Tampo Removal Process


By: MINI-MOTORS, Inc. with edits by Jeff Fleetwood

(Another Dip-Wood Production)

Date: February 2008

While this is not an extraordinarily hard process, it can end in disaster very quickly. The key to removing die cast tampos is patience, coupled with a small amount of finesse. Both will take you a long way.

Picture above shows before (left) and after (right) – notice how the side trim tampo was left intact.


  • Cotton tipped Swabs preferably Q-Tip brand – While the dollar stores may have the best deal, they tend to be more synthetic than those of other discount retailers, making them less absorbent, and can in some cases leave scratches that allow the remover to penetrate the paint underneath the tampoes. Soft and more cotton-like will go a long way.

  • Cotton facial pads – again, same comments as the swabs.

  • Finger nail polish remover – non-acetone based. Acetone while quicker at dissolving the tampo may eat away at the paint underneath and thin the finish that was applied before the tampo was added.

  • Rubber Gloves – if your hands are sensitive to chemicals and to keep tampo paint from attaching to your skin. Gloving up is a good way to prevent oils from your skin possibly affecting the finish as well.

  • Toothpicks – to assist with cracks and crevices. Round with pointed end work better than the flat standard toothpicks. Again use finesse when useing this technic.

  • Detergent (Dish Soap & Water) – In small amounts is effective for a thorough washing when complete.

  • Cotton toweling – Gentle strokes for drying and cleaning.

  • Well-lit and ventilated work area – obvious safety reasons.


STEP 1 – Determine if the piece has a tampo or if it is actually paint. Tampo printing is done with a “stamping” of paint to the all ready painted die cast. Sometimes this is easy to spot as the alignment is slightly off or you can see where there are multiple stamps for each color. If it were actually body paint, the piece would need to be stripped and repainted.

STEP 2 – You should position the car in a cradle or holder to secure it while you are carefully working to remove the undesirable tampos. This frees up your hands for more diligent work. The piece should be positioned so that area to be worked on is slanted to allow any excess remover to run free of other detail paint. This will obviously vary depending upon what is being removed and you may need to reposition the piece a number of times before completion.

STEP 3 – Using a cotton swab, damp (not dripping) with nail polish remover, lightly dab the area to be removed. Repeat this a couple times. This allows the remover to penetrate the tampo and start loosening the paint molecules.

STEP 4 – Lightly rub the tampo with the damp cotton swab – the tampo should start to come off the piece onto the swab or smear around on the casting. As the swab becomes full of paint use another clean swab. NOTE: You will go through quite a few swabs per piece. As the remover starts to evaporate it will become sticky. Dampen another swab and reapply.

STEP 5 – Use strokes that take you away from other details – e.g. if the tampo is on the door and there is painted door window trim, your strokes to remove the tampo should be downward away from the window toward the base of the car.

STEP 6 – As the major portion of the tampo is removed a tooth pick – dipped in remover – can be used to clean the cracks and crevice details of the piece. A slightly damp cotton facial pad can be used to wipe down the entire side of a piece to allow easier viewing of the details. Sometimes the facial pad wrapped around a toothpick or even the tip of a finger can be used in place of the swab.

STEP 7 – Light pressure and patience is all that should be needed. Heavy pressure could force the remover into the paint below and cause the base coat to start fading/peeling. Speed can also cause mistakes. Take your time!

STEP 8 – Once the casting tampo has been removed, the casting will feel sticky. Wash with a light detergent based solution – dish soap always works – I often use an auto finish type polish to further nuetralize the remover, and bring back a shine. While we would not recommend submersing the piece, you want to make sure it is clean. A soft cotton towel can help wash the area treated. We try to keep the other parts of the car as dry as possible and you can blow dry, with compressed air, or a hair dryer set on cool when complete to avoid the axles and such from rusting. Let the casting dry for a day or so before reapplying new decals or “putting into service.”.

One Note of Caution: Nail polish remover, as a chemical, does not react well with chrome or plastic glass. Exercise caution to assure that the remover does not come in contact with these areas of your subject piece.

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