Re: Stripping paint

Rob Adams


Is the paint job on the tender good? Is the lettering a factory applied pad job, or is it decals with a clear coat? Is the surface area you need to correct relatively small in relation to the entire surface? Depending on the answers to these questions, the best solution may not be a complete strip and repaint.

Your scenario bears plenty of relevance for owners of brass freight cars as well. In situations where the overall paint job and most of the lettering is good, you may be able to salvage it by removing only the bogus lettering. This has many applications for changing car numerals and heralds. I've done this successfully on several models including steam locos, freight cars and waycars.

One thing that I've had success with to remove lettering is an ACC debonding product (I don't recall the manufacturer, and am at work so can't look it up at the moment). In some cases it will remove the printed factory lettering with minimal or no damage to the underlying paint. In this scenario, you can just apply decals and then clear coat the car to blend it in. Once you're done you'll probably not be able to tell that any change was made.

In other cases, the debonder will also remove the paint underneath. If that happens, don't stress! Let the area dry thoroughly and then gently feather the edges where the paint came off with 0000 steel wool. Clean the area thoroughly, and then you can mask and repaint. Matching the paint can be a challenge, but I've yet to run into a situation where I couldn't come awfully close to matching the paint whether black or some variant of freight car red/brown. (I use Scalecoat I paints on brass whenever possible and find the mixing pretty easy to pull off. Just pick up some of those disposable plastic pipettes so you can add paint a drop at a time to vary color ) Use light coats, if you do not want to have a pronounced mask line. Apply decals and then clear coat.

When the debonder will not work, then proceed to more potent chemicals, like lacquer thinner or MEK (yes, both are hazardous, and both should be handled carefully to minimize health risks, but that has been covered ad nauseum)

I've recently modified the lettering on two Railway Classics CB&Q passenger waycars, removing the factory applied roadname and herald, which I considered problematic. It took MEK, applied with a Q-tip to remove the lettering (and also the paint surrounding it). I was able to mix box car red and tuscan red to closely match the factory paint. After painting, re-lettering and clear coating, it takes a very close examination to detect that the paint job had been modifed. Best of all, the lettering is more accurate and I didn't have to repaint the entire body!

Best regards, Rob Adams

Robert Gross wrote:

I know this is the Steam Era Freight Car group, but I have question
about removing the finish from... a brass steam tender. The lettering
is an incorrect font and I would like to correct it. I was told that
the best method would be to media blast the tender, repaint it and
redecal it. The only problem I have with this scenario is the media
blasting part. Does anyone here do that kind of work? Please advise.

Robert Gross
NH 0400
Rob Adams
Wellman, IA
Modeling Keokuk, IA operations and the CB&Q's K&W branch, circa 1938

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