Thursday, September 1, 2016

Mistakes in Modeling - Part Oops!

Well, we all make mistakes...

Can you see the mistake?  I bet you'd never know.. but now that I know... it's REALLY ANNOYING!

A few weeks ago as I was finishing up a PSC 60-P-5 model of SP 4261 for a customer.  I reviewed the various RPOs I was working on to see which ones might need the 3D printed interiors.  I was looking forward to designing one for the 4261, as its unique interior layout would show off the double letter case on each wall between the windows!  I was reviewing the car's history in SPH&TS SP Passenger Cars Vol.3 and came to the horrifying realization that I had made a mistake in the car!

Car Backround

The SP 4261 was the only car in SP's last class of 60 foot postal cars.  Her sister cars were sent to UP, and for some reason the SP ordered one car following the style of those cars.  The SP 4261 has its letter cases mid-car, with the windows towards both pairs of side doors.

One can only assume that it was because this car was the odd ball, but it was retired from active RPO service in 1936, while most of her older sisters stayed in service many more years.  The car was then placed in Storage Mail service.  When RPOs were stricken from the fleet of active RPOs and stripped of their working capacity, i.e. Catcher Arms, Sorting Racks, Letter Case, etc. they would pretty quickly have their "US MAIL RAILWAY POST OFFICE" lettering painted over.  Baggage cars usually had lettering for BAGGAGE and RAILWAY EXPRESS AGENCY on their sides to indicate what service they were in when the RPO lettering was painted out.  Cars in dedicated Storage Mail service would have "US MAIL STORAGE CAR" lettering applied in place of the RPO lettering.

The Error

The 4261 in 1936 would have been in Gold Leaf lettering "SOUTHERN PACIFIC LINES" when last lettered as an RPO.  The model that I'd finished lettering was done for the post-1946 "SOUTHERN PACIFIC" style lettering.

The SP 4261 should look something more like this picture of my in-progress SP 4404....

The Fix

Well, the customer wants the car to be the way it should look in the 1950-1953 era for operations.  So there's only one thing to do.  Not wanting to try to strip the car and repaint the whole thing, I masked off the carside where the offending lettering was.  I placed the masking vertically near a rivet line, so any stepping of the masking edge would be hidden or look like a joint in the car siding.  I shot a fresh batch of StarBrand SP Dark Olive and covered the overcoated decals.

I've tried stripping or just lifting off the bad decals in the past.  If they've been properly applied and set completely, and then overcoated and sealed they're is NO WAY it's coming off without completely messing up the rest of the paint job on the car.  It's better to patch over completely finished and sealed decals.  These decals are extremely thin and I will be placing new lettering decals over the area, so I'm not worried about anyone "seeing" the old lettering... even if they did it's prototypical!... The real car probably still had "RPO" lettering under there too!

It took an afternoon to reshoot the car and a few days of drying between the painting and glosscoating.  I have plenty of extra Storage Car decals laying around, as most models I've done are using the "BAGGAGE" and "RAILWAY EXPRESS AGENCY" lettering for baggage-express cars.

Back on Track!

All better, Storage Car 4261 will soon be ready for service!

Here's the relettered and corrected model of SP 4261.  While I'm sad that I don't get to do a car with all the cool interior and full length lighting to show it off... at least this unique car will continue to be a very unique car in Storage Mail service on trains like the Owl (Nos.57/58). - (Link to Modeling the Owl - Part 1)

I'm sure this won't be the last model that I'll have to do something to "Fix" so I thought I'd share this. I hope that this encourages everyone out there to not be afraid to change your models to keep up with the new research that is available to us now!

Jason Hill

1 comment:

  1. Jason,

    Lots of good points. It is s slippery slope we travel with ever increasing knowledge such as the SPH&TS passenger car series. Your post will serve as a reminder to me to review my fleet of postal cars--some painted and lettered forty years ago--when I get serious about backdating the current layout. Thanks for being up front with your problem and solution.

    Bill Decker


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