CanAm Lola


Tamiya CanAm Lola, article number 58021 put on sale in 1980 and available on the market until
Lexan body
Racing Master Mk1 chassis

Analysis of the model to be restored

The purchase includes:

– instruction manual which is in fair condition despite the years,
– Lexan body complete with rear wing. Both parts are to be coloured,
– chassis and
– complete sticker set in its original packaging.

The images below are part of the advertisement found on a well-known online auction site.

Starting from the front going towards the rear, analysis of the chassis from these images reveals that:
– the front bumper is intact,
– the complex steering system with its servo guard is installed,
– the four adjustable tie rods characteristic of this model are present,
– RS540SD Black Sprint motor with red head, its gears and differential with rear axle are in order,
– mechanical speed control is intact; Tamiya only releases this speed control system on this model,
– the four wheels with red rims are present. The sponge wheels are not cracked or worn and
– rear bumper is intact.
no integral part of the advertisement found on a well-known online auction site.

Starting from the front going to the rear, analysis of the Lexan body from these images reveals that
– the front wing is intact; it is an integral part of the Lexan body,
– the driver’s helmet is missing,
– there are no scratches on the air intake above the driver’s helmet; this is a sign that the model has not been around much. The upper air intake is one of the first parts to be scratched in the event of a rollover,
– the rear wing support is missing, which is constructed from a shaped wire and
– rear wing is intact; but its white plastic support plate is missing.

It is evident that someone has attempted to paint this model in the past, leaving the work barely in its initial state:

– the right side is partially painted blue. The side air intake on the right side has an irregular cut that appears to be the result of an impact. It may be that the model fell off the shelf where it had been stored,
– the left side is strangely matt. The matt side is probably the result of a clumsy attempt to remove some colour with very fine sandpaper.

Frame restoration

It is evident from the photos in the advertisement, but was not indicated in the text: the two bearings installed on the left front wheel and the two bearings installed on the right front wheel are missing (see image).

The chassis is in excellent condition, from a first analysis it can be said that it has never raced on the road.
The restoration operation seems easy and quick; the unexpected is always just around the corner, in fact, the previous owner used threadlocker. After all this time, the threadlocker has now become so hard that it is difficult or almost impossible to unscrew some screws, nuts and bolts.
In disassembling the various parts, almost all of the screw heads were ruined and five of them had to be done the hard way.
When the screw head loses its shape, one technique for unscrewing the screws involves using a hobbyist’s drill with a pointed abrasive stone grinder to grind and wear out the screw heads. The cutter to be selected for this operation must have the same diameter as the head of the screws to be treated.

The grinding wheel has two functions:
– grinding the screw head. When the screw head is now completely ruined and unusable, making it concave allows a flathead screwdriver to be inserted to try to unscrew the screws and
– heat the metal. As the metal heats up due to friction between the stone wheel and the screw head, the threadlocker melts and, in most cases, it is possible to unscrew the screw itself by wedging the screwdriver on the now concave head.
Either the threadlocker loses its grip or the flat-head screwdriver does not grip: in these two situations it is not possible to unscrew the screw. It is necessary to continue working the screw head with the grinding wheel until the screw head itself is completely worn and the screw can be removed. During this operation, take care not to grind the FRP frame as well. As long as the screw has not been unscrewed, once the head has worn off, a small stump remains protruding from the side where the screw is screwed in and must be unscrewed using pliers.
In the restoration, the screw of the left motor support did not unscrew and remained stuck inside the plate (see image on the left). Picture sequence summarising the procedure for restoring the plate to its original condition is as follows and involves the use of a drill press:
– clamp the plate in the vice of the drill press,
– carefully; drill the screw that has broken off inside the plate with a 2 mm drill bit. The head of the screw has an invitation in the middle, which is the perfect place for the drill bit to act (see picture on the right),

– after drilling the first 2 mm diameter hole (see image on the right), enlarge it with a 2.2 mm and then a 2.5 mm diameter drill bit,
– at the end of the operation; the screw is almost completely worn out,
– use a male thread cutter (see image on the left).

The disassembled parts are intact and look like new; to put them back in order, simply wash all parts with hot water and degreasing kitchen soap. During this phase, use a toothbrush to reach the less accessible parts of the aluminium casting of the two motor holder plates and the two steering supports. Run a cycle in the ultrasonic washing machine: metal parts for 25 minutes at 70°C and Teflon or plastic parts for 25 minutes at 40°C. Soak the small parts (nuts, bolts and screws) in diesel for a week to remove any residual oxide, threadlocking and rust. Polish the parts with polish or toothpaste.
Leave the sponge wheels soaked in water for two or three days, water removes dust and makes the sponge more elastic.
-The rear differential is a unique piece in Tamiya’s production, it is present as a factory installation for the RM Mk1 model and is provided as accessory part number SP1147 for the RM Mk2 model.
The differential with the two satellites is completely made of metal and the gears are protected by two metal shells that are joined by four Allen-head screws.

– the speed control is intact and functional; it is present as a factory installation for the RM Mk1 model and as accessory part number SP1148 for the RM Mk2 model.
Image sequence showing chassis parts before (left image) and after parts restoration (right image):

Electronics is absent, I have available an Acoms set consisting of two servo motors and a receiver dating back to that time.

Image sequence summarising the chassis assembly work:
– install the right and left side chassis centre tie rod system, the two left and right wings battery block, the on-off switch plate and the rear bumper,
– prepare the metal differential assembled on the rear shaft and install it to the rear system consisting of the motor and two tie rod plates,

– install the rear system consisting of motor, rear axle, differential … on the chassis,
– prepare the front steering system complete with adjustable arms and servo save,

– bolt the front steering system to the frame,
– install the mechanical speed control system.

– Install electronics to the chassis; the steering servo, mechanical speed control servo and receiver are glued to the chassis with double-sided adhesive tape. Screw front bumper to chassis,
– install foam wheels with red rims.

Lexan body restoration

First of all, it is necessary to remove the blue paint on the right side and try to polish the left side, which is matt. Denatured 90…99% ethyl alcohol in the version with no added colouring agents and no perfume is perfect for carrying out the two tasks. After soaking the body in the alcohol for eight hours, the blue paint can be removed mechanically using paper towels and cotton buds for the parts that are not easily accessible. In the image below, the right-hand side has lost its colour completely, while the left-hand side still needs to be treated with polish or toothpaste to become shiny again.

The left side was worked on with toothpaste and a soft cloth, of course it did not come out as shiny as when it came out of the mould; but most of the micro-scratches have been eliminated, by applying the colour the side should have the same appearance as the left side.

The right side has obvious damage; the break is along the curve of the side air intake and the edges are uneven.
Use the transparent glue that solidifies when exposed to direct UV rays from the sun or solidifies when exposed to the light of the special torch that comes with the glue. Image sequence summarising the repair work:
– the cut is in a difficult to reach position and is so uneven that the two flaps are in contact in some places and in other places the two flaps are so far apart that they form a real hole
– apply a first layer of glue at the points where the two parts are in contact,
– with the help of the UV light supplied in the glue pack, solidify these first joints.

– after it has solidified, the action of the glue is so efficient that the two flaps are firmly joined; but there are several places where there are real holes where material is missing,
– in this situation it is not possible to spread the glue, which is a very viscous liquid, so apply a piece of body tape on the outside that takes up the external shape of the body, in this way you have a base on which to spread the glue and then have time to expose it to UV rays.
– When the glue is solid, remove the car body tape. On the outside, the surface is perfectly smooth and the two flaps are firmly joined. The inside looks like a typical application of transparent silicone. The performance of the repair should be assessed after the colour has been applied.

The metal rear wing support, the driver head and the white plastic plate supporting the wing are missing; the latter two parts are still in production (2024). They are set number 19005115 for the RM01 chassis (see left in the image). The metal file support has a special shape that can be replicated (see right in the image).

Sequence of images summarising the operations to be carried out in order to rebuild the spoiler support consisting of a specially bent metal wire:
– The tools required are a wire cutter, pliers, shears, tape measure and the white plastic plate to be installed on the Lexan spoiler. A piece of metal wire forty centimetres long with a diameter of 1…1.2 millimetres.
– bend the metal wire at 90° in the middle, once the operation has been carried out verify installation on the white plate (image on the right),

– taking the dimensions from the white plastic plate; bend the other corner at 90°, once the operation has been carried out check installation on the white plate (image left),
– following the illustration of the bracket; bend both metal wires (image right) to 90°. These bends are approximately 1..2 millimetres from the plate,

– cut the wires to the right length, as a reference I took the length of the white plate and
– straighten the wire and test the system (image on the right).

In the image the plate is installed underneath because this way it stays in place, the photos are to assess whether the wire has been bent into the right shape.

The colouring of this model is quite complex and includes three main colours:
– white,
– red and
– blue.
In addition, there are some parts that must be coloured black. Being a Lexan body, the rules suggest that it is necessary to start from the darkest to the lightest colour. In reality, the colouring of the body is so complex that smaller parts must be coloured using a brush. Tamiya’s best colours for Lexan are the PSxx family, which is only available in spray cans, and the PCxx line, which is not easy to find on the market.
For the driver’s overalls, seat belts, windscreen and rear wing side wings it is best to apply the colour with a brush. The technique to be used is simple:
– collect colour by spraying it from the PSxx can inside a glass jar or plastic bottle,
– the colour is always applied from inside the body using a normal brush.
The images below show the sequence for colouring the seatbelts: the grey belt buckles were coloured, the red colour was collected inside a plastic bottle specially cut in half and the colour was applied with a brush.

There are many steps to colour all the details; once the seat belts are finished, black can now be applied to the cockpit and the front part separating the body from the wing, in parallel blue can be applied to the side wings of the rear wing. For these steps it is necessary to mask the body with coach tape.

Sequence of images summarising how to apply colours:
– mask and colour the red central part. At the same time apply red colour to the previously prepared rear wing to which blue colour has already been applied to the two side wings.
– mask and colour the left and right blue side wings.
– mask and colour the left and right white stripes.
Wait one week before applying new coats of paint over previous ones. Otherwise the colour given last will chemically attack the one given first and the colours will mix.
Below are some pictures of the body preparation with tape, paint and finishing.
To mask large parts of the body, use transparent kitchen foil attached with masking tape.

Applying the colour to the right side repaired with UV glue, the weld spot is to be finished; the glue seems to run off the colour and does not hold it. After working the glue into the body with 1,000 grit sandpaper, the colour set. The blue colour hid the scratches on the left side, which was matt. All that is needed now is to apply a coat of white to cover the entire interior to stabilise the red and blue coloured parts.

Sequence of images summarising the work to complete the rear wing: after applying red, the rear wing is ready for installation on the rear support.

The driver’s helmet and the white plate that serves as a support for the rear wing are still readily available today (2024) as set number 9005115, which was put back on the market together with the RM-01 chassis. The livery of the driver’s helmet is very simple: blue.
Image sequence summarising the completion work on the helmet:
– the parts of the 9005115 set, the screw and the manual,
– the helmet was assembled, screwed onto the base for colouring and the white primer was applied,
– first coat of blue colour X3 Royal Blue,

– after applying the second coat of blue, the helmet was finished by applying black X1 to the lower edge of the helmet and the front opening,
– pink for the face,
– black pupils applied with a very fine pointed toothpick.

The body is now finished and the stickers can be installed

Restored model

Images showing the finished model.

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