Model Restoration

Section 3 - Repainting

The next step in restoring your model is to repaint it.
This can be done in 3 ways - Brush painting, spraying with aerosol cans and airbrushing. I use all 3 - dependent on what I am painting, what paint I have to hand and what time I have, sometimes even what mood I am in. (sometimes I just can't be bothered to get the airbrush out)
Whatever method you choose to use, you will need to hold the model firmly - both while painting and while drying. I find using small crocodile clips very successful. These can be clipped to one of the rivet posts and, if a piece of wire is attached to the clip, the model can be hung up to dry afterwards.
Another gadget that I find useful is a helping hand. These can be bought from hobby shops, tool stores and even Ebay. I take the magnifying glass off and put one clip on each rivet post to hold the model.


The bare metal will need a primer to assist the top coat of paint to adhere properly. Professionals use an etching metal primer. This eats into the metal slightly and gives really good adhesion to the top coat. I just use a general purpose primer in aerosol cans - grey for most colours and white for white and yellow top coats.

The Paint

The favoured paint used by most restorers is enamels although cellulose car paint and acrylics can be used.
Enamel paints such as the ranges made by Humbrol, Revell, Airfix, Testors and Tamiya all give good finishes.

I can recommend Steve Flowers at for his computer matched range of paints for Dinky models in authentic colours.
I also recommend that you always use fairly fresh paint and always stir the paint before use.
Paint that has stood for a while will have started to separate with the solids sinking to the bottom.
Paint that is old will have started to thicken and skin over and when stirred, the skin will break up causing lumps in the paint .

One point to mention is that the 3 types of paint cannot always be mixed as they react with each other. For instance, if you spray a cellulose paint over an enamel or acrylic paint it will 'pickle'. This is a reaction between the paints where the cellulose causes the bottom coat to soften and lift and causing it to wrinkle. It is best therefore to stick to one type of paint per model to avoid any problems.

Brush Painting

By using a good quality brush and enamel paints a quite good finish can be achieved.
A good technique is required in order to get a good finish though.
Load the brush with paint by dipping half the length of the bristles into the paint, wipe off excess paint on the side of the tin.
Do not apply the paint too thickly or it will run. Work the paint in long strokes, first along the longest length of the model then at 90 degrees to the first direction.
When the area is covered evenly, finish off by stroking the brush lightly along the longest stroke with all the brush strokes going the same way.

Aerosol Cans

All 3 types of paint mentioned earlier can be purchased in aerosol cans and a good finish can be achieved by all types of paint.
Always shake the can for at least 1 minute to make sure that the paint and propellant are evenly mixed.
Pressing the nozzle before the model, spray evenly in long strokes, releasing the nozzle after the end of the model. Spray only thin coats turning the model to access all parts. Allow each coat to dry (read recommendations on the tin for drying times) before applying the next coat. 2 or 3 coats is usually sufficient.


This is the hardest of the 3 methods and the equipment is quite costly to start with. There are numerous makes of airbrushes on the market ranging from a basic Humbrol type modellers airbrush costing a few pounds up to the professional type ones costing hundreds of pounds. Obviously, there will be a difference in quality between the lowest and highest price ranges but they all do the job they are designed for - to spray paint. Whichever one you choose will be up to you and how much you want to spend.
In order for the airbrush to operate you will need a propellant source. This can be an aerosol can of compressed air costing a few pounds to a compressor costing hundreds. Another alternative mostly used by processionals is an inert gas canister that can be recharged. Again the choice is yours.

If you are new to airbrushing I would suggest you practice with your equipment before attempting to spray a model. Although I have found there to be very little in airbrush technique advice on the Internet, there are numerous books on the subject. You could always try your local library to see what they have.

The paint used for airbrushing is the same as for brush painting except that it has to be thinned with suitable thinners for the type of paint used. The amount that it has to be thinned depends on what equipment is being used so make sure that you read the instruction manual thoroughly.

Using the airbrush is basically the same as using an aerosol can - the difference being is that you have more control over the amount of paint applied and the area it covers.

Whichever process you choose is up to you - I use all 3 depending on what I am painting.

One tip though - leave for at least 48 hours or oven dry (see below) before handling the model. Although the paint will be touch dry within a couple of hours it will not have hardened. Handling the model before the paint is properly hardened can lead to fingerprints and smudged paint - the last thing you want to happen to your new paint job.

(Information and photos of this process by courtesy of Chris Knight (Gizmouk))

Although it s not something that I myself do, a lot of other restorers actually bake their paint finishes in an oven.
This process involves the use of a what Americans call a 'toaster oven'. This is a small table top oven and grill. Although they are fairly expensive to buy new second hand ones can be purchased fairly cheaply. An alternative to this is a combination microwave and oven. These can also be picked up fairly cheaply second hand.
Home-made spray booth and combination microwave used to bake paint finishes (photo courtesy of Chris Knight)

The process involves preheating the oven to 100 degree Centigrade (this can be done while the model is being painted). As soon as the painting is finished, the model is placed into the oven and left for between 30 to 60 minutes. This process gives a better finish to the paint and dries and hardens it quicker than air drying. It also bonds the coats of paint together to give better adhesion.
It is a similar sort of process that the auto trade use for spraying cars.

The process is used after each coat of paint.


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