Author Topic: Painting Atlas Code 55 Track  (Read 1306 times)

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Chinapig

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Painting Atlas Code 55 Track
« on: September 03, 2019, 04:50:06 PM »
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I'm having trouble painting Atlas track.  I use acrylic paints and they just don't seem to adhere evenly on the surface.  It's like there is a "surface tension" on the rail which repels the paint.  I've tried spraying the paint but with not better results.  I've also tried spraying it with a primer but that seems to be affected in the same way.
I've used Peco track before and never had these problems.
Has anyone any hints or tips they could give me.
Ted
Member of Gosport Model Railroad Club: www.gosportrailroadgroup.org.uk
modelling oNeTrack modules.

MK

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Re: Painting Atlas Code 55 Track
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2019, 04:54:38 PM »
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Did you clean the track with a degreaser like alcohol first?  Could be left over residue from the manufacturing process.

Dave V

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Re: Painting Atlas Code 55 Track
« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2019, 05:22:38 PM »
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Did you clean the track with a degreaser like alcohol first?  Could be left over residue from the manufacturing process.

This, plus the plastic has a Delrin-like finish that doesn't take acrylic paint all that well.

Recommend cleaning it with isopropyl alcohol first, then hitting it with a light coat of enamel-based primer (Important that it be light!  Enamel can craze the ties if you apply it too thick, plus damage any foam in your roadbed or scenic base...light passes are fine).  Then you can apply whatever acrylic you like.  I prefer Rustoleum Weathered Wood roof paint.
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ednadolski

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Re: Painting Atlas Code 55 Track
« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2019, 09:38:04 PM »
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I usually will hit the flextrack (I use ME) with a rattle can of the Testors or Model Master  enamels, or the Rustoleums Camouflage.... earth tones and or grays.

After cleaning off the rail heads with a rag, I leave it out in the sunlight until It cures... also I’ll leave it in the garage until the smell subsides.

Ed

MichaelWinicki

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Re: Painting Atlas Code 55 Track
« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2019, 09:45:39 PM »
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I used paint pens on my Atlas code 55... Use to be Floquil, now they're under the Testors CreateFX flag.

https://www.fiferhobby.com/paint-pens/


robert3985

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Re: Painting Atlas Code 55 Track
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2019, 02:57:09 AM »
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I don't have any experience painting Atlas C55 track, but I've got plenty of experience painting Atlas 80, Peco 80, Micro Engineering C70, C55 & C40.

First, you have to acknowledge that flex track & turnouts are manufactured using the injection molding process, and when I started building plastic, injection-molded models when I was around 8 years old, it was pretty well accepted that all injection-molded models had a residue of mold-release on them, and needed to be washed in warm, soapy water...then rinsed...before painting, so that paint would stick.

However, with some engineering plastics, such as Delrin...some versions are self-lubricating, with a Teflon additive and may be particularly difficult to get paint to stick to parts molded from these versions.

I can't imagine why flex track ties would be molded from a self-lubricating plastic, so I am going to assume the problems you are having painting your track is due to more than the normal amount of mold release on the parts.

When looking at the Delrin Molding Guide, several solutions to ejection problems involve spraying the molds with mold-release, which leads me to think that some parts injected during the heating-up cycle, or during calibration of a new injection-molding machine, or after replacing an injection nozzle, may lead to less than optimal conditions for successful parts production until temperature, mold, nozzle, pressure & temperature optimization is arrived at...and since use of more than the "normal" amount of mold release is required for successful production of parts until all is optimized, you may have encountered flex track with more than the "normal" amount of mold release residue.

I assume that parts made from other types of plastic would also require application of mold release until optimization is accomplished, because I am not sure that Atlas55 ties are made from an "engineering" plastic, but...certain problems with parts ejection would always require the application of mold release as one of the potential solutions.

I am pretty certain that RailCraft/Micro Engineering flex track's ties are made from a Delrin-like acetal homopolymer, and I've been painting my RailCraft/Micro Engineering track for decades using the following method with very good success: 

(1) I don't bother with washing it, or applying a mold release solvent, but it wouldn't be a bad idea to do this.  If I were going to do it, I would wash my flextrack in bulk in a tub of warm soapy water, then dump the soapy water, and rinse the track sections until the water isn't bubbling...then let them air dry for several days.

(2) After laying the track, soldering all the NS joiners, soldering a 22AWG solid copper wire feeder to the center of every piece of rail and thoroughly testing the newly laid and solderered-up track for both electrical and mechanical perfection...then replacing any missing ties...and trimming/applying headblock ties at the turnout throwbars...it's time to apply the first coat of paint.  I use Krylon Ultra-Flat Camouflage paint, the kind that eats extruded Styrofoam, and I protect any exposed extruded Styrofoam near the track with newspaper or brown wrapping paper taped down.

The first color I use is Krylon Ultra-Flat Camouflage BLACK, and this is mostly for the rails' vertical edge surfaces.  When you look at the can, it says it has an "Ultra Bond Adhesion" technology for " Hard to paint surfaces".  I spray lightly, making sure I cover the vertical rail surfaces, particularly hitting the rail sides from several directions to make sure the spikeheads, which stick up, are not producing unpainted "shadows" from a mono-directional painting technique.

(3) I let the paint dry for about 10 or 15 minutes, then buff off the paint on the railheads by using an old Bright Boy flexible track cleaner pad before the paint cures.  If you let the paint cure, it'll be exponentially more difficult to get the paint off the railheads, so do it as soon as the paint is dry to the touch, but not before the odor goes away...no longer than 15 minutes drying time is good.

(4) The second color I use is Krylon Ultra-Flat Camouflage BROWN, and I apply it directly from the top spraying directly downward from the centerline of the track.  I only really want the tops of the ties to be covered with this color, with the vertical sides of the rails and the vertical sides of the ties only colored by overspray from this brown coat.  This gives me the perfect color on the sides of the rails for my mainline UP rail trackage, and a good base color for the ties.  Once again, I buff off the BROWN coat of paint from the railheads before the paint cures using my old Bright Boy track cleaning pad.

(5) After the paint has dried so it's dry to the touch, using my old Polly Scale flat acrylic paints, I paint various shades and intensities of brown, gray and tan to random ties along the track, to make them varied.  Take some photos of the prototype trackage you like for your layout and see how prototype ties vary in color as your example to work from.

(6) After I've once again thoroughly tested my freshly painted track and found it to be electrically and mechanically perfect, I ballast it...which is another subject.

(7) After the ballast is done to my satisfaction, I take my airbrush and weather both the ties and ballast according to prototype photos I've taken, or photos I've seen.  Just like ties and rails, the ballast also "ages" and gets coated with a collection of grease, dust, cinders, brake pad dust, rust, sewage and weed killer.  Be careful with this step because you want the colors and textures of your ties and ballast to still be evident...but "weathered" just right, mostly towards the center of the ties, fading to where the rails are, continuing to the outside edges of your ballast slightly.

I find that this combination of products along with this technique is fast, easy and fairly durable.  When I have to repair trackage, or change my feeders, I can chip the paint off the ties, but it sticks like crazy to the NS rails.  It's easy to touch up the spots I need to with my acrylic paints (Polyscale).

Camouflage paint is available in other brands, and in "Plastic Friendly" versions, but I think that using the stinky, Krylon Styrene-eating version is one of the reasons my technique is so durable.

I also paint my track before any other scenery is in, so I'm not particularly worried about over-spray dirtying up existing scenery since it's virtually all only either painted or unpainted extruded Styrofoam, with no texturing yet.

However, the stuff stinks and I wear a mask.  I also wear protective gloves while spraying and I turn on my big Rigid shop vac with its HEPA bag insert to suck the vast majority of airborne paint particles into it before they settle onto everything in my trainroom by positioning the big hose close to where I'm spraying with the rattlecan.

Photo (1) - Prototype UP double-track mainline in Echo Canyon Utah:


Photo (2) - N-scale RailCraft C55 and handlaid C40 trackage at Echo Curve on my layout using my Krylon Camouflage paint technique:



I'm pretty sure that using the strong Krylon Camo paint will solve your paint sticking problem.

Cheerio!
Bob Gilmore


wvgca

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Re: Painting Atlas Code 55 Track
« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2019, 04:05:50 AM »
+1
i have used a mix of krylon spray bombs without difficulty ...  they have stuck for over six years now ...  again, as previously stated, light coats are best ..

DKS

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Re: Painting Atlas Code 55 Track
« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2019, 05:35:13 AM »
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i have used a mix of krylon spray bombs without difficulty ...  they have stuck for over six years now ...  again, as previously stated, light coats are best ..

This. Been doing this since the 80s, haven't found anything better. I too have started using the Camo paints, but still like using various primer colors as well. After ballasting, I scrape the paint and glue off the rail heads with an X-Acto blade held at slight angle but level with the railheads, followed by a light buffing with a rust eraser (a.k.a. Brite Boy). I use powdered chalk for rust/dirt effects, then do a final rail cleaning with a paper towel moistened with rubbing alcohol.
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Point353

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Re: Painting Atlas Code 55 Track
« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2019, 08:46:35 AM »
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... when I started building plastic, injection-molded models when I was around 8 years old, it was pretty well accepted that all injection-molded models had a residue of mold-release on them, and needed to be washed in warm, soapy water...then rinsed...before painting, so that paint would stick.
At around the same age I was building numerous plastic auto and aircraft kits without ever washing the models prior to painting them.
Yet, I never encountered any problems with paint not adhering.

Photo (1) - Prototype UP double-track mainline in Echo Canyon Utah:

I've read that you shouldn't mix ballast of distinctly different colors lest you end up with "tweed" ballast.
However, that's almost exactly the effect your proto photo seems to illustrate.

DKS

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Re: Painting Atlas Code 55 Track
« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2019, 09:31:05 AM »
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At around the same age I was building numerous plastic auto and aircraft kits without ever washing the models prior to painting them.
Yet, I never encountered any problems with paint not adhering.

That's mostly because your plastic kits weren't made with Delrin-like (or acetyl) plastics, which are naturally a little oily. These plastics are very difficult to paint, even when clean, but cleaning them helps a bit. I've also found that the ballast adhesive (dilute white glue) helps prevent paint from flaking off the rails and ties by creating something of a sealant layer.
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Point353

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Re: Painting Atlas Code 55 Track
« Reply #10 on: September 04, 2019, 10:00:48 AM »
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That's mostly because your plastic kits weren't made with Delrin-like (or acetyl) plastics, which are naturally a little oily.
Right, but robert3985 made the comment that "it was pretty well accepted that all injection-molded models had a residue of mold-release on them, and needed to be washed in warm, soapy water...then rinsed...before painting, so that paint would stick" - which was contrary to my own experience.

narrowminded

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Re: Painting Atlas Code 55 Track
« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2019, 11:47:07 AM »
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Regardless of the paint used, the rail definitely should be cleaned to remove the trace oil film that exists from the manufacturing process.  Then I think any of the paints will work.  This is especially important for hand laid rail being glued to the ties as the oil film effects the gluing process as well.  A good wash before to lay any track is a good idea and easier to do when loose than laid.  Alcohol, mineral spirits, or just dish soap in the sink should do it.

I have successfully used Model Masters Acrylics on track, sprayed through the airbrush.  Plenty durable and once dried, resists the alcohol used for cleaning, compatible with all surfaces commonly used, doesn't stink when painting and drying, and easy cleanup while still wet. 8)
« Last Edit: September 04, 2019, 01:51:39 PM by narrowminded »
Mark G.

DKS

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Re: Painting Atlas Code 55 Track
« Reply #12 on: September 04, 2019, 01:30:13 PM »
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Right, but robert3985 made the comment that "it was pretty well accepted that all injection-molded models had a residue of mold-release on them, and needed to be washed in warm, soapy water...then rinsed...before painting, so that paint would stick" - which was contrary to my own experience.

Contrary to mine as well. Not sure how "pretty well accepted" it actually is. But anyway...
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robert3985

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Re: Painting Atlas Code 55 Track
« Reply #13 on: September 04, 2019, 01:31:53 PM »
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At around the same age I was building numerous plastic auto and aircraft kits without ever washing the models prior to painting them.
Yet, I never encountered any problems with paint not adhering.
I've read that you shouldn't mix ballast of distinctly different colors lest you end up with "tweed" ballast.
However, that's almost exactly the effect your proto photo seems to illustrate.

@Point353 Truth is, I followed my father's sage advice when both building and painting my plastic models when I was a kid...and to some degree, I still do those things today, 60 years later.  I never had a problem with mold release messing up a model I'd spent a lot of time building either, but I always thought it was because I washed the unassembled model parts before starting to put it together! :)

Today, with both plastic and resin kits, I wash them before assembly, and brush on a good dose of Bestine to degrease them before painting.  On my brass models, after stripping and modifying, I use Brakleen, Bestine, alcohol and sometimes good ol' 409 to get 'em clean before airbrushing, which works pretty well for me.

As for ballast.  Yup, UP prototype ballast is a mix of five basic colors, and the rocks are between 2.75" and 3" in diameter.  I combine four different shades of real-rock ballast from my stash of Highball N-scale ballast, along with a graded sand/soil dug from a spot up Echo Canyon to get the "right" color and texture of UP ballast for my layout.

It would seem logical to me, rather than to believe what some "expert" says, to do a bit of research yourself as to how "real" ballast looks for the railroad you want to model.  That's what I did, and continue to do when attempting to replicate prototype places on my N-scale portable layout.  I have a chart that lists the quarries where UP ballast was dug from and which sections of the double-tracked mainline between Ogden and Evanston they were used on circa 1956, so even on the prototype, the ballast did not appear "standardized" from one section to another.  I was quite surprised when I came upon this chart to realize there were more than a dozen different ballast sources used by the UP for the mainline up Weber & Echo Canyons.  No...I'm not going to attempt to duplicate their differences since I don't have color photos of each mile of the mainline there, nor a time machine to go back and take my own photos.  I'm pretty happy with using what I discovered in 1982 on one of my little field trips to Devils Slide between Weber and Echo Canyons where I collected five different colored, equal-sized ballast rocks, took photos using my 35mm Nikon with an 18% gray card in the photo to get the colors correct when I got the photos enlarged.  Luckily, I live in Ogden, so taking a field trip to the UP mainline is only a matter of minutes if I have questions about trivia I feel like I need to be answered in my old rivet-counter brain.

Gotta remember Ed's Law when a model railroader tells you something is absolute from a prototype standpoint...there's almost always an exception to the "rule".  :D

Cheerio!
Bob Gilmore 

jpwisc

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Re: Painting Atlas Code 55 Track
« Reply #14 on: September 04, 2019, 02:09:24 PM »
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I’ve painted all my Atlas track with PollyScale roof brown or Model Master Roof brown (both acrylics). 36 psi, mixed 2 parts paint to 1 part 70% IPA with no adhesion issues. Even through ballasting with real rock ballast, everything sticks fine.
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