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How To Clean a Locomotive Body

Shaun asks readers:

“At a recent train show I bought a Vintage United Brass 4-8-4 Loco & Tender. I appears to be in reasonable working order but over the years has obviously accumulated plenty of dirt and grime on the shell. I don’t want to damage it trying to clean and restore it. How can I do this WITHOUT damaging the finish?”

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4 Responses to How To Clean a Locomotive Body

  • Newman Atkinson says:

    Shaun,
    Whether it is brass, cast or plastic, I would use a small air hose first to get as much grit off as possible. There are even small model vacuum cleaners out there. After that I would use plain warm water and a light toothbrush to get small places. To get it dry faster to keep water off of it I would uses a low pressure air nozzle to get the water off and dry it. Bare metal you would not want to leave water on it.. On Plastic cars such as Box cars I use Simple green right out of the bottle to strip paint and it will bubble the paint right off without hurting the plastic in less than 24 hours. Rinse and dry you are ready to plan your new paint. But to use it on brass I would think a test on scrap metal would be needed to ensure it would not hurt the metal. That is if you are taking it that far down. That is about as far as I can help you on this. If the model has brass corroding under the paint you will need to strip and clean that brass of its paint. As I have talked to some of my railroad buddies before stripping the parts on a brass model sometimes is required to get it all clean and ready to repaint especially bolt on parts and do them individually
    Hope this is a good start for you from Newman

    • Newman Atkinson says:

      I need to clarify the simple Green use. I pour into a small trough and set the plastic body in it. It will not hurt it. It will be ready to pull out and rinse in 24 hours. I have a couple I just did. Newman

  • donj says:

    if the cars are freight cars = go with the 33 inch wheels.

    If the cars are passenger cars = then use 36 inch wheels.
    simple enough. I believe all people who respond will agree with this.

  • David Stokes says:

    Nothing like a good blow and suck to remove loose grit ‘n grime then soak over night on warm (not hot) water with a bit of dishwashing liquid. Rinse well, then attack the really stubborn bit with a soft artists paint brush, rinse well and air dry.

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