If you’ve ever had to remove paint from something small and delicate, you’ll understand what a terrible job it is. First you probably tried sanding – easy right? Sometimes. Done properly it takes time, is super messy, with dust and particles going everywhere, sore fingers, and areas you’ve sanded too much – or too little – or the corners and gaps you can’t reach! Aaaargh! Not to mention the breathing mask…
The Nuclear Option (only recommended in extreme circumstances!)
So then you bring out the heavy ordinance. Oven Cleaner! This works great! Of course, it’s horribly toxic, smells like spray on death, and it will slowly ruin aluminum, rubber, and some plastics. The one time I used it this worked well, but I’d only reach for it as a last resort.
Warning: This can melt some plastic, especially if used too long, and will destroy aluminum, rubber, etc. Read the can, and do your own research!
If you do try Oven Cleaner, I’m told the Blue Can “Fume Free” version of Easy-Off is what you want in the USA (pictured), and in Australia I use Bam! Easy Off Oven Cleaner.
Put your part(s) into a big plastic bag, spray the cleaner in there, coating everything as much as you can, then tie the bag closed.
Give it a good smoosh and squeeze from the outside to ensure you’ve coated everything well. Then chuck the bag in the furthest corner away from you, and leave it 12-24 hours.
The Better Option (Easy, Non-Toxic, Environmentally Friendly)
Recently I came across a new method which is advertised as much safer, and is a good general use cleaner around the house – though I’d never use it that way, as it has this really weird smell.
Let’s give it a go shall we? Here is the chrome parts from the Tyco Bandit I’m restoring.
With all the parts disassembled and ready to go, I put them in a small container.
I filled the container up with undiluted solution, ensuring everything was covered.
Then I put a lid on it, with a small gap for air…
Set my clock for 24 hours…
Then forgot, and ended up leaving it for 48 hours total. Oops.
SO! What does it look like?
All the little pieces of chrome paint were floating in the solution!
But wait! What is that?
The TYCO Air Scoop was completely untouched. Every other part was completely and perfectly free from the chrome paint. So what’s different about that piece? I suspect it’s been chromed properly – with electroplating. The only way that will come off is sandpaper, but even then it will be tough. I may instead try to paint over the existing chrome (sand a little, apply base, smooth with putty) or just touchup with a pen.
Here’s all the pieces. Some of the areas seem tinged a little green, probably I left it in too long and the plastic has begun to absorb the green dye. No matter, that won’t be an issue.
This inexpensive, non-toxic, environmentally friendly cleaning agent is available from your local hardware store and big box store, such as Walmart in the USA, and Bunnings in Australia.