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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Let's start Thursday night. I went into the recesses of my parts carvern looking for some parts to finish putting my gt together. I looked thru what headlights I have and pick a couple out.

I brought out a right and two lefts. One left had a great lens but cracked mounting panel. The other, well, had a good mounting panel. So I decided just to swap the good housing to the good mount panel. Now, while in the process of switching housings, I thought, self, what are you going to do when you run out of descent lenses? So I decided to try an experiment. Here it goes.


Taking the crappy lens I just swapped out, I started with a heat gun and heated up the edge of the lens. Once warm enough, I carefully pried and the lens popped off from the housing.



Once off, I used some 0000 steel wool and scrubbed the inside of the lens. Then I went over that with some rubbing compound until the steel wool scratch was gone. Turning attention now the outside, I satrted by first grinding the aiming tips off, leaving just a slight bump. Then using a DA and 120, I sanded the bumps flat and removed the lettering. I switched over to 320 and gave the whole outer lens a very good sanding. I even sanded out some stone chips.



Now the wet sanding. I started with 400, then to 600. I went 1200, 1500, 2000, and finally 3000, working each piece over the lens for about a minute each, back and forth in both directions.



Using a small air buffer, I applied some rubbing compound and buffed away until a nice clear scratch free surface appeared. Then I used some polishing compound in the same manner.



I used some compound by hand to clean up the chrome inside the housing. Used some glass cleaner and cleaned all surfaces that you won't be able to get to later, and made sure all traces of the compound were gone, including the ridges on the inside of the lens. Using some clear adhesive, I replaced the lens to the housing.

Now I guess I have to switch the lights back over. And do the one for the right side too. DAMN!



So what's everyone think?
 

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looks good. On one of mine, I'm thinking of cutting off the bottom horizontal part, enough so I can get some fingers in and use say, paint cleaner to clean the silver paint on the reflector, and maybe use a paintbrush to put some silver paint back on. I don't think it's chrome, just paint on plastic. This headlight I had gotten from a junkyard and the reflector was cracked and, I don't know, some of the silver paint had fallen off inside or something. I've sanded and cleaned the outside of the lens, and am thinking that if I can also make the reflector bright again, it might improve the brightness of the light.

Or, I might just try instead to heat the lens and pry it off like you did. I thought somewhere on FEOA I saw once a long thread about how to heat headlights and back lights in an oven so you can pry them apart, but when I searched recently, I couldn't find it.
 

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Oh, also, I sometimes go to Meguiar's Clear Plastic detailing forum at http://www.meguiarsonline.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=66 , and, if I'm not mistaken, they recently admitted that Plast-X won't protect against oxidation but there might be products like Laminex or others that can help preserve the clarity after you've sanded, buffed, etc.

I hate to admit how many hours I've sanded and stuff, all manually, my headlights, but at least I can say I finally got them about even so that one isn't substantially dimmer than the other anymore, but still I wouldn't call them very clear, and when a car comes up behind me, it throws my car into a shadow over my own headlights.

I'm also using Sylvania Xtra-Vision bulbs inside, which supposedly are up to 20% brighter than their standard bulbs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
There is a chrome coating inside the housing. Just plain silver paint isn't going to give enough reflectability to be effective. You'd be better off to leave the inside as is. I saw a while back, The Eastwood Company sells "chrome" piant. Basically, it's a chrome coating applied over a black base. I'm not sure if it reflects like chrome or not. Be nice if it did to redo inside the housing.
 

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It looks great, but the problem is there's no real protection against oxidation. In 6 monthes they'll be yellow again. You'll probably need to strip the wax and apply some typw of sealer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I sanded and buffed my daily driver headlights about two years ago. Just a coat of wax when I do the car seems to keep the lights looking like they did when I did them.
 

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When they make mirrors, they paint the back of the glass silver or something, then mount it to the backing. I have an antique dresser and many times, over time, some cloudiness, discoloration and stuff starts to show in old mirrors, and I assume you can do something to restore the mirror, by sanding, cleaning the back of the glass, then repainting. Well, I think it's just a high gloss silver paint, frankly. maybe I'll check a store that sells furniture restoration products.
 

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For the record, mirrors are made by vacuum forming gaseous silver onto the back of the mirror. Typically it's called sputtering, I believe. It's how vacuum tubes are made as well, although that's not entirely silver. I think if the lenses were real glass it would make for the best difference. If the internal reflectors were also mirrors it would be even better. Maybe a mod someone can cook up...
 

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ok, yes. i should have googled 'restore mirror' first before I spoke, but anyway, a friend who is familiar w/the process, says that glass mirrors can be 'resilvered', but it can be expensive. I guess it just kind of was because I'd been recently thinking of restoring this antique mirror I have that I also thought of the headlight reflector. Also, FWIW, the inside mirror of my escort looks like it needs to be resilvered. It's cloudy and discolored, etc., and nothing I can do on the front of the glass is helping it, so you see, this is all kind of related, lol. Actually, I doubt if I can remove just the glass from this inside mirror in my escort so it looks like I may have to just replace the whole mirror assembly.

As for the reflector behind my headlights, I happened to see something called 'metallic silver' paint at the crafts store, and, going by the cap color which is very reflective, I think it will solve my needs for the reflector, anyway, if not the mirrors.

thanks again.

Edit: Does anyone by chance know if the inside and outside mirrors of these escorts have glass fronts or instead clear plastic? Reason I ask is that because of an unfortunate accident, one of my side view mirrors is badly scratched and am wondering if I can polish out the scratches like we do the headlight lenses, with sandpaper, wet and dry, etc.
 

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The "silver" on the inside of our headlight lenses is just a chrome plating applied to plastic. It's pretty easily redone as far as I know, and using today's stuff, it's likely to be much better and more reflective.
 

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I need to restore my headlights too, the plastic is getting pretty nasty.

Has anyone considered removing the light displacers for more of a crystal headlight (pictured) look? I'm tempted to go get a couple spare headlights and give it a shot to see how it comes out. The only thing I'm worried about is the fact that I'm trying to get plastic to have glass properties...

 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I hope so. I tried a Sunday project that I didn't get accomplished. I tried to do the clear side marker thing. After trashing a set of oranges to get the clear reflectors out, I didn't feel comfortable enough to to split the Lynx corners without ruining them. So there's still the bit of orange that I guess will stay.... til I find another set of Lynx corners. Atleast they got wet sanded and buffed to match the headlights.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I hope so. I tried a Sunday project that I didn't get accomplished. I tried to do the clear side marker thing. After trashing a set of oranges to get the clear reflectors out, I didn't feel comfortable enough to to split the Lynx corners without ruining them. So there's still the bit of orange that I guess will stay.... til I find another set of Lynx corners. Atleast they got wet sanded and buffed to match the headlights.
 

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The orange markers are harder to split than the clear Lynx ones, different glue maybe. I have a number of Lynx markers and one of them the orange piece has come loose so I was going to try remove it by breaking it into pieces and pulling the parts out. If you find a better way to get the orange part out be sure to post something.
 
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