Chameleon paint stripper is made by Custom Hobbyist,Inc. That is the only information I can find on an old bottle of the stuff. I remember they were located in Havre deGrace, Maryland. Have seen it (recently) at M.B.Klein in Baltimore. 1-888-872-4675

Check Walthers for Chameleon.

Chameleon Gel works slower than Chameleon (which is a very thin solution) and allows you to remove decals without affecting the paint underneath. I suggest getting both types of Chamleon, as the Gel has specific uses and Chameleon is a very good stripper.

Some people have had good luck with pine sol. I have stripped a few of the SW9's (LL) with Pollyscales stripper and with 90% rubbing alcohol. I use mostly the rubbing alcohol now because it works and is by far the cheapest stripper out there.

I just recently stripped two LL PB shells. I started out using Chameleon, but it was very slow. Switched to 90% Isopropyl (rubbing alcohol), paint came off easily, especially if you let it soak for 30 minutes or so. Use a soft bristle brush in crevices, and wash it completely with water to remove any alcohol when you are done. Should work just great, and does not attack the plastic.

Pine Sol is indeed used often as a stripper, however, Life Like shells, in my experience seem to react more dramatically to Pine Sol than do other shells and, you may find that, besides stripping paint off the shell, you will strip the shell off of the shell. I have seen two different custom painters reduce Life Like shells to "Gooey Blobs" in as little as 30 minutes. Use a commercial paint stripper such as Chameleon or Scale coat, or even try Alcohol (99% here in Canada or 95% in the US). Before using any stripper, apply a very small amount to a small section of the inside of the shell and check closely to ensure that it does not react with the plastic.

Pine Sol will work, but speaking of fishy, it is very difficult to get rid of that "nice" pine sent on the shell. I have opened up locomotives that had been repainted years ago and about gagged from the smell. There are many products that work such as Scalecoat Stripper, Easy Lift Off, 409 household cleaner, 90% rubbing alcohol, Red Dot Brake Fluid, and the list goes on. Many will not work on all paints and many can damage the plastic shells of different manufacturers. You should always test a spot on the inside of the shell by putting a drop of the stripper on and
letting it set for a while. If it etches the plastic it should be avoided or be used very carefully by not emerging the shell in it and washing the stripper off quickly between repeated applications. Small detail parts like foot steps on diesel shells are easily made brittle by some strippers and crumble.

Scale Coat Stripper will remove paint from Atlas & Minitix with no adverse effects. Shells can be soaked for hours if need be. Use a toothbrush under running water to remove paint residue.

I use Easy Lift Off for the Trix Locos But BE CAREFULL and watch the process. If you leave it on too long it will haze the plastic. Soak it and it will britalize and destroy the plastic. I do the following;

1) Apply it liberally to part of the surface with a cheap watercolor type paint brush
2) Let it sit for a few minutes. The paint will start to lift off (you can tell by watching),
3) Wash it of with warm water (I submerse in a small metal bowl of water).
4) Dry with a paper towel then continue until all the paint is removed.
I've done this on several Trix shells with no adverse effects. Haven't tried Atlas yet.

Even used as advertised, it damaged my SD45 shell, and removed stirrups from several Kato F units. It's not compatible with the plastic that Kato uses.

ELO is not supposed to be used for bath stripping. The directions say to brush it on, leave it for awhile and then wash it off. Repeat the steps if all the paint doesn't come off. Placing a plastic shell in a bath of stripper is asking for trouble.

"E.L.O" (Easy Lift Off) is a model paint/decal remover which I WOULDN'T recommend for Kato shells. I was doing a custom paint job on a friend's Kato locomotive. Dunked the shell in a bath of ELO and left to soak. To my absolute HORROR, when I returned I found the Kato shell had split into six easy pieces! The body had split along the corners of the shell without a hint of "melting" the plastic. Just a clean sharp break along each of the corners. I used liquid cement to glue the pieces back together again because they were a perfect fit. Didn't tell my friend - just finished the paint job and gave it back to him. It wasn't until he'd "oohed" and "aahed" over the finished result that I 'fessed up and told him what had happened!! heh heh

Why take a chance on some oddball methods of removing paint when several manufacturers make model paint stripper? I use Scale Coat Stripper and it had NEVER damaged any of my models. I did ruin a model (only once) when using brake fluid.

A friend of mine had the same experience with brake fluid and Arnold coaches. I use oven cleaner (the local brand is called Zeb). I put the items in a plastic margarine tub, cover them with the foam and leave the lid on for about an hour, and then brush the paint off with a toothbrush. Then brush the shells clean under running water. Just make sure you wear rubber gloves, since that stuff eats holes in your skin! With any kind of stripper, it's always a good idea to test it on the shell first by applying a little on a spot on the inside of the shell where damage will not be noticeable.

I made a big mistake yesterday. I have a lot of experience stripping Life Like and Atlas shells. I would use "brake fluid". Yesterday, 2 KATO SD40-2 shells where ready for stripping and put in to "brake fluid". This was a very big mistake. Not only did the color come off the shells they were destroyed. The shell looks like they went through an engine fire. So please don’t try this with your KATO shells.

ELO- varied success, never complete.
ScaleCoat- reports vary.
Chamelion from Walthers'- Good results but it didn't sound like complete stripping was accomplished.
Iso-Alcohol/ 90%- Varied, but reported good.

I've had good luck stripping Kato shells with Scalecoat stripper. Dilute it with a little bit of 91% alcohol, about 1 part alcohol to 5 parts Scalecoat. Soak it and use a toothbrush. Blues are the hardest inks to remove.

New or old, it didn't matter, I got complete stripping of Kato paint with Chameleon solution. The only thing I could see was the NS SD 40-2's didn't end up a gray color, but a black color. Wasn't sure if this was a problem or not, but the shell looked excellent after painting.

That's the best little secret. Pine Sol works on Kato and numerous others. If you need to strip a Life Like or similar shells, 91% Isopropyl Alcohol washes the stuff right off after soaking for a short time. But the secret on Kato, buy an NS or Conrail loco and simple remove the lettering. You have basically an undecorated shell, just not gray. Put a coat of gray on and paint it whatever you want. Can't tell you how many original PRR SD40's I used as "undecs" just by removing the numbers and shields.

I have had great success using Scalecoat paint remover (I think they call it "Washaway" now) to strip paint off Atlas's N scale shells. Once you have completely disassembled the model (don't forget to remove the rear number boards from the long hood), soak the shell for about 10-15 minutes. This will soften almost all colors of paint on the model. Scrubbing with an old toothbrush will remove almost all of the paint. Sometimes, a second soaking will be needed to remove stubborn spots. Once the paint is removed, wash the shell in fresh running water and then let the shell air dry for a few hours

I tried the 91% alcohol route - didn't make a dent except a bit of the lettering ink.


The following is a summary of all the reported paint strippers.  This is a culmination of all posts since the initiation of the group.  All strippers do not work on all models.

Under Abbreviations, all the reported paint strippers are listed.  They all have apparently been used successfully by various individuals.  Many were reported as useful, but did not provide specific information on model manufacturer.

In the second section successful strippers are listed by specific manufacturers.  In this section, only posts that claim success with no detrimental side effects are listed. 







90% Isopropyl Alcohol



Denatured Alcohol


EtOH - No reported success



PS - wear gloves, very hard on skin

Pine-Sol Orange Energy



Break Fluid


BF - basic fluid, no rust inhibitors







Poly Scale EZ Lift off



Onyx Professional Nail Polish Remover


OPR (available at Walgreens)

Sodium or potassium hydroxide



Simple Green ( Calif. )














90 IPA - will require scrubbing with toothbrush



scrub while immersed in IPA



success with other strippers (PS) reported, but



all others may damage plastic












OPR - 30 minutes






IPA - 12 hours









BF with scrubbing




Proto 2K


IPA - 12 hours



PS - CAUTION may soften plastic






IPA - 24 hours

























Red Caboose


PSOE with scrubbing