Using brake fluid to remove paint?

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Using brake fluid to remove paint?

Postby RobertInOntario » Jun 21st, '10, 11:00

One of my older British Tri-ang locos was originally British Railways (BR) black but about 1-2 years ago I decided to change its paint scheme or livery to apple green. I had to paint this by hand since I could not find the colour I wanted in the spray-can kind.

Long story short: I’m not pleased with my results (you can see the brush strokes & it looks amateur-ish) so I want to remove the green paint and return the loco back into its black livery.

I took this loco to my LHS and they recommended using cheap brake fluid for this. They said I should test the brake fluid on a small piece of the loco’s plastic body first to see it is causes any damage (it probably won’t) and, if it seems OK, to then soak the loco’s plastic body in the brake fluid overnight. They emphasized getting the cheaper kind of brake fluid as the more expensive kinds do not work very for this.

If this is successful, and the paint nicely dissolves overnight, I will then clean up the body and repaint the loco’s body with black spray paint. Once that’s dry, I might spray it again with a clear gloss coat. I already have the correct BR decals on hand for this.

Just checking if anyone else has done this sort of thing and if they have any further suggestions.

Thanks in advance!

Rob
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Re: Using brake fluid to remove paint?

Postby RobertInOntario » Jun 21st, '10, 11:17

OK, I see this topic has been dealt with here (viewtopic.php?f=23&t=1877&p=30197&hilit=brake+fluid#p30197) ... so I will read this other thread as well.

Hmm, from this other thread, some people have recommended using Pine-Sol. Well, we have plenty of Pine Sol at home, if my wife will let me use some! I certainly like the idea of having a clean, fresh smell being left rather than any unpleasant/toxic smells. Is Pine-Sol really that good for this?

Thanks, Rob
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Re: Using brake fluid to remove paint?

Postby doctorwayne » Jun 21st, '10, 11:48

Be careful with the brake fluid - I dissolved an Atlas S-2 switcher body using it. Methyl hydrate (you can get it at Canadian Tire or any hardware store) used to work on most paints, but doesn't touch a lot of the newer ones. Follow the precautions on the label, as you would for any such product.

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Re: Using brake fluid to remove paint?

Postby nachoman » Jun 21st, '10, 12:27

Here in the USA there are different kinds of brake fluid. DOT-3 type seems to work on athearn shells. Be careful though - don't get it in your skin. It will SEVERELY dry your skin out. I haven't used brake fluid to strip paints in a long time because I have found a better alternative - 91% rubbing alcohol (make sure it is the 91% stuff) from the drugstore. Take the model and put it in a plastic zipper bag. Pour in about 150ml of alcohol and seal the bag, trying to get as much air out of the bag as possible. Then let it sit for a day or two. After a day or two, take it out of the bag and scrub with soapy water and an old toothbrush. Most of the paint will come off. If some remains, you can put back in the bag with alcohol and repeat.
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Re: Using brake fluid to remove paint?

Postby Russ Bellinis » Jun 21st, '10, 12:50

Test any material you want to use on the inside of the shell first, to make sure it doesn't destroy the plastic. For some reason the plastic used by Kato and Atlas is very finicky about what you can use for paint remover. I know nothing about the various British or European brands. As I understand it, brake fluid is primarily denatured alcohol mixed with a little oil. I think straight denatured alcohol is a better choice than brake fluid, but that is just my opinion. A friend and I tried removing paint from some new Athearn shells and found that they have changed the formula for their paints. We tried both denatured alcohol and Pine Sol and neither one had any effect on the paint. We found that only Scale Coat Rinse Away would work on the new Athearn shells. He was looking for a less expensive alternative.
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Re: Using brake fluid to remove paint?

Postby RobertInOntario » Jun 21st, '10, 13:59

nachoman wrote:Here in the USA there are different kinds of brake fluid. DOT-3 type seems to work on athearn shells. Be careful though - don't get it in your skin. It will SEVERELY dry your skin out. I haven't used brake fluid to strip paints in a long time because I have found a better alternative - 91% rubbing alcohol (make sure it is the 91% stuff) from the drugstore. Take the model and put it in a plastic zipper bag. Pour in about 150ml of alcohol and seal the bag, trying to get as much air out of the bag as possible. Then let it sit for a day or two. After a day or two, take it out of the bag and scrub with soapy water and an old toothbrush. Most of the paint will come off. If some remains, you can put back in the bag with alcohol and repeat.


Thanks -- I like this idea of using 91% rubbing alcohol. I'll see what % mine is at home and/or visit my local drugstore. Rob
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Re: Using brake fluid to remove paint?

Postby RobertInOntario » Jun 21st, '10, 19:00

I just bought some rubbing alcohol that's 99% alcohol. We'll see how it works! Rob
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Re: Using brake fluid to remove paint?

Postby RobertInOntario » Jun 23rd, '10, 13:42

Well, I placed the loco's body into a plastic bag containing the 99% rubbing alcohol. Now, some 12 hours later, not much seems to be happening as the green paint is still intact.

I realize I'm supposed to allowtwo days but if I don't notice any improvement tomorrow, I think I should try the brake fluid?

Thanks,
Rob
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Re: Using brake fluid to remove paint?

Postby nachoman » Jun 23rd, '10, 14:05

RobertInOntario wrote:Well, I placed the loco's body into a plastic bag containing the 99% rubbing alcohol. Now, some 12 hours later, not much seems to be happening as the green paint is still intact.

I realize I'm supposed to allowtwo days but if I don't notice any improvement tomorrow, I think I should try the brake fluid?

Thanks,
Rob


Try rubbing it with your finger to see if the paint is loose. If it isn't at least loose after a day, then whatever paint is on there won't dissolve with alcohol. If it is soft and some paint rubs off on your finger, try scrubbing with an old toothbrush to remove whatever you can, and place it back in the bag to soak for longer. I would be tempted to try pine-sol next if you have some around (as it was suggested). Do you know what brand of paint is on there? The only reason not to try brake fluid is it may destroy the plastic.
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Re: Using brake fluid to remove paint?

Postby Russ Bellinis » Jun 23rd, '10, 15:31

I have found Pine Sol to soften plastic on Atlas bodies if left to soak too long. If 91% isopropel alcohol doesn't work, I would try denatured alcohol first rather than brake fluid. The denatured alcohol will only be alcohol, no oil or lubricant. My preference is to not introduce any oil to the model in the course of removing paint. If any oil is introduce to the model, it may not wash off completely before repainting.
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Re: Using brake fluid to remove paint?

Postby RobertInOntario » Jun 23rd, '10, 15:44

Russ Bellinis wrote:I have found Pine Sol to soften plastic on Atlas bodies if left to soak too long. If 91% isopropel alcohol doesn't work, I would try denatured alcohol first rather than brake fluid. The denatured alcohol will only be alcohol, no oil or lubricant. My preference is to not introduce any oil to the model in the course of removing paint. If any oil is introduce to the model, it may not wash off completely before repainting.



Thanks, Russ. Where would I find denatured alcohol? I'll consider this as a backup and will google it as well.

Rob
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Re: Using brake fluid to remove paint?

Postby BR60103 » Jun 23rd, '10, 21:26

Ron:
Denatured alcohol from any good drugstore. Find out which one: you may have methyl hydrate, methylated spirits, or they may call it wood alcohol. Maybe it's called something else. "Denatured" is a term meaning "poisoned" so you can't drink it.
I've always treated alcohols interchangeably, except for the LCBO ones which have too many additives.
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Re: Using brake fluid to remove paint?

Postby RobertInOntario » Jun 23rd, '10, 23:18

BR60103 wrote:Ron:
Denatured alcohol from any good drugstore. Find out which one: you may have methyl hydrate, methylated spirits, or they may call it wood alcohol. Maybe it's called something else. "Denatured" is a term meaning "poisoned" so you can't drink it.
I've always treated alcohols interchangeably, except for the LCBO ones which have too many additives.



Thanks, David (and Russ). I'll certainly keep this as backup plan, but it may not be necessary ...

I just checked the plastic bag containing the loco body and the paint seems to be coming off very nicely now! :D I'm really pleased about this and look forward to restoring the loco to its original condition. Hopefully, all of the apple green areas will come off and I can clean the loco up well. Then I hope to repaint it using black spray paint and finished off with some clear gloss.

The end result should look great and be a big improvement -- my previous apple green paint job showed lots of brush strokes (I couldn't find an apple green in spray paint) and looked very amateurish.

Rob
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Re: Using brake fluid to remove paint?

Postby Russ Bellinis » Jun 24th, '10, 00:02

For anyone that is interested, I've never seen denatured alcohol in a drug store, but Lowes, Home Depot, Orchard, or Ace sell it in gallons as paint thinner. I also use it to thin acrylic craft paints when I want to shoot them through the air brush.
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Re: Using brake fluid to remove paint?

Postby RobertInOntario » Jun 24th, '10, 07:56

Russ Bellinis wrote:For anyone that is interested, I've never seen denatured alcohol in a drug store, but Lowes, Home Depot, Orchard, or Ace sell it in gallons as paint thinner. I also use it to thin acrylic craft paints when I want to shoot them through the air brush.


That's great to know. We have a Home Depot literally a 5-minute walk from our house. I've bought most of my layout items (foam, plywood, glue...) from there. I'll check them out if I find I need some denatured alcohol. Rob
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