Rebuilding, Repainting Scale Diecast Cars and Trucks

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Scale Diecast Cars and Trucks Models


You may wonder, "Why all the diecast cars and trucks mixed in with model kits?".

There are several reasons:

  • Some vehicles are only available in diecast, and will probably never be available as a plastic or resin kit. In cases like those, a diecast is better than nothing.
  • Diecast vehicles are good parts donors. Especially for accssories, special gear, and offroad tires. The list is almost endless. Again, the parts may not be available in plastic or resin, or even 3D printing. Often times the quickest and easiest way is just to buy a diecast car and yank off the parts you need.
  • Diecast cars and trucks are models, to a certain point. Almost all of them can be dissasembled, repainted, and rebuilt. Most of the times there's only a few small screws holding them together. Yes! - you can modify them with the right tools and patience.
  • Many diecast cost less than plastic models kits, even of the same type of vehicle. So saving a few dollars is ok too.
  • ____________________________________________



So how do you go about a quick rebuild of a diecast?

I've gone into depth on this subject
with my Scale Model Life issue 4.



But I'll touch on it here with some basics to get you going.

First: You need to disassemble the diecast model. Use an appropriate screwdriver on the screws. Some parts might be glued together. You can carefully pry them apart, or heat up the end of a flat screwdriver or knife, and carefully cut them free if the parts are plastic. A hot soldering tool works well also..

Be sure and save any mounts, pins or screws since you may need them to reassemble the model at the end.

Second: Most of the time you want the diecast car or truck to be painted a specific color you've picked out. That means you need to strip the old paint off. Be sure and remove any chrome moldings or trim (if there are any).

You could sand the paint off by hand, but thats a long tough process to do. The paint on a diecast is usually high quality paint, and is usually applied pretty thick, so again, it's a tough job to do by hand.

One way is to use paint stripper. I use Automotive Paint Stripper from Rust-Oleum. It will bubble up the paint (and primer most of the time) right off the metal body. It also washes up with water.

It's highly corosive, so you don't want to get it on your skin, and it's certainly not safe around kids. (see my magazine issue for more about it).



Another technique I use is a Dremel tool with a small wire brush on the end. Paint stripper doesn't always get all the paint off in the small cracks and crevices, or some curved areas. The Dremel tool will strip off that paint. Wear eye protection and a breather so you don't take in the paint dust of course.


dremel tool power brush


These ideas will take the paint off, and primer if there is a layer of that (I don't think diecast manfacturers are worried about rust, so many don't use a primer coat).


stripped decast car in metal


How's that for real steel? Once stripped you're ready to customize it YOUR WAY!

When you repaint your diecast vehicle I recommend you use an automotive sandable primer before painting on your top coat. Using primer out of a spray can is fine.

Reassembling the car model is a reversal of taking it apart. But that's if you leave it stock. I often swap parts with plastic models to make the diecast look better, or enhance it to fit the look I'm after.

Metal bodies can be cut and reshaped as well. You need good tools to do this, such as a hacksaw, and be pretty good with automotive Bondo putty. I've seen people mix and match diecast bodies and plastic ones too for a sort of hybrid build. The possibilities are almost endless.

The end result is: don't be afraid to use diecast cars and trucks to make a model subject that you want to display in your model collection. As a modeler, you already have the skills to take one apart and reassemble it.

So make the kind of scale model you want - even if it's a diecast subject. :-)


rebuilding diecast vans

Do it Your Way!


This is another car I redid. It was originally painted in flat
black with a gray top. I disassembled the car, then sanded it down, and shot it with white primer.

I then shot it with a metallic red color with a white top.

Detail brush painting was done where needed.


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