I recently started decaling some box cars that I’ve had for a few years. I showed my wife the progress on the Rock Island car seen above and she rolled her eyes and mentioned how difficult the work looked. A comment from a friend in an unrelated conversation a couple of days later hit on a similar note.
Our hobby is filled with many different components that require learning several skill sets. We design model railroad layouts using or modifying prototype locations to fit into our limited spaces. We build these layouts with carpentry and engineering skills. Track is wired for electrical control and the digital command control systems many of us employ require programming of variables to customize specific locomotive performances. Backdrops are painted with an eye on reflecting locations or achieving a certain regional appearance. Freight car fleets are researched and models are detailed following prototype information and photographs.
The skill sets we use are required to make progress in our hobby. Many of us pick and choose what to focus upon. In my experience, learning one of the more difficult skills to meet a new challenge inspires me to tackle more. The confidence gained as our skills improve can push our hobby enjoyment ever further along. We may not always enjoy specific tasks (like soldering, for me), but we are ready to jump into a new challenge because we have succeeded in previous efforts.
These thoughts come to mind as I decal six HO scale, Accurail, USRA double sheathed box cars. The project has spanned about five years, three states, and four homes. Several details have been upgraded. The brake system has been changed to the KC system used in 1926. They were finally painted a few months ago and now Westerfield decals are being applied so these box cars reflect the lettering practices of my 1926 era. There has been a lot of sweat poured into these half dozen cars, but I’ve pushed myself to make these look proper for my model railroad. I have not done major decaling in a long time but these have gone smoothly with only a small hitch or two. Soon, I hope to apply a gloss coat before rolling these through the weathering factory.
While these are not completed models, I’ve been satisfied with each step along the way. Completing one phase makes me look forward to the challenge of the next. The work has raised my confidence level and I’m excited to paint and letter several completed resin kit freight cars as these box car models wrap up.
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