Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Matchbox No. 29 Fire Pumper Restoration

Matchbox No. 29 Fire Pumper Restoration

Restoring and Rebuilding Matchbox Die Cast Cars

I've got a tub full of Matchbox, Hot Wheels and other die cast cars that I've always thought I'd like to rebuild and do some detailing and use them with my trains.  Generally, most of them aren't quite the right scale and lack details that you would find in any modern scale vehicles.

The one advantage they have is that they are really cheap.  I also have a personal affinity for the regular wheel Lesney cars of the late 1960's.  These were the toys that I first played with when I was a kid.  I always felt that the older Matchbox cars were better.  There was a point when Matchbox started making too many fantasy cars which was mainly the domain of Hot Wheels.

I still have all my originals safely in their cases, but I've accumulated a lot of the old 1-75 series that are in pretty poor shape.

Contrary to popular belief, they aren't valuable.  In general, the cost of these cars is between $1-$5.  Every year I seem to pick up about 10 or so more that are wired to various flat cars I buy at train shows.

First I need to plug an awesome video that got me excited about doing a much better job at these restorations:

YouTube Channel:
Angelo Bonsignore

Specifically this video:  

How to restore Diecast Cars from Nov 24, 2012

Here's the link:

This guy is really good at this and I hope he does some videos on this subject.  This video convinced me to get the Vibratory Tumbler from Harbor Freight.  Here's the link to that tool:

I plan to do this on my YouTube channel later, but I wanted to give you a taste of what can be done:

I had 3 each Matchbox No. 29 Fire Pumper Truck and this is how they looked when I decided they were going to be the models selected for this rebuild:

Pretty rough shape.  Notice they all have the Denver decal and 2 of them are missing the beacon.  None of them had the ladder.  Once I opened them up I was surprised to find the beacon was broken, but it was still on the inside.

I washed, stripped and polished them by hand.  In Angelo's video he uses the tumbler to get a much nicer finish than I got.  Then I used Rustoleum Sunburst Red, which I tend to use a lot to paint them.  I don't care for the 2x paints because they're a bit thick.  I also use a lot of the Rustoleum black, gray and white primers. For rust or brown primer I prefer Krylon.

This red is one of the few colors that can be baked or heated with the heat gun.  Here's an intermediate shot:

You can see that my metal wasn't as polished as it would have been if I used the tumbler, but that will happen on the next set of rebuilds.

The plastic hoses and the windshields were washed with dish soap and then I polished the windshields with a head light restoration kit.

I used 3M blue tape to hold the beacons and windows in place and I didn't use rivets to replace the bases.  I'll probably just do a drop of white glue there.  The nice thing about die cast vehicles is that you can do them over if you suddenly get much better at it like I did.

I wanted to have unique engine number instead of making a new Denver decal, so I went ahead and gave them some yellow numbers.  And here they are:

They turned out pretty nice and will look great at a fire station that I'll make some day.

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