Jump to content

Sprockets Di cast model restoration side show

Recommended Posts

As this site is so inclusive of the types of models and scales, I though I'd share a few Di cast model restorations here, there are a few knacks to learn, but it's far simpler than plastic scale modelling as there is little in the way of weathering or diorama application. you can restore a model to how it looks originally, or you can customise to your own spec, there's no hard and fast rules, except a few safety rules anyone trying this must follow, I'll highlight those when I reach them. We're working in metals so here we go.

starting with this Matchbox racing car transporter. Decals and paint a little scuffed.


oh dear what's going on back here, utter chaos, this cargo area supports a lift for a two deck transportation of racing cars.


the first step to any dicast model restoration is very careful stripping down as far as you can, most, not all, are assembled with factory applied rivets that hold the body to the floor. This example has two at the front and two tabs that slot into the foot of the tailgate to hold it in place.


as these rivets are very shallow I ground them off rather than the usual way, by drilling them out.


it goes almost without saying that the first safety rule here is watch your fingers with the grinding tool. Lift the body off the floor and watch that any pieces that fall away are recovered and placed safely away. 


  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

a quick examination and the source of the collapsing shelves is right here, with this pin, it's ground smooth with no rivet head on the end. That's an easy fix, I'll cover that later.



slide the pin out for examination and it is also bent, and another easy fix there.


out with the glass, and it's two rivets drilled off front and rear. careful here as you don't want to slip and graze the bodywork, or shatter the glass.


using a small drill bit I drilled out the two front rivets to take 2mm button screws. Again care here, you don't want to go too deep and break through.


  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites


removing the red wheels is essential here as the paint stripping would damage or melt them. one side is a dome, but the other is simply held on with a swarf like ridge that can be pulled flat with pliers, then the pliers simply pull the wheel hub off the axle one side. Make sue the teeth of the pliers are covered so as not to graze the soft plastic wheel.


That's all the metal bodywork ready for paint stripping, we don't use nitromors or any other paint stripper for this, it's much easier and far more fun than that...


I place the parts in a 8 inch tall hotdog jar, then pour boiling water onto it so that the model is submerged.

then......a table spoon of Caustic soda, safety rule two, stand back as the chemical reaction is quite violent, with sudden spitting and boiling up like something in Dr Frankensteine's laboratory, stand well back and watch the fun.


this picture was taken a second after the violent reaction, it quickly dies down, and the model is obscured in froth and bubbles.


the hot water starts to become tinged with the paint colour, and you know it's working. A few minutes later you can tip the contents out, but beware of the hot, hotdog jar, I did afterall, pour boiling water in there a few minutes ago. Result, a clean sink, clean plumbing pipes, clean drain, but most important of all, no sign of any paint on the model parts.



  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

stripped bare of any paint the shell can be wiped off and examined for scratches in the casting, broken or missing pieces.


while that dries off I can wash the plastic parts in warm soapy washing up liquid.


some time ago I ordered a replacement glazing section from Steve Flowers model supplies.


I also got some decals from Steve, there are lots of dicast restoration parts suppliers out there.


  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

once I was happy, the body parts all get a coat of white Halfords primer from an air can.


I always start painting the shell inverted so the interior gets a coat, And I don't have to stand the model on it's new painted roof.


  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites


I love Die Casts (but the bigger boys point and laugh at me when I get them out to play with) :yes:

I have quite a few old Cars and Trucks I'd, eventually, like to restore, so I'm following happily.

Thanks for the Caustic Soda tip :thumbsup:


  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

That brings back memories. I'd forgotten that I had one of those when I was a kid.

I didn't know that you can get spares for die casts. My granddad gave me an old die cast car that my dad had as a kid and the wheels are knackered, so I may look to replace them. 

Personally I like to see die casts on here - they are models after all.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Well Thanks for the vote of confidence Guys, in that case I'll do a few more I have lined up. Once they are done they'll be going into the car bling display case mounted on the wall.

the body spray painted from a car paint air can, inverted so the interior gets some body colour before the roof gets painted.


with the shell top coated and the floors areas in silver, let them dry a bit while I wash the tyres.


  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

this is no ordinary 8 inch nail, this is my re domeing tool, it goes in the drill in place of a drill bit, has a cup ground in it's end to press on the end of the axle pin and form it over into a dome preventing the wheels working their way off the axle.


there are the factory formed domes on one side of the axle pin, way larger than the dome on the other side.


the securing pin was straightened in a vice and pushed through and the dome was formed using the nail dome former. there's just enough dome there to stop the pin working it's way back out.


  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

I placed the glazing back in with the body laying on it's roof on a polishing cloth to prevent it getting scratched. then the cab interior, then the rear part with the base section, the tabs clicked into place after I had positioned the ramp door. then, these....


there are several ways to deal with the re attachment here, you can use button screws, you can also buy rivets that you glue in, or like me you can make miliput rivets.


sometimes like here, the attachment spigots that form the rivet are too shallow, using as screw could break through and cause an issue, soft milliput filler is a great option here. The join has to be held until they harden and hold the join firm, I'm using spring tweezers to hold the body and floor close together while the milliput hardens off overnight. Then I can start on those decals.


Edited by Sprocket
  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

oh yes, I'll paint them body colour.


I have to say I'm really impressed with the quality of these Decals, really fine and excellent register. They finish off the model beautifully, just the chrome headlights to dot in. .....It's Modelling Jim, but not as we know it......




now I need to find two Coventry Climax race cars to go in the back.


  • Like 6
Link to post
Share on other sites

That looks fantastic Sprocket!

Knowing how odd collectors are I suppose that reduces the value.

I don't know why someone would pay more for something which isn't expertly restored. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent point Gorbs. 

I've seen a verbal altercation at a Die Cast fair many years ago about restored models. It was very funny actually. 

I have some Cars and Trucks from the 60s and some are quite valuable, but I want them restored and looking shiny. Friend of mine nearly had a thromby when I told him, thats why I keep them in boxes 😬

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...