Erin's Train Decals
Welcome to another of my Websites
This Webpage has been created to assist model railway / railroad enthusiasts with the creation of their own decals for HO scale ACF Covered Hoppers as used in North America.
They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and that was the certainly the case in this instance. I'm not saying I invented this process, but that I figured out a way for me to make my own decals using the equipment that was available to me.

It all began last year when I was searching through my local Hobby Shop looking for something special that would enhance the 'look' of my HO scale CSX and Canadian National models. By the word 'look', I mean something beyond the basic boxcar, containers and coal hoppers. I was looking for something modern, but something that reflected the past in the form of those old billboard boxcars.

The answer was in the form of an Accurail ACF Covered Hopper - it was a limited edition model in an ACFX scheme. A prototype example is shown below:
Click to view a bigger picture.
Photo courtesy Brian D Switzer
I initially caught a glimpse of this Covered Hopper on an amateur video I purchased from a guy called Joe Cacciatore who resides in upstate New York - subsequently the first of 2 dozen North American videos I was to purchase over the previous two years.
At the time of purchase, this was the only example of this type of covered hopper that was available - and the cost of ordering more from the USA was a bit prohibitive - what with the New Zealand exchange rate and cost of postage etc.
A Brain Wave
My desire to have more of these models led me to the idea of making my own decals using my computer, my scanner, my internet connection and the local reprographic centre in Auckland.
To get the two-tone blue graphic from my one and only model into my computer, I came up with a silly idea - put it on my scanner and take a photo. Off all the stupid things, it worked !

The initial image was a bit distorted, but had the correct colours. It was also very large, so tidying up all the rough edges using Paint Shop Pro 4.12 was easy, and when the image was reduced in size to fit HO scale models, the edges were crisp and clean.

Obviously working with huge Bitmaps was a drain on the computer, so each was converted to a TIFF - this enabled reasonable compression, but still using 16 million colours. The file format could be imported into MS Word documents as well. more on that later.

When I realised that I could create the graphic, the next problem was the freight car data. My knowledge of American rolling stock is VERY limited, so all I did was use the Accurail model as my example. The text was created using MS Word, with the data having a height of 2 or 3 (in MS Word sizing). I found it was easier to create the data as true text and not as a graphic, as the graphic when reduced in size would be unreadible, whereas the text from MS word even at height 2 was readible.

My first attempt at making up a decal sheet was to include the graphic and date on the same sheet - but this tended to be a pain, so on subsequent sheets I put all the graphics I wanted on one sheet, and put all the data on another and made two separate sheets.

The sheets were saved as MS Word documents, put on a floppy disc and printed on decal paper at the reprographic shop.

Voila !! Success !
I Need More !!
A sudden burst of enthusiasm soon gripped me - I was soon on the Usenet Newsgroups requesting photos of ACF Covered Hoppers - they came flooding in.
Here's what I've got for you...
The following pages show pictures of models that I've made, and links to Word Documents that have their corresponding graphics enclosed - do with them as you wish. There's also some remarks on how I achieved certain effects on the graphic.
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Disclaimer: I cannot guarantee the accuracy of any of the graphics, text, colours or content. I did this because it was fun and they look good.