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FROM THE October 2011 ISSUE

Modifying diecast models

RELATED TOPICS: BODYWORK
Q: In the last issue, you answered a question about stripping and painting diecast models, but what about bodywork?

I have a diecast that’s itching to be sliced-and-diced. What’s the best way to do custom bodywork (chopping, sectioning, etc.) on a metal car?

 – Peter Butler
via E-mail


Ken: Good question, Peter. Although most of us wouldn’t hesitate to tear up a plastic model, we’re somewhat reluctant to cut into a diecast – which is a shame, because there’s some really great Lead Sled material available on that side of the fence.  

Basic body modification techniques (such as where to cut) are the same in metal and plastic, but the tools needed to get the job done vary slightly.

An abrasive cut-off wheel on a motor tool, which can sometimes play havoc on plastic, will be your best friend when it comes to cutting up a diecast. Cleaning up the cuts will require some aggressive metal files, as opposed to the finer patterns used to finish plastic.

But the biggest difference is in how the pieces will go back together. Plastic can be melted back together with liquid cement to create a strong bond, but that’s not an option with the metals (or rather, “alloys”) used in diecast.

I’ve found that one of the best metal-bonding adhesives is JB Weld, available at most hardware stores.

Depending on what you’re customizing, it’s a good idea to reinforce the back of the seam, even if it involves grinding down the back edges and countersinking a metal or brass strip down the length of the seam.

One advantage of customizing a diecast is that “cosmetic customizing” (adding wheel flares, ridges, scoops or anything that doesn’t require cutting) can be done with pieces of wire and sheet brass or aluminum. After the model is roughed in, automotive body putty can be used to finish the job.

We hope this helps, Peter, and we hope you inspire other modelers to dive into diecasts. Thanks for the great question.

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