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I bought a 1945 California license plate off ebay. It was supposed to be "restored". It was horrible. They guy even smeared some RTV over a crack and painted over that. That gives you an idea of the rest of the plate.

 

I took it to work and glass beaded it clean. There were a couple spots I missed, so a quick touch up with some sand paper took care of that also. To fix the crack, which was maybe an inch long in the center of the plate, I soldered over the area on the rear of the plate. I leveled that pretty much, but left some thickness for strength. It's been humid around San Diego, so even over night there was some minor surface rust starting, especially in the pits where it was rusted before I'm guessing. I took a paper towel and some Corroseal and wiped the surface of both sides of the plate. I started with a thicker layer, so it got down into the pits, then wiped most of it off. You could see the typical blue tint from the chemical reaction.

 

Next I went to the store and got some Rustoleum spray paints. Clean metal primer (light rust or none the can says), gloss black and gloss white.

 

So far I've primered the rear of the plate, to make sure there was no reactions. I figured I could test there :)

 

After I've given it enough time, I'll do the front with the primer and let that dry in the sun also. Last for today is a couple coats of gloss black. I'll continue tomorrow.

 

Almost forgot to mention, I got one of the '46 plates to make my new plate GTG for my truck. It was in pretty much new condition. No work there required. It is interesting to note that although the 1944/46 plates were black with white lettering, the tag is yellow with black lettering. I wonder why? I know that's the correct colors and I'm pretty sure this has original paint on it also.

 

Later that day...

 

Way to optimistic about the surface. Lot's of wet sanding and it's still a bit rough in places. It's a lot harder to sand a license plate than a nice big flat truck panel. Anyway, one more coat of primer and I'll see what it looks like tomorrow. Might go right to black, might sand some more.

 

Sunday 1/26/2020

 

Did a bit more wet sanding today and got most of the pits out. I went ahead and sprayed the back side with the gloss black. I put three coats on and it looks pretty darn good. I'm going to just let the paint cure for a few days now. Then I'll mask off the whole rear and put one more coat of primer on the front. I exposed a bit of metal on some edges, just a bit. I quick spray and then later that day...maybe not until next Saturday...I'll spray some black on the front.

 

Monday 1/27/2020

 

OK, paint was no longer soft to the touch, so I continued.

 

Put two coat of black on the front today. I'll add another tomorrow. I also bought a set of silicone rubber rollers today. I'm going to put paint on them and roll it on like was originally done. I'm going to go for many light coats until I get the coverage I want. Worst that can happen is I start over. The roller is thin enough so that I can follow the top of the letters and number, rather than just going across them all side to side.

 

The CAL and 45 at the top of plate is recessed, so that will need a brush.

 

Picture once I'm happy. You will excuse me for blocking a bunch of the letters thought :)

 

Thursday 1/30/2020

 

DAMN! Had two perfect looking coats and went for one more...late in the evening...low light...it wrinkled. Crap. Taking it back to work tomorrow to start over. Oh well, it's only time.

 

Saturday 2/1/2020

 

After going down to Bonita for the Saturday morning cruise, I dumped some MEK over it and used a steel brush. Clean Jean. Now after a wash and dry...self etching primer. Very light coats :) Two on the front drying in the warm sun, then an hour from now, two on the back. More sun drying, then a single light coat of black on the rear again. Tomorrow will be the second coat. I'm taking it slowly this time and not rushing the dry times. Since I won't get more than two on the rear (black) tomorrow probably, I'll wait until next weekend and another day of sun to finish the black.

Edited by lostviking
Updated the title to better discribe thread

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OK, been awhile so some updates.

 

After I cleaned the plate to metal again above with MEK, I used VHT etching primer on it. This produced a thinner coating than the Rustoleum did. I think you can go with some high build and sand to get things perfect. I didn't. There are some pits in the metal that still show through, although I did wet sand the majority of it out. But not perfect.

 

I got two or three coats of black on, two on the rear, then went for the white letters. Let me say, that is much harder than I imagined. I tried some silicone rubber rollers...slides too easily and so you can't get good coverage. I assumed I was going to use several coats, but this didn't work at all.

 

I got out the small brushes. I suck. Not good lines at all.

 

I cut a small piece of semi hard foam and tried to stamp the white on. I ended up getting a bunch on area's it wasn't supposed to be.

 

I just resprayed the front black again.

 

I'm going to take the time and effort to mask everything to get some straight edges. Then I will spray the white. Darn. I want to get this presentable before next Saturday. Reg is up Feb 26th and I want to get the new(old) plates transferred when I do that, rather than just redo the reg online and take care of the plates latter. We'll see how that goes. I might just have to fall back to that and then I can be more perfect on the finish of the plates. I figure a few pits in the metal showing won't keep the DMV from allowing their use.

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Funny thing about paint, there is dry time and cure time. If you second or third coat within the dry time you will be fine. But you have to wait until after cure time- usually 48 hours if you want to add another coat. Otherwise it wrinkles. 
buddy just went through this on some signs. Then he read the can. 
had much better results. 

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1 hour ago, Tooljunkie said:

Funny thing about paint, there is dry time and cure time. If you second or third coat within the dry time you will be fine. But you have to wait until after cure time- usually 48 hours if you want to add another coat. Otherwise it wrinkles. 
buddy just went through this on some signs. Then he read the can. 
had much better results. 

Had some wrinkles again...so starting over...AGAIN.

 

That must be my problem as I'm using the same type and manuf of paint.

 

So far that is the only thing that makes sense, and I guess I'm guilty of not reading the full instructions on the can.

 

I also wasn't getting good lines using tape, so I'm going to use a technique from HAMB.

 

I haven't had any problems using the VHT self etching primer, so that's the first coat....after I strip them yet again. I'm getting pretty good at that.

 

Next two coats of white to cover the letters and the white strip at the top of a 46 CA plate. Wait two days for cure. BTW, sent off the reg last night :)

 

After two full days of cure time, 5 coats of clear over the same area's, it will hit other spots, but those are the area's to be careful to fully cover. Two more days of cure time.

 

Now, finally the black...and two more days of cure time...maybe longer.

 

Now sand just the white area's using 1200 grit and LOT's of water. As stated in the HAMB post, the clear should prevent going into the white.

 

Clean it all up and a final clear coat.

 

Don't smoke, but probably need a cigarette after all that.

 

Thanks Tooljunkie.

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MAN! Nothing but disaster. I've left it for a week after the white paint and the clear still causes some wrinkling. I'm done with using the clear. This sucks.

 

All the paints are Rustoleum enamel paints so I can't see why I keep having incompatibility problems. It's not even all the white that reacts, just a bit here and there.

 

I ordered some 1/8 inch tape :) Back to plan A.

Edited by lostviking

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