Tuesday, 13 January 2015


Exhibit A:

One jar of solvent free paint stripper suitable for use on plastics

Exhibit B:

One jar of not safe for plastic paint stripper

The rest of this post more or less writes itself, doesn't it?

It looks a LOT worse than it is!

I made the mistake of trying to strip the paint off of the diecast Lisbon tram at the same time as trying to get the last traces of paint off of one of the 14XX bodyshells.

I very nearly got away with it.

In fact it might just be salvageable down the line if I can identify suitable Archer resin rivet transfers. I was going to replace the toolboxes anyway. The splashers aren't brilliant either, so perhaps I should just replace the whole area of the footplate.

In the meantime lets make a virtue out of necessity and use the damaged body to practice some techniques on. If I'm honest with myself I was already feeling uneasy about having removed the bunker and tank steps. I still think there is something wrong with the moulded ones, but that doesn't mean I'm capable of improving on them just yet.

In any case replacement Airfix 14XX are easy to come by and a new one is already en route to me, and this one is allegedly a runner, not that that is relevant.

Whilst I'm confessing to mistakes I also had a stupid accident whilst clamping the Lcut platform. I let some glue escape whilst taking a belts and braces approach to clamping pieces together which damaged the surface detail. Not catastrophic, but annoying.

Are we downhearted?

Well yes, a bit, because both the mistakes were stupid and avoidable. Who would be so daft as to make sure they had a separate brush for each type of paint stripper, but use identical brushes with no way of telling them apart?

But hey, nothing expensive has been ruined, I have a plan B to recover from both situations and, perhaps most important of all, I expected to make some mistakes along the way. I'm glad I made the mistakes now rather than further down the line. I was watching a programme about the Lindisfarne Gospels and a calligrapher said two things. The first was that the scribe included a deliberate mistake on every page, and the other was that as a calligrapher you always,always, make a mistake on the very last page.

Hopefully I can avoid that by making my mistakes on the first page and getting them out of the way.

And the Lisbon tram is looking great.


  1. Bottles and brushes. I occassionally try to glue plastic kits together with phosphoric acid flux. Doesn't work, and thankfully doesn't damage the plastic either. The other favourite is to use a brush for metal blackening, then try and use same brush, still with traces of blackening fluid on it, for applying flux rather than the brush marked 'flux'. Then I wonder why the solder doesn't stick...

  2. Paul. Yes, All sadly familiar scenarios. The hot tip of 2015 from a number of sources seems to be the use of a permanent marker for blackening. I've already found it useful where I've used blackening fluid but the finish has got damaged later in construction.

    Despite the destruction it wrought on the 14xx I've been impressed with the Polycell paint stripper and it is definitely going to be my first choice for stripping diecasts. That just leaves the question of how best to repaint them. I suspect that is another area where convention and received wisdom has replaced observation.

  3. In a parallel life I play in a band, composed of musicians whose talents I can only dream of emulating. On our first gig together many years ago, I noted that several mistakes were made but that the guys just played on as if nothing had happened. I soon learnt that the real trick was to recognise these moments and deal with them with panache and sang froid! Likewise I admit, I do silly things all the time, like recently forgetting the order of assembly or using white spirit to clean small metal components that have been epoxied, at which point they fall apart :-). What I like about you is your honesty and your willingness to bounce back even better. I have a personal project, a lorry that I painted the wrong colour and have been wondering about Polycell and whether it would attack the epoxy...I suppose I should just give it a go and then publish the sorry results :-)

    1. Iain, Experience is a great teacher. The musical anecdote resonates with my professional experience. It so often comes back to confidence, including the confidence to fail. That and the urge to always get a better result the next time. I have to admit there are times when I think that if I'd gone down the best of breed RTR OO route I could probably have built a decent layout six months ago, but what would be the fun in that? That has to be balanced by knowing there is no point aiming for perfection with this iteration of my modelling. I just want to get to the point where I can make incremental improvements in the medium term, replacing individual elements rather than having to start totally from scratch again.