Friday, 21 February 2014

Rolling stock Metal Billboards

A CV RS-3 handles a milk train into WRJ on the White River Division. I had saved some decals for decades before I got around to using them. I wanted a good size fleet but needed a plan to maximise what little I had on hand.

Colour Copying Decals for a more reliable Billboard

Over the last couple of decades I have found myself exclusively modeling New England railway lines, and have built a growing number of rolling stock and structures that reflects the 1950’s era. My HO scale White River Division layout currently has a fleet of milk cars that can fill out two milk trains consists. Many of these cars are billboard cars. I was luck enough to purchase some of the decals I would need decades ago for the cars that I am now completing. Many of these decals are currently not available. During the assembly of these milk car kits, my thoughts were “how am I going to build a similar second or third car for my milk trains without a decal set”.

Four milk cars which have photocopied decals applied are seen sitting on my extra colour photocopy sheets.

 I realised that maybe I could colour photocopy the decal sheets, using the billboards cut from the photocopy sheets on my models. The numbering and lettering I could easily find on other decal sheets. The colour photocopy sheets are thick and sturdy and will work well. The first project I tried my billboard idea on were two Brookside 40 foot milk cars. These cars had two metal billboards, one on each side of the door. On one car I used thin styrene and placed a decal over top. On the second car I used my photocopy billboards. The billboards were cut with a new sharp hobby knife. When the photocopy is cut I did find a white edge around the billboard which should be red. I used a fine tip red marker to colour the edges. On other billboards I have used black permanent ink markers. Be sure to try your marker on the edge of the sheet first. I have found some pens and marks apply way to much ink which bleeds farther into the billboard than one would desire. I attached these billboards using a thin spread of Walthers Goo. I mainly applied the Goo on the edges and near the corners. You really do not want to have a lump of glue in the middle of the placard as it will clearly be seen once the billboard is set.  It has now been a few years since this project, or my first attempt of photocopy placards was completed and I find that the photocopy billboards have been the better choice. The styrene placard which I think looks thicker when completed has warped a little with time, although not enough to be replaced yet.

A B&M switcher handles two Brookside milk cars. Since I did not have enough decals for the billboards on these cars photocopies are used.

I have used the same billboard colour photocopy method when modeling a few Whiting cars that have a triangle shaped “W” on one side and a rectangle metal billboard on the other. Other Whiting cars such as the 50’ version I built, have the “W” on both ends. I had only one Whiting decal set to work with and wanted at least three cars. Photocopies were my only option. When I modeled my Central Vermont Railway milk cars the metal square wafer billboards were also made with colour photocopies. The wafer herald size for the Central Vermont car is 42” by 42” which I had measured years ago. The Central Vermont used a similar but smaller metal placard, 21” by 21” on many of the stations. I actually have one of the original herald signs used on South Royalton then White River Junction stations at home. It appears as these metal signs were taken off and repainted from time to time. On the back the station name it was to return to was marked on with crayon. It is interesting to note these station metal herald were made of brass sheeting while the milk car wafer placards were sheet metal. I have made extra billboard copies which will come in handy for use on future stations and milk cars.

Two CV milk cars with photocopied decal  billboard. One car is a Steam Shack kit while the other is a Roundhouse model.
Once again I copied my Whiting decals to make these two placards which would have been metal on the prototype.

I have recently started using billboards on building that I think would appear more realistic on my layout. I came across a 1986 Hoods Milk calendar which was an anniversary issue. A few pages had a display of old metal billboard placards that were used on building, trucks or possibly rail cars.  I decided to use some of these once photocopied for my structures, rail cars and also a truck on my layout. I wanted extra Hoods signs for future use so I enlarged and reduced the pages I really liked. The August 2011 issue of RMC has an article describing how I used the Hoods photocopies on an On30 milk car.

On this ice house I added a Hood's placard which was found in a milk calendar.

While I was building my White River Junction scene I build a reduced size rendition of the station. On the prototype station there were large signs attached during the 1950’s. I colour photocopied the photos that these sign appear in, then cut out the signs and glued them on my station. They have worked out very well. I have in some cases also photocopied colour photos of actual cars sides, adjusting the size of the billboards to fill my needs. It all began with photocopying decals. Today my options are becoming endless as I find resources that could be used in modeling my favourite company or railroad logo...George Dutka

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