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Thinning enamels with 91% alcohol?


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I was working on the Monogram shuttle tonight...trying to fix this oversize windows problem somehow, and used some alcohol to smooth out the putty a bit. I then dipped my brush back into the alcohol to clean it, and that got me thinking, "I wonder if it will cut enamel paint." So I dunked the brush in some regular Model Master enamel and it cleaned it right up just like paint thinner.

So then I got to wondering if 91% alcohol would cut enamel paint for airbrushing?

Anyone ever tried this?

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"Coatings are not only stranger than you imagine, they are stranger than I can imagine."

If it's really an enamel, that shouldn't happen. If your brush still had alcohol in it, then the enamel paint never contacted the bristles, hence the ease in cleaning.

90+% isopropyl is odd stuff. It evaporates remarkably slowly, has a surprisingly high surface tension, and is hydrophillic to nearly hygroscopic. It is also completely incompatible with nonaqueous coatings (except for lacquers and some of the truly odd). The enamel may have come off the bristles easily because it was never in molecular contact with them.

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"Coatings are not only stranger than you imagine, they are stranger than I can imagine."

If it's really an enamel, that shouldn't happen. If your brush still had alcohol in it, then the enamel paint never contacted the bristles, hence the ease in cleaning.

90+% isopropyl is odd stuff. It evaporates remarkably slowly, has a surprisingly high surface tension, and is hydrophillic to nearly hygroscopic. It is also completely incompatible with nonaqueous coatings (except for lacquers and some of the truly odd). The enamel may have come off the bristles easily because it was never in molecular contact with them.

Ok, that makes sense..but it did cut right through the putty. And the putty is a solvent based product as far as I know.

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Thinning enamels with 91% alcohol?

No…this will not work. I made the mistake some months back, while getting ready to paint a Coast Guard Helicopter I grabbed a bottle of the orange and dumped in some alcohol to thin down. While sturring the paint it turned into a globing ball of goo. I’m sitting here thinking what the hell man…then it dawned on me that I was a dumb arse.

Happy Modeling,

Joe

BTW: I use 91% alcohol for all my acrylic paints for thinning. Will never use anything else ever.

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I have used 90% alcohol on a swab to remove enamel over spray and to remove enamel from parts where I want to glue them together.

It certainly does cut cured Testors enamel very well.

I won't try thinning enamel with it though. I use mineral spirits for that.

Edited by dmk0210
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I have used 90% alcohol on a swab to remove enamel over spray and to remove enamel from parts where I want to glue them together.

It certainly does cut cured Testors enamel very well.

I won't try thinning enamel with it though. I use mineral spirits for that.

Most interesting.

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Why not just use the thinner that's made for it? You could theoretically try thinning it with vinegar, gasoline, or Jim Beam, but what's the point?

Money.

Compare the cost per ounce of a jar of any proprietary thinner with the cost per ounce of an equivalent non-proprietary thinner. For example: Tamiya X-20 thinner ~$1.00/oz. Isopropyl alcohol, 91% + 1 drop acrylic retarder = 0.12/oz. These two are functionally identical. Just do the math.

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And availability. I can buy mineral spirits at the local Lowes, Ace Hardware or Walmart. To buy Testors thinner, I have to order online and wait a week.

(not to mention the shipping costs for a little bottle of thinner)

My nearest hobby shop is 60-70 miles away

Edited by dmk0210
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Personally I prefer Testors proprietary airbrush thinner for using their Enamels. I use hardware store Oderless Mineral Spirits for cleaning, which isnt too expensive.

For Tamiya acrylics I use Drug Store 90%+ ISO alcholhol + retarder, works awsome. Than I clean up with Windex or Simple Green.

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Money.

Compare the cost per ounce of a jar of any proprietary thinner with the cost per ounce of an equivalent non-proprietary thinner. For example: Tamiya X-20 thinner ~$1.00/oz. Isopropyl alcohol, 91% + 1 drop acrylic retarder = 0.12/oz. These two are functionally identical. Just do the math.

Do the math? Have you priced thinners at a DIY store like Lowe's? You can buy enough to last you several hundred models for about $10. No real math there. The question was about enamels. You can thin enamels with any number of very low cost thinners, widely available at any store that carries painting supplies.

Edited by Jennings
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Do the math? Have you priced thinners at a DIY store like Lowe's? You can buy enough to last you several hundred models for about $10. No real math there. The question was about enamels. You can thin enamels with any number of very low cost thinners, widely available at any store that carries painting supplies.

$1.18 for 1/4oz bottle Testors 1148 Enamel Thinner = $75.52 per gallon (not including shipping if you need to order online)

or

$2.32 for 1 7/8oz bottle Testors 1156 Brush Cleaner = $21.21 per gallon (not including shipping if you need to order online)

or

$9.48 for 1-Gallon Klean-Strip Odorless Mineral Spirits at Home Depot

Edited by dmk0210
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Do the math? Have you priced thinners at a DIY store like Lowe's? You can buy enough to last you several hundred models for about $10. No real math there. The question was about enamels. You can thin enamels with any number of very low cost thinners, widely available at any store that carries painting supplies.

I think you misunderstood. My remark was tongue-in-cheek, rather than spelling it out as you did. I was attempting to inject a little dry humor into the subject. Next time I'll use more vermouth*…

BTW: the "justification" for the outrageous price of proprietary thinners is that they are packaged in smaller containers. The smaller containers cost more to ship (the weight of all that glass, or even plastic, adds up rapidly), and more labor is involved in packaging and stocking. If you actually do all the math, the price gouging isn't quite so outrageous…only moderately outrageous…

*reference to a "dry" martini, which has less vermouth than a wet martini. Note that neither is a good solvent for anything except brain cells.

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$1.18 for 1/4oz bottle Testors 1148 Enamel Thinner = $75.52 per gallon (not including shipping if you need to order online)

or

$2.32 for 1 7/8oz bottle Testors 1156 Brush Cleaner = $21.21 per gallon (not including shipping if you need to order online)

or

$9.48 for 1-Gallon Klean-Strip Odorless Mineral Spirits at Home Depot

Your math is a bit off. It's actually a lot worse. It should be......

$1.18 x 4 to get the 1oz price and then times 128 to get the gallon price. Remember it's a 1/4 oz bottle.

1.18 x 4= 4.72 x 128 = $604.16 per gallon.

And the Brush Cleaner is about $300 per gallon.

Bob

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I think you misunderstood. My remark was tongue-in-cheek, rather than spelling it out as you did. I was attempting to inject a little dry humor into the subject. Next time I'll use more vermouth*…

*reference to a "dry" martini, which has less vermouth than a wet martini. Note that neither is a good solvent for anything except brain cells.

tumble.gifI got it icon_smile_toast.gif

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  • 3 months later...

Your math is a bit off. It's actually a lot worse. It should be......

$1.18 x 4 to get the 1oz price and then times 128 to get the gallon price. Remember it's a 1/4 oz bottle.

1.18 x 4= 4.72 x 128 = $604.16 per gallon.

And the Brush Cleaner is about $300 per gallon.

Bob

I'll stick with Acrylics...

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