Here you see a new log car, fresh from the box with one of the three plastic logs that come with it.
The problems with the “look” can be readily remedied and the results can be a tremendous improvement. Here’s what I do…
First thing is to deal with the looks of the log car itself. Acrylic hobby paints (I generally get mine from Michael’s Crafts) can take away the shiny plastic look in short order. I paint the metal parts with dark burnt umber, and the wood parts with nutmeg brown. Fortunately, Bachmann has molded in the wood grain everywhere but the ends of the cross bar at each end over the trucks.
After painting both the metal and wood parts in the colors discussed, I go over everything with thin wash of acrylic black paint (diluted with water). This darkens everything a bit and makes the wood grain pop a little to make it easier to see.
Finally, I go over the metal parts (strap bars, nuts and bolt heads, and trucks) with a splotchy wash of burnt sienna to simulate wear and rust.
Next is replacing the plastic logs with something better. There are a number of better looking logs you can purchase (the logs from LGB are very nice looking but a bit pricey). I favor logs cut from a bottle-brush bush because the bark, while the wrong color, looks like the mighty redwood.
Some chains for detail props from Ozark Miniatures completes the look. Look for used Bachmann log cars and you can put together a nice string of log cars very economically.
Let me know what you think. –TJ
(Originally posted 7/21/2011, revised 7/05/2013)