Under The Bench – Part II

Under The Bench – Part II


Progress constructing the Barrett kits for the Midland 2P and GW Grange had progressed well and it was time to consider painting the models.

Recently, with tears in his eyes, a friend of mine showed me the twisted remains of an ‘0’ Gauge Milk Wagon.  The plastic kit had been beautifully made, and the primer sprayed on.  The top coat had been applied and was not compatible with the primer coat resulting in a poor paint finish.  Undeterred he attempted to remove the offending coat with paint stripper.  It removed the paint but attacked the plastic with disastrous results.  It literally melted before his very eyes!

This of course is not an unique experience, and is one I am sure most of us have experienced at the painting stage of a model at some time or other.  In my opinion, painting a finished model is one of the most nerve-racking experiences, risking ruining a cherished model at the last hurdle.

Regarding the two kits I was building, the small components and inside the chassis frames had been painted during construction as the kit progressed.  Most builders complete the locomotive, run it, and then strip it down to paint, and this was the advice given to me.  Not being a very patient person, my logic was that having built it why would I want to strip it down again?

Under the Bench (Part 11)

So a plan of action was devised that went against all perceived wisdom.  The boiler wrap, firebox, cab and tender were all completed and ready for painting.  I had chosen Pheonix Precision Paints ‘S&DJR Prussian Blue’ (P450) which was only available in tinlets.  At the same time I had purchased the booklet produced by Precision Paints entitled ‘The Finishing Touch’.  This is one of the best practical books I have ever read.  It covers all aspects of painting and is written in down-to-earth language and gave me the confidence to find the airbrush I had purchased some five years previously and which still remained in its box, unused.

I had taken their advice and practised for a short time on a tin can but my impatience prevailed and I went straight onto painting the tender and boiler, etc. having previously degreased them and applied a coat of 2-pack etch primer.  All appeared to go well and a couple of days later came the big test, spraying on the top coat.

Using quick drying thinners meant that the final coat could be completed in one operation.  It went so well.  I applied approximately 10 coats of gloss in under 10 minutes and the finish was perfect.  However, this was ‘pride before a fall’.  On inspection the paint around the dome on the boiler appeared a little thin and I decided, having started to enjoy my new-found skill to give it one more coat.  I overfilled the cup on the airbrush, which as I was spraying emptied itself, through my angling the airbrush over to one side, all over the newly painted boiler!  Great dollops of paint dribbled down all over it.  There are times when your blood runs cold and this was just such an occasion.

I remember reading in the booklet that when disasters such as this strike, not to panic, and definitely not to attempt to rectify at this juncture.  So I did nothing except feel heartily sick.  The paint was allowed to dry for a couple of weeks before I attempted to cut off some of the larger drips, exposing still wet paint beneath.  When the newly exposed paint was allowed to dry, it was sanded down with wet & dry sandpaper before re-spraying a new top coat.  Perfect!

With renewed confidence I sprayed the Great Western Grange in ‘GW Loco Green’.  Whilst not obtaining such a deep gloss as the Midland 2P, it was acceptable, and I let sleeping dogs lie.

Final assembly operations took place on both engines and were ready, in the words of Barretts, ‘to set fire to it’.  This sounded a bit drastic, so I contacted Steven Barrett and asked him to cast his eyes over the finished locos.  There were some minor faults which were easily rectified by him.  With gas lighter in hand he set fire to the 2P.

It is very, very satisfying when something you have built for the first time, comes to life, and there she was trundling around John Barrett’s extensive garden layout literally under her own steam.

So to sum up, as a newcomer to Gauge 1 and live steam, what have I learned?  First, membership of G1MRA has enabled me to talk at length with fellow enthusiasts and I have been made particularly welcome by our local Northamptonshire group.

Secondly, I have realised it is very important to choose suppliers carefully.  Dealing with companies that are willing to give up both time and assistance to a newcomer is priceless and I must thank Pheonix Precision Paints, Cup Alloys in Sheffield and Barretts Steam Models.  I should add I have no connection with any of the above suppliers but I have received exemplary help from them, something I cannot say for some suppliers I have dealt with in the past.

That’s it then.  Two completed kits and a third, the Black Five, well on its way and no unfinished projects under the workbench!

John Mileson

August 2015

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