After a number of years, I'm finally getting around to vigorously working on the project pile. I've been sorting through everything, dispositioning some stuff, storing others. I'm not putting anything away that needs work.
Decided to start with something relatively simple. I bought a set of 600-series passenger cars years ago at York. The cars were in decent, played-with condition, but the observation car had what I thought was spillage on it which, upon closer inspection, turned out to be some pretty substantial corrosion. Here's a blow-by-blow accounting of the steps I took to repair the damage.
The first step was to remove the window/door insert from the car:
I removed the roof and stripped out the frosted acetate window glazing on both sides (it was brittle and crumbling in a few places). Using a small screwdriver and a pair of needle-nosed pliers, I carefully bent the metal tabs holding the panel in place and extricated it from the car. The toughest bit was reaching the tabs under the "seat" that runs the length of the insert. These I was able to get at through the windows on the opposite side. Once removed, a close examination revealed that the corrosion only affected the embossed insert, not the car body itself, so that made things a lot simpler.
I had considered running this thing through my brother's bead-blaster, but the corrosion proved to be relatively minor surface rust. I tried a wire brush on the Dremel first, but a simple fine-grit foam sanding-block proved far more effective. There was very little pitting of the metal, so after a bit of polishing with some fine steel wool, it was ready for repainting.
I hate having to use the airbrush for repainting (clean-up is a pain), so I always try to find a match on the commercial spray paint racks at one of the local stores first. The window trim color Lionel used is listed as "cream" in the factory paint chips, a sort of off-white. There's a lot of off-white paint sold in the stores that matches the "almond" color used on appliances for many years. Unfortunately, that's not a great match for Lionel's "cream" which has a slight yellow cast to it. Eventually I found a can of Rustoleum 2X in a decent color (327944 Satin Ivory Silk) that was a very close match; not perfect, but close.
I have a couple of sets of replacement water-slide decals for the 600s. I decided I wanted to retain the "601" stamped numbers, as they were in good shape. I masked those off, then gave the face of the insert a couple of light coats of paint, primarily in the area that had been damaged and cleaned off. I baked it for a few hours under my old desk lamp with a 60-watt incandescent bulb. This hardened up the paint pretty well. If it had been a nice sunny day, I'd have put it outside and let the sun do the work.
While that was drying, I scrubbed the car thoroughly with mild soap and water. Some of my tinplate friends cringe at the idea of using water, but I've had good luck with it. One just needs to make sure the piece is quickly and thoroughly dried afterwards. A soft cloth and a hairdryer is handy for this. After the wash, I cut out and applied the "OBSERVATION" decal to the insert. I used a bit of MicrSol on the decal to help bind it to the paint.
While this dried, I went over the exterior with a bit of Meguiar's Cleaner-Wax. This removes any remaining dirt/stains while leaving a nice bright protective finish. Buffing with a soft cloth and it looks almost like new (except for ninety years worth of well-earned scratches and chips). Here's a shot prior to reassembly (if you look closely, you can see the slight variation in the paint color where the numbers were masked):
Reassembly proved fairly simple. The key is to make sure the tabs are straight and at a 90-degree angle from the car side. If you do that, lining up the tabs with the slots is pretty straight forward. After all of the tabs are through the slots and the insert is tight to the car body, carefully bend the tabs back into position using the flat edge of the small screwdriver. Try not to break any tabs. I've had pretty good luck with this over the years, but you have to be careful.
Here's the car reassembled:
The last thing to be dealt with is replacing the frosted window glazing. I, for one, actually like the look of the car without the glazing, but I'll admit that the translucent glazing does a good job of diffusing the light from the single interior bulb. Finding a decent replacement is tough in my experience. I searched for awhile, and eventually came across some 6mil blank stencil material descibed as "milky translucent". Sounded promising, so I ordered a bundle from Amazon (12 pieces twelve inches square, it's likely a lifetime supply). It easily cuts into strips.
The original glazing strips were held in by small tabs on the inside of the insert, but I didn't want to be bending more tabs. So if I'm going to use it, I'll probably secure them with a few dabs of rubber cement or some Loctite GO2 glue. I haven't decided yet, but here's what it would look like with the glazing installed:
That's about it. I'll give the 600 and the 602 a good polish, then they will be ready to return to revenue service. The real challenge will be fixing up the 225E for the head-end, but that's a bit further down in the pile.