Over the weekend, I painted and lettered an old Athearn Blue Box ACF covered hopper using custom decals. It was basically a test to see if color decals could work on transparent decal paper. To make a long story short, it works. But only if the base color is very light. For this particular car, I used CN Gray #12 and I would consider it the darker tone before colored lettering start to shift drastically in shade. However, it would be perfect on a white car.
One thing I also experimented with was not sealing the decals with a clear coating right after printing them. It kept the decals extremely thin, however, they became much more prone to wrinkling which left small marks on the lettering. Thus, next time I'll clear coat the decals before use. It seems to me the gain in term of thinness isn't worth the risk to visually ruin the decals, except for very small ones.
And once again, I found out Walthers decals hardly slide from the carrier paper. I don't know if this is due to laser printer heat altering the bonding agent, if my paper is getting old or if it's a typical occurence with Walthers paper. If you decals are clear coated, it is not a big problem, but if they aren't the risk to destroy them sharply rise.
Anyway, I'm quite satisfied with this experiment. It may not be a prize winning model, but the correct paint scheme is spot on with cars that regularly travelled Murray Bay Subdivision when I was in high school. It's good to see them in miniature. If I find a more accurate and better detailed car at a good price, I'll probably upgrade the fleet. But I have more pressing issues to handle and will thus live with my el cheapo kaolin covered hopper car fleet. I hope to weather this car soon so it can join the fleet before the next operation session.
Speaking of experiments, I continued working on my Canadian Wheat Board covered hopper. You probably recall I pre-weathered the car by adding shadows and highlight BEFORE applying decals. Once lettered and sealed, it is hardly noticeable in pictures, but I can assure you it is visible in real life. Depending on prototypes, I'll probably make the effect a little bit more dramatic next time, particularly since many other coats of weathering will cover and subdue the effect. Next time will be an Intermountain cylindrical hopper in light gray CP Rail paint scheme which was converted from round hatches to trough hatches.
By the way, Hedley Junction will switch to a summer schedule starting this week. It means building efforts will be drastically reduced to focus our efforts on making the St-Pie layout up and running. Meanwhile, we will operate extensively the Murray Bay Subdivision in a serious and orderly manner to enjoy the last months of improvements. Some building projects will probably be done, but I would be hardly pressed to promise anything in that regard!