How 2 - Strip Factory Paint

HoboTim Feb 23, 2008

  1. HoboTim

    HoboTim TrainBoard Supporter

    Let's make a How To thread on stripping paint from plastic and metal. Be it acrylic or enamel.

    Their have many broken discussions on this in the past. This technique, that technique, but I have not found a thread devoted soley to paint stripping.

    This is for certain, 90%+ Alcohol, Pinesol, Brake Fluid, Thinner, and ELO (Easy Lift Off) are all liquids that will strip paint. I have used Alcohol, ELO, Brake Fluid, and a Home Depot Gel stripper once on an AZL Norfolk Southern C44-9. Took about a year to strip it. Had to scrape some of the paint in the end. The Gel stripper was the only thing that worked. Since that time I have stripped a few plastic shells and cast metal shells. ELO works good on cast metal but my plastic endeavors have ended up on a bad note. I am using some 91% alcohol right now to strip some MTL boxcar shells. Some of the paint appears to be removed but most have paint still on them.

    Now I have a question, since this is the first item I am successfully removing paint from an MTL shell, how long do I need to let these shells sit in the alcohol?

    Please add your Do's and Don't along with details of how you strip paint. I look forward in reading your responses.

    Remember let's make this a How To thread for all future modelers wanting to know more!!!!!

    Thanks in advance!

    Hobo Tim
  2. Chris333

    Chris333 TrainBoard Supporter

    I would say less than a day for everything to be gone. If the cars are newer with fresh paint it will go faster, sometimes an hour or less.

    I let them soak for an hour or so then scrub lightly with a old tooth brush. This first time usually all lettering will fall off (if it didn't already on it's own) and about 1/2 the paint will be gone. The paint under the lettering will now get the full strength and should scrub right off within the next hour.

    I'll do one here in a few and take pic's.
  3. Flash Blackman

    Flash Blackman Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I suggest that with any stripper, pay attention! Don't put the shell in there for two weeks. ELO has worked well for me and it takes the paint off in 1-2 hours. I usually use a soft brush to lightly rub the shell every 20 minutes or so. IMHO, less paint removal is a better option than losing or warping the shell.

    Speaking of losing the shell, I forgot that the first rule should be: Don't strip it! Buy an undecorated shell if possible.
  4. Chris333

    Chris333 TrainBoard Supporter

    Here we go. Our victim is a MT N scale boxcar. I love the P&LE, but this is a modern paint job from around 1965. My scale world stops at 1960 so this paint has to go.
    Just toss it in and make sure it's covered:
    I'll give it at least 1/2 hour before I touch it, then report back.
  5. shamoo737

    shamoo737 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Tim, I like to use 91% alcohol to strip a car or engine. Like Chris, I like to let it soak overnight, but I like to check on it every five minutes initially. If there is any unwanted reaction, be ready to pull it out. To strip logos, I like to use Pine Sol. Its less likely to harm the paint. You can use it to strip a car, but it takes a while.
  6. Chris333

    Chris333 TrainBoard Supporter

    OK I lied... it has only been about 5 minutes and I checked to see how it was doing. The paint wiped right off, lettering remained (so far)
    On the left there is no paint just green plastic, right of the door still has paint:
    Here it is with nothing but lettering left on it:
    Guess it will take a little longer for the letters to leave. Usually they fall off first. This must be a older car.
  7. Chris333

    Chris333 TrainBoard Supporter

    oops forgot all about it, about 2 hours went by:
    All done. I wash it with water afterward. The left over alcohol will be put into another "dirty" container to use for the next stripping job.
  8. jlundy46

    jlundy46 TrainBoard Supporter

    I have had good luck with Cameleon for stripping shells, and buy it at my LHS. I have used it for years on N scale stuff. I used it on a MTL boxcar shell the other day and the paint and lettering was gone in about an hour. I rinsed it with soapy water and let it air dry. The next day I painted and lettered it. I have not stripped an AZL plastic shell yet, so no experience there.

  9. pmx

    pmx TrainBoard Member

    Well I'll chime in on this topic as I have some experience in the area. For the most part when stripping MTL stock I will use 91% Isopropyl. But I have found that some pieces or layers need to be stripped using something else. For me, most of the time that is Castrol Super Clean ("Purple Stuff") Engine degreaser. It works well against enamels and lacquers and hasn't harmed any of metal, plastics or resin parts that I've worked with. As opposed to 91% isopropyl which works best on acrylic based paints.

    Take my latest project, which involved stripping a MTL NH GP9. Iso took of the black and orange on the shell just fine, but the white didn't want to come off the shell and it had little effect on the etched parts. So I then put the parts in the "purple stuff" for the evening. The next morning with a little toothbrush action under warm water the orange paint, the underlying metal primer and white on the shell all came off easily. However ever on the shell under the white was a layer of orange, so I had to go back and do a final dunk in isopropyl. Seems a bit long but I have always gotten consistent results without any damage to the pieces I'm working on.

    The isopropyl dunks are usually less than a 1hr (more like 30 minutes) and I'm just patient enough to let a pieces soak in the "purple stuff" for 6-8 hours as I'm usually away at work, running errands or sleeping in the mean time.

    A couple of notes of caution I will add with regards to "purple stuff," while biodegradable, it is a heavy duty degreaser and gloves should be worn when cleaning parts with it and it will weaken CA bonds (which has its pluses and minuses depending on what you are doing).
  10. SteamDonkey74

    SteamDonkey74 TrainBoard Supporter

    There's some great stuff on here.

    I, so far, have only done the Chameleon and old toothbrush method on plastic shells.

    I think this would fit well in the General How-To forum since stripping paint really applies to all scales.
  11. Joe D'Amato

    Joe D'Amato TrainBoard Member

    I find that good ol' brake fluid is the best. I strip our shells all the time that I dig out of the regrind box and I've always had great luck with it. The only shell that doesn't like it are the PS2's around the ladders. Generally I apply the fluid to the lettering areas and it clears that off first. The paint is so thin I just consider it the primer layer and paint over that with good effect. Alcohol tends to take the paint first and then the lettering since it's ink and resists the alcohol longer.

    I have an AZL/Rogue River AC unit and I just plopped it in lacquer thinner and stripped that bad boy in about 10 minutes. It's brass so you don't have to be that gentile with it. The lacquer also released the side rails so I didn't screw them up trying to pry them off.


  12. Alvaro

    Alvaro TrainBoard Member

    Hello Tim

    I found in a site about H0 scale cars that they used to clean the tint for the cars with oven cleaner, i don't try it, but just see the link: Restoration
    It's clean the tint but don't destroy the plastic...
    In another site, a french one, they use warm water + bleach, i didn't try it either, so i don't know if this work...
    By the way, thanks for the links about decal paper. :) and thanks Robert too!
    Greetings Álvaro

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