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By Scott Smith

The MTH 384E sets are the best value you can find today in standard gauge. For just under $600.00 you receive the 384E engine and tender, 2 passenger cars, transformer lock-on and track. For an additional $150.00 dollars there is an additional passenger car that can be added as well as a new baggage car that should be available in November. For some of us the 2 to 4 car set is not quite enough. The powerful 384E engine can pull two to three times that amount. So in this article I will show how you can purchase additional cars and change the name and number so you can have a much longer train.

For our purposes we will use the MTH Chessie 384E set. This set is ideal since it has a light color, which will make it easy to print a dark blue print decal on clear decal paper. To begin with you will need:

1) cotton swabs
2) lacquer thinner
3) Clear Cote or Bright Cote lacquer
4) clear decal paper
5) latex gloves
6) masking tape
7) very fine sand paper 320 Grit

Take the very fine sand paper and very lightly sand over the number and name plate. At this point you are not trying to remove the lettering, you are just making a break in the lacquer finish. When you are finished the number and name plate should look like the number plate shown below:

Next you will be using the lacquer thinner. Since lacquer thinner can be a hazardous product you should insure that you have plenty of fresh air while working and wear your latex gloves to do the next step. Dip the cotton swabs in the lacquer thinner and rub lightly over the letters and numbers. You will find they rub off very easily at this point. After you are done it should look like this:

Next you will need to use water and wash off any remaining lacquer thinner. You need to print your sample decal on plain white paper to make sure you have the correct size, font, and color. There is no reason to print on decal paper until you are sure you have it right:

For the Chessie lettering I found the Franklin Gothic Book font in Microsoft Word matched the best.

Using a word processing program such as Word, make a page with numerous copies of the each car name and number. Print using clear decal paper. I like Beldecal paper:
If you are using an ink jet printer be sure to coat your paper with lacquer or some other water proof spray to make sure your decal doesn’t disappear. Cut the decal out and float it in a bowl of warm water. Place the decal on the car then float the decal onto the car with a mild decal solution. Be careful because some of these solutions are too harsh to be used and will eat your decal. Align your decal and press it into place to get the bubbles out. After everything is dried, preferably overnight, tape your car up with masking tape and only leave the new decal area exposed:

Spray the car with clear gloss lacquer or Clear Cote. Be sure the windows are well covered so you don’t mess them up. Remove the making tape after everything dries and you have your new car!


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