Well, we have reached the point where it is time to paint and reassemble our locomotive. I decided to make the changes to the headlight in the middle of the smokebox (boiler front) and firebox more obvious by painting them light gray. Actually, this is the “primer” paint.
Smokeboxes and fireboxes were often coated with graphite because the paints of the day would burn off due to the high heat in these areas of the locomotive. Depending on several variables, this graphite could look silver or silver-grayish to start with. As it was heated and time passed the silver would become gray and eventually almost white. Due to the film of the day, many smokeboxes looked white in color, which means either the graphite was older, the color correction of developing of the film was off, or the photo has aged.
The rest of the locomotive and tender were painted black, using Polly Scale’s “Steam Power Black” which is close to old American Flyer’s color. The cab roof and tender deck were painted “PRR Tuscan,” the handrails, headlight front, bell, whistle, classification lamps on the smokebox, and tender ladder were painted “Old Brass.” (“Gold” will work well too.) The lenses of the classification lamps were painted white to denote that the locomotive was running as an “Extra” train. The wheel rims of the pilot truck were painted white to match the white driver tires.
The cab roof and tender deck painting was used by a number of roads, particularly the Pennsylvania and the Southern. The actual color can be almost red to dull brown, depending upon the original paint used and how it weathers. It adds a bit of color to all those dull black engines. An old Pennsy shop man told me that the painting of cab roof and tender deck on that road was started to protect engines going into storage from rust!
Painting the bell and whistle, handrails, and classification lamps “Brass” actually might be a throwback to an earlier era than this locomotive appears to be. It would be correct on the #300 type Atlantic, which also has the extended smokebox and capped stack of the late 1800s/early 1900s. I think it looks classy!
A word here about paint; I use as much acrylic paint as possible these days. Early on, these were pretty poor, but today they are as good as anything available. And they are safer than using solvent-based paint.
Before good acrylic paints became available, I was a firm believer in Floquil “Railroad Colors,” the best paint of its day, and something I had used since the sixties. I liked its flow rate with a brush and it covered just about any type of surface or material in a single coat.
Unfortunately, it was Toulene based, a chemical that has more recently become known to cause nerve damage and can be absorbed through the skin! I can’t tell you how much Toulene I have absorbed over the past fifty years, both from model paint and the thinners used to clean up after it! Some folks already consider me a babbling idiot, so I decided to go with acrylic from now on.
After the painting was done and well dried, I attached the bell, whistle, headlight tube, and put an engineer in the cab window. Sometimes I add a fireman on his side of the cab or on the tender apron. But the cost of good figures is high, so I just pretend that he’s in the middle of the cab firing the boiler. By the way, I like use Fun ‘n’ Games figures by Allen Pollack found at http://scalefigures.com/ . He has a nice line of quality S figures in metal.
Next, I used decals to number the tender. I follow this practice, which many railroads used. This way, I don’t have to put a road name on the tender, so it could conceivably be pulling the train of any railroad.
All that is left after this is to give the locomotive and tender shells a coat of either Gloss or Flat coating to seal the paint and decals. I use Testors sprays for this. If you want the loco to look right out of the shop, go with gloss. If it has “miles” on it, a flat coating is desirable. You may even want to do a little “weathering” before spraying “Dullcoat.”
I allowed 8 hours for the spray coating to dry and then carefully reassembled the locomotive to the chassis and tested it. She’s a gem and certainly “one of a kind!”
By the time you read this series, ”Project Atlantic” will already be running at train shows to display just what can be done to dress up the common old American Flyer steam engine! While rabid collectors may cringe at the thought of Kit Bashing or customizing old trains, operators almost always like the changes made, especially if they are knowledgeable of steam era railroad practices. What’s old can be new again!