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Neil’s Top Tips - Re-number & Insignia Change

In this series of blog posts I will be giving you some hints and tips on general modelling, and customisation of locomotives and rolling stock. These will be down to earth and low cost options for the novice and careful modeller to enhance their own stock.

This first tutorial will show you how to change the identity of a locomotive by changing the insignia on the tender and the cab numbers.

The equipment you will require to do this is as follows:                             

  • HMRS Transferspressfix 
  • Soft brush for dusting
  • Ruler
  • Clean paint brush for water
  • BluntCurved scalpel (the cutting edge has been removed with fine sandpaper so the blade is no longer sharp)
  • Sharp scalpel or craft knife
  • Tweezers
  • Pencil
  • Piece of absorbent paper
  • Vallejo acrylic satin varnish
  • Small container of clean water
  • Foam or padding for loco body whilst working
  • Reference material or number written down

Lay your chosen locomotive on its side on a protective cloth – I use a piece of foam.

Using the blunt curved scalpel very gently scrape towards you with the blade edge, on the transfer area only, you will start to see the transfer lift, continue until you have lifted all the transfer.   


Once completed use the soft brush to clean away any residue as well as giving the model a quick blow.

You may also find it useful to put some water on your finger and wipe the area, make sure it is dry afterwards.   

Using the sharp craft knife cut through the top tissue paper layer only. Checking that the insignia is facing the correct way, also take into account that what you see is the reverse of the transfer, and it will be placed tacky side down onto the model.


Lift the transfer and backing sheet carefully.

Place onto the model. Tacky side down.


Once you are happy with the position of the transfer. (It can be lifted and removed a couple of times)

Using the paint brush apply water to the surface of the tissue paper until it is completely wet.   

Wait a few minutes, and carefully lift the wet tissue paper cover away. Gently dab dry with the absorbent cloth, do not rub the transfer.                                                                   

Moving onto the locomotive numbers, the first job is to measure the height of the cab numbers. 


Then find the corresponding transfers in the same size.                                                

I always replace all the cab numbers, even if I only need to change one or two digits. This is because it is unlikely that the transfers will be a 100% match in size or colour. They will always look better when a full set is replaced. The cab numbers are removed in exactly the same way as the insignia with the blunt scalpel, carefully scraping the transfer layer only. A very slight ghosting is ok as this will aid the repositioning of the new numbers.      

Always start with the centre number first and then work to the left and right. In the same way as the insignia the number is cut and placed on the cab. The ghosting will help to position the number. 


Lift the protective tissue off the first cab number.

Second cab number in position

Third cab number in position

Forth cab number being aligned

And finally the fifth and last cab number

Again gently dry the transfer by dabbing (not rubbing)

To complete the job you will need to seal the transfers with varnish to protect them. This must be done on any brand of transfer no matter which one you use.

Carefully paint the satin varnish over the transfer area only numbers and insignia, avoid going back over the varnish once it has been applied. This will dry in a few minutes.


Don’t forget to do the other side, smoke box door numbers, shed plates, overhead warning signs.

Then you are finished.

I hope this inspired you to have a go, if you are not confident about doing it on your best locomotive, do a test run on an old item such as an Airfix kit, unloved loco or even a toy car. 

Alternatively we do offer a full in-house weathering and numbering service, for more information please feel free to email or call us atamey@ellisclarktrains.com or 01756 701451.



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