CA Black/Yellow License Plate restoration

Old September 28th, 2017, 09:01 PM
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CA Black/Yellow License Plate restoration


I've been playing around with restoring / cleaning up black & yellow YOM (Year of Manufacture) CA plates over past week or so.

Learned a few process things:

Get a huge number of Sharpie pens in Fine, Big and King size. You'll need about 3-4 of each size per plate. Use them to clean up shooting mistakes and create clean curves after masking / spray painting.

1) Strip the plate with Aircraft Stripper if you can find it. This stuff gets the plate back to raw metal in about 15 minutes. You might need a toothbrush to work the (evil) chemicals into the paint. Use this stuff outside away from pets, it's nasty.

2) Sand, bodywork, clean & shoot the whole plate in Krylon School Bus Yellow first, once or twice. This gives a nice clean finish to the prominent letters. Multiple thin coats are better than 1 thick.

3) The 6 big letters are 1/4" width. The "CALIFORNIA" letters at the top seem to be about 1/8" wide. The letters all have rounded tops. The curves are hard to get right. I used a 1/4" hole punch to die cut rounded tops, but the masking fluid worked better on the curves.

4) Mask off straight lines with good masking tape. Burnish (stick) it to help get a clean line. See Amazon for 1/4" wide tape which is thin enough to be useful for the lines you want to mask off. Amazon sells 1/8" too.

5) I used Art store masking fluid to cover things I didn't want sprayed. It stinks and is more or less rubber cement, like grade school. My logic was: tape for straight lines, masking fluid for curves.

6) Mask off the letters with tape carefully and stick 'em down good (burnish them). This is time consuming. The better the mask, the cleaner your eventual letter lines. Precision is preferred, beer may not help.

7) After masking off the letters, spray Krylon High Gloss Black for the field on which the letters stand. Or you can King Size sharpie the cr*p out of it. Rattle can comes out better. Sharpie is easier if you don't want to lose your DMV stickers.

8) When the black is dry, remove the masking tape and clean up the errors with the black sharpies. When in doubt, shoot too much yellow. You can always cover it with black sharpie. Fine lines need fine sharpie, big fields need King Size.

Or send 'em out. I s*ck as a sign painter, but I'm semi-happy with the result. Better than 50 year old worn looking plates.

A good set of artist brushes in angle tip, flat, and round really help. I'm still working on how to use them with spray paint. So far my solution has been spray yellow and black into the rattle can plastic top and use that as an inkwell for brushes to fix mistakes.

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Old September 29th, 2017, 06:46 AM
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Haha you can't post that w out showing us some pics, are any parts of the original plate reflective ?

I don't have a Cali black plate but it sounds like a cool project
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Old September 29th, 2017, 07:45 AM
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There is a product called 'Friskit Film' that can be purchased at Art Supply stores that is great for doing the straight lines. It doesn't bleed thru like making tape. If you are good with an Xacto knife, you can cut the film to do the entire letters and have a great looking job.
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