SPLASH OF COLOR - PART 1-1
Okay guys, we're nearing the end. The car bodies and roofs have been completed. Time for some paint. After which, there's graphics and final assembly or attachment of the various details.
Will start by describing the reefer paint job. The Northern Pacific reefer cars were basically two colors. The closest rattle can match I came up with was Rustoleum gloss marigold for the sides. Rustoleum flat red primer spray used for the roof would also be used for the car ends. The red primer would eventually be over sprayed with a Minwax clear satin polyurethane. Oh yeah, the underside of the car was painted with Rustoleum satin canyon black.
Once I decided to finish the reefer in NP colors and graphics, here's what I was aiming for. This is one of my old Athearn HO NP reefer models with the "Main Street of the Northwest" slogan. Liked the way the script slogan offset the rail roman font on the rest of the car.
As I've advocated many times before, I try to sand blast or glass bead blast all metal surfaces before painting. This roughs up the surface (glass bean blasting is more of a burnishing) so the paint has something it can get a grip on. Or as sometimes noted...more "bite".
Years ago my friend...okay, let's call him Chris ('cause that's what his name is...he's also the guy building the 2.5" scale logging disconnects in the other Chaski forum)...made his portable sand blast pot "mobile". Chris likes to economize and improve efficiency wherever he can. I always hope that would translate back to his train building. Sometimes I can nudge him in that direction...other times not. To each his own.
To make the sand blast pot mobile, Chris got a 2-wheeled cart from Harbor freight. Mounted the pot to the cat. Took an empty 20# propane bottle, removed the valve, used a hole saw to make the largest possible hole inside the bottom foot ring with a hole saw. A couple pipe nipples and a ball valve were inserted between the pot and tank...and now there's a sand "hopper" right no top of the pot. House air is piped in, obviously to move the sand that drops out the bottom of the pot, but also apply some downward pressure on the sand in the pot. A valve on the bottom allows control of the sand flow. Another valve controls air flow for blasting. And there's one last valve...the bleed valve. When it's time to refill the pot...turn off the air to the pot and relieve the pressure in the pot BEFORE opening the sand valve under the hopper (don't ask how I know). Here's what this contraption looks like.
Should note, the spray hose and nozzle are industrial grade. Any kind of sand media will have a habit of wearing the blast nozzle as well as the nozzle stopper. Will add...we wear a blasting hood while cleaning metals that has compressed air pumped in for breathing and to try and blow out any air born sand. It's almost like a Darth Vader hoody. For this kind of metal preparation, we use white silica sand available from Menards. For small blasting jobs like the box and reefer, waste sand is allows to fall on the gravel driveway...never to be seen again. Here's the blaster...
Let's get masking. Had all kinds of tape, card board and newspaper ready for masking depending on the application. As mentioned, the underside of the car would be painted satin black. So, started with the car upside down on a cart. The bottom of the car had already been painted black early on during car construction, but that was before the bottom aluminum edge trim was installed.
Masked the center sill area. Used duct tape along the perimeter. Have found duct tape can withstand the sand blasting abuse. Then used regular blur or green masking tape to hold the cardboard in place. Anything else that needed protection was covered over as well.
However, the reefer still wasn't ready for blasting. Knew from the start it would probably be a bad idea to sand blast the aluminum flashing sheets used for the sides of the car body. Nothing more than contact cement was holding the flashing in place. Did NOT want to risk bubbling or blistering the this aluminum. So the car sides were masked as well (took longer to do all the masking than the blasting!). Went around the perimeter of the flashing edges with duct tape. Then, used cardboard to fill in the open areas. With the car body up on wood blocks, could also squat down to blast (upside down) the upper edge car side wall edge trim.
Here's how the aluminum trim and duck tape masking looked after blasting. The aluminum trim and escutcheon pin heads or drive screw heads used for edging were nicely roughened. Figured the rough aluminum trim pieces would be filled in with the paint (and it was)...the same for the aluminum dreadnaught castings. Can see how the duct tape around the car side perimeter was "abused". But the duct tape held strong. When the masking was removed, cleaning the adhesive residue would be another matter.
With all the masking still in place, an air blast nozzle was used to blow away any sand/powder left on the car surfaces. The roughened aluminum trim and castings...was better to use a stiff haired paint brush to clean off any residue. DO NOT use a shop towel or rag...as the lint or fuzz will get grabbed by the rough surface. That, or after the rag/towels...go over the surface with the brush.
At this point, finished spraying the black on the car underside. Sprayed the car ends with red primer. Wasn't too concerned if there was red primer over spray on the car bottom...but didn't want black over spray on the car ends. Was a good plan, but still had to come back later to mask the car sides and hit the ends again with red primer.
Next time, we'll get some color on the car sides. Stick around...there's more masking heading our way! Carl B.
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