By ‘Rotten’ Rodney Bauman
While I don’t necessarily recall the exact statistic, it’s been said that the average worker-bee changes career courses seven times in his or her lifetime. Although I could have been a doctor, a lawyer or a famous underwear model, I’ve made a career of straightening body parts of old cars. Early on, I was warned of the “occupational hazards,” so the trick knee, junk rotator cuffs, tennis elbows, carpal tunnels and the recent double hernia are nobody’s fault but my own. Now in my mid-50s, I find myself still swingin’ heavy hammers, and just between you and me, I could really use a break.
A typical workday here at our shop would likely include rolling around on a concrete floor while absorbing all the not-so-good vibrations from pneumatic tools, such as a DA (dual-action) sander, or worse. In the body and paint departments, even on hot days, a respirator is a must for survival. But the strap-on device will elevate the human body’s operating temperature as recycled breath has negative effects of its own.
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It was right around 3 p.m. on one of those typical workdays, during peak summer heat, when I had to walk away. I pulled off my respirator, elbow braces and sweat-filled latex gloves. Then I grabbed a cold beverage, sat down on a stool and let my macular-degenerative eyes wander around the shop where all manner of unfinished projects began to confront and all but gang up on my guilt.
So, I took a ’63-issue California license plate off the wall and got to thinkin’. Perhaps I could straighten it up a little. I wouldn’t need a respirator or those uncomfortable elbow braces for such a small job, so it seemed like an OK idea at the time. I proceeded to clear the welding table, made myself a place to work, and about an hour later, the progress was quite encouraging.
Gauge Repair & Restoration – Bob’s Speedometer has been repairing and restoring gauges since 1929 – For over 80 years. No other gauge shop in the world can make this claim. We service most brands and types of gauges – speedometers, tachometers, clocks, oil, fuel, amp, volt, pressure, and a host of others – for all American makes/models & years, and most foreign, no matter the vehicle – Automobiles, Boats, Buses, RV’s, Fire Trucks, Tractors, Motorcycles – Anything with a gauge!
That tiny bit of success got me to thinkin’ some more. I’ve never had any desire to restore license plates before, but these days, it’s good to have extra tricks in the bag. So, as long as we’re all together here, I’ll show you how it’s done.
Northwestern Auto Supply
An old time parts store since 1946 with 4 buildings full of old inventory of antique and classic parts for the quality minded owner who wants to avoid off shore products. Engine, chassis, ignition, and brake parts shipped world wide. Machine shop and babbiting also. 800-704-1078
From Model T, A to Early V8 Ford Reproduction parts, supplies, books and manuals. Stocking over 3000 parts, from nuts and bolts to grilles, gas tanks, running boards and more.
Monthly specials, Model A shocks, speedometers many street rod items. 1-855 – 785- 5988.
If you liked this article on license plate restoration, you might be interested in our other restoration products:
- Old Cars Guide to Auto Restoration CD Volume 2
- Eddie Paul’s Paint & Bodywork Handbook
- The Collector Car Restoration Home Video Library DVD Set
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