Going back some years ago when I built my first EMC 103 (only as the 2700 hp locomotive) I used the full decal striping from the Microscale set (87-613).  I had a very difficult time getting the decals to conform over the boarding ladders and rivet strips without deforming.  After much fussing around, I got what I thought was a respectable result for the time.  However, I did wonder what sort of outcome would be had in painting the striping instead of using the decals.  I was about to find out….

All four car bodies were mounted on blocks for painting.  I was careful to remove as much dust as I could see, but invariably, some specs got caught in the subsequent painting operations.  Most of these could be rubbed away with a finger once the paint dried.  I almost always apply the lighter colors first, then the darker colors.  The first color applied was the Imitation Gold, which is a mixture of 1 Part UP Armour Yellow and 1 Part E/L Yellow (both Polly Scale paints – I changed the formulation: E/L replaces Reefer Yellow).  Even though the primer is a light grey, I found it necessary to airbrush the Imitation Gold in two coats and let it dry for a day.  Here we see the result:


As the first section has the wave shape and logo on the nose, I decided to try to build some confidence through experience, and hopefully success, by concentrating initially on painting the simpler second sections.  To mask the lower body stripe, I had to lay Jammy Dog tape as a guide to maintain the 1.25mm[.049”] spacing from the lower rivet strip.


The stripe mask is made with Jammy Dog 1.50mm[.059”] masking tape.  When in place I removed the 1.25mm guide tapes (below).


The bottom edge of the wide upper stripe was masked with a new type of tape for me: Tamiya 3mm.  This tape is made of a vinyl-like material whereas other Tamiya and Jammy Dog tapes are more paper-like.  The vinyl tape doesn’t conform well to details and had to be pressed again just prior to painting, but it was quite adequate for masking.  The benefit of this tape was in its natural stiffness: to remain straight when not intentionally bent.  This was of great benefit to masking the lower edge of the upper wide stripe.  Placement was checked with the dial calliper.


The upper edge of the wide stripe not only follows the rivet strip, but it must include it.  Knowing that it would be impossible to mask over the rivet strip (the protruding rivets do not allow a straight edge nor snug fit), I laid tape below the rivet strip and then another lightly on top of the river strip, not expecting a good mask.  I knew that I would have to mask and paint the rivet strip after the Pullman Green was applied.  The same goes for the upper pinstripe as it is also impossible to mask for the same reason.

The tape was firmly pressed in place along the paint edges.  Then back to the paint booth to airbrush my special Pullman Green mixture: 10 Parts Roof Brown, 2 Parts Pullman Green, 1 Part Engine Black (all Polly Scale acrylics).  I went with one coat which went on very well.  As can be seen in the two pictures below, the rivet strip did not mask nicely.



After letting this dry a day, I went back in and masked for the pinstripes.  To help with the masking of the upper pinstripes, I made spacers from .015”x.250” styrene that I had to fit into each of the recessed air intakes.  The openings for the intakes are not exactly the same size; I labelled these masks so that I can reuse them on future FT projects (below).


The purpose for these is to bring the masking up to the same level as the rivet strips along the length, making for a more even pin stripe.  The rest of the carbody was masked with Tamiya Tape.  When airbrushing the Imitation Gold, I tried to keep the airbrush perpendicular to the car body.


With the masks removed, I was relieved to see a decent result!  I was concerned that the Imitation Gold would not be as bright as the colour already sprayed due to applying it over the Pullman Green, but I went in with many thin coats and the result is quite good.


Model Master Acrylic Gloss was applied to the side panels below the port holes in preparation for decals.  The decals were to be for the stainless steel kick plates, but these from Microscale did not fit well.  Disappointing.  I ended up using a trimmed Microscale decal for the lower strip kick plate (with paint touch-ups), but masked the upper kick plates and sprayed them Tamiya XF-16 Flat Aluminum.  I felt that the lower strip would be too difficult to mask due to the step, hence the decal.  In addition, I applied the Archer 5/8” rivet decals (the tiny black dots) to the centre rivet strip I added and where the rear grab iron mounts were, as seen below.


Next, I applied small dots of paint to the black decal rivets to blend them into the body colour.  The grab irons were installed and CA’d from inside the body.  I brush painted them Pullman Green with a strip of paper behind as I went to protect the Imitation Gold striping.  Then touch-ups here and there to the Pullman Green were made.

I applied some good coats of Tamiya TS-80 Flat Clear lacquer spray overall, and when dry to create a bit of a lustre, I applied Tamiya TS-79 Semi-Gloss lacquer spray to the body sides only.  Final details were the bright metal work around the fuel fillers and door handles which were all 10/0 brush painted with Tamiya Flat Aluminum as shown below.


So far so good, but what about that wave on the nose of the first sections??????

FT Tidbit: From what I can tell, nose-mounted number boards with reflectorized numerals became a factory-installed option when Model F production was allowed to resume in the Summer of 1943.  The War Production Board had suspended Model F production early in the war so that EMD 567 prime movers could be manufactured for Navy requirements.  It was quite common for these individual numbers to be mounted high on the nose door or just above it.


Some pre-war Model F’s were retro-fitted with them; strangely the SAL added them on a board above the windshield even though their 1943 & newer engines had them on the nose door!