Last year I bought a beaten up & badly repainted LGB freigtcar. I removed the old paint and very thick glue and putty remains and re-sprayed it in a brown color. Still I was not happy the way it looked and I decided to make a sort of commercial sign on the sides.
Don't know if it's prototypical but I do believe sometimes European freighcars had those advertisement signs.
I remembered from holidays in my youth that Austrian narrow gauge freight cars did had some sometimes (but wish I could find a nice picture of a French narrow gauge car with this kind of advertisement on it...)
I Googled around and find a free printable PDF file with French advertisements in different scales on a Wargaming site (www.rapid-fire.uk.com). Click here for the PDF file
I choose the Dubonnet sign and checked how it will look on the car:
The sign already looks worn off and had just the right looks for this freightcar.
But I did not just want to stick a piece of paper on the car. It had to look like it was painted on, so I get some Testor decal papers and went back to the printer. I printed the signs on Testor decal paper. 4 prints so I can screw up twice...
Also on the picture there are 2 bottles; Micro Set to make thee make the decal set better and Micro Sol that can soften the decal more so it can follow lines etc.
I sprayed a matt coat over the decals after printing. This seals the printer ink of the print so it won't wash away when the decals are put in the water.
If you work with home printed decals on transparent paper you will notice that you can't print "white". The white of the paper is the white you see. With decal paper this means the "white" is actually transparent film (I believe there is also white decal paper, with white film).
So, when using transparent decal the surface where the decal comes must be painted white.
I painted a rectangle white on the sides. The rectangle had the exact surface of the decal but this turned out to be a little mistake (read on!!!).
Another reason to paint the surface white is that the transparent decal film is very thin and the layer of printed ink is not that thick (even best quality) and therefor a bit transparent also. It's just not as good as normal decals that come in plastic kits for instance. It does not cover completely; the surface will shine through.So a light color decal set on a dark colored surface will not work well and the colors will not come out right or not at all (for instance yellow).
Now, why was it a mistake to paint a surface as big as the decal? You should think it's and the decal must cover it perfectly, right? But I forgot the grooves in the siding... The decal follows the groove and this cost decal surface. So the decal does not cover it exactly and there are white lines showing at the bottom and top.
White lines showing (also on the sides! Had to make the decal a bit bigger!!). On the picture you can also see the decal follows the grooves perfectly. I did not have to use the Micro Sol; the decals were thin and soft enough by their own already!
From an angle the white stripes make it look like it's a piece of paper glued on the car. They surely got to go!
I used brown paint to tone the lines down so that they are not noticeable anymore. Also drybrushed the decal a bit, so it blends more in with the rest. Compare it with the close up above and see the difference (and yes, thats my hand and blouse in the reflection of the window...)
The final results on both sides:
I sprayed spray a layer of matt coat over the whole car (after the pictures above) to protect the decals and to give all the black the same 'shine' (I tried to give the black parts an treatment with Future but it did not turn out fine...).
I'll try to take some pictures in the daylight this week.
More pictures on the initial "restoration" of the car you can find on: http://public.fotki.com/SmallGardenRailway/dubonnet-freigtcar/
Meanwhile, please feel free to comment, advise or ask!
BTW; I have to get rid of those monstrous LGB door-handles... Anybody knows a good alternative for those or knows a nice way to make some yourself?