You just got yourself a new RC body but instantly you’re considering one very important question: “After I paint it (or buy it), how do I trim this thing out in order to make it fit?” It’s actually very easy, and only requires a few simple tools: Lexan scissors, a razor blade/hobby knife, Dremel tool (if you’ve got one), some sort of permanent marker, and a body reamer. With those tools in hand, there’s no Lexan body that can run from your skilled handiwork. Here are a few simple tricks that will have your new body trimmed out in no time flat. These simple tips can be used for any sort of on-road, off-road or whatever type of Lexan RC body you may have.
- Curved Lexan scissors
- Sharp hobby knife
- Body reamer
- Rotary tool with sanding drum
- Permanent marker
Step One: MARK YOUR HOLES
These days, it’s not uncommon to purchase a Lexan body that has numerous mounting hole locations in order to fit the needs of several different vehicles. The best way to eliminate any sort of frustration as to what holes to ream out for your body post is to place the clean body on top of your car and line it up to the body post. Once you’ve done that, use a permanent marker and mark the holes. Don’t worry about the “permanent” part of the marker, just about every body on the market features a removable paint mask and if it doesn’t, just use a window cleaner like Windex to clean it off. Once the holes are marked, your ready to start painting followed by trimming out the body.
Step Two: TRIM THE BIG STUFF
Now it’s time to get down to trimming the larger panels off the body first. One of the quickest and easiest ways to trim a body is scoring it with a hobby knife/razor blade. The trick is to score a deep enough line (not too deep to cut all the way through the Lexan) while still allowing the blade to move freely. It’s also very important to start off with a fresh blade. Dull blades make scoring far more difficult than it needs to be. Once you’ve got a score line all the way around your body, simply fold the panel outwards to let the score line penetrate all the way through. You’ll know you’re through when you hear it “pop” followed by the exposed cut. Once exposed, carefully pull away the unwanted Lexan.
Step Three: USE SCISSORS
For some, the scoring technique can be quite intimidating, especially when you’re doing it for the first time. I suggest using curved Lexan scissors for trimming out the body. The scissors make quick work of cutting the Lexan and for the most part are quite self-explanatory as to how they are used. The curve in the scissors helps cutting curved lines easier. They can also be used to trim off jagged edges from Lexan leftover from the scoring process if the score line was not deep enough.
Step Four: USING THE TWO TOGETHER
In some instances, using a combination of multiple tools is required to get the job done properly. In this case, trimming out a round hole on top of a body can be quite challenging. Start off by scoring the desired area you want to cut out, use a hole reamer to make several large holes, and then cut out the excess material. Next, use your scissors and make two cuts leading up to the scored line followed by repeating the separation technique from Step Two. Once that section has been removed, simply remove the remaining amount of material.
Step Five: REAMING HOLES
Now that you’ve got a majority of the excess material removed, it’s time to make body post holes. In this example, we’re using a body reamer that has marked diameters along the cutting blade making it easy to see just how large of a hole you’re making. Start where you made your marks with the permanent marker and begin to cut your hole. Cut the hole until the ream is about ¾ of the way through, flip the body over and finish the hole on the under side. This is done in order to leave a nice, round hole that does not have any rough edges. Continue to test fit the body over the body post until there is a faint amount of play between the outside diameter of the body post and the inside diameter of the hole in your body.
Step Six: CLEAN IT UP!
You’ve made your body mount holes, trimmed off the large sections of Lexan by scoring an edge, followed by curved scissors for removing curved sections out of the body. Now it’s time for final cleanup with a small rotary tool; use a Dremel with a sanding drum attachment. Go around the body and sand away any jagged edges that proved to be too difficult to get at with any of your other tools. Higher rpm helps with removing the material with ease, just be aware that it will cut away material much faster then you may realize—go easy.
PROTECT YOUR INSIDES
All of that hard work on trimming out your body should not be thrown to waste. Reinforce the inside of the body in order to help keep it looking great for the long haul. Gaffers tape or Shoe GOO are both excellent for reinforcing bodies.
Now that your body is trimmed up, cleaned up and mounted to perfection, it’s time to head out and have a good time. Properly trimmed bodies not only look excellent, but they are also less likely to tear or cut when all the edges are cut nice and smooth. Jagged edges or unfinished cut lines can eventually lead to a torn body or cracked sections.
Words and photos by John Cary