Friday, March 20, 2020

Modifying Hot Wheels Cars for Kids and Beginners

If you are looking for a great hobby to enjoy with your family racing Hot Wheels is it.  One thing I loved when I started this hobby was that I could have fun racing cars with my kids, but still modified cars and get serious with the hobby on my own.  But when things really started getting fun was when I started helping my kids modify cars to send to races.  I mean, check out this video of us watching a recent race.



If you are into more serious modifying of Hot Wheels cars for speed, you should check out Modifying Hot Wheels Cars For Speed, but if you’re a beginner or would like to get your kids into modifying cars then read on.



For the most part, I try to let my kids do most everything on their cars. There have been times where I have built cars for them to enter in races, but usually only when we’ve committed to being in races and then run out of time and I couldn’t help all the kids get their cars done so I’ve finished cars for them.

Paint

Painting the cars is their favorite part!
 My kids are still pretty young, so when it comes to modding cars it doesn’t get too complicated.
I usually drill apart the cars for them. My kids have drilled a few cars apart.  They have been cars with metal bases and plastic bodies so the rivets are plastic and easy to drill out.

Drilling out the plastic rivets of a Gov'ner.  For safety the car is being held in a clamp.
My kids love to paint cars.  This is their favorite part. Sometimes they use spray paint, but for the most part, the kids use cheap craft paint from Walmart and paint brushes.

Once in a while, under close supervision, I let the kids use spray paint.
They love going to the store and picking out colors.  I have some old T-shirts that I through on them to paint in.  Once they get them painted I spray them with a clear coat and they end up looking pretty good.

Dressing the kids in some old adult T-Shirts and getting to work!

Weight
When it comes to weight, we do a couple of things to keep it kid friendly.  One thing we like to do is modify trucks.  Trucks make it easy for the kids to add weight.  The bed is a nice easy place to add the weight.

After packing the bed full of weight, my boy used a custom sticker with his racing team name on it to cover the weight.
But whether the weight ends up in the bed of a truck or inside the car, getting the weight to stay can be challenging.  Usually I use JB Kwik Weld to keep weight in place.  But I don’t want the kids messing with JB Kwik so we use different methods.  One of the things that we use to keep the weight in place is clay.

Keeping some weight in place with some clay
Another thing that we use is blue tack.  It is pretty sticky and holds things in place pretty good.  When it comes to weight we frequently use tire weights. They have their own adhesive on the back so that’s nice. But with tire weights we are kind of limited in weight variation.


Sometimes we use fishing weights.  I like to avoid them if we can so that the kids aren’t around lead too much, but if we do use them I make sure I watch them closely and have them wash their hands after. To get the fishing weights to stay put the kids usually use clay or the blue sticky tack. I’ll put the car on the scales and then a chunk of clay and then fishing weights to get it up to the weight limit and then let the kids go to work.

Loading the car up with small fishing weights and then holding everything in place with clay.

Cars loaded up with weight and clay.  We had to make some adjustments to the little one's car before it raced haha!

Wheels and axles
When modifying with the kids, we don’t really do wheel and axle swaps.  Once in a while if they have a car that they really love and want to race, but it’s a dud speed wise, I’ll swap the axles  for them, but for the most part, I want their cars to be their's, meaning they did pretty much everything on them.  Sooooooo, the key is to try to start out with a fast car.  They modify a lot of Fast Than Ever cars or other fast stuff that we find through testing and racing together.

Generally they don’t “fix” the axles.  Again, my kids aren’t really old enough that I want them messing around with JB Kwik Weld yet.  If we do want to fix the axles, then I mix up some JB Kwik Weld and then I carefully help them put it on.  But, again, generally we just run them with “loose” axles.

Graphite
When the cars are all done, I use a little bit of JB Kwik Weld to put them back together.  Then I send the kids off with the car to the “graphite bay”.  It is a box with a little carpet in it.  They put graphite on them and all the extra graphite falls down in the carpet. It seems to hold the graphite will and keeps the mess down to a minimum.

Adding Graphite

After that it’s time to get them on the track!  Let’s Race!

In summary, here are a few main points to remember.

  • Try to start out with cars that are already pretty quick. Faster than Ever cars are great for an easy mod.
  • If you’re going to have kids drill out rivets, start with cars having plastic bodies with plastic rivets.
  • Kids love to paint the cars.  Let them use craft paint and paint brushes and really have some fun!
  • Use clay to keep weight in the car.
  • Trucks are great for easily adding weight - just put it in the bed.


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