Sunday, January 3, 2016

Southern Aurora Finally finished

My Southern Aurora's Inaugural Run on the Mudgee Line.

 Double 44's, hauling the Southern Aurora the way it should be, though they are a bit too clean.
Passing Portland Station on the UP.   

If you look real hard you might be able to see the revelers enjoying themselves in the Lounge Car.

Well its been a long time coming but finally my version of the Southern Aurora  following Ian Blacks Article is done and had its inaugural run on my layout.

A comment was made in one of the previous posts as to what paint I'd be using to paint the models & I said I would be using the Stainless Steel colour from the Alclad 2 range. I had read up on using this system and the main point is to undercoat the model in a gloss black which is then top coated with mist coats of the final colour, and then a clear coat, but whilst doing a bit of research I came across an article by Antonio Santana (Link to Stainless Steel colour article) where he outlined his findings on using the Alclad 2 system and he found out that he got a better finish using a gloss dark gray undercoat rather than a gloss black undercoat with Chrome as the final colour (he has also written an article in the Sep. 2013 Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine (Link to model-railroad-hobbyist magazine 2013-September), when looking at the photos in his article I thought the models looked too shiny compared to what I have seen of the Southern Aurora where the stainless looks a bit duller so I experimented on a spare Lima Indian Pacific car I had with the gloss dark gray and a gloss black with the stainless steel colour over the top. I showed the end result to a few friends, both in the hobby and outside of the hobby and they all said they preferred the stainless over the dark gray base coat, (in the photo below  the Gray base coat on the left hand side, the Black base coat is on the right hand side) its more noticeable in real life and the side that has the black base coat is noticeably darker.

Hard to see in the photos but certainly noticeable in real life, the Black undercoat is on the right and results in a darker stainless colour than the grey undercoat.

The colour I used for the base coat was a Mr Colour Engine Gray (#339) (and yes I bought it from BNA Model World - no association with them except for a happy customer)

, though I did run low so added some gloss black to extend it & so the final gray is quite a bit darker than the original test, though this does not seem to have affected the final outcome, one of each of the models in their undercoat grey and their corresponding finished stainless steel  are below.
Plain Engine Gray (#339) on left and the Black & Gray mix on right

Same models showing the stainless over the base coats - not much difference between the 2 grays








And off course the Southern Aurora also had a car transporter, so my one had to have one too, this is based on the Strath Hobbies BKX, only real modification I've made to the kit is gluing the Motorail & NSWR nameboards  appropriately and replacing the bogies with a set of 2CM bogies from SDS models (Thanks Steve).

My method of painting the models was to give them a good scrub with Gumption and an electric toothbrush, followed by Mr Colour 1000 Surfacer (Primer),

I then touched up any areas I was not happy with,  again I scrubbed with gumption & the toothbrush, then the dark gray undercoat & finally the stainless steel topcoat.
A word of warning/advise about the Alclad 2 paint - it gives a result that I am very happy with - I like the look of it, BUT it is very unforgiving if there are any minor blemishes, as an example where I joined the roof pieces together to get the roof I wanted the paint highlights where it was joined or where the original 'silver' paint was rubbed back and even though it was primed and undercoated with gloss gray and it looked OK, the final Alclad 2 top coat showed off where the join was made, on another car I accidentally dropped a bit of thinners (I used as glue) on the side corrugations, this caused the Lima 'silver' paint to craze & even though I rubbed it back and primed over it still shows though, so it is good stuff but one has to be careful, in hindsight I probably should have stripped the original paint off, but I will use this again where needed.

I used one of my cars whilst experimenting the the decals, this led to the silver 'rubbing off' around some of the window frames due to handling the model which had not being clearcoated as yet I've tried to highlight with a red circle the area in question in the following photo 

easy enough fix - simply mask over the silver with some 'Blue' tape and re-sprayed, or so I thought, looks like the silver paint 'lifted' when he tape was pulled off a few hours after it was applied hopefully one can make out where the paint lifted off, again highlighted with a red circle - BUT - be careful as even though the models have been clearcoated the silver still rubbed off slightly whilst fitting the windows - lesson learnt - fit (but don't glue) all windows before painting, then remove windows & then paint the body so as to lessen the handing of the painted model - too late for these models but a learning point for the next models I have a go at.

The Alclad 2 comes pre-thinned and I got about 2 3/4 cars per bottle. this was top coated with the Alcad 2 clear basecoat after the models where decalled. Talking about the decals, I got them from Geoff @ Custom Hobby Decals (, again just a happy customer. As luck had it Geoff was making some new signs for some real Southern Aurora cars & so we where able to piggy back of them, supplementing them with some photos & measurements I had previously taken when researching the cars down at ARHS ACT which Geoff used to make the remaining decals, so if anyone needs a full set of Southern Aurora decals then Geoff's your man, I believe that Casula Hobbies stock them. The decals are pretty easy to apply, but not like what I am normally use to, but if you follow Geoff's instruction (I let them soak for about 30 seconds and then peel them of the backing sheets) then they go on easily, please note that the decals are 'cut' around the perimeter saving the hassal of having to accurately trim them oneself. I am thinking that with the Alclad paint that I should have clearcoated the models before decalling, as well as after, so the decals have a nice glossy surface to adhere to.

I bought all my paint from BNA Model world, no association with them, but they had all I needed (including some model car stuff), I believe that Kellets in Liverpool, NSW also stock the Mr Colour range of paints, not sure about the Alclad 2 paints.

Windows are made from 1mm poly-carbonate I found when up in Coffs Harbour a few years back, but any plastics supplier should have it, it was cut using the cut & snap method, similar to styrene, it was then finally shaped with a file to suit, pretty easy material to work with & I like the end result.

All the cars have interior lighting, one of the end cars has a home made DCC decoder driving the marker lights and the lit Southern Aurora sign (which is attached to either the PHN or MHN depending on direction of travel), the other car simply has the marker lights LED in series with the 'Southern Aurora' sign LED which means if the sign is not connected then the markers do not light up, pretty simple really, the sign is connected to the carriages via IC sockets.  This is visible in the below photo of the MHN, the IC sockets are the 2 small holes mid way down the end, they are not that noticeable on the model and the car that does not have the sign is normally next to the loco & thus even less noticeable.

A photo of the lit end is at the end of this blog.
Talking about the lit nameboard, I used a photo I had taken at Central a few years back as a mask to create it in Corel Draw, this was then printed on a colour laser copier onto decal paper a couple of times, then I applied one decal to the nameboard, and tested it when dry, this showed that the light bled through too brightly and was very visible through the blue, I then over painted the blue with a gloss black (being careful not to get it onto the actual lettering)  and when dry with a gloss white, and then applied a second decal over the top, this pretty well stopped the light bleeding through.

The rest of the cars a have simple circuit I found on the web by Jim Betz that uses a Bridge rectifier, a zener diode and resistors (as pictured below, photo from Jm Betz's site) to power the LEDs (Flicker Free Lighting Circuit), - just make sure you cut the tracks as appropriate, I didn't & let the magic smoke out of the various components :-(

All bogies have electrical pickup, the 2BS are from Eureka (as used in their HUB set) and come with inbuilt pickup, the 2BU are modified Lima bogies with pickup via brass bearing and soldered connections to them, not the best but seems to work, BTW I ended up just soldering all the components together bypassing the use of the circuit board which made it a much more compact package.

Anyways, thats it for now and ends the saga of my build of the Southern Aurora cars, its been a long but enjoyable project & I've learnt heaps which I hope I can apply to other modelling projects, all thats left now is just a few pictures to finish off with and to wish all a Happy New Year.

 On Colo Vale on it's first trip

At the Oct 2015 Sydney Exhibition at Liverpool on the Epping MRC Binalong Layout.

At speed passing through Binalong

Who's that knocking at the door ...