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diecast cleaning tips - lets talk

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I have no issue buying a dirty diecast.  Especially if all the parts look to be there and it's cheap enough.  Be careful around the small parts, emblems, etc.  Especially photoetch wipers.  I have had to repair several of those from heavy handed previous owners.  And try to be gentle with handles and delicate parts.  Good time to deterermine what needs a little more glue as well.  I always put small loose parts in a display case top to keep it and car together until complete.   The base serves as a top for container.  I have a lot of these leftover from selling off cars.  

My cleaning routine goes something like this.   Sit down at kitchen sink with a couple of old toothbrushes.  Soft and one is more pointy than the other.  At the edge of the sink, there is a depression juist inside the outer lip of sink.  I squirt some Greased Lightning on that little spot, dip the toothbrush in and proceed to brush the car.   Getting all the chrome and crevices.    Do whole car just as if washing a real car.

I have pipe cleaners and Q tip like devices as well.   Those for tight spaces like inside windshields and dash tops.  Usually use window cleaner on them.   Be careful to not scratch anything with wire in a pipe cleaner.

I use window cleaner for the glass sprayed onto a microfiber cloth.   After the intial cleaning, I wipe it all down with the window cleaner - the greased lightning will leave streaks.  Then I can decide if I need to take to workbench for further polishing.  

On the flocked carpets, I will usually use a dry toothbrush  or stiff paint brush to "sweep" out the interior.   Flocking doesn't like water.  Haven't tried a micro vac yet, as I don't have one.  nor do I have canned air.  I will also use the Greased Lightning on the brush to clean the seats and crevices around seats.  Often have to use the microfiber to poke in those crevices to dry out and remove the dirty cleaner left behind if interior is terribly dusty.   And I have had several of those.  

In rear cases I have disassembled the car for cleaning.  on Mint cars, they can be quite tricky to dismantle.   Hidden screws and such.  Not always obvious how to disassemble.  And hoses and such connecting one assembly to the next.  Steering columns.  Study how they seem to come apart first if you have to go this route.

If the car still isn't fabulously shiny, I will go to work bench and use the moto tool with a CLOTH polishing wheel.  These are several layers of cloth sewn together that attach to one of the screw head bits.  They are soft enough to conform around the edges and even over mirrors and door handles without flinging them into space.   use the edge, not the flat face of the pad.  I have tried felt before and they seem to be too hard and burn through way too quick.

I use turtle Wax scratch and swirl remover because it is what i have on hand.   I would probably say a  fine abrasive.   Factory diecasts have tough paint on them.   But many used cars will have lost their true shine from the years of skin oils accrued from being handled.   I have an Auburn that was kinda disheartening til I tried this - I had nothing to lose it looked so dull.   JUST be careful.  Use a SLOW speed and a LIGHT touch.  Practice first on less than your favorite car.   Mint cars are usually very shiny when new.  They can be brought back.  Sometimes the polish will dry out and look like burned paint.  Stop then and check your work.  In MOST cases in my experience,  the polish will wipe off with a damp cloth. 

Same with clear glass - it will work with a polishing cloth too.   LIGHT TOUCH. 

If you are getting swirls, it seems to me that the pad is too dry.  I use very little amounts of polish.  a dot will smear over a whole panel and try to polish it off before it dries.  Most of the time, you won't need polish on the car for each new panel or part.  just keep going as long as the pad is polishing and not swirling.  I'll try to provide photos next time I do a car, if I can remember.

After all the cleaning, try to avoid handling.  I usually wrap in a microfiber and carry to display spot or put in case.   This is just for cleaning. Along the way, I may have to detail parts or glue replacements on.   try to get it clean first to see what it actually needs. 

Last tip, if you have a window box that is terribly dirty, the plastic and box can usually be cleaned with nail polish remover.  this stuff will break down stuff that lacquer thinner can't.   And usually doesn't seem to affect the printing on the cardboard.  I have some seriously ugly boxes and can usually get them looking much better this way.  I have some stuff in a red bottle from Ollie's. $1, not sure if it is acetone or non acetone.  THe little pads as well and a roll of blue shop paper towels for boxes.   Then some window cleaner to finish.  Sometimes, this will appear to haze the clear plastic, but so far, it has always cleared up for me.  Haven't ruined one yet.

What other tips can you guys add?  What are your favorite cleaners?  I usually use whatever is on hand.  

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I ALWAYS handle my cars with white cotton gloves for one, I pick these up at the local Wally World in the medical supply area, that saves me a lot of time by not getting finger prints on them, I also use a super soft makeup/blush brush to dust my models, less chance small parts come up missing lol. Since my models are all in display cases I don't have to clean them too often, maybe once every couple of years. When they do need a little polishing I use Turtle Wax Ice since it's clear and leaves no white residue in cracks and crevices. The Turtle Wax Ice works exceptionally well on my Carney Cases also. These have worked for me very well over the years. 

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I am putting things in cases as I go.   But when bought, some have been neglected.   Some seller's have a twisted view of "mint" or "excellent".  or "a little dusty".  So cleaning is necessary.  I may get some gloves next trip to WM.  I havae big hands - have to see if they have anything big enough.  

Have to remember the TW Ice.  


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You're most certainly welcome Randy, always glad to help.

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