We tend not to share our failures, except among close friends and family. I’ve had my fair share of hobby project failures across a wide array. I avoided sharing the dismal results, mainly out of embarrassment. But I learned something new with each of those difficulties. I may have changed a technique or materials to move onward.

I believe we should share our failures with more of our friends. They may be able to point out something we missed in the process that leads to a better model. Of course, we should share the failure especially when our new attempt is a success. Showing images of the failure and the new work together can help others avoid a similar pitfall.

I recently painted a couple HO scale resin boxcar kits and my results were downright disappointing. While the lead photo is a poor shot, you don’t need a crisp image to illustrate poor painting. Even after the model was scrubbed with Barkeeper’s Friend, rinsed, dried, and wiped down with a 91% isopropyl alcohol rinse, the paint did not apply well on this Funaro & Camerlengo Rutland boxcar.

I usually paint a few models at one sitting, so I proceeded to do another poor job. Above is a Yarmouth Model Works Canadian Pacific automobile boxcar. I was not a happy modeler as I brought these into the house to dry.

What went wrong? I use Vallejo acrylic paints and rarely have a problem. I went back to my paint booth and checked the paints. GADS! I used an airbrush ready Vallejo Model Air on the CP boxcar, but I added thinner. I think the paint was just too thin.

I could not figure out what happened with the Rutland boxcar. I stripped it using 91% isopropyl alcohol and a soft bristle toothbrush. I thought maybe I should have sprayed primer this one, then I corrected my thought. Maybe I should spray primer all my freight cars as a step before painting the car color.

Many resin freight car kits now included parts made of different materials. We are used to metal grab irons but there are more etched metal parts in kits today. The CP boxcar also has a laser cut running board. Applying a primer coat gives a model the same surface on all the parts.

There are several very good primers for models. Several friends had great experiences using Mr. Surfacer and Badger’s Stynylrez. I had bought a couple bottles of Vallejo Surface Primer several months ago. It was time to give them a try. Vallejo produces surface primer in a range of colors.

After stripping this Rutland boxcar, I applied a grey primer color (70.601). The original castings were yellow, so using a different color primer made it much easier to see the coverage. The Vallejo Surface Primers do not need to be thinned. After the primer had dried. I painted the model with Vallejo Brown (71.105), which is more of a maroon shade. I added a few drops of aged white to lighten the tone. The end result is shown in the image above.

I did not strip the CP automobile boxcar, as the original paint was very thin. I sprayed a leather brown primer color (70.626) to cover the previous paint. For the car color, I used Vallejo Panzer Aces Shadows Flesh (343) and added a few drops of Model Air Scarlet Red (71.003).

After these dried for a day, I inspected the paint closely and was very happy with the results. Both models have had a gloss coat applied and are ready for decal work.

My takeaway from these to failures was to act quickly. Don’t let the failures sit for months or years. Let the work sit a day or two and develop a plan to move things forward. Jump right back into the fray with those ideas before you lose track of what went wrong in the first place.

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5 thoughts on “Failures”

  1. I recognized the problem with the first car . . . because I’ve done the same. In my case I had not stirred a jar of ScaleCoat paint sufficiently before taking a portion out.

  2. Eric,
    Thanks for sharing this.
    I have been using acrylic paints for better than 20 years. But when polyscale went away I started trying scalecoat and then trucolor. Scalecoat was ok but the fumes were too much. I share my working area with the dogs and it wasn’t working out. Trucolor worked okay on plastic but wouldn’t withstand masking on resin or brass. The fumes weren’t as bad but the price was a little steep. The past year or so I have been using Walmart Apple Barrel craft acrylics for model painting. I reduce it with Expo white board cleaner and it sprays just like polyscale, it even smells the same. The other thing is my nearest hobby shop is 1.5 hours away so this way I have a local source.

  3. Eric,
    What type of gloss coat do you use? Also, what do you recommend as a sealing coat after decals? I’m getting ready to start painting some models with Vallejo Model Color and would prefer to use something other than Dullcote since I have had some problems with it reacting to isopropyl alcohol. Thanks

    1. Thanks for your comment, Scott. I use an acrylic floor wax to spray as a gloss coat. It was called Future but has changed names a few times. I do not thin it and it cleans up easily with isopropyl alcohol. I’ve also brushed it on for spot decal work. I use this as a gloss coat before applying decals and to seal the work. A bottle will last a long time. Here’s a recent blog post on decals and gloss coat.

      After the second gloss coat is dry, I spray a flat coat mixed with a few drops of the car color. This gives me a start on weathering. I’ve been using Model Master clear flat acryl. I use Vallejo acrylic paint for my model work and it mixes easily with the MM clear flat. Here’s another blog post with details on the flat coat I apply. Good luck with your modeling! – Eric

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