Removing factory markings?

Discussion in 'Weathering Forum' started by iis612, Dec 12, 2007.

  1. iis612

    iis612 Member

    I am working out the kinks for my new layout plans. I am using 2 parts prototype (Pere Marquette and C&O) and one part freelance BCS&E.
    Pere Marquette motive power is hard to come by, and for whatever reason, so is BCS&E.
    I will have to "make" them. I just picked up a few pieces that I need to re-letter and number. I have the decals made. How do I get rid of the old letters?
    Is there a way to do so without discoloring the tender?
    Also, since BCS&E is only 10 years old, what is an effective way of depicting a repainted second hand loco?

  2. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Depending on the model, methyl hydrate (available at hardware stores and places like Home Depot) may remove the lettering. This was actually a very effective paint stripper for older Athearn, MDC, and Train Miniature models, among others.
    It's handling does require some care, as it is easily absorbed through your skin and eyes (vapour) so you should wear rubber or plastic gloves, and some eye protection. The vapours aren't particularily good for you either, so work in a well-ventilated area. Put a little bit on a clean rag, and wipe it over the lettering once or twice. If some of the lettering is removed or gets lighter, this should work. You have to be careful not to soften the underlying paint, though, or you'll have to strip the entire car. Once you've successfully removed the lettering, wash the car in warm water and dish detergent, rinse well, and let it air dry. On many of the newer paints, methyl hydrate is not effective.
    If the first method doesn't work, PollyScale makes a product called Easy-Lift-Off, or ELO. While it's fairly expensive, it will work on many paints that methyl hydrate won't touch. I use a small brush to apply it - follow the directions and safety precautions on the can, and clean the car as with the other method.
    In extreme situations, I've also removed lettering using a chisel-style blade in an X-Acto knife. Hold the blade perpendicular to the work, with the tapered side of the blade away from you, then lightly drag the blade towards yourself, over the lettering. Don't let it tilt to the side, or the finish (or plastic) will be gouged. This method requires a deft touch, and the scraped area may look different enough from the rest of the model that a quick, light coat of paint may be required.
    Often, when removing painted or stamped lettering, the underlying paint may be damaged - I usually like to airbrush a light coat of a similar colour over the entire model, or at least the complete side where the lettering was removed.
    Depending on how well-to-do your free-lanced road is, locomotives could be completely repainted, or simply "patched", or some step between these two extremes. Here's a link to Patch procedures... - the thread deals with SP to UP patch jobs, but the techniques apply to any patch job.

  3. iis612

    iis612 Member

    I kinda figured you would have some pearls of wisdom. You are kinda my weathering hero, along with Deano.
    Do you have any examples of finished products that you have applied any, or all of these steps to?
    If you do, I would love to see one.

  4. jbaakko

    jbaakko Active Member

    90% or 91% Isopropyl should do the job. The longer you leave it on the model the more it attacks all layers of paint. What I do, is dip one end of a q-tip in the alcohol, rib it on the lettering to be removed, then flip it around and rib it a bit with the dry end. Once the model is dry, I repeat, until its clean.
    Model Railroad Tips Articles
  5. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Well, at least 90% of my rolling stock, and all of my locos have been repainted and/or re-lettered, so you could pick just about any one.

    This is a Train Miniature car that I picked up, used, for a couple of bucks. I don't recall what the roadname was, but the entire shell was immersed in methyl hydrate, and all of the paint and lettering removed. This type of paint comes off very easily, often in sheets. I used a toothbrush to remove paint from around the details. After rebuilding the car (new scratchbuilt ends, new doors, doortracks, metal step and grabs, new sidesills, and a shaved roofwalk), I airbrushed it with Floquil paint, and lettered it with dry transfers from C-D-S. Weathering was a light wash of PollyScale and some airbrushing.

    Here are a couple of "patch" jobs. GVC 6973 was formerly EG&E 6773: the "EG&E" and the first "7" in the number were painted over in a colour similar to (but not exactly the same) as the car. Then, new lettering was applied over the paint. The "9" is a different font, helping to make the "patch" more noticeable.
    GVC 6925 was formerly GVC 925, so a new "6" was added in front of the original number. Again, a different font and size, and it looks as if it was applied right over the existing dirt on the carside.

    This car is, I think, the only piece of passenger equipment that I haven't completely stripped and repainted. I added and changed some details on the ends, and added metal steps and grabirons. I then used a little ELO to remove the car number from the sides and ends, and replaced them with a new number, using dry transfers.

    This one is a Proto1000 36' Fowler boxcar that I picked up, as a body shell only, for about $2.00. The manufacturer had mis-lettered them, so anybody who turned in a mislettered one got a free replacement with the correct lettering. I picked up six of these, and would've bought 20 more had they been available, as this was a very common car, especially in Canada, for many years. While generally a nice model, I felt that the plastic grabirons were too thick, so I replaced them all with metal parts. I also made new roofwalks and roofwalk grabs, and then built new floors and underframes. The lettering wouldn't come off with either methyl hydrate or ELO, so I used the chisel blade. The original error made on the car was that there was no dimensional data, so all that I had to remove was the reporting marks and numbers. I airbrushed the entire car, including underframe, with Floquil, then used C-D-S dry transfers to letter the cars.

    here's another one:

    Here's a slightly different kind of patch job:
    You'll note that the car number is cleaner than the EG&E, and, if you look closely, you'll see an area of clean paint behind the new numbers: the original dry transfer numbers were a smaller than normal size on several of these cars, so I used a scrap of masking tape to lift the old numbers, leaving a clean "ghost" area where they had been. The new numbers were applied right over this and the dirt, too. On the right side of the car, the overspray (intentional) on the "Warriors" is to cover an area where there used to be a COTS label, which was too new for my modelling period. I simply used a chisel blade to lift it, then sprayed the entire area to look like a repair job.

    Most of my rolling stock was bought undecorated, or stripped of factory paint completely, so I don't have too many examples of "touch-ups". Most of the cars on the layout that have retained their original paint have been renumbered, just to make them a bit different from all of the other ones out there, and of course, had a few other modifications. Methyl hydrate worked in most instances to remove the original numbers.

  6. iis612

    iis612 Member

    Thanks Wayne,
    It is always a thrill to see your work.

    Jbaako, I had read about that method somewhere as well. I have not tried it, but I have heard that it can soften plastic? Any experience with that?

  7. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    Patching styles vary tremendously, as explained here: Freelancing - HobbyWiki None of these are from the 40s era, though. Diesels were so new that you wouldn't be getting them used, and most roads' steam engines were black, making patching probably less obvious.
  8. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    Some manufacturer's lettering is erasable. I'm not kidding. I have successfully removed the paint from Athearn & MDC stuff with a pencil eraser.

    Also, the new Bachmann 2-8-4 ought to make nice PM power...[​IMG]

    But, I noticed that at least on their british website (which has a much better menu than the american site)...the show their version of 1225 have the domes in the common order (like C&O engines)...but this is incorrect for the 1225...which had them in the reversed order (like NKP engines). Still, it's cheap PM power. Just switch the dome order, or pick up a PM tender for and NKP engine....both used the R22 class tenders.
  9. iis612

    iis612 Member

    I am going to try a few techniques on an old tender I have. I will post results when I have them.
  10. iis612

    iis612 Member

    I have a tender that used to belong to a bachmann spectrum consolidation. The loco met an untimely demise when a rather heavy box landed on it.
    The tender is marked as a UP unit.
    I am going to re-letter it for my freelance road.
    Saginaw, Flint & Eastern.
    I will post pictures when I have them, and I will offer some insight into the techniques that I used and what worked well, what didn't, etc. etc.
  11. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    I have the same tender (and the loco, too) Methyl hydrate wouldn't remove the tender lettering, so I used the E-L-O, which also damaged the paint under the lettering, enough so that it would've shown through a new paint job. I used more E-L-O to remove the balance of the factory paint from the sides and ends, and managed to avoid lousing up the paint on the tender deck. Tender and loco are awaiting a major rebuild. ;)

  12. iis612

    iis612 Member

    Alright, here it is... Kinda

    I started with a clean, untouched tender.
    The first method I used was a Q-tip dipped in 85% isopropyl alcohol. I used one end to wet the lettering and the dry end to rub it. It did nothing to the lettering visually. I noticed that it was having an effect on the black paint. I used my fingernail to scrape some of the paint away, but it was not terribly effective.
    Finally I used an exacto with a new #17 chisel blade. It gouged the side of the tender, as shown.

    My next plan of attack is to weather it as it is then "patch" the SF&E over it.

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  13. iis612

    iis612 Member

    I went to my LHS to get some E-L-O. The owner looked at me like I was smoking crack. He said he had never heard of it. I don't put any faith in what this guy has to say though. He told me he had nothing in stock lettered for Pere Marquette, and I found a few items, including a really nice USRA mike.
  14. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Try some very fine wet/dry sandpaper - 400 to 600 grit. Cut a tiny sanding block that will fit between the rivets. Even such fine paper will ruin the rivet detail (don't ask how I know hamr). Glue or tightly wrap a bit of the sandpaper to your block, and use the paper slightly wet.

    If you go slow, by the time you remove the lettering, put the new name on, and weather the tender, any errant removal efforts will not show.

    Also - if you need to use a chisel tip blade to remove any details, you can round the edges with a file so the pointed corners don't "catch" as easily in the plastic.

  15. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Part of the problem with trying to remove lettering on this, and many other manufacturers' products, is that the paint used for the lettering is much more durable than the paint used as the main body colour. I've had bodyshells that I've soaked in a container of methyl hydrate, and when they were removed from the container, the lettering remained while all of the body colour was removed. :eek: That was before I discovered E-L-O, and repeated soaking and scrubbing with a toothbrush finally removed the lettering - I think that it broke up as the body colour that it was applied over broke apart from the edges inward.
    If you do manage to locate the E-L-O, don't immerse the shell in it, as some plastics can be damaged by prolonged exposure. I apply some with an old brush only on the lettering, let it sit for a few minutes, then scrub it with a toothbrush. It may take repeated applications to complete the removal. If I need to leave the job for any length of time, I dip the shell into my container of methyl hydrate and scrub away any E-L-O. I believe the instuctions on the can call for a soap and water wash. Work in a well-ventilated place, too, as this is a potentially dangerous chemical.

  16. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    If you're going to use sandpaper, try to feather the sanded area into the unsanded part of the original paint, so the sanded area almost disappears under the new coat of paint. If you're re-lettering the same area after repainting, this will further help to hide the sanded area.

    Andrew's suggestion for rounding the corners of the #17 blade will help to reduce gouging, but make sure that you're using the proper side of the blade, too. For removing lettering, first try scraping with the blade: to do this, hold the handle of the knife almost vertical at one end of the lettering to be removed - the bevelled edge of the blade should be facing away from the lettering, and the top of the knife's handle should be slightly over top of the lettering to be removed. Drag the blade in the direction that the handle is leaning, keeping a light but even pressure downward, and try not to tilt the blade to either side.
    Many people also use the chisel blade incorrectly when "chiselling", although these blades are pretty light to be doing actual chiselling. Most of the time, these blades are used to shave cast-on details from plastic models. For this work, the blade should be sharp, and because styrene plastic dulls blades quickly, either sharpened or replaced frequently. A few passes over a whetstone will keep the blade sharp and is cheaper than new blades.
    I often remove the corners of the blade using a cut-off disk in a Dremel tool. To do this, lightly touch the side of the disk to the area to be removed. I also use the disk to make chisel blades narrow enough to fit between details that I don't want to damage. To do this, use the disk as a cutter, and don't overheat the blade as you work.
    To shave details from plastic, the blade is pushed, with the bevelled side facing down and against the work. The face of the bevel should be parallel to the work, so adjust the angle at which you hold the handle accordingly. Unless the detail to be removed is very low-relief, several light passes are preferrable to one heavy pass, and offer less chance of gouging. Do not try this with the bevel facing up, as the tip will tend to draw itself deeper and deeper into the material being removed, eventually digging into the surface that you didn't want to gouge. :eek:

  17. jbaakko

    jbaakko Active Member

    Only when soaking the whole unit to remove all the paint, and the plastic hardened up perfectly afterwards, no residual damage.

    The rubbing Alcohol is your cheapest & best bet.

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