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Repainted and Weathered Class 86 Loco

A recent project to move onto the workbench has been this Heljan class 86 respray. The client requested a repaint into original style ‘red stripe’ Inter-City livery, and weathering to a workaday state.

Here is the loco we start off with.

heljan loco

The body is removed and the chassis stored for safe keeping. I start by completely stripping the body of all detailing. Handrails, roof details, glazing, marker light lenses, and windscreen wipers. Some manufacturers use extremely strong glue, and great care has to be taken not to damage any of the very fine and delicate parts. A good tip here is to take reference pictures of details you may not be familiar with, it will aid with re-assembly later. I took some shots of the roof detail.

roroof detail heljan

Next, it’s into the bath of paint stripper. There are a number of  types you can use, I find Phoenix Precision the best for the job. Having said that, certain manufacturers paint can prove very difficult to remove, the yellow ends on this one being exceptionally difficult. A glass fibre brush and wet and dry paper had to be used as well. Finish off with a good scrub under running water with an old toothbrush. Not the Mrs new electric one, tried that, bad idea!

Heljan Stripped

Any moulding lines, in this case the angled edges moulded on to help with the factory application of Virgin red have to be sanded down, otherwise they will show through the final finish. It’s generally learnt the hard way, but the saying, ‘ the end result is dependant on the time spent preparing the surface for painting’, is very very true! Spend as much time on this stage as is required. If you don’t, an inferior finish will result. To finish after all of the sanding is complete, I use a plastic surface cleaner to remove any further residue, and now only handle the body with gloved hands.

Now its time to prime the body. I usually use Precision (as from now all paints mentioned are Phoenix Precision), grey primer. Light coats to start with, The final couple going on looking wet so as to give a good smooth undercoat. Once dry, it can be beneficial to give a light sanding with very fine abrasive paper.

Heljan primed

I usually leave a full 24 hours between colours and coats of paint, longer if the room is cooler. The 1st colour to go on is yellow for the ends and cab roofs. Nice light coats to start, building up gradually to full density.

heljan yellow ends

Next, rail white is sprayed along the whole length of the lower bodyside, after having masked off the previously sprayed yellow ends. It’s very important to make sure the previous colour is properly dried, otherwise there is a risk the masking tape will pull it off the surface. This white area will form a bodyside stripe as you will see during the next stages.

heljan white stripe

Next colour is the lowest body stripe, Inter City light executive grey. It’s important that this one is masked off properly, as it will form a reference line for the other coloured stripes. Using another inter city liveried vehicle, and checking with prototype reference pictures, place a piece of masking tape along the whole length of the bodyside, at the correct height to produce the lowest stripe. I do it by eye, but it may be a good idea to ensure the tape is straight using a straight edge. If done correctly, upon removing the tape, it should look something like this.

Now it starts getting trickier! I prefer to do the red strip next. Again, checking the size from a reference vehicle, mask of the lower bodyside colour last done, and place nother strip of tape above it, at the correct width, to form the red stripe. It’s very important that these pieces of tape are now exactly parallel, and straight. Otherwise it will be very obvious they are not, and you have to start the process from a stripped body! If all goes to plan, this shoul be the result.

Next is the white stripe. As we have already sprayed that colour, its just a case of masking it off. So using the previously sprayed red line top edge as a reference, place a piece of masking tape at the correct width, covering the red and white stripe, this time around the whole body, sides and cab front. The correct width is obtained when the masking line matches up just at the bottom of the front cab headcode panel marker light lenses. The following picture probably explains it better than my words.

Remember that any previously sprayed colour needs to be masked off as well, so don’t forget the yellow cab roofs. You should now have a perfectly straight and level painting line around the whole body, lets spray the dark executive upper bodyside colour on. As usual, light coats first, until full colour density is reached.

The next bit is both exciting and worrying. Removing the masking tape! Exciting if everything has gone to plan, most definitely not if one has to start again!

Not bad at all. Any slightly raggy or rough edges are now cleaned up with cocktail sticks, thinners, and very fine paintbrushes before the paint cures. Now you may be starting to get some sort of idea as to why us respray guys can sometimes have quite long lead times! Still fancying having a go yourself? Please read on. After cleaning up, we have produced this.

Three more colours to go, First, the grey roof. Mask off along the body roofline, also the rear cab roofline, so that the whole of the roof area is exposed for spraying. Spray the roof grey.

Next it’s the black window surrounds. Carefully mask off the whole cab area, including the front bottom window ledge in front of the windscreens.

Now give yourself a pat on the back, that’s the basic colours on! Have a cup of tea, but no chilling out just yet, as we are nowhere near finished.

Before attempting to put any transfers on, the area has to be gloss varnished so that the transfers adhere properly, and the carrier film does not show. I tend to spray only the areas where transfers will go, gloss varnish spraying is not one of my favourite pastimes. This generally needs 24-36 hours to dry properly, sometimes longer.

Now we start getting to the fun part of decorating the loco. Numbers, arrows, data panels, electrification flashes are all put onto the previously glossed areas. The cant rail stripes are a bit fiddly, there is a knack to getting them on. In another article, I will show how they can also be sprayed on.

Leave the transfers to properly dry overnight. Next, I touch up any small details, front cab multiple connectors, cables, kickplates, anything that needs colouring. When happy that everything has been done, refit all of the roof details, pick out the insulators in bauxite, leave to dry again. Now it is time to seal all of this work with a protective coat of varnish. I prefer a matt finish on a workaday locomotive.

It’s now time to try and find the chassis that was placed into storage when we began stripping the loco. Electric locos weren’t particularly oily, just lots of brake dust, so the weathering colours should reflect this.I start on the underframe with Underframe dirt, matt black and sleeper grime, any combination that produces the desired results really. A toned down roof, flies on the cab fronts, nameplates to finish, and voila, we have a finished locomotive!

I hope this goes to show some of the processes and work involved, it is certainly very satisfying to produce a decent end result.


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