model engineering locomotive with dry transfers

Model steam locomotive project requires dry transfers

Our latest blog shares the journey of a new user of dry transfers!
Chris is building a model steam locomotive that required dry transfers to help finish the livery of the LNER reproduction he is building.

The main project

Chris kindly shared his project with us;
“I am rebuilding a 5” gauge model steam locomotive that I originally started to construct when I first went to secondary school over 60 years ago.
5” gauge means it is 1 inch to 1 foot. This is a live steam locomotive at a scale that you sometimes see running in parks or at local fairs and it’s big enough to pull passengers.
Building working models to small scale is generically termed “model engineering” and there are dozens of model engineering societies all around the country along with thousands of enthusiastic engineers with small scale engineering workshops who build anything from traction engines to steam locomotives to ships and aeroplanes.
This is a serious business and whilst the engineering skills required to make precision parts at small scale are essential, the final model needs to look exactly like the full sized original for it to be authentic. That means a decent paint job and also the need to copy detailed liveries exactly but at a small scale.”

Using dry transfers to add livery details​

Chris found out about us from an online search: “So most of us can manage a reasonable paint finish but when it comes to precise lettering that is beyond the skills of most so the usual solution is to buy transfers that replicate the original motifs and lettering to the correct scale. There are a small number of model engineering suppliers who sell common lettering transfers but if, like me, you need a font and colour that this is unusual then you can’t get them. So I started to look for a supplier of bespoke transfers and found BEL Signs who I had never heard of even though I live in Horsham.
Most model engineers have CAD facilities of one form or another so I researched the correct font and colour from the National Railways Museum archive for the locomotive I am building and then created my own artwork for you to quote me against.
I now have the bespoke dry transfers and am experimenting with different lacquers and varnishes on some test pieces before I commit to the final process.”

The locomotive itself

“I am building an LNER B1 so I need to replicate the original, you can see the front buffer beam of my locomotive which I have just finished painting and lining. I have applied the transfers you supplied in Pantone 129C gloss, but have not yet varnished over. My locomotive is large (about 1m long for the locomotive and another 600mm for the tender) and it weighs around 100kg. It is also in pieces being repainted from the chassis up and wanted to replicate the exact livery style as I believe that the detail is important.”

5-star review

“My enquiry was dealt with promptly and my order was processed quickly as well. They even contacted me over an error in my specification that would have seen me getting dry transfers in the wrong colour. They are also competitively priced. What is there not to like? I would definitely use BEL Signs again.”

Need artwork? Don’t worry we can design your transfers

If you don’t have access to a creative program but would like to match the font and style of a particular rail livery, don’t despair, we have a design team able to create your dry transfers for you. Simply let us know as much detail as possible about the project, the size of the lettering or shapes required and we send a proof over before completing the order.

Order your Dry Transfers

If you would like to know more about our dry transfers service, or would like to contact us, please get in touch, call: 01403 255442 or email:

Local Sussex Model Engineers

Local model engineers in the local area can be found at:
Crawley model engineers
Beechhurst miniature railway