Friday, January 19, 2018

Freight Car Friday: Decaling the P-11 Flatcar

The next step on the B&O P-11 flatcar build is lettering/numbering (click here for all the other posts on this project). First, you have to choose your decals, if you have a choice. The F&C kit I'm using comes with the appropriate decals, but Speedwitch Media makes the correct decals too. Fortunately, the company's owner is a good friend and when he saw I was doing this car, he sent along a set to try.

I'm definitely glad he did. The F&C decals are ok, but I think you can tell the difference when directly comparing them to the Speedwitch decals - the fidelity is much better.

Next, you need to consult prototype photos for the proper location of the lettering. Unfortunately, the P-11 is a fairly rare flatcar and photos are elusive (in fact, even a query to the Steam Era Freight Car list hasn't turned up any pics as of this writing). I do have a couple of prototype photos, but for lettering I relied on the two photos that came with the Speedwitch decal instruction sheet (the F&C instructions do contain one photocopy of one of the photos that Speedwitch also uses).

Once I decided what lettering I wanted to use, I cut it out of the sheet with a scalpel and a fresh blade. You can see what parts I took out of the sheet in the photo above.

FINALLY it was time to actually do the decaling itself. I should have checked to see what I did the last time I did decaling to refresh my memory, but I was too eager and plunged head-long into it. Here's the process I used this time (for the first side anyway):
  1. Place the decal in distilled water
  2. Since the paint/finish is satin/eggshell and not really glossy, I used a microbrush to brush on some Future floor polish (a gloss acrylic) to where the decal would go
  3. Remove the decal from the water and place on a paper towel to wick the water away
  4. Slide the decal off just enough to allow you to grab just the decal backing paper with a tweezers (I used self-closing tweezers as a handle)
  5. Bring the decal to where you put the Future and, while holding onto the paper with the tweezers, hold the decal down with a dull toothpick (something not sharp) and pull the paper, sliding the decal off the paper onto the model
  6. Use the toothpick to move the decal into final position
  7. Use a corner of a paper towel to wick up any extra water/fluid
  9. Repeat for the rest of the decals
  10. After they've dried (preferably overnight - or while you're at work), prick any air bubbles with a sharp pin and lightly brush some setting solution like Micro Sol onto the decal - allowing it to wick in under the edges and into the pricked holes - so the decal will really snuggle down and set.
  11. Repeat step 10 as necessary, using Solvaset for really stubborn decals.
The pic below shows the result:

Click on image to enlarge if desired
Now, there are a couple of things I plan on doing differently for the OTHER side. Numero Uno is to take my own advice and NOT, REPEAT NOT touch the decal or try to reposition it when I'm adding the setting solution. And DO NOT under ANY circumstances use a sponge makeup brush to blot any excess fluid while using setting solution. If you can't see the gotchas on this side that resulted from me not following my own advice, well, I'm certainly not going to point'em out to you...

Secondly, I plan to use a more traditional, non-Future (heh - see what I did there?), approach for the other side (in fact, the same process I used for the Grand Trunk Western boxcar - a post I found only after I'd already done side one of the flatcar...). And Step One in that process is to add a gloss coat to the carbody where you'll be adding decals. So tonight I masked off the side of the car yet-to-be-decaled (notice the eggshell/non-glossy finish) . . .

And shot the side with my handy-dandy rattle can of Testors Glosscote . . .

I'm having my First Ops Session of 2018 tomorrow, so this'll have plenty of time to cure before I add any lettering - hopefully Sunday evening. And just so I don't forget, here's the process I plan to use (copied and pasted from my GTW post):
  1. Cut out the decal leaving as little decal film around it as possible and place in distilled water.
  2. Apply MicroSet to the area where the decal will be applied.
  3. Remove the decal from the water and "float" onto the setting solution (I'll actually put it on a paper towel first). Use a toothpick or something else that's not sharp to position.
  4. Wick away any excess fluid with the corner of a paper towel, or a makeup sponge (I'm a little leery of the sponge now...). Let dry.
  5. If there's any "silvering" (evidence that there's air trapped behind the decal), prick the areas and add MicroSol and let dry. If that doesn't cause the decal to really settle down into any nooks/crannies (or - in the case of a wood-sided car, between the boards) just add additional applications of MicroSol until it does (and/or use Walthers Solvaset, which is even more aggressive)
Stay tuned and I'll let you know (and you'll be able to see) which process yields the better result . . .

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