Workshop >> Stripped Shells
Wanting to expand my fleet without spending money, I looked into stripping paint from some old shells that I have. After doing some research, I decided to try brake fluid. It's by far the cheapest method, as you can pick this stuff up at the dollar store for a buck a pint. I tested it on three different shells. 1) an old Model Power/Tyco shell previously painted in Santa Fe Warbonnet, 2) an old Bachmann Brill Trolley, and 3) an Athearn GP-35 previously painted in Erie Lackawanna. The process was to set the shells in the tub of brake fluid and let them soak for 20-30 min. After that, I came back and with ample ventilation, scrub the shells with an old toothbrush. It took quite some time, but the results were fantastic. The most difficult area to remove proved to be the stripe around the Athearn GP-35 which was 2 layers of paint. After an hour or so of scrubbing, I left it there. I got most of it, so I am satisfied. Overall, the brake fluid proved to be a really effective stripper. I'd recommend it, but watch out! This stuff CAN attack certain types of plastic. It's best to test a small amount on an unseen area first.
Here are all three shells lined up.
Again, from other side.
Closeup of the Athearn GP-35. Sorry about the blurriness. Note the stubborn grey stripe around the body.
Bachmann Brill Trolley. This one had paint on it that I just could not get off! Some of the orange/gold wouldn't come off after several days of scrubbing. I did notice some cracking of the finish on this model. A sign that the Brake Fluid may have been attacking the plastic.
The Model Power/Tyco (?) shell. This one really went well. The fluid took nearly all the paint off save for some stubborn areas of detail.

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Ben's Workshop - last updated 03/15/2004 - email