Monday, 7 January 2013

How NOT to strip miniatures...

I was almost tempted to put in a new label, "how not to" for this post.

I had a bunch of Newline Designs Pictish cavalry. I had converted and painted these when I first got back into gaming, and had based them for DBA. Well, no one was playing DBA in 28mm, so hence the other army types. The painting was ropey even by my generous standards, so I decided a clean and spruce up would be in order.

Now these had been varnished with about three layers of polyurethane, one gloss and two matt, over acrylics and a car paint primer. Hence, the usual trick of kitchen power spray was about as effective as spitting at them. So I went up to using pine disinfectant. After five days of soaking they were merely a bit discoloured and the paint was still as solid as a rock.

From here I went to what I thought was gross brutality. Dichloromethane...

Dichloromethane is the active ingredient in Nitromors paint stripper and can usually be relied upon to take more or less any coating off more or less any surface (provided it doesn't simply dissolve everything!). It's also a "go to" solvent in the laboratory for extracting tightly bound analytes from tough samples. So, on these two grounds, I had high hopes of success.

Three days in DCM including a gentle poke with a brass brush, and... NOTHING! OK, not quite nothing. Here and there were signs of things softening a bit, and some colour had leached into the solvent, but you could barely see the effect.

So I decided to take a leaf from Marsellus Wallace and "...get medieval..." on them. I allowed the residual solvent to evaporate and put the figures in a pot of dilute caustic soda.

Now that worked. A bit too well, hence the title. It removed all the paint. Every trace. In one fell swoop.

When I rinsed the residue away, I found to my horror that it had also softened and debonded all the green stuff I had added to model armour, helmets, facial hair, weapons and so on, and had used to cover the cut and pinned joints where I had reposed both horses and riders!

And it had weakened and destroyed the epoxy and cyanoacrylate I had used to hold the pinned parts together in the first place!

This lot got taken to the cleaners! Arrows show (some) places where green stuff came away.

Luckily I have managed to keep the relevant parts together to re-create the figures. Oh well!

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