I was recently talking with Kyle McCoy of the Autobody Specialists crew about modding and specifically how we take cars apart (and put them back together). I was sharing my recent success with the no-tapping post screws when he mentioned how he doesn’t drill his posts to get cars apart...he uses heat and melts it apart.
No, he doesn’t melt the body posts, but he does heat up the posts in order to melt the chassis plastic. I didn’t quite believe it, so I challenged him to show me right there on the spot, and well, challenge accepted...
First, he had dulled down soldering iron tip so that it fit nicely into the post rivet. Then he holds it on the rivet head while it heats. After a few minutes, the chassis plastic around the post starts to melt. All the while he (very) gently pulls up on the chassis until it just pops off.
He then does what he needs to do to for the build - wheel swap or whatever - and files around the post hole to clean up the plastic. Then to put the car back together, he just pushes on the chassis over the posts again. They snap right over the rivet head. The result is a car that looks damn near factory, and held together tight too.
I’ve seen a lot of methods for taking cars apart but I had never seen this technique before, and it would have never occurred to me. I was really surprised to see it work and it has me digging around for my old soldering iron.
I’m interested to see how this technique works for making racers. I can certainly see how this technique would be wonderful for straight up custom builds but still kind of wonder how it holds up on a car that could be going down the track again and again.
Of course, it's not going to work for metal chassis cars, and since the chassis snaps back over the rivet head, you can't take it apart again unless you heat it back up. So it has some limitations but it’s a nifty trick that might be worth exploring.
BUT WAIT...You might notice in the video that Kyle wasn’t using any safety precautions in his demonstration. That’s a bad idea, so don’t do it. Use some gloves to save yourself from getting burned and all other appropriate gear to keep you safe.