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Cleaning and polishing trans-color parts

TUTORIAL clean polish transparent

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#1 Rolf

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 12:15 AM

I did some research and posted results at bricklink.

Details at http://www.bricklink...e.asp?ID=685097

In case dropbox passed bandwidth limit, here is more robust link for picture.

https://secure.flick...tream/lightbox/

(EDIT added, edited from original post at bricklink.)

Interesting. I heard of certain acrylic liquids that can fix some parts condition
like scratches and such.

I also decided to buy fairly worn parts from seller to fix to fix it up see if
I can get it to great condition as possible.

The windows was in decent but worn condition, at "raw" one is decent condition
and other 2 had been bit discolored and somewhat "sandpapered" as you can see
effect on paper behind it. There is also couple heavier than fixable scratches.

After I used metal polish, then removed as much polish as I can and cleaned it,
condition of parts was much improved. there was lot of micro-scratches after
it but usable condition. Lot of discolor went away and pretty lot of "sandpapered"
look went away too. Light reflection is worse I could get it to show up. (I wish
I took better picture of that as by time I thought of it, I already dropped it
into next step)

(added: polish is really only necessary if there is deeper scratches than just "cloudy". It does remove ingrained stains very well, however. Do clean first so you can see if it needs polish or not.)

The plate was in decent but well used condition, but I cannot polish it due to
number of studs and difficulty on wiping polish off afterwards. Brasso probably
will do better as it's more cleanable. After I left windows and plate in floor
polish solution for couple minutes and dried it in few steps (very carefully
as dust or fingerprint could mar it!) on wax baking paper. When it was dry enough
(around 3 minutes) I got paper and dropped parts on it from inches off to shake
off droplets. After 10 minutes I flipped it to other side and let it dry for
other 10 minutes. Novus is recommended by other people but I used pledge floor
polish which is also acrylic liquid.

As you can see, results is pretty decent. You can see quite a bit of micro-scratches
and few remaining deeper scratches. However, this liquid has altered refraction
so it is not really visible when held in room without light refection or held
up with light shining though it to your eyes. This is small improvement after
metal polish.

Notes on this:
1: If I ever decided to sell those (yeah right!) or any other parts done like
this, I would disclose it.
2: Floor polish step is easy to make mistakes on. If there is dirt, it will be
under very thin coating so it cannot be removed without metal polishing all way
down again. Very good cleaning first is highly recommended! You can only touch parts of part
drying in this coating where you don't care what those parts looks like. I used
sides of windows and plate.

(Added: if you want to see original, see reply #17)

Edited by Rolf, 31 March 2013 - 08:14 AM.


#2 TheLegoDr

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 06:09 PM

That's interesting. I never considered doing that. I think I'm more worried about messing something up so I don't even bother trying. I don't normally use too many of my original LEGO pieces that are worn/dirty anyway. Thanks for posting.
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#3 Faefrost

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 11:28 PM

Trans clear parts and acrylic plastics are the one type of Lego brick that we can repair and recondition very cheaply and easily. You don't need to mess with the various polishes or Brasso talked sbout in that article. it is an astonishingly simple and easy trick. Plastic modelers have known this trick for years. Get a simple and cheap bottle of "Future" floor polish. (These days known as "Pledge with Future Shine"http://www.amazon.co...dp/B000ARPH4C  )

Step 1- Clean the parts and let them fully dry
Step 2 - pour enough Future into a bowl such that you can fully dip or submerge the parts. (One at a time)
Step 3 - simply dip each part, then lay them out on a clean piece of paper to dry. Position them to allow for natural drainage. ( in most case sedge down). Let the part fully dry and cure, much like you would paint.
Step 4 - once dry hand polish as needed.

When done the part will look like a shining piece of glass.

How and why it works. Future floor polish is essentially un colored acrylic medium. The same base they use in acrylic paints, and basically the same thing that the plastic is made is. The thing that fogs, discolors and ages trans clear parts are micro scratches. The Liquid acrylic medium will fill these and bond fully with the clear plastic. The results will astonish you. Even using it on fresh out of the box trans clear parts.

It is safe to use this trick on any trans clear part. It will not impact printing. I do recommend experimenting or using caution where stickers are concerned. Modelers use this for things like aircraft canopies. They also air brush straight uncut future onto models as a final protective coating.

What it will not do -

It's not great with ABS type plastics. So it really doesn't do anything for regular non clear Lego bricks. It may be a temporary improvement, but almost nothing bonds with ABS so it will wear off. It will not become part of the plastic like it does with acrylics.

It fixes fogging and small micro scratches. It may not fully erase deep gouges or cracks.

Oh and once done simply pour the Future back into the bottle. You can reuse it over and over. One bottle will last for years.

Edited by Faefrost, 06 December 2012 - 11:34 PM.

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#4 Phoxtane

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 03:01 AM

Does this work on the tinted parts, such as the brownish-trans-clear and the dark-blue-trans-clear?
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#5 Faefrost

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 07:12 AM

View PostPhoxtane, on 07 December 2012 - 03:01 AM, said:

Does this work on the tinted parts, such as the brownish-trans-clear and the dark-blue-trans-clear?

Yes. Anything that is made of the clear acrylic plastic (as opposed to the ABS plastic that normal bricks are made of.) As a test take a few of the various colored gems that you get as treasure. Even new ones straight from the box, and dip them. Once dried they will sparkle and glow like real gems. It really makes the colored trans pieces pop and glow.

The only pieces I have seen that need a little bit of finesse are the ones where the trans clear part is embedded in an ABS part, such as some train windows and cockpits. In those cases instead of dipping the whole part, use a swab to paint the future onto the clear part, let dry and then softly buff it. I have never seen an instance where the future discolors printing, but I do recommend testing on a small area before going into full production, just to make sure that no color shift occurs. It shouldn't as the printing is normally an acrylic paint itself, so the future just acts as a sealant.

Using it on ABS won't do any damage. It just wont bond to the bricks and will wear off and have a funny feel.

I do also recomend that after you dip the parts, let them not just dry but cure. (as with paint, which it sorta kinda is, sorta). By curing we mean let the acrylic completely out gas all of the suspended liquid. Not simply dry to the touch. This will take a few hours, possibly a day or so. Future is thin enough that it is self leveling. I dip the part and then lay them out on a tray with a sheet of bakers parchment paper, with the mold edges facing down. Give it a few hours and the parts will look better than new and need very little buffing or cleanup, all with almost no actual work to achieve it.

If it makes you feel any better, this really is a very old very well known trick extensively used by plastic model makers. It was used on many of the Star Wars studio models to enhance the clear parts and make sure they looked real.

Edited by Faefrost, 07 December 2012 - 07:04 AM.

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#6 LEGO Historian

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 09:07 AM

OK... I have about 500 classic windows/doors (1956-86)... that have a very foggy used finish to the glass portion... (out of several thousand in my collection).  Can these be helped?  The "glass" cannot be removed from the frame without breaking it... so the ABS frame would also get coated with acrylic... would that be a problem?

P.S.  Good to see you here my good friend Rolf!  :)

Edited by LEGO Historian, 07 December 2012 - 09:08 AM.

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#7 Faefrost

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 05:06 PM

View PostLEGO Historian, on 07 December 2012 - 09:07 AM, said:

OK... I have about 500 classic windows/doors (1956-86)... that have a very foggy used finish to the glass portion... (out of several thousand in my collection).  Can these be helped?  The "glass" cannot be removed from the frame without breaking it... so the ABS frame would also get coated with acrylic... would that be a problem?

P.S.  Good to see you here my good friend Rolf!  :)

Yes it just takes a little more work. The trick there is to basically paint the acrylic onto the clear parts then let it level and dry, then buff it a bit to clear up any uneven spots.

The alternative is to dip the part and then buff the excess off the ABS.

If you have ever seen one of those "as seen on TV" type commercials about the magic stuff to fix scratched CD's and glasses, its the same stuff, just repackaged at 1000% markup.
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#8 TheLegoDr

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 11:06 PM

I already commented, but with this new information it is still very interesting and sounds even easier. I will have to look into this. I don't have that many trans pieces, but I'll see if any need some sprucing up sometime. Thanks for the info!

I'm sure it has been asked before, but is there anything to do with cleaning the ABS plastic then? I don't mean discoloration turning them their original color. but is there an easy fix to buff out any scratches or overall clarity of the ABS pieces? Some pieces just have that foggy look to them, even though they are a solid color.

Thanks for the info!
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#9 CP5670

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 11:38 PM

Good attempt, but the fine scratches still look pretty visible in that picture. Maybe some additional treatment would help with that. I've used Brasso in the past and found that it removes the finest, hairline scratches but doesn't affect larger scratches and tends to leave a foggy residue along the edges of pieces like canopies, where you can't rub it in easily.

Is that future floor polish different from the thing in the Bricklink post? Even if one of these methods only works on transparent bricks, it's certainly still worth looking into. Scratches on those are much more noticeable than on standard ABS bricks.

#10 Phoxtane

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 02:10 AM

View PostTheLegoDr, on 07 December 2012 - 11:06 PM, said:

I'm sure it has been asked before, but is there anything to do with cleaning the ABS plastic then? I don't mean discoloration turning them their original color. but is there an easy fix to buff out any scratches or overall clarity of the ABS pieces? Some pieces just have that foggy look to them, even though they are a solid color.

I'll second the question. I have quite a few old bricks from when I was younger that are all dinged up, and I'd love to see them restored.
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#11 Faefrost

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 05:30 AM

View PostCP5670, on 07 December 2012 - 11:38 PM, said:

Good attempt, but the fine scratches still look pretty visible in that picture. Maybe some additional treatment would help with that. I've used Brasso in the past and found that it removes the finest, hairline scratches but doesn't affect larger scratches and tends to leave a foggy residue along the edges of pieces like canopies, where you can't rub it in easily.

Is that future floor polish different from the thing in the Bricklink post? Even if one of these methods only works on transparent bricks, it's certainly still worth looking into. Scratches on those are much more noticeable than on standard ABS bricks.

Future (or these days "Pledge with Future Shine") is Liquid Acrylic. It's basically the same stuff as some of the main ingredients in the clear plastic. It will fix micro scratches very easily. These are the normal wear and tear that fog the piece, or even when fresh out of the box new, make the pieces appear more plasticy or toylike. A dip in an Acrylic bath fills in the scratches and makes the pieces look like glass. So canopies look real etc. Results with deep scratches may vary. You may have to handpaint the acrylic onto the scratch in multiple coats and then buff to level it all when done.
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#12 Rolf

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 08:30 AM

For ABS parts I used bad parts I recently got from kano for experiments.

I used metal polish and most of micro scratches went away. Discolor didn’t go away, however. Result is that bricks are quite shiny. Even more than even new Lego parts. So it is not perfect solution.

I planned to test those bricks with pledge but guess I won't with info above.

#13 Rolf

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 05:34 AM

Faefrost, how do I buff them? Do I wait till they are dry, or what? What material do I use to buff?

Thanks.

#14 Faefrost

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 01:11 AM

View PostRolf, on 26 February 2013 - 05:34 AM, said:

Faefrost, how do I buff them? Do I wait till they are dry, or what? What material do I use to buff?

Thanks.

Wait until they are not just dry but "cured". So the acrylic is not just dry to the touch, but fully hardened. Then wipe softly with a soft clean cloth or paper towel to smooth any imperfections. Honestly once you get the hang of dipping and letting the excess run off you will not need to do a lot of buffing. The stuff self levels very well. I normally only bother to buff on something that I have had to hand paint the acrylic onto, to eliminate any brush marks.

"Curing" is the same as with paint. (Really this stuff is the same base liquid they use in some paints.) Curing means that the paint, or medium has fully "chemically out gassed" all of the liquid. It normally takes longer than simply being dry to the touch. In most cases I let dipped parts sit overnight at a minimum. If you want to speed the process you can use a food dehydrator.
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#15 Aanchir

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 08:27 PM

Just to comment on a misconception I see a lot, particularly in this topic: transparent LEGO parts aren't acrylic; they're polycarbonate. From the sound of it your tips still apply to polycarbonate, but thought it'd be best to clear that up.

Edited by Aanchir, 27 February 2013 - 08:28 PM.

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#16 Rolf

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 09:20 PM

Interesting. Thanks guys

#17 Rolf

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 08:08 AM

BL thread is about to expire so pasting copy of that post here.

Interesting. I heard of certain acrylic liquids that can fix some parts condition
like scratches and such.

I also decided to buy fairly worn parts from seller to fix to fix it up see if
I can get it to great condition as possible.

Note: This is NO reflection upon seller I bought those from. He exactly noted
what condition it was and I got exactly what I expected.

The windows was in decent but worn condition, at "raw" one is decent condition
and other 2 had been bit discolored and somewhat "sandpapered" as you can see
effect on paper behind it. There is also couple heavier than fixable scratches.

After I used metal polish, then removed as much polish as I can and cleaned it,
condition of parts was much improved. there was lot of micro-scratches after
it but usable condition. Lot of discolor went away and pretty lot of "sandpapered"
look went away too. Light reflection is worse I could get it to show up. (I wish
I took better picture of that as by time I thought of it, I already dropped it
into next step)

The plate was in decent but well used condition, but I cannot polish it due to
number of studs and difficulty on wiping polish off afterwards. Brasso probably
will do better as it's more cleanable. After I left windows and plate in floor
polish solution for couple minutes and dried it in few steps (very carefully
as dust or fingerprint could mar it!) on wax baking paper. When it was dry enough
(around 3 minutes) I got paper and dropped parts on it from inches off to shake
off droplets. After 10 minutes I flipped it to other side and let it dry for
other 10 minutes. Novus is recommended by other people but I used pledge floor
polish which is also acrylic liquid.

As you can see, results is pretty decent. You can see quite a bit of micro-scratches
and few remaining deeper scratches. However, this liquid has altered refraction
so it is not really visible when held in room without light refection or held
up with light shining though it to your eyes. This is small improvement after
metal polish.

Notes on this:
1: If I ever decided to sell those (yeah right!) or any other parts done like
this, I would disclose it.
2: Floor polish step is easy to make mistakes on. If there is dirt, it will be
under very thin coating so it cannot be removed without metal polishing all way
down again. Very good cleaning is recommended! You can only touch parts of part
drying in this coating where you don't care what those parts looks like. I used
sides of windows and plate.
3: Second step of floor polish (or Novus) really isn't very necessary unless
transparent color cannot be polished via metal polish. Plate was massively helped
by this.

#18 1974

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 09:32 PM

I guess it's this product :

http://www.amazon.co...64847997&sr=1-3

Which can also be bought in the EU from Amazone.co.uk :

http://www.amazon.co...&sr=1-1-catcorr

However, If anyone know of a different brandname, that's available in the EU, I'd like to hear that. My googlefoo is weak on this one and googling acrylic liquid in danish just brings up a lot of artificial nail products :sceptic:

Got a lot of scratchy trans yellow I'd like to buff up so I can has classic space :classic:
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#19 SSJ2 Dark

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Posted 05 June 2014 - 03:37 AM

This is exactly what I was looking for; gonna pick up some Future polish and restore my trans-yellow canopies!





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