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This is a question about restoration of lithographed sides.

At several times I have acquired Lionel or Ives lithographed cars that looked a mess - rust, etc - but with litho sides in very good condition.

I've done complete restoration except for the sides.  That means removing all rust and repainting so that they look like to original.  My experience on eBay shows that there is a demand for this type of restoration as it shows the lithography in what looks like its original setting.  The attached photos of Ives 51 and 50 are an example.

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But notice that there is a significant cosmetic defect on one side of the chair car.  You can see all of the original lithographed lines and letters, so it couldn't be corrosion of the metal sides.  So what is it.  Has anyone found a way to improve the appearance of sides with this kind of defect ?

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BTW, something I've learned from other members of the Ives Train Society is that there were so many shades of that dark green that you can't say any particular shade is not that of the original car.  I used Trainenamels Lionel dark green.

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I'm sorry, but I'm really lost.

If you are going to strip the sides before repainting, wouldn't all existing litho would be removed and wouldn't bare metal be present?   Wouldn't the stain be gone?  And, couldn't you lightly sand out any irregularity rapair it with Bondo or another filler?

Just trying to learn.

Thx,

Mannyrock

Dear @mlaughlinnyc,

What I have found over the years is these types of stains are caused by the car lying on its side against a surface that at some point either got wet and/or was in a humid environment for extended period of time.   

The only product which I have used and swear by is "John's Restorzit" that was available at York by a TCA member.  That product works magic on tin platted products.   It will restore that finish to like new and clean away the marks and stains you see on your cars.   

Unfortunately this product is either no longer available or the nephew of the man who developed it hasn't attended a TCA York meet in sometime.

There have been many threads on this subject.  If we could locate this individual then he could maybe make a batch for sale.

The only issue is, it cannot be shipped.  It would have to be picked up in person.

Last edited by Allegheny

If it happens to be sticky, like spilled food, or a greasy stain like spilled smoke fluid or too much oil, you can try dusting the object with cornstarch and leaving it awhile. I had a timetable with some kind of goo on it (looked and smelled like pancake syrup) and the cornstarch lifted it off. Since then, we’ve tried it on old delicate litho and it seems to work. You’ll know if the cornstarch starts to look grayish and clumpy. Just dust it off with a very soft brush and repeat as needed.

We’ve had decent luck on harder paint with tiny amounts of baking soda on a barely damp Q-tip, but even that might be too abrasive for a very old, soft stain.

From what info. I could find about Flitz it appears to be less abrasive than some cleaning compounds such as Meguiar's although I question that it would really work. With litho the quality of the ink process in the first place would determine how well it's gonna clean up, correct? For my own litho pieces all I've used is Turtle Wax with Carnauba and sparingly. Most times if a damp cloth won't take the dirt off then I'll go to the wax. The variable in all this is, if the piece was cleaned in the past how much cleaning can that litho take?

@Mannyrock posted:

I'm sorry, but I'm really lost.

If you are going to strip the sides before repainting, wouldn't all existing litho would be removed and wouldn't bare metal be present?   Wouldn't the stain be gone?  And, couldn't you lightly sand out any irregularity rapair it with Bondo or another filler?

Just trying to learn.

Thx,

Mannyrock

I stripped everything except the sides because there was so much rust.  I preserved the lithographed sides as is.  I've found that this gives me a very good looking car if the litho sides were in good condition

I'm using that same technique on a set of Marx "Copper Queen" passenger cars. I have the center sections taped off, and refinishing the tops and bottoms using chemical stripper, buffing to a mirror finish before applying the amber varnish. I tried these steps out on a junk car to make sure the tape would hold out through the process. So far. no leaks, and no rips.

From what info. I could find about Flitz it appears to be less abrasive than some cleaning compounds such as Meguiar's although I question that it would really work. With litho the quality of the ink process in the first place would determine how well it's gonna clean up, correct? For my own litho pieces all I've used is Turtle Wax with Carnauba and sparingly. Most times if a damp cloth won't take the dirt off then I'll go to the wax. The variable in all this is, if the piece was cleaned in the past how much cleaning can that litho take?

The one bad thing about Turtle Wax is that it is not a cleaner.  All it does is polish the dirt that is already there. 

I've never noticed much of a difference, if any, between cleaning litho/enamel with carnauba cleaning wax or using mild soap and a damp cleaning cloth.  I prefer using the cleaning wax because that way I don't have to worry about moisture and possible future rust in the jointed areas where litho sides connect to one another or are tabbed to other pieces of metal.

  I recently acquired a very nice but very dirty station which I'm currently cleaning. To illustrate the two methods I used mild soap and a damp cloth on the two areas in the top left and on the right I used cleaning wax.

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  One thing I have found is cleaning wax does a much better job of removing stains, such as those shown in the first pictures in this thread, while not disturbing the litho.

   One additional item: if the piece is clean to begin with I just leave it alone and I never re-polish anything. Once it is clean to my satisfaction I leave it alone.

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Re Flitz...  If you have trouble finding it locally, Micro-Mark sells it.

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You also might try toothpaste.

Plain ol' unadulterated toothpaste is a pretty decent cleaning/lapping compound in a pinch.  I've bought a few of the trip-size tubes on sale at the drugstore or grocer for the workshop.  I've found it to be a pretty handy common material for the hobbyist.

Just a thought.

KD

Last edited by dkdkrd

The Turtle Wax carnauba will be in my next Amazon shipment.  I'll post a photo if it works.

Now I have some results to show.  I bought a bottle of Mother's Brazilian Carnauba wax/cleaner, the brand they had at my local AutoZone.  It didn't do the whole job but there does seem to be some improvement.

Here is the original condition photo.

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And this one is after applying the wax/cleaner.  Not fully satisfactory.  I followed up with a WD-40 rub, which made it a bit better.IMG_6280

And this photo is to show the other side under identical light conditions. 

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So still not perfect, but enough better to have been worth a try.  Now on to eBay.

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I've never noticed much of a difference, if any, between cleaning litho/enamel with carnauba cleaning wax or using mild soap and a damp cleaning cloth.  I prefer using the cleaning wax because that way I don't have to worry about moisture and possible future rust in the jointed areas where litho sides connect to one another or are tabbed to other pieces of metal.

...  One thing I have found is cleaning wax does a much better job of removing stains, such as those shown in the first pictures in this thread, while not disturbing the litho.

...

How does one identify a product that is a "cleaning wax" as opposed to other kinds of wax?  I can't recall ever seeing the word "cleaning" on a label for a can of wax.

@Mannyrock posted:

When you folks are using Carnauba wax/cleaner, are you first washing the car with warm water and a mild soap, followed by a good water rinse?  Or do you skip the washing part and go straight to the wax?

I have been just washing my old Marx cars, and they immediately look 50% better, being very careful to get into all the cracks, such as ladders on cylinder castings.   

Mannyrock

I always begin a cleaning project with dishwashing detergent and a toothbrush, being careful to get into all of the corners, such a ladders on cylinder castings.

Next step is spray remaining spots with WD-40 and scrub with a toothbrush.  That works especially well on Bakelite (ZW's, O22, etc.).

Then I go to more aggressive tactics such as cleaning wax and brass polish.

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