Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Weekend Project – Athearn Tank Car “Repaint” (100th Post!)

Over the weekend I turned an Athearn RTR UTC 30,000-gal tank car that was originally decorated for DODX into one decorated for Procor (PROX). 

Lately my free time has been reduced a bit due to work demands, so I thought I’d attempt more small projects that I could reasonably accomplish in the span of a weekend. This past weekend I wrapped up the first of what will hopefully be a series of regular updates on this sort of thing. And, as it turns out, this is my 100th post - how time flies!

This week’s project involves redecorating an Athearn RTR Union Tank Car prototype 30,000 gal general purpose tank car. I say redecorating because I didn’t actually repaint the car. Instead, I took a ready to run model that was painted for the US Department of Defense (DODX) and used a Badger air eraser to scrub off the unwanted lettering. The air eraser is essentially a small grit blaster that can use baking soda or aluminum oxide as a blasting media (I use baking soda, it’s much cheaper than aluminum oxide). I carefully masked the areas to be removed, which allowed for preservation of most of the car’s original finish. I specifically chose the DODX car to start with as it had substantially less graphics to start with compared to other paint schemes of the same car. Also, it’s somewhat less desirable, so it was much cheaper to buy than some of the other RTR schemes.

After masking the areas to be removed, I blasted off the unwanted lettering outdoors. Doing so does take a sizeable air compressor due to the amount of air required, at relatively high pressure. After I was done, I rinsed the car with water and let it dry overnight. I then used Microscale’s set 87-1466 (Procor/PROX, Various Tank Cars) to reapply the desired lettering. The set is a great improvement over some of their previous offerings for Procor equipment, but still contains a number of inaccuracies. Using the air blaster, I was able to preserve some of the original graphics such as the “2 INCH HF COMP SHOES” on the side sill and the COTS decals. Lettering was pretty straightforward, using prototype photos found on Chris Vanderheide’s Canadian Freight Car Gallery website. I found a car only two numbers away; I chose PROX 44815 since the number was already aligned in the decal set and wouldn’t require any splicing of individual digits. In prototype, the car is used to carry condensate, essentially a thinning agent used in crude oil pipelines to improve viscosity. The real-life car was built in 2007 at UTC’s now-closed East Chicago, IN plant, and is one of many so-called “short GP30’s” in the fleet (General Purpose, 30,000-gal capacity, less than 60’ in length over pulling faces).  I enjoy decal work since it’s easy to see the results of one’s work, and in this case, pretty quick; the car was decaled in less than an hour. After decaling I used Testor’s gloss coat to seal the decals to the car. I will eventually weather the car lightly, as I model up until 2010, so the car would still be relatively clean and shiny in my modeling era.

‘Til next time,