There are a lot of tank cars on Cal Winter’s Florida East Coast Key West Extension. In this video, Cal Winter will show how he makes one of them. He is demonstrating with a proto 2,000, 10,000 gallon type 21 tank car. This car happens to be Sun Oil but it could be any black car. It doesn’t come in FEC markings, so he needs to soak off the old decals.
In order to soak the decals off, he uses 91% isopropyl rubbing alcohol. Submerging the car in a tupperware, he needs to let it soak for at least two days. This is a very fragile car so to ensure no parts break off, Cal needs to make sure that the decals are very soft. If the car soaks longer than two days, the glue will fall off of everything and the car will start to fall apart. For brushes he uses a number 3 for basic stripping, and a 0 for getting underneath fine details. He goes down the sides of the car and brushes over the decals, removing them gently. For underneath the ladders, grab irons and bars, he uses the 0 brush.
After the car is stripped, he washes it off to get all the loose pieces of paint out. Some small parts may have fallen off. He takes a tea strainer with a piece of cheesecloth and filters the alcohol through it to retrieve all the lost pieces. Some parts may need to be touched up with engine black paint.
The alcohol also creates a white film on the surface. To fix this, he applies some testers gloss spray. In Florida he does this out in the sun so he does not create any bubbles on the car. When this is done the car looks perfectly black and ready for decaling. He goes on to discuss the painting technique. For more on model railroad structures or model railroad backdrops, visit our archives.