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Painting a Diecast Car
By Paul Hettick

All items may be purchased at your local auto paint store. Please carefully follow all manufactures instructions, and remember that you will be working with some highly toxic and volatile products. Be sure to buy a disposable paint mask, not a dust mask, and rubber gloves.


The victim: a $10.00 1/24 scale '48 Chevy Fleetline, the kind of cheap diecast you can pick up at a gas station. I chose this car, as it would be an easy first-attempt paint job.


The chassis comes apart with 4 phillips screws, the trim pieces are all attached by melting the backside to the body, easily removed by slicing off the melted area with an x-acto knife. If you're working with a Danbury or Franklin Mint car, their trim is glued on. In that case, you'll dissolve the glue with super- glue remover, or Contractors Solvent (that's the brand name). Once the car has been disassembled, you may wish to strip the body. I do it by submerging the chassis in a container of Castrol Super-Clean (wear gloves, it's quite caustic!) Let soak until the paint wrinkles up. Then clean the paint off using a wire brush under warm water. Here's how the body should look.

Now is the time to correct body imperfections, sand the mold seams, etc. From this point on, wash your hands frequently, as oils from your skin can cause all kinds of nasty paint problems. Use a red Scotch-Brite pad to thoroughly rough up all the nooks and crannies, doorjambs and inner body areas. Next sand the outer surface areas with #400 grit sandpaper, and your project is ready for its first primer coats.

First apply two light coats of self-etching zinc-chromate primer (available through automotive paint stores). Let dry for 24 hours. If you need to apply body filler, now's the time. First rough-up the area with a red scotch-brite to give the filler some bite, and apply, let dry, and sand smooth. (caption: First Primer Coats)

To prepare the body for final primer, use a gray Scotch-brite pad to again rough up the nooks and crannies, door jambs etc., then sand the body thoroughly with #400 grit sandpaper. Apply 3 medium coats of automotive primer. Ask your local auto-paint store to recommend a good spray can primer to be used under automotive enamels. Let dry for at least four days. After taking care that your hands are clean of all oils, gray scotch-brite the doorjambs, nooks and crannies, and sand the body with #600 grit paper for non-metallics, #1000 grit for metallics. Wash the body in warm soapy water, THOROUGHLY rinse with clean water, and pat dry with a paper towel. Let the body air dry till all traces of water are gone.


Selecting the paint: several choices are available, the easiest and least expensive is to use an existing spray can color (don't scoff yet!) The Chevy for this article was finished in Krylon Ford engine green! Or you may have a factory or custom color mixed for you at the auto-paint store, put it in a spray can. Or get a 1/2 pint and use an air brush.

Time to paint! Attach the body with tape (from the bottom) to a bent coat hanger or other means and lightly wipe with a tack rag. Apply the first coat dry, but don't try to get it fully covered. Let dry for 5 minutes. Next coat, make a little wetter and let dry for 5 minutes. Next coat, apply a smooth, wet coat. Let dry 10 minutes. Repeat with 3 to 4 more wet coats, and let dry somewhere safe and out of the way for a couple of weeks.

If you would like to polish the paint job to a mirror finish, your local hobby shop should carry any one of a number of polishing kits. These have several grits of sand paper, from #3200 grit to #10,000 grit.

Just follow the directions and you will have a finish that will be as smooth and glossy as your favorite Danbury/Franklin car. Reassemble you prize with clear 5 minute epoxy and enjoy your creation!




Registered user? Post your own comment!

6 Comment(s) Posted:

Re: Painting a Diecast Car     jason allen   (02/02/16)

Re: Painting a Diecast Car     jason allen   (02/02/16)

strip & paint     gerald camacho   (04/13/12)

puting back the trim peices.     Robert Geco   (05/19/09)

Windows     JIM PARE   (09/08/03)

1948 Fleetline     Andy Smith   (04/01/03)



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