Today we are going to cover the most important, and most basic of tasks - removing the base of your Hotwheels vehicle. It's all well and good if you can create the most amazing paint schemes, or custom make the most insane JDM wheels ever, but if you haven't figured out a way to remove the base neatly and consistently then it's all for naught really.
I want to show you how I remove the base with a method that is highly effective and leaves what I believe to be a very professional looking result.
But the real reason I think my method rocks is because it allows for the base of the car to click back onto the remains of the rivet without the need for glue or screw.
Removing the Base - The Drill Bit.
The most important piece of information here is the drill bit size you need to work with.
It's 4.76mm or 3/16th and it will be your best friend.
Drilling out the Rivet
What we are doing is drilling into the rivet a little at a time until you can see that the rivet is just a shiny metal disc (see image slider) and does not have any extra bits sticking out the sides of said dish. Once we can see this we know we are perfectly level with the rivet head and the base. So,
- Take your 4.76mm drill bit and insert the tip into the end of the rivet.
- Firmly but gently drill down into the rivet until the head is gone and then instantly remove the pressure.
- Continue drilling down while applying little to no pressure
- Check the rivet head and see whether it looks like a clean round shiny disc.
- If more drilling is required continue to apply little to no pressure
- The trick towards the end is to use your strength to pull the car into the drill rather than pushing the drill down into the car, which tends to exert too much force.
Prying the Base Apart From the Car
Once you feel comfortable with the disc shape left it is time to remove the base.
Keep in mind: Sometimes even though you've cut through the rivet it still takes some force to extricate the base from the rest of the car so the best way to do so is to
- Insert a tiny flat head screwdriver into the space around the wheel arch (whichever is most suitable) and gently pry the base up. Sometimes you might end up bending the axle slightly but seeing as most bases are removed for wheel swaps the point seems moot.
Now the reason I put so much emphasis on the prying apart...part is because the idea here is that you've drilled the rivet EXACTLY to the point where it meets the base and as such have left a tiny tiny lip for the car to clip back onto once you've completed your custom. For this reason, prying the car apart can sometimes be harder than it should be.
What Happens If I Drill Too Far?
OK I admit it, sometimes I mess up - in that I go that little bit too far and the car wont clip back on again. When this happens I can do one of two things:
- Drill a 1.5mm hole into the centre of the rivet remains (while the base is attached to the car) and then insert a small screw into the new hole.
*Obviously you will need to go and buy 1.5mm screws (around 5mm in length)
- OR you can drill a 2.5mm hole and then take a new rivet, chop it in half and drop a tiny bit of glue into the hole. Then simply glue the half rivet into the hole, effectively sticking the car back together again like factory.
The second method leaves a much more professional looking finish with the obvious disadvantage being that you can't remove the base again without picking up the drill. Choose which method works best - go on, it's riveting stuff 😉
Oh and with regards to the glue; Unless you have messed up the drilling of the rivet and have chosen door number 2 in the fix it category then you should not, I repeat NOT use superglue to reattach your base to the car.
I tell you this because no matter how careful you think you are, a tiny bit of that glue is going to run onto the axle, and down onto at least one of the wheels, meaning it will no longer spin freely and well, that's just sucky. (or is that stucky?)
Check out the images below for examples of what the rivet looks like after being drilled.
Practice Makes Perfect
Like anything in life, drilling the rivets perfectly is going to take a little practice. I recommend taking some cars you don't intend on customising and just practicing drilling the rivets out in such a way that the bases can click back on again. Once you have better control over this part of the process you will feel more confident when it comes to removing the base on that special custom you are about to begin.
What About Metal Bases?
At least 50% of the cars you will be pulling apart will have metal bases, assuming you are hunting for real riders like the rest of us, in which case you might be asking if there is any difference to the process.
The straight answer is NO.
Metal bases are however slightly less forgiving when it comes to wanting to snap back into place. I assume it is because the plastic is malleable and allows for movement where as the metal base obviously does not. I would say over half of the metal bases I have removed would not snap back onto the rivet, even the ones I drilled perfectly, but seeing as I only take the real rider wheels and then throw the rest into a box I don't see the problem 😀
If you were customising a metal based car then I would recommend predrilling a small hole for your screw or half-rivet BEFORE taking your 4.76mm drill and drilling the rivet head out.
In a few days we will be looking at removing the axles and more excitingly - learning how to make our own. Oh, and I bought an HD Webcam and some editing software so once I figure out how to use it I will be bringing all these how to guides to you in video format.
Stay tuned 🙂