CP Executive train in Albany

CP Executive train in Albany

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Scratchbuilding a Caboose - Part 6 (decals)

Decals with Microset applied
The M.M.R. program has forced me to learn new skills, and I have grown as a modeler because of the new challenges I have had to overcome along the way. I appreciate that this program isn't for everyone, but looking back I am glad I stuck with it. There are good days and bad days. When it came to decaling this caboose, it was a bad day. I had ordered custom decals from Modern Rail Decals and have used them for several projects in the past. However, I personally have never used the decals that I ordered- they were either part of a custom paint job that I paid someone else to do or they were for projects that I never finished because similar commercial models were released while my project was midway.

But, I have experience using decals. While in high school, I spray painted a dozen different freight cars and decaled them for Conrail using every "can opener" logo I could get out of the few decal sets I bought. Without any real experience, I remember the project went well. That was probably because the decal artwork itself was large and provided strength to the decal.

Here, I ran into problems right away. The decals I received were super fragile and despite warnings on the package to soak and then let the decal sit for a total of three minutes (which I did), they broke apart into individual letters and partially shredded. Maybe I should have anticipated this happening but I had grandiose plans of applying the "D&HCC" letting in one long strip. That didn't happen. I had to scrap one side's worth of lettering and then salvage what was left. But, in the end, I managed to get one side done. After first using Microset to get them on and then Microsol to finally "snuggle" them in (only one coat of Microsol was necessary, and they didn't shrivel up at all) it looked really good. Several light coats of Dullcote sealed them.

When I contacted Modern Rails to discuss the decals he tod me he had received a bad batch of decal paper from their supplier and had received complaints about defective decals. Mine might have been part of that batch, and offered to replace them for free. They arrived quickly and were a lot easier to work with!. They were ready to slide off the paper after only a 20-second soak in the water (not that waiting around a minute or so is a real deal breaker) and were strong and held together well. They went without too much trouble. I then used a little black paint to pick out some of the details such as the handrails and bolt heads, which matched pictures of the caboose as it currently is restored. And with that, the body of the caboose is essentially done.

I still need to add glass inside the windows, but that shouldn't be too tough. Thankfully, as the caboose currently exists the dinky little brakeman's seat on the roof is gone so I might not model it after all (building it doesn't scare me, but finding a way to neatly attach it to the roof itself does). I am also not adding the plaque on the side. Some marker lights on the sides would look nice though. As for weathering, that is a future decision as the prototype is currently sitting in a glass-enclosed pavilion and has been protected from the typical weathering that cabooses experience.

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