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License Plate Restoration


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The 'year of manufacture' plates on my blue/white 55 were less than pristine.  The front had 30 years of dents, bends, chips and gouges; the rear was wearing thin.  Here is one plate already stripped, media blasted, some straightening and etching primer; the other shows wear

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That original paint was really tough.  Media blasting and wire wheel were getting me nowhere.  So I slathered it with Citristrip Paint & Varnish Stripping Gel and wrapped in foil for a few hours.  The bare metal had some original rusty finger prints.

 

 

 

 

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Background color applied.  That was a very rare and obscure shade of yellow (school bus yellow)

 

 

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Vinyl graphics applied

 

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The rear plate could be used as is, but the front needs to be more durable.  I am thinking clear coat or a license plate cover.  I have some scrap graphics on the back side to test clear coat (I sure don't want to start over if the clear coat screws up the graphics.

 

 

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Looks brand new Willie. Also looks like the paint stripping process almost pulled the paint off in one piece?  I also wonder if there is any type of lamination process that would cover them without the chemicals of clear coating?  If you have any old plates it might be worth an experiment to see about plasti- coating over the combo of materials, assuming there is a clear plasticoat option. 

In this State, supposedly YOM plates are unusable if restored. But one sees so many perfect plates that it makes me wonder who enforces that code.

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Mine tag is not as detailed as yours .

I took a 55 Maryland plate  DC 5560 and changed

it to BC 5568 , "B"uick  "C"entury 19"55" model "68

Too much time to waste in my old age LOL .

Bill

 

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Most of the license plates in my collection are original, having changed out better ones as they came along. The paint stood up better on some years than others. One year that had particularly poor paint was the 1913 year (Ontario). The plates from 1912 to 1916 were flat metal,with rolled edges containing a wire reinforcement. My son made a complete vinyl cover for my 1913 plate. Not totally authentic, but looks great IMHO.

1913 licence plate restored 001.jpg

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12 hours ago, billbuickgs said:

Mine tag is not as detailed as yours .

I took a 55 Maryland plate  DC 5560 and changed

it to BC 5568 , "B"uick  "C"entury 19"55" model "68

Too much time to waste in my old age LOL .

Bill

 

IMG_4538.JPG.97656f9ce8b750276252f550815dd6f1.JPG

You are located in MD?

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14 hours ago, 364nailhead said:

A school bus yellow plate looks hidious with a blue and white car. 

The plates match the yellow flames and faded green fender skirts.;)

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NY State plates back in the day were also "School Bus Yellow" and black.   I believe they would have yellow background and black letters for a few years and then switch to  black background with yellow letters for the next few years.   They eventually stopped issuing new plates every couple of years and went with a little painted steel tag in the upper right corner that denoted the year.   Also as John D. states the NY DMV says restored plates are a no-no.

Old Tank did a great job on his plates, the best I have ever seen.  I don't know about Texas, but New York license plates were manufactured in the state prisons, most notably Sing Sing Prison, from my hometown Ossining.   I was born in the old Ossining hospital that was located a few hundred feet from the walls of Sing Sing.  Now one should not make any inference connecting Old Tanks work to those done by the guests staying at Sing Sing!

Joe, BCA 33493

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CT DMV also says restored (technically altered) plates are a no-no. I found out the hard way with my '32 Chevy. I presented my restored plates first and they gave me a hard time. I should have showed them the original beaten up plates, then go home, restore them, and install on the car.  

Joe, my mother grew up in Ossining in the 1920s and complained of the lights dimming every time Sing Sing executed someone. 

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Kestrel:

Thursday nights were when executions were scheduled.  The lights dimming is a legend or myth. My grandfather operated a pasta factory to supply the Italian-American communities along the Hudson River with pasta and other products that he imported.   He also used to hold contracts to supply Sing Sing prison with certain food products.  He was friendly with warden Lawes who would allow trusted prisoners to celebrate their birthdays with their families.  He wrote a book “20,000 years in Sing Sing” about the prisoners whose total years of incarceration added up to 20,000.  Several movies used scenes filmed at Sing Sing including “Kiss of Death” starring Richard Widmark and Victor Mature. Over the years there were a few prison breaks signaled by the prison blowing a loud , probably steam driven, whistle to warn the Ossining residents to lock their doors.  
Best to stop here as this is getting too long. 
Joe

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Oregon is fine with restored YOM plates. The set of restored yellow and black 1939 plates look great on my black 1939 Roadmaster. Fortunately, by 1946, Oregon went to unpainted aluminum plates with painted numbers. (Much easier to restore because of no steel to rust.) I have an unrestored set of plates on my 1949 Super. (Black numbers on unpainted aluminum.) The restored 1939 plates cost me about $200 several years ago from a local plate restoration vendor.

 

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Edited by BuickBob49 (see edit history)
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I restored Texas 1939 plates and would not say I got a hard time..... just poorly trained people. 

There is a wall of plates at a DOT building in Austin,  so I took one of my previously repainted plates to that building and held mine

next to the "official" plate on display.    They were pretty close in color but I was going to try for a better match.... after buying several

shake cans of (yellow-orange) paint  I settled on one that would work.

Now with the restored plate I went in to register.   I also had a photo of the "official" plate at DOT.    It took a few phone calls by the clerk

but they finally OKed the plates.   The before comparison picture is attached. 

Sold the 39 just before Christmas........so I have a pair of '39 Texas plates for sale. 

1939 1.jpg

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The top Texas plate is the "official" example at the DOT office.      The one I am holding below it is the color of the plates before I repainted them,  and they had been approved 

by DOT for use on another 39 Buick before I purchased them.... so each office seems to have their own color opinion. 

I have a soft cover book published by the Texas DOT  "The History of Texas License Plates"  80th anniversary edition and for the color description for the 1939 plates, 

they list the main color as Yellow-orange and the lettering is done in Bluish purple.

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On 4/22/2021 at 8:03 AM, JohnD1956 said:

 

In this State, supposedly YOM plates are unusable if restored. But one sees so many perfect plates that it makes me wonder who enforces that code.

Same goes for the State of Florida. YOM plates are only accepted until year 1975. After that the plates were not embossed with the year and the State went with a year decal system. The YOM application in Florida is strictly enforced and issued only by one person office at DMV in Tallahassee, the capital main DMV building. The license plate “Authentication Form” has to be processed by mail only, taking few weeks and they go over with a fine tooth comb process of originality. Once issued, I seen some restore ones at shows. Local PD’s don’t bother with this issue to the point that the current year decal issued with the old plate are seldom attached. I think it would be an issue if you become in a reportable event. Being an FHP Trooper (retire now) I had the opportunity to take one of my plates to the one person office in one of my training trips at the DMV building and had it “Authenticated” by lunch time! FHP falls under DMV in the State. Lucky me.

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On 4/29/2021 at 9:04 PM, BuickBob49 said:

The restored 1939 plates cost me about $200 several years ago from a local plate restoration vendor.

My out-of-pocket expense was about $150.  I paid for the vinyl graphics of course and then paid for background color and clear coat in catalyzed paint which I cannot be around.

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Slightly related to this post..... I use stainless steel screws.   Just hate to see a collectable vehicle of any age with nice license plates and rusty old screws. 

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That plate look really, well, perfect!  Where did you get the vinyl graphics done?  Did they just take your plate and create them in-shop?  I'm in Houston area and would like to try this out.

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Looks great, Willie. 

 

1954 Maryland plate.  Matches well with the black color.  However, the 1960 Maryland plate is blue with white letters and looks nothing short of ugly on my green 60 Electra! 

 

xhlJJdc.jpg 

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On 5/5/2021 at 7:35 AM, Dan O said:

That plate look really, well, perfect!  Where did you get the vinyl graphics done?  Did they just take your plate and create them in-shop?  I'm in Houston area and would like to try this out.

Small shop in Zorn, TX called "Print This".  This was the first and only plate they have done and they nailed it!  Photos measurements and scans of a pretty good plate  for the colors of background and letters.  Note how the letters are not just on the flat plateau of the raised area, but overlap the slope like the original.  All of the restored plates depicted on YouTube were colored only on the flats (along with brush strokes...).  They charged $100, but would have to do a few more to establish a set price (and to see if the projects would be worth it).  My graphics are black, and I am sure other colors are available, but may not have your exact color.  Shops near you may do just as good job.

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On 5/4/2021 at 7:39 PM, old-tank said:

My out-of-pocket expense was about $150.  I paid for the vinyl graphics of course and then paid for background color and clear coat in catalyzed paint which I cannot be around.

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Looks really good old tank! Couldn't help to notice the cadillac behind you in the reflection of that chromed bumper. What year caddy?

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1 hour ago, 364nailhead said:

Looks really good old tank! Couldn't help to notice the cadillac behind you in the reflection of that chromed bumper. What year caddy?

Caddy?  I wish.  That is a 1976 Oldsmobile Delta Royale four-door or top.  Easier to park than a Cadillac.

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