A short course on paint and decals for UP Passenger Cars
- 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Reassemble the cars and enjoy your trains.
Jeffrey R. MacHan
CEO - Val Ease Central RR:
Z scale SIG Coordinator & Moderator:
Ztrack Magazine Contributing Editor:
>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:
>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!
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