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A short course on paint and decals for UP Passenger Cars

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  • Jeffrey MacHan
    Hello Brian and group, Several people have asked me what decals I used to letter my Union Pacific passenger cars. I encourage those of you who are thinking of
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 1 11:17 AM
      Hello Brian and group,

      Several people have asked me what decals I used to letter my Union Pacific
      passenger cars. I encourage those of you who are thinking of repainting
      your M�rklin passenger cars to consider it. I certainly had a lot of fun
      preparing my cars.

      Step 1:

      Stripping the original paint - I removed the trucks from the shell,
      separated the roof and window inserts. I immersed each part separately in
      a shallow dish containing a plastic compatible paint remover such as
      Scalecoat brand . I would avoid using some of the non-commercial paint
      removers such as brake fluid because they can be very strong and even damage
      the plastic of the shell. The shell should be completely covered by the
      paint remover. I suggest that you use rubber or latex gloves to protect
      your hands. Use an old toothbrush to gently scrub the car until the old
      paint is removed. Then dip the shell in a bowl of warm soapy water to stop
      the stripper action and to clean the shell. Let dry thoroughly.

      Step 2:

      Preparing the shell for painting - I used an airbrush to apply a light coat
      of zinc oxide primer to the shell. A light coat will not hide details and
      will provide a uniform colour base for the Railroad colours. Let the paint
      dry completely. Note: this is not a one day project. Do each of these
      steps as a batch with all your shells and take your time to achieve good

      I repainted 2 dome observation cars so I carefully masked the clear dome
      with Micro-mask applied with a brush. I used a sharp hobby knife to
      carefully trace the outline of the windows and removed the excess masking
      material before air brushing.

      Step 3:

      Painting the shell - My UP cars were painted with Armour Yellow and UP Grey
      from Polly Scale, water soluble paints. Although these paints are not
      solvent based, using an airbrush sends extremely fine paint particles into
      the air. Be sure to wear a mask and paint outdoors or use a paint spray
      booth or hood with good outside ventilation. I held the shell with a slab
      of styrofoam stuck inside the shell like a handle. This is a cheap and
      reusable way of holding shells for painting.

      I masked the bottom (grey) portion of the shell using masking tape. Once
      the yellow was applied and completely dry, I masked the top (yellow) portion
      of the shell making sure to put a thin piece of tape along the windows on
      the inside of the shell to prevent overspray contaminating the yellow
      portion from the inside. I didn't do all of the grey at one time. I did
      the bottom first then I remasked the yellow to airbrush the ends in grey.
      This is easier than trying to perfectly mask all the edges and masking tape
      is cheap.

      Step 4:

      Decals - Decals should be applied to a glossy surface. If your paint is not
      glossy, I suggest that you give the shell a light coat of Testor's Glosscoat
      or Floquil Gloss. Let the gloss dry completely before continuing.

      Where did I get my UP decals? From almost every set of Microscale N scale
      decals for Union Pacific. No one set provided everything I wanted. The
      small font 'Union Pacific' for the car sides came from set N60-905 'Union
      Pacific Early Cabooses, CA-1 to CA-9, Red or Yellow Schemes, 1941-77'. The
      winged shield for the observation car came from set N60-841 'UP Early Piggy
      Back Trailers'. This set also provides 'U.S. Mail' decals and other useful
      numbers and scripts.

      NOTE: I did not apply separate widely spaced letters for the U N I O N P A
      C I F I C of the passenger cars. I used the correct height decals with
      narrow spacing. This is because I wanted to have straight lettering and
      complete the project before I had lost all my hair! No one has complained
      about the lettering on my cars...YET! And yes, I did use an opti-visor to
      see what I was doing.

      I used Micro-scale decal setting solution to fuse the decals to the shell
      and to make the edges disappear.

      Once the decals were completely dry, I gave the shell an even coat of
      Testor's Dullcoat to seal everything.

      Step 5:

      Stripes - I took the easy way out to do the stripes. The M�rklin passenger
      shells have a nice corrugated side which has a groove running the entire
      length of the shell. I used a red permanent ink Pilot Fineliner and a steel
      straight edge to draw the stripes following the groove at the roof joint and
      along the skirting. It usually took 2 or 3 passes to produce a nice solid
      stripe. Smudges were easily cleaned up before the ink dried using a tissue
      and Q-tip slightly wet with rubbing alcohol.

      Once the ink had dried (several hours), I sprayed the shell again with
      Testor's Dullcoat to seal the stripes and to give the paint job some help to
      resist handling. My cars have withstood several years of train shows where
      they get picked up more than you would normally expect on your home layout.

      Step 6:

      Paint the trucks silver with a brush and while you have the trucks in your
      hand, drop the metal wheel sets into some Blacken-it for a minute. Rinse
      them in clean water and dry them off. You'll be glad that you weathered
      your wheelsets when you see them on the cars.

      Step 7:

      Reassemble the cars and enjoy your trains.

      Jeffrey R. MacHan
      CEO - Val Ease Central RR:
      Z scale SIG Coordinator & Moderator:
      Ztrack Magazine Contributing Editor:

      >To: jmac_han@...
      >Subject: Fwd: Z decals for UP Passenger Cars
      >Date: Mon, 1 Oct 2001 10:45:23 EDT
      >In a message dated 10/1/01 8:35:40 AM Central Daylight Time, Ztrack writes:

      >Hi Jeffrey,
      >I'm wondering if you can help me. Rob Kluz asked me to contact you
      >my current project. By the way, congratulations on "Best of Show" at the
      >NMRA!!! I have repainted a Marklin Z B & O passenger set to UP colors. The
      >problem I'm confronted with, now, is the lettering and striping for the
      > I have researched the UP sites and know what I need, it's trying to find
      >someone that has these! I have exhausted, it seems, all resources and
      >find one. Do you know of anyone that makes these for Z. Or, did you make
      >your own? If so, can you tell me what "Font" to use for the lettering and
      >what "Size" for the striping? Also, did you make any "UP" logo's -- for
      >back of the observation? I guess what I'm saying is that I need some help.
      >I use an HP "Deskjet" for printing, so I'm not sure if the ink will run --
      >that can be remedied though. Any assistance that you can provide would
      >greatly be appreciated!
      >Best Regards,
      >Brian Zimmerman


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