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Thread: Brass Passenger Cars -- As is? Repaint? Strip to Brass?

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    Default Brass Passenger Cars -- As is? Repaint? Strip to Brass?

    Been having a bit of fun fixing up an old lot of NGI brass Santa Fe Hi-Level Chair Cars. http://www.spookshow.net/passenger/njichair.html

    Just been removing some old glue and planning to reglue but started thinking about paint / finish. These are my first brass cars and finish is not great on them (i.e., brass showing through in a few places). So I was wondering what I should do with paint.

    I don't really model Santa Fe (have a few engines so would have something to pull them but not my target lines). These Hi-Level Chair cars apparently were repainted to be Amtrak cars and then phased out when Super Liners became more common (I do collect Amtrak). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hi-Level

    So my options:
    1) Leave as is -- re-glue, clean w/ soap and water, and basically mess with them as little as possible.
    2) Strip down to brass and clear coat (I think brass colored passenger cars would be kinda cool to showcase that they are actually brass).
    3) Touch up original silver Santa Fe colors (how would I touch these up?)
    4) Try to strip and paint in Amtrak colors (my painting skills are a big question mark but I do have an airbrush and some other passenger cars to practice on)

    I will probably wind up doing #1 but if I plan to do 2 or 4 I would not re-glue right now...

    20180626_205736.jpg 20180626_205755.jpg
    Last edited by Mac; 27th Jun 2018 at 09:55 AM.

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    These look like great cars and them being brass is a plus in my humble opinion, only because brass anything is fairly rare or expensive. Okay so if I were you, I'd go with your last option - strip them down and repaint in Amtrak colors.

    How you would strip the paint from the brass is a good question but probably an acetone based product would/could be your best bet. I'd apply it with an old tooth brush (unless you want incredibly clean teeth with a nasty after taste and other ramifications) and scrub them car by car. Being brass you "might be able to" use a very fine (2000 grit) wet and dry to remove the majority or a commercial gel paint stripper.

    As for your painting skills ... well, mine were non existent until I painted my Pullman Heavy Weights and they didn't turn out all THAT badly I don't think. Point being, if I can do a reasonable job, anyone can!

    The nice thing about the Amtrak cars is everything is straight lines (I think) so the biggest headache will be masking for the colors. Anyway, as said, if it were me the temptation to repaint them in Amtrak colors would be too great a temptation
    Cheers Tony

    "Knowing what to do is one thing ... being able to do it is another"

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    I vote for #4. Since they are brass, it would be very easy to strip. No worries about melting plastic, etc.

    Painting pure silver shouldn't be hard and I would even try a name brand qualty rattle can paint with a good undercoat primer. And if it doesn't turn out well, you can strip it again and again and again, being brass.

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    I've striped the paint off the brass caboose(I messed up applying the paint 3, count them, 3 times), Walthers coil cars, and some used metal 28mm gaming figures I'm working on with acetone based nail polish remover. One thing to remember is that acetone WILL melt any and all plastic. And here I thought that the walkways on the Walthers cars was metal. Opps.... lol. I'm replacing the walkways with a see through mesh anyway so no worries. But I've a nice blob of plastic goo courtesy of 5 of the coil cars at the bottom of that mason jar that serves as a reminder should I need to worry about melting any plastic parts.

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    Couple of other factors to weigh into decision:

    1) The cars have L-brackets inside that are soldered (so corners are very clean outside if I went with raw brass look).
    2) I realized I have a 10-car Kato Amtrak El-Capitan Set (so basically same style cars painted in Amtrak colors I think) -- I forgot these were not just Super Liners.
    Last edited by Mac; 4th Jul 2018 at 10:15 PM.

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    Are those car sides actually corrugated or is that just a painted, simulated corrugation?

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    Quote Originally Posted by NorsemanJack View Post
    Are those car sides actually corrugated or is that just a painted, simulated corrugation?
    They are corrugated (but only on outside, inside is flat = molded and not crimped I guess) and have separately applied etched grates.

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    Strip the paint. Those worn brass areas will corrode eventually and spread. I have repainted brass before. Here are a few tips:
    1. Dissemble the model to it's component parts. Remove anything plastic.
    2. Brush the model with airplane paint stripper. This is much stronger than conventional paint stripper and will leave the brass completely clean.
    3. Use protection and work outside. Place the model on ceramic or glass. This stripper is corrosive. It will melt though plastic. Use only natural fiber brushes (that you don't mind ruining). Wash off after about 2-3 minutes of contact.
    4. To wash the model, I first use a garden hose on low. After most of the stripper is washed off, I bring it inside and wash with water and dish detergent.
    5. Use automotive primer to seal the brass. Use a hair dryer to heat the model and bake the paint in. A hair dryer won't heat the solder enough to melt, but will heat the paint the enough harden and avoid chipping when scuffed.
    6. Paint the car silver with your choice of paints. Seal with gloss cote and decal.

    If you feel weary of using aircraft stripper, try using a Badger Air Eraser sand blaster. You can get these for as little as $40 with a bottle of grit.

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