stripping ur minis (while cleaning the airbrush)
Inevitably over the course of a hobby infused life, mistakes are made, new ideas are to be tried and old abominations are too be expunged. In the distant past stripping minis of their paint was a long, slow, toxic nuisance. Using new technology, specifically an appropriately sized ultrasonic cleaner all those old problems are eliminated.
Beware! I purchased my ultrasonic cleaner around the same time I got my airbrush (approximately ten years ago), specifically to help with cleaning my airbrush. The fact that it could strip my minis as well made the cost more justified. It was expensive then, I’m sure it is just as expensive now. To be clear, this is a product for Men who like cool tools, have a large enough lead pile already, and are not strapped for cash.
Do NOT Strip Heritage Minis!!!
Heritage minis are those you painted over twenty years ago, those given to you already painted by your family (i.e. father, brother, uncle, grandfather etc) or friends who have died.
Consider yourself warned.
Using the ultrasonic cleaner is really as simple as you would imagine it would be. Mine is large enough to fit a separate cleaning container, this is not necessary it just makes the ultrasonic easier to use and keep clean.
So first thing you do is fill the tank up with some distilled water, notice I use less water because the cleaning tank displaces the water. It is important that the displaced water level reaches the appropriate height. This is literally the hardest part of using the cleaner because you have to guess and test, removing and adding water until you get to the right height.
Here is my dirty airbrush after a couple months of use. While I’m pretty sure the cleaning detergent harms the rubber o-rings I haven’t noticed a problem (yet) and have never had to replace the original o-rings that came with the airbrush. ymmv.
This is the product I use to strip the paint. I’m sure you can find a similar product at your local home improvement center. The product claims to be non-corrosive but I would probably search out something more task specific if I was going to use the ultrasonic cleaner to clean expensive jewelry.
Next step is to put the cleaning tank into the main tank, set the temperature for the bath and then set the degas. I should state up front I have no idea what degassing is or means and have very little idea how the ultrasonic cleaner works except for something about tiny waves, meh. Since degassing only takes 5 mins I figure ‘what the hell, might as well’.
Next I put on the lid, set it for 15 minutes and usually leave the room, the noise the cleaner makes is annoying, like fingernails on a chalkboard annoying.
Before you know it your airbrush is clean and shiny, inside and out, ready for the next project. I usually wear gloves to take the pieces out (cause I’m delicate lol) and run the pieces under lukewarm water to remove any remaining cleaner fluid.
Next I’m going to strip some old, test painted minis. I usually strip the minis for a half hour. If you wanted you could clean the minis and the airbrush at the same time. I just find it easier to do them separately. I didn’t change the cleaning fluid between batches and usually only change it if it looks really gross. Since I don’t do this stuff everyday though, I dispose of the cleaning solution after use, the water in the main tank I leave to evaporate.
When the minis come out of the cleaner you have to run them under lukewarm water and gently clean them with an old tooth brush. The paint does not dissolve into non-existence but instead separates from the mini like a snake shed its skin. If you still find paint stuck in a deep crease just throw em back in for a couple more minutes. I would imagine that if you did ultrasonic clean them for a couple hours the paint would dissolve. I have always worried about etching the soft metal so have never tried it for that long myself.
Take care and hobby on!