oh, hello

These are various house, car, and bike projects i've done. And more!

New: TR6 work log, a running tally of work on the car, and the future todo list.

commission tag unpainting

Posted on October 5, 2020

The commission tag is the early British version of a VIN tag on newer cars, and on the TR6 it's riveted to an inner fender inside the engine bay. It's where you find the vehicle ID number, paint and trim codes, and other info, depending on the year it was produced.

When my car was repainted years ago to red instead of the original light yellow, they did a thorough job in the sense that they removed panels and really got in all of the nooks where the old color may have peeked through. At the same time, they did a shoddy job with prep, both in masking and in surface. The bad surface prep shows up under the trunk lid and a few other more tedious places to sand, where the red paint is peeling off in sheets. The lack of masking shows up in the red-painted wires and the painting over of most of the information tags. It's always bugged me.

I decided to try a bit of citrus-based paint thinner to see if it might let me remove the paint while keeping the original printed text. A test proved promising:

tag paint remover test

The black print was obviously not in perfect shape, but i could clearly read the lettering, so i forged ahead.

tag paint removal progress

I used these cotton swabs to apply the paint stripper, watching for the first wrinkling then immediately wiping off the loose paint with the swab or a cotton rag. The paint was much thinner toward the bottom, so that came off first and the top edge took longest. As soon as i had an area clear i rinsed it with water to stop any further stripping action. 

It's hard to know exactly how it looked before painting, but i wasn't seeing black bits on the rag when i wiped, so i'm guessing it was fairly worn before. Being on top of the fender, it's in a great place to get beat up while doing anything on the driver side of the engine (check oil, spark plugs, oil changes).

I'm very happy with the end result:

tag restoration done

I could read the punched info before, but it's much better to read the full badge (as much as possible anyway). This also makes me a bit more motivated to do more serious body work and a repaint back to yellow, but also a reminder of how much work it is to even prep the car to be painted, let alone the bodywork and spraying itself. Daunting.