A little help cleaning my K5s?

Hello to all

I started to clean my K5s a found them to be green. I am not sure if this is primer or if they are green. I thought they were black and just very soot stained until I started to see green. Here’s a link to the pictures pre-cleaning. https://www.trainhornforums.com/showthread.php?t=7178

My question is this. Would soot stain these horns to the point of ‘looking’ like they were painted black or do you think someone painted them black and did a very poor job of it.

I’m not sure what to use to clean it to the green without taking the green out too. I was thinking of using the same type cleaner I would use on the wood stove to clean the soot off the glass maybe?

What do you think? Any input would be appreciated. Here are some pics in their current state.

In the vast majority of cases there will be primer on horns because cast aluminum is a very bad substrate for paint to adhere to. Whether the green is the primer in your case I can’t tell you just from the photos; primer is generally a more brownish or gray tone. You could scrape some green to see if there’s pure metal underneath I suppose to confirm those suspicions.

It’s certainly not unheard of to have multiple coats of paint on a horn - especially if they’ve done some life on rolling stock.

The Matt black was obviously just a spray can job if it’s coming off so easy with cleaning. You could always just take the black off and keep them for St. Patrick’s Day :smiley:

The green looks a little too green to be Epoxy Primer, like what is used on Aircraft.


I guess I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing with them then. Gotta figure out how to clean the bell interiors. If it wasn’t for the soot I’d green up the outside and keep the insides black but as soon as I start cleaning through the soot the green starts to show.

I’d love to use some paint stripper but I don’t want to chew through the green (reminds me of my old 1970 Dodge Super Bee).

I’m actually starting to think (being in Ontario) that these were once on a Go Transit train at some point in it’s life. Kinda has that Go Transit hue to it.

If so, I might be able to be a little more aggressive when cleaning them and not have to worry too much about the green taking off on me. I guess if worse comes to worse I can strip it all down and make them ‘naked’. :eek:

Darn tootin’! IMO they sound best when without paint anyhow. The metal retains a much longer bell response - kind of like a ringing sound which carries on after you’ve given them some steam.

Look into getting them soda blasted if you want to bring them back to bare metal. It’s not cheap but you get a very clean finish on them without damaging the surface.

If you’re starting to use abbrasives or solvents, I’d take them apart and pull the diaphragm rubbers out so you don’t damage them. Gives you a good opportunity to inspect valve seats etc. Watch some youtube clips if uncertain, but they Nathan Airchime is a very easy horn to dismantle.

You could probably match that green and re-paint it if you wanted to.

I’m kinda liking the way they look at present. For now I’m going to clean up the manifold, leave the inside of the bells and leave it at that. I will however at some point in time strip them down and repaint to the same as they look now. I like the contrast between the black and green.

Here’s some shots after a little elbow grease. :cool:

Looks like I have some decisions to be made between lager and ale.

I think when the time comes I’ll just take them apart and use some good quality paint remover.

Thanks for the advice!