Articles - Painting & Weathering: Paints
07/21/2018
I wanted to capture in one page the various painting methods I've employed to paint my engines, cars, structures, and scenery. I use this web site as my documentation for the "how" and "why" for the various projects I tackle, but as the site has grown, I sometimes forget that I've captured some of the information. Painting a model is a very intense part of the project and sometimes can make or break the effort. So this page captures my model painting efforts in one location, sorted by the brands of paints used.

Floquil

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For me Floquil was my all-time favorite paint for painting railroad cars and locomotives. I use a small paint brush for touch-ups, but I use an airbrush for painting a model. The only other place where I used it with a paint brush was when painting rail. It takes a long time to dry and it is quite odiferous. Unfortunately, Testors, the company that owns the Floquil brand, decided to pull the plug on this product line in May 2013. No one knows why. I painted the body of the Railmaster Hobbies RS-1 kit (after priming it) with "Brunswick Green" thinned about 40% using the airbrush. This went well. My standard is to paint all underframes with "Grimy Black", thinned, using the airbrush, and that has always come out exactly the way I want it to. "Reefer Yellow" was my standard for hand-painting grab irons. I am still searching for the Floquil-replacement.
Paints

Polly Scale

The Polly Scale brand of acrylic paints I use for painting scenery details and structures using a paint brush. They dry really fast, so you have to be quick. This product line was also discontinued by Testors in May 2013. I painted my Smoky Mountain Model Works B&O M53 box car kit's body with "Special Oxide Red". Due to acrylic paints' thicker material when airbrushing, I thinned it down about 30% thinner, 70% paint, using "70% isopropyl alcohol" (rubbing alcohol). I was happy with the final result. I have tried using 50% paint, 50% purified water, but the rubbing alcohol method worked better.
Paints
When I bought some remaining Polly Scale paint after the Testor's announcement, some of the bottles had this label. It is a label that I have never seen before.
Paints

Scalecoat

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Scalecoat Paint is another paint recommended by those that paint railroad cars and engines. The paint line is now owned by MinuteMan Scale Models (Weaver Models closed up shop and sold the paint line to MinuteMan). There are two versions of the paint. "Scalecoat I" is to be used on metal, brass, and wood without the need for applying a primer first. "Scalecoat II" is to be used for plastic models, also without having to apply a primer coat first. I bought some to paint a resin kit of a caboose (a mixture of 5 parts "Bright Red" and 2 parts "EL Maroon"), but I wasn't all that impressed by the paint. It was very finicky to work with with my airbrush. The advantage of Scalecoat is that you can apply decals to it right away (it leaves a glossy surface). Years later I tried using ScaleCoat II "Oxide Red" on my S Scale America PRR X29 body. I applied it with the airbrush and was not happy with result. It is hard to get good coverage. This lacquer-based paint is very sticky, so if you get any on your gloves (almost mandatory with this paint), everything you touch from then on will stick to the gloves, including the airbrush. Really messy. I am not going to use it anymore.
Paints

Tru-color Paint

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My local hobby shop switched over to Tru-color as a replacement for its stocking of Floquil. Their "Pennsy Brunswick Green" (#TCP-075) works great as a paint color match to the S-Helper Service's PRR Brunswick green engines. Thorough (i.e. long) mixing of the paint is required. Using warm water and Ivory soap worked well in cleaning up the brush. I like their bottles better than Floquil's bottles; they're easier to open. However, I did a test spray with the airbrush on a piece of scrap styrene, and was not happy with the end result. It is very finicky to thin. I won't buy anymore of this paint.
Paints

Modelers Decals and Paint

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This company produces acrylic paints in a variety of railroad colors. They also sell some handy tools (see below). They are intended to be applied with an airbrush, and so their mixture is very, very thin; almost like a wash. Thinning can be done with "91% isopropyl alcohol". I have found that that alcohol can also be used to clean up a hand-brush used with that paint. The paint has very, very little smell (you have to put your nose near the bottle to smell anything).
Paints
This photo shows the "Rail Brown" applied to my hand-laid track, painted with a small hand brush. I had to apply two coats, since the paint is rather thin. The styrene tie plates could probably use a third coat.
Paints
The company recommends thorough mixing, and so since my Micro Mark paint stirrer had broken (again), I decided to buy their mini mixer while I was buying their paints. Only the stirrer attachment shown in the center, bottom fits within their bottle. The two prongs flare out as the stirrer is put into motion. Be sure to put the stirrer all the way to the bottom of the bottle before turning it on, and only run it briefly, several times. Otherwise, the paint will come gushing out of the top of the bottle.
Paints

Delta's Ceramcoat

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Delta's Ceramcoat is my favorite for hand-painting areas of scenery (e.g. rock surfaces) and structures. The big advantage of Ceramcoat is that it is cheap, readily available at any hobby or arts-and-crafts store, and comes in a dizzying array of colors. It cleans up with water, and it has no odor.
Paints

Latex Household Paint

Plain old latex household paint, sold at all the hardware stores, is great for painting large areas of scenery on the cheap. If you are sensitive to their smells, buy the low-VOC versions.

Liquitex

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For backdrop painting I use Liquitex acrylic artist colors. These are intended for canvas painting, but they work well for backdrops. There are many colors available at your local hobby shop. I think they are too thick to be used for structure painting, and they don't seem to thin too easily.
Paints

Krylon

Krylon's gray Primer paint out of the spray can was my default standard for priming anything that needs to be primed first, including cars and locomotives. Their cans produce a very high-quality, powerful spray. However, when the can approaches empty, be careful, because it will start to sputter. I also like them for laying down the base color of structures. Lately, I have been unable to find the can shown in the photo (Krylon is only sold by Walmart in our area). I have used Krylon's "Cover Maxx" primer, which left my freight car model with a very rough surface. Be sure to test first on a scrap piece of the same material as you model's. Unless I can find the exact some product shown in the photo again, I won't be buying this brand again.
Paints

Removing Paint

50% rubbing alcohol and conventional (smelly) paint thinner works for removing Polly Scale paint without attacking the primer layer, although quite a bit of "elbow grease" will be needed to remove the paint. I have used 91% rubbing alcohol for more quickly removing the Polly Scale paint layer and the Krylon primer coat.