Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Southern Pacific F-units, Part 4

In the previous post in this series, I carried out the major assembly of a Highliner kit of a B-unit for an EMD F3, and detailed the body for the “phase” that I wanted to model. My goal was an F3-Phase III unit. That previous post can be found here: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2018/11/southern-pacific-f-units-part-3.html

(Incidentally, for background on the Phase designations of EMD F3 units, entirely a railfan idea, not EMD factory descriptions, you may benefit from a Wikipedia entry, which is at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EMD_F3 . Unofficial they may be, but these Phases encapsulate the identifiers of visual characteristics of the various F-unit locomotives.)

As described in the prior post (see link in the top paragraph, above), I could have begun adding details to the model, followed by painting. But rather than risk paint filling any of the fine detail, I realized I should paint now.

These units, as I observed in Part 3 (citation in first paragraph, above), had very simple paint schemes, a Daylight Red stripe along the bottom of the car body, and the remainder black. As an illustration, the photo below (Morris Abowitz photo, Bill Sheehan collection) shows two F7-B units in 1962. As was standard, the only readable lettering is the unit number. Road names were not applied to B units.

Both these units have a diamond stenciled above the unit number, indicating the presence of cyclone-type spark arrestors. Such stenciling began in the late 1950s and accordingly would not show up on my 1953 models. 

Note also on unit 8083 at right (Class DF-3, delivered in 1949), that the stainless steel kickplate under the door is larger than on the newer unit at left, SP 8270.In addition, unit 8083 has the pointed roof “overhang” at the rear. Lastly, unit 8083 still has a diaphragm; I will return to that topic.

As I said, it was time to begin painting the model. I accordingly began by airbrushing Star Brand “Daylight Red” (STR-34)  along the lower parts of the car body. No need here to worry about exactly where the spray goes, because the next coat is black, and it  covers very well.

After dithering about cutting a piece of masking tape exactly straight and the exact width of the prototype stripe, it occurred to me that I could do the job more easily in two steps: first mask to the top of the stripe and paint the upper body black, then come back and mask to the bottom of the stripe. I used the excellent Tamiya masking tape for this, in this instance the 10 mm width.

You can see slight wavers in the masked line at the side doors, caused by the step beneath the tape at that point; but it won’t matter because that exact area is the stainless steel kick plate, which will be painted a steel color. 

Then when the model was spray painted black and the tape stripped off, it looked like the photo below. Of course, the model at this point being dead black, details don’t show, but the point is to show this stage of body painting.

Next, as mentioned, I masked to the bottom of the red stripe and sprayed everything below that black, with the additional benefit of touching up any areas painted too lightly in the first application of black.

With this done, I will proceed with attaching the various Highliner screens along the upper side (all of which are helpfully already black), along with the fan blades and fan screens, also black. Then the individual handrails and kick plates will become a silver color. More later as this project concludes.

Tony Thompson

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