27 June, 2012

Airbrushing Wars - A New Hope

Queue Dramatic Music by John Williams

"A long time ago... in a galaxy far, far away... "

Yeah, whatever.  So, I decided to buy an airbrush rig these past two weeks (see previous post) and tonight, I finally tried it out, after setting it up over the course of a weekend.
I had three cars that I really didn't care too much about "volunteer themselves" for paint shop duty.  I think one's an old MDC/Roundhouse SCL Boxcar (Black), an Athearn Blue Box RF&P inaccurate, and an old Blue Box B&O Coal Hopper.  The looked like they were achin' to get off the shelf (and out of the white elephant bin!).  Here's what I did:
First, I build a little stand, per instructions by Pelle Soeborg, in his book, Done in a Day, from Kalmbach.  I had some scrap 2x4s laying about, cut one to about 95 scale feet (in HO), and cut up a wire hanger from the Dry cleaners.  I found some 1/8" styrene tube in a drawer (didn't remember EVER buying it!) and cut a couple of pieces.  I then just did about 2 or 3 coats of gloss coat over the 2x4, just so it wouldn't suck up gallons of paint and need to be thrown out in a HazMat bag.  I figure I can cut a few more, if I ever need to replace.

 As Pelle states, the wires can swivel as needed to meet the different distances between wheel posts.  I may have to drill another hole, slightly closer, when the time comes for a 40' car.
 You can see I'm using Floquil Paints (I got 'em, might as well use 'em).  I thinned them approximately 50/50 and used about 20 pounds of air pressure on the regulator.  I was using CN Grey, Rust, and Grimy Black.  Lesson #1, always, ALWAYS go from darkest to lightest.  I started with the CN grey, went to rust, then went to grimy black.  WRONG-O.  Also, having paper towels handy is awesome!  Along with that, have a box of el-cheapo latex gloves and WEAR THEM.  I am so glad I did.
 So, I futzed around, playing with distance from nozzle to car, rate of travel, nozzle setting (i.e. how much paint to let out), and I must admit, I was not as intimidated as I thought I'd be.  It was kinda fun, slowly building up colors, fading the car, etc.  If I'd done the colors in a more effective order, I think it'd come out even mo' better!  While not my best job, it was my first and didn't come out as bad as I thought.  Lots still to do, and experiment with.
 I like the painting of rust on the roof, but again, sequence and varying the shade of rust would have made this better.  Oh well, this is a learning experience.  More practice and use should make this go easier.
 The ends seemed to come out better than the sides... I dunno.  More to do, I think.  Maybe using a Floquil Grime, or Dust color, along the bottom, all the way around?
 While letting the first car dry, I just started going goofy (my mind wandered quickly - watching paint dry is NUTS!) and just varied the spray pattern and amount of paint on this RF&P inaccurate.  It wasn't the best, but it still seemed to make it better than just out of the box.
 Finally, I pulled a black Coal Hopper and just wanted to see what it was like to fade out the lettering, using Grimy Black (I never use this Mark 1, Mod 0 POS - most of the screw holes to hold it together are all stripped).  I played and played until I finally ran out of diluted paint.  What you see is still wet.
 After all my "fun" (about an hour was all my brain AND my 'dogs' (aka feet, paws, etc) was completed, I used the Iwata cleaning pot to flush out the brush, with the paint thinner, then I disassembled it as best I could.  I cleaned the little pot, disassembled the needle and head, ran some of the micro-bottle brushes through everyting (coated in thinner), and then wiped everyting down.  Disassembly wasn't to terrifying, nor difficult.  If done with a paper towel (with thinner on it) early enough (before stuff hardens), it wasn't too hard to do the cleaning.  I reassembled and put it back together, tested the airflow still worked, then shut everything down (when the cars were dry).
 Overall, it wasn't the most exciting thing to do in the Hobby, but it certainly wasn't the hardest.  I'm going to have to dig out my Scotty Mason/Mike Rose Weathering Freight Car DVDs (you can get two of the BEST DVDs out there, at www.scottymason.com) and watch them again.  I skimmed or ignored all the great tips about airbrushing, but NO MAS - I'm a full fledged drinker of the cool aid.  What are you wating for?  Go out and get a rig!  Got one?  Use it!  I think you'll make some very nice things happen and even reinvigorate your love of Model railroading!


Bernie said...

Very cool. How does the booth work?

The Train Fanatic said...

Very nicely. It is a little loud, but I think it is because it is sitting on bare wood...