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"Smoked" my tail lights, they look dull. What to do?

Discussion in 'Detailing' started by 0uTkAsT, Apr 30, 2011.

  1. Apr 30, 2011 at 8:24 PM
    #1
    0uTkAsT

    0uTkAsT [OP] Gunslingin' Gearhead

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    Stuff that makes it easier to run over other stuff.
    Like the title says, I followed the steps for prep and process as outlined here and here. Only difference is I couldn't find VHT locally, so I used Rustoleum's light tint. I used two coats of tint and four coats of clear, wet sanding with 1000 grit between each coat, 20 minutes apart. Once my last coat of clear dried, I finished by wet sanding with 1500 grit paper and then used rubbing compound, plast-x, polish, and wax. After all that, they're still really dull and have almost no gloss to them whatsoever. What should I do? They look like crap.

    P.S. I think the Rustoleum was a bad idea, it sprayed goofy and I have lots of noticeable flaws in the finished product (besides the dullness).
     
  2. Apr 30, 2011 at 8:48 PM
    #2
    JeanClaude

    JeanClaude Well-Known Member

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    Needs a better polishing. They are dull because you still have sanding marks there. Remove those marks and you're good. Call a solid detailer and he can fix you up.
     
  3. Apr 30, 2011 at 8:53 PM
    #3
    0uTkAsT

    0uTkAsT [OP] Gunslingin' Gearhead

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    Stuff that makes it easier to run over other stuff.
    I'd rather do it myself since I got this far. Should I just try an electric buffer and polishing compound?
     
  4. Apr 30, 2011 at 9:05 PM
    #4
    DSMissed

    DSMissed Well-Known Member

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    Go back to the 1500 wet sanding, and then try finishing with 2000 grit.

    I may be completely wrong, but I read somewhere that the vht can be removed with paint thinner, or isopropyl alcohol (ammonia based windex for example) without damaging the plastic. Not sure if this is true, but if you think you need to start over maybe try it out.

    If you end up needing a new set of lights, I can offer up a passenger side for the cost of shipping.
     
  5. Apr 30, 2011 at 9:20 PM
    #5
    jberry813

    jberry813 The Mad Scientist

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    ...too much shit to list.
    ^^^^This

    Wet sand it and start over with VHT.

    I redid my 3rd brake light 3 times before I was happy with the outcome. Simple wetsand with a couple different grits cleaned the old off easily and left a nice prepped surface.

    Why 3 times you ask? I was impatient. I did it in my garage while it was raining outside. Humidity and spray painting don't end up well.
     
  6. May 1, 2011 at 8:03 AM
    #6
    Rocketball

    Rocketball If The World Didn't Suck, We'd All Fall Off

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    I'd also recommend to go back and re-sand. But the very first thing you need to do is clean them really good to remove the wax and/or polish that's on them now. If you don't you will sand the wax into the surface and cause more problems.

    Here's the sanding/polishing steps I used:

    1. Wet sand starting with 400 grit, then 600, then, 800, and so on till you get to 1500. Sand until ALL "orange peel" is gone. Keep the surface very wet. More water is better. It will keep the sandpaper clean. For me, sanding each tail light took about 30 minutes. If you can sand in the sunlight that should allow you to see the "orange peel" pretty easily.

    2. Polish the surface with a non-abrasive polishing compound. I used a Mothers Powerball in my battery drill with Turtlewax Liquid Polishing Compound for this and it worked great. Be generous with the polishing compound. Do small areas at a time and check your progress often. I spent about 15 minutes on each taillight polishing with the Powerball. DO NOT use rubbing compound. Most rubbing compounds have an abrasive in them and you WILL introduce new scratches into the surface.

    3. Clean the surface well and apply whatever wax you want to use.

    They should shine like glass.
     
  7. May 1, 2011 at 1:14 PM
    #7
    JeanClaude

    JeanClaude Well-Known Member

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    If you sand them down lastly with 2500 grit you can get by with a rotary along with plastx. If you are careless or make an honest mistake with the rotary you will create a burn spot in the plastic that can make things much more difficult to fix.

     
  8. May 1, 2011 at 2:19 PM
    #8
    Rocketball

    Rocketball If The World Didn't Suck, We'd All Fall Off

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    That's why I went with the Mothers Powerball and a battery drill. The battery drill has a much slower RPM than an electric buffer, and the Powerball does not have an aggressive surface.
     
  9. May 1, 2011 at 2:29 PM
    #9
    xwillx93

    xwillx93 Well-Known Member

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    its worth it to wait for VHT man, my friends have tried bottle written in japanese they bought at little ricer shops for taillight mods. they all turned to shit. i just re-applied my VHT after about 2 years and all i did was a LIGHT sand and i removed the old coat and re-painted with about 5-6 coats.
     
  10. May 1, 2011 at 5:47 PM
    #10
    0uTkAsT

    0uTkAsT [OP] Gunslingin' Gearhead

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    Stuff that makes it easier to run over other stuff.
    Thanks for the advice everyone, I've bookmarked this so I can follow up with some of the steps above later. I'm going to have to come back to this later because I'm out of time this week and won't have much time to do it for the next couple weekends. They'll just have to look like crap in the mean time. Luckily, they look good from 10+ feet and the whole truck is filthy so nobody knows they're not just dusty. :D
     
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