Hand-painting vintage vehicles

Sep 23, 2022 | Vehicle and Fleet Graphics, Vintage Signs

hand-painted Hirshberg Model TT truckHand-painting vintage vehicles is rewarding but sometimes presents challenges. Occasionally, collectors or restorers will drive in sporting nearly 100-year-old vehicles and ask if we can refresh or restore faded or damaged graphics. Usually, we can.

Recently, Mr. Al Hirschberg of Hesperus, Colorado, arrived with two large panels from his 1925 Model TT Ford Flatbed Truck (photo, below). Instead of arriving IN the truck, Mr. Hirschberg brought the two panels with him from Hesperus. Both panels needed updated information. Ideally, he wanted the new information to look like the info on the original panels. Of course, this required a few preliminary steps.

Hand-painting vintage items: first things first…

A prepared working surface is always our first and foremost consideration. The Hirschberg panels arrived with a thick layer of varnish and paint. Initially, we had to remove all of the varnish and lettering by sanding…and sanding some more. We couldn’t use solvent because it would run down the sides of the panels and onto the already varnished backsides – varnish that had to be preserved. So, instead, we sanded the surfaces to a smooth finish that would accept the new paint and varnish.

Once sanded, the lettering process presented a new challenge. Previously, the original panels had a unique font that we think was invented by the original lettering artist. Per Mr. Hirschberg’s request, we duplicated the typeface, including drop shadows, recreating the font as we went along. Next, we added an attractive black, inset border with drop shadow outlines, top and bottom. Last, we applied four coats of varnish. Yes, FOUR! (See truck photo, above, to view the original lettering and finished panel detail.)

Noteworthy: most of this project took place via the Internet, with the exception of Mr. Hirschberg delivering and picking up the panels.

Contact us at 970-221-5519.

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