drtidmore

Fixing the '88/'89 window/mirror switch cosmetics

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As any '88/'89 owner will attest, those lovely die cut foil overlays that Buick used on the console window and mirror switches have not suffered the years with grace.  The adhesive turned loose, the die cut areas became magnets for dirt/finger oils and they became an eyesore, at least for me.

 

Then I spotted a post by KDirk alluding to his creating a replacement overlay for both the window and mirror switch, but he did not give a lot of details, so I contacted him.  After we exchanged a few emails, I realized that he might have exactly what I was desiring and he graciously agreed to allow me to be a test case for a DIY replacement of the overlays. 

 

The attention to detail that the overlays show is very impressive.  The lettering is crisp, the cutouts are sharp and precisely placed.  The EL backlighting is retained!  The vinyl used is heavy, the adhesive should hold a LONG time as it is the same as used on car wraps and the vinyl is an excellent match to the vinyl in the shifter EL panel, so the finished look, while not the same as factory, does look OEM original! 

 

In the space of a bit over an hour I was finished and VERY happy with the results.  I am attaching some pics as they say it far better than words (click to enlarge).  The two pics to the right are showing the EL backlighting.

 

We did discover in my DIY installation that the top edge of the window switch overlay needs to be a fraction of inch taller (very minor).   KDirk and I discussed this.  There is NO wiggle room between the switch and the console bezel that might allow me to slide the switch up slightly.  As to the reason I ran into this and KDirk had not, seems to lay with my decision to spritz the overlay adhesive side with a fine mist of water before applying to allow some ability to align it after initial contact. This allowed me to critically align the overlay without ANY stretching.  In talking with KDirk, he indicated that he may have slightly stretched the 3 installations that he has done as he applied them dry to the EL panel and the adhesive is extremely strong.  

 

As I was able to align the overlay very precisely before the adhesive bonded, I achieved a near perfect halo around the switch openings.  As the pics show, that led to the lower portion of the window switch cutout being just a fraction too high to continue the halo continuously around the switch, again likely due to my not stretching the overlay during installation.  

 

The mirror overlay installation presented NO issues period!

 

The very minor nature of the issues I encountered during installation are VERY easily corrected in future production runs of the overlays. 

 

What KDirk has created is extremely well executed and something that I feel most anyone with a small amount of patience can install with excellent results.  As I stated, I am VERY happy with the results.  

 

FYI, KDirk has yet to make a decision as to how to proceed.  Pricing is still undetermined, but the range he is considering is certainly reasonable, especially for the high level of quality and attention to detail as well as the huge visual improvement that this mod provides. He is looking to gauge interest from the community regarding these overlay replacements before making any decisions as to offering either complete rebuilt switches with the overlays already installed or the overlays alone as a DIY kit. 

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Edited by drtidmore (see edit history)
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I wanted to thank David for his feedback and writeup on this. I am a bit perplexed there has been no real interest (enough to post on anyway) in this thread in the week or so since it was posted. When I decided to repro the decals for the 88/89 window and mirror switches it was primarily for my own satisfaction in cleaning up the appearance of my two 88's. However, I thought given the number of complaints about the poor quality appearance the OEM decals after 20+ years that there would be a few other owners wanting to do this. My investment thus far in making these has been about $200, including the cost of an earlier version decal I wasn't entirely happy with. I've sold one set, and traded two others beside the set I have used in my own car.

So far, only Daves89 and drtidmore have these installed in their cars. I think both are generally satisfied with the results, certainly it is an improvement on a beat up filthy peeling decal. If anyone is interested, feel free to PM me here. I am still not sure if offering just the decals is the way forward with this, as not everyone has the steady hand and patience to place these. The adhesive used is a pemanent pressure sensitive type so the decals are a one shot deal, if the installation is botched they are throw aways. With that in mind, it was my intent to offer refurbed switches on an exchange basis so people could simply install new switches and return their old ones to me as cores. I still lean towards that as the ideal arrangement but might consider selling just decals on a case by case basis as a DIY project. I am also still working on repro door strap end covers for 88/89 models, though that project has been more challenging than I expected in terms of a quality finished product of acceptable durability.

My motivation to finish those is somewhat tempered by the lukewarm response these decals have had. I don't mind putting in time, effort and expense to do somethibg worthwhile if I think there is a demand or it. Conversely, if I'm only doing this stuff for my own needs then it probably isn't cost effective and thus not so easy to justify.

I would be interested in the thoughts of anyone else here who may be interested in these decals in terms of pricing, whether I should sell just the decals or finished switches, or other suggestions that may be pertinent.

KDirk

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I think a lot of people would be interested in your decals. They look great.

 

Post an advertisement in the Buy/Sell forum so everyone will know you have them for sale and see how it goes. Everyone needs the decals so demand isn't going to be a problem. It's just a matter of you being able to price them so the average Reatta owner can justify spending the money on his daily driver. If the price is right I think they will sell like hotcakes. Otherwise putting them on a rebuilt switch may be the best way to go.

 

No matter if they sell or not I appreciate your efforts to make another aftermarket part available to Reatta owners.

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Kevin,

 

i agree with Ronnie that your products (with pics/prices) should be on the buy/sell thread - here and the ROJ Forum.

 

my additional thought: since this is mainly a cosmetic issue, many owners might want to wait until the fall/winter - when folks put them up in the "stable" for a few months to go with this.

 

also good that you would "install" the part for those of us with shaky hands. :)

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 Almost 9 years ago I bought my first Reatta and I never had a illuminated console. The reason was is that my shifter didn't light up so I quickly devised an LED upgrade. With the additional illumination from the LED shifter upgrade I really didn't mind not having illumination from the switches. What I didn't like was how ratty my switches looked. So when Kevin sent me a prototype [for the guy that owned the Reatta we just stripped] I was impressed. And then when I met up with Kevin at the BCA reunion in Springfield I was even more impressed and had to have them. I now  have two sets [one for each '89] and couldn't be happier. Not only is it a great upgrade appearance wise, I now have illuminated switches as well. 

 I would heartily endorse Kevin's project and with an exchange program I don't see how you can lose.

 I also wish there was a way that more of us could get togetheras it sure motivated me to address some things that I had been putting off.

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I would expect nothing less from KDirk,  he is incredibly technical and precise from what I have always gathered.  Really great job you two.  If I hadn't already replaced both of mine with the later vinyl replacements GM made, I would be eagerly wishing a set myself. 

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I'm possibly interested depending on price.

I will keep an eye on this thread

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mine is failing

 

your switch, or your eyes?  lol!

I finally broke down and  bought a cheap pair of readers from walgreens.  I fought it for as long as I could.  theres just nothing good about getting older, except for wisdom I guess

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VERY strange coincidence.

I am guessing it has been several weeks since I have looked at the forum and many weeks since I have posted so just now I came in for lunch after spending about 2 hours, removing window switches from my parts cars, checking to make sure they light up, cleaning them, reassembling them and I am now going to go back out and test four of them. Before going back out I decided I would see what has been posted and found this post.

I too would be interested depending on price. I have four switches that are just OK but would look better with new tops.

Edited by Jim (see edit history)

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Ok. I have been (mostly) away from the forum due to various business and personal matters but I do have decals available. I owe Jim Finn several but will still have some left. I have also been requested to see if minor improvements can be made to the decals regarding opacity and registration if another batch is made. There may be enough interest now to justify a second run early next year if sell theough the first run.

I don't know yet if any further improvement in opacity can be achieved but will take that up with the shop making the decals. If not, I will probably do a second run of the same design when the current supply is low. Give me a couple of days to catch up with those who have expressed interest by PM here and I can probably get things going next week sometime.

KDirk

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Please let me know about a set of decals also. Great to see you doing this.

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Will be putting details in the for sale later forum tonight. Will add pictures as well. Still need to PM a couple of people from this thread ut have been buried with too much to do lately.

KDirk

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I'm in for a set, kdirk. and I think price is fair, Considering these are not available oem or aftermarket.

and I'm in no hurry, take care of life first. when you get around to us, you get around to us

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Got mine the other day. 

I gotta say, they literally look brand new!

very nice job kdirk!

a major improvement over the old filthy ones.

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