Tutorial – Stripping Paint from Resin

This tutorial is not going to be an in-depth guide into all the of the possible products and techniques used to strip paint from resin. Rather, I’m going to approach this tutorial through detailing my experiences on how I got the job done.

Background

A while back I had painted a Panzer IV D using the Battlefront German Armour Army Spray. Through inexperience I sprayed on the paint too thick; enough to ‘clog up’ the detail on the model. At the time I didn’t realise this had occurred and so I continued to work with it, oblivious to this fact. Later, I used this model as a test piece for applying camouflage patterns using an airbrush. I wasn’t happy with the results and so I decided to strip the paint away and start over. So after reading on the Internet about some disaster stories with using paint strippers that melted the resin, I began experimenting into how to strip the paint without affecting the resin.

Experimentation

Firstly I read about using a product called “Simple Green”. After looking on their product homepage I found that there were multiple products and that the “Simple Green” referred to the manufacturer. After more research I still couldn’t pinpoint which item of the “Simple Green” product line that everyone was referencing. So I grabbed the most readily available Simple Green product which happened to be the Glass Cleaner. I figured, at the time, that even if this didn’t work I still could use the product around the house. I filled up a plastic take away container and put the Panzer IVD, minus the metal component, in solution. I ensured that all surfaces were submerged and closed the lid. I then left it in for around three days, pulled it out and gave it a scrub with a toothbrush, no good.

So I figured that the Simple Green Glass Cleaner wasn’t what everyone was using and instead I repeated the process with the Simple Green All Purpose Cleaner. I read that after a day people were able to take the painted resin out and the paint would be soft and easily scrubbed off. Unfortunately this did not occur for me. I put it back in and left it soak for a week and the paint was still as hard as the day it was sprayed on. This confounded me somewhat as everywhere I had read people were having a lot of success with this. And so I let it soak for three weeks. Much to my chagrin when I removed the Panzer nothing had changed. After this long I had expected the paint to have melted away!

After more research into paint stripping techniques I read about using Brake Fluid and so I thought I would give it a shot. I went to the local automotive shop and found that yet again I had another product dilemma. Car brake fluid is sold in DOT 3, DOT 4, and DOT 5 forms. Once again this point was not referenced in the online paint stripping guides. At the time, being completely ignorant of what these measures were referencing I selected the middle option and purchased a DOT 4 Brake Fluid. For safety and cleanliness concerns I used a glass jar to hold the brake fluid and then put the Panzer in to soak. Having recently experienced less than promising results I left it in the brake fluid for over a week. When I pulled it out yet again I was disappointed to find that, after washing the pieces in water, the paint simply didn’t scrub off with a toothbrush. However I noticed that something was different about the paint on the tank. It had actually lifted off the underlying resin but had still maintained its integrity. So I got a scalpel and started to pick away at the paint. To my delight I found it very easy to lift off entire clumps of paint from the resin without scratching or damaging the detail. In under five minutes I had a cleanly stripped tank that looked like it had never been painted. The paint didn’t even get stuck in the recesses and detail, it lifted off cleanly.

For the painted metal component I placed them in a glass “jam” jar half full of an industrial paint stripper that comes in a gel form. Before I go on I must stress that you use gloves; not latex gloves but leather/tough garden type gloves when handling this product. It will melt latex and if it hits your skin it will give you chemical burns. If it does touch your skin wash it off ASAP, don’t mess about with it. The paint stripper worked really quickly, I gave the glass jar a shake and saw the paint literally melt off. I left it for an hour and then gave it another shake and it was done. I got the pieces out using running water to wash the paint stripping gel away and then put the pieces in some water to soak for an hour. Once this was done I cleaned them with washing up detergent and I had some clean and shiny metal components, ready to assembled and painted again.

Afterthoughts

I suspect that the reason that I had such difficulty in removing the paint was two-fold. Firstly I was using the spray can version of the paint. I won’t use this ever again as I now use an airbrush of which I am getting some really nice results with. I suspect that the paint that comes from the spray is of a thicker consistency and a different make-up from the normal acrylic paint that is used in the paint pots. Secondly, it was the fact that I had sprayed the paint on so thick which completely negated any effect that the Simple Green might have had.

For those that are curious the DOT measure for brake fluid is the Department Of Transportation rating for the fluid. It measures the boiling point ranges of the brake fluid when both dry and wet (contaminated with water). The higher the DOT rating the higher the temperature at which the brake fluid is rated to boil. In order to achieve these ratings manufacturers will use different compounds in the fluid: DOT 3 are based on Glycol and Glycol Esters, DOT 4 contains the same but are combined with Borate Esters, DOT 5 utilises Borate Esters. You can use the DOT 3 Brake Fluid because it’s the Glycol Esters that are acting as the solvent to strip the paint. I recommend doing so as it is cheaper than DOT 4 brake fluids.

Conclusion

If you’re having trouble with standard techniques for stripping paint from resin go soak it in DOT 3 Brake Fluid. For myself, I’m simply going to cut out the middle man and go straight to using the Brake Fluid technique.

I hope that this was helpful and that it saves you some time in the future.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Tutorial and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Tutorial – Stripping Paint from Resin

  1. I recently tried to strip a spray basecoat off a Battlefront Panzer 38(t) using Simple Green and had the same failure that you did. It worked to remove the paint off of the metal parts, but the paint was too firmly bonded to the resin for a toothbrush (I even went and bought the stiffest one I could fine) to take off.

    In the past I’ve used a pine-oil based cleaner (Pine-Sol here in the ‘States) on metal figures that had the same effect as you describe with the brake fluid. The paint would basically come off in sheets. I haven’t tried it with a resin model yet though, although I may just give it a try to see what happens.

    As for the brake fluid, kudos to you for putting it into a glass container. I don’t know that it would eat through plastic, but you never know with petroleum products.

  2. Luiz says:

    Great! I’ll use brake fluid to remove the paint from the resin body of a 1967 Dodge Polara. Thanks a lot!

    • minutiaeofwar says:

      Hi Luiz,
      I hope that the information was hopeful. When I finally found that this worked I had a massive smile and had to blog about it. Did it work with your model? Can I have a peek at the final result 😉

Please feel free to comment or discuss

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s