Alternative to decals

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by gbwdude, Jul 2, 2010.

  1. gbwdude

    gbwdude Member

    Hello all,
    On my personal railroad, the Whiskey River Railway, I am in the process of getting all my rolling stock and locos ready for the paint shop. Here comes the interesting idea; instead of getting custom made decals made in both black and white with heralds and possibly costing a arm and a leg (about 40 or so pieces of rolling stock and locos) to have a rubber stamp made of the herald and both short and long names of the railroad made. Have any of you tried or heard of this? In theory this should work, since this is what the manufacturers do.

  2. thedowneaster

    thedowneaster Brakeman

    I occasionally use transfer lettering from woodland scenics. Basically this is just ink on a plastic transfer sheet. I would think that your idea should work too. I wonder if I could use my cnc mill to create a custom rubber carving?
  3. CNJ999

    CNJ999 Member

    Tyler - I'd have to say that the concept, when in strictly a hobbyist's hands, is somewhat suspect. It does work well at the manufacturing level, of course, but there the stamping is by machine. Attempting to make full, firm, contact every time with any and all irregularities in the model's surface just using a handheld hard rubber stamp is going to be your first problem.

    That situation is likely to be compounded by the difficulty of repeatedly exerting precisely the same degree of contact and pressure of the stamp from car to car, so as to obtain an identical, or at least acceptable, appearance. I'm not saying it can't be done successfully, but you will get far more consistent results, especially in regard to appearance and with a lot less effort, simply using custom decals.

  4. gbwdude

    gbwdude Member


    One other theory I was pondering about was using stencils. With stencils I wouldn't have the issue of not applying even pressure. If I could find someone who has a laser to cut out some samples to try I'd be all for that. The biggest issue is that I work with HO scale and I can see it not working very well.

  5. CNJ999

    CNJ999 Member

    Unless the masking is printed on a surface with some sort of self-sticking backing to seal it to the model, odds are that any paint applied under pressure (i.e. by an airbrush) will have a tendency to bleed under the stencil's edges to some degree (been there, done that!).

  6. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    back to decals?

    I have been using dry transfers for the most part, with some occasional hand lettering (uuggh) for years and years, I have purchased some blank decal paper, and am going to experiment some with decals again. Not having an ALPS printer, I won't be able to do white letters. I have one locomotive I did 35 years ago with gold decals, and so I will probably play with yellow as a lettering color choice .

    The thing that is holding me up right now is I'm too lazy to do the artwork. I guess I need to print out a sheet of paper with Dead Grass Crooked Creek and Western Railroad , State line Railroad, and the J. E. Patterson Coal and Lumber Co. repeated a bunch of times in the selected font at different sizes, and try to determine what sizes work best on the planned cars and locomotive, and then cut and paste a bunch of the lettering from the wordprocessor over to a graphics program, so I'm not wasting huge margines on the decal paper. then I have to experiment with fixatives, and finally I have to see if I remember how to decal after 30 years of avoiding it like the plauge.

    Bill Nelson
  7. Doctor G

    Doctor G Active Member

    Reccomend Custom Decals

    Hi Tyler,

    Yes, I would agree with CNJ999 that you would do well with custom decals and they do not cost that much.

    Stan Cedarleaf at is an excellent guy to work with. He asks for any pictures of artwork or prototypes you want to send and he can get as precise as you want in the size and shape of the decals.

    I reposted the proof sheet he did for my Large Scale Shay. I hope to use him further for some of the 1:20.3 flat cars I am planning.

    Good luck!!!

    Doc Tom:wave:

    Attached Files:

  8. mazarabr

    mazarabr New Member

    nice... good...

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