Like a lot of people I purchased one of the Bachmann Sam’s Club Christmas special sets. It’s a nice Annie (Anniversary) engine with a combo car and a passenger car. But the Christmas decorations, especially the “snow frosted” windows did little for me and I figured it would be easy to remove same. Not so much as it turns out, the “easy” part that is. I tried nail polish remover and the like but is took huge amounts of elbow grease and damaged any paint it touched as well. But with some help here from the MyLargeScale.com forum I finally figured out an easy way to remove the decorations.
I picked up a tip on a degreaser called Castrol Super Clean that can be used to remove decals from Bachmann cars without eating the paint and plastic. At that point I knew what to do and got some of this degreaser chemical.
But knowing what to do, and knowing how to do it, are two very different things. I do not have a vat to soak something as large as a Bachmann passenger car in, nor do I want to purchase gallons of what is, after all, a fairly toxic chemical.
So I started with Q-tips, laboriously dipping and rubbing and much to my surprise it worked! But it was very time consuming. So I tried to figure out how to localize the Super Clean to only selected spots while at the same time allowing the chemical to stay on the areas to be de-Xmased for a good 10 minutes.
Here’s what I came up with.
I used cotton to cover just the spots where I wanted to soak the Super Clean and using an eyedropper put just enough of the chemical to wet the cotton.
10 minutes later I carefully, using tweezers, pulled up the cotton (you really don’t want to get Super Clean on your skin) and then cleaned up the goo with Q-tips and then wet (with water) paper towels. The results so far have been good and the process very fast.
Super Clean has the consistency and look of Windex (but DO NOT get this stuff on your skin!) so it will run, but the cotton kept it right where I wanted it with the bonus of absorbing most of the decal paint making only minimal residual clean up necessary.
The passenger car on top shows the frosted windows and Christmas banner decals. The combo car on the bottom also had the banners and frosted windows and shows the results after the Super Clean and cotton treatment.
I use it full strength out of the bottle. I sprayed it (carefully) into a shot glass and used a eyedropper to wet the cotton that I placed over the (what I think are) decals making up the Xmas decorations on the Bachmann cars. The garlands, the wreaths, and the dreaded snow frosting on the windows. Also allowed me to take off selected areas of lettering so I was able to remove references to the North Pole and the North Star Express lettering. This stuff is very strong and I only would leave it on for about 10 minutes which dissolved the painted decorations but did not seem to touch the underlying paint.
In the picture above you see the original passenger car with all the gaudy Christmas decorations on top, and the Super Cleaned combo car below.
I removed all the Christmas decals and paint from the passenger, combo, and the “North Star Express” lettering from the tender.
If you’ve tried Super Clean or have another solution for removing lettering, decorations, etc., without damaging the underlying paint, please leave a comment below!
(Originally posted 3/11/2011, revised 2/3/2012)