I achieved a major milestone with the boxcar project by getting a coat of primer on the model last week.

Painting rolling stock is a task I have little experience with and as I mentioned in the last post, I procrastinated for a long time because I was afraid of ruining the car from a poor spray job. I used a spray can of Tamiya’s Surface Primer L, which I really like. However, I did get the coverage a bit heavy in spots and a few artifacts got caught in the wet primer since I worked outside, though there’s nothing that can’t be fixed with some modest effort. I like how the car turned out now that I can see it as a single mass, rather than a mix of brass and plastic surfaces. The primer has dried for several days now and I’ve begun thinking about how to proceed with the final finish.

Primer at last PS5344

Much of what we do in painting and weathering is driven by the pre-existing paint and lettering from the manufacturer. The bulk of our techniques are what I call additive: we simply add layers of pigment, wet or dry, on top of the existing paint and lettering.

An advantage the aircraft and military modelers have is they are working with unpainted models and therefore can plan the paint and weathering effects from the beginning. These guys have also developed a sophisticated range of techniques that railroad modelers are just beginning to use. I plan to use these techniques on the car, including a rust colored undercoat, hair-spray paint chipping, maybe some pre-shading and filters and washes.

I have Greg Elem’s prototype photos to work from and one of Michael Rinaldi’s great books as a reference (reviewed in this post). Before moving to the actual car, I plan to do lots of practice to familiarize myself with the materials and processes involved. I have plenty of scrap styrene, my unsuccessful first build of the car, plus a couple of commercial boxcars that aren’t good for much else due to serious dimensional flaws.

It should be and interesting journey.

I’ve posted portions of the build here and also on the company Facebook page. The full story of the construction will be featured in Vol. 12 of The Missing Conversation, which I hope to wrap up soon.



  1. Chris Mears

    Well done Mike

    As you mentioned, the primer has such an amazing leveling effect on the project. Getting it to this stage isn’t just priming the shell to prepare it for paint, but I’d wager, a celebration of the work to date. From here out the nature of the work changes from creating the component parts to representing paint finishes and the history layer in weathering – now it’s time to focus on the story of the car so to speak as the model transitions from being a model of any PS5344 to this particular PS5344.

    The model looks terrific. I’m particularly drawn to those ladders. They’re just so nicely rendered and speak to the potential of models in larger scales.

    Great work as always. Thanks for sharing it with us.


  2. mike

    Thanks Chris. I do feel a sense of accomplishment. The ladders were easy to do thanks to a technique I learned from Gene Deimling. They’re robust but I don’t plan on testing them!