Painting With PBL and Accupaint Lacquers


The subject of painting with Accupaint has again been raised on STMFC. I've used
both Accupaint and Star Brand lacquer paint for years and would like to offer these
comments. I suspect the two paints come from the same manufacturing source and are
blended and bottled respectively by SMP Industries (Accupaint) and by Peterbuilt
Locomotive Works (PBL Star Brand). Whether true or not, both paints act very similarly.
PBL Star Brand is a bit thicker and PBL emphasizes that Star Brand must be thinned about
40% paint and 60% thinner. I find the two paints to be complementary. Star brand offers
several excellent shades of freight car red/brown as well as black, white, wood weathering
colors plus BN, SP and UP diesel colors. Over the past 15 or so years Star Brand has
ALWAYS! been available. Accupaint has many shades of green, blue and maroon as well as
their range of other railroad colors. Taken together they offer great colors in a fast drying
paint with excellent shelf life similar to that of Floquil of 40 years ago. Both paints
normally dry in less than an hour. Both paints are very sensitive to humidity. When I lived
in Colorado it was sometimes necessary to add retarder to them. I'm now again living in
Michigan and do not need to. I do use a paint booth with external ventilation when
painting with them. For both paints I use Dupont 3696S Acrylic lacquer thinner. The last
gallon I bought a couple of years ago was $30, I know that's expensive but a gallon of
acetone which I use for air brush clean up is currently $14/gal.

Over the years I too have had paint adhesion problems both with some resin kits and
when masking multicolor paint jobs on styrene. A few years ago MRR had an article about
using an auto body paint adhesion promoter for celcon or delrin diesel handrails. I bought
it. The first try was great but as the months went by problems developed. Trying to paint
a model with an Aerosol can is kinda like swatting a fly with a sledge hammer and when
the product was sprayed into a container to captured and re-sprayed with my air brush, it
left spider webs. I went back to the auto paint store and found a PPG product called
DPX801 Plastic Adhesion Promoter. It was $40 per quart. It is a low viscosity pinkish
liquid. I've used it for about a year with no shelf life problems. I now prime resin
assembled kits, trucks and styrene items which I intend to mask with it. I'm quite pleased
with the results.

This system of painting gives me excellent results for most of my painting needs. I
deviate from it only when painting brass for which I use oven baked Scalecoat 1. You can
check out Star Brand paints at PBL's website which is

Regards, Don Smith

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