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Emblem, Badge, Insignia, Nameplate and Trim Restoration
Many suppliers manufacture reproduction emblems and trim, but most don't carry the original part numbers so precious to many restoration enthusiasts. New old stock (NOS) emblems are becoming scarce and expensive, so it pays to restore originals.
Chrome: If the chrome is still in good shape and free of pits and cracks, use very fine 0000-grade (fine enough to not scratch the plating) steel wool to restore the luster of the plating on the emblem or trim piece. If needed, use fine chrome polish with the steel wool.
Road Marks: If your emblem or trim has marks that appear to be from rubber, plastic or even other paint, it may come off easily with an aerosol tar or adhesive remover. Stubborn marks often can be removed with acetone or lacquer thinner on a soft rag. If the mark is still there after using one of these solvents, try hand rubbing or polishing compound. First, clean the area with soap and water, then spread rubbing compound on the mark and rub the area in a circular motion until the mark disappears. Once itís gone, switch to a back-and-forth motion to remove circular buffing marks. Buff the area with a clean cloth to remove rubbing compound. Then, using a fresh pad, clean the area with polishing compound to remove the fine scratches left by the rubbing compound.
Painted Emblems: Chipped or scratched areas must be cleaned to bare, smooth metal prior to adding new color. If your emblem paint is really bad, it may take paint stripper to completely clean out the areas. You can not sandblast chrome or the plating will be ruined, however an air compressor with a clean-up nozzle can work wonders to get the crud out of small, tight areas. Once the old paint is removed, thoroughly clean the surface with paint thinner and wipe with a clean cloth. Allow the surface to completely dry, wash with soap and water, and wipe again with a dry towel. At this point, the emblem should be ready to take new color.
In some cases, your local brand dealer will have retouching colors available. Another inexpensive option is model paint from your local hobby shop. Take the emblem or trim with you to the hobby shop to compare the colors and ensure the best match. Most model paint is available in a large array of colors.
Mix the paint thoroughly and make sure it's thin enough to flow. Using a fine pointed paintbrush, pick up a drop of paint on the end of the bristles and place it into the area to be painted. DO NOT brush the paint into the area — work quickly and let several drops flow together to fill the space. If the paint is not flowing, thin the paint in the bottle and apply more until the area is covered. Be sure to completely clean the brush prior to using a new color. Several washings may be needed to completely remove the previous color from the brush.
Finish Work: Often, some paint will flow where it doesn't belong. After the paint dries (overnight in most cases - refer to the paint label for cure times), carefully scrape these areas with a sharp blade or pick (we often use dental tools) until the unwanted paint is removed. Care and patience is paramount. Keep in mind that a few imperfections were present in the factory emblems and trim anyway, so don't try to create an absolute masterpiece. Emblems and trim are often viewed from several feet away and very few people will be examining your work with a magnifying glass. Do you best and keep in mind that you have an original piece on your vehicle.
Don't Have the Time or Interest? — Let us do the work for you — Emblem Mart's Emblem Restoration Service will clean and polish your emblem, remove old adhesive, retape and return to you ready to install. Learn more about our Emblem Restoration Service.
Enameled / Plastic Insert Emblems: Restoration of enameled and plastic inserts, we have found, is best left to the pros. The consensus among our customers is that the best option for either purchasing restored original emblems, or having your emblems restored is Emblemagic. They offer emblems and automotive badges, antique medallions and decorative inserts. They stock a nice collection of restored emblems, emblems yet to be restored, and offer a complete restoration service that includes minor metal repair or straightening, attachment of studs, replacement of enamel and replating. They can also create reproductions. You can view their emblem offerings and learn more about their complete restoration services here: http://www.emblemagic.com/