I have in my possession a stack (like 7 or 8) DELL P60 desktop computers. Unfortunately some idiot (cough, me, cough) thought it was a good idea (about 15+ years ago) to spray paint them all black. Now I can repaint the metal cases easy enough, but the plastic 'face plates' on the front of the computers have a nice coat of black paint all over them. They don't look bad, but I would like to see if I can chemically strip the paint from the plastic, without doing damage to the actual plastic. Is this achievable or have I (in the shortsightedness of my youth) defaced them irreparably?

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    You might have luck asking over on the arts & crafts SE. – Wilson Sep 27 '18 at 11:33
  • It will be a tough job, depending much on the plastics and the paint used - also, the resulting surface will most likely never be shiny again, but rather rough, as these cleaners alwaysatteck the surface - especially after all these years. But then way do so in the first place? Isn't the spray paint a 'sign of the times' ? It shows a certain attitude and usage and is part of their history. So from a museum/history standpoint ti would be a shoame to remove it. – Raffzahn Sep 27 '18 at 12:17
  • @Raffzahn I agree with that to a certain point. However, I draw the line on many Apple computers/peripherals I've seen. Many times, I get some Apple product only to find some school CARVED their name on the side. Ugh. Those are hard to repair. – cbmeeks Oct 4 '18 at 15:12
  • @cbmeeks In that case, just send them to my hardware-pile. I value such markings as telling history. Machines put back into a pseudo factory state are just booooooooooring :) – Raffzahn Oct 4 '18 at 15:17
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    @Raffzahn boring is fine. Constantly looking at somebody named "KEVIN" on my Apple Duo Disk is not fine. :-) – cbmeeks Oct 4 '18 at 17:14

In a recent video, RetroManCave demonstrates stripping the paint off a plastic TRS-80 case using methylated spirits. This will remove all the paint, thus affording you the option to leave the plastic in its "native" color, or prep and paint it to try to match the original color. I don't know whether a shorter treatment with the same chemical would remove just the outer layer of spray paint, but that may be worth a try.


  • I plan on doing this to a TRS-80 Color Computer (model 1) that I got from eBay. The seller thought it would look good to paint it white to match the model 2 and 3. I can almost scrape it off with my finger. Yuck. Anyway, Neal (RetroManCave) used "methylated spirits". Do you know if that's simply denatured alcohol or some other brew? – cbmeeks Oct 4 '18 at 15:06
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    FYI, I attempted to use denatured alcohol on my CoCo 1. It mostly worked but after hours and hours of soaking and scrubbing, the factory paint in some areas would not come off. But I didn't want to use a harsher chemical. So, I just made sure to use a good white primer and apply several layers with wet sanding in between (600-1000 grit paper). – cbmeeks Nov 28 '18 at 19:15

Oven cleaner is one recommendation from various modellers, I've had decent luck with non-acetone nail varnish remover in the past (although depending on the paint type you might want something with acetone). Brake fluid is another suggestion I've seen.

All of these could damage the plastic.

This thread has some suggestions you might want to look at. https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/airfixtributeforum/paint-removal-t3088.html

As always protect your skin and eyes in particular when working with chemicals.

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