Basic Boxcar Decals


John Barry
 

With the demise of Champ and Sunshine, I missed out on their decal offerings.  Thumbing through the MicroScale catalog, I don't see a lot of pre-50 freight car offerings other than special schemes.  Yet the majority of box cars 25-55 ran with nothing more than ARA required data, reporting marks, and maybe a herald or the roadname.  Is there an interest in such a series of sheets?
 
John Barry


ATSF North Bay Lines
Golden Gates & Fast Freights


707-490-9696


3450 Palmer Drive, Suite 4224
Cameron Park, CA 95682


Charlie Duckworth
 

The reporting marks and numbers, when you look close, are somewhat unique to a railroad.  How the Mopac designed their numbers don't match other roads as example.  

 Building on your suggestion though I'd like to see a sheet of various weigh stations and dates with a light weight so the modeler can 'restencil' the tare weights as on the prototype.   Repack stencils by road would be nice as well.  

Charlie Duckworth


David Sieber
 

In STMFC@..., John Barry said:   With the demise of Champ and Sunshine, I missed out on their decal offerings.  Thumbing through the MicroScale catalog, I don't see a lot of pre-50 freight car offerings other than special schemes.  Yet the majority of box cars 25-55 ran with nothing more than ARA required data, reporting marks, and maybe a herald or the roadname.  Is there an interest in such a series of sheets?
 
John,
     I completely agree with you on the current scarcity of pre-1950 freight car decals, and would suggest that plain-Jane '50s and early '60s lettering is also tough to find.  While I do appreciate the eye-catching billboard and special schemes that MicroScale has offered, we definitely could use some basic lettering sheets with real, correct data.
     Many of MS's earlier offerings had generic data that did not match the prototypes they were meant to reproduce, or sometimes no data at all -- although in recent years, MS has issued much more accurate new sets and has updated some older ones, often with expert input from members of this and other RPM lists.  MS has issued a few data sets that help a bit (e.g., MC-5021, Misc GATC Airslide Data), but so far, most have been for more modern freight cars with higher '60s-on CAPY data, etc. 
     I believe there would be a market for either or both of the following:
          1.  Strictly data sets with common data specifically for AAR 1932 standard, '37 standard, modified '37 standard, and PS-1 boxcars (and similarly for common designs of single- and double-sheathed composite boxcars and steel boxcars from the '20s and '30s); and/or
          2.  Decal sets lettering various boxcars and auto/furniture cars of the '40s and '50s in common, plain vanilla schemes.  While MS has excellent sheets for the larger railroads, these could be for a number of smaller lines, perhaps most marketable if done by region; for example, a Southeastern Lines decal sheet of the plainer schemes of some or all of:  A&WP, WofA, Georgia, BS, CRR, GM&O, N&W, NS, S&A, VGN, etc.  They ain't fancy, but were still common, and most of us could use a few plain interchange boxcars from regions other than the one we model.  If done as reporting marks and road numbers with roadname lettering and simple heralds (if any), to match with AAR '37 data for these roads' number series, modified '37 data for these other roads, etc., most of us could make good use of all or most of such a decal sheet.
       Moreover, there's an additional market for correct and properly sized data sets among those of us who do have good collections of Champ (and Walthers) decals for cars of the '40s and '50s.  Champ's weight and dimensional data was commonly too large overall, in height, letter weight/thickness, and kerning/spacing, most likely due to constraints of their printing process.  Several times, I've mixed reasonably sized Champ roadname, reporting marks and road numbers, and herald decals with another manufacturer's properly sized data for a much more satisfying and presentable model.
     Bottom line:  I second the motion!
Dave Sieber, Reno NV


Pierre Oliver
 

Dave,
I say the following not to be smartass, but dead serious. If, as you say, you believe the market exists for what you're asking for, put together some samples of artwork and commit to the investment and I will help you get those sets onto the market.
Pierre Oliver
www.elgincarshops.com
www.yarmouthmodelworks.com
On 7/15/2014 6:19 PM, David Sieber ealabhan0@... [STMFC] wrote:

 

In STMFC@..., John Barry said:   With the demise of Champ and Sunshine, I missed out on their decal offerings.  Thumbing through the MicroScale catalog, I don't see a lot of pre-50 freight car offerings other than special schemes.  Yet the majority of box cars 25-55 ran with nothing more than ARA required data, reporting marks, and maybe a herald or the roadname.  Is there an interest in such a series of sheets?
 
John,
     I completely agree with you on the current scarcity of pre-1950 freight car decals, and would suggest that plain-Jane '50s and early '60s lettering is also tough to find.  While I do appreciate the eye-catching billboard and special schemes that MicroScale has offered, we definitely could use some basic lettering sheets with real, correct data.
     Many of MS's earlier offerings had generic data that did not match the prototypes they were meant to reproduce, or sometimes no data at all -- although in recent years, MS has issued much more accurate new sets and has updated some older ones, often with expert input from members of this and other RPM lists.  MS has issued a few data sets that help a bit (e.g., MC-5021, Misc GATC Airslide Data), but so far, most have been for more modern freight cars with higher '60s-on CAPY data, etc. 
     I believe there would be a market for either or both of the following:
          1.  Strictly data sets with common data specifically for AAR 1932 standard, '37 standard, modified '37 standard, and PS-1 boxcars (and similarly for common designs of single- and double-sheathed composite boxcars and steel boxcars from the '20s and '30s); and/or
          2.  Decal sets lettering various boxcars and auto/furniture cars of the '40s and '50s in common, plain vanilla schemes.  While MS has excellent sheets for the larger railroads, these could be for a number of smaller lines, perhaps most marketable if done by region; for example, a Southeastern Lines decal sheet of the plainer schemes of some or all of:  A&WP, WofA, Georgia, BS, CRR, GM&O, N&W, NS, S&A, VGN, etc.  They ain't fancy, but were still common, and most of us could use a few plain interchange boxcars from regions other than the one we model.  If done as reporting marks and road numbers with roadname lettering and simple heralds (if any), to match with AAR '37 data for these roads' number series, modified '37 data for these other roads, etc., most of us could make good use of all or most of such a decal sheet.
       Moreover, there's an additional market for correct and properly sized data sets among those of us who do have good collections of Champ (and Walthers) decals for cars of the '40s and '50s.  Champ's weight and dimensional data was commonly too large overall, in height, letter weight/thickness, and kerning/spacing, most likely due to constraints of their printing process.  Several times, I've mixed reasonably sized Champ roadname, reporting marks and road numbers, and herald decals with another manufacturer's properly sized data for a much more satisfying and presentable model.
     Bottom line:  I second the motion!
Dave Sieber, Reno NV



Thomas Baker
 

The discussion prompts me to ask: Is Tom Stolte, whose "Oddballs" line had a fine selection of forties and fifties decals as well as more recent ones, offering to sell the rights to produce the line, or has in anyone even inquired about such a possibility?

Tom Baker

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ianclasper@...
 

You are aware of Ted Culotta's resurrected Speedwitch Media

He has a line of Steam Era decals which are excellent.

These may provide what you are looking for:

Ian Clasper

Decals | Speedwitch Media

 


Tony Thompson
 

Charlie Duckworth wrote:

The reporting marks and numbers, when you look close, are somewhat unique to a railroad.  How the Mopac designed their numbers don't match other roads as example.  

      Most railroads used lettering which was drawn up by draftsmen. Nowadays we are so accustomed to digital fonts that we assume all that lettering must have been some font. But not so. Just like signpainters in that era, each set of lettering could be, and often was, unique.
      The ARA and later the AAR did recommend a set of characters (you could think of it as a kind of font), but there are two things to recognize: first, very few railroads used it, and second, it is most assuredly not the "Railroad Roman" once beloved of decal makers.

Tony Thompson             Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
2906 Forest Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705         www.signaturepress.com
(510) 540-6538; fax, (510) 540-1937; e-mail, tony@...
Publishers of books on railroad history





Tim O'Connor
 


To add to Pierre's remark -- A significant number of Microscale sets are
based in part, or entirely, on artwork that has been DONATED (well, maybe
the artist gets decal sheets as payment) to them by people passionately
interested in getting accurate decals.

Therefore in this hobby, the rule is: If you really, really want it, then
you're probably going to have to make it happen. Once the artwork exists,
then you can think about how to get it printed -- Microscale or one of the
other commercial decal makers, or a custom decal printer like Rail Graphics.

For a while Jerry Glow was doing a bang up job creating artwork AND getting
small runs of decals printed for us, but I suspect we just overwhelmed him
with requests. He made wonderful sets for Soo and UP as well as a custom set
for me simply because I asked him to, and I am very grateful for it.

Tim O'Connor

--------------------------

 Dave,
 I say the following not to be smartass, but dead serious. If, as you say, you believe the market exists for what you're asking for, put together some samples of artwork and commit to the investment and I will help you get those sets onto the market.
 
Pierre Oliver



David Sieber
 

In STMFC, Ian Clasper said: You are aware of Ted Culotta's resurrected Speedwitch Media. He has a line of Steam Era decals which are excellent. These may provide what you are looking for.
 
Ian,
     Ted's decals (and model kits) are indeed outstanding.  One example that could illustrate my suggestion is Speedwitch D113: A&WP, WofA and GA 1937 and War Emergency Boxcars, which can letter up to four cars.  Ted Culotta, Tom Stolte, Jerry Glow, and Rick Leach, plus several others who've contributed to the Protocraft decal line, have demonstrated their ability to develop excellent decal artwork; I however, do not possess that skill.  (My current software challenge is learning Sketchup...)
     My earlier post was an attempt to build upon John Barry's suggestion from my understanding of what he was looking for.  He inspired me to consider alternatives for how that suggested decal series might look and then lay those out for discussion; did I understand him correctly, and what do others on STMFC think about those options?  Most important is what might be economically supportable; I've offered my opinion, but one man's opinion rarely constitutes a viable market.
     What might please many of us on this List would be for Protocraft to release more of their extensive 1:48 decal line in 1:87.  When I spoke with them last year, the answer was straightforward; from their experience with those decals that they'd previously printed in HO, the demand could not support either reprinting or additional new printing -- unless someone were to fully fund the setup and a minimum run from MicroScale (250 sheets, IIRC?).  While a railroad historical society or similar group conceivably might invest in such an project, it's not feasible for this retiree on a fixed income.
Dave Sieber, Reno NV   



Jack Burgess <jack@...>
 

This is what I did to make available Yosemite Valley Railroad decals for ALL of the freight cars, locomotives, M of W cars, and passenger cars for that railroad. I wanted them for my own modeling and developed the artwork from photos and then had Rail Graphics print them. I set a break-even point at one-half of the original order cost and eventually sold enough to make that break-even point...several sets have been reordered (at 75% of the original order cost). I sell them via PayPal from my website. At this point, I don't know if I'm ahead or losing money but I have enough YV decals to build all of the fleet of YV freight cars.

 

Yes, developing the artwork requires some computer skills in Photoshop and possibly AutoCad or a similar software program. (As an aside, when a YV caboose was being restored by the National Park Service for display in El Portal at the western boundary of Yosemite National Park a few years ago, I volunteered to produce full-size stencils for the lettering. Fortunately , I had a good fairly, straight-on side view of the car and was able to scale the lettering based on the size of the T&G siding. I outlined it in a CAD program and then exported it to Photoshop to produce the full-size stencils)

 

So, those with the skills and with photos of the prototype could develop the artwork needed to produce the decals that they might want. So, to make this happen (without the assistance of Microscale) would include:

 

Prototype photos of the decals needed (that is how, as far as I know, Champ created their decal sets).

Someone interested enough in that prototype to create the artwork.

A website to make those decals available for sale via PayPal.

 

Jack Burgess

 

From: STMFC@... [mailto:STMFC@...]
Sent: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 6:57 PM
To: STMFC@...
Subject: Re: [STMFC] Basic Boxcar Decals

 




To add to Pierre's remark -- A significant number of Microscale sets are
based in part, or entirely, on artwork that has been DONATED (well, maybe
the artist gets decal sheets as payment) to them by people passionately
interested in getting accurate decals.

Therefore in this hobby, the rule is: If you really, really want it, then
you're probably going to have to make it happen. Once the artwork exists,
then you can think about how to get it printed -- Microscale or one of the
other commercial decal makers, or a custom decal printer like Rail Graphics.

For a while Jerry Glow was doing a bang up job creating artwork AND getting
small runs of decals printed for us, but I suspect we just overwhelmed him
with requests. He made wonderful sets for Soo and UP as well as a custom set
for me simply because I asked him to, and I am very grateful for it.

Tim O'Connor

--------------------------

 Dave,
 I say the following not to be smartass, but dead serious. If, as you say, you believe the market exists for what you're asking for, put together some samples of artwork and commit to the investment and I will help you get those sets onto the market.
 

Pierre Oliver
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 
 


 
 
 
 
 


John S. Frantz
 

I've managed to make a good go of it in the past nearly 6 years now. I have nearly 80 different decal sets in various scales. Yes, I focus on PRR with the Circle Keystone Scheme, but I've done other Mid-Atlantic roads as well. I have a decal set right now at Microscale which should be out in Mid-August that already has at least one list member groaning since I am giving him ample justification to work on another modeling project. I'm fortunate int hat I got a degree ind rafting, with a background in AutoCAD and have worked on some impressive software platforms in a professional capacity. I somewhat self-taught myself Corel Draw and know enough to be dangerous with Adobe Illustrator.

I can definitively tell you that there is a definite market out there if you know what you're doing. I didn't do it in the past, but I've gotten better at keeping track of what I sell, from the perspective that I at least try to break even. I've actually surprised myself in that one set I sell II brought out on 8/17/2013 I made back my initial cost of printing ($500) by Microscale on 9/23/2013. On 2/15/2014 I doubled that clearing an additional $500. On 6/28/2014 I have a total in the clear of $750. I sell this set at $5 since it does enough for 1 car.

Speaking of which, I have a simple, yet reasonable price structure which also helps. If the set decal does 1 car it's $5, 2 cars it's $7, 3-4 cars $9, 5 and up it depends on who prints it and the sheet size. I've done what Bruce Smith calls a "lifetime' set for PRR Cabin Cars, it's $17 but does 17 cars.

Like I said, the market is there if you have the time and the money to make it work. I'm always open to new ideas, and if someone wants help, I've facilitated pointing them int he right direction to get it done themselves.

FWIW, I'm also the ripe old age of 30.

Who am I? John Frantz, but when it comes to decals I'm Mount Vernon Shops. Mount Vernon Shops - Home

 

Best Regards,

John Frantz


York, PA


richard haave
 

Amen to both of your comments.


Dick Haave


Tony Thompson
 

Jack Burgess wrote:

 
Yes, developing the artwork requires some computer skills in Photoshop and possibly AutoCad or a similar software program. 

     Most people who print decals these days REALLY want Illustrator or comparable vector files. I believe AutoCad does that also. Photoshop is a pixel-base application and does NOT get accepted by a number of the decal folks. Don't ask me how I know.

Tony Thompson             Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
2906 Forest Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705         www.signaturepress.com
(510) 540-6538; fax, (510) 540-1937; e-mail, tony@...
Publishers of books on railroad history





Tim O'Connor
 

Tony

I have the Rail Graphics literature (as of a few years ago) and at that
time he would print 1-color decals sent in as black & white laser or inkjet
printed page at 200% of actual size. So for example you could do lettering
in Microsoft Word, if you wanted to. But if you want super accurate decals
then you're right, the lettering probably requires a custom vector-defined
font.

OTOH multi-color decals with registration issues... I don't have a clue how
that is done.

Tim O'



Jack Burgess wrote:

Yes, developing the artwork requires some computer skills in Photoshop and possibly AutoCad or a similar software program.

     Most people who print decals these days REALLY want Illustrator or comparable vector files. I believe AutoCad does that also. Photoshop is a pixel-base application and does NOT get accepted by a number of the decal folks. Don't ask me how I know.

Tony Thompson


Tony Thompson
 

Tim O'Connor wrote:

I have the Rail Graphics literature (as of a few years ago) and at that time he would print 1-color decals sent in as black & white laser or inkjet printed page at 200% of actual size. So for example you could do lettering in Microsoft Word, if you wanted to. But if you want super accurate decals then you're right, the lettering probably requires a custom vector-defined font.

           He told me he was VERY reluctant to work from printouts or pixel files. But like you say, if you ain't too pertickaler about yer decals, hey, send what you want and see if he prints it.

Tony Thompson             Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
2906 Forest Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705         www.signaturepress.com
(510) 540-6538; fax, (510) 540-1937; e-mail, tony@...
Publishers of books on railroad history





Dave Nelson
 

For those who are not familiar with vector files, think of them as a set data representing two end points and the line between them (tangents) or three numbers for arcs: center point, radius, and length. One you have all the vectors in place you simply specify how large you want them printed and the math to enlarge or shrink the lines is simple and always accurate.  For pixel based software, like photoshop, you cannot change the size w/o getting fuzzy edges because you’re working in fixed sized dots.

 

What Ted was doing some years ago was using photoshop to straighten out images  of near-side on photos of cars and then transferring that image into Adobe Illustrator where he would very carefully draw the vectors around the letters… tangent by tangent, arc by arc.  Each letter. Gads.

 

Dave Nelson

 

From: STMFC@... [mailto:STMFC@...]
Sent: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 10:38 PM

 

Jack Burgess wrote:



 

Yes, developing the artwork requires some computer skills in Photoshop and possibly AutoCad or a similar software program. 

Tony replies:

     Most people who print decals these days REALLY want Illustrator or comparable vector files. I believe AutoCad does that also. Photoshop is a pixel-base application and does NOT get accepted by a number of the decal folks. Don't ask me how I know.

 

Tony Thompson             Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA

2906 Forest Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705         www.signaturepress.com

(510) 540-6538; fax, (510) 540-1937; e-mail, tony@...

Publishers of books on railroad history

 


John Hagen <sprinthag@...>
 

It is no problem at all to work from print outs or photos (pixilated files) PROVIDED these items are only used for the background over which the artist draws all new, vector format, artwork. What it is is a fair amount of work that consumes a fair amount of time and for which the artist will never get properly compensated. To recover what the artists time and skills are worth would mean never selling any decals as the cost would be prohibitive unless a large production run is envisioned.

 

This is why it is so difficult to find decals for, say, the CNW narrow gauge line in SW Wisconsin (the “Dinky”) coaches. There just is not enough interest to cover one’s costs, let alone make any money at all.

 

And as time goes on there are less and less people doing such work as the supply of Alps MD series printers dies off. These are fragile, cantankerous beasts who can only be repaired by sending to one company in Japan making repairs run in the $1,200.00  - $1,600.00 and up range due to very expensive shipping. Sure the actual printing can be farmed out to such as Microscale or Kadee but, again, for small runs the costs are huge. And, while the costs per set can be much less for a decent size production run, the seller still ends up with a probable 50 year supply for which he/she has already paid.

 

So if you can find one of the remaining artists that are willing to do a short run at a reasonable price go for it. If the artist is good, ambitious and know how to properly use an Alps (not all do, believe me) you can get quality decals at affordable prices.

 

John Hagen


Tim O'Connor
 

John

Printing is one thing, but silk screen is another. I believe that Microscale
still uses silkscreen. That means making a high resolution photo (or photos
for multiple color decals) and using that to make a mask. It sounds like you
are describing printing directly from artwork.

I talked with George Bishop about his artwork for decals. He used dry transfer
lettering or whatever else was available to make a "paste up" piece of artwork.
No computer was involved. This was photographed at high resolution and turned
into a silkscreen mask. Only for his later decals (MLW, not Accucals) did he
use a computer to create the artwork -- The artwork was professionally printed,
then photographed to make a mask. No Alps were harmed in the process.

He also did some custom large scale "decals" with vinyl tape -- the cutter was
a 2-D printer type machine with razor blades instead of ink. It cut the sheets
of vinyl directly from computerized artwork. The resolution was not nearly as
good as silkscreen, but for G scale it was dandy.

Tim O'Connor

It is no problem at all to work from print outs or photos (pixilated files) PROVIDED these items are only used for the background over which the artist draws all new, vector format, artwork. What it is is a fair amount of work that consumes a fair amount of time and for which the artist will never get properly compensated. To recover what the artists time and skills are worth would mean never selling any decals as the cost would be prohibitive unless a large production run is envisioned.

This is why it is so difficult to find decals for, say, the CNW narrow gauge line in SW Wisconsin (the �Dinky�) coaches. There just is not enough interest to cover one�s costs, let alone make any money at all.

And as time goes on there are less and less people doing such work as the supply of Alps MD series printers dies off. These are fragile, cantankerous beasts who can only be repaired by sending to one company in Japan making repairs run in the $1,200.00 - $1,600.00 and up range due to very expensive shipping. Sure the actual printing can be farmed out to such as Microscale or Kadee but, again, for small runs the costs are huge. And, while the costs per set can be much less for a decent size production run, the seller still ends up with a probable 50 year supply for which he/she has already paid.

So if you can find one of the remaining artists that are willing to do a short run at a reasonable price go for it. If the artist is good, ambitious and know how to properly use an Alps (not all do, believe me) you can get quality decals at affordable prices.

John Hagen


Andy Sperandeo
 

It's been years since I visited MicroScale, but when I was there they were creating artwork by flattening prototype photos on a computer screen, enlarging the image to show the lettering close up, and tracing around the lettering. They were producing letters and numerals as close as possible to what was painted on the prototype, and using that art to make the silk screens that printed the decals. They probably have newer technology now, but as far as I know they have the same objective. That's why they look for prototype photos for any lettering or paint scheme they want to produce.

So long,

Andy


sprinthag@...
 

This is the best way to reproduce prototype lettering, logos, etc. This is the method I, and likely most other artwork people, use in order to get proper fonts, etc.

Even though there a railroad fonts around, the railroads would often change. In particular the "good olde days" the lettering would vary from order to order or even from shop to shop. There wasn't any big, huge printing presses printing big huge vinyl decals. It was all done by sign painters at each location, and different sign painters even at the same locations. While there may have been stencil for the smaller stuff the bigger lettering and logos were often made by laying out the design on paper and then punching many small holes by using a pounce wheel (them things used by modelers to make rows of rivets in a hurry). Then the paper would be taped to the car side and powder puffs were used to put the design on the car with powder. Remove teh paper and teh sign painter would use the powered dots as a guide for the actual paint. Lots of room for variations here. Plus, each run of cars would have new artwork drawn as the chances of one layout being identical to the next project were practically nil.

THE best way for getting the correct lettering is through prototype photos. They CAN be manipulated to remove any perspective and resized if any dimension is known. That can be size of any lettering, any dimensions of the car itself and, if all else fails, the rail cars wheels. I often use that; I draw a scale 33" square that is placed over the the most visible wheel (this is all on computer of course) and then get it to fit in the box. From there it is a rather simple matter to square up the side and/or ends of the car.

Do this using Illustrator, CorelDRAW or another vector drawing program and the results can be scaled to what ever scale you want from 1 to 1 all the way to Z.

Oh yes. the idea of finding a commercial font that will match any lettering is not going to happen. Maybe on the small lettering a commercial font will be close and can, with manipulation be pretty close but even then certain letters will have to be redrawn. Even if you find a font for your railroad it will likely be entirely accurate for a limited number of applications. I have downloaded three versions of Railroad Roman and they are all different and generally speaking, eahc will have to br reworked to some extent to match the "Railroad Roman" in whatever photo I am using for a pattern.

The only skills this requires is familiarity with the program being used and lots of patience.

John Hagen