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The two most common types of damage on plates are pitting resulting from rust, and those that are badly wrinkled and bent, as illustrated below. All restorations are performed in the same manner.
- First, the plate is glass beaded down to bare metal on both sides. Any damage will then be repaired.
- Next, an etching primer is sprayed on the bare metal, followed up with a sandable automotive primer. The plate is then wet sanded and primed again.
- Two base coats are then sprayed to both sides of the plate.
- Alphanumerics brushed with two coats using the One Shot lettering enamel.
- Two coats of clear enamel are sprayed to the front side of the plate.
Note: Bondo type fillers are not used. Bondo is hygroscopic which over time leads to rust. An acrylic primer putty of auto body shop quality is used, then resanded, refilled, rinsed, and repeated as necessary.
Replacement of metal or outright missing portions of a plate is done with epoxy resin and polyester cloth, often called fiberglass, and of the type that is used to waterproof boat hulls. This makes for a sturdy repair which will not promote rust and which can be refinished along with the rest of the plate so that the repaired defects do not show on the front.
On wrinkled or dented plates, I use a small trim hammer and anvil for recontouring.
This pair of '14 Arkansas were in the top five most challenging of all plates I've ever redone. Amazingly they still had some brown paper stuck to the backs, but improper storage had them extremely fragile and brittle. Lots of hours go into a restoration on this level. The '14 Arkansas plate is one of the toughest plates to find, and this guy had the pair. He was very pleased with the outcome and requested to remain anonymous.
This plate was dug up out of the ground after many years of being buried. An interesting story goes along with this tag which justifies the thought of restoration.
Fellow ALPCA'n Willie Braswell said he had a real tuffy for me, and he wasn't kidding. This very rare Ringling Brothers plate from Florida was in sad shape when it arrived. I don't know if it'd been buried in the ground or sat in a bucket of water for years, but it was extremely rusty and quite fragile. I lost count of the number of primings and wetsanding it took to smooth this plate out, but it was in the double digits.
"Just one word - WOW ! Considering what you had to work with (basically a piece of Swiss cheese) it came out incredible. I'd definitely recommend you to anyone." Willie Braswell ALPCA 8331
Click on each image below for a larger view.
"Fellow ALPCA member and good buddy Ben Bunton laid this jewel on me at the Avondale tag meet. Had it not been such a rare 1st issue SC, I probably wouldn't have messed with it. It needed serious repairs, but it turned out very good. Lots of hours went in to this resto."