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Painting cars etc

Started by kennywsp4, February 09, 2007, 01:31:06 AM

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  Any one know of  good sites , tips and or books on how to paint large scale train cars and engines? 
  I  tried just painting the under sides of cars,wheels  and tenders  flat black. and am amazed how much better the cars look just doing that. :o so any ideas would be great. As always thanks for any help.


Learning to weather with an airbrush is an idea--I use "earth" and other dirty colors sprayed upward at the bottom of a car to simulate the dust and gunk that gets splashed up by the wheels.  Also streaks on the ends in line with the wheels.  Take a look at a real car--what manages to fall on the upper parts will be washed downward by rain. Ground chalks and weathering powderl like Bragdon's can be washed off if you don't like the results.  gj

the Bach-man

Dear Kenny,
I'm sure some will be scandalized, but I often use Krylon spray cans when I'm doing the LS prototypes. Ruddy Brown Primer, Semi-flat Black, Hunter Green, and Light Gray Primer are among the most frequently used colors...
Have fun!
the Bach-man


Yes that is what i was using krylon and cheap wal-mart 97 cent spray paint

Tim Brien

           my advice is to never use cheap supermarket paint on models.  It is fine for painting the side gate or the back fence,  but models require a paint with finer pigment particles.  I have used the cheap generic paints in the past only to find that they are full of gunk.  It only takes one piece of gunk on a beautifully detailed piece of rolling stock to mar the whole surface.  I only opt for the more expensive 'brandname' paints.l


 By brand name what would those be?   

Kevin Strong

My problem with the "cheap" Wal-Mart (etc.) paints is that they don't cover. As someone once told me,
"If you love to paint, buy Sears paint. If you hate to paint, buy something that works instead." I've had very good results with Krylon and Valspar's "American Traditions" paints--I use them for everything that needs spraying.

I don't know of a written tutorial on painting techniques beyond what has appeared in various magazines. Most modeling books don't cover using spray cans, but if you insert "spray can" for "air brush," the techniques are very similar. Of course, brush painting by hand is the same for any scale--though much easier to do in large scale.

For example, this car is mostly painted by hand, though a hit the underside with flat black (not that it's visible). This is the Bachmann flat car that I turned into a gondola.

This car was done with a spray can (American Traditions' brown primer). The effects are virtually identical.



Bruce Chandler

I also use the spray cans.   This one was painted with Krylon Ruddy Brown.

This one was done with Rustoleum primer, and is just a bit of a different shade.

I start by painting the car upside down, so I get the underside covered, and make sure I get under the eaves and any other places that would be hard to paint when it's right side up.

I turn it over and spray several thin coats - mostly to get paint in the scribing lines on the sides, but also to make sure that everything is nice and smooth.

I always cover the couplers with tape, as I don't want them the same color as the car.   It also gives me a "handle" to grab onto when I'm painting, or before it's fully dry.   I'll give it a good look before the final coat, just to make sure I haven't missed any areas.

When done, I use a brush to add any other colors;  I use Tarnished Black for the grab irons and trucks.   The wheels get a coat of Rail Brown, except on the treads.

Jon D. Miller

Krylon spray cans. As mentioned it covers well without excessive buildup. Fine detail is not lost under the paint.  Cheap paint just won't cover as well and will hide detail.

Poster Child (unofficial & uncompensated)


Agree with Jon.  I use Krylon on both rolling stock and locomotives.  The Semi-Flat comes as close to matching Bachmann and LGB motive power as anything I can find.  Just make sure you follow the directions and turn the can upside down and press the nozzle to clean it.  If it gets plugged, soak the nozzle in a cup of solvent for a few minutes and you are okay.

Paul W.

I too use Krylon spray to paint cars. It has good coverage and control. I've tried cheaper paints and ended up sanding down and starting over.
Happy Steamin'


Matt Bumgarner


For a beginner, ground chalks are the way to go so that you can experiment and get the "feel" for how you like to weather a car, anywhere on the scale from light to heavy.

For something more permanent, I use acrylic paints, usually black, earth, and rust (or terra cotta). Dilute the paint with water 10:1 and using a modelers brush, just slather on the colors, starting at the top and letting it run down. You can use a wet or dry paper towel to remove the acrylic paint if you wish. Oil based paints are more permanent, so beware!!!


I used chalks for many years, but they present a few problems:

1. Finding or mixing colors appropriate to weathered appearance is not easy.
2. Shaving and screening them to get a fine enough powder can be difficult to impossible.
3. Overcoating them with clear spray to get them to stay in place frequently makes the color disappear.

I now use Bragdon Enterprises' Weather System powders. See:

Joel Bragdon has developed a method of ball milling extremely fine powders from the real stuff (rust, dust, grime, minerals) with pressure sensitive dry adhesive incorporated directly into the powder. You just brush the powder on. The brushing action activates the adhesive which makes the powder stick. It works great, without the problems associated with chalks.

He sells these individually or in multi-color sets. A little more expensive than chalk, but as he says "a little goes a long way".

Happy RRing,

Sequoia Pacific RR in 1:20 / 70.6mm
Boonville Light & Power Co. in 1:20 / 45mm
Navarro Engineering & Construction Co. in 1:20 / 32mm
NMRA Life Member #3370
Member: Bay Area Electric Railway Association
Member: Society for the Preservation of Carter Railroad Resources


Thanks Jerry that looks very interesting I plan on getting a color or two to try it out ;D