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Stripping paint on plastic models

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  • Member since
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Stripping paint on plastic models
Posted by dbhone on Friday, November 10, 2017 11:00 AM

I'm going to repaint a steam loco with a plastic shell and tender and want tips on best methods and stuff to use for stripping off the exisiting paint.

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Posted by dstarr on Friday, November 10, 2017 12:41 PM

It can get tricky.  Chemically speaking, paint is closely related to plastic.  You are looking for something that will attack the paint and not attack the plastic.  I have used 91% alcohol with some success.  Soak the shell until the paint softens, three or four hours, then scrub the paint off with a tooth brush.  Don't leave the shell in the alcohol any longer than necessary.  Others have used automotive brake fluid, but some say it makes the plastic brittle.  I haven't tried it.  There is a commercial product called EasyLiftOff, which I have not used either. 

   I have repainted a goodly number of plastic models without stripping the old paint.  They turned out OK. 

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Posted by barrok on Friday, November 10, 2017 1:15 PM

I use Scalecoat 2 wash away.  Stuff is fantastic! Leave it in the stripper and the paint literally falls off.  Plus, the stripper is reuseable -- simply pour it through some type of strainer to catch any paint debris and pour it back into the bottle.  I have stripped dozens of freight cars with this stuff.

Image result for scalecoat 2 stripper

Modeling the Motor City
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Posted by chutton01 on Friday, November 10, 2017 3:46 PM

I have to strip paint from time to time, so generally I try 91% isopropyl alcohol first, and when I am firmly convinced that won't work (which it seems happens most of the time), I switch to the aforementioned Testors Easy Lift Off (ELO), which I have been using for years. Even ELO reused over and over works - recently in preparation for a project, I stripped the paint from an Athearn Blue Box gondola (must be from the 1980s) let it soak in the (heavily used) ELO for a number of hours, and the paint seemed to dissolve, revealing the black raw styerene body shell for the most part - yeah, I had to do some scrubbing, but not much.  The shell wasn't absolutely pristine (it had been painted for 30+ years after all), but was smooth enough to work with.

OTOH, I have some toy truck cabs from some third-rate manufacturer I'd like to strip the crudy looking paint off, but said paint just laughed at Alcohol and ELO. I hesitate to use the nuclear Easy-Off Oven Cleaner on plastic, as I once did that on some Woodland scenics figures and they just distorted/ballooned up. OTOH, Easy-Off works OK on metal parts as you would expect.

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Posted by BigDaddy on Friday, November 10, 2017 6:39 PM

dstarr
I have used 91% alcohol with some success. Soak the shell until the paint softens, three or four hours

I have had success with that, but not in 3 or 4 hours. That is just the start.

Some people use denatured alcohol.  It has methanol or other agents in it which are not skin safe, as they can be adsorbed.  Wear gloves.

 
 

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by mbinsewi on Friday, November 10, 2017 9:05 PM

I've never used, or heard of this ScaleCoat II.  I've used everything that has been suggested in many threads on many railroad forums.  I have to give this stuff a try.

Mike.

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Posted by zstripe on Friday, November 10, 2017 10:14 PM

I would be curious to know what the chemical properties are with a VOC's rating of 99%.....Volitale Organic Compounds. That is pretty high....sounds like it has Ammonium Carbonate in it...vapors are harmful in large doses.

Take Care! Big Smile

Frank

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Posted by gmpullman on Saturday, November 11, 2017 1:10 PM

zstripe
I would be curious to know what the chemical properties are with a VOC's rating of 99%

Any of the alcohols are also nearly 100% VOC

https://www.generalgraphic.com/msdsisop.htm

Generally, if it evaporates quickly it has a high VOC. Whatever is in the "Wash Away" they keep it a pretty good secret. I can't even find a MSDS on it.

Acetone is an exempt VOC:

http://www.paintcenter.org/rj/mar05c.cfm

Regards, Ed

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Posted by cedarwoodron on Saturday, November 11, 2017 1:37 PM

I've mentioned this product before in posts, so I'll repeat it here: Super Clean- in a purple bottle- is a very mild and highly effective, not to mention ECONOMICAL solution for stripping paint off styrene models.

I have used it on new and decades-old models effectively. Soak for 12 hrs, then use an old toothbrush to clean out paint remaining in crevices.

Available in a large 2 liter purple bottle at Wal Mart.

Cedarwoodron

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Posted by zstripe on Saturday, November 11, 2017 7:08 PM

gmpullman
Generally, if it evaporates quickly it has a high VOC. Whatever is in the "Wash Away" they keep it a pretty good secret. I can't even find a MSDS on it.

ED,

I could not find any MSDS on it either, but I still would be leary about using it. I did notice that what I could read about the instructions....it did not say to soak it, just to put a coating on it and rinse off.

I'll stick to lacquer thinner for metal and DNA for plastics or even simple green, it has DNA in it. Denatured Alcohol Marine stove fuel is what I use...have not harmed at plastic shells/trailers in all the yrs. I have been using it.

I see that the Scalecoat stripper has not been out very long.

https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/technical-overview-volatile-organic-compounds

 

Take Care! Big Smile 

Frank

BTW: I love Your Huletts......If I was younger, I would redo the layout just for them.

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Posted by gmpullman on Sunday, November 12, 2017 1:54 AM

zstripe
I'll stick to lacquer thinner for metal and DNA for plastics

Hi, Frank

I use DNA in my track cleaning operations, too.

I used to use 99% Isopropyl since they would throw away gallon jugs of it at work! Yep. Past its expiration date, out it goes. I've nearly used up all of that so I buy the denatured at the big-box.

Sometimes I forget to shut the needle valve on the CMX tank and the track gets soaked in the stuff. As long as I let it evaporate on its own, no harm done.

Thanks for the kudos on the HulettsCool Around the Cleveland area there were about twenty of the monsters within a fifty-mile radius. Ten in Cleveland alone. Lots of fun to watch.

Regards, Ed

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Posted by Jumijo on Sunday, November 12, 2017 9:15 AM

zstripe

 

 
gmpullman
Generally, if it evaporates quickly it has a high VOC. Whatever is in the "Wash Away" they keep it a pretty good secret. I can't even find a MSDS on it.

 

ED,

I could not find any MSDS on it either, but I still would be leary about using it. I did notice that what I could read about the instructions....it did not say to soak it, just to put a coating on it and rinse off.

I'll stick to lacquer thinner for metal and DNA for plastics or even simple green, it has DNA in it. Denatured Alcohol Marine stove fuel is what I use...have not harmed at plastic shells/trailers in all the yrs. I have been using it.

I see that the Scalecoat stripper has not been out very long.

https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/technical-overview-volatile-organic-compounds

 

Take Care! Big Smile 

Frank

BTW: I love Your Huletts......If I was younger, I would redo the layout just for them.

 

 

So de-natured alcohol (DNA) will NOT harm plastic? It's safe for stripping paint off off a plastic shell?

Modeling the Baltimore waterfront in HO scale

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Posted by KenA on Sunday, November 12, 2017 11:13 AM

I tend to do things in the wrong order....(sigh)

Does anyone know if any of these strippers work OK if I have already used putty (squadron white in my case) to patch over some stuff before I decided to strip the paint?

 

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Posted by Jumijo on Monday, November 13, 2017 8:32 AM

Is de-natured alcohol (DNA) safe to use for stripping paint off off a plastic shell? Yes or no?

Modeling the Baltimore waterfront in HO scale

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Posted by zstripe on Monday, November 13, 2017 9:00 AM

[quote user="Jumijo"]

Is de-natured alcohol (DNA) safe to use for stripping paint off off a plastic shell? Yes or no?

Jumijo.

Yes.....

I have been using it for about 20yrs. and it has not damaged any plastic shells, train/trucks in all that time. I pour some in a pie tin and brush on with a stiff artist flat brush, tooth brush will also work. After a few minutes the paint will start to wrinkle, then I brush that away and add more solvent until shell paint has been removed, then wash with warm water with a little detergent added....rinse off.....ready for paint. I don't bother to save or strain, just throw away.

The kind I use......:

https://www.menards.com/main/paint-stain-cleaners/thinners-solvents/sunnyside-reg-denatured-alcohol-thinner-1-gal/p-1444444212510.htm

Comes in quarts also.

The trailers in the pic' are plastic, Herpa, Walthers, CMW, were all stripped of paint with DNA. The tractor is metal from CMW and I used lacquer thinner to strip that.

 

The trailer in the top left of pic' is a CMW with all the paint stripped off. The tractor below it is a metal CMW truck with paint stripped with lacquer thinner.

  

Take Care! Big Smile
Frank 

 

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Posted by tin can on Monday, November 13, 2017 9:55 AM

cedarwoodron

I've mentioned this product before in posts, so I'll repeat it here: Super Clean- in a purple bottle- is a very mild and highly effective, not to mention ECONOMICAL solution for stripping paint off styrene models.

I have used it on new and decades-old models effectively. Soak for 12 hrs, then use an old toothbrush to clean out paint remaining in crevices.

Available in a large 2 liter purple bottle at Wal Mart.

Cedarwoodron

 

Super Clean works for me as well.

Remember the tin can; the MKT's central Texas branch...
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Posted by wjstix on Monday, November 13, 2017 10:05 AM

dbhone

I'm going to repaint a steam loco with a plastic shell and tender and want tips on best methods and stuff to use for stripping off the exisiting paint.

 
If this is a factory painted model, just removing the lettering with Solvaset and a rubber pencil eraser and then painting over it might be all you need to do. If the paint on the engine is a thin, even layer, you often can get by without removing it.
Stix
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Posted by E-L man tom on Monday, November 13, 2017 10:28 AM

I've used Pine Sol on an Athearn blue box locomotive shell, and on an old Tyco caboose shell. Had to soak it over night, but old Athearn, as well as Tyco have very thick coats of paint on them. I tried 91% isopropyl alcohol on them and it didn't even touch the paint, even with soaking for several days and hard scrubbing.

I am, however, intrigued by the Scalecoat product, as previously mentioned. Sounds like a good alternative. So too, the denatured alcohol (if that's not the same thing as isopropyl), I will try on my next paint stripping project.

Tom Modeling the free-lanced Toledo Erie Central switching layout.
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Posted by Run Eight on Wednesday, November 15, 2017 12:59 PM

Has anyone had success, in using this product on the last production runs of MDC Roundhouse Kits, that used colored plastic (s), to match a freight car decorated color, with letter stamped on in a different color.

I have one of the 40'0" XM's, for AC&Y, a extra of the twin, which I had attempted to strip the letter, in soaking in the old stand by, automotive hydraulic brake fluid.

After a 24 hour soaking, it did not even put a dent in the lettering.

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Posted by zstripe on Wednesday, November 15, 2017 3:46 PM

Run Eight
After a 24 hour soaking, it did not even put a dent in the lettering.

I've run across that type of lettering also......It appears it is some type of laser printing that sort of burns into the paint and plastic......The only way I have found to remove it, is with lacquer thinner.....but You really DO NOT want to use that on plastic. Projects with that type of lettering, I have primered first with Automotive Acrylic enamel primer....it is a solvent lacquer based primer with acrylic polymer pigments.....safe on plastic's.....best used with an air-brush.

Take Care! Big Smile

Frank

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