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 Post subject: Vinyl lettering/decal vs stencils
PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2020 8:12 am 

Joined: Sat Jul 01, 2006 9:07 am
Posts: 158
Hello all,

I am looking for some input regarding the use of vinyl letters, logos etc vs stencils and paint.

Who has used which. How they are holding up. Pros and cons.

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Bill


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 Post subject: Re: Vinyl lettering/decal vs stencils
PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2020 9:42 am 

Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:54 am
Posts: 844
Location: New Franklin, OH
Pros: Good vinyl, the stuff from outdoor sign shops, can last quite a while. I seem to recall the manufacturer says some thing like seven years but in reality I’ve seen it last 10 to 15 years before any noticeable deterioration. If kept indoors, who knows. How well it sticks in the long run depends on how clean, smooth and prepared the substrate is. It’s easy to apply if you’re careful with positioning. It’s faster than paint.

Cons: Limited colors. Black or white is no problem but there are no custom colors. They might have something close to what you need if it is in stock and you happen to be lucky. You need to be really careful when positioning as once it sticks, it ain’t coming off.

Some shops have a low tack vinyl masking material that can be cut just like custom lettering if you choose to do paint. It can either be a negative if you paint over the mask or positive if you’re masking a color underneath. Application is basically the same but doesn’t stick like the lettering so it comes off easily and is easier to position. It eliminates the bridges to be hand painted out after the stencil is removed. Burnish the edges lightly to seal it and use a dental pick to snag it for removal.

I do artwork for lettering, decals, stencils, signs and printed appliqués fairly often so if you need pointers on the artwork, let me know.

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Eric Schlentner
Orrville Railroad Heritage Society
Car Knocker, Gandy Dancer & Hog Jockey
https://orrvillerailroad.com


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 Post subject: Re: Vinyl lettering/decal vs stencils
PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2020 11:23 am 

Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2005 9:32 pm
Posts: 311
The IRM have been using vinyl for around 20 years now. All of the informational signs on campus are black vinyl lettering on white painted aluminum sign stock. I don't know of any that have peeled up.
https://midwestmaize.files.wordpress.co ... sign-b.jpg

On the other hand we have had some fail. The metallic silver stock used on our commuter coaches has in some cases faded to clear. The aluminum metal flake "evaporating" off after about 6 years. Most on the sunny side of cars kept outside all summer.

There are different makers of the vinyl and differing grades of outdoor life. Most do not full warranty high temperature (desert southwest) nor horizontal (roof) installations. The best we had were supplied by the same shop in Omaha that supplies UP but they were also very expensive. The reflective red (same as fire trucks) has been on the turbine for close to 20 years, in full sun, outside, with only slight edge peeling.

You can print any color, but now you have to find out how the shop will apply that on the vinyl. Some better shops have a 4 color film transfer. Most others can inkjet print anything including color photos. The ink color seems to fade but the black holds up well.

I guess in conclusion I recommend what we do. For exterior lettering we most often use vinyl stencils made of the removal vinyl masking and then paint. To replace the old varnish transfer decals such as the black over metallic gold interior lettering we use vinyl.

We used black over metallic gold 3M Scotchcal 220 vinyl for the exterior lettering on North Shore 714 and 760 when they were repainted. May be going on 10 years now? If you can find some current photos the side decals and reporting numbers are still in fine shape. The cars are stored indoors but do run very often.


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 Post subject: Re: Vinyl lettering/decal vs stencils
PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2020 11:50 am 
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Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:08 pm
Posts: 157
Location: Alberta, Canada
We've had mixed results. In general, the vinyl stickers seem to work great on metal, but do not adhere properly to wood, even painted. We were lucky to get three years out of the lettering on wood cars before it started to peel, I suspect because wood expands, contracts and breathes far more than metal. We have since gone back to paint and stencils for lettering wood cars.

Being up in central Alberta, we see temperatures ranging from sunny +35°C summer days all the way down to -45°C winter nights. And we do not have much indoor track space, so most of our equipment is stored outside. Even so, our vinyl stickers have lasted at least a decade on metal surfaces.

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 Post subject: Re: Vinyl lettering/decal vs stencils
PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2020 1:34 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 21, 2004 10:50 pm
Posts: 162
Location: www.easttroyrr.org
Attachment:
File comment: Car 64 running in Pennsylvania
Car 64c.jpg
Car 64c.jpg [ 182.61 KiB | Viewed 2136 times ]
In 2002 we used vinyl lettering in East Troy on a painted metal surface on Strafford car 64. The letters were applied by a local sign shop and were of exterior quality. Today, the car is at the Electric City Trolley Museum in Scranton, and still looks good and the lettering hasn't fallen off. .
Surface prep is always important. The car was painted using oil-based farm tractor enamel.


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 Post subject: Re: Vinyl lettering/decal vs stencils
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2020 3:50 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
Posts: 1106
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Old Pueblo Trolley does not use vinyl lettering on our equipment due to the extreme heat and sunlight here in Tucson. Vinyl fails pretty quickly here-you might get a couple of years out of it if the vehicle is stored inside. Because of that, we always paint the lettering on. We usually make stencils of the lettering by tracing it on the vehicle prior to restoration (if possible) or using photographs.

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"When a man runs on railroads over half of his lifetime he is fit for nothing else-and at times he don't know that."- Conductor Nimrod Bell, 1896


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 Post subject: Re: Vinyl lettering/decal vs stencils
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2020 4:15 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:51 pm
Posts: 1865
Location: Southern California
I have seen a paint job that utilized computer cut vinyl to serve as a stencil. After the paint for the lettering or numbers was applied and dried the vinyl was removed.

I am aware that the Santa Fe once used adhesive-backed, stiff paper stencils for lettering its passenger cars. The stencil was cut with a die punch of some kind by a commercial supply firm; then the final cutting apart resulted with with both a positive and a negative image. The positive image would be used when the lighter lettering color was applied first the stencil applied and the basic body color was applied; the the stencil was removed. The other "negative" set would have been used for applying dark lettering on a light color body.

When lettering was hand painted a number of railroads and others used pounce patterns. These were made from paper that might actually be a blue-line print of an engineering style drawing through which pin holes were made. There were special hand-held wheels that were used to make the holes. After the pounce pattern was in place, chalk pounce was applied and the paper removed and often stored for the next use. The pounce left on the surface to be lettered (or otherwise panted) was used an outline for the painter to fill in. I understand that this technique was also once used for lettering trucks and the like. It looks like supplies are available and even YouTube video demonstrations.

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 Post subject: Re: Vinyl lettering/decal vs stencils
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2020 5:45 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2004 9:19 am
Posts: 603
Location: Scottsboro, AL
We used a reflectorized vinyl material on our diesel locomotives and it has held up well for over a dozen years.

For our steam engine and passenger equipment, we have lettering and numbers painted on. Be sure the paint you use is high quality with plenty of UV protection.

Alan Maples
Everett Railroad


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 Post subject: Re: Vinyl lettering/decal vs stencils
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2020 6:34 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2012 2:31 pm
Posts: 28
Each material has its proper applications. Vinyl on metal cars, either as a mask or the finish product works very well. most of the time I employed pounce patterns, especially on wooden equipment, and hand paint in the desired color. one of my proud accomplishments is a faithful reproduction of the Central Vermont Maple Leaf on the side of a caboose. the one time I have used vinyl on a wooden car was due in part to time constraints, and require stretching the vinyl into the chamfers on the individual boards. it worked but would not want to do a lot of it.


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 Post subject: Re: Vinyl lettering/decal vs stencils
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2020 7:45 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 3:37 pm
Posts: 1166
Location: Pacific, MO
When we restored 1522 and her aux tender, I made stencils and painted everything. We used US Paint clear urethane with bronze powder mixed int. We did that on our first support car and then when we did a couple more cars, we used bronze gold vinyl. It worked like a champ and made the job a lot easier. Both have held up very well.


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 Post subject: Re: Vinyl lettering/decal vs stencils
PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2020 9:55 pm 

Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2005 9:32 pm
Posts: 311
As a follow up to the earlier post I took pictures today of some of the IRMs vinyl work I have done over the last 20 years.


Attachments:
CNW 1.jpeg
CNW 1.jpeg [ 55.56 KiB | Viewed 1459 times ]
File comment: The CNW heralds were were done by a local shop with printing over reflective white. First photo new in 2006 to a jeep, and after 14 years outside the red is gone. Black somewhat faded and the vinyl itself looks a little cracked. Our CNW 411 F7 done about the same time is stored inside and the vinyl still looks OK.
cnw2.jpg
cnw2.jpg [ 92.68 KiB | Viewed 1459 times ]
File comment: As a comparison the Turbine vinyl number 18 was put on 20 years ago. The red still looks red because this is not printed on. It is reflective red vinyl with a black heat transfer film border. Starting to peel but still doing much better outside than the printed process.
18.jpg
18.jpg [ 54.42 KiB | Viewed 1459 times ]
File comment: I saw the post about not applying to wood and although I concur we have put it on wood with good results so far.
Rapid Transit 1268 was done in 2011, we needed to recreate a letter-board originally done a hundred years ago in hand applied gold leaf with a black border. Get a price on that from your local sign shop.
The original wood after striping was panted with sanding between coats to make it as smooth as possible. The metallic gold with black border vinyl was applied a few days after the pant dried. Stored in a unheated, uninsulated barn in Illinois for 9 years still looks OK.

RT.jpg
RT.jpg [ 109.29 KiB | Viewed 1459 times ]
File comment: I have a couple closeups of North Shore 714. Completed around 10 years ago, to match the red herald color we painted the red using a mask to the size of the Gold/black outline. So the vinyl was again metallic gold with a black border for both the herald and reporting numbers. Same unheated indoor storage the vinyl looks fine.
714 h.jpg
714 h.jpg [ 51.61 KiB | Viewed 1459 times ]
714 n.jpg
714 n.jpg [ 50.31 KiB | Viewed 1459 times ]
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 Post subject: Re: Vinyl lettering/decal vs stencils
PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2020 8:23 am 

Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:54 am
Posts: 844
Location: New Franklin, OH
One note about printed vinyl.... There is an optional thin, clear UV protective layer that you can have applied after printing. I can’t vouch for how well it works outside the car though I did have it done for safety signage inside the car because I was concerned about the red ink fading over time. Red pigments are or were the most susceptible to fading. If you use printed vinyl, ask about the ink stability in direct sun and how much longer it might last with the extra UV layer. Things may have changed in the last eight years with better materials.

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Eric Schlentner
Orrville Railroad Heritage Society
Car Knocker, Gandy Dancer & Hog Jockey
https://orrvillerailroad.com


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 Post subject: Re: Vinyl lettering/decal vs stencils
PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2020 1:36 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
Posts: 1106
Location: Tucson, Arizona
jayrod wrote:
One note about printed vinyl.... There is an optional thin, clear UV protective layer that you can have applied after printing. I can’t vouch for how well it works outside the car though I did have it done for safety signage inside the car because I was concerned about the red ink fading over time. Red pigments are or were the most susceptible to fading. If you use printed vinyl, ask about the ink stability in direct sun and how much longer it might last with the extra UV layer. Things may have changed in the last eight years with better materials.


I would think that applying a clear coat would do the same in most circumstances. When I was with TVRM, we experimented with painting the stripes on the cars versus using vinyl reflective striping. The vinyl did not hold up quite as well as the paint and occasionally we did have vinyl start to peel, probably due to the combined effects of the detergent used to wash the cars and the chemical effect of the residue from soot. Cars in daily service were washed weekly and got more exposure to the detergent.

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"When a man runs on railroads over half of his lifetime he is fit for nothing else-and at times he don't know that."- Conductor Nimrod Bell, 1896


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 Post subject: Re: Vinyl lettering/decal vs stencils
PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2020 2:40 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
Posts: 2564
Location: Northern Illinois
A quick comment about the expected life different people are citing; it's waaay too short for displayed rail equipment. Ten or fifteen years is just the blink of an eye in our game. Case in point. the CNS&M 714 Buzz cited was last repainted in 1972 or '73, 47 years ago IRM's "Boonton" coaches were repainted in the same time frame, and have yet to be re-done. At least with paint, the equipment looks well worn, but complete. From what I've seen of vinyl lettering, the letters would have long been flying around the next county over.

I will admit the vinyl make a good substitute for the traditional water slide decals, capturing the proper metallic pigment look, and making it easy to do the black outlining, and IRM can get away with it, since this equipment now lives inside. But for any equipment that must remain outside, please paint the lettering on. You'll be thanking me in twenty years.

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Dennis Storzek


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 Post subject: Re: Vinyl lettering/decal vs stencils
PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2020 5:31 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 26, 2004 10:51 pm
Posts: 129
Location: Eastern Pennsylvania
You guys just need to rig up something like this to do your painting for you:
http://juerglehni.com/works/hektor/

I was actually searching to see if a CNC style sign painting machine might exist, and came across that device, which is quite interesting. I imagine that using a spray can wouldn't generate the quality needed to letter rail equipment, but it's a neat idea.

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Jim Evans


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