Lil Red - SJ restoration - Decals
The aim behind Lil Red, James' SJ, was to restore it to factory condition. With the numbers of SJs declining rapidly and many "upgraded" into rough and ready off-roaders, it seems only right to preserve one in original specification without any modifications.
So, having passed its MOT in August, the plans have been firming up to get it restored.
If you look around the internet, many restorations founder due to either loss of interest, getting in too deep or handing over to a decidedly amateur "professional" mechanics. Therefore we have decided to not do it ourselves and not hand it over to someone who is not a specific restoration specialist, instead we have engaged a local resoration specialist to do the work. So local in fact that we can walk around at least once a week to watch the work. Yes, a professional is not cheap and yes we will not recover the investment in the unlikely event we eventually dispose of the SJ, it is a restoration based on the heart and not the mind!
Before starting any restoration it is always good practice to look into the availability of parts. The good news is that most parts are available and are genuine Suzuki (and will be stocked in the BigJimny store). A key part we could not locate was the decals on the bottoms of the doors. Whilst some of the side decals are available, not all are and inevitably the ones we want are not. We did find a "copy" set available in Italy and ordered them. However they are a poor copy, the colours are wrong and the size is slightly different. For a proper restoration they have to be perfect!.
We spoke to the restorers and they use a local company who can template the orginals and scan them so that they are accurate. Therefore it was off to the decals company....
The specific issue is around how the white and mid grey decals are made. In these close up photos of the originals you can see that they are, in fact, reversals of each other. The white background version has grey dots and the grey background version has white dots. Therefore accurate decals are not simply a reproduction of the colour as it appears to the eye from a distance but is to reproduce the dot patterns that make up the "colour".
The decal company has scanned these in and will reproduce the effect.
The same goes for the under bonnet labels. When the bonnet is resprayed., the manufacturers labels will be lost. I managed to find a good reproduction of these labels on the Internet which will enable us to reproduce the authentic look.
The video below explains more.
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