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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Birney Project ~ Painting Brass Models

Before I commit paint to brass, I'm going to experiment a little. I started by making some guesses as to what color paints to mix to achieve SDERy "Mission Yellow".

This is a page from my notebook. I masked off a grid and airbrushed some paint samples to see what color these paints really are (Scalecoats color guide is a three color process that uses color inks from the printer and not actual Scalecoat paint). I'm really liking Scalecoats Erie Lackawanna Yellow (but read on!!!).

First, to prep the model, I soaked it for 15 minutes in vinegar. Vinegar will not only chemically clean the brass but will also micro-etch it to give it some tooth for the paint to stick to. Then rinse and dry.

Inspired by this photo of an actual Birney interior, I have decided to paint mine similarly.

Floquil makes a nice tan color, so I used that for the interior (can you guess what color tan I used? Answer). Floquil and Scalecoat don't mix, so Floquil will be used exclusively for the interior and Scalecoat exclusively for the exterior.
Edit: I have since discovered that San Diego Birneys had green interiors. Live and learn. Yessir! Live and learn.

After the paint dried thoroughly I masked off the entire interior. Say goodbye to bare brass! Its off to the paint shop.

Following Scalecoats "Recommended Steps for Application", I airbrushed the paint on and then "baked" the model at 175 degrees for 2 hours. This will make the paint really shine! I used this old toaster oven that I kept for just such an occasion.

Whoa! Way too lemony yellow! Lackawanna yellow looks very different on brass than it did in my notebook. Back to the drawing board, or, paint booth.

I need a much more of a golden yellow color. After trying a few things, I'm going to give chip #6 (center, right) a go: 1 part C&NW Yellow, 1 part SP Daylight Orange. I'll also give Boxcar Red (top left) a go for the Mahogany trim color. The bottom row is my explorations for the roof color. I eventually used all the colors: 10 parts white, 5 parts C&NW Yellow, 5 parts SP Daylight Orange, 1 part Boxcar Red (in other words, 10 parts SDERy Yellow, 1 part SDERy Brown, and then lightened that considerably with an equal amount of white).

Much better. I got so involved with the painting process that I forgot to take pictures of the fancy masking I had to do for the brown trim, sorry. Practically to whole model was masked except for the doors and window frames! Tiny strips of masking tape had to be cut and placed between each of the windows. I laid the masking tape on a piece of glass and used a straight edge and Xacto to cut it into the strips.
This yellow color seems to be pretty darn close (considering I have never personally seen SDERy Yellow!!!). I think it needs to be darker. Or maybe slightly more orange? Oh I don't know! At least it's well within the ballpark. Yessir! Well within the ballpark!

Dandy