We all have that one in-law that thinks your hobby is foolish and
has on occasion used your prized convertible as an ashtray!
My brother-in-law, Mortimer, is like that! Hopefully,
after reading this you'll have a better
understanding of how to properly care for your model cars and clean
up any accidents. The care tips will also help your models live
a long and productive life, giving you countless hours of eye pleasure!
To deal with people like Mortimer, you'll have to wait for another
article on dealing with in-laws!
Why on earth would anyone need a brush? Ok, how many of you have
lost parts to the dreaded dust rag? I have purchased several brushes
whose only purpose is reserved for dusting. I have a 1" camel
hair brush which I use for general purpose dusting, a large rounded
brush for detail work on interior areas and a brush generally found
with electric razors for the cleaning of dried waxes in hard to
you take a stroll down the makeup isle you'll be able to find all
kinds of things appropriate for your models. Just takes an open
mind, that's all. Make-up brushes are awesome for general-purpose
dusting and cost pennies as compared to a 1" camel hairbrush.
A neat trick for stubborn dust on the inside of the windshield,
especially a hardtop model, is to brush the outside "glass"
until a static charge is created. Then all you need to do is drag
the brush over the outside of the "glass" and the particle
clings, right out to the edge.
I'm not kidding! My wife finds it entertaining when she hears
me vacuuming my little cars. Sometimes she invites the neighbors
in to watch! Computer stores have these neat little battery-powered
vacuums. Many, come with a few attachments. I do not recommend the
brush attachments as they are very stiff and the thick diameter
of the intake shaft prevents any usefulness.
get around this, go to you local health supply store, one that carries
oxygen. Ask them if they carry oxygen bubble tubing. If they do,
a 1-foot section will last you an awful long time.You will need
to cut a short section of tubing at the widest part of the bubble
- in most cases this will be right in the middle. Then cut the tubing
at the thinnest part. This is the end that will go into the car.
It will be about 6 inches of tubing.
this to the end of you vacuum unit and you're ready to go. Being
soft and pliable, the tubing will not scratch paint or chrome. You
can easily get into corners of the floor and get at any stubborn
dust. I also do not recommend mini attachments you can get for portable,
full size vacuum units. I had a friend who bought a detail brush
kit for his Eureka and I watched him suck the console, pedals and
mirror right out of a Camaro model! The look on his face was priceless!
Any old rag will do...right? Wrong! You should be using only
100% cotton rags to buff your models. Some cotton rags like diapers
are stitched with rayon. Rayon will scratch your model's surface.
Art supply houses offer rolls of 100% cotton wipes, as do some auto
supply houses. Remember; be sure it's all cotton!
Dust Off: This is the spray air in a can. This can be an effective
way to shear parts right off your models. The burst of air from
the can nozzle could probably be clocked right with the force of
a hurricane! My one friend used this product as well, and now has
quite a few good parts cars. I have seen other collectors that have
mastered the trigger and can clean a model beautifully! Watching
them operate the can is like watching a maestro conduct a symphony.
I use Dust-Off when painting bodies. One gentle blast will get any
errant dust off the surface.
Polishes and Waxes
only waxes or polishes recommended for use on clear coats. They
do not contain any abrasives that can scratch your model's finish.
This is extremely important if you plan on treating a black car
to a buffing. So what do I use? If the car only has a few fingerprints,
especially after eating cheese curls or something similar, I will
wipe the car down with Final Inspection by Meguiars.
NEVER spray product directly onto a model! I will usually dip a
Q-tip into a film container holding some solution. I blot off any
excess and then gently apply to the surface. I avoid raised edges
and silver painted areas as these can easily rub through. The solution
dries to a fine haze. I then wipe the haze away using a 100% cotton
cloth, wrapped around my index finger.
need not apply Herculean pressure onto the surface of the model.
Light, gentle pressure will get the haze off. An alternative product
is Dry Wash and Guard made by Enviro-Tech International. Roger Hardnock
turned me onto this product. It's a dri-wash product that contains
paint friendly polymers. Rub in on, let it haze and then wipe it
Sometimes there are stubborn glue marks or even scratches on the
surface. To remove the glue marks, I use a product called Bare Metal
Plastic Polish. Many yeas ago I did an article car for a magazine.
In the final assembly I touched the front fender with my finger.
It had superglue on it and I left a huge glue mark on the fender.
I thought the model was lost. I had nothing to lose and tried everything.
The only thing that worked was the Bare Metal Polish. It dissolved
the glue mark and polished the paint underneath.
For final waxing I use a non-abrasive Carnauba wax. It's applied
with Q-tips and then gently wiped off. Again, use the same guidelines
for waxing. Avoid high spots and silver painted trim. Also avoid
mirrors, photoetched parts and the edges of chrome body trim.
During the entire cleaning/waxing process, I wear the supplied
cotton gloves. Not only do they make me feel pretty, they serve
the function of preventing oils from your hands, marring a clean
surface. When I'm finished, I put the gloves in a Zip-Lock bag to
protect them from dust and most importantly, debris that might be
around the workbench. Last thing you need is a fine metal shaving
to get imbedded in your gloves and scratch your finish, inadvertently.
I also suggest that you do the same with your buffing rags.
good polish is Novus and it comes in 3 concentrations. I would only
suggest that a novice use #1 and #2.
Solvents and other nasty things
Most Care and Handling booklets tell you not to use solvents of
any kind. They mean it! I've heard of people on the board using
Acetone and all kinds of other things to clean model cars. Two words
to those folks... "You're nuts!" I have repaired many
models for friends who decided to take glue marks off with acetone.
ACETONE WILL SOFTEN PAINT....period! Paul Kravchak uses it to
remove tampos. He is a trained professional and exercises extreme
care knowing that the underlying paint can come off. So unless you're
prepared to send your model for a repaint, stay away from acetone.
There will be someone out there who is reading this, who will say
that he's used acetone for years. Well, you've been very lucky!
Waxes with cleaners are deadly to a model! Avoid them! They leave
fine scratches on a surface of a model. Over time, continued use
will dull the finish right out.
Avoid the use of water on a model. I say this because certain municipalities
have different restrictions on water quality. If you have a high
acid content, number one-you should be drinking bottled water, but
the acid will attack the model over time. Metal parts will form
a crusty, orange coating, commonly known as rust. I know of at least
a few collectors that have wiped down cars with water only to find
that the steering shaft rusted solid within the plastic collar,
making it useless. Yes, they did use a lot of water, but the point
is don't use it! Water quality comes into play when you start to
notice the metal bubbling under your paint. High acid water gets
to the metal through pores in the paint and over time reacts with
it, like acid rain.
Most model chrome is typical automotive chrome and can be cleaned
easily. Sometimes a simple wipe with a soft cloth will do. Be careful
not to use any petroleum based products on the "other"
chrome found on models. This "chrome" is known as vac-metallized
and any petroleum based cleaner or wax will remove your metallized
coating. This coating is common to promo models, model kit chrome
and some cheaper diecast models.
Sunlight, extreme heat and cold are a model's enemy. Never store
your models in an uninsulated attic. Temperatures can reach highs
that will melt rubber tires, distort plastic and cause paint to
eventually bubble. To the converse, attics can also reach low cold
temperatures, too. This constant expansion and contraction will
eventually destroy your model. Direct sunlight will fade colors
on the interior and exterior. Also avoid exposure to high intensity
halogen lights. Some pigments in paint do not take kindly to this
exposure and fade quickly.
I hope this article answers some of the many questions I've seen
on the board about caring for your models. In no way is this article
the definitive answer. These techniques have worked for me and I've
proudly displayed my models for years and they look like the day
I first put them out. Like your booklet says, "...follow
these directions and your model will be the source of pride for
years to come."