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  #1  
Old 07-30-2008, 11:11 PM
bcomo bcomo is offline
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Default Tail Light Restoration 1960 - Part I

Since my 60 HT will be in the paint shop for a few months, I thought that this woud be a good time to refinish the tail light buckets and lights. I took photos of what I'm doing so far, and will post more photos as I go on.

In another post, we discussed the fact that painting the inside of the tail light cones would increase brightness. Part I will show if that is true or not.

The first step is to remove the back side of the trunk material to get acess to the tail light buckets. This is best done with the tool shown. It's made to remove door clips. It's also a good idea to use plastic bags with for parts.




The tail light bucket assemby comes out the back end by removing the 4 nuts on the studs shown by the red arrows. On the 60, it was easy to acess 3 of the nuts with a socket, and the last one with an open end wrench.




Removing the remaining nuts will free the tail light assembly from the "Waffle" (checkered) back plate.




Notice that the tail lights have a TOP (shown by the green arrow). Also notice that the chrome tail light bracket has bottom drain holes (shown by the red arrows). The drain holes need to be kept to the bottom.




The next step is to separate the plastic lenses from each tail light cone. I used a sharp Xacto knife. Go VERY slowly, and take your time -- especially around each hole in the lens where the screw goes through. It will take about 3 to 4 passes with the blade before the lens separates.




In the next step, I used 220 grit sandpaper to lightly sand the inside of the cones. Then wipe it with paint prep cleaner.




I didn't want to use masking tape on 6 tail light cones, so I came up with a way to do it very simply.

I used an old broken tail light lens (you can use a tin can that fits). A burned out light bulb, and a rubber grommet from a tie rod end (available at Auto Zone help section).




Here is what the set-up look like after spraying with one coat of engine grey primer, and two coats of engine white gloss. I used engine paint because I felt that it would stand the heat alot better than off the shelf paint.




Next, I used a small screw driver on the bulb contacts in the socket, and used a good amount of Bulb Grease on the bulb. I also used Long Life bulbs (from Auto Zone).




So, was it worth it?

The original tail light is on the left, and painted one is on the right. I think that it's easy to see the big improvement.
There is a new bulb in both tail lights.




This is a night shot of the same light.




I still have to do the chrome Waffle backing plates, and the chrome tail light brackets. Can't afford to rechrome them, so I'll have to do the best that I can for now --

Any advice on that would be appreciated.
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Last edited by bcomo : 07-30-2008 at 11:15 PM.
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  #2  
Old 07-30-2008, 11:33 PM
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Penelope Penelope is offline
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Bart, you must be a mind reader. I am doing this to my 60HT on my next trip down and was going to spend some time in the workshop manual first, but now a printout will do instead (that is easier to follow).

My ability with tools is limited, but it looks like a job anyone could do.....I hope

Thank you
Bill
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  #3  
Old 07-30-2008, 11:35 PM
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Exactly the kind of handy hint I like to see, very good!!
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Old 07-31-2008, 04:37 AM
El Guapo El Guapo is offline
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Looks great Bart,,
nice job and thanks for the great post.There was a post of someone using small squares of vinal for the waffels.
Me and my gal used model paint ,a small brush and as steady of a hand as we could.
Ive also heard of painting the whole thing and wipping the chrome.
Keep us posted on you ideas and progress.
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  #5  
Old 07-31-2008, 08:52 AM
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My old '60 was a driver quality and the tailight waffle backing plates were really pitted badly and the chrome was gone. I powdercoated them and the lens brackets with Eastwood's "Almost Chrome" just to get them shiney and used John Draxler's (Thunderbird Ranch) decal cut-outs. A little tedious but came out decent. Pits still evident.
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Old 07-31-2008, 09:55 AM
bcomo bcomo is offline
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Mike:

What if a person would bead blast the chrome to get rid of the pits, and then use the almost chrome powder coating.

Is that a possibile approach? Any pros and cons?
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Old 07-31-2008, 09:57 AM
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nice job Bart.
I've read that white reflectors are better than chrome painted ones.
I wonder why all the new cars have chrome plated "innards" to their lights?
Seems that white paint would be cheaper...
Yours certainly look very bright!
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  #8  
Old 07-31-2008, 10:25 AM
ncbird ncbird is offline
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Default great discussion

This is a very timely discussion and the pictures are a big help. I am trying to do things that dont cost much like polishing the grill and detailing the tailights. I didnt know about the vinyl sheets so I went to my auto paint store and got striping tape. I have been pressing it into the square and cutting it with an exacto. It leaves a slight gap on the edge and I have been filling that in with a permanent marker. Not perfect but from a few feet away it looks fine. I am sure open to another approach. I thought about the paint but wasnt sure it would stick to the new chrome.
As far as the pot metal and pit discussion I found this site
http://www.caswellplating.com/buffs/ when I started buffing the grill and all the accessories they had. Check out the wheel called a scrubber wheel. I am goint to get one and try it on the spare glove box door I now own thanks to this forum. Grant
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Old 07-31-2008, 10:36 AM
bcomo bcomo is offline
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Casey:

I've wondered about that myself. Unless its the fact that the new cars use LED and halogen lights instead of incandencent bulbs.

I do know that we have to be careful about the heat buid-up in these lenses. One guy on a Rod Forum said that he washed his car at night, and when the cold water hit the lens, it cracked immediately.

I'll tell you what -- I have some chrome paint in the garage, and an extra tail light cone. I'll spray paint it chrome, and compare it to the white one. I'll also use a laser heat temp gauge on the cone after 1 minute of brake light -- that would be the highest heat on the bulb.

I'll do a post after that.
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Old 07-31-2008, 10:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bcomo View Post
Mike:

What if a person would bead blast the chrome to get rid of the pits, and then use the almost chrome powder coating.

Is that a possibile approach? Any pros and cons?
Bart: I sandblasted mine first, but that won't get rid of the pits. They would all need to be filled with Lab Metal and ground flat. Very time consuming. That's why platers get so much money to repair/plate pot metal. I don't know how to put a caption at each picture so...

1st pic is plate after sandblast.. heavily pitted.
2nd pic is plate after powdercoat, pits still there, just shinier.
3rd pic is lens rings after blasting.. really rough shape.
4th pic is after powdercoat.. still rough.
5th pic is assembly without vinyl
6th pic is completed.

This process came out ok for this car, but not for a show car.
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File Type: jpg Picture 233.jpg (455.8 KB, 120 views)
File Type: jpg Picture 236.jpg (636.5 KB, 121 views)
File Type: jpg Picture 245.jpg (459.1 KB, 123 views)
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