Lettering a Smokestack

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#1
I need advice on how best to add white lettering to the N-scale smokestack on my layout. My stack is on the left below, and the lettering I want to match is on the actual stack on the right.



Yes I know the model smokestack is not quite the same as the prototype. I'm not concerned about that, but I'd like the lettering on my smokestack to resemble that on the prototype. In case you can't read it, the white letters spell out "TROY MILLS INC".

I have never custom-decaled anything before, although I applied hundreds of waterslide decals to model cars and planes in my younger days. For this job, I'm wondering about waterslide decals versus dry transfers, whether I can apply either one over matte finish paint, best sources for the decals or transfers, tips for good results, and any additional advice you can offer.

Thanks -- Jeff
 
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tootnkumin

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#2
The usual advice is to clear gloss paint the base surface to apply the transfers to and dullcoat over once fully dry to seal and return the lot to original. Looks like your chimney has a smooth surface, not brick, so should eliminate or reduce the need to soften the decals to help them sink into the grooves you would have with brick finish. May still be advisable if the surface is sandy in texture.

Haven't tried dry transfers, but they may give a slightly raised effect (may be what you want), but they would have to be of a type where the letters come cleanly off their backing, leaving no border material. A clear gloss base would still be advised to secure them to.
 
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wombat457

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#3
Jeff,

I would definitely go with water slide decals but would also apply a thin coat of clear over the chimney first, for the reasons Toot'n mentioned then finish it off with a coat of dull coat.

There's a few Custom Decal Makers around but at the moment their names allude me. If I think of them, or find them, I'll let you know unless you find someone in the meantime.
 
#4
The model smokestack actually has a very, very fine brick texture; it's not smooth.

Although I drove past the prototype smokestack five days a week for more than 20 years, I don't know for sure how the lettering is applied. I think it is simply painted on. So that suggests waterslide decals used with Micro Set and Micro Sol to achieve the painted-on look for the model, correct?

Unfortunately I already painted the smokestack with a flat paint. I can apply a gloss finish for the decaling, then apply a flat finish afterwards.

I had not thought of having a custom decal made. I'll explore the cost of that. That would sure be easier than applying teensy letters one by one. The smokestack might turn out to be the most expensive structure on the layout!

- Jeff
 
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Greg@mnrr

Section Hand
#6
Jeff:

Custom decals would cost more than the effort than using individual letters and carefully installing them. I model in HO and have the same smokestacks in HO and plan to letter one and use individual decals.

After a gloss coat, use a decal setting solution to allow the decals to settle into the brick details. I like Walther's Solvaset and apply it first and then the decal and follow with a coat of the product over the installed decal. Watch for air bubbles under the decal.

Have fun.

Greg
 
#7
Thanks for the advice, everyone. I will give individual letters a try.

After building models for 55 years, it will be interesting to try something new.

- Jeff
 

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
#8
I had not thought of having a custom decal made. I'll explore the cost of that.
I've done several runs of custom decals. They are pricey even when getting quantities of 25 or 50. So I can only imagine how the cost would come out for a quantity of 1 or 2 (are you "painting" both sides of your chimney?).

The other thing I thought of is the mortar. I believe I would put mortar on the chimney before the decals, otherwise it might not flow into the cracks the same as over the top of a decal.
 
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Greg@mnrr

Section Hand
#9
Jeff:

With your post and smoke stack lettering project in mind, I'm going to letter my two HO Walther's smoke stacks. I admit that I'll be lettering one stack MNRR and the other SAXEVILLE, WI and will be easier in HO than N scale due to size of the letters.

Iron Horseman made a good point about the mortar on the stack. I plan on just using a India Ink and alcohol wash to accent the mortar joints and black power to represent grime on the stack's top levels. My off white decals will receive a bit of black wash to tone the color down a bit.

Thanks.

Greg
 

Y3a

Stuck in the 1930's
#10
I would use the rub on letters and hope they didn't all go on perfectly for that slightly deteriorating look. Sure the water slide decals might be better but is that what you are looking for?
 



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