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Raoul Duke
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Discussion Starter #1
So, I've come to the conclusion that most headlights (polycarbonate) turn yellow and cloudy due to ultraviolet exposure.
We've all been through the process of polishing, buffing, and even wet-sanding, but the headlights will eventually return to their previous state: yellow, cloudy or hazy.

Well, I decided to try a new approach. After wet-sanding and polishing my headlights for the 1,000th time, I decided to use a special clearcoat that blocks UV. If my theory is correct, the UV-blocking clearcoat will extend the life (and clarity) of the polycarbonate lenses we all have on our headlights.

The purpose of this thread is to establish a timeline. In years past, I could sand and polish my lights only to have them fade and turn yellow after two or three months. With this new approach, I will install the lights and see how long they last.

I will update the thread as needed, and if my theory proves to be correct, we may all have a new technique for maintaining clear headlights. If you're as tired of poor nighttime vision as I am, this could be a good thing. :wiggle:



 

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I did mine with rough 3m buffing compound back in Oct. Then I sprayed them with 3 coats of laquer clear coat from ace. They look like glass and are practically in the same shape now. No chips from bugs...yet. Those look awesome though. I wish I would have done black this time on the inside.
 

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Good idea.
I have put wax on headlights after cleaning but didn't last very long either...

Do you have a link to that clear coat stuff?
did you "paint" with the stuff using a brush or just spray it?

PS: nice telecaster.
 

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Raoul Duke
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Discussion Starter #4
One month later and they are as clear as they were when I painted them. I was on the interstate last night and I had great nighttime vision. Updates to come.


Good idea.
I have put wax on headlights after cleaning but didn't last very long either...

Do you have a link to that clear coat stuff?
did you "paint" with the stuff using a brush or just spray it?

PS: nice telecaster.
I waxed mine too but it never fully protected them from turning yellow. I bought the clearcoat through my company, which sells to sign-making and fabrication shops (but not individuals). You can't buy that stuff off the shelf as far as I know, but I might be able to ask at work to see if they will bend the rules and sell to forum members.

I found a link here, though.

Thanks for the compliment. It's a '98 Mexican Fender Telecaster; one of my favorite guitars in my collection.
 

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do you have any "before" pictures of the headlights?

What grit(s) of sand paper did you use?

What did you use to polish them?

My headlights look like crap next to my new clear corners, and I'd rather try this before putting new headlight housings on
 

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Raoul Duke
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Discussion Starter #6
Yes:



That is how the headlights looked when I bought the car seven years ago in 2004.

When I wet-sand the headlights, I use 800 grit, then 1000, then 1500. I spend extra time using the 1500 to make the surface as smooth as possible.

Polishing can be done by hand or by random-orbit buffer, and I usually use Turtle Wax Polishing Compound (not rubbing compound!) in the green and white container. Be prepared to have sore elbows if you do it by hand.

I always remove the headlights to do this process to ease the work, and I removed the "alignment nubs" with a Dremel so I can make full sweeps across the surface without those nubs getting in the way. If you look at the very first photo in post #1, you can see the outline of the alignment nub; that's all that's left. I cut it off as flush as possible and the years' worth of wet-sanding and polishing left it as a simple bump on the surface.
 

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I've found that metal polish works really well for clearing up the headlamps. I polish them every time I wax the car. It's cheap, works decently, no sandpaper, easy to clean up, also don't have to worry about hitting the surrounding bodywork with power tools.

I tried rubbing compound too, but the metal polish gives better results.
 

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How long have you been doing this for?
A couple of years. It doesn't necessarily last a very long time; it's just something I keep up on as a maintenance item. Once or twice a year, I count it as part of my wax routine and it looks great!

I have a hunch it works very similarly to the toothpaste method recently mentioned in this thread: Some pics of my toothpaste headlight restore job It seems no matter what technique you use, it will likely last 6-9 months. That's why I schedule mine like I do.
 

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Raoul Duke
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Discussion Starter #9
Keep in mind that once the headlights turn yellow, metal polish and toothpaste won't remove the yellowed material; they will only allow for some clarity through it.

My technique removes the oxidized yellow layer.
 

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This may not be as good but Krylon makes a clear UV spray.

http://www.krylon.com/products/uvresistant_clear

There is also an awesome car paint shop here that carries everything you need for interior restoration as well. They have a massive inventory of cool stuff so I'm going to check there. if they have it they have an online store too.


I think this is a good idea and we wouldn't have to keep cleaning up old head lights. I just ordered a new set of Eagle Eyes and I'm going to prep them then save until I need them.
 

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I have an odd question....after all the wet sanding you have done on your lights, is the little blue oval and other markings/numbers still on the bottom of the lenses? Or have you sanded those off by now? I am very tempted to wet sand my headlights, they are more yellow by the day!
 

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Raoul Duke
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Discussion Starter #14
Those castings are on the inside of the lens. The bottom alignment nubs are still there, but the top nubs were cut off and polished over years ago. The bottom nubs don't impede my sanding and polishing, while the top ones really got in my way.

Hope that helps!
 

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I've done the same thing to my lights. I paint cars and most of the clears used today block uv rays so the paint does not fade. I also did my tail lights and they look brand new.
 

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Those castings are on the inside of the lens. The bottom alignment nubs are still there, but the top nubs were cut off and polished over years ago. The bottom nubs don't impede my sanding and polishing, while the top ones really got in my way.

Hope that helps!
There was somebody years ago on here that removed all the alignment nubs, polished over them, did step by step photos, you could not tell they ever existed, wish I could find it
 

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If I removed the nubs I would cut them off just a hair higher than the lens then go at it with a dremel and slowly get it even. If it doesn't polish up right put some kind of clear acrylic to fill any pitting. I may try that, the nubs are a pain to polish around.
 

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"NUBS"
I cut the nubs off the headlights on my '92 and my '95, they are for old style Mechanical aimers. All the stations here now use Optical aimers. New lights don't have them at all. I used dremel tool with cuttoff wheel on medium speed and got a good seat and used two hands and was very careful. Light sanding using finger pressure, polish, you have to feel for any evidence of their existance.

"CLEARS"
My '92's lights hold up really really well as it sits alomost 100% of the time in a carport out of the sun I guess. My '95's had turned cloudy so yesterday I decided to clean them up and try coating with a clear UV protectant. I used Krylon Fusion Clear that's labeled as "UV Protection" ..... I did not like the look, some reason it didn't "lay right". I had to sand it off and repolish the lights, got them looking great again. Lots of work .... I try not to polish the SAE and Ford and other script off .... on my two Birds it's on the outside.

I'll watch for updates here, try to get some of the better stuff in the opening post and do it again maybe. For now, I'll rely on a Mother's Power Ball and plastic lense polish.

Did a search for " Sign Painters 1 shot 4005A " ..... that stuff ain't cheap! $10.50 and up per 12 oz spray can. Must be good then!

:)
 

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I'm glad you tried the Krylon and let us know, I won't be trying that now. I imagine too that some would be more yellowish than others. Clear isn't always clear. I may hit up Space Age today and see what they have.
 

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I'm glad you tried the Krylon and let us know, I won't be trying that now. I imagine too that some would be more yellowish than others. Clear isn't always clear. I may hit up Space Age today and see what they have.
Well, that was the "FUSION" (for plastics paint that I tried.

I haven't found the Krylon Clear UV protectant as mentioned above (http://www.krylon.com/products/uvresistant_clear). Might be same stuff for all I know? I usually get great results with Krylon though.

I have an old headlight that I once brought home from a wreck for some reason, complete but the mounting tabs were broken. No idea what it fits now, forgot I had it. I'll use it as a guinea pig and likely try the Krylon Clear above. First though, think I'll look more for that high dollar stuff.

:)

UPDATE .... I cleaned that oddball headlight assembly good and taped off a 2" wide section and sprayed it with the same FUSION that I used earlier, I can tell it's on there, but it looks OK really. This is a non fluted lense. My '95 and '92 both have fluted lenses.

It is just possible that my poor result was from actually spraying it outside in the very warm sunlight of day?

I also picked up a Powerball 4 Headlights kit and a bottle of Blue Magic Lense Sealer that's UV protectant. The Powerball kit is pretty neat. I have my mother's car and my sisters car to polish soon. We'll see.
 
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