How to strip factory paint from HO scale Kato or Walthers F40PH body shell
To strip a Kato shell, soak in a large well-sealed container half-filled with 91-99% isopropyl alcohol for 5-7 days. Do not open the container during this time as the fumes and alcohol are working. Once the 5-7 days have passed, put on your rubber gloves (alcohol will dry your skin very quickly) and locate a stiff toothbrush. Working in the sink, scrub the shell until most of the lettering and paint are gone. Rinse the shell, clean your sink and you will be ready for modification and detailing.
To strip a Walthers shell, a few minutes of soaking in a container of 70% alcohol should work, or else use ELO.
An alternative method to alcohol is to strip the shell with a grit blaster such as the Badger 260 abrasive gun. This is available as just the gun or in a kit which includes the gun plus a can of propellant, hose and fittings and one bottle of aluminum oxide abrasive. If you already have a compressor and hose for your airbrush you can just purchase the abrasive gun. One hobby shop we checked sells the whole kit for around $65; the gun on its own should be cheaper.
We recommend using baking soda as an abrasive rather than aluminum oxide. Aluminum oxide carries more risk due to the toxicity of the dust. You MUST wear a dust mask and use the propellant in a proper sand blasting booth. However, the propellant can does not provide enough pressure.
If going with baking soda it is still a good idea to wear a dust mask and latex gloves -- it is not necesary to have a proper sandblasting booth. You can even strip the shell in your paint booth as the fan in the paint booth is strong enough to keep most of the dust contained. However, some dust will still make it into the surrounding area. The shell shown in these photos was stripped using baking soda at around 60psi. It took 20 or 30 minutes of work and one and a half small boxes of baking soda to achieve these results. Afterwards you should vacuum your paintbooth and clean the filter.
During summer months you could set up your compressor and strip the shell outdoors to save from getting white dust around your model building area.
Thanks to Andrew Castle for this article.
© updated 12-14-21
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