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Stripping paint

Q: I just spray painted (aerosol) a 1941 Willys Gasser. When I applied a clear coat, the red base coat started to "orange-peel" and run. The paint job is ruined, and now I have to strip it and start over. I'm a beginning modeler and have no experience with stripping paint. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

- Dan MacClymont
via E-mail

Welcome to the world of model building, Dan. Botching a paint job is frustrating, but it's inevitable, even for the most seasoned builders. Experience is the best teacher when it comes to painting, so don't be discouraged.

The first thing is to address the source of the paint problem so it doesn't happen again. This sounds like a classic compatibility problem. I'd guess that you used a lacquer clear coat over an enamel color coat. Lacquer is much "hotter" than enamel, and even when dry, the color coat didn't stand a chance against the solvents in the clear lacquer - especially if you lay on a heavy coat of clear. Remember: You can generally spray enamel over lacquer, but not lacquer over enamel. There are some exceptions, but for now, try to follow that rule of thumb.

A good way to get rid of that bad paint is to soak the offending parts in Castrol Super Clean cleaner and degreaser. This stuff will remove most paint without affecting the plastic underneath.

Find a suitably deep glass or plastic pan, set the painted parts in the container, and cover everything with a generous helping of Super Clean. You should see results in an hour or two, depending on the brand of paint. The paint will loosen and much of it will lift off.

If you don't see at least some results in a few hours, you may have to scuff the paint's surface with sandpaper to enable the Super Clean to penetrate. When most of the paint is gone, scrub off any stubborn residue with an old toothbrush.

Another great paint remover is Easy-Off oven cleaner spray. Coat the bad paint with a liberal amount of Easy-Off, then wait for the paint to lift. A similar product developed specifically for the hobbyist is Polly-S Easy Lift Off.

No matter what you use as a paint remover, it's best to try a small part first before dunking the whole car into your remover of choice. Always wear suitable rubber protective gloves and eye protection when working with any chemicals, no matter how user-friendly they seem to be.

When the old paint has been removed, wash the pieces thoroughly and let them dry. Now you're ready to start the painting process again.

For more information on laying down fantastic paint jobs, pick up a copy of How to Use an Airbrush by Bob Downie (available from Kalmbach Publishing) and Pat Covert's The Modeler's Guide to Scale Automotive Finishes (also from Kalmbach but out of print).


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