Empire Belt RR ALcos

Empire Belt RR ALcos
Custom Painted FA / FB Units

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Bachmann 89' Tri-Level Auto Rack Improvements

Greeting All,

This week just after putting away my Bachmann 89' Tri-Level Auto Racks I went into my basement bathroom and noted one of the railroad pictures that I hung up after remodeling. The picture shows a pair of Rock Island Geeps crossing over two ATSF Tri-Level Auto Racks circa 1970. The automobiles appear to be the 1970 Dodge Polara model among other Chrysler / Dodge / Plymouth products. Anyway the item that struck me was the lack of a fat yellow railing like the Bachmann model on the top level of each car and the ramps from rail car to car were the rail car color. Hmm...

So I took my three 89' Bachmann Tri-Levels back out of their boxes and studied them a bit to see what could be done to make them look better. Plan A; Removing the top yellow railing and adding stanchions and railings. That would probably have been best but the job did not appeal to me. Plan B; De-emphasize the yellow on the top rail and car to car ramps. This seemed easier and if the results were not what I liked I could always revert back to plan A. So plan B it was. Let's take a look.

The inspirational photo with a rattle can of Krylon Clear Flat, 
Bluegrass Green and Spice Red hobby acrylics. 

Before trying to paint the gloss yellow rails and ramps I sprayed the first car with Testor's Dullcote. After a few coats the glossy paint was still pretty glossy. At this point I tried the Krylon Clear Flat with better results. This step adds some tooth to the yellow area for the acrylics to adhere and obviously gets the bright shine off the rest of the car.  

Here is one of the ATSF cars straight from the box 

Here is the second ATSF car with the yellow painted over and two more coats of the Krylon Clear Flat

Penn Central Tri Level with the yellow painted over and some Krylon Clear Flat applied. 

The big three being pulled towards Terminal Yard by NYC S12 #9314.

I really like the way the ATSF and PC cars look after this simple project. 
Painting the rails was a bit tedious but I think the results were well worth it. I think the stanchions and handrails would look better. But the simple removal of the color yellow and dulling down the extremely bright finish has the Tri-Levels looking much better and fitting in with the rest of my rolling stock. Additionally the acrylic paints and rattle can paint were already in stock so no outlay of funds was required for this project which made the accounting department happy. That's it for now I'm heading back to the train room to get that third tri level finished.


  1. A little work made a big difference in those Auto Racks. They look great. The Bluegrass Green looks like a pretty decent match for PC Jade Green! Nicley done!

  2. Thanks for the compliments Ralph! You're right about the bluegrass green it blends with some of my PC and NYC "jade green / Mercury green" quite nicely. I'm happy with the results and glad the cars no longer look so toyish.

  3. Are those handrails and ramps of a softer plastic than the carbody?

    1. Hello ZeldaTheSwordsman. The ramps are of a softer plastic. The handrails are the same density as the rest of the car.