Author Topic: Removing lettering Microtrains freight cars  (Read 683 times)

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Scottl

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Removing lettering Microtrains freight cars
« on: July 13, 2021, 03:54:40 PM »
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I know this is not a new topic but past threads seem to have quite a mix of advice.  I have a number of MT cars of various vintages that I am either removing some of or all of the lettering while trying to keep the underlying paint intact.  Most importantly, I have two sets of the glorious new MT TBOX cars in the CN/DWC scheme and need to renumber some of them.

I've tried rubbing the lettering with Q-tips after pooling on Microsol, Solvaset or (Japanese) Mr. Decal solutions.  I've also tried the soaking and tape removal technique most commonly attributed to MR's Cody.  None of these methods seemed to budge the lettering.  I have had some success in the past with acetone-based nail polish remover with other companies products but it it did nothing with MT products.

I am hoping there might be someone here with some experience to suggest a way forward.  Thanks in advance!

Rivet Miscounter

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Re: Removing lettering Microtrains freight cars
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2021, 04:45:20 PM »
+1
At one point a "source close to Micro-Trains" recommended camp fuel.  I have used it with success on some Z-scale Micro-Trains models, but it takes a LOT of patience.   Where some of these suggested procedures call for a single application of 10-15 minutes, with MTL cars it has takes much longer. (One problem being that the camp fuel evaporates very quickly, so you keep having to reapply frequently, whereas something like Micro-Sol will hang around for 15 minutes or more.)   

Here is my m.o. :
1. Follow the standard script of applying a trimmed piece of paper towel to the area you want to remove.
2. Apply camp fuel with a dropper or q-tip.
3. Reapply as the paper towel starts to dry out...about 4-5 minutes in my experience.
4. Do this for 15-30 minutes.
5. Take a break 30-60 minutes.
6. Restart at (2), and repeat this whole thing 4-5 times, or say approximately 100 minutes of camp fuel doing its work.  I don't think the breaks are necessary, but that's generally how it sort of works out for me so I included it...I get distracted and next thing you know it's 30 minutes later.   I guess a timer on your smartphone would move things along.

I typically don't get any good results until I've done about 4-5 overall application sessions while reapplying every 4-5 minutes during each session...anything less and you'll have to rub too hard and pull off paint, in my experience.

Hopefully someone around here has a better solution but that is what has worked for me, albeit in a painstaking manner.  For the record, in Z the Pennzee/Full Throttle cars appear to use a similar nuclear-warhead-resistant decoration style....nigh on impossible to get the lettering off.   (I would question why such resilience is necessary, but I digress...)
« Last Edit: July 13, 2021, 05:01:27 PM by Rivet Miscounter »
Doug

Missaberoad

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Re: Removing lettering Microtrains freight cars
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2021, 04:59:00 PM »
+1
I've had good luck in the past with Dio sol and a QTip. Careful application will remove the lettering before attacking the underlying paint.

I'm not sure what a modern equivalent would be tho...
Ryan in Alberta

peteski

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Re: Removing lettering Microtrains freight cars
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2021, 05:42:40 PM »
+2
Put a swatch of plastic bag over the camp-fuel-soaked paper towel, roughly the same size as the paper towel. It will stick to the moist paper towel. That will dramatically slow down the evaporation.  The just lift it as needed, drop some more liquid on the paper towel, and put the plastic bag swatch back on the paper towel.

Any cheap plastic bag (like sandwich bags) will work. Even Saran Wrap. The thinner, the better.

As for why there seem so be so many methods for removing the lettering I believe the reason is that different people experiment and come up with different ideas.  Then I also suspect that there are more than one Tampo printing ink formulas in use, and different solvents affect those in different ways.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2021, 05:46:35 PM by peteski »
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Scottl

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Re: Removing lettering Microtrains freight cars
« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2021, 06:00:13 PM »
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Thanks everyone, all very helpful.

I will get some camp fuel (naptha or white gas) and lacquer thinner to try.  I have one old boxcar that is a suitable test bed to sacrifice.  I use Saran Wrap to cover the liquids as they soak- it really extends the lifetime on the lettering.


Scottl

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Re: Removing lettering Microtrains freight cars
« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2021, 09:38:40 PM »
+2
I bought naphtha (Coleman camp fuel or white gas) and lacquer thinner.  Also had acetone (nail polish remover) for reference.  I dipped the end of a Q-tip into the fluid and worked outside as all three are not good to breathe.

Victim 1:  MT Union Pacific 3 bay covered hopper.  Acetone: no visible effect;  Naphtha:  Removed the lettering with some light scrubbing (10 or so strokes), minimal base paint removal;  Lacquer thinner (LT):  removed lettering in 2-3 strokes, removed base paint quickly.

Victim 2:  MT GN 3 bay covered hopper ("Grain Loading").  Acetone:  no effect;  Naphtha: minimal effect on lettering, some lettering color came off on the q-tip but very slowly;  LT: removed lettering quickly and base paint at the same time.  Almost impossible not to reveal the bare plastic.

Victim 3:  IM 4750 "Montfort Grain" covered hopper.  Acetone: eventually removed lettering after long scrubbing, some minor base paint loss;  Naphtha:  similar to acetone, a little faster;  LT removed lettering and paint quickly.  I found if you used no more than 2 strokes of the q-tip at a time and gave it a little time to recover, you could minimize base paint loss.

Victim 4:  Atlas "Peabody" 4750 covered hopper.  Acetone:  no effect;  naphtha: very slow removal;  LT:  a few quick light swipes removed lettering, some base paint loss.  Some stubborn paint fragments as the paint literally breaks apart rather than dissolves.  Any light scrubbing removed base paint.


So in summary, lacquer thinner does the job but is hot and there is a substantial risk of removing the base paint.  Light strokes and 10-20 second breaks every few strokes minimizes the risk to base paint.  It worked on every manufacturer I tried and none show evidence of plastic melting. 

Naphtha was second best and safer for base paint, but often took quite a bit of scrubbing.  The best strategy is to try naphtha first and if it does not work, you can move on to LT.  If the base paint is critical, then this trial approach is best. 

Acetone worked in few cases and required a lot of scrubbing.  I won't use it again.

Where I did inadvertently remove some of the base paint, the effect was often striking as weathering.  I tried this a bit with LT on the UP car base paint and I think it offers interesting potential.


peteski

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Re: Removing lettering Microtrains freight cars
« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2021, 09:55:04 PM »
+1
Keep in mind that it appears that different manufacturers use different formulas for making lacquer thinner.  Lacquer thinner is actually a blend of several solvents.
Bottom line is that if someone uses a different brand of lacquer thinner than you used, they might get different results (where as acetone and naphtha are single chemicals that should be the same for everybody).

And to also repeat what I mentioned earlier, the inks used in Tampo printing are not all the same either, so there are several variables at play here.
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Scottl

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Re: Removing lettering Microtrains freight cars
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2021, 08:52:55 AM »
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I agree, results may vary.  I can only speak for my product, but I have a strategy now.  I'll test some more on older cars before trying to remove lettering on the new MT TBOX cars.

Angus Shops

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Re: Removing lettering Microtrains freight cars
« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2021, 08:44:26 PM »
+1
If it’s a particularly small removal job, such a renumbering or similar, I use a sharp #11 hobby knife to GENTLY scrape of the offending lettering. No mess, no fuss.

Scottl

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Re: Removing lettering Microtrains freight cars
« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2021, 09:20:40 PM »
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I've tried the knife and found I don't have the hands for it.  A good option for certain situations.

I tried more cars today and the naphtha is becoming my preferred solution.  You have to scrub a bit, but the base paint removal is minimal and you have great control.  I used both Q-tips and tiny dental micro-brushes, both worked well.  Just need a bit a patience and good ventilation.

nkalanaga

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Re: Removing lettering Microtrains freight cars
« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2021, 01:57:42 AM »
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For small jobs, renumbering or reweighing, I also scrape the lettering off.  My favorite tool is a worn-out #11 blade, so worn that, after whetting it several times on a piece of sandpaper, it has no point, just a rounded end, and slightly curved, but still sharp, cutting edge.  It removes lettering very nicely, with much less risk of scratching the surface.

It also works better for cutting small styrene strip, where I usually end up breaking the tip of a new blade anyway.

For cutting paper or styrene sheet, a new blade works much better, so I have a handle for both.
N Kalanaga
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MVW

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Re: Removing lettering Microtrains freight cars
« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2021, 01:49:41 PM »
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I've tried the knife and found I don't have the hands for it.  A good option for certain situations.

I tried more cars today and the naphtha is becoming my preferred solution.  You have to scrub a bit, but the base paint removal is minimal and you have great control.  I used both Q-tips and tiny dental micro-brushes, both worked well.  Just need a bit a patience and good ventilation.

Scottl, thanks for the report. I'll be trying my hand at something similar soon.

Everyone else, thanks for the tips and comments, as well.

Jim