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Painting Panelled Carriage Sides

Written by Andy Watkins, 2001

Mike Edwards commented (in September 2001) about painting carriages:

Peter Hayward asked about the painting of panelled carriage sides. My comments are based on scratch-building carriages using plywood, and building the Brandbright panelled carriage kits, which have plywood sides and ready-cut card overlays for the beading. Firstly, I would echo comments the other day from William B-J about surface preparation and the use of primers/fillers. The finish you get is only as good as the surface preparation. Trouble is, surface preparation is tedious and boring. I use ordinary domestic wood primer on wooden carriage sides, applied with a brush and well rubbed down, then repeated if necessary to really fill the grain. I've never built one of the IP kits, though I've admired the finished article from afar. I suspect you might need to be particularly careful to fill the grain around the edges of the beading. I'd only use aerosol spray primers (eg., Halfords) on goods stock, where I want the wood grain to show through. Carriages have smooth surfaces.

On a two-colour scheme (I use chocolate & cream, with the upper raised beading round the panelling picked out in chocolate), I now mask up the INSIDE of all the window openings with masking tape, to prevent spray getting inside the coach, then spray (airbrush) the upper half cream, making sure that the edges of the window openings are thoroughly coated. This usually needs two coats of Precision GWR cream, thinned with Railmatch Enamel thinners (not white spirit - doesn't seem to work so well, at least in my hands). After a few days' drying, mask off the upper part of the coach and spray the lower half - again, Precision GWR chocolate seems to need two or even three coats - the first coat looks purple, but persevere, and it all comes right in the end! Then it's off with the masking and paint the raised beading by hand. I generally use a no. 3 sable brush - as good as you can afford - for this, and two coats are usually necessary. Stop from time to time to clean the brush, as it slowly gets clogged up with drying paint. Then touch up around the edges where the colours meet with the two colours alternately until satisfied. This can take a little while! I use a smaller brush - no. 0 or no. 1 - for this. By the way, the sides or edges of the raised beading are in the same dark colour as the top surface of the beading. The only pale areas are the flat bits in the middle of each panel. Now patch-paint or spray gloss varnish where water-slide transfers are to go, to ensure a really smooth glossy surface under the transfer. Then apply transfers, followed by varnish (Railmatch, well thinned with their enamel thinners), and only then remove the masking from the inside of the window openings. Takes ages, but it's very satisfying when you get to that point!

Good luck!

Mike Edwards