Phil's Practical - Improve a diecast lorry


With a little bit of work, any diecast vehicle can be transformed from a shiny toy to a realistic model to grace your layout.

Straight from the box, the Classix Ford Thames is nice enough, but the paintwork is far too shiny. I doubt the prototype looked that good when it left the factory!

Dismantling the model is made harder by the axles getting in the way of the rivets that hold the body to the chassis. Wiggling a small pair of plier along the axle pushes the plastic wheels off the end. It's a bit of a fiddle as the metal axle is knurled to grip them.

The rivets can be drilled out with a 3mm or larger bit. I'm using a powered screwdriver for this, do NOT use a power drill as these will be far too fast and could grab the model from your hand, injuring you. If you don't have a screwdriver, a hand drill works just as well.

Some diecasts are held together with small screws, saving you all this work.

Removing the heads from the rivets allows the model to be taken apart, ready for improvement.

All the painted parts should be sprayed with matt varnish. This is the one thing above all others that makes the model look less toy-like. Brush painting will work, but it's much harder to achieve a smooth finish. It can be done though, use a very clean brush and try not to go over the same area too often. Keep the model in a dust-proof box while it dries.

Those thick metal sides mean the glazing is far too recessed in the cab. Throw it away and re-glaze with Micromark Krystal Klear or Deluxe Materials Glue'n'Glaze. Simply take the liquid on a small screwdriver or cocktail stick, run it around the inside of the opening and then wobble a blob around to form a skin filling the window. If it goes wrong, don't worry, let things dry and then pick away the "glass" with a cocktail stick.

The self-coloured plastic chassis is repainted with Revell No.9 Anthracite Grey - you could mix matt black and dark grey for the same effect. The wheels can go back in now as we'll be glueing the body back on later. I use superglue for this, but epoxy resin will work just as well, even if it takes a bit longer.

The finishing touch is to dry-brush the wooden bed with some pale grey and then give it a wash of thinned dark brown paint.