Last Updated: Tuesday, July 16, 2002

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Paint Shop Forum: Your Questions and Comments

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Welcome to the Paint Shop Forum. This page provides a location for you to exchange information related to designing paint schemes and painting model railroad equipment, as well as a place for the webmaster to reply to some of your comments regarding the site. If you send a reply to one of the questions below, please send a copy of your response to the Railroad Paint Shop Forum so it can be posted here.

Roy J. Wullich II asks:

    I found your website/paintshop on the net. I was just curious if you know of a source for drawings of UP's ACF dome cars. (7000, 8000 and 9000 series).

    The webmaster replies:

      Probably the best place I've found to look up sources for prototype drawings is the The Model Train Magazine Index. It contains references to articles in most of the major (and minor) model railroading magazines, and has a number of key words you can search on (including drawing) to help you find the drawing you're looking for.

    Add your reply! asks:

    What shades of green and yellow are correct for SP&S Alco diesels? I prefer Scalecoat paint. Thank you.

    Send your reply!

Rob Borham Sr asks:

    Where would I find paint diagrams with layout schemes for:
    Louisiana & Gulf - F-7A (circa 1950/60) ??
    New Orleans & Northwest - F-7A (circa 1950/60) ??
    Tex-Mex - F-7A ??

    Send your reply!

Jason Cook asks:

    I'm having a hard time getting the drawings to open up in paint. I have tried using the suggestions in the paintshop forum, but I still can't get the files to open up. I'm using NT 4.0 on an HP Vectra VE, pentium 2, 350mhz, 128 mb of ram, 6 gig hard drive. The paint program is the one that came with NT 4.0. When I try to open sd40.gif, the program only has a choice of .bmp or all files. To see if it was just my pc, I tried to open the file on a 95 box that I have here and I also had someone in my department down in Dallas try it on their NT machine. When I try to open it, the Crash Monitor pops up and gives an exception error, Access violation, and then it closes paint. What am I doing wrong? Please email with any ideas that you might have. Thanks.

    The webmaster replies:

      The problem you are running into is that the version of Paint you are using doesn't have the capability of handling .gif files. As far as I know, only the version that comes with Win98 has that capability - the version that came with Win95 has trouble with opening files other than .bmp's. There are two relatively easy solutions. The first is to get hold of a graphics file conversion program that will enable you to convert .gif's to .bmp's and back again. There are quite a few available as downloadable freeware or shareware (although I don't know how well they work with NT) that you should probably be able to use. A second option is to download the patch that Microsoft has made available to fix this problem and enable you to use .gif files in Paint. The patch also works for WindowsNT.

      Add your reply!

Albert Saldana asks:

    I need help in getting plans to paint a sdp40 in the bicentennial colors. Any help will be great. Thanks.

    Send your reply!

Glenn Ryan asks:

    Traditionally, boxcars, as well as other cars, have been painted black on the underside. I know this has changed, especially with cars which have more exposed undersides. A number of newer models, especially the RTR variety are being painted with the underside other than black. An example is a Walthers PS 60' Auto Box Car in the UP Yellow Map Scheme. The underside, like the side sills, is painted silver. Is this prototypically accurate? Since the underside of most rolling stock will not show up in photos -- and would probably be too dirty to see the color anyway -- are there sources that could provide information on the color of the underside of a particular railcar, by manufacturer, railroad, or whatever? With the wide variety of prototypes and models, I know that is a pretty broad question, but if the information is out there, I would appreciate knowing about it.

    Send your reply!

Rich Olszewski asks:

    I need some help with a painting and modelling problem.

  1. What paint could be used for the Teal color listed in Microsoft's SD90MAC EMD Demo decals?
  2. The EMD GT46MAC built for India has a similar paint scheme to the SD90MAC indidcated in question #1, but the photos on the web appear to have two shades of Teal. Is this correct or just a trick of the camera? Anyone have better photos or drawings of the GT46MAC for modeling purposes? (The photo I've found is at the Railroading in the North East site - the link will bring up the photo.)
  3. (OK really number 4) Floquil discontinued R36 Weyerhauser Green. Not the Baby poop green, but the real dark forest green color, Our club has been using this as a standard part of their paint scheme for over twenty years. Does anyone know of a suitable replacement or formulation to aquire this color?

    Send your reply!

Ian Grovenger asks:

    I'm making a P40 that is in MBTA paint and I was wondering if there is any premixed paint out there for the MBTA purple(cherry red)? Or are there any mixing suggestions?

    Send your reply!

Soo-Line-Mike asks:

    I'm currently using PolyScale paint with Poly-S airbrush thinner in a model 200 bottom feed single action internal mix, but I'm having problems all the time with clogging. I clean the brush after every color use. What does it mean when I push down on the plunger and I get air bubbling in the bottle and no paint out of the brush? Should I use a bigger needle and tip? I'm using both mediums now. I heard some where that Badger makes airbrush especially for acrylics. If so, can you tell me what model it is? Thankyou! Also, can you you use denatured alchohol to thin this kind of paint, and is it good for cleaning the brush out?

    Joe Schram replies:

      I do custom model train painting, and I think I can help you. First of all, you're trying to paint with a paint product that is not very user friendly. However, it can be mastered. Your current air brush should be able to handle the PolyScale with no problem if you thin your paint with acetone that you can get act your local paint store. I know what you're thinking -- why acetone? It has properties in it that help break down the paint molecules, which in turn helps the paint move through the airbrush much more easily. I don't know what size needle you're using but you may want to try a medium or even a small. If you have any other questions please let me know.

    Add your reply!

Steve Kibort asks:

    Do you know where I can find references to actual prototype paint schemes by freight car type? (i.e. I am looking for a list of roads that purchased the Pullman Standard PS2 three bay hopper and the paint schemes/number series used by each road for these cars). I am looking for several PS and ACF car types.

    Send your reply!

Bob O'Keefe asks:

    Hi....... I am modeling the Boston & Maine line through the Berkshire Mts. What I am looking for is the "closest" color available without mixing for the Hoosac Tunnel Electric Locomotive. Thank you in advance

    Send your reply!

Johnny B. asks:

    I purchased a BNSF SD75I by Athearn. I need to know the colors of the grab irons on the rear, the V shaped grab iron on the roof behind the rear fan housing, and the tall vertical grab iron on the right side on the rear. All the photos I have found are always of the front. Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    Send your reply!

Van Vu asks:

    I wonder which company produces painting material for locomotives and train cars. If you know any, please let me know. Thanks a lot.

    Send your reply!

Peter Prydderch asks:

    What liveries did the A.C. R/R have upon its gondolas in the Fifites? I'm a No. 1 Scale modeller of the N & W Rly, and do not have any reference sources for such vehicles.

    Send your reply!

John Tasz asks:

    I just bought an American Flyer Comet shell that needs to be repainted. Someone did a horrible repaint job on it with enamel, I think, but the plastic isn't cracked anywhere and it was cheap. Does anyone know of a safe way to remove enamel paint from a PA shell, the black plastic type? (styrene, I think) I'm afraid of melting it with the wrong paint stripper. Thanks. BTW, there is chrome under the paint, but it's shot.

    Century628 replies:

      Go to the hardware store and get yourself some TSP (trisodium phosphate). Mix it up following the box directions, then plunk the shell in the solution for about an hour. Use an old toothbrush to scrub the paint off. Soak it for as long as it takes to loosen the paint, and start scrubbing. Wear rubber gloves when you handle the shell in the TSP solution. It can irritate your skin but good.

    Jeremy Oreskovich adds:

      For many years I have been an automotive modeler as well as a railroader and I have the following suggestions:
      Try automotive brake fluid: This works like magic on styrene plastic; it almost "sucks" the paint off the plastic and doesn't harm the plastic at all. If that does't work, try a citrus-based cleanser (I use a product called "Citrus Aid") or Pine-sol. These also take paint off styrene without harming the plastic. Be sure to scrub the shell after removing the paint to remove any cleaner residue.

    Add your reply!

Dave Fowler asks:

    I need advice on masking. I want to paint a Santa Fe blue and yellow Warbonnet hood unit. I have not been able to achieve satisfactory results in cutting the curved warbonnet shape. I have photocopied a Microscale decal sheet to use as a template and find that I cannot get the curve to come out as a clean smooth arc. I am using fresh blades with the tape mounted on glass.

    I would also like to paint a Great Northern hood unit in the Big Sky Blue scheme. What is holding me back on this one is coming up with a way to cut the masking for the curves on the nose. How do I create the proper arc or curve? How can I do it so that both sides of the curve are mirror images of themselves?

    In addition to the above I would also like to know how I can cut multiple masks. I am painting for other people and my clientele is growing. I am starting to get requests for schemes I have done in the past so I would like to have a way to quickly and easily cut a mask. Can you help with any of these questions? Thank you

    Leo Harker replies:

      I am by no means an expert on model painting, but I have painted a number of locos - mostly GN and NP butterknife schemes. I made some curved templates from thin brass stock using the decal outlines as a pattern. Simply mirroring the curves from the same point (draw a T on the tape and apply the curves to both sides of the T) produced quite accurate curves but it took several tries to get the results I wanted. I have made a number of these, some with the double curve for the EB schemes using the same material. Quoting Paul Hornung, "Practice, Practice, Practice".

    Add your reply!

Gary Barbano asks:

    I need advice on how to create Sacramento Northern Green if no paint manufacturer, such as Floquil, provides such a color. Please also send your responce to michael7 AT, or back to me. This color will be necessary for HO equipment for my Sacramento Northern model railroad. Thanks for your anticipated effort.

    Send your reply!

Jason Stephens asks:

    Does anybody know a paint formula for the DRGW Orange that matches the Microscale decal sets that are available? I am looking for the orange that they used on the SD-50s and SD45T-2. Also, what was the green the D&RGW used on the steam locos? I have seen several different shades on different locos.

    Dan (BR Hobbies) replies:

      I've found that the easiest way to match that orange on the decal sheet is not try. What I do is to paint the ends with the same orange used on the sill and then use black decal stripes.

    l. Crinklaw adds:

      Try experimenting with scalecoat II paint 60% reefer yellow #2015 mixed with 40% reefer orange#2016 . Or 3 parts reefer yellow with 2 parts reefer orange.

    Add your reply!

Bob Tomasich asks:

    I need a model paint mixture for the Northern Pacific "Pine Tree" scheme used 1946 - 1952 - specifically the green used around windows of passenger cars. Any help will be appreciated.

    Send your reply!

Gerry Lee, Chris Bell, Andrew Keeney and others ask with regard to painting the drawings:

    There seems to be a problem with some of the Stan Lytle drawings. The problem seems to be with the colour applicatiom from my Windows 98 paint program to the drawings. For example when I select the colour red to a section of a drawing it comes out grey or when I select a green colour I get a brown. I have found this error on the SD40-2, GP9, and the SD38.

    What editor or program for PC's does anybody reccommend to use for painting the .GIFs? You wouldn't believe the trouble I am having just to get the picture up once I load it in.

    I love your site. I'm very much a novice at this and have no idea as to how I should go about downloading and then using these line drawings. I have amassed a large selection of many types of diesels and want to create a prototypical family of paint schemes for my freight, passenger, and switcher locos. Unless I've missed it, I don't see any instructions on how to use these line drawings. If it would take too much time to explain it on this site, could you give us novices some ideas as to how we would go about learning to use them?

    The webmaster replies: The painting problem with some of the drawings is because they were done with a non-standard color palette. The easiest way to fix them is to copy the entire image, and paste it into a new blank image of the same size. In the Win98 paint program, what you do is press CTRL-A to highlight the entire image, CTRL-C to copy it, CTRL-N to bring up a new image with the standard palette, and then CTRL-V to paste it into the new version.

    For painting the drawings, there are a number of possible solutions - I tend to use the paint program that comes with Win95/Win98 as the simplest option. I've used Paint Shop Pro as well. I would suggest that you do two things. First, go through the help file that comes with the paint (not graphics) program that you're using. Second, look over the Designing Realistic Paint Schemes and Proto-Freelance Modelers SIG Paint Schemes pages on this site for examples of how "family" paint schemes are designed. Usually similar patterns and colors are used, with switchers tending to have simpler schemes than road units.

    Add your reply!

Michael Flagg asks:

    How would you suggest "weathering" a painted drawing? It's nice to be able to do a "bright, shiny" unit, but how would you go about doing one that has been on the road for a while?

    The webmaster replies:

      I'm not really sure - I suppose you could make use of the "spray can" brush that comes with a lot of paint programs to add some "dirt" to the sides of the locomotive drawing, but you would have to worry about getting weathering on the background as well.

    Mike Mundy adds:

      I agree with the webmaster- use the spraycan tool! To avoid overspray on the background or nearby components, use a mask... Corel Photo-Paint and Adobe Photo-Shop both have magic wand tools to select areas to either be painted upon or to be protected from added paint. Also, you may find a smudge tool or blend tool to get a softer edge, as with a gradient to imply a rounded surface. If you have an emboss effect, you could mask out an area, emboss it, then blend/smudge away the higlights.
      Michael S. Mundy, Design visualization specialist, HNTB technology group

    Add your reply!

Gary G. Shields, Chuck Paul, and others ask with regard to the 1:25 scale drawings:

    Is there any way you can shrink the images? Why do they have to be so big? I have a 200mhz 32M RAM computer and it takes forever to move around the picture. Also, you need 3 and 4 pages to print them.

    I wish some of your drawings were small enough to fit my screen wihout having to scroll over or down. . . so I can see the "big picture" all inside my screen format.

    Joshua Moldover responds:

      I realize that the large drawings can create problems. They are larger than most screens can view, and can take up a lot of space on a drive, especially when compared to the smaller (particularly the 1:87 scale) drawings. However, the reason I switched to the larger scale was so that I could include the various details (pipes, handles, etc.) without either running out of room and ending up with a solid black area or making those items grossly out of scale. Keep in mind - in 1:25, 1 inch=3 pixels. As a result, a 1-1/2" handrail or grab iron can be 4 pixels thick (solid line, 2 spaces, and another line), providing room to paint the handrail without going out of scale. In 1:87, the same handrail (in scale) would have to be 1.15 pixels thick, providing no room to paint it, or, if I provided enough room to paint it, would be the equivalent of 3 1/2 inches thick. I wasn't willing to make that compromise, and so I went with the larger scale drawings. I realize it's an inconvenience to not be able to see the whole thing on the screen at once, (I have to deal with that too - my monitor only has a resolution of 800x600) but in order to keep things to scale, given the limitations of computer technology (lines and spaces are fixed-width), I felt I had to go with the larger scale. Yes, there are contributors to the site who have worked in 1:87, but you will notice that their drawings are less detailed, and make scale compromises for small details as well. If you want to shrink the images down and print them out, most graphics programs will allow you to resize an image to fit a piece of paper, regardless of the original image size. Anyone wanting to print out the images is welcome to do so.

Andrew Ciborowski asks:

    When are we going to see Railroad simulations of the quality and variety of Flight simulators and the open ended additions that FS programs allow? We see more and more 3D but not of the quality of Flight Simulators. The computers of today certainly have the capacity and ability to do a really great job of simulation even to the joysticks and instrument panels and sim cockpits.

    Bradley Linda replies:

      Abracadata makes some good RR sims. I think that one or two of them are 3-D.

    Chris Bullitt replies:

      The problem with railroading is that it is painfully boring. It's a lot of single track that is nothing. Switching, on the other hand, might work. But wait! that is tremendously difficult to pull off in simulation. The only clues that the engineer has are the calls from the brakeman: "Push twenty cars..... Push ten cars...... Push five cars...... Push three cars..... Push two cars...... That'll do." That doesn't sound like much fun to me. But, then again, it might be fun.

    Don Miller, Jr. adds:

      I agree w/ Chris. As an engineer on a full size railroad it is 98% sheer monotony and 2% sheer terror when you see that cars aren't even slowing down for the "funny little blinking red lights" and you are 100 feet from the crossing. Another problem is, how would you duplicate the control stand and brake stand(s)? Another set of clues the engineer uses are the sounds of loco(s) and the seat of his pants to determine how the train is responding. Assuming you had a "Realistic" sim w/ possible derailments or break-aways, the engine doesn't have a warning buzzer or a message that flashes in the cab. You know if either of them has happened by sound and feel only (I haven't had either of them happen to me, but people have told me that's how you know). Actually there is more action on the ground than there is in the cab.
      Don Milller, Jr. Engineer/Conductor Cape May Seashore Lines

    Bradley Linda adds some more information:

      I have heard that Microsoft is putting their equipment in a BNSF C44-9W to tape the area from Seattle, Washington to somewhere. I forget where, though. This was posted on the discussion boards.

    Add your reply!

More questions and comments to come as you send them in!

Joshua Moldover, Webmaster