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Author Topic:   Tips for cleaning space models
hpwhite
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posted 06-29-2009 11:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for hpwhite   Click Here to Email hpwhite     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would like some advise on cleaning an old lunar module contractor's model. It is a bit "grimy" (more than just dust) and would like some suggestion on how to try and get this off.
  • Water and a Q Tip?
  • Some other chemicals?
I have looked around and have not found any specific methods mentioned.

Any assistance would be appreciated.

apolloprojeckt
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From: arnhem netherlands
Registered: Feb 2009

posted 06-30-2009 01:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for apolloprojeckt   Click Here to Email apolloprojeckt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Lying to a number of factors, what kind of paint is used? Industrial paint or hand painted, there are separate decals on the model, industrial glue or glue but no clamp connections?

If it is a factory made model with production as much as paint and decals is usually less sensitive to clean, but the model is someone personally or in a very small quantity it is vulnerable.

The model also traces of yellow sunlight necotine or discoloration?

Here is an example photo of someone old Saturn v, I have cleaning the Saturn V you can see well the discoloration (especially necotine sunlight) left the dirty side and right the clean side.

It is important to know first how the model is built and what are materials are use, maybe you can show us a picture?

history in miniature
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From: Slatington, PA U.S.A.
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posted 06-30-2009 05:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for history in miniature   Click Here to Email history in miniature     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I use Fantastic household cleaner, on everything, because when I build, fingerprints, and dirty hands always bite me.

For the hard to get areas, spray a little on a Q-tip, voila! That's for dirt, and dust, anything else, let us see pictures.

garymilgrom
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From: Atlanta, GA, USA
Registered: Feb 2007

posted 06-30-2009 06:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I use a Swiffer duster for dusting but it sounds like you need more aggressive methods. In the car detailing world used toothbrushes are prized for their softness and ability to reach small nooks and cranies. Good luck.

Rick Mulheirn
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From: England
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posted 06-30-2009 12:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick Mulheirn   Click Here to Email Rick Mulheirn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The best solution is Isopropyl Alcohol; I bought 500ml from the local chemist/pharmacy last fall for £5.

Cotton buds or "Q Tips" dipped in the solution bring the model up a treat without harming the model in any way. I used about a cap full to restore such a model recently and it worked equally well on all parts of the model, i.e. landing gear, paintwork and even decals... though I only gave the decals a quick wipe over.

For the record it is the same solution used to clean recording heads on VCR and cassette machines so if you have a head cleaning kit knocking around the house you probably have the alcohol already.

quote:
Originally posted by hpwhite:
Any assistance would be appreciated.
If you would like to see some before and after shots using this alcohol solution drop me an e-mail.

Alan Lipkin
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From: Beverly Hills, CA USA
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posted 03-19-2010 11:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Alan Lipkin   Click Here to Email Alan Lipkin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
How can we clean black foam-rubber padding that has decomposed and crumbled sticking to a cast aluminum model (painted black & white). The model is of a C-5 Nuclear Booster consigned to the Regency-Superior auction this coming Fall by the estate of a scientist who worked on this fascinating project. So far we have tried: Windex, soapy water, Formulat 409 all to no effect. It seems that anything abrasive enough to take off the black bits will also take off the paint. Any suggestions?

Editor's note: Threads merged.

Rick Mulheirn
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From: England
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posted 03-19-2010 01:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick Mulheirn   Click Here to Email Rick Mulheirn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Alan, regarding my post above, try this solution on a small part of your affected model. I would be surprised it it did not come off and it is not abrasive.

For what it is worth, a friend and fellow cS'er from California put me on to it. In the US I think it is called "de-natured" alcohol.

dsenechal
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posted 03-19-2010 03:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dsenechal   Click Here to Email dsenechal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
But, Alan, be careful of denatured alcohol as well. Some of the paints used "back in the day" were lacquers made with alcohol solvents. Alcohol could really mess things up, depending on the paint (and decals). If you must, try it carefully on a hidden area before you take the big step.

I have had some luck using plain old water and a paper towel. A Mr. Clean "magic erasor" might also work, but don't try too hard, as it can be a little abrasive.

You bring up a good point though (and a major irritant). I have had a number of things (cameras, models, etc.) messed up badly by foam padding that had turned to a corrosive mush after a few years. I am surprised that this doesn't get more attention, and that a manufacturer hasn't developed a non-degrading foam padding for archival storage purposes (I supposed the environmentalists wouldn't like that very much, though).

Alan Lipkin
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From: Beverly Hills, CA USA
Registered: Mar 2006

posted 03-19-2010 03:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Alan Lipkin   Click Here to Email Alan Lipkin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the tips so far. I will test a bit of the alcohol this weekend (on a hidden spot). I doubt that Mr. Clean will work since Formula 409 didn't but I will try. Someone suggested steam. Has anyone tried this and what are the advantages, disadvantages, pitfalls to watch for, etc. I would presume that steam would not be the best thing for decals.

dsenechal
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posted 03-19-2010 03:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dsenechal   Click Here to Email dsenechal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is not a liquid, but rather, a cleaning sponge that you use with water, which gradually dissolves as you use it. It is not terribly abrasive (according to the commercials, soccer moms use it to remove crayon marks from painted walls and dried-on grease from their stove-tops - oh, the travails!), and I have used it to remove magic marker from a pebble-finish paint without messing up the paint. Probably worth a try, but tread gingerly until you know what it will or won't do.

Retro Rocket
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From: Santa Paula, Ca,. USA
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posted 03-20-2010 01:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Retro Rocket   Click Here to Email Retro Rocket     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A chemical that's rarely mentioned but works great on trmoving sticky stuff without harming paint or decals is Bestine, or rubber cement thinner available at any Staples. i use it for removing spraymount and wax before painting a model and it's never messed up any paints

collocation
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From: McLean, VA, USA
Registered: Feb 2004

posted 06-14-2010 09:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for collocation   Click Here to Email collocation     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have a space shuttle model that was built for me and has been sitting on a top shelf for quite a number of years. Like to know the best way to remove the dust, it is caked on in some areas, thanks for your suggestions or ideas.

Editor's note: Threads merged.

Jay Chladek
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From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 06-14-2010 10:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have some swiffer dust mits that I use to dust off the model (they look like thin white gloves). A non-shedding paint brush with soft bristles does the job in tight spots. I try not to spray anything on models since without knowing what the clear coat is, some sprays can damage them. Case and point, many modelers today I know use Future Acrylic floor polish as a gloss coat. Future is nice, but it also softens in the presence of ammonia. As such, Windex can soften it, even if the clear coat has been on for years. I don't use Future, but some modelers do and swear by it.

When in doubt, test a small innocuous area with a drop of your cleaning solution to see what it does. But if it is just dusting, then typically scrubbing with cloths and brushes does the job just the same if the model is otherwise fine.

CAIR67
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From: MD, United States
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posted 06-19-2010 07:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for CAIR67     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When cleaning my models I use a couple techniques. The first one I have been using is Novus plastic polishing products. They come in 3 grades 1-2-3 and are extremely stable with no bad chemical reactions. 1 is just a liquid cleaner, 2 is a light polish used for small scratches, and 3 is for bigger scratches. Part 2 and 3 use silicon grit as the abrasive. Works great for polishing those Topping models to a great shine! I clean every model I own with Novus 1 its great stuff. When I first get a model I go over it with 3 and 2 first, depending on the wear and finish with 1. I avoid cleaning any decal on my models as they are brittle with age and can easily be wiped off. If I do clean a decal I only work on cleaning the decal and use very light touches with the softest materials I can find and work carefully.

Another technique I began to use with great success is a car detailing technique. I begin with 2000 grit wet/dry sand paper and soak it in water with a drop of carwash detergent. I rub this over the model a couple of times LIGHTLY and with plenty of water avoiding decals and anything else that might be destroyed with abrasives. When the paint looks dull your good to go. I than take Meguiars polishing compound with a foam pad and rub by hand or with a polishing sponge on drill depending on the paint condition. Your model will be bright and shiny in no time. I use this technique for my 6 footers and it works great. BUT!!! you need to be very careful you can easily take it too far and sand all the paint off. MORE IS LESS! Most importantly don't over do it, cleaning any model because you can easily damage the historical value and monetary value by over cleaning. If you are unsure of what the finish originally looked like than don't clean it (was the original paint gloss or flat? etc). Or give it to a professional to clean (like me!) But please please be careful with cleaning your models, seen over cleaning too many times!

A few notes on above posts:

Denatured Alcohol-I used to use denatured alcohol before I tried Novus. Yes it cleans but it also dries out the surface and takes away natural oils so be careful with the stuff! It also is very strong and can remove paint and decals. Same with the Isopropyl Alcohol but this stuff is weaker.

Yellowing Topping/Precise models-If it the model has been in a smoker's house white plastic or paint will turn yellow from the nicotine staining. For all intensive purposes it can not be removed! I have seen an article where someone de-yellowed a Topping LEM by using a concoction of bleaches. BE warned you are playing with fire by bleaching out a model because you are playing around with the plastic's chemistry. Over time the plastic will get very brittle and start to fall apart if not immediately. Once again do not over clean!! Yellowing white is part of the aging process can't help it!

Removing decomposed foam from a model-I also like brass model trains that were originally packaged in foam boxes. Over time the foam boxes decomposed and attach to the models. You really can't get rid of the foam on the model with out removing the paint underneath. The foam reacts and melds with the paint. On the HO trains it meant a total repaint of the model and foam would even start to corrode the unpainted brass! When brass train collectors realized this they replaced the original foam in the boxes and wrapped the models in plastic so nothing is in contact with the foam. I'm sorry to say it Alan but I doubt you will get that foam off without taking the paint off and than have to touch up the model.

I hope this helps feel free to comment.

Alan Lipkin
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Posts: 76
From: Beverly Hills, CA USA
Registered: Mar 2006

posted 07-08-2010 01:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Alan Lipkin   Click Here to Email Alan Lipkin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks to all who sent advice and suggestions. Unfortunately, the foam seems to have eaten into and bonded with the paint. All I can do is remove the loose surface stuff and advise the potential buyer of the model of the problem. I presume the buyer will either keep it as-is or remove all the paint and re-paint it. It is still a magnificent model of the C-5 Nuclear booster (the only one of these I have ever seen). It will be photographed for our October 2010 Space Memorabilia catalog and available on our website, by late August. Thanks to all who helped.

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