Summer Evening and the ML401

Summer Evening and the ML401
Conrail ML401 rolls west through Central New York farm country in Onondaga County, September 1994.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

On Painting Plastic Handrails

A common task in modeling has always been the painting of models.  Model railroading in general has come a long way over the last few years, but painting remains part of the hobby.

As the hobby changes, there has been a move to the inclusion of scale handrails on models - they are beautiful. However, to make them more durable, they are molded from a slippery, flexible plastic, so they resist breaking when they are bent.

The issue at hand is that sometimes, those railings are molded in a color that does not match the paint on the model.  Look carefully at the handrail stanchions here - they almost appear to be purple against the bright Conrail blue on the stock Athearn 'RTR' SD40-2.




I had added new decking and see-through etched brass steps to this model, but that effort is much less effective when the handrails are the wrong color!

So, it was time to try and paint the railings to match.  The problem is many paints will not adhere to the slippery plastic.  Here, I recently tried a trick in using a product advertised as an automotive paint adhesion promoter - specifically, Dupli-Color's CP199 Adhesion Promoter, seen here.

This is nasty and toxic stuff - do not use this indoors.  I removed the handrails from the model, and went outside with the handrails attached to a painting jig to spray the promoter outdoors.  The instructions call for painting within 10 minutes of applying the promoter, so I was set up to go right to painting once the spray was done.


This is more like it - the handrail color now matches the body of the locomotive, and the paint is sticking to the handrails very well.  I will be using this trick in the future as needed!  For 6437, now I will move on to adding ditch lights, windshield wipers, and pilot details, then it's on to weathering.  After that this unit will join the fleet on the Onondaga Cutoff.

~RGDave

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