The miniature Big Boy locomotive model is almost finished. It took a lot more time and energy to put it together than I expected. I spent probably around 25 hours painting the parts, assembling them and applying the waterslide decals. Also, a lot of time was needed for the paint and glue to dry before I could go from one step to another. During the process I encountered many difficulties, so I thought I'd share my experiences as it may help future modelers to build this model better.
First, let's see some general guidelines:
A. Many of the components fit together tightly and remain together even without glue. If this is the case, don't try to pull them apart by force in order to add glue. You'll most likely end up breaking something.
B. Allow the paint to dry well. You should leave components dry for around 4 hours before trying to put them together or repaint them. Sometimes you need to paint the same surface twice because the first layer of paint doesn't cover it perfectly. For this model you will need paints 8, 9, 75, 86, 91, 92, 99 and 330. they come in 14 ml recipients. For most of the colors 14 ml will be more than enough, but try not to waste number 8 (black). I ran completely out of black by the time the whole locomotive was painted, I barely had enough for the last parts. On the other hand you will need extremely little of paint number 92 and 330. In fact, you need so little of number 92 that you can very well do without it. Only the locomotive bell needs to be painted in this color (copper). You can use number 99 instead (aluminium). In case of many parts you need to apply 2 or 3 different paints (for example all wheels need to be painted with 8, 91 and 99). Be careful not to paint with one color over the other. you'll need a very smooth, thin brush. If you accidentally paint with one color over the other, just let it dry (for at least 4 hours) and after that repaint with the original color. It's better to paint several parts with the same color, let them dry and then paint all of them with the next color. This way you'll also spare some paint because every time you open the recipient, paint is wasted on the recipient's cap and it also dries out faster.
C. Check all steps at least twice before assembling components together. Also watch out for mistakes in the instructions. Unfortunately it does contain mistakes. I had to repeat one of the last steps several times because of such a mistake and this also lead to some damage of the model. Also beware that not everything is explained fully in the instructions.
D. Apply the waterslide decals over the dry paint (but let the paint dry well, preferably for 24 hours before applying decals over it). Be careful with the decals, they are very fragile. Practice applying the decals on some scrap plastic before doing the real thing. Luckily you have many unneeded decals in the kit, you can use some of these for practice. It's very hard to apply the smallest decals. I did not apply them. Also be careful with the ones that need to be put on uneven surfaces. Sometimes it's close to impossible to apply them. If you move them around too much, they won't adhere (stick) well enough. Do not try to add glue to the decals. I tried it and practically the decal melts when it comes into contact with glue. Soak the decals in warm water for 20-25 seconds, then move them with your finger to the target location on the model. You can move them around a bit while wet. Dry with paper handkerchieves or blotting paper. If you don't get it right, re-wet them quickly and move them with your finger.
Step-by-step advice and warning:
Step 1: Paint the horn with color F before the rest of part 1. This way it's not a problem if your brush accidentally paints outside the target area, you can repaint over it with the desired color later. Be careful when you stick parts 1 and 2 together not to break the thin edges of part 1. I did it by mistake. Apply glue before attempting to fit them together or don't apply glue at all (they fit together tightly anyway and they will hold together without glue). The side edges of part 1 need to be painted with color A (a very thin line). I did that at the end (before step 41) and it was fine.
Step 2: Be careful when you paint the boiler with color G. you'll need a thin brush and a steady hand.
Step 3: It's hard to see how you put the parts together here. Make sure you have enough light.
Step 5: You can delay this until before step 41 in order not to break part 4 during future maneuvers.
Step 7: Be patient with the wheels. You'll need a lot of time before they dry 3 times (they need to be painted with color A, B and E).
Step 8: Inserting component 24's pins into the holes on the wheels can be really difficult. Make sure you don't break anything. Don't paint the pins of component 24, paint will make the pins thicker and harder to insert.
Step 9: It's kind of hard to figure out which parts of component 19 need to be painted in color A and which parts need B. Just establish how you want it and use the same pattern for future similar components.
Step 10: Again, inserting the pin can be difficult.
Step 14: I recommend applying the appropriate decal (1 or 16) over component 41 before putting component 9 into its final place (glued into component 13). Applying the decal later is close to impossible (I did not succeed).
Step 15: Same as step 7.
Step 16: Same as step 8.
Step 17: Similar to step 9.
Step 19: Same as steps 8 and 16.
Step 20: Similar to steps 9 and 17.
Step 22: I recommend that you finish painting the main part of the locomotive (component 1) entirely before step 22.
Step 23: Don't force components 17 and 52 into their final position. Be gentle. I broke one of them.
Step 30: Don't paint the ends of the bars (components 13, 14 and 50). Don't force anything, insert them into component 11 firmly but gently.
Step 31: It's probably a good idea to paint the whole tender (component 30) in black (color B) before step 32.
Step 34: Make sure you get component 31 into it's position perfectly. It will be hard to move later.
Step 36: Be careful when you paint the small parts of components 37 and 63 with color A, not to paint over the rest of it. Paint the most of them with color B first, allow to dry, then paint the small parts with B. Glue components 35, 37 and 63 together tightly.
Step 37: Trust the drawing in this step. Steps 36 and 37 show the parts assembled correctly.
Step 38: The instructions are wrong! The position of the components in the drawing is impossible to accomplish if you did steps 36 and 37 correctly. The "hook" of the tender must face the sky (look down in the drawing), not face the ground (look up in the drawing). Unfortunately I disassembled components 35, 37 and 63 because the instructions in step 38 led me into thinking that what I did previously was wrong. When I got to step 40 I realized that step 38 was not drawn correctly in the instructions.
Step 39: For painting the tracks you need, again, a thin brush, a steady hand and lost of patience for the 3 colors of paint to dry.
Step 40: Again, wrong! The "hook" of the tender must be looking upward (facing the sky), otherwise it's impossible to hook the tender up to the locomotive.
Step 41: Analyze the model carefully, paint over any small, overlooked, unpainted areas. When it's all dry, apply the decals. Actually, it's a good idea to apply the decals based on Step 41's instructions before step 40 (except the decals that need to be applied even earlier). Don't touch the decals too much, they may get damaged.
I was quite surprised to realize that the kit contained two components (10 and 101) that were actually not needed for the model. I have no idea why they included them.
Assemble patiently and carefully and you'll obtain a beautiful Big Boy steam locomotive. It's worth the time and energy!