Diecast restoration tools & equipment

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I have had many, many requests recently asking for more information on what I use to restore diecast cars and trucks, so this page is a short list of what you should have to start with.

Pillar drill/drill stand/drill press

Whatever you prefer to call it the most important piece of equipment is a pillar drill.

Most diecast models have at least one rivet holding it together, some have two or three or even six, in most cases by turning it upside down this will become obvious.

With this you can accurately drill out the rivets, add holes for emergency vehicle lights and loads of other uses you will find once you have one, I also use a rotary brass wire brush in my pillar drill for cleaning up and polishing the stripped casting.

Some good twist drills would also be in order from 1.5mm up to about 8mm, I have some I have taken the point off with a grinder to drill out shallow rivets such as those holding in glass units, the point will sometimes go though the casting if you not careful so I altered a few without a point for this job.

Stripping and cleaning

For stripping paint I use Caustic soda in a plastic container, bent welding rods to dip castings into the container and an old flour sieve to dip small parts.

For cleaning up I use old toothbrushes to remove the remains of any paint and for more stubborn stuff a brass brush.

Painting and spraying

I tend to use a lot of aerosols but slowly changing over to using a small touch up spray gun, I do have an airbrush but don’t really use it that much on diecast, I use it mainly for model railway re-paints where a matt finish is required.

I’ve tried many aerosols and the best to date are from either Halfords because they seem to have a finer spray pattern, or those from a model shop meant for models anyway.

Hand tools are generally smaller then normal such as small side cutters and radio pliers, small screwdrivers etc.

Two pack epoxy I couldn’t do without for re-fitting many of the models I do.

Parts such as axles will need considering if you are replacing them, tyres, and possibly rivets.

The method I use for rivets is once the baseplate has been drilled off, use a smaller drill of 2mm to drill down into the casting post where the rivet was attached, and using 2mm rivets glue with epoxy back into place, you can of course use screws to re-fit the base but on small models this can be unsightly.

This is just a basic ‘getting started’ list and tools and parts you may need become more apparent as time goes on.

Cleaning  plastic glass units

This is one question I get asked a lot, most cars and trucks with glass need cleaning when restoring, I use a aero cockpit polish, it’s meant for real small light aircraft to polish out the fine scratches that occur with use and age, this works a treat on model glass, just Google aero cockpit polish, it may even be sold on Ebay.

As always any questions are always welcomed.


  1. John says:

    what is the best way to fill holes in diecast left after removing plastic parts
    I am converting a Superkings police car to a civilian model and need to fill the holes in the roof after removing the lights.

    • Peter says:

      Personally I would use either a metal filler or even car body filler, there is one called JB Weld (found on Ebay) that I have recently used that’s good, just back up the holes with a silver foil type tape the type they use for insulation then fill slightly proud of the roof, before applying the filler sand the hard edge of the metal around the hole to soften the edge otherwise the hole will always show, once dry sand and prime as normal.

  2. Carl Frei says:

    Where can the rivets be obtained, and what about rubber tires for Corgi cars?

    • Peter says:

      Ebay is the best source of parts these days, any trouble sourcing them let me know

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