Stripping paint from loco - cautionary tale

Hi again folks

Well as some of you will know, I sought advice on how to strip my Lord of The Isles loco as it had too much paint on it and this had caused the details to be negatively affected.

I tried:

Floquil ELO Acetone Oven Cleaner Soap and water and a shoe brush

and finally

paint stripper from the local Mitre 10 - I can report varying results with the first 4 items and disastrous results on the last one - not only did it struggle to lift the undercoat (etch primer to be precise) it attacked the plastic, so now I have an even more mammoth task ahead of me - that of sanding the body to remove all the bloody wrinkles created by the solvent.

Anyone have a spare Lord of The Isles body they are willing to part with, coz this one is buggered!

Oh well - back to my self-flagellation post


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Caustic soda usually works ok for me without attacking the plastic.

Regards Jeff

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I have always used Automotive brake fluid, it will not harm the plastic and will remover 99% of all known paints and best of all it will wash away with water. just place you model in an ice-cream container of fluid for an hour or so then a light scrub with an old tooth brush and Jobs Done.


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"JRB1" wrote

Many years ago after following the recommendations in an article in 'Railway Modeller' I attempted to strip the factory finish from a Mainline Railways 'Jubilee' locomotive using car brake fluid. The result was a blob of melted plastic.

The moral is don't automatically assume that a process which has worked for you will be universally reliable, especially in this day and age where someone is more likely to have a lawyer than a paintbrush tucked away in their toolbox.


Reply to
John Turner

The application of the moral to everyday life suggests trying the proposed treatment on a small, preferably normally unseen, area of the object to be stripped.


Reply to
Stephen Cox

Just remember to wear gloves and follow the hazoudous chemicals disposal regime for Brake Fluid, and no I am not joking, its very nasty stuff.

Reply to
[snip Tale Of Woe]

Try brake fluid. Slow, but usually doesn't attack the plastic. Follow up with dishwashing detergent You'll also need an old toothbrush to scrub the softened paint off.

Actually, it's usually not the plastic that's attacked - it's the fillers (plasticisers) used to make the plastic tough etc and to colour it. Pure polystyrene is water clear and very, very brittle. Even the clear stuff used for CD cases etc has plasticisers added. That's why stripping paint from plastic is always a dicey proposition. Always test the stripper on a spot of unpainted plastic inside the shell.


Reply to
Wolf Kirchmeir

Here in the States, some have used a cleaning product called "Pine Sol" with no adverse effects.

It does a great job, without hurting the plastics.

Just soak the item for a few hours, wash and rinse and wash the goooey mess off with a mild soap solution (dish soap is nice), An old tooth brush is of a big help too, to clean around detail

I personally have had great success using this product and method.

Leaves you item smelling nice too.


Reply to
Papa Bear

I may be wrong but is not the brake fluid sold these days "synthetic" and doesn't strip paint ! I tried some years ago and it did absolutely nothing. The best thing for enamel type paints available in the UK seems to be Modelstrip which works really well. If its just printed numbers you want to remove try rubbing alcohol, I have used it sucessfully on Kato, Athearn and Atlas models. Just be careful.... and do a test as others have pointed out !

Chris Packman

Railway pictures website

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Reply to
Chris Packman

I've used brake fluid to strip back some Lima 44 class and a really old Lima 38 class and I had no problems with the brake fluid, it didn't damage the plastic body at all, its still the cheapest solution around


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Might the different experiences of using brake fluid be down to the type of fluid used? There are at least two types, the 'standard' Lockheed-Girling one, and a different formulation used for Citroens- IIRC (it was a long time ago when I worked in a motor factors..), the two are not compatible, and one even attacks the 'rubber' seals on the brake cylinders designed for the other. I have had some success in the past with the caustic spray-on 'mousse' type oven sprays in the Mr Muscle range. Brian

Reply to
BH Williams

There are a number of different types of brake fluid. Older types were 'glycol' based which unfortunately absorbs water and attacks paint - although this property has been used by modellers to strip paint. Modern formulations are synthetic do not absorb water or attack paint. As the following reference says in the US there are 3 main specifications DOT3 and DOT4 are glycol based DOT5 is silicon based.

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Just because a particular brand of brake fluid is 'glycol based' and thus will attack paint doesn't mean that other components in it will not affect the plastic or its filler etc as pointed out by Wolf.

If you must use brake fluid test it for a couple of hours on a part that doesn't matter.

In the past I have successfully used Model Strip or sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) (I had access to it as a Chemistry teacher) but be very very careful - wear safety goggles and disposable plastic gloves. Take even more care if you are making up your own solution of casutic soda from pellets. Add the pellets a few at a time to the water stirring with a glass or plastic rod. Wash away any spillages immediately, any splashes onto skin or clothing should be dealt with immediately with plenty of water and if the worst thing happens and some gets into your eye put your head under the tap and keep water flowing into your eye for as long as possible.


Reply to
Alan P Dawes

When using any solvent to remove printed-on decals without damging the paint, just put a drop or two on with a Q-tip and let it soften the decal. As it disintegrates, remove it carefully with a new Q-tip or a toothpick. Don't rub or the underlying paint will be damaged.

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