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And now for some more photos. First below is my most recent finished project. The original brake wheel stand was broken off, so I changed that. And it was missing the searchlight dome cover, so I made one from the plastic from a milk carton, along with this clear ribbed plastic stuff that is really made for kitchen shelf covering. Now some might argue the Disney figures are completely unprototypical. Depending on your feelings about the Penn Central... I have a friend who jokes the Penn Central was a Mickey Mouse operation, so maybe it's more realistic that it seems. 

Penn Central searchlight car

Next below is prototype and fantasy combined. I like the Norfolk Southern Enviro scheme that was used on one single engine, the 999. Norfolk Southern has no Alco FA's, but I do. I realized finding decals for the "wave" part of the white striping was going to be impossible. And doing an identical paint mask on each side was going to be a huge challenge. So I did a simplified version of that scheme and added a zero to the unit number, though I still have to make the number boards for this one.

Norfolk Southern Enviro Scheme Alco

Next is a shorty Lionel plug door box car. I know it's the wrong shade of blue for CSX rolling stock, but I like it over the dark blue that is normally used. RMT had issued one of their 2-bay hoppers in the CSX Coke Express scheme. But the RMT version had white lettering. I looked high and low to find a photo of that car with white lettering and could find none. So I did my own Coke Express hopper and stumbled upon this shade of blue. I knew it wasn't right (those hoppers were black) but I liked it. So then I did this box car also. We 3-railers are a funny breed, aren't we? Somethings bother us, even though they're accurate, and other things that aren't accurate, we like. Well... maybe NOT all of us. 

CSX 027 box car

This next one was inspired by a fantasy paint scheme MTH put on a Lehigh Valley steamer. This one below was one of those Lionel late 1980's DC only starter set engines. Aside from the paint scheme, I added weight to the engine, so it can pull a train now. I also added a headlight, handrails, some other details and moved the drawbar from the tender to make the engine and tender closer.

Lehigh Valley 2-4-0 steamer

Next is a K-Line flat done up for NS. For some reason, K-Line had a thick round mounting on the body, where the trucks attach. I used a Dremel and sanded down the thickness of those, so that the car sets lower to the track and looks much better. I don't remember where I got the bars running along the deck surface... I cut them down from something... they hold items like these Tonka tractors in place. But I can also now put a whole variety of items on this particular flat car, which I like the flexibility of.

Norfolk Southern k-line flat car

Next below, a Lionel woodside reefer. Aside from repainting, I also cut down the body mounts where the trucks get attached to the car, so that the car rides a little lower to the track and looks better with my other smaller more 027-ish rolling stock.

Lehigh Valley woodside reefer

I might have posted this one on one of the Saturday Switcher threads. On my local division of the Norfolk Southern, there's some tight curves that the bigger engines just cannot maneuver through. So some Alco FA's had to be put into service. This was one of the older K-Line unpainted, molded plastic colored engines, either a Pennsy or Southern from one of the starter sets. Looks good to me now.

Norfolk Southern Alco FA 5284


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  • Penn Central searchlight car
  • Norfolk Southern Enviro Scheme Alco
  • CSX 027 box car
  • Lehigh Valley 2-4-0 steamer
  • Norfolk Southern k-line flat car
  • Lehigh Valley woodside reefer
  • Norfolk Southern Alco FA 5284


Glad you started this thread too. You are so right buying those old relics and making them look like new. I’ve been doing it for years in “Scale” now you have encouraged me to do some O27 for some reason  these days I’m leaning towards O27. I really like what you did with the NH Piggly Back. Two years ago I wouldn’t even look at O27 now its at the top of my list. This is why I love this “O” scale over HO and others. Hope to see more of your work 

Brian, your restored, repainted and renovated trains look great.

Although I prefer O Gauge with 031 and wider curves to 027, I also prefer traditional sized trains to Scale sized trains because of my medium sized layout (35 feet long and to 3 to 4 feet wide around the walls of 2 rooms in my basement). Traditional enables me to make trains with more cars to traverse my reverse loops.

Now if I had a large layout (50 feet by 20 feet or larger without reverse loops), then I would go for scale over traditional. For instance, I recently became a member of NJ Hi-Railers Club (layout is 185 feet by 30 feet without reverse loops) and scale size with huge locomotives and trains with 50 plus cars looks awesome. Arnold 


Last edited by Arnold D. Cribari
brianel_k-lineguy posted:

@Lionelski, nice work. You know, I've been tempted to try your elongated SP caboose project. Years ago there was an article in the OGR magazine about doing that very same project. I thought, wow, that'd make for a good "027-ized bunk or crew car. The Wabash caboose looks good too!

My whole point in doing this thread was to encourage people to try their hand at fixing up older trains. There's plenty of beaters out there and plenty of well worn common train items that don't have much collector value: All great candidates. If I found something that WAS actually worth money, I'd try to sell it so I could then buy more beaters or common stuff to repaint.

Many years ago at my first YORK show, some guy was giving me grief over repainting trains, telling me they were all collectibles and worth money. So... I pulled a well-worn gondola out of my purchases bag and told him I'd sell it to him for $500.00. He laughed and said, "That's not worth $500.00! That's a $5.00 train car, at best." I then laughed and told him he'd just shot his initial argument full of holes and then went about my merry way, looking for more candidates for repainting.

At another show, I was talking to the owner of Ross Custom Switches at a train show. I was looking over his products and admiring them, when he asked if he could help me. I told him I was a strictly 027 guy and was just looking.

To my surprise, he encouraged me. I asked why and he answered that every 027 item I buy from Lionel helps to keep them in business. Which helps Lionel to put money into the new high end scale products, which in turn, helps his business grow.

I thought that was a terrific answer, showing a great attitude towards business and a realistic outlook on the 3-rail hobby.


We are on the same wavelength Brian, thanks for the comments too.

At first I hesitated to post these pics here as I was concerned that you might think that I was hijacking your thread, I'm glad that you did not feel that way.

Nice work Bill. It looks like you put some kind of interiors into the cars, or maybe it's some kind of framing or treatment to the windows. 

We often see posts addressed to the train companies, when are you going to make this? Then people assume the train companies don't listen or don't care. Wrong. They have to have enough demand for a product, so that they can make a quantity that will cover the production costs. Or tooling and R&D if it's a totally new item. A lot of money these days especially given the small production run numbers that I am aware of.

So how long would it have taken for one of the train makers to make Spokane Portland & Seattle passenger cars of any kind? Never mind tinplate. It's the same question I've often asked myself, about the 027 products I'd like to see made, which is why I do what I do.

Maybe repaints don't have much value (unless it is something that someone specifically wants), but I highly doubt the original badly rusted cars Bill T. started off with had much value either, other than possibly sentimental, if even that. One thing for certain: I'm sure the cars look far better now than they did when Bill got them. And he has something he wanted in a road name he likes. Sounds like a win/win to me.

I love one offs, custom is King. I have lots of fantasy bashes. It's a huge part of what keeps me happy. I also like the semi-scale size better than full O (shrugs unknowingly)

Recently I brokea cheapie 0-27  caboose in half by accident. So I made anothers t follow up behnd my 2cnd chrome RI&P General (when it's not doubleheading). The spotlight is a Maglight lens cap and reflector. I added a spotlightbecause seeing the black hatted gunfighter in low light is very hard. This helps (only seeing about 3v here, its very bright)


(an RI&P car)IMG_20190429_182643~2

I'll add more red/brown like on the bobber behind it "s0meday"15762268381991995550978The remaining leftover plastic  was saved after I repaired a caboose roof/ awning with a scrap piece.

I also recently shot this 2-4-2 and tanker with some etching primer to make a Nuclear Steamer for a Kusan reactor car. And a thingamagjigger carIMG_20191210_072429 from what might be considered "rare" missle car (broken stands 😉)

Simple fun and few of my changes ever ruin even a semi-collectable   beyond revertability with standard repairs. I use water based craft acrylics mostly. It has proved to be removable in the sink years later. (I also often ask you folk who may want it before I paint or cut.  I even got a generous $150 offer for one I was simply gonna cut up ask first! 😉)


Todays fav. is my delivery trolly; FrankentrollyIMG_20171013_001119-1


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Nessmuck posted:

Without reading all the posts....what brand and kind of paint do you use ? Thanks ...also ,any special tape ?

Lots of variance in pants. Stick with one brand, one type (laytex, acrylic, enamel, lacquer.... chosen by plastic/metal/wood used)

Tape used is usually based on when you're pulling it and/or how strong the base coat is .   Regular masking tape can often make the best line, but it's most likely to pull up masked fresh paint/primer, especially if it stays on a long time. "Blue masking tape" or green have different levels of stickiness, read the label 😜

Cheap pinstipe usually makes for good fine line masking.

Try a topic search here (upper left menu); dozens of threads on painting in general as well as situationally themed. 

IMG_20191216_031741~2IMG_20191216_031405This sub was a bobber tank car from a battery op. Wallmart train set. A model jeep sprue, 2-CO² pellet gun tanks, 2- magic marker ends for the prop cover/nozzles, 2-dollar store mini l.e.d. lamp arms, safty flint wheel from a bic lighter for a saw blade, Duco epoxy and a loose screw.... for the saw blade😬

Car is all fudgesicle sticks with bearing boxes stuck on.   

Popsicle sticks simple wont work 😜

(etching primer green, enamel silver, craft acrylic yellow.  If you put the silver on yellow/ bad reaction; put green on yellow/bad reaction; green on silver is ok if light,..... it's a matter of how "hot" paint is wet vs how strong the skinning pull is when the other is dy. Hot= penetration ability and usually also notes a flat laying paint, which often pulls hard sideway at the undercoat to/while it flattens/dries. That causes cracking, "gator skin" )


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Last edited by Adriatic

These all look great.  I'm looking forward to refinishing some of my old stuff some day.  I've got a lot of cheap stuff (mid-80's 027 cars with the garbage plastic trucks and no springs) that I can experiment on. 

I'm really keen on finding Norfolk Southern Decals for Locos and Cars in O gauge.  Not a lot of that going around.  What did you use for your NS Loco? 

Jeff_the_Coaster_Guy posted:

These all look great.  I'm looking forward to refinishing some of my old stuff some day.  I've got a lot of cheap stuff (mid-80's 027 cars with the garbage plastic trucks and no springs) that I can experiment on. 

I'm really keen on finding Norfolk Southern Decals for Locos and Cars in O gauge.  Not a lot of that going around.  What did you use for your NS Loco? 

Jeff, if you read some of the descriptions I've written, I mention mixing scales of decals quite a bit, using larger logo HO sets like for locomotives. On the Alco FA's I repainted, those were HO sets, save for the nose decal: Somewhere along the way I found some S scale Norfolk Southern decal sets and ordered a bunch while they were available.

Many times, true O scale decal sets will be too large for some applications on smaller 027 cars, though I do use either O or S scale capacity data. Microscale has been SLOWLY reissuing some O scale decals and my advice to anyone, is to buy them when you see them. It sends a message to Mircoscale that there is a market, and you don't know how long what you want will be available.

I will offer a differing viewpoint on truck sets: I don't think the plastic ones are garbage. Certainly no worry about zinc rot. Granted, I wish the Symington style hadn't been made, but it is what it is. Though I have plastic truck sets from the Kughn era of Lionel (mid-1990's) where the knuckles no longer spring open by themselves, whereas all my MPC era cars, the knuckles STILL spring open. Obviously a difference in the composition of the Delrin plastic used.

The biggest drawback to the plastic trucks is not the trucks themselves, but the rivet mounting that is standard. The truck sets are always loose, with quite a bit of wobble: This looseness is what causes derailments when backing up a train into tight curves.

I drill out all rivets and replace them with a truss screw and a lock nut. I tighten it all the way, then loosen it just enough for the truck to swivel left to right. I haven't had a derailment in years,  when running a train backwards though tight 027 curves, even with a light 8 inch MPC car pushing much heavier cars with die cast trucks!


Jeff_the_Coaster_Guy posted:

These all look great.  I'm looking forward to refinishing some of my old stuff some day.  I've got a lot of cheap stuff (mid-80's 027 cars with the garbage plastic trucks and no springs) that I can experiment on. 

I'm really keen on finding Norfolk Southern Decals for Locos and Cars in O gauge.  Not a lot of that going around.  What did you use for your NS Loco? 

Yes, not always easy to find NS decals in O Scale. You may want to try ShellScale Decals. I bought some O Scale decals from them last year. They sell sets for NS EMD locos, NS GE locos, NS Switchers & Slugs and they can be trimmed to fit your specific application.




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Nice seeing modern roadnames on 027 rolling stock. I have a smattering of 027 boxcars in railroad roadnames (for a joke, I was going to video a string of them in the middle of a consist of 86' boxcars) and would have bought them in versions like your repaints as well had they been made.

BTW, have you ever considered using Smokebox Graphics' reflective striping, for that extra-modern look in low-light conditions?


(now you got me wondering what an 027-ized TTX high-cube boxcar would look like. Wouldn't take too much styrene to scratchbuild one )

Last edited by RailRide

To answer the last two questions. @Railrunnin, I mostly use manufactured decals. Mostly Microscale, but also Hearld King (now out of business), Rail Graphics (also out of business), Industrial Models (not doing decals any longer) and Shell Scale. I do want to give the Tichy Train Group decals a try... they've got a pretty good selection.

Again, an advantage of redoing smaller cars like I am, is the ability to take advantage of HO decal sets made for larger rolling stock or locomotives. Some of the HO decals are just too small even for 027 items.

I think the color saturation on screen printed decals is the best. I have tried to use a laser jet, using the blank Microscale stock, but never had good results with that. I've since read that a special blank decal film is made by some companies especially for laser jet printers. But you still cannot do white lettering, unless you use white decal stock and print the background color around it... no easy task to get a computer printer to perfectly match a paint color, other than black. There are a whole bunch of various videos on YouTube about printing your own decals on a laser jet, the pros and the cons.

The yellow Conrail caboose on the first page of this thread, I did make the decals on a copy machine, using Microscale blank stock. I couldn't find a large enough CR logo in black. I printed out what I wanted on blank paper and then taped the Microscale stock directly over the printed area on the paper, making sure I was feeding the paper thru the machine the correct side up. I also did this when the machine was first turned on, to avoid any melting damage to the copy machine.

The Looney Toons circus car on the first page also, had color decals I had made for me, along with black decals I again printed on a commercial Xerox type machine.

@Jeff_the_Coaster_Guy, Yes that is correct. Decals won't adhere well to anything but I gloss surface. When I can, I use gloss paint. Sometimes the color I want is in a matt or satin finish, so then I put a coat or two of gloss on after the painting is done. I'm using spray cans, so it pays to be flexible. I've used this rust colored primer that is pretty darn close to a Tuscan red color. So there's an example of having to gloss coat after painting. After decaling and any detail painting is done, then I put on a couple coats of a flat clear non-yellowing finish.

RailRide posted:

BTW, have you ever considered using Smokebox Graphics' reflective striping, for that extra-modern look in low-light conditions?

I didn't know about that product. I should add it to my decal list on page one.

When I had a larger layout, I had a crossing gate with a vehicle waiting that had headlights, sort of like Menards is now offering. I had a couple locomotives with actual reflective striping on the frame. So when the train went by that, it was pretty cool.

The pigment count of screening ink is very very high. It's a pastey ink too vs  liquidy. (closer to art oil based tubes of paint)

Nessmuck posted:

Thanks....I’ve been painting cars since 1976....Tri color Pearls, Base Coat Clear coat.....weined on Lacquer....Enamel, acrylic name I’ve sprayed it. So was interested what you used.

Same here, hot rods/buggies mostly, industry, and new home too.  Keep the "heat" of the paint in mind and go for it.

  Smaller pigment/effect is used in good model paints compared to "off the shelf". (a small metal flake sprayed onto a model looks like 1/16" flake job on the little car)

Model spray paint cans tend to be thinner, and lay flatter too (like a lacquer lays flatter than enamel and is normally thinner too)  (auto-vs houshold paints also have different finishes sometimes, auto needs more chemical resistance)     Flatter means less loss of detail.

Mixing paint brands is always iffy. Sometimes it works out though. Like today...

This is a Duplicolor satin Burgandy AND Rust-Oleum ruddy brown primer, both sprayed at once, brown then red then brown then red, no dry time.  I got lucky and they mixed well, giving me a closer match to Lionel RI&P red/brown than either paint alone. (I'm using hobby foil to guild the boiler on this bash shortened, bat. op., semi scale toy O will pull two lighted old west coaches (and it will likely get a tether to their rollers and a 3v regulator chip /bridge reg. to run off the track) It also has a slip clutch to protect it's creeper gearing.



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