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How to Respray your Model Railway Locomotives (Part 1)

Author: Mark - "Transrail" (forum member)

Bachmann Locomotives

Bachmann Coaches

Bachmann Wagon

Hornby Locomotives

Hornby Coaches

Hornby Wagons

Heljan Locomotives

Lima Locomotives

Lima Wagons

Locomotive Modification

Wagon Modification


Part 1:    Paint Removal
Part 2:    Primer
Part 3:    First Coat of Colour

For this tutorial I will be using a Heljan Class 47 to demonstrate the techniques and practices I use to respray my locos. I have divided the tutorial into several parts, so each part can be done individually at any one time. The whole process of spraying a loco can take a week from start to finish and that doesn’t include detailing, adding transfers and lights, etc.

Please read the ‘You Will Need’ sections at the beginning of each Part to ensure you will be able to complete the tutorial successfully (or so that you know what you will need to purchase in order to complete the tutorial).

24 Hours (minimum) must be left between coats to allow the paint to dry and to cure to the loco surface. Taking shortcuts will result in poor results.


Part 1: Paint Removal

You will need the following before starting Part 1 of this tutorial:

• A baking tray (one that you’re not going to use in the kitchen again).
• An old tooth brush (not the wife's, she will be able to taste it - Believe me!)
• Some Dot 3 brake fluid (or similar paint removing product).
• Your loco.

Model Railway Locomotive Respray

1. Remove the body from the loco chassis and store the chassis somewhere safe and out of harms way.

2. Now remove all windows, handrails, lamp irons, windscreen wipers, etc. and anything else that is removable from the body.

Model Railway Locomotive Respray

3. The loco is now ready to be stripped of its paintwork. Pour an adequate amount of brake fluid into your baking tray to cover one side of your loco. I have tilted my tray by wedging something underneath the one side of it. This simply allows the fluid to run to the end of the tray that the loco will sit in. I recommend you add a small amount of fluid to the inside of your loco body to make sure it doesn’t react with the plastic. Then, if you’re happy with the test, place the loco into the tray.

Model Railway Locomotive Respray

4. The time you leave the loco body to soak will depend greatly on the make of the model you are using. This Heljan Freightliner Class 47 will need to have a long soak as Heljan use a screen printing method for the logo on the side of the body. I am leaving it in for 20 minutes. You can always lift it out to see if the paint is flaking.

Model Railway Locomotive Respray

5. The next job is to use your old tooth brush to scrub the loco body. Don’t be tempted to use a new tooth brush, its bristles will be too hard and may scratch the body side.

Model Railway Locomotive Respray

6. Rinse away any residue under the tap and continue scrubbing. You will now be able to clearly see how much paint has been removed, and how much still remains. You will need to repeat steps 4, 5 & 6 until the loco is completely bare.

Model Railway Locomotive Respray

7. Make sure your loco body is rinsed thoroughly under running water and then dry by dabbing with kitchen towel. Leave to dry for 24 hours before continuing onto Part 2.

Model Railway Locomotive Respray / Repaint

8. Finished loco body, ready for primer.


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