Athearn Custom Painted GP9
Click on thumbnail to view larger image
|Well I finally did it! After years of procrastination and planning and worrying, I finally painted and lettered a diesel locomotive. The great thing was it wasn't that hard. Anyone with an airbrush, some decals and a bottle of solvaset can reproduce these results themselves.
I have had an airbrush for about 20 years but never had the courage to use it too it's full potential. I think I owe a grea debt to Badger Model Flex paint. I have always used Floquil in the past but always had trouble with paint VS plastic and the chemicals for clean up were a little mind numbing as well. Now that I have a family and young children I did not want to subject them or myself to harmful odors and chemicals so I have begun experimenting with various water based paints. The reason why I prefer Badger Model Flex is that it does not require thinning for airbrushing, the bottles screw right onto my Badger model 200 airbrush and the cleanup is warm soapy water.
I started with a stock Athearn shell. I chose CPR #8530 as according to Rail Canada Vol.3 it was a pretty much stock unit from EMD and I didn't want to get into a bunch of detailing only to ruin it with a crappy paint job. I washed the shell in warm soapy water and dried it with a hair dryer. I then completely covered the shell in CP Grey. When it was dry (which Badger says can be hastened with heat so you can mask an paint in a short time) I masked the grey with ordinary masking tape. I was very careful to burnish the tape to get a good seal and make sure it snugly wrapped around the molded on detail. Then I applied the CP Tuscan Red to all areas. I removed the tape immediately. When all was dry I masked everything above the frame and painted the frame Black.
Next came the decals and I was worried! I started with the yellow striping that separates the Tuscan and Grey. I wet the area with water first and carefully slid the decal onto the model. With a no.5 exacto blade and a paintbrush wet with water I carefully nudged the decal into place. When all was straight I carefully brushed on some solvaset and waited. I learned quickly to wait until the solvaset has completely evaporated. I was amazed at how well the decal settled down over the details to look like it was painted on. The rest was just patience and perseverance to complete the model. I sprayed a coat of Testors dull coat to complete the effect which completely hid all decal film. The tricks for great decaling are: carefully cut out your decals, make sure they are positioned right, and use solvaset BUT DON'T TOUCH! The numbers on the cab and in the number boards are all individual numerals but to my great surprise it wasn't that hard to get them all to line up nicely.
The decals I used were by AccuCal. They are not new, I bought them years ago. I also have some Microscale decals but the lettering is not the correct shade of red and look almost black. I have heard the AccuCals are coming back on the market but until then I am looking for a suitable alternative.