The Dollar Tree can be a treasure trove of goodies, useful items for the home, back to school necessities, and the cheapest source for greeting cards, but what about products for the hobbyist? Surely there’s nothing useful for RC use, right? Wrong! There are many products sold at the ‘Tree that can prove useful or even essential in the workshop or at the track. Below are my top ten but feel free to drop a comment below with your favorite dollar store finds to be included in a Part II!
- Toothbrushes. This 3-pack with cases is $1 and can be extremely useful in the RC shop and at the track. Need to clean a hard to reach spot on the chassis? The narrow head and long-ish bristles can quickly dislodge debris that your fingers or a rag simply can’t reach. At the track a toothbrush is a great way to apply traction compound to a tire without getting your hands dirty, also saving you from getting the chemicals on your skin (read those warning labels folks, they are there for a reason). If you do use a brush for traction compound, mark it as such. Contamination between the traction compound and dirt, or worse, your teeth, would be inconvenient at best and very dangerous at worst.
2. Toolboxes. The toolbox shown above is perfectly sized for touring car and drift tires, keeping them organized and clean between runs. While lightweight, the box will hold an impressive amount of tires and wheels. The box could also be used to transport other small items, just make sure to keep the weight down as the latch isn’t exactly industrial grade. I could see this being a caddy for RC cleaning supplies, a soldering and wiring kit, or even a storage box for spare motors (line the inside with thick foam and make cutouts to prevent each motor from moving around).
3. Isopropyl Alcohol has a plethora of uses in RC including cleaning bodies, prepping chassis before sticking down electronics, and even cleaning a wound from an errant hobby knife slip. I have found IA to be useful in cleaning CowRC pit mats when they get grungy; it leaves them not only clean and shiny but also oil free.
4. Baby wipes are good for cleaning more than babies! Are your hands grimy and covered in shock oil, mud, muck, and other questionable substances after a wrench session? Grab a baby wipe and get to scrubbing; your significant other will thank you when there aren’t dirty handprints on every door and counter surface in the house. These wipes can also be handy to clean larger surfaces like chassis plates, bodies and hard work surfaces leaving behind a clean, oil free baby, er, surface.
5. Aluminum roasting pans are a cheap, disposable way to easily dye parts. Place the pan on a hard, non-flamable surface and fill it with boiling water. Stir in the dye (either liquid or powder) and then place the parts in. Stir every few minutes and add a little boiling water intermittently to keep the water hot. After the desired color is reached remove the parts and dispose of the water and pan.
6. Glass cleaner can be used on most surfaces and will clean CowRC pit mats quickly and efficiently, along with most other general cleaning jobs. Personally, I keep a can under the bench to knock the dust off of bodies and make them shine for photos. I personally prefer the aerosol variety as it wastes less and is more precise. Standard bottles can also be had at the Dollar Tree, along with half-gallon jug refills for the ultimate in thrifty cleaning.
7. Fingernail polish remover should be near every workbench. For anyone who uses CA (or superglue) this liquid is the answer to gluing your fingers together or to the bench. The acetone in the nail polish remover dissolves the CA while the skin conditioners protect your fingers from the harsh chemicals. Straight acetone will do the same task but does dry out the skin and can cause irritation.
8. Small, spiral bound note pads are a great way to jot down setup notes, shopping lists, contact information or part numbers at the track. The miniature versions take up very little space in your pit box or bag and can prove to be very useful. The bright colors are easier to keep track of and placing a sticker from your favorite manufacturer can help you distinguish your notes from everyone else’s at the track.
9. Clear storage containers of many sizes and shapes can be found in the aisles of the ‘Tree just waiting to organize your pit space or workshop. Everything from small boxes to hold hardware to large boxes that will hold near-rolling-chassis sized objects, there is a storage solution to suit your needs.
10. Sharpie markers are a staple in the RC workshop. From marking paint designs on new bodies to writing down the trophy girls’ phone number, a sharpie is an essential tool for an hobbyist. Black is the most commonly found marker and is handy for most surfaces but a silver Sharpie is more visible on black plastics and blue painter’s tape.