How To: A Guide To Painting An Radio Controlled Car Body

If you want to give your RC car its first paint job, or renovate up an older model car, read this step-by-step guide to find out how!

Radio Controlled, or "RC" cars, as they are known as for short, are enjoyed by the young and the old alike. Basically, these cars are maneuvered around by the use of a control box (or transmitter) and an antenna. The control box sends radio signals through the air, and to the car. Inside the car is a receiver that picks up the radio signals. The signals instruct the car what to do. That is, move forward, in reverse, to the left, or to the right. The signals also control how fast or slow the car moves.

As for the look of the bodies, some radio controlled cars come prepainted from the manufacturer, or, their color is molded into their hard plastic body. Other cars come with a clear, Lexan body that you can paint yourself. No matter which type of car you have, you can easily paint, or repaint, any of them. However, the clear Lexan body has an advantage over the other cars because its paint is applied on the inside. That way, anytime you inadvertently run the radio controlled car into a wall or other hard obstacle, the paint can't get chipped off. Some manufacturers of Lexan bodies will give you decals that you can place on the car after it has been painted.

If you have a clear Lexan car body that you want to paint on the inside, you'll need to purchase a special polycarbonate paint. This paint will hold up better than some of the other types of paint on the market. Also, it won't damage the Lexan in any way, like other paints can, as long as it is applied according to the manufacturer's directions.



Before you begin painting your radio controlled car, you'll need to prepare the surface. In order to clean off any oily fingerprints, dirt, dust, and other pollutants, you should wash the Lexan body of your car in warm, soapy, tap water. Follow the wash with a thorough rinsing of clean tap water, and then wipe the car body dry with a clean, soft cloth. Inspect the body to make sure that you have removed all of the water.

Now, decide how you're going to paint your Lexan car body. Are you going to paint it one color and then add decals? Are you going to paint it one color and add painted racing stripes? Are you going to paint it two or more colors? The colors and the designs are, of course, up to you. If you don't like the finished job, you can always remove the paint and start over again.

Use a good-quality painter's masking tape to tape off any areas of your radio controlled body that you don't want painted with a particular color of the polycarbonate paint. Or, if you're going to paint stripes, masking tape will make that task easier. You can also use painter's masking tape to make fancy designs, emblems, or insignias on your car too. To do this, simply draw the picture on a piece of tape with a pencil. Place the tape on a hard surface, then use a sharp hobby knife to carefully cut out the inside. Place the tape on the car, and then paint inside the picture. When the paint dries, remove the painter's masking tape, and you'll have a great picture on the body of the car.

After you have masked your Lexan car body off, before you begin painting it, make sure the area you are working in is well ventilated. You should also wear protective eyewear and an air mask. For maximum safety, be sure to read and follow the manufacturer's directions on the paint container.

You should apply the polycarbonate paint slowly and carefully. Instead of applying one or two heavy coats that will run, apply several light coats of paint instead. Allow each coat to dry thoroughly before applying the next coat. Make sure that you don't touch any part of the car body with your bare fingers as your skin oil is a pollutant that can keep the paint from adhering properly.

Other hard bodied radio controlled cars can be painted using the same method. Just make sure that you use a paint that is suitable for the plastic. And, if the body is already painted, remove the existing paint with a recommended paint remover. Don't try to use regular paint thinner or fingernail polish remover, as these products can actually melt and otherwise damage the plastic.

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