Applying Model Railroad Decals to Boxcars

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Decaling is an excellent way to add realism and visual appeal to your model railroad boxcars, and it’s a relatively simple process that takes only a little bit of time and patience. When it comes to applying model railroad decals, you have a few different options depending on the level of detail you want to reach and the amount of work you want to put in. Hobby shops and brands such as Walthers offer catalogs full of commercially available model railroad decals designed after a wide range of railroad companies. Or, you can create your own using TrimFilm and stencils–the choice is yours. In today’s lesson, we’ll focus on using commercial model railroad decals to add intrigue to boxcars or any other features on your railroad.

Making realistic model railroad decals

To help you add a touch of realism to your newest railroad, NMRA Master Modeler Gerry Leone walks you through the simple step-by-step process for applying model railroad decals to any feature of your scene, be it boxcar, locomotive or building. He breaks down the method by teaching you about each of the materials you’ll need to pick out, cut and securely adhere sample model railroad decals to a blank boxcar owned by Nickel Plate Road.

Gerry begins his demonstration on applying model railroad decals by laying out the requisite supplies and teaching you a bit about the purpose for each. For the decaling process, Gerry recommends using Micro Set or Micro Sol, which are strong adhesive solutions from Microscale that soften model railroad decals and allow for a firm hold on plastic boxcars. As he works, Gerry talks about the importance of moving quickly so you’re not fiddling with the decals too much before they’re set.

Finally, Gerry discusses a couple different options you can use to give your model railroad decals a matte finish so the cutout doesn’t show from afar and the side of the boxcar won’t appear glossy. With Gerry’s expert decaling techniques, your model railroads can take on a whole new level of authenticity!