In the July issue of ‘Old Glory’ Jerry Thurston wrote a very interesting article (Paint Your Wagon) about the importance of a good paint finish setting off a model. I would whole heartedly agree with the sentiments.
What Jerry did not add was the importance of keeping that good paint job ‘good’. I myself have a 7¼” gauge ‘Wren’ built to a superb standard by Alex Gray in 1991. I have owned the model for 20 years and the engine works hard for a living. The paint finish is as good as the day she was built. Over the years I have had many compliments about the condition of the paintwork as well as a number of people assuring me the model must have been repainted!!
The secret to keeping the paintwork fresh is not to clean it whilst the engine is in steam or wet. Too many times I have watched model engineers wipe their model down with a dirty rag, often spraying the model with WD40 first. You might as well use emery paper! All the bits of grit on the model get in the rag, aided by the WD40 and any oil on the cloth, which then act as an abrasive and scratch the paint, dulling it down.
Only when the engine is cool and completely dry do I start the cleaning process. This involves blowing off the fine ash and grit first. Then spray on wax furniture polish and with a clean duster gently wipe it off, this ensures the grit then ‘floats’ off the paint. Regularly turn the duster about to get a clean spot and this way you will avoid trapping a bit of grit and scratching the paint. Once the grit is off take a second clean duster, apply more wax and polish to a bright shine. Some may think this process laborious or unecessary, but the proof of the efficacy of this method is in the longevity of the finish.
Mind you the corollary of all this are the smaller scale modellers, (‘O’, ‘OO’ etc), who like to ‘weather’ their engines for a more realistic effect. Ah well, you can’t win I suppose.