Transfers and Renumbering

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WARNING - Renumbering a new model will probably invalidate the manufacturer's warranty.

There are many locomotive classes produced in ready to run form (and in kit form) that have only one or two running numbers. If you wish to have a particular numbered or named model then the solution is to renumber and rename the model yourself. Rolling stock can also be modified in the same way.


Transfers (Decals)

Transfers are available from several suppliers but also come in several forms.

Waterslide transfers

Familiar to many modellers. The transfer is attached to a backing sheet and detached by soaking in (tepid) water and sliding the numbering/lettering off the backing sheet and onto the model. A damp artists brush is ideal for this. When the transfer is correctly positioned, touch gently with a clean tissue/paper towel to absorb the surplus water and the transfer should stick to the model. Ensure that all air bubbles are removed by dabbing with tissue.

Rub-On transfers

These have a backing sheet, but as the name implies, must be rubbed onto the model. They require a level of care for successful application. They can be rubbed on using a blunt cocktail sticks, a propelling pencil with a 0.7mm lead or a ball-point pen. The tool used will depend upon access to the area required. In a tight spot, it may be a good idea to cut out the transfer from the backing to avoid any others on the sheet sticking to the model. However, removing the transfer from the rest of the backing sheet makes it more difficult to get the transfer level.

Press-Fix transfers

Press-fix are a sort of combination of waterslide and rub-on transfers in that the transfers are a 'press fix' as the name implies. However, they are more difficult to apply as they are very thin and have little backing film. There is an easily removable front sheet which is purely to protect the transfer sheet. The actual transfer are printed backwards, so it is applied face down onto the model. Cut around the transfer through the top layer of backing paper and lift off with a sharp scalpel or soak with water. The face of the transfer contains a little gum to improve adhesion, but this makes them more difficult to adjust their position.

NOTE that these type of transfers have a limited shelf life since the adhesive gum will dry out in time

Meth-Fix transfers

These are similar to the pressfix type but the adhesive is not initially tacky and is activated by methylated spirits (2 or 3 parts methylated spirit and one part water). Only cut through the first layer of paper and peel the transfer off backing sheet. Place on the model and brush on a touch of the meths mix. Position it accurately and leave for a minute of two until the backing paper is nearly dry. Then lightly press down. The meths-mix needs time to melt the adhesive. When dry soak with water and lift the water-soluble paper backing away. Carefully remove any excess water with a tissue.

They are possibly a little more difficult to use to use but are often preferred by experienced modellers. However, they do have a long shelf life.

DIY Transfers

Transfers can also be made. Plain Waterslide Transfer Paper is available from specialist suppliers for inkjet printers. Create the appropriate design to scale on your computer and print onto the transfer sheet instead of plain paper. You can also apply paint to the transfer paper using a lining (bow) pen or a Rotring-type pen. Apply as per waterslide transfers. This is a good solution for some boiler bands and rarer railway company detailing.


Side numbers/letters

Step 1

Using a cotton bud dipped in some automobile polish (e.g. T-Cut) or Brasso or meths, carefully remove each offending number by gently rubbing.

Make sure the surrounding paint is unblemished and touch in if required. Applying some gloss varnish will provide a good surface for the new transfer.

Step 2

Fix new numbers from a transfer sheet as described above, according to the type of transfer.

Apply a little matt or satin varnish to protect the new transfer.

Etched Names/Numbers

These are available on an etched frame.

Step 1

Paint before removing from the frame with sharp scissors or sharp scalpel. Make sure the plate is perfectly flat before application.

Step 2

Apply by adding a little superglue or contact adhesive to the rear and quickly place in position using tweezers. Adjust using the tip of a scalpel.

TIP !! Spare bits of etch frame, trimmed and folded, make great scale lamp irons !!

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