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An Alternative to Replating - A Tutorial by Michael VanValkenburg

Hi folks, Doc Here. As Michael alludes to in his report below, this technique is not meant for a by-the-book restoration project. However, for refurbishing a set destined for model building, it may be just the thing for saving those seemingly unsalvageable parts. Read on...

[Here's a] short story about some really rusted parts. We have probably all seen these before, I bought a set on eBay mostly for the P51 motor it had, the parts with it were so bad I almost dumped the whole box in the scrap metal bin to go to the dump. The box did go there, minus the latches. Not wanting to get into re-plating (these wouldn't have come out well given the pitting on them), I decided a paint job was the only hope I had of saving them. The rust had to be removed, I used a K-Mart special brass coated wire wheel chucked in my wood lathe. It works pretty fast, you need glasses or goggles for the flying bits and a dust mask unless you want to taste and smell rust all day.

In the photo, the lower 2 girders are as bad as you will find, the third one up show one after cleaning. I had a can of silver - metallic spray paint, this finish came out more like what is on baseplates, not what I was looking for. I bought a can of "chrome" instead. The first few I did were hanging on wires so I could do both sides at the same time. This is the fourth girder up. I wasn't really happy with the finish, light spray coats, some orange - peeled. They got stripped again. The top two show my finished product, I primed the parts hanging on wires, the combination of paint plus primer fills in all the pit marks also, then sprayed them laying flat. You can lay the paint on so heavy it is a wet layer without running if they are flat, and I get a shiny finish this way, rather than the over - spray effect of light coats. My paint stand is cardboard with numerous 1/2" staples shot through it, the parts lay on the points of the staples and don't stick. This paint is dry enough in ten minutes to flip them over and do the other side. Do they look like new nickel parts? No - but they are nice enough to use in a model, and the alternative was the scrap bin.