Murphy Wins again! Can't destroy plastic surface with glue.

We all know that even smallest drop of glue on a visible portion of a plastic part ruins it. Damages the surface with all kinds of crazing and
bumpy texture.
Except when you want it to!
Background: I usually work in HO but I've taken on a long-term project to create a highly detailed O-scale circa 1890's passenger car based on one of the La Belle kits. I've been working on it off and on for the last 10 years or so and I'm finally working on some parts of the interior (no, the exterior's not completely done either!). Anyway, based on photographs in various sources, most notably several issues of the Train Shed Cyclopedia, I'm trying to create the appearance of either leather covered seats or a brocade fabric.
Leather's not to hard. Going back to a technique I use in 1:24 show car models, there's a Scotch "Plastic Tape" that's made for repairing leather and vinyl surfaces as well as decorative uses which has a very finely textured surface that really looks like vinyl seat material in the 1:24 car models. On a 1:48 coach seat, it does a moderately decent job of looking like leather from a reasonable viewing distance.
Great! I thought that I'd spread some glue on it to simulate a highly textured fabric like brocade. NAH! Tenax does nothing to it. Brushing MEK on it does nothing either! Then I get mad and I reach for the can of Acetone which is a known solvent for plastic. I thought it cleaned the surface a little, but ten minutes later I can't tell where I swiped any of the chemicals and where I left it alone.
GRR!! Now what? I'm still going to use the "Plastic Tape" for the leather, but I've given up on trying to modify its appearance to fabric. So what to use? Picture a very decorative fabric covering on a couch. Gold threads on a coarse fabric create a rich appearance like it came out of a palace. Now shrink it down to 1/48 of it's size. I don't think that there's any real fabric that's fine enough to simulate the surface, is there? If there is, I can use a very fine felt tip marker to simulate the contrasting decorations.
What else could I use to simulate O-scale (1:48) fabric? I'm open to suggestions.
TIA Norm
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Norm Dresner wrote:

[snip tale of discovery that "plastic" is many different substances...]

Might be worth a try to scan a piece of real fabric, fiddle with the image in an image processing program, and print it out. Maybe onto a tough tissue paper, which you would have to tape to a carrier sheet to pass through the inkjet printer. The tissue paper should conform to the seat's curves quite nicely when glued on with diluted white glue.
If this works, report back here. Or write an article for one of the model mags. If you do, give me credit for suggesting it. :-)
HTH
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Are you suggesting that I make a decal that's a reduced image of a real fabric? One difficulty with that suggestion is that the depth of color that I can get into a decal with an inkjet printer doesn't seem to me to be adequate to convey the texture. But it might be worth a try.
Thanks Norm
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Norm Dresner wrote:

No, I'm suggesting that you print the scanned image onto white tissue paper. You know - that light weight wrapping paper. You'll have to set the print quality for "draft". as otherwise the printer will deposit too much ink. I've noticed that some shoes, for example, come wrapped in a slightly heavier weight of tissue which is also tougher than the stuff sold in dollar stores (usta be dimestores) as wrapping paper.
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Or use the flocking that model car builders use for carpets and upholstery.
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Yeah -- I've been hold that in reserve because, while it's a spectacular effect in 1/24 scale cars I thought it would be too much in a 1/48 scale railroad car. But I had previously only used the bright colors before (white, red, blue, etc). When I went to the local Hobbyworld this weekend I found both a deep brown and a dark green that would look too conservative in a car model but would probably be perfect to simulate solid color cloth seats in the 1/48 passenger car.
I've still got the Scotch Plastic tape in a medium brown that from a distance of about a foot [a reasonable viewing distance] looks for all the world like leather. Ideally I'd like to deepen the color a little and remove some of the gloss [I think acetone did that and I'll try it again]. Maybe a flat spray or clear flat dope would help for that. That covers brown leather. I need to drive ~20 miles to the one hardware store in the area that carries this to see if they have black or any other suitable color. [I have white which looks lovely in 1/24 cars but would be out totally of place in a 1890's passenger car!]
Back to the original question. Brocade, tufted, and print fabrics.
Some reference pictures:
There are really great pictures at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pullman_Company and
http://www.eliillinois.org/30108_87/main/12.I.i.jpg
Also in the following books (Note: TSC = Train Shed Cyclopedia) TSC#39 -- Chapter XXI & Chapter XXII TSC #55 -- p18 & p27 TSC#59 -- p210
"Some Classic Trains" by Arthur Dubin -- p79, p89, p129
SO ... the question remains: How to simulate highly decorated and/or deeply sculpted fabric coverings?
Practical Note: I may decide to take the easy route and stick with the leather and plush that I already know how to do, but the better fabrics would look so much more spectacular in a model that I'm not going to drop the search yet. I'll appreciate all the help I can get.
Thanks Norm
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I have used old wallpaper pattern book samples as carpeting in HO scale. You might go to your local wallpaper/hardware/home depot/lowes and see if they have any discontinued books that you can have.
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|I have used old wallpaper pattern book samples as carpeting in HO scale. You | might go to your local wallpaper/hardware/home depot/lowes and see if they | have any discontinued books that you can have. |
Actually, I spend a few hours a while ago using the web to download pictures of hundreds of different oriental carpets and I certainly don't lack for that kind of graphics. About 5 years ago I went to a dollhouse store [before they closed] and bought about a dozen different sheets of dollhouse wallpaper. Some of these also make fine carpet patterns. Norm
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Norm Dresner spake thus:

I think maybe you're over-analyzing this. By which I mean that probably just flat paint of the right color would give the correct appearance. Think about it: fabric isn't shiny, and is a more or less uniform color. And at normal viewing distances at that scale, a flat painted surface should "pass" pretty well. (At least try it and see.)
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My father used silk way back in the day. Painted right it gives the look of coarse fabric at scale. I don't know if rayon or nylon would substitute. Paint held it in place in those days (no, I don't know what kind.) I imagine some glues and non-water-based paints could dissolve silk so experimentation is needed. Got some old neckties?
The only way I can think of to texture plastic tape is to emboss it with something hot but what would stand the heat and give the right texture is beyond me.
Ray

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The standard covering for model aircraft before the advent of heat sensitive mylar was silk and nitrate dope.. Don't think anyone has to worry about any paints disolving silk. The real good, fine silk can sometimes still be found, but cost is a factor. The tissues used in model aircraft of the smaller kind might have a texture somewhere close, and experimenting with any good graphics program, those that can apply a texture to objects, might give a way to scale something down to work. I make felt paper that way.
Rich
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Yup. I just thought of this too reading the previous post. I should have read yours first.
Norm
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Hmm!! I think I still have some "silk" (actually tissue paper) left over from when I was making tissue-covered balsa airplanes! WOW! That might work for the texture and a good, thin wash would provide the color. YEAH, I think that would work.
Thanks Norm
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snipped-for-privacy@att.net (NormDresner) posted:
~snip~

>Norm
Although I'm still learning things concerning model railroading proper, I used to do a lot of plastic modeling so thought I'd toss in my own thoughts on what I'd do in this situation.
Unless you're going for an exaggerated effect I think Dave's post is more the direction: at that scale a flat paint (which is itself an ultra fine texture) would give the look of cloth on seats. I used to use contrasting surface sheens (areas painted flat next to others with a semi-gloss or gloss surface) to get lots of nice results.
For a rougher texture (either your base coat or clear top coat), let the first coat dry, then "mist" the seats with a second coat. Small paint particles will stick without flowing into each other giving it a rougher look.
There's also actual textured paint (such as speckle, fleck stone or crackle paint) that can create a good base coat to work from, but if you've got some evil plastic there that resists glue and maybe paint, I'd do a lot of testing first.
Two last extreme options would be actually impressing a cloth texture onto the seats by spraying with a slow drying primer and at the right tackiness level, press a piece of material onto the surface and remove (ever picked up something freshly painted and left you finger print? -sort of like that). Of course you'd want to use something that wouldn't leave thread particles behind. Then spray a fine top coat (probably best done with an air brush to save the texture). - OR actually upholstery the seats with real material. That would seem the most difficult but maybe look the nicest. I think they do this with miniature doll house furniture, so it must be possible to do. In fact they probably make fine upholstery material, even with ornate designs like you'd see in victorian settings, just for that purpose.
Whatever you decide to do, good luck!
~Brad FD64 (I noticed there's another Brad here so will try to remember to add the FD64 to help identify who is who). :)
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