Painting and Decaling Locomotives is a free Model Railroad Discussion Forum and photo gallery. We cover all scales and sizes of model railroads. Whether you're a master model railroader or just getting started, you'll find something of interest here.


Active Member
Hey there fellas,

Im going to tackle my first custom paint job while im on summer break this year, but ive got some questions first.

Can you recommend me a color for NS Black, CPR Red (current, not action red of the 80s), Alaska RR Yellow and Blue?

Im aware of Testors/Floquil/Polly Scale, are there any other model paint manufactuers?

Is Enamel vs Acrylic just a choice of opinion?

How are decals applied? Ive seen solutions available for these, but i wasnt sure if it was something necessary.

Regarding the roadnumbers on a decal sheet, are you supposed to cut out each number you want and then put them on in a straight line, or just cut out a block of numbers and apply.

Please recommend me a dullcoat.

What do i thin the paint with? Water or do i need to buy thinner?

Ill be primarily painting Athearn (BB, RTR, and Genesis), Walthers, and Atlas locomotives, is there anything i should be aware of about these particular manufactuers? For example, Kato's paint doesnt dissolve in some thinner, ect.

What colors or combinations of colors would you recommend for a light weathering?


Diesel Detail Freak
NS black can be accomplished with Engine Black.

For companies, there's also the Scalecoat line:

True Line Trains has paint too, but it's mixed by RPM, the parent company of Testors/Floquil/Polly Scale:

They have both CP reds, you'd need the CP Bright RedTLT 010002.

As for Alaska railroad, I'm unsure of the exact color.

Using enamel or acrylic is an choice. Enamel is easier to thin & spray, but uses harsh chemicals. Using windex to think acrylics works well, but only on darker colors. Once the paint has cured, use a gloss clear to prep for decals. A large number of modelers are switching to "Pledge with Future Floor Shine" available in the floor chemicals isle at retailers. It's like a floor wax, but this product is an acrylic clear, you can air brush it on w/o thinning, and clean up with water, and it'll leave a nice glossy surface for the decals. Gloss works best for decals as the surface is smooth.

When numbering a locomotive, it's up to you. Microscale tries to give you good number jumbles that can be cut & used as is, but if you model a specific unit, you need to go number by number usually.

Testors Dullcoat in the glass bottle, airbrushed, works wonders.

The thinner needed depends on the paint bought. To remove paint, you can use Polly Scale ELO, Scale Coat Wash Away, Original Pine-sol, 91% Rubbing Alcohol, or even brake fluid. I found that Scale Coat wash away works best, for me, on Kato units.

For weathering, I recommend using a weathered black, engine black, umber, Model Master Rust, Floquil dust, and some color of light tan/brown.


I always recommend Scalecoat II paint, but then again I'm very biased. I'm an automotive painter so I'm a solvent based paint man. One plus with Scalecoat II is there is no need to gloss coat before applying decals since the Scalecoat II is slick and shiny. As for dullcoat I use Testers thinned with lacquer thinner.


I,ve found the best way for me, to put on engine numbers, is to start with the centre pair of numbers first,either side of the number plate centre line,that way, the first, and last numbers will be equidistant from the ends of the number plate.
I,ve painted, or repainted several Norfolk Southern locos as NS is my favourite railroad company.



Diesel Detail Freak
That sheet should cover 4, but best bet would be to assume it only will cover 3 in case you mess up a decal.

Make sure you do thin coats of paint, don't try to paint the full shell completely black in the first layer, toe two or 3. Properly sprayed, and thinned paint, you should be able to use about 1/4 of a normal 10 fl oz bottle of paint, and still have some left over. I do allot of my basic airbrushing with an external mix brush, I use the 1/2oz empty mixing bottles, fill it about 1/3 paint, to 2/3 thinner, and usually use about 1/3 to 1/2 of the mixing bottle when painting a locomotive.

Pick up some Microsol and Microset when you order the decals, to get them to settle onto the model better too...


Well-Known Member
Thank you very much Josh and Dortoh.

How many ounces of paint do i need for each locomotive?

Illl be a painting an NS locomotive first, probably an SD40-2 or an SW1500, how many coats will i need?

Thank you very much for all the help.

That's going to depend on you, the paint you're using, and how you spray. Black will cover pretty quickly, so I'd guess two coats based on how I spray, but a single thicker coat over a black or gray shell might be enough. You're going to have to play it by ear a little, and after you get a couple of models under your belt, you'll get a feel for this. One 1 ounce bottle of black should paint both locos and leave you plenty left over. Paint actually goes a long way. I usually apply a coat, then look at the shell under a high intensity light for thin spots. When the paint looks uniform under the light I'm good to go.
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Guilford Guy9887

Northeast Railfan
The One bit of advice i would give you is start with lower end models to develop your skills . Mess around with old bachmanns and tyco's. Don't start your first paint job on a Kato or t55


Active Member
Thanks for everyones help. I think ive decided on what to do.

Ill be ordering a one ounce jar of Scalecoat II Loco Black, the decal sheet from Microscale, and Testors dullcoat. Im undecided on the Microsol and Microset.

Jamie, ill be sure to practice on some life-likes. Thanks for the tip, and nice diarama, SD70MAC, and car in the WPF thread.


If you are decaling over any rivets, panel lines or any irregular surface, Microsol and Microset are usually needed to get the decal to settle down over the rough surface.

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