TRIMMING, DETAILING & PAINTING LEXAN® BODIES

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READ ALL STEPS BEFORE BEGINNING
Paint jobs like the ones shown below are no accident. They take time, patience, and a little "know how". Patience is a virtue and time is up to you to find, but there is enough information here to help you get started.

OBS: This text is published by Parma International, Inc. (P/N NI-046), and I modified it slightly. I hope they forgive me.

 

Painting Lexan® Bodies

1. R/C Car bodies are vacuum-formed from virgin Lexan® to the highest industry standards. The vacuum-forming process leaves chemical residue on the Lexan®. This must be removed to allow the best paint adhesion. Wash the inside of the body with warm water and a mild detergent, then dry with a soft cloth to avoid scratching the Lexan®. Some manufacturers recommend that you sand the inside of the body to help the paint stick. No such measures need be taken with R/C Car Lexan® bodies; I sometimes use a Scotch-Brite® sponge. Just be certain to use Lexan® paint. Avoid automotive paints and other harsh lacquers. These paints cause melting or cracking of the Lexan®. Best results can be gained by using an airbrush, but very satisfactory results can be obtained with aerosol cans. In fact, I used an airbrush only on my two first bodies, well before polycarbonate paint was readily available on my hometown; after that, I always used either Pactra® or Tamiya® aerosol cans.

2. Remember that clear Lexan® bodies are always painted on the inside. Examine the body to find the thin areas such as tight corners. If paint is applied too heavily in these areas, the Lexan® can become weaker or melt. Spray the paint on in several thin coats to avoid runs & cracking.

3. Use the plastic bag that was used in the original packaging to wrap completely the body; then cut a hole conforming to the body shape on the underside, and stick it with masking tape to the body edges, thus forming a complete cover up for the outside of the body. This prevents overspray, and makes handling much easier.

4. When all painting is complete, and has dried, wipe off the over spray on the outside of the body with lighter fluid on a soft rag. Use a Detailing Pen (Parma®, Trinity®, etc.) to detail the body lines on the outside of the Lexan® body.

Masking Lexan® Bodies

1. Because you are painting from the inside out, you must think inside out when masking and painting.

2. Begin by masking off the windows. Now use a brush to hand paint any details like chrome trim around windows or headlights. Race bodies do not have decorative trim(mostly), so disregard this step. See Detailing Tips.

Next, identify the lightest color area to be painted, and carefully mask it off. It might help to draw your design on the outside of the body first. Use a Detailing Pen (Parma®, Trinity®, etc.); its ink can be removed later with lighter fluid and a soft rag. If the design you choose has many curves or odd shapes, use Liquid Mask (Parma®, Autographics®, etc). Follow the directions on the label.

Now identify your next darkest area, and carefully mask it off. Finally, when all areas are masked off and all that is exposed is the darkest area, begin painting by following Step #2. When this color is dry, peel up the masking that covers the next darkest color and paint that area. Finally, once this has dried, peel up the masking covering the lightest area and paint it. When the paint has dried completely, peel off the window masks.

Trimming Lexan®

Trimming Lexan® Bodies:

Most people trim the body after painting and before applying decals. When you trim the body, there are several important things to remember.

1. Use a hobby knife to score the Lexan® along the trim lines. (Trim lines are the grooves around the lower edge of the body).

2. You may want to leave the trimming of wheel wells and other rounded areas for last. Use curved scissors to properly trim these areas. Use fine sandpaper to smooth edges when finished. Again, a Dremel® tool with a sanding drum is of great help.

Mounting tips:

Mounting the body should be considered before the painting has begun. The first step is to determine where the mounts will be on your vehicle. Two fronts and two rears usually offer the best support.

If your car does not have a suitable mounting setup, there are several makers that offer a full range of mounting kits and each comes with instructions. Once you decide where to put the mounts on the chassis where they will support the body most evenly, place your clear body with a marker to show where the mounting and antenna holes need to be located. To pinpoint the exact location, I sometimes use a laser-pen (used in work presentations to point at projection targets); it is a very precise method, if you can afford the pointer (or borrow one easily, as I do).

Once you have painted and trimmed your body, you can drill 1/8" holes at the predetermined body mount locations. Drilling the holes can be accomplished several ways. A Dremel® tool with a 1/4" stone can be used to grind the holes out. A hand drill with a 1/4" drill bit can be used to drill the holes. Also, if you start the holes with the hobby knife, a tapered reamer can be used to enlarge the holes. Next:

1. Loosely mount the body mount posts.

2. Place the trimmed body over your car in the location where you want it. Make sure the tires do not rub the body, and that you have the proper ground clearance.

3. Estimate the height you'll need for the front body posts.

4. Take this estimate and add 1/2" to it. This extra length will allow the front of the body to "float" slightly. Trim the posts at the ends opposite the body clip holes to your estimated dimension.

5. Now, assemble the front posts as stated in the instructions included with the body mount kit.

6. Repeat the above steps for the rear posts.

Detailing Tips:

1. Instead of silver paint, try silver Monokote® (available where R/C airplanes are sold) for those chrome accents. It looks like real chrome! Just peel it up and press it in place from inside the body. Be very careful though, it rips very easily. Once you press it into place, trim it and use a piece of tape to lift up the excess. Paint will not harm it but will bleed under if it is not pressed down well. Trim Monokote is available in a wide range of colors from most Hobby shops, and is great for all sorts of accents. Use your imagination and experiment.

2. Painting graduated tones (or shaded areas) can be created by "fogging" or "feathering off" one color (usually the darkest color), then backing it up with the second color. Practice this technique on a scrap piece of Lexan®. The more you practice, the better you'll become. An airbrush works best for this, because you can control the airflow and paint consistently.

3. To achieve the best brilliance in colors, back them up with white or silver. This is done by spraying each area after it has been painted and dried, but before you peel up the masking for the next color.

4. Mountain like images can be made by using a piece of torn newspaper with only the desired area exposed. Lay the paper over the area to be painted and paint the sky color. When dry, lay the other half of the tom paper over the painted area and spray the mountain colors.

Applying decals:

R/C Decals are the self-sticking type. They are not water slide-offs.

1. You might want to use a light mist of window spray (Windex®) on the body to help you apply the larger decals (altough a little water and hand soap mixture works just as well). This mixture retards the adhesion until you get the correct placementt. Now squeeze out any excess moisture with your fingers to get complete adhesion. Don't apply too much of it, though; it will only make it harder for the decal to stick.

1a. Using a hair dryer is a good idea to soften the vinyl on the decals; it will make them easier to conform to curved surfaces, and help dry the mixture from under the decal after application.

2. Trim each decal to be applied, as closely as possible with a hobby knife or scissors. Make nice clean cuts for best looks.

3. Try not to handle the sticky side of the decal, as it leaves fingerprints. Instead, cut away part of the backing, stick down that part of the decal, peel away the balance of the backing, and press down the decal as you go.

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