Hey guys, I just completed the restoration of my Hellgate bridge and thought you all might be interested in seeing the process.

I picked this piece up at York in 2011 from Trainworld.  It was really rough, badly repainted and missing the decking and one of the tower tops.  While at the same show I was able to pick up re-pro pieces from the MTH parts booth.  Here are the before shots:

Photo Jul 12, 8 53 46 AMPhoto Jul 12, 8 53 55 AMPhoto Jul 12, 8 54 05 AMPhoto Jul 12, 8 54 10 AMPhoto Jul 12, 8 54 17 AMPhoto Jul 12, 8 54 24 AMPhoto Jul 12, 8 54 31 AMPhoto Jul 12, 8 54 47 AMPhoto Jul 12, 8 55 04 AM

 

James

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Of course, I didn't get started on the project until last year.  The car in the back ground has been taking up most of my time (that one is not even close to finishing).

First thing I did was take the bridge apart as far down to separate parts as the bent tabs would allow.  (Amazingly throughout the entire process I only broke two tabs during re-assembly.)  I then began to strip the paint with a combination of acetone, Evapo-Rust and regular aircraft stripper.  Evapo-Rust must have a TSP component, it began to dissolve the original paint, but didn't touch the re-painted sections. 

Photo Feb 09, 9 42 57 AMPhoto Feb 28, 2 17 30 PM

 

Good old Pittsburgh Steel! 

Photo Feb 28, 2 17 50 PM

Had to actually form a pan large enough to contain the 24 inch spans.  I made this one out of many layers of wide heavy duty foil. 

Photo Mar 04, 10 15 10 AM

Ready for paint!

Photo Mar 09, 4 14 30 PM

 

 

James

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For paint, I wanted to use off the shelf colors.  I tried Woods Paint in the past and was very unhappy with the quality, and custom mixing was not in the budget, so i took some of the parts that still had original paint  to the Rustoleum and Krylon racks and started to compare.  I think I came up with reasonable substitutes.

This one was only available in flat finish:

Photo Feb 24, 2 19 25 PM

Picked the one on the right:

Photo Feb 24, 2 19 38 PM

Original paint chip in the middle:

Photo Feb 24, 2 19 53 PM

James

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Re-assembly was a little nerve wracking.  Each bent tab created a touch-up spot.  At last the towers are complete!

Photo May 12, 9 31 20 AMPhoto May 12, 9 31 28 AMPhoto May 12, 9 31 41 AMPhoto May 12, 10 56 26 AMPhoto May 12, 10 56 50 AMPhoto May 12, 10 57 16 AM

Brass was polished.  I need more Never-Dull, that stuff is great!

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Attaching the tricky spans:

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Old distributor tune-up pliers were the right size to get into the tight spots and re-bend the tabs.

Photo May 18, 10 32 26 AM

 

 Photo May 18, 11 35 52 AM

 

James

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gunrunnerjohn posted:

Looks great.  I wonder if you could have bead blasted the pieces like the tower to avoid a complete disassembly?

Over the years I experimented with media blasting, but decided that the chemical process would be less damaging to the metal details.  At first I thought of submerging the entire assembly into a large vat of boiling TSP, but then realized that it might not remove all the paint.  As it was I still had to use the small brass brush with the dremel tool to get into the all the nooks and crannies.  I think disassembly was the best route since I was then able to paint all the surfaces inside and out with the three separate colors.

James

eddie g posted:

I got to tell you I am very impressed. That was one hell of a great job. I would have never attempted to do what you did especially  opening the tabs. Really a great job. Thanks for posting. I have 2 that I will send you. Just kidding.

Thank you!   With the original cost, supplies, time and effort, I probably would have saved money with just buying a repro, but it was a fun project with a satisfying result. 

James

Reminds me of the 313 Bascule I restored.  Painted all in silver when I got it, was really saddened when I saw100_7354100_7356101_0871 it was a prewar gray 313 when I began to strip it.  Oh well...….   With have to do same as you and post my step by step restoration, with parts retrieved from a second and third 313, few repro parts ( roof on house for second 313).  And, tracing how it was wired to contacts, difference between pre and post gear boxes, etc.  Great job, James, very well done, sir!

Jesse    TCA

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313 in operation after rebuild
texastrain posted:

Reminds me of the 313 Bascule I restored.  Painted all in silver when I got it, was really saddened when I saw100_7354100_7356101_0871 it was a prewar gray 313 when I began to strip it.  Oh well...….   With have to do same as you and post my step by step restoration, with parts retrieved from a second and third 313, few repro parts ( roof on house for second 313).  And, tracing how it was wired to contacts, difference between pre and post gear boxes, etc.  Great job, James, very well done, sir!

Jesse    TCA

Thank you!  That’s one on my bucket list!  Yes, please post a step by step thread!

James

Guys...this is NOT an automotive restoration forum.....the posts that had nothing to do with this topic as well as nothing to do with this forum were deleted/edited.  Keep on topic and discuss your cars on another forum...

Alan Arnold
CEO/Publisher
O Gauge Railroading magazine
adman@ogaugerr.com
800-980-OGRR (6477)

Really great job! I think the way to go is complete disassembly. The finish comes out way better and both sides get painted. This will be a much more durable finish and the bridge will probably last another 100 years! The only problem I have been running into when spraying both sides is the over-spray. I haven't quite mastered rattle can painting yet.

George

George S posted:

Really great job! I think the way to go is complete disassembly. The finish comes out way better and both sides get painted. This will be a much more durable finish and the bridge will probably last another 100 years! The only problem I have been running into when spraying both sides is the over-spray. I haven't quite mastered rattle can painting yet.

George

Thank you!  With the two stage paint process overspray was not really an issue.  Without concern of applying a gloss finish color coat, many quick passes with the can can achieve an even color.  Flat areas were re-coated with clear coat that could be applied liberally to get the desired gloss finish.  I use a trigger attachment to the top of the spray can that allows better control over the nozzle.  There are a few runs, but the original piece had them, so it added to the authentic look, LOL.

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James

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Wonderful work! I am a big fan of the Rustoleum 2X paints. A pretty good assortment of colors, and the stuff really lays down nice. Just be careful about painting over a previous color - the first one has to be completely cured or it will curl up. Also, am a fan of the Preval sprayer (you can buy the kit for $5 at Home Depot). It is basically a spray can with a bottle on the bottom. I have bought jars of paint from Hennings and mixed with solvent. The Preval has a very nice flat spray nozzle and is great for standard gauge locos and cars, larger areas where the airbrush is just too slow. Refill canisters are $4 (everything except the bottle). In this way you can buy the cans and mix colors. 

Jim Waterman

Jim Waterman

Lee Lines Limited

Custom Built Standard Gauge

 

Jim Waterman posted:

Wonderful work! I am a big fan of the Rustoleum 2X paints. A pretty good assortment of colors, and the stuff really lays down nice. Just be careful about painting over a previous color - the first one has to be completely cured or it will curl up. Also, am a fan of the Preval sprayer (you can buy the kit for $5 at Home Depot). It is basically a spray can with a bottle on the bottom. I have bought jars of paint from Hennings and mixed with solvent. The Preval has a very nice flat spray nozzle and is great for standard gauge locos and cars, larger areas where the airbrush is just too slow. Refill canisters are $4 (everything except the bottle). In this way you can buy the cans and mix colors. 

Jim Waterman

Thanks!  I found out the hard way regarding the cure time on the paint.  I ran out of Bright Idea (the yellow on the towers).  When I got back from the paint store it was several hours but not long enough for it to cure.  It crazed almost immediately.  Fortunately, since I was clear coating I waited a few days and sanded the affected areas with 1200 grit wet, the re-coat turned  out pretty good.

I love Hennings paint, the colors and consistency are spot on, but for this project the challenge was to do it all with off the shelf cans.

James

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