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 Diecast: restoration and customization

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soothsayer
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PostSubject: Diecast: restoration and customization   Tue Jun 19, 2018 7:53 am

As I get older, I'm learning that if it's crafty or artistic, I want to do it. It seems that my list of projects or ideas is continuously expanding; and late last week, another project has been added to my list.

Diecast restoration and customization.

What I like about this project is that I already have most of the stuff needed, and the stuff I don't have doesn't cost a whole lot. Scratch that: there's one item I can see needing that would require a bit of looking into and a nice chunk of money... a 3D printer. But, in all actuality, a printer isn't required, it would just be easier to expand this hobby.

So the premise is pretty basic. Take beat up diecast cars (I'm sure planes would work as well, or any other diecast object), or cars that need something new, take them apart, strip them, clean and repaint, reassemble. Oooo, sounds hard.

Customization includes: wheel swaps, body decals, paint jobs, aftermarket parts. This can be done in many different number of ways, but what I am thinking is, with the exception of decals and paint jobs, is the use of 3D printing. You can buy 1:64 scale parts and accessories, but you're looking at between $10 for new wheel assemblies (and that's with the 'basic' Hot Wheels look) and $40 for something 'sporty'; let's not even think about engines or spoiler packages or whatever. Customization can be quite the investment!

A restore, as you can imagine, is a basic process that we all have some familiarity with. Maybe fixing the windscreen so that it is clearer (acrylic floor polish), straighten the axles (or replace with headpins and glue), realign the wheels, re-hinging a hood or door (hot glue), paint (airbrush). A basic restored car can go for anywhere between $30 and $75 on eBay. But, should you add in other factors like realistic wheels or aftermarket parts...

Think about the potential here. We could develop an entire catalog of aftermarket parts. Different style tires (street to off-road to racing), custom rims, headers, air intakes, scoops, spoilers... whatever. We could literally just go through a real aftermarket car parts website and copy stuff.

Along this line, there is also fantasy style customization. Mad Max type stuff. Or games like Gaslands, where armored and weaponized cars do battle. Mount a rocket launcher to the back of a Toyota pickup truck a la drug cartel. Whatever we imagine!

Should we run with this idea, there's nothing that would prevent us from getting our own booth at the fair next year and setting up shop. Perform some restores right there while people check out our catalog!

Do the same with airplanes or other diecast constructions, and our market is limited only by our combined abilities, which is pretty impressive if I do say so myself.

In this thread I'll be posting some videos we can use as a base reference, just so I can tantalize you guys into jumping aboard. From what I've seen, this is easy, at least with our skill level.
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PostSubject: Re: Diecast: restoration and customization   Tue Jun 19, 2018 8:33 am

Separation

I'm not going to post a video on this, as it seems pretty straight forward: how do dismantle a diecast car. There are two recognized methods. The first is drilling, the second involves heating.

HEATING - All you need is a solder iron with a pointed tip. A standard solder iron works, but professional restorers use an industrial grade iron that gets a lot hotter quicker. We all have a solder iron, so...

The premise is to heat the rivet(s) to the point where you can begin to pull the plastic underbody away from the car body. With a standard solder iron, allow it to heat up for about 15 minutes; put the point in the rivet's center for a few seconds; remove iron; and with a side-to-side motion, wiggle the underbody away from the upper. Do not attempt to pull the rivet through on the first go, it will not happen, and there will be a chance of bending the underbody! Repeat the steps on the second rivet; go back to the first, go back to the second, and so on until the assembly pops loose. Clean up any residue with an xacto knife.

The pro with this method is that the two pieces can be snapped back together, making it appear as if there was no custom or restore job. The cons is that you can warp or bend the underbody, or should you touch the plastic underbody with the solder iron, visible damage.

DRILL - You will need two different sized drill bits, a tap, and some set screws.

With the smaller of the two drill bits, drill into the rivet (from its center). Be careful not to drill all the way through! This is making the pilot hole for the tap. The larger second drill is used to remove the mushroomed portion of the rivet. With luck, you wouldn't have hit the plastic underbody, but don't worry if you do, as the screw will cover any minor damage. After removing the mushroomed head of the first rivet, check to see if the two pieces can separate; if so, take your tap and begin to make threads for the screw. Only go a little bit at a time! Check depth with your screw; if the hole is too shallow, tap some more. You don't want to go too deep, as you don't want to overtighten the screw and chance underbody cracking. Once you have the depth and screw right, work on the second rivet.

Pro is that there's less chance of body damage and allows you to easily go back for more customization. The con is that people will know the vehicle has has work done.

...

The Rivet Test

How do you know your Hot Wheels or Matchbox or {name brand here} car has been restored? The Rivet Test! Look at the rivets: if they are screws, there was work done. If the rivets are still intact, chances are there was no work done. Unless you try to pull them apart; if the pieces pop apart, it's been retouched.

But what if the car is still in the blister? This is not an indicator that the car is pristine! If you brush acetone to the back of the blister (ie, the cardboard side) and along the edges, you can pop the blister off (do not apply acetone to the top edge of blister, so it acts as a hinge). Remove car, do whatever, put back in blister. With hair dryer, gently go over where you applied acetone so it evaporates; doing so will make the glue tacky once more, reattaching the blister to the cardboard (of you press firmly in place).
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PostSubject: Re: Diecast: restoration and customization   Tue Jun 19, 2018 9:30 am

Striping Paint, Cleaning and Painting

You'll only want to do this when the car has been taken apart, as all you are concerned with is the upper assembly. After removing the rivets, remove the two body assemblies; remove tire assemblies from the lower (if you are not doing anything to the wheels, you can leave them in place), and the windshield from the upper (you don't want to get stripper on the plastic shield).

We've all seen or read or heard about how to remove paint from models, so there really isn't a need to go into detail here. But, if it gets down to it, buying a can of paint stripper will go a long way; just brush on a heavy amount, wait fifteen minutes for the stripper to bubble away at the paint, and wash off. You may need to use a scratch pad or a dental pick, but this will take care of most, if not all, of the paint. Repeat if necessary. Make sure to get the inside of the upper body, too!

...

At this stage, you can remove mold lines if you so choose. A hobby file and emery board will work best.

Use a dremel and a buffing / polishing wheel to clean and shine up the body of the car. This will help remove any oxidation as well. For excellent results, after polishing, wash the car in mineral spirits to remove any polish residue.

...

With the right paint, you could paint directly onto the metal, but why not prime first? At this point, if there are any defects or pits in the metal, they will be obvious to see; you can touch up with some putty. Paint the car with an airbrush or thinned paints; apply in layers to a nice shiny look. For details and trim work, it is suggested that you tape off the car first.
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PostSubject: Re: Diecast: restoration and customization   Tue Jun 19, 2018 10:00 am

Sample videos

Just a few videos showing different techniques. As you can see by the last video, this is something a child can do. Or teenager. You know, like a project or something to get a teenager interested or involved in something. The first two use electrolysis for polishing, but this isn't anything that sanding or buffing couldn't do.





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PostSubject: Re: Diecast: restoration and customization   Tue Jun 19, 2018 3:12 pm

If you've gotten this far, there's a small chance you've watched a view videos by now, and if that is the case, you've probably heard the term "redline" mentioned quite often. Seems those are the vintage Hot Wheels, 1977 and older. I personally don't know what the difference is, or what the big need for redlines are.

With that said, I checked eBay's listings for  hot wheels redline, and the pricing does seem to be all over the place (pending on quality). There are some pretty cheap finds, some worn finds too. Now, this past weekend, I did grab a bag of Hot Wheels cars from Goodwill for $10; there were well over 30 cars in the bag, and these can ususally be had a few times a month. With the videos discussing redlines, I went and ordered a small lot of six, dated 1969.



As you can see from the above image, there is a nice variety of cars here. Even with the description stating that some cars were missing some pieces, I thought that these six for $12 wasn't too bad a deal, especially if used for before and after pictures; the ones I got from Goodwill were in too nice of a condition for a "before". And, oddly enough, I just watched a video on restoring the Jaguar, so this should go fairly well.

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