Micro-Trains Weathering Wipes Right Off

Ryan Chattam Sep 21, 2017

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  1. Ryan Chattam

    Ryan Chattam New Member

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    Hello all,

    I am new to Trainboard and new to the hobby, but I have a question for all the veterans out there. Being an east coast modeler and collector (I got into the hobby late - been at it now for just 3 years), I have recently acquired several of Micro-Trains eastern road weathered freight cars in N scale and my interest quickly turned. I dont yet have the skills to use an airbrush and I havent really started weathering cars yet, so these seemed perfect! I am very disappointed with the quality of the weathering paint. It looks like some of the weathering effects are added with a silkscreen or print process, and some are airbrushed on. The print dot process weathering is always great. Its the airbrush effects are are very poor because they wipe right off the model. Literally! Just simple handling to get it on the track right out of the box will wipe the airbrush weathering away revealing black truck plastic underneath. One of the cars had the weathering rubbed off the truck and coupler before I even removed it from it's packaging. The locomotive I bought is the same way. I noticed a fuzz ball on the truck and used very light presure from my finger to remove it, and with it came almost all of the weathering from the sideframe part. The paint is clearly not sticking at all.

    Also, why does Micro-Trains make their couplers/wheels in black plastic instead of rusty brown like all of the other manufacturers? I've NEVER seen a black coupler or wheelset in real life. Even straight from the factory, the couplers are rusty brown.

    I spoke to my pal from our N scale club and he said this has been a longstanding problem with Micro-Trains weathered cars. He told me that this is because the type of plastic that makes up the wheels and trucks is not easily paintable, but can be painted if you use a product called a paint-adhesion promoter first. He also said he's had many models from Micro-Trains where the paint weathering was dusty, and in his opinion it's because it was sprayed at too far a distance from the model or at the wrong temperature and it dried before it hit the surface of the model. I've also tried spraying dullcote on top of the weathering as soon as it comes out of the box, and it helps, but still just normal handling will wear the weathering off.

    Why a company of Micro Trains stature and size has yet to figure this part of the process out is beyond me. It's very frustrating to buy a brand new weathered model and have to carefully touch it like it's a nuclear fuel rod. While it is true most people probably just deal with the problem on their own, or dont realize it and not complain, I feel it's disingenuous for them to cheaply spray the car with dilute paint that will rub right off if you touch it and call it a "weathered car". Am I the only one who feels this way? - Ryan
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2017
  2. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    Several years ago I suggested to Micro Trains that they cast their wheel sets in silver rather than black. That way the tread would look like the polished tread of the prototype. The modeler could then paint the face and back whatever color they preferred. The wheelsets are not prone to being handled and thus the paint will stay on longer.
     
  3. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I had not previously heard of this happening. Now I wonder if anyone else encountered a similar situation with those releases?
     
  4. JMaurer1

    JMaurer1 TrainBoard Member

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    I have not heard of this happening, but I'm also not surprised. The 'slick' plastic that they use for their trucks doesn't allow most paint to stick very well...just a fact of life. I don't believe that there is a problem with the weathering on the car body rubbing off, just the trucks (?). MT DOES make trucks in brown, however. They just don't usually use the brown ones on printed cars. You can buy them and swap them out if you really want the brown.

    https://www.micro-trains.com/index....-w-short-ext-couplers-10-pr-1000-10b-00325021
     
  5. Eagle2

    Eagle2 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Very true what is said about the plastic used for trucks, couplers and often handrails on locomotives. I know I have heard of a number of people who use R/C car paint as a primer for some of these applications, as it is formulated to "flex" and maintain adhesion. While that doesn't help with the problem at hand, the underlying explanation is applicable.
     
  6. Ryan Chattam

    Ryan Chattam New Member

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    Hello all again. I did some more looking and it is that this plagues all of their weathered releases dating back years. I spoke to my dealer again and he said he's had cars returned to him because the weathering had rubbed off. He suggested I avoid touching them as much as possible and that I do not touch the trucks or couplers.. pretty hard to avoid that when railing the cars. He said some of the paint seems to stick better than others but of the recent cars that had this problem really bad were the Animal Graffiti 3 pack and the Conrail Train set with the GP38. I got both of these and had problems with both them.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2017
  7. Ryan Chattam

    Ryan Chattam New Member

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    Hi all. I had emailed Eric (who is the CEO) at Micro-Trains with much the same post as I wrote here and he responded to me. He said its ok to post it up here. He confirms the problem with the weathering because of the plastic they use. I feel it was very good of him to respond. I only wish there was a better way to do it. Here is the response:

    On Thu, Sep 21, 2017 at 9:10 AM, Eric Smith wrote:

    Hello Ryan

    I want to thank you for taking time to send your message below to us. Whether customer feedback is positive or negative we value it very much. Your friend at your N scale club is correct regarding the fact that the plastic material used to cast our wheels, (and other detail parts as well) is an engineering-plastic. For lack of a more technical term we refer to it as self-lubricating plastic. This plastic has a higher lubricity content necessary to cast and maintain the detail in our smaller detail – parts. We use it for our wheel sets to ensure each wheel maintains the dimensions necessary for top performance when rolling on your rails. It is for this reason that our weathering applications can rub off or scuff up over time.


    It is true, you can prep plastics with an adhesion-promoter prior to applying paint or ink. We evaluated this step; however given the extremely small number of questions about this from consumers relative to the overall amount of very positive feedback and complments of our weathered cars and locos, we deemed it to be too expensive which could increase the pricing of our weathered releases.


    To the comment about dusty-weathering, and this being caused by too far a distance between the paint gun and the substrate (car’s sides, roof and ends), this is the first we’ve heard of this. Our weathering is applied by hand, where our Decorator uses a hand-held spray gun that is no further away from the car than approximately 2 inches. And this distance is uniform and maintained with all of our weathering production work.


    It's unfortunate you consider our weathered train cars defective. Nonetheless, I did want to reply and offer the above information. Please know all of us at Micro-Trains appreciates your interest and patronage of our model trains, and we also appreciate your feedback and suggestions.


    Best regards,

    Eric


    Eric D. Smith

    CEO/President

    Micro-Trains Line Co.
     
  8. zinker55

    zinker55 TrainBoard Member

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    I guess the obvious "fix" would be to spray the car with a coat of Dullcote???? Just wondering if you have tried this?? I do after I weather my cars, and I also add a little more weathering before the Dullcote completely dries.....:)
     
    SecretWeapon likes this.
  9. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    My experiences with using an over-coating have not been good. I am interested in reading what others have found with their attempts.
     
  10. bremner

    bremner Staff Member

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    Eric at Micro Trains is right about the plastic for the wheels being very slick. this is the same type that Kato uses for handrails and the hobby accepted that.

    I have many MTL weathered cars and have only had issues with the one that my daughter dropped.
     
  11. Eagle2

    Eagle2 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I'd think that hear the overcoat would be clinging to the base coat, which would still be trying to hold onto the slippery plastic. It might help with gentle handling, but caution would probably be warranted if spraying trucks or couplers to not create operating problems.
     
  12. WFOJeff

    WFOJeff TrainBoard Member

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    No problems to date with any of my MTL Weathered cars and or wheels. I have a combined total of 31 weathered rolling stock.
     
  13. JMaurer1

    JMaurer1 TrainBoard Member

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    Spraying dull coat over paint that isn't sticking won't take care of the problem since the base coat already isn't sticking. The actual 'solution' is for MT to use a flex additive to the paint (that's all that RC paint has added...yes I paint RC bodies as well) but with the 'problem' being so small it most likely won't happen. Personally, I don't have any of the weathered cars and if I did, I don't think I would have noticed. Of course, you could just replace the trucks with the brown trucks...problem 'solved'.
     
  14. SecretWeapon

    SecretWeapon TrainBoard Member

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    Since they came out, I've bought at least 1 weathered car a month. I've never had any issues with them. Except, when they started with the low-pro wheels. I put pizza cutters on every car I receive. They're bulletproof on code 80 track.
     
    mtntrainman likes this.
  15. WFOJeff

    WFOJeff TrainBoard Member

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    That's funny, I swap out any pizzas for low profile on my code 55, have a big pile of Pizzas-mostly black some brown. I guess I am saving them to maybe do some type of load for a flat car...who knows they may just sit in a box.
     
  16. NorsemanJack

    NorsemanJack TrainBoard Member

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    Sounds like the last two posters may have an opportunity for a win-win swap. :)

    I don't have a huge number of MTs, but all of those I have I swapped to lo-pros back when my layout was Atlas code 55. Now that I'm back to all unitrack, I guess that was largely wasted time/money. Oh well....
     
  17. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

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    Jack...

    The low-pros should work just fine on Unitrack. I cant see where ya wasted time and money. ;)
     
    BoxcabE50 likes this.
  18. NorsemanJack

    NorsemanJack TrainBoard Member

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    Since my eyes and my shelf layout preclude me from even seeing the wheels, if I had never spent the time and money to convert, everything would still run just fine. :) Oh well.....
     
    mtntrainman likes this.
  19. tonkphilip

    tonkphilip TrainBoard Member

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    That is interesting, I also swap out the MT wheels for Pizza cutters. I use ME code 55 with its very small spikes and using the Pizza cutters gives very high reliability when backing long trains. To be fair, I also need to tune up the DCC compatible ME switches but it is quick and easy to do. I have also used Peco Code 55 for 30 years which are rock solid out of the box but they are not as pretty as the ME Code 55. Like the ME Code 55, the Peco Code 55 also allow you to use Pizza cutters with their small rail fasteners. Most important, I need to back long trains. Also at the moment, I have not converted to body mount which would probably allow me to use MT Standard-Pros for reliable backing. The Atlas Code 55 are also good but I prefer the more precise and more prototypical ME Code 55 Tie bar and long ties. I also prefer the ability to use the more reliable Pizza cutters with ME or Peco. One day I may get to body mounts but for now I prefer backing reliability with my MT truck mounts. Also, At my age I hardly see the wheels but I definitely see the scale ties on the ME track. - Tonkphilip
     
  20. arbomambo

    arbomambo TrainBoard Member

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    Micro Trains weathered cars are custom weathered cars...that is to say, the weathering isn't pad printed; rather it is individually applied to each car, in the same manner that one would spray it if you were doing it yourself...it will wear 'off' the same way it would wear if you were painting them...
    yes, they can be sprayed with a flat clear coat that will help seal the weathering paint ( I airbrush Polly Scale/Model Master acrylic Flat Clear)
    No, the flat won't peel away from the car because of the plastic; that only pertains to the Delrin engineering plastic used on trucks, couplers, etc...
    as far as paint flaking from the trucks and coupler with use and handling; "it is what it is"...it does the same thing with mine that I paint myself...the only way to truly keep this from occurring is to handle the area as little as possible. I do quite a bit of weathering on my trucks-paint, wash, rust or dark brown highlights, oily residue around journal boxes, etc...if I handle that area too much, those effects will, eventually, rub/wear...
    Again, flat clear coating the carbody will seal those weathering effects, but nothing will REALLY protect weathering and paint on the slippery engineering plastic as will careful and minimal handling...
    I don't purchase the weathered cars as I prefer to have the control of weathering in my own hands...but with that being said, I like that they have offered these and am amazed that they are at the price they are offered, especially considering the work that goes into them. for those that will not do it themselves, these represent a real bargain. I am constantly amazed at the criticism of companies, manufacturing quality products, at the prices that this particular company continues to do in today's economy. (there is plenty left to criticize among this hobby and other real world businesses)
    Micro Trains cars represent a relatively modest percentage of the rolling stock that I purchase; by necessity, they offer rolling stock, in road names other than the prototype railroad that used that particular car, to realize a certain income for that piece...otherwise the price for each car would be far higher than most would be willing to pay. Again, 'it is what it is"...if one is that 'particular' about accuracy and prototype, then do the research and 'homework' necessary needed to allow you to purchase only those pieces of rolling stock.
    Remember, these companies/businesses don't exist merely to provide you something to 'play with'...
    They exist to make money to provide a living for the owners and employees. Their business model is THEIR business model-not yours.
    One either buys their product or they do not.
    But seriously measure, what is offered here, at the price it is offered, and contrast it with the effort and price that it costs to 'do it yourself'...
    ~Bruce
     

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