Skip to main content

hi everyone trainfam here,

I am in the midst of restoring a Marx 416 light tower, I have found matching paint, but still have a question about preparing the repaint. Will I have to prime the metal before putting on the paint? I am questioning this because when I removed the paint, I did not see any primer underneath the paint. So that being said I just wanted to make sure that I should prime the signal and what primer to use.


Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

What did you use to strip the old paint? That’s the million dollar question. Painting any object is 99% prep and 1% painting. If you used a chemical stripper, clean & prepare the raw metal. Wash with alcohol first, then use scotchbrite to abate the metal. Then clean once again with alcohol. Prime, and topcoat as per paint mfr. instructions.......what primer you need to use will depend on the topcoat being applied. Not all paints play well together.......Pat

Last edited by harmonyards
TrainFam posted:

Thank you for the help and info harmony and nation. To answer your question “What did you use to strip the old paint?” I used vinegar to strip the old paint, as odd as it sounds. 


Old time trick! Way cool!...old lacquers don’t stand a chance against vinegar or vinegar spirits....what top coat are you using? rattle can enamel? If so, just use an appropriate rattle can primer and follow the directions on the can....biggest part, have fun doing it.......Pat

Hi harmony, thank you for the help. Yes, I will be using rattle can enamel (specifically rust oleum) just seems to work better than with any type of brush on enamel. Easier to use without the finished product looking sloppy. I will try to post pictures of the finished project as soon as possible. But with the weather here you never know when the repaint process will be possible.


                                        Thanks, trainfam 


Hi Rich. Regarding the colors of the signal, it’s the red/black variant which I am working with. I am not too concerned with dripping or outside excessive coverage. I suppose that the only thing that I am worried about is the weather and painting the parts that don’t need to be painted I.E. the light fixtures. Also, if anyone could tell me how to rewire this piece without access solder? But thankfully I was able to disassemble the whole piece so that overlapping of different colors does not occur. I have done some research about this piece and how to restore so I have some knowledge when the actual restoration happens. 



I love these, and have about a dozen on my layout.

 Some things I’ve noticed in restoring the ones that required a respray...

The tower’s individual components rely on conductivity between all the metal parts to supply the grounding circuit.  I’ve restored several that a repaint was applied too thick, and were sold to me as ‘non-functional.’  Simple removal (or reduction) of the paint between sections remedied this.

I believe Marx’s choice not to prime was intentional for this reason.  While I’d agree in nearly every instance that priming before paint is the best way to go, for this particular job, no.  Giving the metal a “key” by scuffing it with fine sandpaper & insuring it’s oil free with acetone, will give the paint all the adherence it needs.  

I assume this is for an indoor layout, and won’t be subjected to weather.  If it is going to be outside and you want the utmost paint protection, you can run a ground wire down from the lights internally,  to the common thumb screw.  




Last edited by FlyPlanes-PlayTrains

Add Reply

OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653
Link copied to your clipboard.