They look just like real DB locomotives but they're 87 times smaller: model locomotives in HO scale. Justin Pfeiffer's role is to make the models more closely resemble their full-size counterparts. Justin, a DB Cargo employee, runs the company airbrushpfeiffer. He has made it his mission to quicken the heartbeats of model rail enthusiasts by putting elaborate special DB locomotive models such as Günni the freight train and "Stahl auf Stahl" (steel on steel) onto model railway systems at a 1:87 scale.
Two to three hours of airbrushing after work
As well as holding down a full-time day job as a specialist advisor for strategic partners at DB Cargo in CMR South, Justin spends a lot of time repainting model locomotives after clocking out: "Sometimes I dedicate two to three hours a day to airbrushing. But I still can't say exactly long a wagon or a locomotive will take me. It depends a lot on the design and the effort put into it." A particularly elaborate example is the Bahnland Bayern, a double-decker driving trailer.
"Each of my models is one of a kind"
Even just preparing to repaint is a time-consuming task: Justin needs about an hour to disassemble a locomotive. To do this, for instance, he needs to remove the windows and other glued-in components. Justin then removes the original lettering with wet sandpaper and tapes the locomotive for painting. "I custom-cut the tape to size, depending on the design. There is no template for this. That makes the models truly unique," he explains.
Detailed work: every touch has to be right
In addition to airbrushing, airbrushpfeiffer also offers UV prints for model locomotives. For these he needs high-resolution images of the originals so that a graphic designer can create a suitable template. He then carefully applies the finished decal film to the model train: "Each touch has to be just right, because it's an extremely thin material." Justin even prints onto some models directly, which is also a unique selling point for a model airbrusher.
No wonder, then, that railway fans regularly commission Justin to repaint special wagons and locomotives. There is particular demand for Günni the freight train on a class B185.2 locomotive or the special "Stahl auf Stahl" decal on DB Cargo's class 185.0. Justin explains: "You can't buy these special locomotives from model manufacturers, and it doesn't seem likely that they'll have them printed like this in the near future."