Giving a Locomotive Shell…The Dip

How my twisted mind envisions this locomotive shell reacting to my efforts to strip paint from it…

Stripping factory paint, something that sometimes you have to do when working on a project, and not one of my favourite things to do. I am working on preparing a model for the Toronto Railway Museum, and I needed to strip off a factory paint job. Normally, this is a painful and messy, but reasonably straightforward process. This locomotive, a Trueline Trains MP36 has been anything but. Normally, much like Judge Doom getting rid of troublesome toons in the dip, after a dunk in isoproyl alcohol for a day or so (often less), most of the paint normally falls right off, and the rest comes off with some scrubbing with an old toothbrush.

What I expect to happen when I Dip a shell…melting away…maybe with less maniacal glee than the Judge though…maybe… (Though I love me some maniacal Christopher Lloyd in this movie)

It became clear fairly quickly that this shell was not going to be cooperative, the paint was seriously holding on to the shell, even after a long dip, the paint would barely scrub off with a toothbrush. The reason of course, that I want to remove the factory paint is to get to clean plastic to primer and have a smooth surface for painting. Not taking the factory paint off would mean the ridges from the layers would show through the new paint, and it would mean adding even more layers of paint to the model (by my count there are at least 4 layers of paint/pad printing on this from the factory. Even after several days of being dipped and scrubbed, the paint was holding tight, and in some spots, becoming goopy as the multiple layers of paint softened at different rates. Thankfully, isoproply alcohol generally doesn’t affect the plastic so the shell itself is fine, but it meant having to break out the harsher chemicals to try and get the paint off.

Disassembling and stripping paint (or at least trying to) strip a Trueline Trains MP36.

Fortunately? I had a can of Testors Easy Lift Off that I have had for years. This however, is a much stronger and harsher chemical product for removing paint. This is not a product to mess around with, good ventilation, respirator and good gloves. In my case, outside on the patio. The good side of the bad, is that very quickly, just brushing on some ELO and waiting a few minutes, it started to move paint where the Isopropyl dip was not. It didn’t move all the paint, and frankly, once I remembered why I hated this stuff, I’m glad it did enough to get probably 90% of the paint off and moving, leaving the balance for the much less caustic isopropyl.

Progress eventually, but after having to tackle it with a much harsher stripping agent.

Its been over a week, and it still hasn’t come off with serious scrubbing. I am going to do some more, I haven’t been able to sit outside and give it a good and hopefully final scrub, but I can definitely see a finish line to the cleaning part of this project so I can prepare the few minor modifications I am going to make to the shell to be more GO Transit accurate as an MP40 instead of the MBTA MP36 it started as, it won’t be a perfect model, but the museum has been unable to source a factory GO painted locomotive at a price we could afford, vs this one, so a repainted stand in it is.

Finally, I need to find my DVD of Who Framed Roger Rabbit now and give it a watch, I think its underrated and I haven’t watched it in ages!

3 thoughts on “Giving a Locomotive Shell…The Dip

  1. I had a locomotive like that, soaked in 99% Isopropyl for months and the paint wouldn’t budge. I ended up throwing it away, but later read about other methods, including brake fluid and an air eraser. I think I’ll try an air eraser for my next strip job, you can buy them pretty cheap on Amazon or Harbor Freight.

    • Yeah, I know someone with a proper grit blasting booth, I couldn’t do that in our house, there is just no where to set up an air eraser or similar. I did try the suggestion of the other commenter, it didn’t move any paint either. I wound up doing one more small round with the ELO and primed it today, it’s about 98% not an issue with the paint left, and the problem areas are all the back of the car body where it is flat and can’t sanded/reprimed.


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