Prior to actually taking peoples’ money for these things, I wanted to see how durable they are. So, before announcing that I was taking orders, I subjected a test batch of badges to a gauntlet of durability testing.
NOTE: I realize this is a friggin’ long blog post. Sorry about that. I just want these particular details to be thorough in case anyone wants some solid info on how durable these are before deciding to order. Cliff’s notes: They’re tough enough to withstand anything you’ll throw at them. Your center caps are likely to melt before these do.
The laboratory was, well, my garage. The tools of destruction were a heat gun, a garden hose full of icy December water, a sheet of brushed stainless steel a couple of bricks and a giant slab of concrete I like to call my driveway.
Before actually going to “the lab” with my sacrificial samples, I had a weekend out of town at a wedding in Oklahoma planned. So prior to that trip I stuck one of the badges on the back of my daily driver. (A 2003 Lexus GS300 Sport Design). I basically wiped a clean spot in the midst of a month’s worth of grime on the back of the trunk and stuck the badge on, making sure to press it on there nice and evenly. Then I took the car straight to my local car wash and ran it through before driving up to Durant, OK for the weekend.
While in Durant I was busy driving the groom from place to place. The car saw a variety of locales and weather conditions. As a matter of fact, as of the writing of this post that badge has been on the back of the car for almost a full week and it’s still in perfect condition. While that may sound like great success, it’s really boring when you hear what I put the other badges through.
I took four of my test badges and stuck them to a sheet of brushed stainless that I had laying in the garage. Prior to sticking them on there I made sure it was nice and clean. I hit it with some paint thinner and then let it sit for a few minutes to ensure all of the solvent evaporated. After sticking the four test badges to it I was ready to attack them with a vicious series of heat cycling.
My goal was to replicate the type of heat cycling they may see on wheel center caps very aggressively and in a short period of time. So I took the heat gun and heated up the sheet metal until it was so hot I couldn’t touch it. Then I immediately doused it with icy cold water from the garden hose with as much pressure as my hose nozzle would allow.
After the first instance of that heat cycling the badges looked as if I hadn’t even breathed on them. They held up just fine. So I repeated the process. And then repeated it again. And again. I heat cycled them almost 10 times and not once did they ever deform. The epoxy didn’t haze or yellow, the vinyl didn’t separate from the sheet metal nor did the epoxy separate from the vinyl. They just took the abuse like it was nothing.
So, purely in the interest of science, I decided to see how much these things could take before they’d give up the ghost. I put my heat gun on high and blasted one of the badges with direct heat from about half an inch away. I didn’t give up until I saw some type of a result.
In about 30 seconds I was able to smell the epoxy getting hot. 10 seconds after that I could see it deforming. After 45 seconds it started to curl up and smoke pretty bad. In the interest of not inhaling too much of that epoxy smoke, I called it quits. Pictured to the right is the result. It’s hard to tell, but the epoxy separated from the vinyl. The vinyl is still perfectly adhered to the metal and doesn’t look too bad.
So I had a result…but I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. My 3 year old destroyed my infrared thermo gun a few months ago, so I wasn’t able to record exactly what temperature caused the meltdown. After a minute or two of trying to figure out what to make of this, I had an idea. I have some spare Rota center caps laying around the garage. So I took one of those out and gave it the same treatment.
After 30 seconds of the same heat blasting treatment the Rota center cap started turning into a taco. This thing absolutely stunk as it was melting, so I called it quits before I quite made it to the 45 second mark. You can see in the photo to the right that this deformed just as much as the badge did. Maybe even moreso. And with less heat. So, I feel safe in saying that my center cap badges are at least as durable as a lot of the center caps they’ll be attached to.
But I wasn’t going to stop there…I still had 3 perfectly good, unadulterated center cap badges. What about curbs? I mean…I know it’s really hard to curb a center cap. But I was bored and at the time it seemed like a vaguely rational test.
So I flipped the sheet of metal upside down on my concrete driveway and stood on it. I stood on it and rocked back and forth from my heels to my toes five or six times. From all the grinding and crunching I heard under foot I figured this did the trick and that the remaining caps would be FUBARed. Well..they held up better than I’d expected as you can see.
They got a few very small gouges, but nothing severe. So I repeated the prior test but this time I did “the twist” while standing on the inverted sheet of metal. This not only ground the badges into the…well…ground. It also slid them pretty aggressively against the abrasive surface.
Annnnnd….that did it. I can’t say I was surprised when I inspected the badges after this final test. As you can see, the metal also got scratched, so it wasn’t exactly a gentle test. And I was happy that the badges held up to so much blatant abuse as well as they did.
I’ll happily advise anyone to go ahead and install these on their car. I’m more than certain they’ll hold up to any manner of daily use. I do, officially, recommend that you remove your center caps for track use. But that applies to center caps with or without my badges on them. Most OEM and aftermarket center caps are prone to melting under the temperatures generated by track driving.