A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that


Thursday, 29 June 2017

Poppycock! - another damned waste of bleach

Some of us are destined not to be successful strippers - we just have to face up to the fact. I would love it if bleach worked for me - I keep allowing myself to be duped into trying it again.

I'm currently having a minor blitz on a pile of French command figures which are waiting to be painted - I've just spent a day and and a half, filing and fettling and supergluing - mostly Hagen and Art Miniaturen figures - really rather enjoyed myself. This is partly aimed at shifting some more of the painting queue, but also at moving to my new basing standard for general officers - it may take a while to get there, but the idea is to have brigadiers based on their own, division commanders based in twos (a general + an ADC) and army commanders in threes (a general + 2 staff). I have a nice supply of figures just itching to be painted and based - all good stuff.

I made very good progress, and while I was at it I thought it would be a good idea to do something (at long last) about a Qualiticast command group I bought on eBay - it's been in the cupboard for a couple of years. Problems with it are (1) the group includes Napoleon [gasp], and (2) the group has been professionally painted, to a standard which does not please me. The painting is, to employ a technical term, crap. I could - and shall - do better myself.


So I prised the Qualiticast figures off their little diorama base, being careful to preserve the table (with map) and the scenic drum, crossed myself and placed the figures lovingly in some nice new bleach I had bought specially. I took care to avoid bubbles, and checked they were all covered to a good depth, and left them for 36 hours. When I felt they were ready, I rinsed them off, rubbed them down with the regulation toothbrush and had a speculative pick with the official penknife.

These are not, you will notice, what are termed unpainted figures

They are now drying. When they are dry I shall stick them in the hated Nitromors, or hand remover as it is known here. That will do the job. Speak not to me of bleach, nor Dettol, nor Buckfast tonic wine, nor Fairy Dust - all that can be said for my most recent bleach attempt is that I am very unlikely now to catch any infection from the figures, but the paint on them has become "a little spoilt" rather than "gone", which is the state I had hoped for.

If bleach works for you then you have my envy and my respect - it does not work for me. The number of times I have proved this to myself, you would think I would have got the hang of the idea by now.

Not to worry. Progress consists of small steps. I think Goethe said that. It might have been the Chuckle Brothers, in fact.

****** Late Edit ****** (Saturday night, 1st July)

Nice clean, airtight Douwe Egberts jar containing the Clean Spirit experiment
 - give it a couple of weeks. I'll set up another trial when the
Simple Green arrives.

27 comments:

  1. If they are metal figures buy some cheap paint stripper from somehwere like B&Q or a smilar bargain storf. Put it in a glass container and check the figures in and leaver for 49 hours. With rubber gloves and a tooth brush wash them off under a cold tap. Leave the remains of the paint stripepr in the pot incase you need a second application. I spent an evening cleaning some awful figures that looked like they were covered with artex the paint was so thick. The came up like new once I used a scalpel to get into the stubborn little areas!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Thanks Drew - I may finish up doing just this - I hate Nitromors with a hatred which surpasseth understanding - see comment further down - so I shall try less environmentally disastrous solutions as far as possible.

      Delete
  2. I have the same issue with acetone for acylique paint. The wife's nail varnish remover never works satisfactorily but every six months or so I ignore all previous experience to the contrary and give it another try. Sigh.

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    1. These incidents accumulate - no wonder we get depressed. As long as your wife does not use bleach on her nails we are OK, I think. I'm reaching a stage where I no longer have confidence that the light will come on if I work the switch - is it just me?

      Delete
  3. Trebian over at Wargaming for Grown-ups has recently blogged about this : Coca-Cola failed but paint stripper did the job, sensibly enough. See entries entitled 'soak far' in April/May this year. He blogs a good blog, too..

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    1. I usually check Trebian's blog, but missed this post - will go and look - thanks David

      Delete
  4. I can't get bleach to work either. Kiwi Dettol, on the other hand, is clearly made from a special Kiwi recipe as it generally works brilliantly. Mind you, it can sometimes take week.

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    1. Thanks WM - I have mixed reports on UK Dettol - problem is that they do not include model soldier stripping as one of the supported activities, so I am likely to buy some fragranced spray for cleaning the kitchen worktop.

      Delete
  5. In my country there is a fluid you can buy called 'Simple Green'. Diluted, it makes a fine household clear. Undiluted, it WILL strip paint, bake-hardened oven detritus and any other stubbornly unwanted surface gunk.

    As with other products, it does take time, but what gets left gets softened enough to pick at, quite often.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I have a couple of votes for Simple Green, which would be ideal if I can just get the right product with the right ingredients in the UK - there's more on this in a moment...

      In the meantime, thanks.

      Delete
  6. Never mind Tony at least you can have a go at cleaning the toilet! I've seldom had any problems using bleach but I am mostly stripping old enamels (sometimes 50 years old). I have found that more modern acrylics are harder to shift but so far have always managed to move them in the end. Perhaps Scottish bleach is watered down?

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    1. They probably have special weak Scottish bleach in case we drink the stuff. I think the type of paint is certainly relevant - the only success I ever had was with some really old (1960s?) enamel jobs, and I think they were unvarnished. Really, it's the vestiges of hope that hurt the most - these rare successes are just sent along to keep us wretched and confused.

      You're right - we are very well supplied now for cleaning the toilet. Every silver lining has a cloud around it. That wasn't Goethe - he was always drunk.

      Delete
  7. Tom emailed me from the US, in praise of Simple Green - thus:

    Greetings Sir ~

    I read your recent post regarding using bleach to strip paint from figures. (That was a new one for me! Yikes, that's as scary to me as folks using brake cleaner.)

    I have been using a product called 'Simple Green', here in the States, with absolute success for many years on hundreds of figures. I highly recommend it. It has dealt with enamels, acrylics, automotive primers, humbrol, testors and who knows what else on the vintage Ral Partha figures that I Collect!

    I soak my figures in a lidded glass jar for however long ~ sometimes until I remember I have figures still soaking! (Yes, I have left antique lead figures soak for nine or more months with no ill effect.) I do wear rubber dish washing gloves and use a regular tooth brush. I scrub them in my bathroom sink, with the drain closed so I can wipe out the paint residue before throughly rinsing them. I also do a final dish soap scrub and wash and then rinse before leaving them to dry.

    It is repeatedly reusable! Just pour the liquid off into another glass jar before fishing your figures out of the paint sludge. Yes, sometimes you will need to re-soak a figure with stubborn spots, or use a toothpick to dislodge a spot of paint in a difficult to reach area.* But I cannot recommend Simple Green highly enough. Best of all, it is biodegradable so you can rinse it down the drain.

    I don't know if the formula is the same as what I use but this sure looks like it!
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sunshine-Maker-Simple-Green-Personal/dp/B000BPGPZI/ref=pd_sbs_201_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=YE84SX2EN0M6GRSRW2HX

    And for your comparison what I use, from my local grocery store:
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0009WY5GY/ref=s9_dcacsd_dcoop_bw_c_x_2_w

    I Sincerely Hope This Helps! 'Cause I have been there and I feel your pain and frustration!

    Good Luck!!! Im not blogging anymore so if it works for you please spread the word.

    *******

    I have not yet checked the links, but this is a very kind email - I shall add a supplementary comment below...

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    1. Supplementary comment...

      Simple Green has been recommended to me before - the issue then became twofold - which was the correct one of a range of products (I would probably order the shampoo by mistake), and whether the UK version was the same as the US one - with cleaning chemicals, this is often not the case. The Archduke's comment above suggests that the real stuff is at least available in The Empire, which is encouraging. I shall try this - anything is better than using Nitromors, which is toxic, dries to a thick, opaque gel which is hard to remove, dissolves glass jars (and spectacles, as I have learned), so has to be used in an old bean can, and takes the lining off your lungs. Oh yes - and it can't be poured down the household drains, since it is poisonous and because it melts your plastic drainpipes - apart from that it is perfect for the job.

      If anyone in the UK has experience of Simple Green (as marketed here) then please do drop a note - this is becoming a Heavy Issue...

      Delete
  8. Forget bleach, Nitromors, Dettol, etc. - Bartoline Clean Spirit is the gubbins you want. As long as you're not in a hurry it'll strip anything - leave your figures soaking in it for a week or two and the paint will just fall off them. Supposedly the stuff is non-toxic and biodegradable too; i get mine from Wilcos. Cheers.

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    1. Doug - thanks for this - again, there is a big range of related products (and prices!) - could you please give us a link to the actual bottle you use, to narrow this down?

      Real soldiers' tales are gold-dust in this field - so many of the tales and recommendations I have stored away over the years were based on hearsay or what somebody thought somebody else used, so factual war stories are the business!

      Much obliged for any help.

      Delete
  9. This is the stuff:
    http://www.homebase.co.uk/en/homebaseuk/bartoline-clean-spirit---750ml-821528

    has the added bonus of being cheap as chips.

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    1. Thank you Doug - very much - you will gratified to learn that I am going to Homebase in Berwick upon Tweed this very evening to get a bottle. I see they have 77 bottles in stock, so unless an awful lot of people in these parts have been reading this blog post I should get one. I also have a rather embarrassing collection of empty instant coffee jars with sealed lids (I think they were connected with some vague plan for industrial-scale soldier stripping, but they will not take Nitromors) so I should be able to set out a sealed batch and leave it for a month or two. A scheduled wait of a couple of months would not sit badly with most of my projects!

      Once again, the world of toy-soldier-strippers is not central to the sales of Clean Spirit, so the customer reviews of the product are entertaining. I think I would not buy it to wash out my decorating brushes!

      Delete
  10. http://www.biostrip.co.uk/biostrip-20-paint-stripper-500ml-tub.html

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    1. Thanks Phil - do you use this stuff? - how did you use it? - was it any good?

      Delete
  11. Status Report - as at 13:25 pip emma today - I have ordered a 24oz bottle of Simple Green online, and will purchase some Clean Spirit this evening. I have plenty of coffee jars, so could run simultaneous tests on the two products - this could run and run - I could generate a whole series of the most boring blog posts in history.

    Question for today: Is watching paint dry more or less exciting than watching it dissolve?

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  12. I have this morning put 22 minifig (alberken) 20mm french infantry in their bleach bath. I have only started using bleach recently and only used on figures I painted in the 70s using enamels.

    I will post on my blog before and after
    Images.

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  13. I find bleach discolours the figure whereas a good long soak in Dettol leaves it shiny as new. Agree wholeheartedly that it is best to leave for a week or so and in a warm pkace as it is a chemical reaction and heat makes it more effective.
    Roy

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    1. Agreed - I had bad experiences if the bleach evaporated a bit and some of the metal protruded into the air - if that happens, metal turns dark blue and starts to corrode.

      And we put this stuff down the household drains...?

      I've never tried Dettol, but only because I was never convinced which particular bottle I needed.

      Delete
  14. I have updated my blog with my bleach bath on some old minifigs 20mm figures.

    http://ilkleyoldschool.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/early-minifig-20mm-napoleonic.html?m=1

    Bleach worked a treat.

    I have used dettol and found this a bit hit and miss. I wonder if a bleach/dettol cocktail will work.

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    1. Thanks for link - will check out your post. Bleach/Dettol mixture might blow your eyebrows off. I'm impressed that bleach worked so well and so quickly - I guess it must have a lot to do with the age and type of paint.

      Delete
  15. I haven't received my Simple Green yet (Sample Green?), but put the Qualiticast chaps in a jar of Clean Spirit last night (I'll stick a picture in a late edit to this post). It would have been more scientific to have divided the Quallies into 2 lots, and done half in each stripper, but hey - let's get on with this.

    I intend to leave the jar 2 weeks - it isn't going anywhere, and the figures have been in The Cupboard for a few years now. I'll spare you the daily pictures - unless something really interesting happens, of course...

    ReplyDelete

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