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NS class 4300


The ex-WD 2-8-0 was generically referred to as 'the 4300's" but as 237 examples of the class came to the Dutch Railways the class was numbered from 4301 to 4537. To make room for the continuous numbering of the WD locomotives the existing class 4501-4504 (ex-NBDS 2-8-0) was renumbered 4251-4254. So WD locomotives taking these numbers should strictly be referred to as 4501II-4504II. In practise this addition was and is rarely used.

Why do I bring up the subject? Well, I fancy regular numbers and this is a class which brought the 4x4 into existence so it was obvious that I wanted to renumber my 4329 into 4444.


First I needed to obtain decals. I had a few strips of decals, from Philotrain and from GM&S. Both where of the pressfix type which I distinctly hate because you have only one shot to get the letter right. Another issue was that neither of the two contained enough 4s to suit my needs.

So my thoughts went to printing the decals on my laserprinter at home. One issue I had to resolve was printing the decals in white. I contemplated many solutions and searched the internet for hints and tips and while doing so stumbled upon DecalWinkel (winkel = shop). They provide a decal printing service, including printing in white. Prices are moderate so I quickly decided this was exactly what I needed . I made two files to print which I have included in my website for you to use if you like

Service and communication of DecalWinkel was quick and good. Recommended supplier!


Before long I had two sheets of decals in house for €12.90 including shipping. That seems a price but it will a source of numbers for future projects for a very long, long time.
If you take a close look at the lettering you may notice that it is not completely up to standard for Dutch railways, but I did not have the correct font and chose one as close as possible.

Having the decals in house the real work could start.

First the original numbers had to be removed. There are several methods to that aim. The method differs per manufacturer and even per time period. So gently experiment what works for any particular model you may want to do.

A few trials soon proved that a bit of pressure made the stencilled letters break up easily.

So with a sharp knife and the lightest of touches I started scraping away the white stencilled paint. Ever so careful as you will easily damage the underlying paint.
Although not entirely invisible I was quite happy with the result. The photo is a heavy critic than the naked eye, on a normal viewing distance it was practically invisible.
Then the water slide transfers came on. The white letters are remarkably opaque. They release from the underlying sheet easily and quickly. The plastic 8µ (0.008 mm) thick carrier is strong enough although as always all care should be taken to only treat them with the lightest of touches.



It is always difficult to get individual numbers lined out perfectly. All letters should be

  • in the same horizontal plane;
  • prependicular;
  • evenly spaced, not too close and not too wide apart;

and if this is not enough

  • placed prototypically correct.

This applies even more so if you have four identical letters and the 4s are the trickiest of all as they have horizontal and vertical elements which betray any disalignmment immediately. I think I did a good job though.

And soon the work on the other side proceeded.


You can see that the original lettering is very thick compared to the new lettering. My lettering may be a bit on the thin side, but I dislike the way Bachmann has overdone the thickness of the lettering

I found I could speed up the work by initially breaking up the old lettering with my fingernail. It won't remove all traces of lettering but it is a quick way to do the coarse work and scrape the rest away with a scalpel.

The front buffer beam was also with white lettering, conforming to the Dutch standard

  • "No" on the left of the coupler
  • the numbers on the right of the coupler


Working in a jar, the model wrapped in foam to stabilise and protect it, helps to keep the surface of the buffer beam flat while at the same time keeping both hands free to work.

Placement of the numbers should given great care because space is restricted and there needs to be an air pipe around the number as well.
Then work on the yellow tenders number started and I followed the same procedure for removing the old number and placing the new one.

But this time I was in for a surprise. The opacity of the white letters were absolutely satisfying but this can not be stated for the yellow letters. Though on their carrier they looked just fine they more or less dissolved when they came loose in the water. After drying they were hardly visible on the model with a distinct discolouration towards the green underground.

I tried various tricks. One of them was applying thinned yellow paint on a small sheet of the lettering and wiping the rest away in the hope that the paint would settle in the pigment and strengthen the opacity of the letters. It did help a bit but not very much.

I tried various experiments on a painted metal plate I have for the purpose of practising techniques. I prefer to experiment on that plate rather than on my precious models.

I finally came up with this solution: first apply a white decal and then two yellow decals straight on top of the white decal. That resulted in a sufficiently yellow lettering. It is hard work because the yellow lettering is hardly visible, but it works.

So in the end this was the result. Not perfect but the best I could get.