It seems like I always start posts like this with “I’ve worked on this for SOOOO long…” but, well, it’s true. I’ve worked on these badges for what feels like ever. Since around the time I started making the keychains, I’ve been planning these badges.
I’ve tested a half dozen different epoxies. I’ve set up tooling in an off-shore factory. I’ve designed metal parts in three dimensions.
All in my spare time between filling gauge orders.
Being able to to type up this blog post showing the completed line of badges feels so sweet. Like crossing a finish line after months of racing.
Like I said, keychains. I made my first tray of keychains and immediately started eyeballing Sharka’s aged KG Works nose badge. It lived on Sharka’s nose for a decade. I always wanted to make my own. Now was the time.
I started testing different clear resins and epoxies after discovering the stuff I was using on keychains really did NOT survive much sun exposure.
“Jewelers resins” were out after a few test samples. No matter how good or UV resistant they claim to be, a resin WILL yellow in the sun. It is also usually chemical reactive. IE: wheel cleaners can hurt it. All crafting resins were immediately discarded.
So I turned my attention to industrial “things” that need protection from elements, yet need to sit in the sun for years. Solar cells immediately came to mind. Epoxies meant to coat solar cells have GOTTA be up to the task, right?
A few more chemicals to test. Some really sucked to work with. Others weren’t actually “clear”. Finally, I found the Goldilocks epoxy that was pretty easy to work with and poured water-clear.
That left me with the problem of badge carriers. They simply do not exist in the same way that keychain blanks do. You can’t just get a catalog full of them. I searched and I searched. I contacted machine shops in town. I learned a whole lot over the months of trying to solve the badge carrier problem. I learned that some problems cannot be affordably solved or locally solved. So, I set up manufacturing at an off-shore factory.
The badge carriers I ended up with are die cast metal. NOT chrome plastic. They’re heavy and lovely feeling. They feel rich. They look incredible and catch the light in ways that plastic just can’t match. They’re… really damn awesome.
Onto the finished product. I have two sizes of each badge – a low profile 50mm badge meant for fenders and trunk lids and a thicker, double beveled 58mm badge meant for noses and tails. 8mm is a small difference, but both sizes really did need to be made up. They’re very different when holding them in your hands.
Did I mention they’re lovely and heavy?
The badges come with a layer of 3M sticky stuff on the back, but… it could be MORE sticky. I’m including a strip of this 3M 20 lb “extreme” tape with each badge. It’s, well, insane. You can almost pick up a whole Miata with a strip of this stuff. Once this tape is on the car, whatever is attached to the other side is REALLY stuck on there.
Maybe it doesn’t take much to impress me, but it’s impressive tape. Last time I checked about this stuff, they made 5 lb mounting tape. That was as good as it got. Now they have something 4x stronger.
And that one is Sharka’s new nose badge. I designed it a couple months ago back when I was testing epoxies and trying to find badge blanks. It’s pretty obvious where the original design I’m borrowing came from, but it wasn’t at all easy to modify as you see above. The M-A-Z-D-A letters came out looking funky no matter how they were arranged, so I had to re-draw them multiple times to make them look natural in an arc like that.
And then re-re-draw the letters to make them possible to cut out of chrome vinyl.
And then wait for months to finally see on Sharka’s nose.
To say I’m happy is an understatement.
I wanted to do something for Sharka’s hard top also. I’ve always loved the Racing Mate stickers. Doing just the clover in a badge seemed like a fun test for a side badge. I made up a set and stuck them on.
Love at first sight.
Bucky couldn’t get left behind. I drive this car most days. That makes it the perfect test platform for badges. The ones stuck on the little guy have been out in the elements for a couple months. So far, no change in badge condition. But I’ve got a post of torture tests to show off shortly.
I enjoy making things. These car parts. They’re incredibly satisfying. And getting to see things I’ve made on customer cars makes me incredibly happy.
But I wanted some badges for Sharka. I’ve ALWAYS wanted to make these. Being able to finally do it… I have no words. (Yet I seem to have written around 900.)
Oh yeah. Almost forgot the thing that made me start writing this post. Want some badges of your own? They’re in the store and ready for ordering.
Now, back to making parts. There’s some epoxy calling for my attention.