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Can you use Brake Fluid to remove model paint on parts?


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I never heard of this method before. This is something my dad heard of but has never tried.  On my latest build the paint messed up on the cars interior, and I have to remove the paint. My dad suggested using brake fluid since it won't melt the plastic.  Has anyone ever tried this on a model build?  Tips/Tricks? Does it wash off? Leave a oil residue? 

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I have never used the brake fluid method (very caustic) but have used Simple Green with much success. It is less messy and I always strain the paint off and re-use the Simple Green over and over. I use an old plastic container that can be sealed and usually have no problem stripping paint within hours or overnight.

Make sure you wear gloves and eye protection when handling any of the strippers as they can be hazardous and also make sure your work area is ventilated to keep the fumes to a minimum.

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Brake fluid does work but may be a bit overkill depending on the type of paint you used. For Testors or Krylon you can use something much easier to deal with like Simple Green or 409. If you used Tamiya paint or Duplicolor though brake fluid (not cleaner!) is the way to go.

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A lot of choices and each comes with it's own hazards.  Chemical gloves, eye protection and caution needed for all.  One other comment, I use brake fluid for Tamiya lacquers.  I have a junk body I use for testing and after 3 or 4 trips to the dunk tank, it has become brittle.  Each of these chemicals will take a little something out of the plastic, but then I suppose if you need to strip it four or five times, you really need to look at your painting technique!:lol:

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Pete mentioned brittleness...I once soaked an old Indy-car frame in brake fluid to remove some particularly stubborn paint. When I took the frame out, it had become so brittle that it broke into small parts during handling. It was too brittle to repair. As soon as I glued one area back together, another one would break.

Apparently brake fluid can leach the plasticizers out of some old styrene formulations, so proceed with caution when stripping vintage or irreplaceable parts.

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47 minutes ago, Bainford said:

Also, keep in mind that NONE of these strippers can be disposed of by pouring them down the sink or any other drain. Dispose of hazmat properly.

Well not quite true, but you have to read the label and follow the directions.  Super Klean is biodegradable and water soluble.  The problem becomes what you use it to clean up.  Old motor oil(which as an engine degreaser,  is what it is designed for) is very toxic, so the label has a warning for that.  But to your point, READ THE LABEL AND DISPOSE OF IT PROPERLY. 

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1 hour ago, Bainford said:

Also, keep in mind that NONE of these strippers can be disposed of by pouring them down the sink or any other drain. Dispose of hazmat properly.

Easy-Off is basically the same thing as Drano, a drain cleaner/unclogger. I've always assumed that Drano was safe to use in a drain, but hey, I guess I COULD be wrong.....:huh:

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18 minutes ago, Snake45 said:

Easy-Off is basically the same thing as Drano, a drain cleaner/unclogger. I've always assumed that Drano was safe to use in a drain, but hey, I guess I COULD be wrong.....:huh:

A quick look on the internet and you are correct to some degree.  Drain cleaner, oven cleaner and toilet bowl cleaners all contain similar ingredients and are listed as the most toxic chemicals found in the home.  Here is a list of what most contain and the issues with them.

Ethanolamine causes eye damage and severe skin burns. It’s harmful if swallowed or inhaled, and it irritates allergies.

Morpholine irritates allergies and skin. It also damages skin and vision and irritates the respiratory system.

Liquified and Sweetened Petroleum Gases may cause cancer.

Butoxydiglycol affects respiratory systems, and may cause cancer and reproductive effects. It also may damage vision, the digestive system, the nervous system, as well as irritate skin.

Sodium Hydroxide irritates allergies and skin. It also can damage vision and irritate the respiratory system

 

Not an issue when used with due caution, but they need to be handled like the toxic chemical concoctions that they are. 

 

By the way, Sodium Hydroxide is the main chemical that strips the paint off and is a main ingredient in Super Klean as well. 

Edited by Pete J.
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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks guys for the tips, and how to use this. If I have old paint on a kit, or junkyard kit, I'll use this.  I went ahead and used standard paint thinner on the munster koaches interior to remove the old paint. It took fresh primer to coat the black interior, and 2 coats of red to get it looking right.

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