A classic military Jeep’s data plates aren’t like dishes—you can’t just stick them in the dishwasher and call it a day. These plates require the help of specific materials and techniques if you want to restore them correctly. For anyone new to this process, the guide below will give you a crash course in data plate restorations. After you remove the individual data plates from their designated panel, you’re ready to learn how to clean and restore the data plates on your Willys Jeep.
First, use sandpaper to clean the raised areas of the data plate gently—you’re not trying to eat away at the raised metal, but give it a nice polish. Sandpaper can help you remove blemishes like rust, but you have to be careful when using this material. Using sandpaper that’s too coarse or using it too roughly can lead to accidental scratches accruing on the data plate—obviously not the outcome we’re aiming for here. Use 1000 to 2000 grit sandpaper to tackle this task successfully. Remember, you want the surface of the plates to shine, not look scratchy or messy.
Cleaning and Coating
Once the initial sanding is complete, you’ll give the data plate another cleaning to remove any leftover sandpaper remnants and other contaminants. For this step, there are various materials Jeep enthusiasts use successfully. Some common cleaning solutions include mineral spirits and paint thinner, both of which are pretty interchangeable and can yield successful results. Whichever material you use, once you give the data place a solid cleaning, you can break out a can of black lacquer and spay down the entire plate. The next step is fairly simple; let the data plate sit and dry.
After the paint dries, break out the sandpaper once more. Remember how you previously polished the raised areas on the data plate? Well, you’re going to do that again because those areas are currently covered in black lacquer. You’re likely wondering what the point of polishing the plate before applying the black lacquer is, and that’s an understandable thing to ponder. The great thing about the initial polishing is that it means after applying the lacquer, you won’t have to sand the paint off as thoroughly as you would otherwise. In turn, this minimizes the chance of damaging the data plate after having just successfully painted it.
After getting those raised areas shiny and clean once again, crack out a clearcoat and spray down the data plates. This final step boosts that shiny and clean appearance even further, giving it a “good as new” type of feel. Anyone who has ever successfully restored a vehicle knows how fulfilling it is to achieve that “good as new” look on a car that’s been around since the 1940s.
Now that you know how to clean and restore the data plates on your Willys Jeep, you can pass that knowledge on to others struggling with the same issue. Steps like these aren’t always common knowledge, but once you learn them and give each step a try yourself, they’ll become second nature. Don’t hesitate to reach out to Army Jeep Parts if you need further assistance with your Willys Jeep restoration.