Low Cost Tips to Improve Your Railroad Modeling
I have a tip for other modelers that you may want to pass along. When I needed window signs for my corner drugstore and movie theater, I searched the internet for metal reproduction signs and movie posters. There are a number of sites that deal in nostalgic signs and old movie posters. These sites generally feature good, clean photos of their goods. Although the images are small on the web, when downloaded and reduced to N or HO scale, they look great!
It usually helps to print them out using a high-quality color laser printer. For most people, that may mean taking a diskette or CD to the local quick copy place, such as a Kinkos, to get the best reproduction. I recommend placing as many images on the sheet as possible, allowing space to trim them out. An 8½x11 sheet will give you dozens of signs, billboards and movie posters. As for paper stock, coated paper (like magazine stock) will keep the image sharper, but may not run through some copiers. Work with the copy center staff and they may be able to help on that.
To print on actual window glazing, I recommend Highland 904 overhead transparency film for laser printers. This film has a piece of paper attached to the edge that keeps the transparency from fogging as it goes through the machine. Regular transparency film will work, but usually the plastic fogs from the heat. Printing directly on the windows works well for things that are “painted” on the glass, such as a tavern name, but for posters hung in the window, the signs usually look too transparent to be effective. I tried painting the back of the transparency with white paint, but it didn’t look very realistic.
The advantage to using a color laser copier for these signs, whether printing on paper or plastic, is that the image won’t smear or rub off like it can with an inkjet printer.
One other suggestion … those nostalgia websites have a wealth of information when it comes to painting old Coke machines, gas pumps, and other antique items when you can’t quite remember how they looked. And if you’re into building your own scale vehicles, any Google search for that model year of vehicle will bring up dozens of websites with prototype photos of your vehicle. It’s an excellent way to see those stock paint jobs from the 40s, 50s and 60s.