Reality Check- Finding Suppliers

For the last few weeks, I have been trying to get some custom decals done. There really are very few suppliers left as I have found out. Yes, Microscale will custom print but with a large minimum buy and a setup charge. Rail Graphics will print decals but to his stock colors. San Juan Decals will do the work but can’t lay down a layer of white before printing the yellow color. Modern inks are not very opaque so you either double print the color or put down a layer of white.  Of course there is the venerable ALPS machine. Rick Leach has done some superb decals with ALPS but he is limited to the few colors that were available.

It has caused me to think about doing a different prototype. The diesel that I wanted to do may not get done. The picture shown below was my planned loco. The yellow stripe and lettering is very close to PMS-120.  This is more of a cream color than yellow.

383 Schiller Park

Failing that plan, I probably will use the wonderful NP diesel decals to decorate a GP-9 rather than the planned GP-7.

NP 226 Elma may56

Will have to see what can be worked out with San Juan for printing decals to stay opaque on a black or maroon carbody.

The O scale hobby is experiencing a continued loss of detail parts suppliers.   There are very few suppliers left which is the result in changes in modeler buying habits.   Fewer modelers build and detail rolling stock and buildings.   I have seen several editorials about how Rapid Prototyping and 3D CAD will fill the gap of parts suppliers.  Well, that might happen if someone is willing to master the art of 3D design.  The reality hits the road when you see what the “low cost” RP shops do.   It comes down to what you are willing to pay for the rendered part.   You can print multiple parts or model the masters in RTV and use resin to generate copies.   Each step takes time and cost money.  Will these barriers kill off model building or cause to reach to new heights?

Time will tell………


18 thoughts on “Reality Check- Finding Suppliers

  1. Gene,
    From my experience Mark is correct. I have used Jim Abbott of Highball Graphics for quite awhile to print my various milk car decals as well as use many of his O Scale offerings. He also prints a series of otherwise unavailable ones for Don Smith of Industrialmodels. The decals are thin and strong and application has never been an issue. For the rest of my decals, I have depended on Scott Wright of Solidesign to make them. Both of these gentlemen will work form B&W art or photographs. Both can do design or art work. The difference is that Jim will want to make sets, whereas Scott will put many items on a page to be cut out later. You will pay for their time for custom work, but sometimes it is the only way.

    • Ben
      I sent the artwork to Jim a few minutes ago. He did a test print of the desired PMS color and believes that it can be done. We will see.


  2. Pingback: Reality Check- Finding Suppliers | Model Railro...

  3. Gene:
    I am very close to requiring additional spikes. Those I presently have are about a quarter of an inch in length, have a prototype head and resist bending. I am laying code .100 rail on sugar pine ties and the spikes have worked out well. Problem, unable to recall where I obtained them and not familiar with those currently available. Any info. you can provide will be most appreciated.


  4. Gene:

    We Colorado and Southern modelers have a similar issue with the circular trademark (a black circle with a white inner circle and “Colorado and Southern” inside. a few manufacturers make the circle alone in black, and then have you apply a second, white decal on top. Have you considered a two part decal? Or, perhaps you allude to this with the opacity comment?

    Keith Hayes

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