Thursday, 16 February 2012

Stripping Paint - The wonders of nature..

Apologies for another gap in postings. I have been busy with other life issues. But managed a bit of work the last couple of days. Not painting as such, but preparing for painting. Had a few older minis, with dire paint jobs that needed stripping back to bare metal.

I have been using the same basic technique for a while. And I thought I would pop down some tips here.

Stripping Agents

Simple Green - Firstly if you search the Internet you will get lots of info about how our US cousins do it. Using "Simple Green", an environmentally friendly cleaner that is hard and pricey to get here in the UK.
Its a good agent, not nasty and works on both plastic, metal and resin and won't eat or soften green stuff.

Brake Fluid - (yukkk), some people swear by it. But frankly, it stinks, its nasty, you have to wear gloves with the stuff and you cannot under any circumstances pour it down the drain in the UK. The Environment Agency / or SEPA will jump down your neck as they regularly test for the stuff and it ain't worth the fine. You can of course, take it to your local council waste refuse collection point, who should have a safe disposal method. This works on metal, metal and metal.. put it on some resins it will cause reaction. And it will dissolve some plastics.
BUT if you metals were made with some stranger alloys, brake fluid can taint the metal. Just ask anyone who's had a car, vandalised with the stuff. It requires the surface rubbing back.
So frankly.. for the hassles, avoid like hell is my advice..

Fairy Power Spray - This is a UK brand domestic cleaner. Works on metals. Will weaken super glue and it reacts with green stuff. Works on some plastics. Best to test before hand.

Nitromors - Industial grade, paint remover.. nasty, horrid stuff with lots of fumes. But it will eat anything paint wise. Also will eat your plastics like no tomorrow into big sticky glupe that may catch fire! But on metals its fine. But the usual safety proviso, you cannot pore this down the drain either, its wickedly horrid to wild life etc.

Mr Muscles oven Cleaner - An oven cleaning foaming cleaner. Seen it used, but never tried it my self.

Dettol - The brown, smelly stuff, that turns white and cloudy in water. Yes, detol. It contains an natural agent called "pinesol". In fact this is the same active ingredient in simple green I believe. It does smell. But as long as you wear gloves, or your skin on your hands will go dry, and you have an open window nearby to mitigate the fumes its, perfectly safe. Its also not as nasty to be pored down the drain. This is my cleaner of choice for a couple of reasons.
It works on metals, plastics, it does weaken super glue, but it won't eat green stuff.

Water - Yes, good old H2O.. Simple and can be very effective. Pop the miniature into warm water and leave and leave.. if you are in no hurry, leave for weeks on end. Occasionally swishing the water round. Add a bit of salt as well, to make it slightly salty and it can lift off and soften some paints. Or some orange juice/citric acid. Its a slow lengthy process and might not work with some heavier paints.

So those are the agents that I know people have used or have used my self.

So how do you use them..?? I hear the voices in the gallery cry.. well..

Oh OK, I suppose it would be mean to just leave it there..

With the oven cleaner and power spray, people tend to put the minis in a bag. Spray in the cleaner, close the bag and leave 24hrs. Then rinse under water and scrub with tooth brush etc. can take a couple of treatment's to get lots of layers of paint off, and out of the deeper recesses in the mini.

With the likes of detal, simple green etc, just place figures into an air tight container with lid, cover with the liquid and soak for 24hrs. Remove, scrub and rinse. You may only have to do this the once. But sometimes a second soaking will work. Bits of paint will come off as they soak and so each batch or jar full will usually do about 10 to 20 minis before it becomes horrid and grim and needs disposing.

Break fluid - Well you are nuts if you use it. So don't!


Time - Yes time.. leave the figures to soak. Don't rush. The longer the better. I see on forums people saying a few hours of soaking is enough, then they comment that it takes ages scrubbing the paint. If you use Dettol like I do, I leave for at least 24grs and most paint will come off, inc glossy oils. I tend however to leave models soaking for weeks.. I have one resin bridge currently in a bath of dettol now 12 months. Why.. errr because I forgot about it.. lol. The paint has all bubbled up nicely and it just need a scrub.

That is one things to note. None of the above will work without some mechanical work. They will soften the paint and break the adhesion to the figure, but not the dissolve it completely.
Toothbrush - No not the one you use to actually brush your teeth, but a cheap new one (old ones tend to have worn out bristles at funny angles). Best tool in the box. Work the brush in straight strokes and then in circles. Circular motions help get the bristles into the deeper details and nooks.

Toothpicks - Wooden tooth picks are great for those hard to reach stubbon spotts of paint. Some people use metal tools, but on plastic figure you can easily scratch them and leave visible marks for when you come to repaint.

Ultrasonic Cleaners - These machine generate sound waves that create bubbles of air that vibrate off dirt. And can work on loose paint. The problem is, they tend not to work and a sole solution. You still need to soak your minis in something first to loosen the paint and then you still need to scrub them up afterword. Though apparently the scrubbing takes a lot less time. But unless you are doing a lot of stripping and I mean a lot, and invest in a high quality one (probably over £100 worth with heating ability/timer/variable settings) you won't see any real benefit.


Note there will be fumes with dettol. Nothing too bad, but enough for some people to find horrid and so opening a window helps.

Watch out for small parts. It is easy to miss small parts in the bottom of your solution, and tip them away only to discover it later. So don't work with running water over a sink with the plug out. Run the water in a bowl and periodically tip it out.

Gloves & Glasses.. - I would say wear gloves always. The sticky soft paint residue is horrid and never mind the effects of long term exposure to the chemicals. Just wear gloves. Good old marigolds work a treat. And a set of safety specs or goggles is a good idea too. Dettol or cleaner flicks when using a tooth brush. Don't get it in your eyes. Its not nice.

Kitchen town is always handy. And newspaper. I tend to have a bowl with an old sieve in it, that I put the scrubbed models into and then soak in water to remove the detol residue. A couple of rinses in clean water and then dried, and you are ready to paint.

Then I can examine them and either give them a second soaking or return them to mount galena to await their time on the hallow table of artistry.!

So.. there you go.. bet you are glad you read all the way to the bottom..

(See Part 2 for more!)