Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Kustom Method: Disassembly

KM tag

Okay, so you want to do a full-blown custom job on your Hot Wheels or Tomica. You want to change the colour, swap the wheels, tint the windows, detail the interior... but you will first need to find a way to take the car apart. Unlike JadaToys or Maisto, you can't just pull out a screwdriver and unscrew the base chassis off the body. In fact, if you turn your Hot Wheels or Tomica upside down, you will usually see this.

civic custom

Yup, its a metal rivet. In order to separate the base and body, you will need to remove the rivet head (the metal ring). How do you remove it? Well, there are various tools and ways to do it. The first is the traditional cordless/electric drill.

The good thing about using this tool is that it is cheap and usually can be found in your house since you would have needed it for DIY jobs. It is also portable, means it can be done anywhere. The downside is that it is not stable, so while you are drilling, if the drill slips off the center of the rivet while drilling you may dig into the base and make it really ugly or complicate matters during reassembly.

The second method is using a drill press.

I have access to a drill press in my university and I have used it to drill off the rivet head. I find that it is really good, because you are able to align the drill bit to the rivet properly before drilling. The drill is very secure and stable, meaning you will get a very clean and quick drill job (as you can see from the Lancer Evo and VW Golf GTI custom pictures). The downside about this machine is that it is expensive, and can not be easily found unless you own an industrial factory or repair shop of some sort.

The final solution that I can offer is using a rotary tool.

Image from

If you feel like investing a bit of cash since you would like to be serious in customizing, then the rotary tool is definitely the way to go. The rotary tool can assist you in various customizing jobs, and drilling off rivet heads is one of them. Computer customizers also most likely own one of these.

But whichever tool you choose above, I cannot stress this enough, please use the right drill bit. In the market, there are various drill bits available; some to drill wood, concrete, steels, etc. Pick the one that can drill steel.

Image from

It looks like the one in the picture above. Believe me, you do not want to be using the wrong drill bit to drill the rivet head off. I have used a drill bit meant to drill concrete, and after half an hour of drilling, the rivet head was still not even close to being removed. :-P

As for the size of the drill bit, anything between 4mm - 5.5mm is okay. It is okay to use a 5.5mm even if the rivet head size is 4.5mm, just as long as you are able to remove the rivet head.

If you remember, I will be using the Honda Civic Si as reference, and here it is.

custom civic

And this is what it looks like after the rivet heads have been removed.

custom civic
custom civic

As you can see, the rivet head (ring) has been drilled off. This will allow me to separate the body from the base.

custom civic
custom civic

I hope this post has been informative for you and will help you take your first step in customizing! Do leave a comment if you have additional questions or comments. :-)

Next post: Paint stripping


Starscream said...

Excellent write-up, I've learned something new today, thanks!!

Tom said...

I always did a big hole after drilling... :(

benpaul said...

hahaha.. me too.. i always drill a big hole and i cant always hold the car steady therefor causing the drill to go out of position.. =(

Eugene T. said...

SS - Glad this post helped! :-)

Tom - I assume you are using a very big drill bit? Try using a smaller drill bit for the job.

benpaul - you have to be quite steady when you are drilling. also try to clamp the car or lock it in a position so that your hands are free to get a good grip on the power drill. also, like i say to tom, try using a smaller drill bit. roughly 4.5mm - 5mm is good. :-)

Sjors Trimbach said...

Finally sizes in MM :D

Eugene T. said...

Sjors - Glad to be of help! :-)

Anonymous said...

Then, how can we assemble back? Steal glue?

MirzaSyafiq said...

I used screwdriver to disassemble, it takes time to pry them off. It works =D. I did with with drill but I messed up the car.

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