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What's the best method to polish the parking lights on 95-99?


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My new to me, 1998 Riv looks great, but the parking lights don't, I've looked around for replacements but NOS are hardly available and are going to do the same thing, so what's the best way to polish them? I have some from a '95 I parted out to practice on, Just wondering if anyone has found the best way to accomplish this, thanks, Roberta

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Hi Roberta,

  3M makes a kit for polishing dull headlight lenses. Basically one starts with a disc that is abrasive enough to remove all the dead plastic and get down to fresh and easily polished plastic. I cant remeber the grits but its something like 800, then 1200, then 2000 and finishing with a cream plastic polish. In the kit is a small polishing wheel/chuck which you can put in a portable drill, etc...the kit works well

  Hope this helps,

Tom Mooney

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Roberta,

 

   After polishing the headlamps on my '95 Monte, MANY times, within a short period of time they would turn the same again.  Someone told me to use OFF Deep Woods insect repelit. Apply it liberasly to a rag & just wipe it along the headlamp in one pass 2" at a time then don't touch it for at least 24hrs. Worked well. Try it on one of the '95's you have & see for yourself. This method lasted longer than sanding & polishing which can take hours to come out even close to better.  

     Then my son was browsing E-Bay & bought 2 new ones for $60.00 each.  They were an exact fit & were still on the car when I got rid of it 5 years later & were still in good shape. Amazing for China stuff.  Maybe they make them for a Riv. also.

    IF you can't find something I could ask my son where he found them.

 

Tom T.

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7 hours ago, telriv said:

Deep Woods insect repelit. Apply it liberasly to a rag & just wipe it along the headlamp in one pass 2" at a time then don't touch it for at least 24hrs. Worked well.

Tom, admittedly I’d never found this solution in a million years. I’ll try it.

Thank you for posting. I have an old new set of the parking light lens that need attention. Deep Woods goes along with the setting of my Carriage House.

Thank you

Turbinator

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Tom, 3M makes good products. Probably great products. I use many of their products. 3M’s 3000, 5000, and 8000 grit sanding pads can get you all you can get shine. The plastic lens seem to be problematic for us and our vehicles. Someone would have thought a better non yellowing plastic would be a worthy research project to solve the problem. ( I’ll leave this project for the real chemists).

Turbinator

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If oxidation is the culprit, I'd try applying some clear acrylic spray paint after sanding/polishing.  My guess is that there is some sort of oil in the OFF  that similarly fills the minute surface irregularities seals the surface.

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Polish them just like you would modern day headlights.  The important step is to then keep them from oxidizing or else they'll get bad all over again.   

 

There are lots of videos that test out various products, but here are two of them that rank them:

 

 

One of the cheapest products, the TurtleWax worked the best for him.

 

In this video Sylvania was by far the best product:

 

 

 

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I received some of this as part of a Meguiar's detailing kit last Christmas.  Just used it on some oxidized areas of my boat's gel coat and it brought the color and shine back like new.  I then used it on my father's oxidized headlight lenses.  I would think this stuff would work well on classic Buick lenses also.  ;)

 

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On 6/19/2021 at 4:08 AM, Turbinator said:

Tom, 3M makes good products. Probably great products. I use many of their products. 3M’s 3000, 5000, and 8000 grit sanding pads can get you all you can get shine. The plastic lens seem to be problematic for us and our vehicles. Someone would have thought a better non yellowing plastic would be a worthy research project to solve the problem. ( I’ll leave this project for the real chemists).

Turbinator

Hi Bob,

  Polishing plastic doesnt need to be as fine as the grits which you have noted...as a matter of fact, as you well know via your experience with the cast aluminum wheel covers, the secret to polishing anything to get maximum benefit is in the first step, ie, one must use a grit that is aggressive enough to get through the "dead" surface and down to fresh material, which further polishing builds back up to a high gloss using finer and finer grits. Of course the downside of choosing a grit that is too aggressive in the initial step is that one can "go through" or "burn through" the coating being polished, as in paint. I always spend alot of time experimenting with the proper initial grit when reviving original paint cars...but with plastic one has alot of material thickness to negate the effects of choosing too aggressive grit in the first step so it pays to start very aggresive to cut through the dead material. As a fleet mechanic I polished hundreds of Mack truck headlight lenses to like new appearance and saved big bucks for my employer doing so.

  When I polish lenses I use a variable speed Makita portable drill and the quick change 3M discs you mentioned, starting with 500 grit, then 800, then 3000 and finishing with a cream based plastic polish. Again, the most critical step is the first in that all the dead, oxidized material must be removed. Polishing dead material will not yield good results. Each headlight shouldnt take longer than 15 or 20 minutes including masking off the painted areas surrounding the headlights....and the results should look clear and like new.

Tom

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7 hours ago, 1965rivgs said:

through the "dead" surface and down to fresh material, which further polishing builds back up to a high gloss using finer and finer grits.

Tom, thank you for taking the time to spell out the initial step. What grit to start on the work piece? I’ve been experimenting with wet thin coat ceramic coating that claims to make metal steel buff out to a high gloss chrome like lustre. The experiment is progressing with many different approaches and results to bring out the shine. I’ve learned I can burn through the layer of ceramic in no time by not being cognizant of how the finish is reacting. The metal shining is not pertinent to this topic.

The lens I have will have a before and after pic to show how things turnout.

Thanks again for taking the time to write up a good explanation.

Turbinator

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On 6/18/2021 at 9:14 PM, telriv said:

Roberta,

 

   After polishing the headlamps on my '95 Monte, MANY times, within a short period of time they would turn the same again.  Someone told me to use OFF Deep Woods insect repelit. Apply it liberasly to a rag & just wipe it along the headlamp in one pass 2" at a time then don't touch it for at least 24hrs. Worked well. Try it on one of the '95's you have & see for yourself. This method lasted longer than sanding & polishing which can take hours to come out even close to better.  

     Then my son was browsing E-Bay & bought 2 new ones for $60.00 each.  They were an exact fit & were still on the car when I got rid of it 5 years later & were still in good shape. Amazing for China stuff.  Maybe they make them for a Riv. also.

    IF you can't find something I could ask my son where he found them.

 

Tom T.

Tom, I tried it and it worked!! See how long it lasts!! Thanks, for the info!

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