After the primer, I had visions of the box car sporting a coat of  yellow paint punctuated by numerous patches of rust. Well, not quite ready for that yet.

As this merciless photo shows, there are a number of rough spots in the primer coat from my sloppy workmanship.

IT ain't over yet_00

In particular, notice the jagged edge of the flange on the inside of the right hand post that supports the ladder rungs. I’ll also point out the generous blobs of CA holding the right side of the bottom and third rungs in place. These are just two of many such examples on the car that need further attention.

So, it's back to the bench.

So, it’s back to the bench.

Back to the bench indeed, as I took an emory board and cut a custom profile on one end to help me get into those tight spaces while preserving those oh so fragile details I labored hard to create.

To be honest, I find this discouraging as I really want to move on from this project. Dealing with such glitches is a genuine battle of will and is typically where I make foolish errors in judgement. The strong temptation is to just let it slide and cover it with a poorly conceived rust bucket style weathering layer. Of course, that will create even bigger problems that will take more effort to fix.

This is why progress on the car has slowed over the past couple of months. Succumbing to a hurry up mindset would be a grave mistake so, I’m taking things slowly and exercising my best judgement. In other words, I’m being very, very deliberate in my approach. Doing something stupid at this point would be beyond understanding. This project has been such a learning experience and has come too far to screw it up now.

I’m always encouraging you to use this craft as a learning tool. Now is the time to practice what I preach.



  1. bagustaf


    High quality model building requires, skill, time and as you observe critical self analysis. Contest quality models built for IPMS competition are often primed in silver first to reveal the very items you have observed in your model. A second or third priming, again in silver, may be necessary to reveal more minute flaws or confirm the model is ready for painting. Every model builder experiences the conflict to complete the model with flaws or take the time to eliminate as many flaws as possible. The challenges are what can you, the model builder, live with and would the second or third model be better? Continue the building your work is an excellent study for all.

    Lee Gustafson

  2. mike

    Hi Lee,
    I wouldn’t have thought of using a metallic coat to highlight surface flaws. That’s a great tip I’ll have to add to my modeling notebook. Applying a paint finish is probably my weakest aspect of modeling.


  3. Simon

    KBO, Mike, KBO.


  4. Matt

    Hi Mike,

    Thanks for sharing your project’s not so happy moments. Everyone is happy to share successes….no so much on setbacks.


  5. mike

    Hi Matt,
    Yeah, everything is a cakewalk in this perfect little hobby isn’t it?

    (Oops! Detention for me for not signing my comment.)


  6. Simon

    Would an abrasive gun (cheapish airbrush putting out aluminium oxide) help remove the paint without damaging the plastic? Not something I have tried myself, even if I have been where you currently are too many times…


  7. mike

    Hi Simon,
    I only have a few areas to fix and handwork is the best way, given the risk of doing more harm than good.


  8. Simon

    Well, at least you haven’t lost your sense of humour!
    I’m always encouraging you to use this craft as a learning tool. Now is the time to practice what I preach.

  9. Brian_F


    Merciless photo indeed 🙂 Primer really helps bring out any surface
    oddities and I seem to remember that John Allen would photograph
    models to check appearances. Seems some things are easier seen
    in two static dimensions than in 3D in front of your eyes.

  10. mike

    Hi Brian,

    Welcome and thanks for the first time comment. I do a lot of photography and I’m always amazed at what I see in the photos that I otherwise miss. I’ve also discovered that photographing a model is one of the best tools for improving the work there is. I ask people to sign their comments as a courtesy to everyone.


  11. Chris Mears

    Hi Mike

    Throughout this project I’ve enjoyed the way that each post isn’t as much a “how to scratchbuild a boxcar” but a record of what you’ve learned during each facet of construction. This post reminded me of that. Just as it was important to get each previous phase completed to a level that met your expectations it’s interesting to read how the first primer coat didn’t go as planned and how it caused you to re-evaluate your approach. Further, in the conversation flowing from this post some discussion on options to fix the car so that you can then proceed to the next phase without just accepting a compromise that might have undermined your great work so far.

    The car looks terrific.



  12. mike

    Hi Chris,
    I try to share the thought process behind the work rather than a set of instructions. As you often say, it’s like sitting down and sharing what worked and what didn’t. I hope others find the insights useful too.