Monday, December 26, 2011

Tail Lights Are In

The latest saga was installing the tail lights.  First I have to say that I thought I had lost them!  I wanted to install them several weeks ago and tore up the workshop and two storage bedrooms with no luck finding them.  Then last week I was talking with Tom at the body shop about picking up the rear trunk hinges and he said "Oh yeah I have that box of other parts too".  I asked him what parts and he said "Tail lights, side mirrors and stuff".  I just about cried.  I wasn't looking forward to buying two new or used units, that is some expensive plastic!  Apparently he asked for them when they were finalizing the metalwork around the rear end and I forgot I took them in for him.

I got the "box" from Tom last Friday.  This is what I saw.  Covered in body shop dust.  So yet another clean / paint / install project!

As with the rubber trim on the rear bumper, the red lenses had some silver overspray on them, so I sanded them with 1500 and 2000 grid wet-dry sandpaper.  It left the lenses red but cloudy, but I had a plan for later.

When I disassembled the left side, I found most of the silver paint had come off the plastic reflector unit, causing poor reflectivity.

It was tricky to get the reflector out of the housing, so I just cleaned everything, gave it a light sanding, tucked paper under from all sides and taped up the bulb holes, then painted it with silver plastic paint.

I also found extensive corrosion of the bulb bases and sockets on that unit, I assume due to the missing gasket between the red lens assembly and the main housing.  I cleaned everything with sandpaper and electronic contact cleaner spray, then reassembled.

Bingo!  The lights all work but the right-blinker doesn't blink, so I'll have to put that on the to-do list for later as it's probably the infamous relay.

You can see the dulling of the lenses due to the sanding, so I bought a 3M headlight restoration kit.  I skipped the initial steps which are for badly scratched and clouded front headlights.  That left me to use a wet pad in my drill, followed by a buffing compound on a sponge in my drill.

And you can see below that it looks magnificent!  I'm thrilled with the way it turned out.  The whole back end of the car looks factory new and shiny!  I put a big order in for door fuzzy seals and rubber pieces from 914Rubber, including new gaskets that fit between the taillight housing and the body.  I'll loosen everything up and pop them in when they arrive.