For every RC car body that gets the a multi-color, carefully masked custom paint job, there are probably 100 that just get a one-color quickie. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s not as simple as just pointing a spray can at the Lexan and pressing the button. Bodies aren’t cheap, and we’re sure you want your ride to look it’s best, even if it’s just one color. With just a little prep and care, your next shell can go from clear to color with even coverage, sharp window lines, and a chip-proof finish. Here’s how.
Step 1: Scuff
Lexan bodies are very smooth and the plastic is slippery. Because of that, the paint doesn’t have much to hold on to. To give the paint a better bite on the body, use a piece of Scotch-Brite to scuff the inside of the body. All you need to do is take the shine off. Avoid the windows as you scuff, we want those to stay crystal clear.
Step 2: Wash
This step is important proper paint adhesion. Fingerprints, mold release used in the making of the body, and dust from the scuffing process are all bad for the paint. Cleanup is simple: just use the kitchen sink and dish soap (make sure it’s “regular,” don’t use the kind with moisturizer added). Rinse the body thoroughly so no soap remains, and dry with a lint-free towel. Make sure you get all the tiny drops that cling to panel lines, body creases, etc.
Step 3: Apply the Window Masks
The vast majority of RC Car bodies include set of precut window masks. When applying the side windows, start with the “point” so you can more easily align the mask along the bottom edge of the window opening. For the front and rear windows, it’s usually easiest to start with one of the corners. After the masks are in place, use your fingernail or the edge of a credit card to burnish the edges down. Examine the masks from outside the body to be sure the edges of the masks are fully sealed against the body. If your body does not have pre-marked body post locations, mark the post positions now while the body is still clear.
Get the Right Paint!
Make sure your paint is formulated for polycarbonate bodies before you start spraying. Regular hardware store spray paints will seem to stick to the body well enough, but once your car is in action and the body is flexing and absorbing impacts, the paint will crack and flake. Paints for polycarbonate bodies are designed to adhere strongly and withstand flexing. Don’t skimp, get genuine RC paint! Duratrax, Tamiya, and LRP offer high-quality RC spray paints. Use them.
Step 4: Apply a Light First Coat
Shake your chosen can of color thoroughly, then spray a light coat of paint over the window masks. Don’t try to fully cover the body on this pass; all you need is a light coat to help seal the edges of the window masks and help the next coat stick. Allow the thin coat to dry completely before moving on–a hair dryer can help speed this up.
Step 5: Spray for Coverage
Now it’s time to apply a full coat. Spray in a smooth motion across the body, don’t just spray randomly. Keep the can moving to avoid drips and pooling. Reposition the body as needed to get a clear shot at the sides, rear bumper area, grill, etc. Allow the paint to dry thoroughly.
Step 6: Apply a Second Coat If Needed
After the first full coat of paint is dry, examine it for any spots you missed or areas where the paint is thin, and recoat if necessary.
Step 7: Remove the Window Masks
Make sure the paint is completely dry before removing the window masks. When you peel them off , pull the mask back over itself as shown above. This will ensure a sharp paint line around the window opening.
Step 8: Finishing Touches
Trim and mount the body while the overspray film is still on the shell to prevent scratches and scuffs. When you’re happy with how the body is mounted, peel off the overspray film and apply the decals. Once you have headlights, a grill, and a few logos in place, the paint job will really come to life. Looks good!
SHOW US HOW IT TURNED OUT!
Whether it’s a one-can wonder or a multicolor masterpiece, we’d love to see your machine in the mag. Send photos and a description to email@example.com. Be sure to send the full-size photos. If that bogs your email, use WeTransfer–it’s easy and free.
For tips on photographing your car, read this!