Monday, March 07, 2011

How I lined my locos using Trimline tape

Introduction
In this posting I aim to share with you the approach I have developed for applying Trimline lining tape to locos.
This comes in 5 metre reels with a range of widths on each reel. At a cost of around 3 UKP a reel it represents good value for money. One reel is sufficient for one small G scale loco, though I've found it's handy to have another reel to spare. The loco shown in this posting is the line's No. 3, a Hunslet constructed from a Garden Railway Specialist's kit and an LGB Toytrain 0-4-0 chassis (see How I constructed a Hunslet loco from a GRS kit).

Painting 
From some of my other blog postings you'll see that painting locos and stock is my least favourite activity. I struggle to get that perfect finish which I'd like to achieve. I am improving my techniques for spray painting but I've still not entirely cracked it. I use aerosol spray cans. I don't feel I would sufficient use from a compressor and spray gun to justify its cost - I assume I'd have to buy an expensive one to get a decent finish. Anyway, what I have learned about aerosol spray painting so far is:
  • Only spray when the weather is dry and the room is warm
  • Heat up the cans in a bucket of warm water before using them
  • Use high quality masking tape designed for models
  • Try to spray evenly in long easy passes rather than in short bursts
  • Handle the sprayed models with disposal latex or vinyl gloves to avoid greasy finger marks
  • Remove the masking tape as soon as the paint is touch dry
  • Wait a couple of days for the paint to harden off before applying the tape
 Lining
Once the paint had hardened off, I then decided where to start the lining. I now tend to do it by eye, but with the first loco, I measured 4mm in from the edges and put a pin mark at each end to try and keep the spacing regular. I usually start with the longest, straightest lines as these tend to be the easiest to apply. On this Hunslet model the longest run was along the base of the saddle tank.


I cut off a piece of the lining tape, allowing a couple of centimetres at each end. Although this is wasteful of tape, I find it useful to have this excess for handling the tape.


The tape was then lifted off the backing sheet with the point of a craft knife or scalpel.


The ends of the tape were then held between finger and thumb of both hands and positioned, stretching it slightly to keep the tape taut and straight.

The tape was then manoeuvred on to the model and once applied, smoothed down with the tip of one finger. If (well, when) the tape ended up in the wrong place or slightly curved, it was lifted and reapplied.


When two adjacent tapes crossed over each other,


the scalpel blade was carefully positioned lightly over each tape


and the excess piece of tape pulled up against it. In this way the tape was trimmed off precisely without cutting into the underlying paint.

The remainder of the straight lining was completed before tackling the curved lining. This took a little longer. Rather than laying down the whole length of tape, one end was pressed down with a finger-tip and the tape curved round and pressed down in short steps. This often took two or three attempts before the right curve was made.

As with the straight lining, the excess was trimmed off at the most appropriate angle against the adjoining piece.

On one loco (the Barclay) I used wider tape and found the tape buckled on some of the tighter curves. The rucks were nicked with the point of the knife and pressed down with the rounded end of knife handle. This was not entirely satisfactory so, in future, I will stick with the narrowest tape.



Once all the lining had been applied and firmly pressed down using the back of a finger nail or the rounded end of the scalpel handle, I touched up the spectacle plates, sandboxes and chimney with 'brass' enamel paint.


Nameplates
I then applied the nameplates and number plates. From experience I have discovered that the most reliable way of gluing nameplates on is to position them,

then move them to one side, apply a one or two small drops of superglue to the place where the plate will be fixed,



then place the plate on the glue.


This helps ensure the glue stays out of sight behind the plate.


Here's what happened when I did not use this approach:


The glue seeped out from behind the plate and all attempts to remove it made the problem worse - another lesson learned from experience!

Varnishing
The loco was then masked, in preparation for the application of varnish.


Waterslide transfers were applied to the buffer beams.


As with the paint, I used an aerosol of varnish which was warmed up first in a bucket of water.


Two light coats of acrylic varnish were applied, and left to dry, before the masking tape was removed and the loco left for a couple of days for the varnish to harden off.

WARNING! Always test the compatibility of the varnish with the underlying paint before applying. Here's what happened when I didn't. The paint was Humbrol enamel and the varnish was acrylic car spray:


The handrails were then fixed in place (with Superglue), spectacle plates were glazed and a driver positioned in the cab.


Loco number three was now ready to join the line's expanding roster (apart from re-fitting the couplings!).

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