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 Post subject: Re: Vinyl lettering/decal vs stencils
PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2020 5:52 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
Posts: 1104
Location: Tucson, Arizona
One trade that is sadly dying out is old fashioned sign painting. I understand that there was some degree of controversy when British Rail first started applying transfers to their rolling stock. Prior to that time, the striping and lettering had been applied by hand by skilled painters.

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 Post subject: Re: Vinyl lettering/decal vs stencils
PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2020 7:23 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:54 am
Posts: 842
Location: New Franklin, OH
Alan Walker wrote:
One trade that is sadly dying out is old fashioned sign painting. I understand that there was some degree of controversy when British Rail first started applying transfers to their rolling stock. Prior to that time, the striping and lettering had been applied by hand by skilled painters.

The sign painter that letters the equipment at Cass/D&GV does it all by hand. Not a stencil or sticker to be seen anywhere. I’ve provided diagrams & samples for two of the cars and he takes it from there. He does a great job from what I can tell.

I agree with Dennis. Good prep and good paint will last longer than vinyl. And you can get any color you want.

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Orrville Railroad Heritage Society
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 Post subject: Re: Vinyl lettering/decal vs stencils
PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2020 11:35 pm 

Joined: Sat Jul 01, 2006 9:07 am
Posts: 157
I am glad I posed the question. This has been an excellent discussion.

Thanks for all the feedback and ideas. I have been wondering what the different groups are doing and how different methods have held up.

Has anybody come up with a source for reusable stencils vs the self adhesive one time use mask type? Do you make your own? If so, what material have you all used for the stencils when painting?

Thanks


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 Post subject: Re: Vinyl lettering/decal vs stencils
PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2020 2:20 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:51 pm
Posts: 1865
Location: Southern California
The Cumbres and Toltec Scenic just received vinyl stencils for lettering the cars for the heritage train. The FB post of the "Cumbres and Toltec Special Projects Department" (and shared to a number of FB group pages). has pictures and discussion. These will be applied to cars and used as stencils for the lettering and numbers, then the vinyl will be remove.

Cumbres and Toltec Special Projects Department

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 Post subject: Re: Vinyl lettering/decal vs stencils
PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2020 12:49 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
Posts: 1104
Location: Tucson, Arizona
hytwr1 wrote:
I am glad I posed the question. This has been an excellent discussion.

Thanks for all the feedback and ideas. I have been wondering what the different groups are doing and how different methods have held up.

Has anybody come up with a source for reusable stencils vs the self adhesive one time use mask type? Do you make your own? If so, what material have you all used for the stencils when painting?

Thanks


My observation is that the only reusable stencil material would either be stiff paper or light sheet metal. I have not seen any vinyl stencils that I would classify as reusable. We had the stencils for our General Motors TGH-3102 made by a local sign shop. While they worked, they also required a bit of touch up as removal took some of the base color paint with them. We might have done better by using some other tape, but that's what we thought to do at the time.

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 Post subject: Re: Vinyl lettering/decal vs stencils
PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2020 8:09 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:54 am
Posts: 842
Location: New Franklin, OH
The vinyl masks/stencils that I’m familiar with have a low-tack adhesive to stick to the substrate and a carrier sheet that holds everything together while you stick it down. Peel off the carrier and paint. Hence, it’s a one shot deal.

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 Post subject: Re: Vinyl lettering/decal vs stencils
PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:25 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 22, 2019 11:07 am
Posts: 7
Great discussion.

I've used almost every way over the years to letter equipment. Vinyl lettering is fine if it is to be reasonably short term, but even with outdoor grade vinyl, properly applied, it is subject to fading and cracking. As someone pointed out, in our industry, 10 years is a blink of an eye, most outdoor grade vinyl is listed as seven year or so, but to my experience, it fades due to washing and weather conditions before that.

I've used vinyl as stencils for many different projects, N&W 611, 1218, C&O 614, a variety of diesels, cabooses, passenger cars, etc. Personally, the use of low-tack vinyl never works as well for me on anything with surface variations, like rivets or doors, it does not conform well enough and tends to bleed more, requiring much more effort to clean up. Since the vinyl stencil is only on the surface long enough to paint the letters, using the high-tac version only risks pulling paint a bit more, which indicates less than perfect surface prep.

I devised the vinyl method from the older way it was done with Demp-Knock stencils that many railroads used. They were die cut on an adhesive backed paper with a crepe paper type backing. These were made by the Demp-Knock Company in Warren Michigan, who went out of business some time back.

Demp-Knock also sold rolls of the material which is how I started. In the days before computers, I'd trace and clean up original drawings, make photo-copies, spray adhesive them to the front of the paper, and sit on my couch with a cutting board, and sharp x-acto No. 11 blades, and carefully cut them by hand. They worked great, conformed better over rivets etc. However, the paper with adhesive has a shelf life. I still have a partial roll here somewhere.

Even before that, I had taken a posterboard type of stock, and hand cut stencils out of that, adhering them to the surface of the car, and painting the stencil. These could sort of be used again, but once or twice is the max.

I have a number of original ponce patterns, most done on a heavy brown paper, but have never used them. Most of mine were hand punched with the inconsistency of varied hole sizes. There was a machine, called the Electro-Ponce that was a automatic puncher but it is long out of production, and very difficult to find. The only time I will use a ponce pattern today is on a wooden car or building because the bleeding on the edges.

I have also used printed vinyl for certain things, such as some inside or well protected lettering, or on the outside for specialty things like EMD or Alco builders plates. They were printed from my designs, done in Adobe Illustrator, and had a laminate applied. Since these are smaller, and high-theft items, I have no qualms of using them, as they can be easily replace in time. These have held up quite well, surprisingly.

The biggest single problem I've had with vinyl stencils is the adhesive does not age well. I did a caboose some time back, welded side cab, no rivets. I ordered my stencils from a sign shop (whom I never used again) in July or August, with anticipation of paint being complete in October. Since this is a sideline, I could only do it on weekends, and this was 4 hours away, October poured rain every single weekend, and November was too cold. I could not get to the job until April. I put stencils up and started painting, when I started to pull them off, I had bleeds all over the place. The sign shop had pawned off old inferior material on me. I had to spend an entire extra day cleaning up the mess. Of course, there was no way to know that until too late.

About two years ago, Roanoke NRHS had a coach painted, and several of us would letter it after the paint had cured from the previous fall. Now, there were two of us, both very experienced with doing this stuff, one who worked at the sign shop which cut the vinyl. We applied as per normal, painted, then started to peel off the stencils, and the stencils pulled off the too thin layer of paint, leaving the primer. It was an awful mess. The body color paint had been poorly applied in less than ideal weather, on the sunny side of the car, so the metal was too hot, and the paint dried before it properly cured, and was painted with only a very thin coat. The painter had to come back, and repaint and we had to recut stencils all the way around.

I truly admire the folks who have the hand lettering skills to pull that off, it is a rare breed today. One job I did years ago was create the artwork for vinyl for a sign shop from fuel trucks that had previously been hand lettered. I spent the day doing tracing and measuring off the trucks with the fellow who had originally done them, and was now too old to continue doing it. It was a great experience.

Sorry to be overlong.

Ken Miller


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 Post subject: Re: Vinyl lettering/decal vs stencils
PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2020 12:55 pm 

Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2011 12:07 pm
Posts: 1087
Location: Leicester, MA.
Now on the vinyl side I can offer some thoughts, although I can't claim they come from railroad applications, but from having work vehicles lettered with the stuff... So where I work, Al's Oil, we've had the vast majority of our vans lettered with vinyl over the years. However the very first ones we had done when I was really little were hand painted by a sign maker in Oxford... They looked great, but I do remember some chalking on the red trucks we had at the time. Now when we first went to vinyl, a lot of those faded quite easily and would peel, and by 5+ years in on a heavily used truck it didn't look all that good.

I'd like to say that within the last 5-10 years (roughly around the time we started using a company called Sunshine Sign out of Grafton) we've had some excellent luck with the vinyl that we've had done... Aside from my father's truck where some stuff had to be redone after encounters with a pressure washer that was way too close, I can't think of any issues off the top of my head. Of course we went to the expensive reflective stuff once we moved onto Transits and a few of the GM vans we bought at the time, which honestly seems to last far longer. The black underlay we put on peels a bit on the edges, but nothing like it did on some of our vans over the years and hasn't started "graying out", if that makes any sense.

Now my thoughts? Vinyl will probably work if it's the better quality stuff in an environment where it's outside all the time. In my mind, the cheap stuff suffered accordingly. Regardless of what type you get, be careful around the vinyl with a pressure washer. Going point blank, as someone did without thinking, rips the stuff right off regardless of how good it is or not. You might also want to look into what sort of polish can be applied to the lettering, as we had some of the oil trucks detailed, and the vinyl does pop when clean. Just my two cents for what they're worth.

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 Post subject: Re: Vinyl lettering/decal vs stencils
PostPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2020 8:22 am 

Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:54 am
Posts: 842
Location: New Franklin, OH
The latest from D&GV being done old school:
https://scontent-ort2-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/118650996_204983764304168_6399749814150378127_o.jpg?_nc_cat=111&_nc_sid=8024bb&_nc_ohc=9HpEuUKBkcIAX9sPBSU&_nc_ht=scontent-ort2-1.xx&oh=f241b412ae7e2985c3afd55384df7268&oe=5F7F3E8B

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Orrville Railroad Heritage Society
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 Post subject: Re: Vinyl lettering/decal vs stencils
PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2020 11:24 am 

Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2005 9:32 pm
Posts: 310
Thought of a well documented project involving most lettering techniques.
Photo of me hand painting IRMs CB&Q SW-7, 9255.
This restoration involved a broad range of stencils, hand painting and vinyl decals. For a slide show of the start to finish process project manager James K posted the photos here.
http://www5.irm.org/gallery/9255painting?page=1

Finished photo here.
http://www5.irm.org/gallery/9255painting/aci

It's been over 10 years but I remember being directed from RYPN to a CBQ chat group, and asked for lettering details. A helpful gentleman there had completed vector artwork of the same loco in HO scale. He generously donated his files for the IRM project. Yes vector files can scale from HO up to full scale without any pixelazation. However I did need to touch up edge details noticeable with that much enlargement.
The side louvers prevented any masking so a full scale print of the side graphics was done on heavy stock for a stencil guide to do the hand painting.
The reporting numbers were painted using vinyl masking. And the heralds are reflective vinyl decals. The paint for the hand painting was the same as the high quality paint used. Whatever it was, it thinned with lacquer thinner, and painting the 2nd coat was difficult as it tended to dissolve the 1st coat if you brushed too much.
I still think 9255 is the best looking restoration we have done.


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 Post subject: Re: Vinyl lettering/decal vs stencils
PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2020 4:35 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
Posts: 2557
Location: Northern Illinois
Buzz,
That is an amazing paint job. Better yet, because it will be stored indoors, it will look just as good in two hundred years or so.

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 Post subject: Re: Vinyl lettering/decal vs stencils
PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2020 8:51 am 

Joined: Fri Jul 22, 2005 9:50 pm
Posts: 162
The material I have used is "paint mask" from my local graphics place. Using the vinyl mask is easy, a perfect match for color since paint is used over it, and don't have to worry about bubbles or creases in vinyl lettering. Going over rivets or other irregular surface you need to augment with masking tape. I supply the vector file (Adobe Illustrator) to my graphics shop so I get exactly what I want. The quality of the paint and the proper time to remove the vinyl mask is critical.


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 Post subject: Re: Vinyl lettering/decal vs stencils
PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2020 4:14 pm 

Joined: Wed Aug 25, 2004 5:51 pm
Posts: 148
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
At the 2-foot gauge Bucksgahuda & Western, we have used hand-lettering with oil paint, stencils with spray enamels, and vinyl lettering. The oldest method was hand-lettering when we had the services of a talented painter available. Some of the lettering applied in 1982 on a flatcar is still in very good condition, although this car was stored outside until the mid-1990's. (The lettering actually outlasted the wooden deck applied in 1982.)
Stencils were first done in cardboard sealed in clear plastic, with some of the newest cut in styrene plastic. The styrene works nicely in that the various rectangular shapes that are available can be used to bridge over letters (such as "O"), but joints in the stencil tend to snap if the stencil if flexed too much. The styrene stencils have a good service life, although they cannot be cleaned with heavy solvents. They are also soft and light enough that they can be held to the metal car side by magnets, which works well if the surface is flat. The enamel spray paints, applied in several light layers, have faded (albeit realistically) in the 20 years since most were done on those cars stored outside.
Vinyl has been used on most recent cars over the past 10-15 years or so, and has held up well, but these cars are stored indoors. Vinyl does allow for much sharper edges and detailed images than can be done by the other methods.


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 Post subject: Re: Vinyl lettering/decal vs stencils
PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2020 11:17 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:51 pm
Posts: 1865
Location: Southern California
klmiller611 wrote:
I devised the vinyl method from the older way it was done with Demp-Knock stencils that many railroads used. They were die cut on an adhesive backed paper with a crepe paper type backing. These were made by the Demp-Knock Company in Warren Michigan, who went out of business some time back.

Demp-Knock also sold rolls of the material which is how I started. In the days before computers, I'd trace and clean up original drawings, make photo-copies, spray adhesive them to the front of the paper, and sit on my couch with a cutting board, and sharp x-acto No. 11 blades, and carefully cut them by hand. They worked great, conformed better over rivets etc. However, the paper with adhesive has a shelf life. I still have a partial roll here somewhere.
Years ago I was loaned a set of Demp-Knock stencils for "SANTA FE" passenger car letters to measure and make copy drawings. This was in the 1970s and I looked up the Demp_knock firm in an industiral directory. IIRC, the firm was in Michigan and also made flue rattlers (cleaners?). Talk about now obsolete industries.

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 Post subject: Re: Vinyl lettering/decal vs stencils
PostPosted: Thu Sep 17, 2020 6:47 pm 

Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 5:46 am
Posts: 2570
Location: S.F. Bay Area
I use a technique I learned from Fred Krock of Western Railway Museum and Niles Canyon. He cut stencils out of 10 mil Mylar, having them laser cut. They Are highly reusable, do not distort even with poor storage (left in hot car).

I shortcut that by using 4 mil Mylar. But it has been frustrating to work with. I have not found a happy way to stick it tight without under spray. I have tried 100 neo magnets, too messy and still lets in under spray. Tried spray adhesive, leaves ugly residue. Still struggling to dial it in.

Honestly I’ve been most happy using the stencil as a pounce, and transferring the mark to the car like a pounce then hand lettering.


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