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Old 04-27-2018, 03:06 PM   #1
cericd
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Tailgate Lettering Technique

Iím going to post this question here because I know this is where it should go. Not sure how many eyes will see it since the main forum gets more traffic but I hope to find an answer to a question Iíve see asked before but never truly answered.

Do any of you know how the tailgate lettering was originally painted? Every repainted gate that Iíve seen has had the crisp edges that proper taping and masking provides (or has had the vinyl lettering). On every unaltered tailgate that Iíve seen, the lettering paint has soft/feathered edges, often slightly misaligned. I would really like to replicate that look when I have my lettering redone. Iíd imagine some sort of template was used but I canít figure out how they got the soft edges. Iím sure it was unintentional but it has a certain authentic look to me that I would prefer on a stock build.

Anyone know exactly how it was done originally or the best way to replicate it?
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Old 04-27-2018, 06:13 PM   #2
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Re: Tailgate Lettering Technique

I have wondered this myself and I believe it was done like a "silk screen." I think something like a cloth was painted, it then was set on the gate transferring the paint to the gate. I THINK is is how it was done.

I know you could practice it and see how it works easy enough. It would have to be a very fine cloth with something to soak up paint behind it.

Again, this is just something I have thought for years, I could be wrong.

Brian
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Old 04-27-2018, 10:27 PM   #3
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Re: Tailgate Lettering Technique

Thanks for the input Brian. I can't believe that this hasn't been answered on this forum. I've searched for it for about 6 years now on this forum and across the web. I guess no one really cares for the sloppy/soft lines of the original gate lettering. I probably should have posted this in the main forum to get more eyes on it.
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Old 04-27-2018, 11:03 PM   #4
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Re: Tailgate Lettering Technique

if they used the same process in the later yrs then Keith Seymour might know. ..
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Old 05-04-2018, 07:50 AM   #5
Keith Seymore
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Re: Tailgate Lettering Technique

Quote:
Originally Posted by MARTINSR View Post
I have wondered this myself and I believe it was done like a "silk screen." I think something like a cloth was painted, it then was set on the gate transferring the paint to the gate. I THINK is is how it was done.

I know you could practice it and see how it works easy enough. It would have to be a very fine cloth with something to soak up paint behind it.

Again, this is just something I have thought for years, I could be wrong.

Brian
What you have described is called "pad printing". That's often how the lettering on gages is produced.

The '67-72 programs were a little before my time, and there is no one left here to ask, so I will speculate just like you all.

One point worth mentioning is that when painting two tones we normally apply the secondary color first, then mask the pattern and spray the primary color over the top. Removing the tape and masking reveals the desired two tone.

I would suspect tailgate lettering would be done in a similar fashion, except a reusable mylar or plastic mask could be used. Taking the stepside gate as an example - one could spray the "inset" color (white or argent) and create a mask for the "G M C" letters. Spray the primary color on the gate and you would be done.

By the time I started with GM the tail gate letters were adhesive, either white or black.

K
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Old 05-04-2018, 11:22 AM   #6
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Re: Tailgate Lettering Technique

I've also been interested to know how the gates were painted. I believe that the primary color was actually painted first, then the lettering. I'm only going by what I've observed on patina'd trucks here, and every single one that has fading of the lettering has the primary color showing through.

Another thing that may allude to how the feathered edge was "achieved" is that only the inset was painted, not the radiused edges. I could image that a mask laying on top of the gate would then have depth between it and the inset so that when the lettering color was sprayed, it would result in the feathered edge.

Picture of my untouched original '68 gate for reference.

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Old 05-04-2018, 02:17 PM   #7
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Re: Tailgate Lettering Technique

Thanks for posting that pic hewittca. I was looking for a picture that illustrated that exact point. After reading Keith’s response I remembered seeing several patina and survivor gates with the main color of the truck showing from beneath the worn lettering color. I feel like they must have used some type of template that didn’t seal perfectly to the contours of the stamped lettering. This would account for the alignment being slightly off and the feathered edges. I ran across a website where someone was painting camouflage on models of vintage fighter planes and they kept the stencils raised slightly off the surface of the model which gave the soft edges.
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Old 05-07-2018, 07:55 AM   #8
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Re: Tailgate Lettering Technique

Looks like I blew that one.

If I can track down one of the "old guys" I will ask them how it was done.

K
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Old 05-07-2018, 08:34 AM   #9
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Re: Tailgate Lettering Technique

Thanks Keith, that would be cool. I know there are at least a few of us that would like to know.
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Old 05-10-2018, 05:18 PM   #10
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Re: Tailgate Lettering Technique

This is why I didnt paint my tailgate letters in my gold truck. I didnt want that harsh tape line look on the letters, or the vinyl look so I just left them unpainted.

No offense, I like painted letters I jut didnt fool with it in my truck for the cleaned up look.
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Old 05-10-2018, 09:02 PM   #11
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Re: Tailgate Lettering Technique

Quote:
Originally Posted by CC69Rat View Post
This is why I didnt paint my tailgate letters in my gold truck. I didnt want that harsh tape line look on the letters, or the vinyl look so I just left them unpainted.

No offense, I like painted letters I jut didnt fool with it in my truck for the cleaned up look.
The thing is, you can mask it off, paint the letters and then spend a few hours cutting and polishing the edges so it doesn't have the hard line.

Brian
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Old 05-10-2018, 09:14 PM   #12
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Re: Tailgate Lettering Technique

just curious because ill be painting my tailgate letters soon....would it be better to spray the letter paint first, and then tape the letters and spray the body color?......or vice versa?
mine has raised letters if it matters....
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Old 05-11-2018, 10:20 AM   #13
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Re: Tailgate Lettering Technique

Taping off the previously painted letters then painting the final color would be the easiest for sure. HOWEVER, it depends on the precision of the look you are after. If you do this there will be a pretty big built up edge being the top coat is going to be bc/cc (I would think) and thus that will leave a pretty funky edge.

If you paint the color first and then mask off the letters you can then apply a quick coat or two of ss on the letters and not have as big a build up on the edge. You could polish it a bit as I described in a previous post to make it more "original" looking.

But also, unmasking them after painting the bc/cc can be a monster too, for that reason I would think do the letters last. And what ever you do, make sure it's scuffed well up to the edge! Or your unmasking is going to be a serious bummer.


Brian
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Bought with paper route money in 1973 when I was 15.

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Old 05-11-2018, 10:52 AM   #14
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Re: Tailgate Lettering Technique

thanks Brian. ..
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