Car Renumbering   -   by Ed Hunter

For most renumbering remove part or all of the carís number.

To renumber by altering the existing number, ie 3 è 8; 0 è 8, will depend on the font used. Use an extremely fine pen or a single stiff brush bristle. A steady hand is required.

I have tried several ways to remove numbers. Some werenít too successful and I ended up stripping the whole car.

    1.   Using a solvent or an abrasive:

    Brake fluid and strong PineSol Ė I prefer brake fluid for stripping a whole car and I test if first as some plastics get eaten by it. But since you shouldnít get to the bare plastic this shouldnít be a problem. Using either of these with a toothpick, bamboo skewer or other sharp, softer-than-plastic object will remove the number but also will also remove the base paint if youíre not really careful. Use only a damp toothpick or skewer Ė you donít want the stuff to pool and run. This method is too hard to control Ė you tend to remove paint from an area around the number.

    Scouring powder paste, abrasive car cleaner, fine valve-grinding paste, etc. Ė Also used with a sharp, soft object. These will also remove the base paint and are too hard to control.

    2.   Paint out the number:

    You can try to paint out the number to make it look like the car hasnít been renumbered but Iíve only had success with black. Unless you can exactly match paint color (I canít) you might as well make it look like a deliberate renumber. To mask around the number, I use a very low-tack tape and spray very lightly just covering the number but not leaving a ridge at the tape line. Any slight ridge can be removed after the paint completely dries. If the old number shows faintly through the paint, you wonít see it due to the sharp contrast of the new number. Use Gloss Cote (not necessary for dry transfers), decal and Dull Cote.

    You can try to just paint out one or two numbers. I havenít had much luck with that. Remember youíll have to match the font and size exactly for this to look OK.

    3.   Scrape the a number off:

    This is my favorite method. I use a #15 scalpel. The edge has just enough curve to be able to control the amount of material you remove. Hold the blade nearly vertical and draw very lightly over the number to be removed. Move the scalpel towards you or away from you, whichever is more comfortable. Remove just the number. A little paint will be removed but the new number and Dull Cote will usually cover it up. Depending on the thickness of the base paint you donít usually get down to the raw plastic. It sounds difficult but with a little practice it is fast and easy.

    4.   Closing thoughts:

    Practice on cars in your scrap box. I did, but still had to strip and paint more cars than I wanted to.

    Matching font and size to replace just part of a number has been the most difficult part of renumbering.

    Donít be afraid to try different methods. These are what I have tried and what works and doesnít work for me.

    And last, weathering is your best friend. It can cover up a lot and make a not too neat job look great. The September-October issue if N-Scale magazine has an article on weathering.


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