny but it was still rough as could be. That's it- I give. Uncle. You win. It's off to the bath of 90% isopropyl alcohol for you!!!!

The photo below shows the car recovering on the workbench. Of course, all of the ladders came off in the alcohol bath and now have to be reapplied.

And to insure that I don't make the same mistake again, I made a little note and posted it above the spray both- see below.

Now if I can just remember to read the note before I start spraying paint...


  1. If your note starts to bug you, you could always paint over it with red or yellow paint. Oh, wait...