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Monday, May 25, 2009

Birney Project ~ Weathering

No matter how much I love the nice shiny, sparkling paint on this trolley, it's gotta be knocked down a notch. I need to have this trolley look like a hard working, earning a living, turning a buck, work a day trolley. And yet retain some of its cared for and maintained shine.

For this weathering project, I'm going to be using weathering powders. These are very fine powders that include a bonding agent that is activated from the friction of scrubbing on the powders.

The lightest colors seem to have the hardest time showing up where as the darkest colors are too easy to apply. So, as you can see, I start with the lightest color first. The light gray is perfect for making the paint appear faded (the left side of the car is weathered and the right side is untouched to illustrate the difference the powder makes). Next is the nice light tan for simulating dust, then dark tan for simulating dirt. And finally dark brown for grime. I'm mostly interested in the fading and dusting effects for simulating the hot and dusty desert-by-the-sea climate of San Diego.

I love the effect that the powders makes on my models, it makes them look so dusty and dry. The biggest difference the powders made are on the mahogany doors and windows. Note how you can see them now, the surface details being brought out, where as before the doors were so glossy and translucent that you really couldn't see them (compare to top photo).

Probably the best feature of weathering powders is how forgiving they are. If you don't like the results, simply wash it off. Or, you can tone it down dramatically with a coating of dullcote. I sprayed the car with a coat of gloss. That way the car is weathered and shiny. The gloss coat did away with about 95% of the weathering, but, 5% of the weathering remains. The car is very nicely lightly weathered and yet retains the shine of a new, cared for and maintained trolley car.
Then I went back in and did a little more light weathering with the powders. This time I won't affix them with anything, just letting the bonding agent in the powders do its thing. So now I have a slightly weathered trolley, but shiny too! Yessir! Weathered yet shiny too!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Birney Project ~ Stickin' On the Stickers

Now that the Decals are made, it's time to stick 'em on.

Before anything else, seal the decals with a spray coat so the ink won't smear in the application process. Folks use clear Krylon, Dullcote, etc. Since the Birney is painted with Scalecoat paint, I sealed the decals by spraying them with Scalecoat Gloss. Let dry 24 hours.

It has been a while since I applied decals to a model, let alone decals with pin striping and that need such precision placement as these do. So, to gain some confidence I'm going take some decals that didn't print out all that well when I was trying out different settings on my printer, and use them to practice with.

Shown above is my handy "big ol' hunk of iron" that comes in very handy as a weight for various things. As you can see, I even used it to try out my SDERy Mission Yellow recipe on before I applied it to the model. Now its a perfect candidate to try the decals on! I'm using Microscales Micro Set and Micro Sol to help with the application proccess. Micro Set helps set the decals in place and Micro Sol softens the decals so that they will conform to irregular surfaces such as brick detail, plank detail, or in my case... rivets. The bottom decal was applied first. I was very pleased with it until I discovered that while smoothing it out, I had also stretched it to about 125% of its original size! Thinking I'm not supposed to smooth it out, I applied the second (top) decal and just let it dry on its own, thinking it will just tighten up and lay flat. But no, even though it didn't stretch as bad, its all wiggly. So I sent a frantic email to my good friend and fantastic modeler, Don Ball. He told me his technique for applying decals, which I followed very carefully. Turns out, I was not only using too much Set and Sol, I was using WAY TOO MUCH Set and Sol.

Following Don's instructions, I first dipped the decal into clean drinking water and set it aside to let the moisture from it loosen the decal. While that was happening, I took a much smaller brush this time and applied just enough Micro Sol to moisten the surface of the area of the car to be decaled. The decal was then slid off its backing right on to the moist, slippery surface. I used the brush sparingly dipped in Micro Set again to help position and smooth out the decal., using a small piece of tissue to blot up any excess. Once the decal is in place, I let it dry completely!

Now that everything is dry and stuck in place but good, now I can apply the Micro Sol (the hot stuff, that's why the bottle is red). But only to where its needed! In my case, right over the rivets. I applied small amounts over the rivets and let it soften things a little, using the brush to help conform the decal around the rivets. Not too much though, don't want to rip the decal. Let it dry!

Keep repeating: Moisten with Micro Sol only where needed, nudge, and let dry, as many times nessessary until desired results are achieved. When everything is in place and perfectly dry, I seal the decals by spraying the car with gloss coat.

For the dash signs, I cut some shim brass to size. I wanted to use styrene, but it don't come that thin. I painted the sign the trim brown color. After it was dry, I applied the decals to it and sealed them with gloss. Later I will glue it to the front of the car, after the weathering is done.

It's always amazing to me what a difference lettering and striping makes to a model. I think its looking sharp in its new pin striped suit. Yessir! Lookin' real sharp in it's new pinstriped suit!