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Repainting plastic freight cars

By | May 14, 2009

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Q: I have some old Lionel plastic freight cars that I want to repaint in railroad colors. Will you please advise me how to remove the paint from these cars without damaging the plastic.

A: The best paint remover I’ve found for use on plastic cars is the Scalecoat wash-away paint remover. It’s somewhat expensive, but reusable. Follow the directions and you should have no problems. I would advise you to wear rubber gloves and eye protection.

After removing the paint you many find the original lettering is pressed into the body. This is from the old heat-stamping process used by Lionel. I lightly rub very fine sandpaper over the lettering to remove it. If it’s really deep you may have to use plastic model putty to fill it and then resand.

If you’re going to use Floquil paints, be sure to give the entire carbody a coat of Floquil Barrier first. Cars made of styrene can be damaged by straight Floquil paint.

As for decals, there are lots of them on the market.

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