Dio-Sol: Salvaging Gummy Dried Floquil Paint

rray May 20, 2020

  1. rray

    rray Staff Member

    So, I have lots (about 70 bottles) of Floquil paint in the 1oz glass bottles. Most are the "Red Label" rev 2/02, some are rev 3/96, and some even older "Brown Label" that say to thin with Dio-Sol.

    I had used Dio-Sol to thin both the old and the newer rev paints over the years, but when I moved to Idaho, without thinking, I left all my solvents and chemicals behind. My highly coveted can of Dio-Sol was a casualty of the move that I did not realize till a year and a half later was coveted liquid gold.

    Over the past winter I started researching suitable paint thinners, and discovered nothing is available, however I found several recipes. The problem with these recipes is that they require chemicals not available everywhere.

    I found 3 recipes that seemed close to each other.

    38% Toluene
    41% Xylene
    21% Naphtha 100

    80% Toluene
    10-15% Xylene
    + other ingredients

    40-45% VM&P Naphtha
    5-10% Xylene
    1-5% Ethyl Benzene
    5-10% Aromatic Hydrocarbon
    40-45% Light Aromatic Hydrocarbon

    Well, I had to do some research on Aromatic Hydrocarbons, and found that there are really only 4 used in paint thinners:
    Toluene (Mildly toxic symptoms such as confusion, weakness, drunken-type actions, memory loss, nausea)
    Xylene (Acutely toxic symptoms such as headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting)
    Naphtha (Acutely toxic symptoms such as headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting)
    Benzene (Carcinogenic)

    So, I decided I would omit the Benzene, and try a mix of mostly light aromatic hydrocarbons, and mixed up a 1oz bottle of home made Dio-Sol in this order:
    40% Toluene
    40% Xylene
    20% VM&P Naphtha

    The Toluene and Xylene mixed without incident, but when I added the VM&P Naphtha (the heavy aromatic hydrocarbon) I at first observed what looks like oil being mixed into alcohol. It was more syrupy compared to the first two ingredients. I pumped the eyedropper empty/full a dozen cycles to mix the compound, and it all mixed in just fine. Even after a few hours the compound did not separate, however I have read that leaving such compounds opened will allow uneven evaporation, and the ratio of the 3 chemicals will change over time.

    Next came the paint test. I took a mostly dried out bottle of my most used color, Roof Brown, and scraped up a tarball from the sides of the bottle, then filled the bottle with about 1/3oz of my home made Dio-Sol, stirred it up. It dissolved everything pretty good. The paint pigment seemed somewhat coarser than brand new Floquil, however it brush painted very good.

    So I thinned 2 more bottles of the dried paints with similar results, and will check on them a a few weeks to verify they don't coagulate or do anything weird, and report back.
    gmorider, bostonjim, SmolderZ and 2 others like this.
  2. shamoo737

    shamoo737 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I have the same problem with dried paint, and adding mineral spirit didn’t help. I would like to try what you did, but I don’t even know where to get the stuff. It’s too bad, because I bought lot Floquil paints for when I have time to do projects.
  3. Philip H

    Philip H TrainBoard Member

    The toluene and naptha can be had at actual hardware stores. Sometime Xylene too. They often have other trade names but all are available if you dig a bit.
  4. rray

    rray Staff Member

    Actually the Xylene and Toluene was $5.52 a quart each, from Merritt Supply Wholesale Marine in Pompano Beach, Florida. The VM&P Naphtha came from my local Lowes for $9 a quart. I checked my mix today, and it was still fully mixed. I also checked the paints today, and the CN Gray pigment had started to settle to the bottom, but shaked back up OK, the Roof Brown that was a tarball was still mixed fine without any separating, and the TTX yellow tarball was starting to dissolve. So far, so good.

    When you look for Floquil paints on ebay, some are up to $50 a 1oz bottle for many of the colors. No deals are to be found. You have to find them at train swap meets or NMRA sales these days.
    gmorider likes this.
  5. shamoo737

    shamoo737 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    My next project it’s the CN safety cab GP38, and I don’t know if I want to use a paint I never used before. I hope I can find Floquil CN red in eBay.
  6. shamoo737

    shamoo737 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I misread what you wrote Robert. I thought you wrote 50 cents a bottle, because my mind can’t process $50 a bottle.
  7. rray

    rray Staff Member

    Yeah, it's insane. $55 for Weathered Black, $50 for Grimy Black with 4 watchers, $50 for Engine Black with 3 watchers, these are New Old Stock.

    People love their Floquil paints and are willing to pay to get it. They flow well, the paint don't dry on the brush, but dries in a few minutes, it sticks well, and Floquil has the correct colors because their recipes were from when the real railroads were there to compare to. Also the variety of boxcar red colors was fantastic. There was Boxcar Red, Tuscan, Mineral, Oxide Red, Zinc Chromate, ATSF Mineral Brown, and I would paint my NP wood cabooses in each of them for subtle weathered variety since all these colors were so close they represented a car throughout its 20 year paint job.

    What's available today? Granted these are my opinions, but I paint a lot, and I use several brands including all these below:

    Tamiya... but it dries after 2-3 strokes on the brush, so you constantly have to dip it in thinner, and no railroad colors. Airbrushes plastic great, don't stick to wood so well.

    Tru-Color...Thick, cheap plastic bottles, need to add thinner to the bottle every time you use it, and even sealed bottles evaporate half the solvent out after 6 months. Uber expensive thinner. The colors have the right names, but are not a match.

    Modelflex... Chips and scratches extra very easily, don't brush well paint at all, most colors are OK though. Will never buy more.
  8. shamoo737

    shamoo737 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Lol, I didn’t know I was seating on goldmine. I thought I was alone in preferring Floquil. I was lucky to pickup some when my local hobby shop put them on sale when they were discontinued.
  9. gmorider

    gmorider TrainBoard Member

    Wow! Don't strike a match! (I hate moving!) :eek:
    rray likes this.

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