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"When Simple Green fails what to do for round II?" Topic

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1,359 hits since 2 Aug 2013
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R Strickland Fezian Inactive Member02 Aug 2013 8:03 p.m. PST

I need some help. Over the past twenty years I've stripped hundreds of figures using quite a few different stripping agents and I have yet to find a good "round two" solution when Simple Green can't do the job the first time. The "in need of round two" figures are piling up in the hundreds.

Here's what I've tried so far:

simple green – best "round one" agent; for about half the figures I strip nothing more is needed

pine sol – similar to simple green

mineral spirits – generally no effect

acetone – generally no effect

spray oven cleaner – toxic, works to some degree, huge p.i.t.a.

krylon spray "Off" – similar to oven cleaner

"Goof off" (active agent: xylene) – very toxic, melts paint but makes a huge mess and is impracticable

klean strip stripper – doesn't seem to work any better than simple green and is a lot more $

The purple slime stuff – got sick off this stuff trying to strip some hotwheels many years ago. Burned right through rubber gloves in seconds. Not worth the risks and it did a lousy job on the hotwheels anyway.

More on the "Off" and oven cleaner. On some stubborn figs the effect is pretty exciting because a direct hit with this stuff and sometimes I can see the paint literally fly right off the figure. However, even with a paint mask I've gotten sick from this stuff and you end up with really toxic water you don't want to pour down the drain. That and I find I pretty much have to set each figure down and spray and then turn over and spray and it winds up a lot of time/figure vs any agent where you can just let it soak. And if I happen to miss anywhere with the spray I don't find it out till after and a round three is needed. And it's not a perfect solution. For example I have three bases of nurglings that are impervious to simple green and after spending ten minutes on five them with the Off they were only about 50% stripped. Another round in simple green got me not an inch further with them.

The only thing I've heard of that I haven't tried it brake fluid, but from reviews I've read the results are no better than Simple Green.

I'm coming to the conclusion that it's really worth the huge premium unpainted vintage figures fetch on ebay are really worth paying given the amount of back breaking tlc some figures need to restore them. :( Buying 20+ year old figs on ebay is such a gamble, with the old ones having a much higher chance of enamels and heavy lacquer gloss coats.

Please, tell me I'm wrong?

Personal logo Pictors Studio Sponsoring Member of TMP02 Aug 2013 8:39 p.m. PST

You're not. Stripping figures really isn't worth the time and effort most of the time.

ordinarybass Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2013 8:46 p.m. PST

Three letters


Methyl Ethyl Keytone

I've stripped a few hundred figs in the last few years, and whatever Purple Power doesn't take care of, MEK almost always does.

You can get it at Menards in a can off the same shelf as Mineral spirits and Acetone, and it isn't much more expensive than those. I have encountered paint jobs that take a more than a single hit, but it is the strongest stuff I've ever used.

It's also toxic, but nothing a pair of Solvex gloves, eye protection and ventilation can't take care of.

Also, Simple Green changed its formula this year. It no longer contains 2-Butoxethanol, which formerly was the active ingredient. I had already switched over to Purple Power which works faster and is cheaper (though not non-toxic like Green) and still has 2-butoxethanol in it, so I haven't tried the new formula. Thus, I can't speak to how well the new Simple green formula works, but it's possible that it might not be doing as good a job as before.

Best of luck with the figs. I personally find that stripping figs is almost always worth the effort (sometimes not with plastic figs), but I enjoy the process.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2013 9:01 p.m. PST

You're not. Stripping figures really isn't worth the time and effort most of the time.

I have to agree.

BigNickR02 Aug 2013 11:47 p.m. PST

I use TUFF STUFF in a spraycan… Works REALLY good

Joes Shop Supporting Member of TMP03 Aug 2013 4:39 a.m. PST

MEK if nothing else works.


J. P. Kelly

Doc Ord Inactive Member03 Aug 2013 7:27 a.m. PST

Sometimes I simply paint over the old paint using it as a primer coat.

(I am Spam) Inactive Member03 Aug 2013 9:13 a.m. PST

Try Brakkleen


it's available at auto parts places and will lift the paint on your car

R Strickland Fezian Inactive Member03 Aug 2013 9:34 a.m. PST

Thanks for the replies all!

@Doc, maybe if it was my own careful paintjob I could do that, but we're talking gobbed on crusty buildup most of the time, obscuring all kinds of detail. And I'm a bit ocd anyway, so even a little bit of buildup is a nonstarter for me.

@ordinarybass and Joe, thanks! I think you've called out the next stop on my tour. I'll plan to check back in to let you know how it goes. Pretty excited to have a good lead like this.

Also, oh man I hate when formulas get changed! :( I just picked up a fresh jug of Simple Green but haven't cracked it open. The one I'm finishing off is a year or two old. They changed the formula on the pre-mixed concrete patch I use for all kinds of hobby uses and I just about through a fit. I'll report back if the new jug of SG is crap.

@Baddaski, yeah, brake fluid is one I haven't tried.. .I'm hoping for a soaking solution rather than a spray but I'm keeping it in mind.

@BigNickR, same deal, going to try the MEK first but will keep it in mind, thanks!

John and Pictors, I hear you, and maybe while I try to get through my existing backlog I'll also try to remind myself of what a chore it is when I'm hovering over the bid button for a lot of crusty figs that hold the promise of being diamonds in the rough.

nevinsrip Sponsoring Member of TMP03 Aug 2013 1:19 p.m. PST

Brake fluid works on old enamel paint.

I find that Simple Green works fine as long as you don't wet the figures before you scrape the paint off. Once you wet the figures under water, the Simple Green loses it's ability to remove paint.

cmdr kevin Inactive Member03 Aug 2013 7:59 p.m. PST

Lacquer thinner. As long as its metal figs. The stuff melts plastic and resin. I use it as a first treatment and never have to use anything else.

Joes Shop Supporting Member of TMP04 Aug 2013 5:23 a.m. PST

Simple Green aside, be very careful with the rest listed-very caustic!


J. P. Kelly

ancientsgamer Supporting Member of TMP04 Aug 2013 1:22 p.m. PST

I have been rather successful with overpainting rather than starting with stripped figures. Unless they have enamel paints which tend to have a thick coating on older figures. There is some very caustic stuff out there for aircraft paints. Not sure if it would react to lead miniatures (I suspect it might).

TKindred Supporting Member of TMP01 Sep 2013 6:20 a.m. PST

MEK will dissolve plastic. Just a head's up. Many model railroad folks use MEK to bond large sheets of styrene, the same stuff that most plastic figures and virtually all the plastic bases, movement trays, etc, are made of.

It willl also cause permanent lung damage and respiratory distress if inhaled. Wrar an actual respirator or use it outside if you must use it.

Personally, my stripping agent of choice is DOT III 9or, sometimes, DOT-3) Brake Fluid. It dissolves both acrylic and enamel and won't harm plastic minis or bases.

I use a large plastic ice cream tub, or other such container with a lid. I place the minis into the containers and then pour in a quart of the brake fluid. Cover and leave for at LEAST 24 hours. 48 if at all possible.

Afterward, you can wash the minis in a plastic dishwashing tub with warm water and dishwashing liquid and a soft toothbrush to get all the bits out. Rinse under warm water and voila!

That same brake fluid can be used for several hundred minis before it needs to be replaced. When it's reached it's limit, take it to your local recycling center.

Mal Sabreur Inactive Member15 Sep 2013 4:53 a.m. PST

I'm with TKindred on this one, particularly for plastic figures. Once they've been soaked, I give them a scrub using a soft brush on my dremel then wash and rinse them. A cheap electric toothbrush would work well too.

michaelk177606 Dec 2013 6:48 p.m. PST

Have you tried this?

R Strickland Fezian Inactive Member10 Feb 2015 8:29 p.m. PST


MEK doesn't seem to be sold here in California. An MEK substitute worked generally very poorly, though one stubborn and large figure painted with a kind of paint with a unique finish was stripped entirely clean where Simple Green did absolutely nothing to it.

I found my round 2 agent of choice, however. It's pure acetone. I had tried acetone nail polish remover to little effect, but the pure stuff is brilliant.

The trick is to do Simple Green first, as Simple Green quickly takes 90% or more of the paint off. With Simple Green the paint generally sloughs off in sheets.

Acetone, on the other hand, melts the paint. When you take the figure out of the tub most kinds of paint will still appear in the form of paint, but scrubbing it dissolves the paint from cracks. Even if you leave a bit of paint in a crack after scrubbing--and it's rare you would have to that--what paint that is left is melted, so you don't have a ragged edge and it shouldn't be noticeable when you prime.

Gentle, methodical scrubbing takes enamels off cleanly.

Another note is that it dissolves very quickly. When you take the figure out of the tub you have barely enough time to scrub one side of it before it's dry. So repeated dips of the toothbrush in a small pot of the stuff is needed, and you use it up as you go, so if you have more than a hundred or so figures go for the gallon.

The reason you want to do Simple Green first, though, is that if you start with a fully painted figure you have a bit of mess on your hands dissolving all the paint, and you're bound to spend more time at it overall, and with a more dangerous substance.

I have quite a few hundreds of figures that have languishing and now 4 of 15 USPS small rate boxes full are now sparkly clean, far cleaner than I would have hoped for when I posted back in August 2013. I mean, they are pristine.

The one downside is that the stuff is harmful according to the label. I think I'll make a new post to ask about the best safety precautions.

ced110627 Apr 2015 10:18 p.m. PST

Late reply, but try Super Clean. You need to wear gloves with the stuff. Not sure if I'll soak the mini's in Simple Green first anymore.


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