Bachmann Log Cars – Improving the Look

600x450_log carbeforeBachmann makes a simple, reasonably priced log car. The problem with it is its “toy” look due to the shiny plastic paint job and the decidedly toy-like fake plastic logs that come with it.

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…

1024x768closeup2First 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.

640x447closeup1To fix the ends of the crossbeams I have found that a small hobby saw can be scraped across the end to scratch in a very realistic wood grain.



1024x768closeup3After 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.

600x450_logcar1Next 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.


600x450_logcar2A thin coat of a redwood deck stain to correct the color and they are just about perfect in my opinion. But anything you can trim from your yard will be a big improvement over the stock plastic logs.

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)

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2 Responses to Bachmann Log Cars – Improving the Look

  1. Roy Ogle says:

    Looks good Tim. You need to come in and take a look at my run down/weathered winery. I think its restoration would make a great article.

  2. TJ says:

    Thanks Roy! I’ll take a crack at restoring the winery. Should be fun.

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