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tail light disassembly and resto

autokunst

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Hello all,
Today I decided to dig into the tail lights on my car, which are in need of some elbow grease. Regarding the housings and reflector assemblies, is there any content on how to take all of this apart and best options for re-silvering the reflectors? I did a couple of searches and couldn't find anything.
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It looks involved, but it seems the reflector assembly should come out by drilling out two solid rivets and manipulating some tabs. Is there a method for DIY re-silvering? Or is this something someone needs to send to a specialist? Seems there's some corrosion on a couple of them - they might need more elbow grease. And as I am sure you know, the brake light reflector is plastic - at least it is not corroded. But one of them is almost all red in lieu of silver.

The first thing I had to do was remove an old mud dauber nest from one of the fresnel reflectors.
 

mark99

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I took mine apart as well and have not gotten it together yet
I think SS nuts and bolts to replace the rivets
The reflector in the center looks like plastic and to me looks like it was just painted
I think the others I think are metal so replate, I will just do mine in zinc
The housing on mine was very yellow, I sanded and polished it and it looks great but you might look for a thread from Mark Ingold about a chemical process to remove the yellow
 

Koopman

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Hi. I recently had a rear view mirror silvered so I imagine these could be done. The charge for the mirror was $40 so I am thinking that two reflectors should be close to the same. Another thought is having them nickled which is also an inexpensive process.
Any questions shoot them to me.
Thanks
Have a Safe Fourth.
Koopman
 

jmackro

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Koopman

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How about covering them with aluminum tape. Not duct tape but must thinner and cleaner appearance. Much cheaper too.
 

autokunst

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Don't you guys realize that I like doing these things in the most complicated manner and lengthiest process? :eek: If you tell me that it is "easy", I tend to reject it without consideration - ha ha!

Joking aside, this is great. I've received a variety of tips and method recommendations. I will "try" to do this easier than I'd imagined. I do plan on refurbishing the rear grey plastic case in addition to the reflectors - even on the inside (although no one should ever see it). That is my biggest struggle right now - how to manage that without taking the whole assembly apart.
 

rsporsche

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one of my favorite quotes seems to apply here Stephen

"any fool can make things bigger, more complex. it takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." einstein
 

autokunst

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one of my favorite quotes seems to apply here Stephen

"any fool can make things bigger, more complex. it takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." einstein
Ouch. While I can't argue that I resemble that remark, I'm not sure Einstein was referring to the restoration methods of a 45 year old car. :D In this case, there is also a more than subtle difference between a band aid fix and a restoration/refurbishment of a part. The band aid will always be easier than a more "thorough" refurbishment - but I think this forum would largely agree that the latter is more courageous. ;)
 

autokunst

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you can mask the lens and spray paint with plastic gray would look brand new
Any specific products to recommend? I've found four or five so far. All seem to have the same collection of reviews - mostly unhappy posters that were expecting "chrome" to spray from the can, and then a few that seemed to have reasonable expectations and were happy with the results. Was thinking about going totally overboard and getting them all to do a side-by-side comparison. But that seems like an expensive and time intensive way to proceed... :eek:
 

jmackro

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I do plan on refurbishing the rear grey plastic case in addition to the reflectors....
In addition to oxidized reflectors, the other functional weakness of e9 taillight assemblies are the sockets and ground bus. The sockets are sort of "mickey mouse"; obtaining good contact with the bulb "+" and "-" is tough, especially with 45 years of corrosion. The rivets that attach the ground bus to the sockets tend to corrode too; replacing them with brass screws and polishing the connection area helps.

I once tried grafting in aftermarket sockets, but my result wasn't much of an improvement. LED arrays (*) were my ultimate solution. With these, the condition of the reflector is immaterial.

*) Superbrightled used to sell these, but I no longer see them on their site.
 
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3nsahalee

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i've used both silver mylar and bright silver metallic sign vinyl on past vehicles with excellent results. it can be contoured far better than the aluminum tape with no wrinkles and the adhesive is fierce. it's engineered to withstand extreme temps. a scrap can be had for a few bucks at most sign shops.
 

autokunst

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In addition to oxidized reflectors, the other functional weakness of e9 taillight assemblies are the sockets and ground bus. The sockets are sort of "mickey mouse"; obtaining good contact with the bulb "+" and "-" is tough, especially with 45 years of corrosion. The rivets that attach the ground bus to the sockets tend to corrode too; replacing them with brass screws and polishing the connection area helps.

I once tried grafting in aftermarket sockets, but my result wasn't much of an improvement. LED arrays (*) were my ultimate solution. With these, the condition of the reflector is immaterial.

*) Superbrightled used to sell these, but I no longer see them on their site.
Your comments about the likely poor condition of the ground bus and socket connections further reinforces my original theory that taking the reflector assembly out of the shell is beneficial. One mini-project is making the reflectors "shiny" again. A second is to refurbish the electrical connections throughout. A third is making the grey shell look better (and the fourth is the chrome tail light frame and lenses....).
 

mark99

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On the grey shell, you could paint it but I think it will look like paint, integral color plastic has a different look because it is slightly translucent
I will probably not worry too much about my reflectors, use aluminum tape or something, so just info, if you want paint to look like chrome you can do it, people making scale models do it
The 'trick' is you have to have the surface polished smooth and then you paint it with gloss black then a product like alclad ii chrome, it will look exactly like chrome
 

rsporsche

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i painted the outside of my lights with SEM storm gray ... and it looked quite good ... not like something with paint on it. i don't remember if i bothered with the inside of the shell. i sent my lights to the Andy (Mo Brighta) and he polished the reflectors as much as possible and updated one of the sockets to use two of the Stanley bulbs ... which should make the tail light and the brake light significantly brighter.
 
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