How to read a scratched up serial number tag?

Sat May 18, 2013 8:53 am

On the 50's model Louisville tractors IH apparently started using a different font on their tags. The numbers are more of a "script" and are bigger but they are not stamped near as deep and are easy to make un-readable if they get any sort of abuse. Such is the case on one of my tractors. You can read the first two and the last two digits but not the middle three, at least not with the naked eye. I think someone (NOT ME I swear!) scraped the tag with a screwdriver or something to remove the old paint and did a number on it. There are no deep scratches but I cannot read the numbers. Tag looks just like nothing was even stamped there but I know it had to have been. Are there any tricks for bringing out those numbers to where I can read them? Thought about a pencil rubbing but I don't know if the numbers are stamped deep enough for that even if the tag was in good shape.

thanks,

Al

Re: How to read a scratched up serial number tag?

Sat May 18, 2013 10:26 am

i've used a flashlight held almost 90 degrees to the plate and have had some luck with it , especially on the motor serial number area ( you have to be in very low light) . try different angles and from the side -forward /bottom -up,ect....might get lucky. coppersmythe.....................

Re: How to read a scratched up serial number tag?

Sat May 18, 2013 10:41 am

get some ugly used black grease or used motor oil, dab it on the plate, then rub gently to dissipate it. It should leave enough color in the stamping so that you can read it.

It also works to take a picture of it with a camera, different angles and lighting, then blow the immage up on the computer and play with the lighting and contrast controlls in your edit program

Re: How to read a scratched up serial number tag?

Sat May 18, 2013 9:53 pm

Thanks. I will definately try the grease rub. Played with my flashlight a little last night and one time thought I found another digit but not sure. I'll keep trying. I really hate the way IH did their serial tags back in the early-mid '50s.

Al

Re: How to read a scratched up serial number tag?

Sun May 19, 2013 8:32 am

The funny thing is there is absolutely NO REASON for the serial tags to get beat up! You have to purposely go at it with something to damage it. Othewise you've got no reason or cause to be anywhere near it...

Re: How to read a scratched up serial number tag?

Sun May 19, 2013 8:55 am

And how many are painted over, sometimes I've taken a heat gun and the old paint starts to bubble

Re: How to read a scratched up serial number tag?

Sun May 19, 2013 9:08 am

Take a blank sheet of white paper, hold it on the tag and rub it with a lead pencil , with the side of the lead. A lot of the time it will leave the indent on the paper as white. Hold it up to a light to see it.

Re: How to read a scratched up serial number tag?

Sun May 19, 2013 9:17 am

I actually rubbed my tag with a pencil lead minus the paper. The numbers magically appeared. It was not an epiphony....it was dumb luck!! :D

Re: How to read a scratched up serial number tag?

Sun May 19, 2013 9:22 am

Another trick is to spray with WD-40 and then wipe it. The stampings may stay wetter than the surface for an instant and be visible. Vary viewing angle and the lighting may help.

Re: How to read a scratched up serial number tag?

Tue May 21, 2013 6:52 pm

Think I got it. Smeared some oil on it and rubbed with my finger, that and a bright penlight held at various angles. Was able to see enough of the missing digits to decipher them, I would say with 95% accuracy! What I came up with jived with the casting numbers on it...

Now, when I restore it I need to decide if I want to put a repro tag on it. I don't believe in them myself, but in this case it might be justified. Oh well, not like I have to decide tomorrow. We are a LONG way from needing paint!

Al

Re: How to read a scratched up serial number tag?

Tue May 21, 2013 7:27 pm

I put repo tags on both cubs that I restored. I kept the old tags (what's left of them) if I ever sell them, I can show it's correct.

Re: How to read a scratched up serial number tag?

Wed May 22, 2013 12:21 pm

Don't feel bad about using a repro tag if the original is that far gone. Keep the original stored somewhere safe, perhaps even on the tractor itself. Might even want to have it laminated so it doesn't deteriorate further?

Just had to chuckle, all my tractors have good serial tags, but my Dad always ends up with the beat up tags.

Re: How to read a scratched up serial number tag?

Wed May 22, 2013 1:02 pm

I have a picture of a serial tag that was purposefully defaced to the point of being unreadable. Probably stolen at some point in it's lifetime .

Re: How to read a scratched up serial number tag?

Wed May 22, 2013 2:42 pm

I feel sure someone was trying to scrape the paint off the tag and messed it up. Anyway "mystery solved."

I have never, ever liked repro tags. Too many get replaced because all the color is gone, but the number is still there. To me you bring the background of that tractor into question the minute the tag comes off. The tractor I am talking about is actually a Super A, a white demo at that. Since the tag is in such bad shape, and since so many people holler "fake" when they see a white demo anyway, I may replace this one. Perhaps I can display the original in a little frame with the tractor.

As I said, I have plenty of time to decide! :)

Al

Re: How to read a scratched up serial number tag?

Wed May 29, 2013 12:53 pm

I learned this trick when I was just a Cub, instead of a pencil, raid your youngest kid/grandkid's crayon box. The wax sticks better, but can be rubbed off the part not engraved much more easily. You could also use a piece of black licorice, then eat the rest. The trick about using your computer to enhance a digital photo is also very useful. I enhanced the engine block to an ugly rust color and the casting number was much clearer.