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Home / How To / Tips for better passenger cars: Stainless steel finish

Tips for better passenger cars: Stainless steel finish

By Andy Sperandeo | April 12, 2021

Follow these tips to make your passenger fleet look and run better

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An HO scale passenger car with a shiny silver finish coupled between two other cars.

The plastic models of stainless steel cars typically have silver paint that lacks the mirror sheen of real stainless. Even the plated finishes of the brass models don’t have a realistic stainless look, and plated cars from different makers don’t match.

I hadn’t found a finish I really liked, though, until I saw Keith Kohlmann’s Model Railroader article about painting with Alclad II Chrome lacquer.

First paint the car with a gloss black enamel undercoat. This acts as a background for the mirror-like finish of the Alclad II.

Let the black dry thoroughly, then airbrush the car with the Alclad II Chrome. This lacquer is thin enough to spray without thinning. Be careful not to touch the chrome finish until it’s sealed.

Seal the Alclad II with an overspray of Testors Metalizer Sealer or similar clear lacquer gloss coat. Then you can handle the model, apply decals as usual, then seal them with another clear coat.

From The Model Railroader’s Guide to Passenger Equipment & Operation (Kalmbach Books, 2006).

An HO scale passenger car with a shiny silver finish coupled between two other cars.
This Lambert brass Santa Fe chair car was made with a plated finish. Painted with Alclad II Chrome lacquer over a gloss black undercoat, it now has a more realistic stainless steel sheen.
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