Painting Brass, 1st Time

WM183 Oct 10, 2018 at 1:44 PM

  1. WM183

    WM183 TrainBoard Member

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    Hi folks.

    I'm no stranger to painting and decaling models, but I have never done a brass piece before. I have a gorgeous NYC H-10a that I want to paint and decal, but I am lost as to what sort of paint to use, or how to apply it. My questions in particular are:

    1) I have read that to clean the brass, you wash it good in soapy water and then lightly pickle it in a bath of vinegar for 15-20 minutes. Is this correct?

    2) I have also read that I can use any sort of cheap auto primer; is that true? I usually use Vallejo grey acrylic/polyeurathane primer. Will this work, or does it need to be an "etching" type of primer?

    3) I can easily remove the body shell and pilot, as well as the tender shell, for cleaning and spraying. But what about the frame, tender trucks, and so on? Is it best to simply paint these with a small brush? Or should I disassemble all the valve gear and wheels and so on? I hate to do this.

    And 4) can i use an acrylic paint, or is it best to use enamel? I could brushpaint enamels even and have them come out quite nice; I have never used enamel through my airbrush.

    In short... what do?
     
    Kez likes this.
  2. bman

    bman TrainBoard Member

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    I'm halfway through painting a brass caboose. My 1st time as well. I researched a bit online and asked around as well before starting.

    as far as #1. yes, that's what I did. I washed it using unscented Dawn, rinsed it off and let it dry. Then a bath of distilled white vinegar and rinsed again and let dry. Then to handle it I used cotton gloves to keep the oils from my skin from getting on the caboose.

    As far as the rest, I've no idea. I am using Scalecoat I to paint it. It's advertised as not needing a primer for brass and other metals. It provides a nice glossy finish for decals and I am happy with the results so far. Hopefully I can finish painting the roof and under body this weekend. I'm trying to get motivated there's a lot of masking to do. I'd do a little internet searching as well as help from the forums as to what primer to use.
     
    JoeTodd likes this.
  3. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    This is a great question and I'm looking forward to reading contributions. Even in painting plastic steam locomotives, the running gear puzzles me. You can't just spray away as you might elsewhere and masking the driving rods, eccentrics and valve gear would create shadow lines on the drivers.
     
  4. JMaurer1

    JMaurer1 TrainBoard Member

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    I always used latex gloves instead of cotton. Latex doesn't have fuzz. I usually take the motor, drivers and wheels off to paint the frame...usually only a few screws. Clean with dish soap. As for paint, I don't clean with vinegar or use any primer mostly because I ALWAYS use enamel or oil based paint (specifically Floquil but other than my stock it isn't an option anymore). IMHO water soluble paints just don't have the ability to stick as well and is effected by any oil (lube or skin, which is what the vinegar is trying to remove) that you might miss on the model. After painting I would 'cure' the model in a toaster oven at 140 degrees (be careful with temps, solder doesn't melt until 350 degrees but most ovens don't register temps until 250-300) for a hour or until you no longer can smell the paint. The paint then is pretty much bulletproof at this point. I don't use a gloss coat for decals either. Usually paint from an airbrush is smooth enough with decal setting solution. A final coat of flat to seal the decals and you're done...simple (lol). I'm sure others will tell you how they do it, but I've been painting brass for over 30 years (don't make me think how many actual years, I'm not that old). Good luck.
     
  5. WM183

    WM183 TrainBoard Member

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    I can certainly spray it with Humbrol enamels, i am just worried about cleaning my airbrush afterwards. I have never used enamels in my airbrush. Perhaps I will do the dish soap - vinegar bit and then shoot it with Humbrol's black. Humbrol is amazing paint, and I have used it forever on wargaming minis.

    The wash - spray - bake idea does sound simple; I like the idea of being able to do it from disassembly to reassembly in a day or two.

    Amanda
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018 at 7:04 PM
  6. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    I'd first double check the oven temperature with an oven thermometer that you can set in the oven just to insure the oven thermostat is accurate.
     
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  7. WM183

    WM183 TrainBoard Member

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    I will. Our oven has a "warm" setting of about 60-65 C that should work. Failing that, I can just let it sit on the kitchen radiator surround while it dries =D
     
  8. WM183

    WM183 TrainBoard Member

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    I know some folks spray them while they're running, so that all the working bits get painted evenly. I just have no idea how the paint wouldnt mess up crossheads and things, or cover the conductive surfaces of the wheels.
     
    Hardcoaler likes this.
  9. Maletrain

    Maletrain TrainBoard Member

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    Some people use Neolube for the wheels and running gear on steam locos. It is basically graphite in an alcohol solution. It dries to leave a pretty tenacious coating of graphite that is dark gray. And, that coating is electrically conductive, so a bit in the wrong place won't kill the electrical connections.
     
  10. JMaurer1

    JMaurer1 TrainBoard Member

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    As for cleaning the airbrush, I bought a spare bottle with the tube attachment and just kept thinner in that. As soon as I was done painting one color, I would then spray thinner into a rag to clean the brush. Easy peezy.
     
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  11. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Now you'll have to explain to those seated at your table why the chicken tastes like Humbrol Black Matte. :oops:
     
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  12. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

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    It's weathered chicken! Yum! :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:
     
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  13. bill pearce

    bill pearce TrainBoard Member

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    There are many suggestions for painting brass, only a few of which I have tried, but I've painted a lot of brass, quantity in the dozens, and here's what I've come up with. For primer I have used Accupaint primer, but I'm pretty much out of that and don't know if thee folks that took over the accupaint line make the primer. AccuPaint was my prefered paint for brass, but my fallback was Scalecoat I, I doesn't need primer, but definitely not Scalecoat II.

    Brass needs to be given tooth for paint to be durable. I'm not convinced that vinegar etches brass at all. I've soaked brass, and examined it with a magnifier and it looks untouched. If acid etching is your desire, you will need something stronger than ordinary grocery store vinegar.

    I found an alternative from the advice of a fellow modeler in Tulsa. Get a Badger air eraser, basically a mini sandblaster. It is very effective at stripping paint, stripping pad painted stuff, and preparing brass for painting. The key is to use the correct abrasive. For removing pad printed letters and numbers from a model without removing underlying paint, use corn starch. With care, baking soda will also do. The actual grit made fo the eraser if you get the finest, will etch brass nicely. Just don't go too coarse and don't overdo it.

    Paint with your airbrush, one coat will do for some colors. Using Accupaint, it dries quickly but a short bake helps. Scalecoat I dries in a few hours using my technique. I use a Ronco Food Dehydrator. I operates at a very low temp, under 120 I think, but it bakes paint on even on Kato shells. I don't know where to get one of these now, but they were a major gift item 15 or 20 years ago, so look at yard sales. For painting brass, it works perfectly.
     
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  14. WM183

    WM183 TrainBoard Member

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    Would Scalecoat 1010 be the correct paint? I need to order from the US, sadly, and want to be quite sure I order the right paint.
     
  15. WM183

    WM183 TrainBoard Member

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    It would still not be the strangest thing to come out of our oven!
     
    Hardcoaler, mtntrainman and JMaurer1 like this.

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