or What might the D&H have done with an FA-1 if they'd gotten one?
I have chosen an Aristocraft FA 1 as another subject for this painting article. Being a D&H fan I have taken some modeler’s license and decided to paint it ala the D&H PAs. This is not without a prototype however since there have been two instances where ex CN/VIA MLW FPA-4’s have been painted up to mimic the famous PA’s. Alas both have now been repainted red, yellow and black and reside somewhere in Ohio. It doesn’t really matter as I intend to paint my locomotive as I think the D&H would have had they acquired an FA or two.
First take it all apart with the exception of the drive train and chassis. It comes apart quite logically and with the exception of the windshields should be no trouble. I have painted quite a few of these locos and in about half of them the windshield came out hard and I had to take great care not to damage either the window or the frame or both. Before we paint we must decide what detailing if any we want to do. Since this is a painting and not a major renovation project I chose only to make minor detail changes. Beside in my opinion the FA by Aristocraft is quite acceptable nearly as it comes out of the box. First I replaced the clear plastic painted on grillework along the top of the body sides with screen. Just cut plain ordinary windowscreen (metal not fiberglass) to fit the openings and fix in place with a little appropriate cement. I use Goo. I then added some lift rings, realistic looking windshield wipers, a firecracker radio antenna and some retainers for the air and mu hoses. I cut the cab door springs in an attempt to make them more operable but was not satisfied as they tended to be hingebound and wouldn’t stay where I placed them. My solution was to cut the hinges off and permanently fix the doors in the desired position.
Often you can enhance some small detail just in the way you paint it. For example, I carefully painted the air and mu hoses to represent that kind of reddish pink rubber that they are currently made of and then added silver angle cocks and rust colored connectors. Small details but they all add to the general impression of the final model.
Next the preparation for painting. The model was factory painted Northern Pacific and had a number of very distinct color separation lines. These separations as well as the painted on graphics must be sanded smooth or they will show under he new paint. Use very fine sandpaper here as scratches won’t do either. Next prime the body shell with a neutral color (light gray etc.) After the primer is thoroughly dry...I like overnight...look it
over very closely in intense light and locate any color separations or graphics that still show through.. Any remaining imperfections can now be sanded again. Make sure to remove any sanding dust and paint the first color which in this particular case is yellow for the striping. A general principal I follow is smallest areas of color first, followed in turn by each successively larger color.
After the yellow is thoroughly dry (I prefer overnight for the first color but it is not really necessary, as this paint can be dry in 15 minutes) lay out the masking for the yellow striping. This warbonnet type of scheme has a couple of sharp curves that must be done with care. Remember this is the most critical stage of your painting project. The final product will only be as perfect as the smallest , most complex stripe,as everything following that striping is totally based on it. First I select the proper size tape and lay out the straight lines. Net I cut a circular pattern out of plastic “bookbinding” tape exactly the size I want the inner curve to be. Then I place the pattern in place, select a tape size of exactly one half of the original stripe and curve it around the pattern. I then follow with the second half and create the curved stripe. Repeat this procedure for all the curves and complete the masking of all yellow striping.
Now for the next color...D&H Avon blue. You will note upon looking closely at a picture of a D&H PA , that there is a thin blue stripe on the outboard side of the main yellow stripe. We do this first by laying a masking stripe for the blue right alongside the yellow masking already in place. Note: Whenever you place two masking stripes side by side it is good insurance to lay and additional masking stripe on top of the joint. Next , since I wish the raingutters and trim over the windows to be silver I will mask around these. This is another instance where paint can enhance detail that is not there. There is no trim over the windshields on the model but we can paint one there. Now proceed to mask off the rest of the blue.
Finally the last color...Silver, stainless etc.. This is easy, carefully recheck all your masking joints and airbrush the rest with silver. BE careful not to direct paint spray directly at tape edges but try to paint as perpendicularly as possible to all tape joints. Keeping good distinct color separation at the screened areas is not difficult but requires some careful attention to how you direct the paint. If you don’t keep the paintspray perpendicular to the tape edge ,the paint will go through the screen at an angle and contaminate the color under the masking. Actually you will see it is much easier to accomplish than it is to explain here.
Give the last coat 15 minutes or so to dry and carefully strip off the masking, the same way you put it on only in reverse order.... one piece at a time. Hold the model either on the masked areas or from the inside so as not to damage the last coat of paint. After all the masking is removed set the model on blocks to dry thoroughly. Now is the time to look it over and plan any corrections if required. There are many correction techniques but few should be needed here. Paint pull off is very rare with this paint so the problems if any will tend to be overspray or underspray. These may be corrected by some artist brushwork for very tiny areas to some larger areas of remask and touchup with an airbrush. Any corrections required that can’t be handled thusly are usually fatal and the model must be redone.
What follows is decal application, final overspray...flat, matte, satin or
gloss. I often mix these in different proportions to attain even more subtle
in final finish. I did encounter a strange problem with decal application on
the silver. The solvaset if left on the silver in any quantity (any kind of
puddle not on the decal itself) would tend to make it soft so that any touch
the paint finish. So the word to the wise is keep a close eye where the solvaset
is going and keep it under control.
When all the painting is done.... reassembly testing and completion. It looks so good I think the D&H of my fantasy probably had at least 2 A units and a B unit... surely purchased from neighboring NYC who had a lot of them. SO having said this I had better set about painting and detailing another A unit and at least one B unit....JAW
PS. You may wonder what the rationale is for the selection of the locomotive number 20. Well the PA’s were 16,17,18,&19...so it seems logical to me anyway that the next Alcos would start at 20 and then assuming that there were to be a few A’s before they got to B’s then the number 25 for the B unit works. Also adding spaces between numbers leads one to think there are a lot more of the same around somewhere and lends reality to the models. After all how often do you see two or three consecutive numbers on similar locomotives in the real world experience?