Building a fender from license plates

I considered going without fenders for the barebone look, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for another surface to add old parts to. I remember seeing “scaled” fenders on some post apoc/steampunk builds (usually with a bronze riveted appearance) that I really liked. So with that in mind, I came up with the idea of using license plates as a fender, which would keep with the goal of re-using old parts.

I used rivets to attach the plates to each other. The plates themselves are very pliable (it was interesting to see the varying quality of the plates by state) so bending them wasn’t very difficult, especially after adding some relief cuts to allow folding both down and in. The rivets add a nice industrial look, and I think it makes more sense than something like weld (after all, working welders aren’t the most common items in the post apocalyptic wasteland).

Adding wear to the plates

For both legal and aesthetic reasons, I needed the plates to have a worn/patina appearance. Legal reasons because most states probably don’t take kindly to a vehicle displaying multiple plates. I bought these plates off eBay, you can find them by searching for “craft” license plates. I got a pack of 12 for ~$25, in varying condition. Two of the plates were smaller motorcycle plates, and I could only use about 6 of the remaining 10 car plates.

To add the worn/rusted appearance I used Sculpt Nouveau’s “Slate Black” patina which causes actual rusting/blackening of bare metal. Combined with torching the plates, it added the look of years worth of wear in minutes. Some of the plates in the fender are only a few years old and were brand new looking.


For mounting the fender, my original plan for the sake of appearance was to mount it on the drive hub and have it hug the wheel as close as possible. Most motorcycle fenders are mounted to the subframe “above” the suspension, which means they move up and down with the suspension, and can’t be too close to the wheel to avoid hitting it when the suspension compresses.

However, there aren’t many places to mount it to the drive hub. The best option I can think of is to mount it onto the axle (the same way the license plate is mounted), but the friction of the bolt would be the only thing preventing it from shifting. It would also be difficult to mount on the right side, since the right side of the axle bolt is held in place by a clamp, not leaving a good mounting place for a bracket.

I’ll probably just end up mounting it on the subframe. That does mean I need to ensure that the fender has a solid frame (right now it’s just rivets holding the plates to each other), since it will be extending pretty far out from the subframe, where bumps in the road/suspension would cause stress on it.

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