Before and after restoration
The reconditioning of the metal cabinet is the first basic part of any sign restoration, and the initial determination to be made is whether the sign facings are painted, or have a porcelain enamel finish (i.e. porcelainized steel). Painted signs are cleaned and repainted.
Porcelain signs are frequently “re-painted” by cheap sign vendors for an immediately attractive appearance – only to begin peeling off in a year or two because paint does not adhere well to porcelain. So then it’s really ugly – worse than before. Porcelain signs should never be “re-painted,” but polished with something like 3M rubbing compound to bring back the original luster – and such has been the case with most of our NHPC projects. Above is a “before” and “after” example of one of them (our 2009 project), photographed under the same cloudy lighting conditions. (the first & second photos shown above)
Note that this is the same sign with no painting added. It demonstrates the amazing impact of just polishing the porcelain back to its original appearance.
Just to “complete the picture” of the Sunset Motel, there are two additional photos of this sign – the third taken at sunset to capture that rich, twilight gleam of the low sun on the horizon (after all, this is the Sunset Motel); and fourth, the dazzling, night-time glow of the neon.
Submitted by Jim Thole
January 22, 2022