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Recently opened a box of my Lionel trains and found many of the plastic cars covered with a thin layer of mold. Any ideas on how to remove the mold without damaging or scarring the surface or paint on the cars? Thanks
 

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Dawn dish soap in some warm water, it should wipe right off. Use a soft rag to gently wash them.
Take care around any lettering.
Blow dry with a hair dryer, just warm air.
 

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Dawn dish soap in some warm water, it should wipe right off. Use a soft rag to gently wash them.
Take care around any lettering.
Blow dry with a hair dryer, just warm air.
Thnak you Big Ed. I'll give it a try and let you know how it turn out. Thanks again for the quick response.
 

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What works good is an old toothbrush with soft bristles. You can get into the crevices. Old toothbrushes come in handy for other things, I save all mine and boil them, then I put them in with my trains cleaning supplies. Q tips, cotton balls, and some toothpicks go in there too.
Like I said just take care around lettering and decals.
 

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What works good is an old toothbrush with soft bristles. You can get into the crevices. Old toothbrushes come in handy for other things, I save all mine and boil them, then I put them in with my trains cleaning supplies. Q tips, cotton balls, and some toothpicks go in there too.
Like I said just take care around lettering and decals.
Big Ed,
Sorry it took so long to get back to you, lots going on. I tried the Dawn/tooth brush approach and while it helped it didn't resolve the problem. Attached are a couple pictures. The mold almost seems to have scared the finish. I'm currently at a loss. Any additional suggestions or ideas would be greatly appreciated. If anyone else has an idea, jump aboard.
Thanks
 

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Railroad Tycoon
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Big Ed,
Sorry it took so long to get back to you, lots going on. I tried the Dawn/tooth brush approach and while it helped it didn't resolve the problem. Attached are a couple pictures. The mold almost seems to have scared the finish. I'm currently at a loss. Any additional suggestions or ideas would be greatly appreciated. If anyone else has an idea, jump aboard.
Thanks
Pictures are always nice to show what you have.
I thought you were talking about a mold.
This deposit your showing is probably a mold release compound that was infused into the plastic when produced and is coming to the surface. A common problem on plastic trains from the 50's.
If it is mold release compound, it can be removed by warming the parts with a hot hair dryer. The mold release compound will melt, and can be wiped away with a clean soft rag.
It may take a while, do small areas. Don't try to heat the whole shell at once and wipe.
You have to be careful to use enough heat to melt the compound without damaging the shell.
A heat gun will work better, but watch the temperature, you don't want it too hot.
Let us know what happens.
 

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Thank you again Ed. I thought it was plain old ugly mold. I'll try the hair dryer and hopefully it works. I'll let you know.
Thanks
 

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Afraid they give your trains the virus :giggle:
Ha Ha Ha yes, I don't want to infect my trains.
I boil them to get all the crud out of them. No toothbrush gets tossed in my house. And sometimes after I use one, I boil it again to get all the wax or grease out of them and use them again.
I have even tried applying paint to plaster mountains with a toothbrush. It worked good in spots depending on the area and technique you use.
And...........it is a "brush".:)
 

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A toothbrush works great for smaller areas and the price can not be beat. For larger areas I have had good results with Harbor Freights KRAUSE & BECKER chip brushes. They are pretty soft and bristles will bend before applying to much pressure. + They are reasonably priced. I use the 1" brush but there are 2" , 3", 4" brushes available as well.
 

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A toothbrush works great for smaller areas and the price can not be beat. For larger areas I have had good results with Harbor Freights KRAUSE & BECKER chip brushes. They are pretty soft and bristles will bend before applying to much pressure. + They are reasonably priced. I use the 1" brush but there are 2" , 3", 4" brushes available as well.
On a different note ... I used this kit from Harbor Freight ($5 w/coupon). I had some mandrels so all three wheels are mounted. I took an old drill and clamped it to a small workbench. For brass and nickel parts, the jeweler's compound on the small wheels will remove tarnish and light scratches. Then the large wheel to buff to a shine Great results. One warning - be sure your nickel parts a pure nickel. If they're plated, the nickel will wear through to the underlying copper. An example, Lionel prewar nickel journals.

544028
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Pictures are always nice to show what you have.
I thought you were talking about a mold.
This deposit your showing is probably a mold release compound that was infused into the plastic when produced and is coming to the surface. A common problem on plastic trains from the 50's.
If it is mold release compound, it can be removed by warming the parts with a hot hair dryer. The mold release compound will melt, and can be wiped away with a clean soft rag.
It may take a while, do small areas. Don't try to heat the whole shell at once and wipe.
You have to be careful to use enough heat to melt the compound without damaging the shell.
A heat gun will work better, but watch the temperature, you don't want it too hot.
Let us know what happens.

Ed and everyone else that made recommendations on removing mold or what ever it was from a 1950s Lionel tender. I tried most of the ideas that were offered and found some helped but only mildly. Looking on Ebay I found a similar tender so I figured what the hell, if I destroy my tender I can always buy a new one. I used rubbing compound, WD-40 and a lot of elbow grease and it worked, at least to my satisfaction. I've included before and after pictures. Again, thank you for all the suggestions. Stay Well!
 

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Looks great, if you like the shiny look try some pledge furniture polish on it.
A lot use it after they wipe the dust off the plastic.
If you do, just make sure you wipe it off good with a soft rag.
 

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Yes, I'd say that was pretty bad mold. After cleaning numerous cars over the years that had mold, this is the process I use. First I clean the car with some dish soap in water and a used soft bristle tooth brush. I then dry the car with a hand towel, and then further let it air dry 24 hours. This will not get all of the mold off, but it does thoroughly dry it out, which I believe kills or makes it inactive. All of the areas of mold will end up looking snowy white after cleaning and drying, and it usually looks worse than before you started!

Instead of WD-40 or furniture polish, I use Armor All. In a bad case, I spray it on and again use an old toothbrush to get it in all the cracks and crevices. After everything has been covered, in the worst cases I use my fingernail to scrape as much of the mold spots off as I can. The Armor All seems to dissolve the dried mold residue. Finally, I wipe off most of the excess Armor All. You can get the rest to make a thin luster coat by using the toothbrush to work it around until the car no longer looks wet, but has a nice luster to the paint. The last part is what's really amazing - you might end up with areas of paint that look discolored - particularly on lighter paint colors, or tuscan red. The spot might look very light, like the mold ate into the paint, or permanently discolored it. However, much to my surprise, those spots always go back to the original paint color over time. I'm not sure what's happening here, but it seems to always happen.

Next time I clean a car with mold, I'm going to take pictures to document this, but I've had some cars with a fair amount of mold (seems to always be on the roof of boxcars) that were brought back to like new from a terrible state.
 

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After everything has been covered, in the worst cases I use my fingernail to scrape as much of the mold spots off as I can.
As I am deathly allergic to mold I use a dental impliment from Harbor freight to get into the cracks and crevices The set of 5 or 6 is 2.99 a small price to pay versus getting sick!
My buck 298's worth!
Stay Healthy !
 

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As I am deathly allergic to mold I use a dental impliment from Harbor freight to get into the cracks and crevices The set of 5 or 6 is 2.99 a small price to pay versus getting sick!
My buck 298's worth!
Stay Healthy !
Great tip. I tend to avoid using anything metal on the plastic shells for fear of scratching the paint. Most of the time I just do my best with my fingernail. I find it works to liberally apply the Armor All, and then use my fingernail to scrape areas while they are wet. That prevents any mold from becoming airborne.
 
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