Freerails Home 
Home Search search Menu menu Not logged in - Login | Register
Freerails > Model Railroad Forums > Weathering & Detailing Models > Brass Locomotives - Best Way Of Painting Them ?

Freerails IS ACCEPTING new Members ... To join Freerails ... See how to Register as a Member in the 'Joining Freerails' Forum

Brass Locomotives - Best Way Of Painting Them ?
 Moderated by: .
New Topic Reply Printer Friendly
 Rating:  Rating
 Posted: Fri Feb 28th, 2014 02:21 am
1st Post

HIYA Everyone

I may have been out of the loop for awhile, but just out of the loop here ...

So ... I have been collecting some brass traction models & they are turning green.

My first question is do I HAVE to 'Brasso' them before painting ?

And second, what is the name-brand or norm for brass etching primer ?


Rob Wright


Back To Top

 Posted: Fri Apr 11th, 2014 10:31 pm
2nd Post

Joined: Sun May 27th, 2012
Location: Missoula, Montana USA
Posts: 1009
I don't collect brass models, but from the various brass fitting and such that I have had to deal with:
I would clean off any oxidation because then the paint will adhere to the metal better.

It's the same thing with gluing, welding and soldering metal:
always clean the material before working on it.

It you don't, you may find some areas to be pitted,
or the paint might come off in some places where the oxidation prevented proper curing of the paint.

James  :java:

:dt:  And don't forget the duct tape !  :dt:

James W.

New Blog (permanent this time)
Back To Top

 Posted: Sat Apr 12th, 2014 02:15 pm
3rd Post
W C Greene

Joined: Fri May 4th, 2007
Location: Royse City, Texas USA
Posts: 7975
Well, I have been waiting to see if anybody offers suggestions. Seems that when I do, I get "second guessed" but here's my experience. The Brasso would probably work OK, never used it though. Of course the model would be completely disassembled...I put on the latex (or whatever) gloves and go over the brass loco with an old toothbrush and some COMET cleaner. Get the thing wet first, sprinkle on some COMET and then brush it all over. You gotta work at it and be careful of lousy solder joints causing parts to fall off. When done, wash with clean tap water and set aside to dry, may take a few days, or you can fire up the airbrush and blow the excess water off or maybe a hair dryer would work. For "etching", try some distilled vinegar and then washing off. DO NOT TOUCH the model with bare hands after all this.

Good luck, Mr. Phelps...this tape will self destruct in 5 seconds...


It doesn't matter if you win or lose, its' how you rig the game.
Back To Top

 Posted: Sun Dec 21st, 2014 11:06 pm
4th Post

Joined: Sun Aug 24th, 2008
Location: East Anglia, United Kingdom
Posts: 234
Brass needs a self-etch primer.

It ain't dear over here so should really be cheap in America where everything seems so inexpensive to us ripped off Brits.
I just bought another Litre with activator thinners and it cost around 23 quid.

As long as you mix the activator at 50:50 you can then thin the mix with cellulose thinners (you call it lacquer ?).

I just use it 50/50 as I use a larger compressor with a spotting gun at 40 psi.
BUT ... I have also used one of my 'Paasche' Model-H airbrushes at 15psi with the little desktop oil-less compressor.

Aluminium also needs self-etch and I always paint resin models with it too.
I don't bother with any of that scrubbing with vinegar or 'Vim', all that.

Just spray it with self-etch.
Works every time.

I use it on every model I make, I do it for a living and I've had my last litre for over a year !



Manifestly it is better to use simple tools expertly than to possess a bewildering assortment of complicated gadgets and either neglect or use them incompetently. ( L.T.C.Rolt) Blog @
Back To Top

 Posted: Thu Dec 25th, 2014 09:43 pm
5th Post
Tim H

Joined: Sun Dec 14th, 2014
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 164
Even before thinking about degreasing any metal model, I clean with a mild abrasive.

In Europe we can buy Shiny Sinks or Bar Keepers Friend,
both are a mild liquid that will remove flux and finger marks after a good scrub with a damn good rinse in clean water.

It provides a 'key' for the self etch primer mentioned by Martin in the previous post,
but the model must be perfectly dry and dust free before painting.

Tim H

Tim H
Back To Top

 Posted: Tue May 8th, 2018 11:15 pm
6th Post
Helmut F

Joined: Sun Aug 7th, 2016
Location: Santee, California USA
Posts: 297
Hopefully everyone does not mind bringing this back from the dead, it seems related to my questions.

Mostly I wonder what I would get myself into if I bought an unpainted brass model?
It seems to me there are far too many parts on a brass loco for it to be painted as is.
Are those parts easily removed?
Is it better that some parts stay on?
I know when I used to build model kits, all the parts possible would be painted separately and then applied to the model.

Aside from that, I am finding some brass models relatively cheap but am afraid of what I might get myself into with those.
They seem older, so maybe open frame motors that should probably be replaced.
Is that easy enough in most cases?
Or does it just depend?

Any other advise on finishing a brass model?

Back To Top

 Posted: Sun Sep 2nd, 2018 11:39 pm
7th Post
Wayne Taylor

Joined: Sun May 27th, 2018
Posts: 14
As to finishing old brass models, I've just gotten back into it after 20 years.  My interests are HOn3 and yes, the brass engines are selling now for less than they did 20 years ago and they are the same specimens - don't think they are making any new ones.  The key is to get the ones sold by the quality importers such as Key, Westside and some Custom Brass (I don't believe PSC ever sold any brass that was unpainted).  These imports are well soldered and the brass fittings won't fall off. 

You do need to disassemble the engines and tenders but that is all.  No need to remove anything that isn't screwed on.  Then, clean, clean and clean some more.  Soaking in acetone, scrubbing with Ajax, soaking in Citristrip (to remove old paint), scrubbing with Brasso will all get the brass clean.  Once clean and completely dry, soak in regular white vinegar to put a small "bite" onto the brass.  (I'm waiting for a reply on another post to find out how they masked the bell and whistles to keep the shiny brass look.) 

As to painting, my only experience has been with Floquil and I still have some 40+ bottles of railroad colors in excellent condition.  I always primed the models first, with either Floquil gray Primer or their Zinc Chromate primer always using an airbrush (even though my old compressor no longer wants to automatically shut off).  Then a well applied coat of your final color (engine black, grimy black or weathered black are my fave's) and  let the job cure for several days without touching any of the painted surfaces during that time.  You will end up with a brass engine that looks like new.
And yes, get rid of that old open frame motor and replace it with a can if you can do so without cutting any of the original brass supports.

Back To Top

 Current time is 10:00 am

Freerails > Model Railroad Forums > Weathering & Detailing Models > Brass Locomotives - Best Way Of Painting Them ?

UltraBB 1.172 Copyright © 2007-2016 Data 1 Systems