An easy way to change up the look of your vehicle
Many RC cars these days are identifiable by their anodized aluminum parts. For instance, HPI almost always uses purple or orange; Traxxas vehicles use blue anodized parts and Axial went with green. Sometimes you may be into a vehicle, but not the color used to coat the aluminum parts and that can be a deal breaker for you when purchasing a vehicle. Spending money on new aluminum components in the color of your preference will cost you even more money in the end. We have found a cheap method of removing the color from your aluminum components in a nontoxic way so your parts will be back to their raw silver color. They can then be re-anodized, powder coated or whatever else you decide. The whole process only takes about 15 minutes to complete, and here’s how you do it.
WHAT DO YOU USE?
Anodizing can be removed by sanding the components with various grades of sandpaper starting from a rough grit and ending with a fine grit. This process requires a lot of elbow grease, is time consuming and really only works on aluminum plate due to the easy access to its flat surface. Once you get into machined components such as suspension arms or hubs, the complexity of their shape makes sanding difficult. You can take your parts off to a sand blaster and that will take care of the anodizing in an instant. However, the downside is that you have to search for a sandblasting company to take care of the components, it will cost money to make that happen and the finish of the parts afterward will be rough and dull. The best way we found to remove anodizing is by soaking them in a product called Greased Lightning. It comes in a variety of forms and the commercial grade bottle is what you are looking for when removing anodizing.
Start by removing all of the anodized aluminum components from your vehicle. Depending on what parts you want to de-anodize, it may require completely disassembling your vehicle to make it happen. Remember to keep your parts organized during this process so that you’ll have an easy time putting things back together when you’re done. If you’re starting with a new vehicle, your parts will be ready to go. If you’re dealing with an old vehicle, you need to take the time to clean the parts. While you are at it, look them over and make sure that they aren’t damaged. If they are bent or scratched, now’s the time to replace them.
THE REMOVAL PROCESS
Start by loading your parts into your old pan and fill the pan with Greased Lightning. Add just enough solution to cover the parts and make sure that you don’t crowd them in the pan. Stripping a few parts at a time is more time consuming but will give you better results in the end. Let the parts sit in the pan until the coloring fades away.
While the parts are sitting, fill another pan with clean water so you can dip the parts in after to avoid oxidation of the now bare aluminum. Clean the parts with soap and water to remove any leftover cleaner and you’re ready to go.
Some of the components may not shed their color easily so it may require some scrubbing with a Scotch-Brite pad.
Now that your parts are stripped of their anodized color, you’ll need to decide how to finish them off. Some of you may be happy with the parts as they come out of the solution, but you have some options. You can polish the parts to give them a chrome look and add some bling to your vehicle. Maybe you want them to be anodized a color that doesn’t get used often in the RC world. That can be done and it requires you to find a local anodizing shop and hopefully, they will have a color that will make your parts stand out. This is a costly process but you can reduce the cost if you can wait for a time when they have other parts to anodize that same color. Powder coating the parts is another option and you’ll basically have to go through the same process that you do if you go for anodizing. The one thing that you need to remember is that when parts are powder coated, the coating adds thickness to that part. So some areas may have to be masked before the powder-coat process. It’s easier to do that before than having to remove the hardened coating after the process has been done. The last option is to paint your parts. Paint, however, is easy to scratch, so try to use paint on parts that aren’t easily reached.