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Old 11-13-2008, 06:46 AM
 
Location: Lettuce Land
681 posts, read 2,522,984 times
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Any suggestions out there on how to straighten and refinish bent personalized reflectorized license plates? To keep from having to reorder and pay for new duplicates, and thereby undergoing the long wait process?
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Old 11-13-2008, 06:22 PM
 
Location: Eastern Washington
13,388 posts, read 42,724,996 times
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Depending on how badly bent, you might put the plate between a couple of 2X6 boards and then apply pressure and/or impact with a press, big vise, or just (carefully) run over the "sandwitch" with your car.

If you want to try to repaint, I have never seen that reflectorized paint for sale but have never looked for it, either. If the finish is really shot, you might want to sandblast or soda blast it all off, spray with the reflectorized paint, then spray some sort of pad with the contrasting color of the letters, press the plate gently into that. This assumes you have the raised letters.

Probably the most practical is to do the board trick, and use the result as-is. If they are still too ugly to put up with, use the rough-straightened plates till your new ones come in.
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Old 11-13-2008, 07:08 PM
 
Location: Lettuce Land
681 posts, read 2,522,984 times
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Thanks, Mitch. I've been thinking along the same lines. A couple of the raised letters are kinked and I was looking for some kind of narrow but flat-faced tool mounted on a shaft like a center-punch that I could tap with a hammer [gently] on the reverse side of the plate to re-align the letter-edge ridges that form the raised portions of the letters on the face. [sorry this is so convoluted].

Ace hardware has some type of label remover gunk to soften and peel off the accumulated years and month stickers. Once the letters are reformed the sandwich process for the remainder of the plate would a good thing to follow, I would think.

I was wondering how to match the basic white color [there are literally a thousand shades of white] used on CA's plates. The blue and the red "pads" process to reapply those colors was exactly what I was thinking, too, but their hues shouldn't be as hard to match, I would think.

Apparently NAPA carries some kind of reflective sealer in a spray can that I will research further. Rustoleum has one, too, but I read a few worrisome things about theirs.

Because state rules are pretty convoluted I don't want to lie to DMV and I don't want to run around for four months without plates with a red sticker in my window, so I'd rather save that expense and bother and not order duplicates from them if I can restore these to their original appearence.

Thanks again for your help.
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Old 11-13-2008, 07:39 PM
 
Location: Eastern Washington
13,388 posts, read 42,724,996 times
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Well, if you want to use this as an excuse to buy some tools, you can get that little "telephonist's" hammer from Eastwood, and/or the plastic panel beaters set of tools, and maybe a sandbag.

IIRC you are in CA, and I think you can keep the same tags on a car there indefinitely. I do see some older cars with the old black plates, or at least pictures of them. Here in WA we get new plates whether we need them or not periodically. I don't recall if it's 10 years or 5. You can keep the same tag number on the new tag for a fee. Generally I don't care and don't want to pay more for the tag than necessary.

Once in a while I get a trip to the Livermore area for work, and last year went to EPRI over near Palo Alto. Fun place to visit but wouldn't want to have to put up with CARB, nor pay half-a-million for a small house, in order to live there.

A final note would be if you have a few small dents you want raised on one or more cars, you might put a paintless dent removal guy on the job.
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Old 11-14-2008, 12:57 AM
 
Location: Lettuce Land
681 posts, read 2,522,984 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M3 Mitch View Post
Well, if you want to use this as an excuse to buy some tools, you can get that little "telephonist's" hammer from Eastwood........
Wow, I'd never seen their website before. 188 different hammers! I was thinking of using some thick carpet on a flat board as backing as I tap out the dents in the plate. I think I'll try Harbor Freight Tools instead.

Btw, no other dents. Just normal parallel street parking damage on the plate caused by being backed into by inattentive jerks.
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Old 11-14-2008, 05:55 PM
 
Location: Michigan--good on the rocks
2,544 posts, read 3,451,419 times
Reputation: 1931
Default Be Careful!

In most states it is illegal to paint or otherwise refinish license plates. The most you can do is straighten. I suggest a bodyman's cross-peen hammer and dolly. Using this, you can very effectively straighten the soft metal used for license plates.
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Old 11-14-2008, 07:11 PM
 
Location: Lettuce Land
681 posts, read 2,522,984 times
Reputation: 254
Quote:
Originally Posted by stanman13 View Post
In most states it is illegal to paint or otherwise refinish license plates. The most you can do is straighten. I suggest a bodyman's cross-peen hammer and dolly. Using this, you can very effectively straighten the soft metal used for license plates.
Yes, I understand the "defacement" problem. A small amount of touch-up shouldn't draw much attention, though. I hope. Thanks for the tools suggestion. I don't think the cross-peen itself will realign the pressed raised letter ridges, so I'm still looking for a narrow flat surface about 3/8" wide with straight sides that might help with this.

thanks
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Old 11-14-2008, 07:20 PM
 
Location: Michigan--good on the rocks
2,544 posts, read 3,451,419 times
Reputation: 1931
You don't need a piece that will fit inside the raised letter. You will do your repair with the hammer tapping the back side of the plate. I have used everything and anything as a dolly. The professional type are shaped chunks of hard steel. I have used hockey pucks, 2x4's, pieces of bar stock, etc. By hammering from the back, you may be able to save the finish, if it isn't already badly damaged.

I say "with the hammer tapping" because that is what you want to do. To straighten thin metal, you don't hit it hard, you hit it lightly a lot.

Good luck!
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Old 11-14-2008, 08:45 PM
 
4,711 posts, read 10,522,582 times
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Wow, sounds like a lot of trouble. Here in Virginia, you can order a new set of personalized (or non-personalized, for that matter) online from DMV's website.

I just did it.....10 bucks and I got them in 2 weeks.
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Old 11-15-2008, 12:09 AM
 
Location: Lettuce Land
681 posts, read 2,522,984 times
Reputation: 254
Quote:
Originally Posted by stanman13 View Post
You don't need a piece that will fit inside the raised letter. ........I say "with the hammer tapping" because that is what you want to do.
Thanks. I get it about the "tapping", but from the back side of the plate the "raised" letters are actually little valleys. On three letters the valleys are pushed in and deformed. I think I need something flat and hard to fit into the floor of the valleys so as I tap, tap, tap, the valley will reform itself downward. Right now from the back side of the plate three of the damaged valleys are actually peaks or ridges. Does that make sense?

One reason I'm asking here is that I'm aware there's a mini-industry among car collectors for repairing and refinishing old license plates that are suitable for collector cars, sometimes called "Year-of-Manufacture" plates. In some states.

CA rules about ordering duplicate personalized plates are pretty restrictive and expensive, Car54, so I envy you.
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