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towerymt
02-07-2007, 01:23 AM
Looking for tried and tested inexpensive methods to revitalize steel headlight reflectors in my e-code headlights. Google led me to several types of sources:
-message boards with various suggestions of gluing aluminum foil to the reflector
-pdf writeups of various coating methods ($$$)
-companies that do nickel plating and silver coating (found one that quoted prices based on the size, over $100 EACH to resilver a steel reflector)

Luckily I have a nice collection of e-code parts, so I have some very nice reflectors. But I also have a very nasty looking one currently installed, so I'm going to take a shot at coating it with SOMETHING to see if it will hold up to the heat while also reflecting more light than the rust reflects.

chrome-look paint?

high temp gloss white paint? (someone on a message board pointed out that white would reflect better than silver if using paint).

another spray product that gives a bright, reflective finish?

Poik
02-07-2007, 01:40 AM
Why not chrome plating?

adrianpike
02-07-2007, 01:42 AM
Dupli-color chrome worked for my turn signal buckets. Not sure how it'd work in a hotter environment, though.

Poik
02-07-2007, 02:01 AM
Also powdercoating is another option, but you won't get a mirror finish like chrome plating, but it is close. Here are a couple pieces I have powdercoated in "like chrome" powder:

www.eric-o.com/temp/DSC00003.JPG
www.eric-o.com/temp/DSC00009.JPG
www.eric-o.com/temp/IMAGE_00019.jpg (water pump and pass side accessory bracket)

If you get them sandblasted and send them to me I can do that for you, PM me if you are interested.

dalek
02-07-2007, 10:15 AM
A friend of mine told me once the process is similar to powercoating but it needs some silver compound and a vacuum chamber to apply.

Marek
02-07-2007, 11:56 AM
I know in canada we have very decent chrome paint, i used to repaint my bikes like that (just the frame) and of course i would sand it down, prime it, and chrome paint it like 3 times and i'd finish up with a coat or two of clear and it would look sweet, then when they get scratched up or whatever you can buff out with a dremel or a drill with the proper bit. Or sand it p2000 (super thin paper you sand wet) and then just put a single layer of clear...

MrBill
02-07-2007, 11:59 AM
paint it black?

blarf
02-07-2007, 12:18 PM
another spray product that gives a bright, reflective finish?

Short of new reflectors? Nothing. Think about it for a sec. If it were just silver paint applied indiscriminantly, the coating would be pretty cheap, and they could just slather it on. They don't, because it's a precision application which is expensive.

derosa
02-07-2007, 12:52 PM
How about electrolysis? Can be done fairly cheaply and easily in the garage, you need: several gallons of distilled water=1.00 a gallon
a car battery that you can recharge= free from the car, just don't fully drain it.
a plastic bucket=3.00 new for one that holds several gallons
baking soda for a medium for the electric to travle through= 1.00
Several wires and alligator clips which you should have lying around.
Finally a pure metal bar of the material of your choice= 1.00 pound for aluminum to 450.00 an ounce for gold, pick you material.

Directions for the full process are available online and it's easy to do. For a fun experiment, once you have everything ready but haven't put in the baking soda turn on the electric and stick your hand in keeping away from the electric connections.

Forg
02-07-2007, 08:37 PM
I'm pretty sure I've seen chrome-look engine-block paint.
Can you polish that stuff down to a smooth enough finish?

HRPufNStuf
02-07-2007, 09:22 PM
I went through the same machinations with the cibies on my old 82 Jaguar XJS several years ago. I tried aluminum paint, researched chroming, resilvering etc......
Didn't find anything short of buying a new assembly after doing the cost comparison.

Reflectivity of chrome is only 60% of silver and would be a bandaid at best(+$$).

I have an older 780 Cibie reflector that I might try experimenting on though so, so I'll be watching this thread........



Looking for tried and tested inexpensive methods to revitalize steel headlight reflectors in my e-code headlights. Google led me to several types of sources:
-message boards with various suggestions of gluing aluminum foil to the reflector
-pdf writeups of various coating methods ($$$)
-companies that do nickel plating and silver coating (found one that quoted prices based on the size, over $100 EACH to resilver a steel reflector)

Luckily I have a nice collection of e-code parts, so I have some very nice reflectors. But I also have a very nasty looking one currently installed, so I'm going to take a shot at coating it with SOMETHING to see if it will hold up to the heat while also reflecting more light than the rust reflects.

chrome-look paint?

high temp gloss white paint? (someone on a message board pointed out that white would reflect better than silver if using paint).

another spray product that gives a bright, reflective finish?

towerymt
02-08-2007, 12:19 AM
Short of new reflectors? Nothing. Think about it for a sec. If it were just silver paint applied indiscriminantly, the coating would be pretty cheap, and they could just slather it on. They don't, because it's a precision application which is expensive.
you read my post, right? I know it's expensive. And I have like-new reflectors. The idea is to find something that's at least passable as a reflective coating that holds up to heat and DOESN'T cost hundreds of dollars.

I'll probably try the chrome spray paint first. I also have a turn signal assembly with no coating, so if it won't handle the heat of a 55W headlight bulb, maybe it will work with 5w/21w bulbs.

I took some metal polish to the edge of one of my other dull reflectors, and it just takes the silver coating right off. I know that they're not supposed to be polished, but I didn't think the coating would come off so easily.

Electrolosis sounds like a good idea, but I think I'd just end up with a thin, dull coating of aluminum over the entire reflector.

towerymt
02-08-2007, 12:21 AM
paint it black?
The rust is bad enough...no need to make them worse.

McLovin
02-08-2007, 12:43 AM
How bout gluing bits and pieces of that photography reflector stuff. The stuff that catches sunlight in even shady conditions.

Poik
02-08-2007, 12:54 AM
Electrolosis sounds like a good idea, but I think I'd just end up with a thin, dull coating of aluminum over the entire reflector.
And then polish it! :)

coldfusion21
02-08-2007, 01:42 AM
And then polish it! :)

this seems like the best idea to me. fairly cheap, and im pretty sure you wont screw up the reflectors any more then they are.

maybe find a metal that contains parts of silver so the cost is less, but will still polish to a nice finish?


or steal a bunch of your grandmas silverware.

towerymt
02-08-2007, 02:50 AM
And then polish it! :)
already have enough wheels, IC pipes, intake manifolds, valve covers, and wheels to polish.

or steal a bunch of your grandmas silverware.
she does have lots of it....hmm

blarf
02-08-2007, 03:52 AM
you read my post, right? I know it's expensive. And I have like-new reflectors. The idea is to find something that's at least passable as a reflective coating that holds up to heat and DOESN'T cost hundreds of dollars.

So did you miss my point? Seriously. If it were cheap and easy reflectors would have thicker coats of paint. Hell, if it were so simple as to apply some spray paint to the reflectors why would you see such a noticible difference between proper European made e-codes and the Taiwanese knockoffs? Certainly the Taiwanese have gotten the lenses down okay and the simple **** like the mounting brackets and such too.

towerymt
02-08-2007, 02:11 PM
I have the luxury of testing methods. I'm not expecting near 100% or even 80% of new OEM parts. if it doesn't work I'll throw on another headlight...I have 2 complete spares for the drivers side which happens to be the one with the rusty reflector right now.

miguels244
02-08-2007, 02:52 PM
electroplating systems...
here is the first Google "electroplate yourself"
http://www.caswellplating.com/kits/?gclid=CLegxtfFn4oCFQ6kWAoddmxjmw
Polish to a high gloss later
Also...
http://www.cool-amp.com/cool-amp.htm

brucepick
02-08-2007, 02:58 PM
I'll throw in my two cents,
speaking as someone who worked in photography and the related optics for many years.

The e-codes are well-designed optical reflectors. The nearly perfectly smooth parabolic reflector surface is designed to receive the light from the bulb and project it outwards, managing the paths the light takes going forward. You won't come close to matching what the originals achieve without the use of some kind of coating lab.

You can achieve a coating that appears bright to the eye. But if it's not equally smooth as the original, every dimple or wrinkle will cause that light to scatter. Your results will probably be better than what the rusty reflectors are giving you now. But nothing like what a clean smooth reflector will do. You'll have a wider beam pattern, softer horizontal cutoff (= glare for other drivers), and generally lower illumination levels onto the roadway due to the amount of light being spread over a wider area.

I don't have any negative concerns about putting new coatings on the inner reflectors for parking lights or tail lights. True, they also have a polished parabolic reflector. But the prismed lenses on these lights are designed to spread the light widely, so the additional scattering from painting on a new coating yourself doesn't sacrifice anything significant, IMHO. Thus my own amber-painted parking light reflectors.

derosa
02-08-2007, 05:30 PM
^this post may have the best point. If you need silver go to any coin store and buy a 2006 or 2007 silver dollar, cost will be between 8-12, it's one ouce so enough to do quite a few thin layers and it's .999 pure silver which is a far higher content then granny's spoon and less likely to get you hurt. The ebay versions are overpriced for nothing. Surf the web for 10 minutes to get really great directions and all the things I posted are all that is needed. If only part has to be done then figure out how to only submerge just that area and that's all that will be coated.

brucepick
02-08-2007, 07:19 PM
... If you need silver go to any coin store and buy a 2006 or 2007 silver dollar,... it's .999 pure silver ... Surf the web for 10 minutes to get really great directions... ...

OK, this has some potential. However - you won't restore it to original.
The reflector surface has to be perfectly smooth and true to the original optical curve before plating.
And if it's rusted, you won't achieve that, as you remove additional metal when you sand off the rust.
Then it would need to be polished shiny smooth before plating.
After plating, don't touch it at all. Gotta be perfect before you plate, as the plating is too thin to do anything with it except bounce light off it.

Just cleaning up the rust, and polishing as well as possible - then put on some silver plating.
Could be a good route. Not perfect but maybe serviceable.

I believe lots of optical stuff now uses aluminum coatings instead of pricey silver (binocular prisms, telescope mirrors, camera internals, etc). If anyone knows the reflectivity of aluminum it might be worth using.

HRPufNStuf
02-08-2007, 07:55 PM
Aluminum seems like a pretty good compromise reflectivity wise, but I wonder how it would hold up.

http://www.kruschwitz.com/HR's.htm



If anyone knows the reflectivity of aluminum it might be worth using.

lyam
02-08-2007, 09:50 PM
I got e-codes (used) from a junkyard in Hungary after months of negotiation and hassle. I'd actually given up, and bought the scantec/DJ auto aftermarket stuff from FCP Groton, and the Cibies arrived from Hungary the next day. Took them (the Cibies) apart to clean and inspect, and the reflector was "rusty" where the "Graves Shield" mounts to the headlamp, and in the surrounding area. But, the seller had worked hard to get them to me, so I paid him the reasonable price.

(total aside - the plastic "bolts" that attach the adjusting screws to the headlamp were all busted - anyone know where I can source these? Or how to manufacture them at home with, say, duct tape?)

I asked on brickboard for opinions - I can't find the thread right now, but people recommended all the options you are considering. The only "on the cheap" rec that I got that is different from you was to go to a hobby store, and there is some sort of reflective, adhesive backed film, that is available that might work. I think it was called polychrome?

I hunted down some (in my opinion) reasonable prices for restoration, the best (pricing, and able to answer the question responses) follow :

My message:
Hi-
I was wondering if you could give me a rough quote for re-chroming, or re-silvering (although I guess technically it is re-aluminum-ing) headlight reflectors for a Volvo 240, European spec headlights. The reflectors are approximately 256mm wide, 160mm tall and the “mirror” is approximately 120mm deep. Currently they are about 80~90% good, but have surface rust on about 10% of the reflector.
Thanks!


Chuck at Vickerman's [chuck@vickermanschrome.com]
Hi!
We have done headlight reflectors for some antique
cars in nickel (it's somewhat more reflective than
chrome) and had good results. Chrome is an option
also, and it's the same cost either way.
We charge $95 for the pair and there is a month or so
backlog.
Thanks, Chuck

William Atwood [uvira@terragon.com]
We currently put our modern HighTech enhanced aluminum coating only on reflectors that we receive that have been plated with a POLISHED nickel plating by a regular electroplater first. We then charge $ 65 / pair which includes return UPS shipping if your check accompanies the reflectors. We take 2 - 3 days to process.

Sincerely,
Bill Atwood

So, it seems like for $160, the headlamps can be "restored". I'm pretty sure the optics will be somewhat messed up, but probably less than by other methods.

I also got a response from a chroming place that said they can't guarantee their work, since the parabolic shape is really deep, and the way that the electroplating process works, the electricity does not flow "evenly" around the shape, and the deposit of the metal is, therefore, uneven, and especially thin toward the back of the reflector. I don't remember much about electricity (other than you really should disconnect your battery before you mess around with the electrical system, because it can hurt BAD (BTDT), but this seems credible.

So, this implies a distortion of the original shape, and worse optics. But I don't know how bad. Ask me in 2 months, and I'll be able to give a subjective opinion on the relative merits of professionally re-silvered (really, re-nickled and re-aluminumed) of OEMs vs new aftermarket ecodes.

For me, I don't really need a good deposit in the back of the reflector, it's still pretty shiny there, so I figure its worth it. But if yours are "rusty" toward the back of the reflector (the deep part of the mirror close to the bulb), I guess that they won't come out so good - they will need a long time in the electrobath, which means serious buildup up front to get reasonable coverage in the back.

Whichever performs worse for me (aftermarket vs repaired e-codes) will be showing up ion ebay in 3mos.

Re: literally re silvering with silver: Silver is highly reactive and very prone to tarnish. You would have to clear coat it, or else it would start yellowing immediately, and be black withing months. So, you would have to find a very good clearcoat that is heat resistant.

Hope this helps.

MikeSr.
02-09-2007, 12:46 AM
I had the same problem- I have some e-code buckets that need reflectors-no way to do it that is cheaper than buying a new one. They have been in my shed for years.

towerymt
02-09-2007, 02:49 AM
(total aside - the plastic "bolts" that attach the adjusting screws to the headlamp were all busted - anyone know where I can source these? Or how to manufacture them at home with, say, duct tape?)
I had the same problem. I got two sets of old (circa '81-'83, since Europe started getting our '86+ style in '81) e-codes for my '87 240 and several of the plastic anchors were obviously damaged from sun and heat exposure, and of course broken. I could scrape the surface off with my fingernail, that's how fragile they were. The heavy reflector suspended like that seems to be the issue when shipping them. A couple of mine were even previously repaired with epoxy (I think). I tried hot-glue, but that didn't work. Wouldn't stick to the reflector.

The first repair job I did, I used M8x1.25 threaded rod to replace the 2 adjusters. For the one end that would hold the reflector, I threaded the rod into the headlight, then screwed on a nylon lock nut about a half inch down, then a nylon washer, then stick it through the hole in the corner of the reflector, another nylon washer, and another lock nut on the tip of the rod. It holds the reflector tight, but the nylon washers allow the rod to turn for adjustment. On the other end outside of the headlight, I just screwed on two M8 lock nuts and tightened them together to give something to grip. I traded this set away, but the adjusters did work and it DEFINITELY wasn't going to break like the plastic bit did.

At some later date I became aware of the existance of the plastic anchors through a local dealership, and I bought 10 of them for around $1ea (I bought through an independant shop that ordered them for me at their cost, so they may have been more expensive retail). p/n 1307452. Description: anchorage. Prod. number 239656-001. The part number should bring them up, though. I still have 5 left, but they're not for sale. ;-)

Hopefully in the next few weeks I'll get some warm weather and I can at least remove and disassemble my headlight to see if it's rusty or just missing the coating (hard to be sure looking through the lens).

spidee
02-06-2011, 01:27 PM
If you are in the UK/Europe you can try this company:

link:

http://www.ashfordchroming.com/headlamp-reflector-re-silvering-restoration

pasted from website:

Ashford Chroming offer a complete Headlamp reflector resilvering service.
Silver plating is the best way to refurbish headlight reflectors offering a superior finish to that of Chroming reflectors.
We can restore all types of steel headlamp and headlight units by resilvering the reflectors.

The process involves chemically stripping the existing metal/paint or finish from the headlamp reflectors, and then polishing before silver plating and a final polish. Steel reflectors are often rusty and sometimes require a gentle blast before re silvering. They cost more to re-silver because they are nickel plated before being silver plated. This allows the silver plating to adhere properly and creates a better overall shine to the reflector. Some light pitting can be silvered over, or polished out. But if the lights are heavily coroded, pits can still remain visible.

Reflectors that have dents, old gasket material and or heavy coatings will take extra time to prepare, and so it is advised that you send us a photograph for an estimate before commencing with work.

We can offer a complete headlamp, headlight disassembly and reassembly service as well as general repairs and lens cleaning, again at extra charge. So you can take your lights off the car, box them up and send them straight in to us. Our turn around is normally between 3-4 weeks but we offer a priority service for 7-10 days at a 15% surcharge.


Ashford Chroming (Kent UK)
T. +44 01233 660879
e. sales@ashfordchroming.com
www.ashfordchroming.com (http://www.ashfordchroming.com)

tjanson
02-06-2011, 05:07 PM
Anyone know if the FCP / DJ Auto reflectors fit in OEM e-code assemblys?

propav8r
02-06-2011, 05:20 PM
Wow...epic old-thread, first-post bump.

ecow
02-07-2011, 12:35 AM
Re: literally re silvering with silver: Silver is highly reactive and very prone to tarnish. You would have to clear coat it, or else it would start yellowing immediately, and be black withing months. So, you would have to find a very good clearcoat that is heat resistant.

Hope this helps.

I wouldn't feel comfortable clearcoating silver. I had my pickup's headlights resilvered in '80 and just polish them a few times a year. Use a nonabrasive polish and you can get many years use out of each plating.