Painting HO and O scale model trains is a great way to personalize your collection or simply to update it. Before beginning, though, there are a few tips to keep in mind. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is to prepare. You don't want to stop in the middle of the project because you're lacking the right tools or because you haven't thought it through.
All metal and wood surfaces on model trains should be gently sanded until the surface is smooth. Your best bet is to use fine 400 grit sandpaper. It serves its purpose and its texture won't damage your model trains. If you're painting plastic, most often, you'll only need to ensure it's clean and dry. Since oils from our fingers will transfer onto plastic, you run the risk of the paint not applying properly if it's not free of oil or other particles. Usually, primer isn't necessary for model trains made of plastic.
Although higher quality paint brushes will cost a bit more, the investment is worth it in the long run. Brush streaks will be easily seen and the potential for loose fibers to stick to your paint is higher with less expensive paintbrushes. The same applies to your paint. Enamel paint is most versatile and appropriate for HO and O scale model trains. It's also recommended you consider an airbrush technique for larger areas. This ensures more even coverage and isn't nearly as time consuming.
If your model trains require more than one color, as most usually do, consider using the newer "painter's" tape versus traditional masking tape. It's easier to remove and you're less likely to be left with the sticky residuals common with masking tape. Another product on the market that's excellent for model trains is a liquid painting mask. Application is a breeze and once it's dried, you can continue with your painting project. Once the project is completed, you can easily peel the mask off. You're left with clean lines where your two paints seamlessly meet.
A few other tips to keep in mind:
Add a few bbs to your jars of acrylic paint. It makes mixing easy.
Remember to thoroughly clean your brushes after each use so that they're ready for the next project.
If you apply decals to your recently painted HO and O scale model trains, be sure to allow at least 24 hours for the paint to properly dry and set.
Use warm water to wet the decals with - it easily prepares the glue for setting.
As a final step, a coat of Dull-Cote seals the decal in place and prevents edging.
By incorporating these tips and preparing in advance, your painting projects for your model trains are far more likely to be successful.
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Joe Kanooga is a father of two kids, a successful business owner and the author of numerous articles about o scale model trains. Click here to download a free model trains guidebook filled with hobby tips, ideas and information.
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