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Painting, detailing and decaling Tips, techniques, and discussions about painting, detailing or decaling rolling stock or scenery.

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Old 06-20-2017, 08:39 PM   #11
traction fan
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West Striping paint and an airbrush

Originally Posted by Big_Steve View Post
Bought a War Bonnet N scale loco. Am trying to convert it to a SP Black Widow. Started out by painting it black acrylic with a brush. Not happy with how that looks. How can I remove the paint without damaging the shell, so I can start over? It's a Kato F7 A

Also, I'm not artistic at all. If I bought an airbrush set, are the enclosed instructions good enough to get a newb off to a decent start?

You didn't mention what brand the model was. Many manufacturers use alcohol based paint. I have had good success removing all the paint, right down to bare plastic, using 70-90% alcohol in an ultrasonic cleaner. If you don't have a cleaner, soaking the model in strong alcohol and using an old toothbrush to scrub it may work. I have used a household cleaner called "Soft Scrub" to remove some non-alcohol based paints. Painting models with a hand brush makes it much more difficult to get a smooth finish. It can be done, but an airbrush makes the job a lot easier.
As for an airbrush, I highly recommend one sold by The photo shows this brush. It's very simple and very inexpensive. It also is equipped with several paint jars, which makes color changes a snap (literally) and is super simple to clean. Most of the cost of an airbrush set is the compressor, not the brush itself. If you don't already have a compressor, harbor freight sells them too. They also sell ultrasonic cleaners. That would be handy if you plan to do a lot of stripping and re-painting. TIP: A cardboard center roll from paper towels makes a good loco shell holder. Just scrunch it enough to fit inside the shell, and hold the other end while painting.

good luck;

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Old 06-20-2017, 09:00 PM   #12
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Admittedly, most of my experience with acrylics is with Folk Art and Americana brands... you know, the ones that are 50 cents a bottle?
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Old 06-21-2017, 01:38 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Shdwdrgn View Post
Admittedly, most of my experience with acrylics is with Folk Art and Americana brands... you know, the ones that are 50 cents a bottle?
Hence my reference to using good quality paints....

Paint is like tools -- good quality stuff is an investment that pays for itself many times over.
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Old 06-21-2017, 06:11 PM   #14
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West Lacquer Thiner?

Originally Posted by sachsr1 View Post
To remove the paint you could try an acrylic thinner or reducer it should leave the plastic alone. I use Createx Hi performance reducer to remove acrylic weathering between Dullcote layers . Since you're painting the loco you probably don't care about the base paint coat. You could try a lacquer thinner to take it down to the plastic. I think some people use 90% alcohol in an ultrasonic cleaner to strip it down to the plastic.

Airbrushing isn't hard, but it's not easy to explain via the internet. There are good cheap airbrushes out there, but they can take a little experience to diagnose problems. Harbor Freight sells cheap airbrushes, but if you've never airbrushed they can be frustrating if they have issues out of the box. If you want a great airbrush, and money isn't a big issue you can't go wrong with the Iwata Eclipse at Hobby Lobby (about $140 with 40% coupon). They also have the Neo for Iwata that's about $40 after the coupon. I have both brushes and use both of them on a regular basis. Both of these brushes are double action which means the air and paint are controlled separately. You can also get a good single action brush like the Badger 350 which is one button, but lacks paint flow control. This makes it easier to use when you first start out. I'm not against cheap Chinese airbrushes (I own 4 of them), but they can be frustrating if you've never airbrushed before.
Airbrushing is all about getting the paint viscosity and air pressure to match up. I would recommend starting off with airbrush ready paints. Most hobby shops sell them ready to spray. This will help you avoid the problem of not thinning the paint correctly. If you choose to thin your own paints you want it the consistency of skim milk. You can use store bought thinners or water depending on your paint choice. Some people like to thin acrylic paints with Windex, soap, or alcohol. I would avoid using the cheap Walmart acrylic paints when you start out. They can be finicky through an airbrush which will add to your beginner struggles.

There are a TON of tutorials on airbrushing, and it's a great tool to have on your work bench.

All excellent paint stripping advice, except the lacquer thinner. Lacquer thinner attacks plastic. I'm one of the people you mentioned who uses alcohol in an ultrasonic cleaner. That works very well and does indeed get down to bare plastic, on many paints. One day I accidentally loaded the cleaner with lacquer thinner, instead of alcohol. The plastic shells of a steam loco, and its tender, were completely dissolved! Major mistake on my part.


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Old 06-21-2017, 09:28 PM   #15
Never Get Old
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Never underestimate the value of plain old oven cleaner for stripping tough paint. After trying other things like 90% rubbing alcohol, and ruining one previous project with an acetone and alcohol mixture that instantly destroyed the plastic, I went online looking for other ideas.

I recently used plain old Easy Off in the yellow can to strip some Con-Cor passenger cars and a locomotive shell. I sealed them in a ziplock bag, sprayed in the over cleaner, squished it around, and left it outside overnight. The next day the paint was gone almost 100%. It didn't soften the plastic shells at all, didn't cloud the clear plastic windows, and didn't even dissolve the ziplock bag. It's just lye I think, and it doesn't seem to attack plastic. It's no more hazardous than cleaning an actual oven - don't inhale it, get it on your skin, etc. Doing it outside in a ziplock helps a lot. When you open the bag, get rid of the cleaner by washing the shells under cold water and air dry them. I used a soft toothbrush under the running water to get into little nooks and crannies for the last specks of paint.

So then I got an idea for the grease stain on my wooden deck. Yep, Easy Off got rid of that too and left a nice clean surface to repaint.

I am a complete noob to my airbrush, but it has been going very well for the past 6-8 months. After much research and asking on online forums, I ended up with an Iwata Revolution that is incredibly easy to use. It will even work with the 99 cent "multi-surface" acrylics from the local craft store for weathering my rolling stock and locomotives. That acrylic "multi-surface" paint sticks to everything I have tried it on, and it cleans up with water, at least until it dries. Just thin them with a little Windex and a little distilled water until the consistency of milk, test on a paper towel, and then test on something plastic first like a junk box car.

The Iwata Revolution isn't cheap, but it's also not going to bust the bank at $94 for a tool that will last almost forever if cared for. The large cup top feed Revolution is easy to use and easy to clean. The compressor is one that has a cooling fan in it for prolonged life. It was $80. It's also quiet.



and a quick release coupling:

and DO NOT forget the cleaner:

I have the luxury of airbrushing an in air conditioned environment, so the moisture trap on the compressor is sufficient for me. If you plan to paint in any humidity, you will need an inline moisture trap too. They are not expensive.

Total cost $200 and I love this thing to death. I'd highly recommend it to anyone like me who has never airbrushed anything before. I also picked up the Model Railroader "Basic Painting and Weathering" book. A few YouTube videos taught me how to clean the airbrush properly, and away I went! Don't be a chicken like I was if $200 is in your hobby budget. For comparison, how much does a nice DCC locomotive cost these days? $200 compared to some other things we buy isn't that much really. I think fear of the unknown is a bigger factor, at least it was for me.

Then you have to learn to apply decals properly, which is a different topic.

-Never Get Old

Last edited by Never Get Old; 06-22-2017 at 12:37 AM..
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