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Removing Decals

Started by Alez, May 12, 2016, 11:35:20 PM

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What is the best way to remove factory installed decals from locomotives and other box cars. Thanks


Quote from: Alez on May 12, 2016, 11:35:20 PM
What is the best way to remove factory installed decals from locomotives and other box cars. Thanks

I use 70% Isopropyl Alcohol on a Q-Tip.   Do NOT use rubbing alcohol as that contains oils which is the last thing you want to get onto the surface of any model.


Roger T.


Factory installed decals? That has me curious as I've not seen a HO car or locomotive which came with such. Everything I've seen in stores, at shows, among our club members, has all been printed/painted lettering from the various manufacturers.
Do have a G scale car with factory decals, Bachmann's own A.C. Dole Dairy reefer,

That evidences that factory decals are done, but I haven't seen something in HO, which doesn't mean it doesn't exist, just that it hasn't been seen or heard of before this.

I've also found that that 70% alcohol can sometimes remove paint.
Sometimes alcohol has removed the lettering and left the paint.
It's been kind of a gamble for me.

Have also run in to situations where Scalecoat paint's "Wash Away" paint remover has removed the paint but left the printed lettering.
When all esle fials, go run trains
Screw the Rivets, I'm building for Atmosphere!
later, Forrest


Most manufacturers of rolling stock use a rubber stamp process to apply lettering.  It's pretty sophisticated stuff.  And they all use their own choice of ink that gives them the desired color and opacity.  Some of these inks can be removed with alcohol.  I've had some success with rubber cement thinner too.  But some inks are very tough, and as noted above the underlying paint may come off before the lettering does. 

James in FL

Yeah, it's called pad printing, done with ink not paint.
I have not seen anything released from the major manufacturers utilizing decals for several decades maybe longer.

Look here for but one way to remove it;


Bachmann uses them on their striping on the s2 and s4 switchers among others.Those hot stamps that you can see bleed through on the inside of the shells are long gone.I have had a few of those decals on the UP red lettering flake off.A older Spectrum ge dash 8.The red striped on a UP alco s4.I think some do not get the clear seal coat like some others do at times.They must of ran out and skimped the step.They came off from just handling a little too much unfortunately from having being worked on too much.A little re-striping and weathering fixed that.It was a bonus with the GE lettering and numbers coming off in big pieces turning it into a lease /rent a wreck loco.