So for my La wagons I've added a shunter's footstep from a section of thin plastic strip, bent wire hand grabs - a jig was made for that - and a shaped brass strip brake lever. Just make sure you put the brake lever on the correct corner! It is only on one side, and if you are looking at that side, it is always at the right-hand end.
More detailing can be added to your La8 too, like a nice faded tarp - and tarp tie-downs if you are that crazy!
(photo taken out the window of RM34 Tainui on Wellington - New Plymouth run)
Red Oxide was the colour for nearly all NZR wagons in the 1960s except refrigerated and ventilated, (white) and tanker wagons (black), and then of course the Kp showed up in silver - red oxide later, in the 1970s.
The red oxide originally used on Las, Lcs, Js, Jcs, etc in time had faded and been weathered to an infinite variation from that nice bright, brand new orangy red oxide, to a darkish brown, to brown and even to a light pinky brown. You name it you would have found one in any shade and mixtures thereof.
The Aluminium silver of the Kps gradually turned into this messy almost tan-green grimy-looking coloured wash of varying degrees.
So there is no real correct colour paint to pick - unless you are modelling a factory-fresh example.
So far I've used mainly Wattyl anti-rust (red oxide colour) paint as an undercoat because there was a tin of it lying around(!) and it has that nice "bright" red-orange, brown colour of the original NZR Red Oxide when new.
Then after varying drying times to encourage or discourage "bleed", I apply rough, light top coats or washes of Humbrol Brick Red, and/or washes of white, and/or black where appropriate.
Or Humbrol Brick Red is a good start for a slightly faded more brown beginning. And I use my Wattyl Red Oxide anti-rust primer for "repaired" patches and panels.
The idea is, especially on the La, to have a very varied finish from wagon to wagon.
Haven't bothered with an airbrush yet. Guess I should, having a basic one. And my dad was a spraypainter by trade. One reason not having bothered is being pleased with brush finishes and washes so far, preferring a rougher look on rolling stock and brush washes to me look more realistic. Especially the washes.
But the like many things in our hobby, it's all about personal taste.
And speaking of undergubbins, dulling the wheels also adds to the finish. Give the wheel disks front and back as well as the axle (only between the wheels :-) a wash of something matt and grubby like Humbrol brick red will do, just to get rid of the shiny black and to blend in with the rest of the look.
Here's some samples so far that have been test printed on normal paper and look really very nice. Can't wait to see them on models.
The NZ120.org site has available a good NZR type font for wagon lettering.
See an article on Rob de Bie's scale models website or helpful tips on creating custom decals. Excellent stuff!
One supplier, (although NZ120, they can re-scale), is The Chosen Scale Cooperative and Etch Cetera, for not only custom decals but they have a selection of NZR/TR/Toll/KiwiRail loco decals, and paint too.