Work on I&W #38 continues. Over the weekend I completed the body and the pilot details and felt it was time for a paint job.

Airbrushing is something I do infrequently because I lack the proper set-up to do it safely indoors. When needed, I set up shop outside to ensure plenty of fresh air and safe conditions and this also means waiting for a calm sunny day with low humidity. Since the weather was perfect last week, I prepped the shell and dug out the equipment. I had some unopened jars of the now discontinued Floquil paint I purchased specifically for this unit and they were still in good condition. So far, so good.

SNAFU* of the week 
My first attempt turned into a circus clown act due to my lack of attention in grabbing a jar of Poly Scale acrylic paint instead of the regular Floquil but still thinning it with solvent based thinner. (Poly Scale was made by Floquil.) I should have known something was seriously wrong with the first blast from the airbrush but mindlessly plunged on, compounding the error. I wasn’t satisfied with the result at all (doh!) and wound up stripping the mess off and, after discovering the cause of my error, redid the paint job the next day with somewhat better results, though it is far from perfect. On a happier note, doing the loco’s frame in a different color, I discovered that the Tamiya brand acrylic paints spray on as nicely as the old Floquil and they will be my paint brand choice from now on.

And this week’s lesson is…
This increasingly normal comedy of errors brings up another lesson I seem destined to relearn throughout my life. Nothing good ever comes from rushing a project. The bane of my life has been an unchecked tendency to rush my work. Like many, I only have limited time through the week for modeling and want to make the most of it. However, that’s not the cause of my hurry-up ways. It’s just an unfortunate habit that needs breaking.

Thinning acrylic paint with solvent thinner instead of water or denatured alcohol was a silly blunder that could have been easily avoided by reading the label on the paint jar more carefully. My rush to see the model painted cost me an entire day of stripping it down and repairing damage from the excessive handling and scrubbing. Truly speaking, what did I gain from such impatience? Absolutely nothing! I guess another dose of humility was in order.

I’m waiting for the paint to cure before going further. The model awaits lettering, a few last details and moderate weathering before final assembly. I’ll have photos in due time but I’m fairly certain the clown act will return before the project is over.

*(Situation Normal, All Fouled Up)


  1. Iain Robinson

    I agree with your lesson. Since I make models for a living, I have the luxury of time to do a job properly, but I beat myself with a baseball bat of another colour; the desire to make this next model the Best Ever. The result is the same, a three-ring circus of clusterflooks that often end up with me wondering whether I have the skills any more. And the daft thing is that a part of me, a tiny part, knows that I am making a mistake, but I carry on in this heightened state of anxiety anyway. Soon, the wheels come off the clown car and I am left on my backside in the middle of the sawdust.

    A couple of days later when this kind of sillyness has lost it’s grip, I tidy the workbench and relax, take a very deep breath and get on with it. I remind myself that I can do this. Usually the work is the better for it.

    I do remember whan my children were youngsters and I only had an hour a day to model for myself…the pressure was such that I rarely got anything done, so I sympathise with folk who are time-poor. I guess we are our own worst enemies sometimes, but writing and talking about it sure helps.

  2. mike

    “I guess we are our own worst enemies sometimes, but writing and talking about it sure helps.”

    Indeed we can be and owning up to it certainly does help. Sometimes the best action is to walk away even for a few minutes. Thank you Iain and welcome to the blog. I’ve enjoyed following your work online. I do request that people sign their posts, even if their real name appears, as a courtesy to all.

    Kind regards,
    Mike Cougill

  3. Trevor

    You’re not alone. I do this kind of silly stuff too – not just with airbrushes.
    A few months ago, I realized that my compressor has two outlets to feed airbrushes. I’m tempted to buy a second airbrush, mark them somehow to distinguish them from each other (Thing 1 and Thing 2, perhaps?) and then use one for lacquers and the other for acrylics.
    I’ve also found that after I’ve had a mixup of paint/thinner – or even have switched types in a session without clearing the brush completely of the previous type – that running the airbrush body, tip and needle through my ultrasonic cleaner is a great way to start over, with an airbrush that feels like it’s brand new. Having an ultrasonic cleaner is a bit of a luxury, but I find more and more uses for it – and once I figured out how to clean the airbrush in it, the purchase paid for itself in reduced aggravation.
    Good luck with the project and I do look forward to seeing the photos. There’s nothing like a customized and custom-painted locomotive to give the layout-owner that swell, “Trains Are Fun” feeling.
    – Trevor (Port Rowan in 1:64)

  4. mike

    Hi Trevor,

    It isn’t the mistakes that bother me. As Iain mentioned, it’s the awareness at the time that I’m doing something stupid and yet continue merrily along instead of stopping to fix the situation immediately.


  5. Bill


    Very timely post for me. I just started the fourth redo of a major part of an engine I’m building due to yet another measuring error. Luckily so far I’ve been able to modify the parts and reattach them, but it does leave me wondering if I could even count my fingers and come up with the same number twice. Like you, I had inklings that something was up, but instead of stopping right there and verifying that everything was right and fixing it if necessary, I went on until the flaws were obvious and the fix was much more labor intensive. Oh well.

    I’d be willing to bet any amount of money that every person reading this blog, if they model at all, has made similar blunders, and I think I’d be safe to say that we all will again. It’s kind of a part of being both a modeler and a human.

    Love your blog Mike, as well as TMC.


    Bill Allen
    Arbor Creek and Middle River Valley Railway

  6. mike

    Hi Bill,
    I have a hunch you’d win that bet. Thanks for writing in and for the kind words.