Articles - Paints
09/07/2015
I wanted to capture in one page the various painting methods I've employed to paint my engines, cars, and structures. 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.
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For me Floquil is my all-time favorite paint for painting railroad cars and engines. I use a small paint brush for touch-ups, but I use an airbrush for painting the item. The paint takes a while to dry, but it allows you to airbrush very thin layers, thereby preserving the surface details. Unfortunately, Testors, the company that owns the Floquil brand, decided to pull the plug on this product line in May 2013. They are selling what was left in their inventory, but then that's it. These were the best enamel paints, specifically geared toward railroad colors.
Paints
The Polly Scale brand of acrylic paints I use for painting scenery elements and structures. They dry really fast, so you have to be quick. This product line was also discontinued by Testors in May 2013.
Paints
I recently bought some remaining Polly Scale paint which came with this label. It is a label that I have never seen before.
Paints
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Scalecoat Paint is another paint recommended by those that paint railroad cars and engines. I bought some of it for one of my cabooses. However, I wasn't all that impressed by the paint. It was very finicky to work with with my airbrush. I much prefer Floquil for airbrushing. The advantage of Scalecoat is that you can apply decals to it right away (it leaves a glossy surface). Floquil's paint is dull, and requires the application of Testors' Glosscote to prepare the surface for decal application. 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.
Paints
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My local hobby shop is switching over to Tru-color as a replacement for Floquil. I have only used one color on one part of a structure, and it appears to work well. It is very thin, so I assume airbrushing should work well. However, when the paint is dry it is very glossy, which would be good for applying decals next, but will need the application of Testors Dullcote to get rid of the shininess for other applications. I like their bottles better than Floquil's bottles; they're easier to open.
Paints
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Delta's Ceramcoat, and plain household latex paints, are my favorites for painting large areas of scenery. The big advantage of Ceramcoat is that it is cheap, readily available at any hobby store, and comes in a dizzying array of colors.
Paints
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For backdrop painting I use Liquitex acrylic artist colors. These are more intended for canvas painting, which works well for backdrops. There are many colors available at your local hobby shop.
Paints

Floquil

I painted the body of the Railmaster Hobbies 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. On my Pacific Rail Shops PRR X37 box car, I used "Oxide Red", but due to an airbrush malfunction during the spraying, the model didn't come out as well. That was my one and only bad experience airbrushing with Floquil. Overall, Floquil paint (R.I.P.) has always been my #1 favorite paint for airbrushing. I used that same paint color for my scratch-built PRR H21a quad hopper and it came out very well. And I had the same positive results when I painted my scratch-built PRR FM flat cars with the same color. "Reefer Yellow" is my standard for hand-painting grab irons.

Krylon

Krylon's gray Primer paint out of the spray can is now my default standard for priming anything that needs to be primed first. Their cans produce a very high-quality, powerful spray. However, when the can approaches empty, be careful, because it will start to sputter (at that point in time use it only for non-critical surfaces). For background buildings, using Krylon's spray cans is perfect for structures. I have used Krylon's "Cover Maxx" primer (because the one shown in the photo here wasn't available at a local store at the time), and it wasn't as good of a product to use for freight cars. It left my model with a "water-drip/running" effect.

Polly Scale

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.

ScaleCoat

I used 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 leaves the surface shiny, ready for the application of decals, but the step saved is not worth it to me. It is hard to get good coverage. My first experience with ScaleCoat paints came when I used the airbrush to paint my Kaslo PRR N5c cabin car using a mixture of 5 parts "Bright Red" and 2 parts "EL Maroon". The application of the paint went well, but the color mixture was a bit too red to my liking.

Tru-color

I've only used this paint brand in touch-ups. Their "Pennsy Brunswick Green" (#TCP-075) works great as a paint color match to the S-Helper Service's PRR Brunswick green engines. I have only painted it by hand using a brush. Thorough mixing of the paint is required. Using warm water and Ivory soap worked well in cleaning up the brush.

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.