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1980's Sand Scorcher Ressurection/Restoration/Modification!

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Hello all

Well I thought the lockdown was the perfect opportunity to give my old Sand Scorcher some much needed TLC!  I'm 48 and I got my SS around my 10th Birthday I think, I can't remember exactly so maybe 1982 or 1983.  I do remember pestering my dad to build it on Christmas day!

It was going to be candy apple red, and I remember me and my dad went to this proper bikers custom paint shop to get the paint.  It needed a gold base coat which was fine but the flake in the red was so big it wouldn't go through dads spray gun - so it ended up white and red!

When I retrieved it from my folks (before the lockdown) it was in a sorry state - the tyres had perished, wheels were cracked, front windscreen had a big hole in it.  I felt quite guilty and when I realised some parts were still available I thought i'd bring it back to life.  And I didn't realise there was such a following for the SS!

So this is what I've done over the last few weeks:

  • Completely disassembled it, cleaned everything and polished the aluminium bits
  • New wheels and tyres
  • Made a new windscreen from some acetate sheet i found
  • Cleaned the shell, touched in some of the paint, lacquered, wet sanded and polished before waxing.  I wanted to keep the "patina" - warts and all!
  • polished the servo/battery box with Meguiars plastic polish as well as the remaining window glass - worked a treat though the windows are still very yellow - but shows it's age!
  • New o-rings for the shocks, filled with a sludgy mix of bike grease and oil
  • Added ball races in place of the old oilless metal bushes - gearbox and wheels
  • New cables for the motor
  • Added an ESC - i just went for a Tamiya TEU-105, and removed the old 4 x AA batterys.  Works fine.
  • Replaced the servo tape on the steering servo
  • New rear bumper - the old one was destroyed 
  • New rubbers - the switch cover and shock mounts
  • New motor and gearbox plastic covers as the old ones were very brittle
  • The white plastic ball races for the front uprights were really worn so i bought some rere ones.  But they don't fit the old arms - and the old ball sockets are 3mm, not 4mm like the rere.  So i bought some 4mm rere ball connectors and drilled out the uprights slightly so they accept the rere ball races.  Dead easy and works well.

So I ran it a few times and it bought back so many memories!

Unfortunately the front bumper broke  - on inspection it was carrying a very old injury!  So I made one out of aluminium.  I'd also read that the chassis flex can stress the shell so I made a strengthening plate out of ally, and shaped it so it matches the sills on the shell.  I'm really pleased with it

I also have a couple of Kyosho mini-z cars so managed to get one of the controllers to work with the SS in place of the old Acoms stick transmitter.  I had to swap the channels round on the receiver but all works well.

I'm determined to use this SS as a runner  - this is why my folks bought it for me, so I want to honour that!  But I want to preserve the shell so have bought a rere shell that i'll paint and will use that for running.

Still a couple of bits to do - I need to make a sunroof, and will fit the exhaust from the rere bodyshell I have.


Here's a few pics...






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I forgot a few things - when dismantling, one of the rear arm grub screws was seized  - typically on the side I needed to remove to access one of the bolts to separate the gearbox.  I tried drilling it out but ended up having to saw it off - so bought two new arms.  They're actually MK1 arms with the recess for the second set of bearings.  I also needed a new torsion bar as I had to saw through the original.

Also, I needed to get a new battery and charger to replace the old NiCd.  I've gone for an Overlander Tornado 3300 7.2V NiMh and fast charger.

I also needed more of the camlocks for the battery box

I hate to think what I've spent on this so far but it's worth it!  And my dad has been really pleased to see it running again!

Attached a photo of it over the woods near us - great fun but the sand gets everywhere so had to strip down the gearbox to clean after a couple of runs

And a piccy of the new rere ballraces installed in the old uprights



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First of all welcome to TC @ChrisHGTV

By the sound of those two posts you’ve found a perfect home sir 😂

Others will chime in with suggestions on what next but, for me, you’ve had fun doing exactly what anyone coming back after a while should do !

Look, clean, polish - work around the problems - then run 👍

It’s all how we first enjoyed the hobby back in the day - probably with our Dads - and you’ve enjoyed the perfect start !

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Thanks for the welcome!  Yes it’s rekindled my interest again for sure!  I’m already thinking of getting another buggy of some sort.  I can see it’s a bit of a slippery slope!

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Well to preserve the original shell I bought a rere for running and painted it up in Candy lime green and metallic red, with a mica silver stripe between that allowed me to mask each colour, as I wanted silver as a base for both the red and green.  Then a good splash of TS-13 lacquer on top.  Still a few bits to finish but i'm pleased with it!  

I also re-modelled the front guard I had made so it's less cumbersome looking.

Next up is some brat wheels and tyres - I can't find any wheels in stock anywhere at the moment, just the tyres.  :o(   Then I like the idea of replacing the shocks with something that actually dampens the suspension - the rear is especially bouncy.  Can anyone recommend anything?  Ideally for front and rear.  I've googled but there seem to be a number of options.  I'm more interested in the damping than the spring, as i'd be happy to leave the torsion bars in place.




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Looks great so far. I would suggest an aluminum chassis. Your home made skid stiffens the chassis but an aluminum chassis would stiffen it further. A flex chassis is the number one reason bodies get broken. 

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Thanks Shodog.  The chassis plate I have added (in addition to the front skid plate) is super rigid - it doesn't flex at all now.  It's also bolted through the original fiberglass chassis plate - if I crack the shell now I think I deserve it for being too rough on the old girl!  I've just added some decals and race numbers.  I'm not sure about the rere decals, i was going to buy some repro versions of the originals but i'm trying to not go overboard on this shell as it's supposed to be my runner!  I don't want to end up being too precious about it.

It's quite interesting comparing this rere shell with the original.  The original does have a much nicer shape to the fenders I think.  And I think i'll paint the wing mirrors, they look a bit too toy like in the all-over chrome.

Really pleased with the paint though, the photos don't really do it justice - the green is amazing in full sunlight.  I wet sanded the body to remove the mold lines and give a good key.  I then shot over with Tamiya fine primer, then wet sanded with 2000 grit.  Then a few coats of mica silver.  I didn't wet sand the silver as I thought it might dull the metallic effect.  Then masked up for the green - about 4 coats.  Then when dry masked for the red, same 4 coats.  Then a very gentle wet sand with 2500 grit and a few coats of TS-13 lacquer.  Needed very minimal polishing then.  The masking took a while - mainly going past all the ridges by the windows, I burnished the tape with a plastic tooth pick - I only had two very small bleeds which were easily rectified with a scalpel blade.  I used 3mm and 10mm Tamiya tape.  Oh and before each colour I blew over the tape very lightly with whatever colour was underneath to seal the tape.  Whatever, it seemed to work!

Now just need some more wheels, for a change, and new shocks...

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