Headlight refurb. Overdoing it?

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Headlight refurb. Overdoing it?

Post by Chris_D » Sat Oct 17, 2020 3:50 pm

My headlights were in dire need of a refurb and after seeing what miracles a DA could do to the flat paint on my bootlid I was inspired to have a crack at them at last.

After magically being able to not knacker my bumper retainer brackets I unmounted the bumper, then lights and had a good nosey around for any previous damage. Thankfully, nothing spurious found apart from the remnants and overspray from it's front-end respray it had before I bought it.
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So, 3M headlight kit ready to go and started out by giving them a good clean. They were in a truly shocking state!
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After 2 passes with the 500 and 800 grit discs I did my own additional stages with 1000, then 2000grit paper,
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then a final stage with the 3M 3000grit disc. Not looking too shabby at all at this point! A welcome sight.
The 3M kit is well-regarded and contains more components than you actually need and the fact that it comes with a drill attachment for 70mm pads, plus an orange buffing pad means it can be used again and again if required.
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While the headlights were off I thought I would take the opportunity to remove the lenses for a bit of spit and polish. What a chew getting these things out, but ultimately worth it!
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Before, after.
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Read and watched some very favourable reviews of Spraymax 2K clearcoat with its' own separate hardener component, so decided to order a ikkle can at Eu25.00 :o .
This is the absolute best way to protect your newly-refurbed headlights imo, especially if you decide to unmount them as I did.
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After a final polish with the orange buffer disc and Sonax headlight polish I applied 3 coats of the 2K clearcoat. There's a leeetle bit of orange peel but nothing too drastic. I'm loathed to let rip with the 1000/2000 grit on them as I'm not 100% sure how this particular clearcoat will react.
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What would you do? Leave as-is or buff and polish again?
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Headlight refurb. Overdoing it?

Post by Fattylambchop » Sat Oct 17, 2020 5:46 pm

Look fantastic chap

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Headlight refurb. Overdoing it?

Post by Big Andra » Sat Oct 17, 2020 6:08 pm

I'd say you've done a cracking job. As for leaving them as-is, that's entirely up to you.
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Headlight refurb. Overdoing it?

Post by srhutch » Sat Oct 17, 2020 6:22 pm

Look good. Leave alone. :thumbsup:
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Headlight refurb. Overdoing it?

Post by Jl-c » Sat Oct 17, 2020 10:16 pm

Excellent job, quit whilst you're winning :thumbsup:
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Headlight refurb. Overdoing it?

Post by Chris_D » Sun Oct 18, 2020 10:22 am

Good advice to leave alone, after leaving overnight the orangepeel has almost all but disappeared now.
Laquer must have contracted a bit while curing/drying.
Time to re-mount.
:thumbsup:
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Headlight refurb. Overdoing it?

Post by beanie » Sun Oct 18, 2020 12:40 pm

Great job, that will have taken years off the car :thumbsup:
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Headlight refurb. Overdoing it?

Post by Richfarr » Sun Oct 18, 2020 7:03 pm

Looks great, good job
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Headlight refurb. Overdoing it?

Post by Chris_D » Sun Oct 18, 2020 7:34 pm

beanie wrote: Sun Oct 18, 2020 12:40 pm Great job, that will have taken years off the car :thumbsup:
Wish I could say the same about me after the mallarchy of getting the bumper back on those fekin brackets. What a pallava! It's put a year on me at least :x :roll:
Worth it in the end I suppose.
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Headlight refurb. Overdoing it?

Post by yipikayee » Sun Oct 18, 2020 8:53 pm

Amazing work :thumbsup:
I have turtlewax headlight restoration waiting, will do the same one day... :D
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Headlight refurb. Overdoing it?

Post by firebobby » Sun Oct 18, 2020 9:55 pm

Looks good Chris, has it made much difference to night driving
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Headlight refurb. Overdoing it?

Post by Chris_D » Sun Oct 18, 2020 10:07 pm

yipikayee wrote: Sun Oct 18, 2020 8:53 pm Amazing work :thumbsup:
I have turtlewax headlight restoration waiting, will do the same one day... :D
ta fella. don't forget to seal/protect with laquer. none of that sealant wax/spray sh!te that just washes off.
firebobby wrote: Sun Oct 18, 2020 9:55 pm Looks good Chris, has it made much difference to night driving
it's like night and day fred. like day, at night. like daylight, at night. lol
Richfarr wrote: Sun Oct 18, 2020 7:03 pm Looks great, good job
thx fella
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Headlight refurb. Overdoing it?

Post by Chris_D » Sun Oct 25, 2020 12:03 am

Youtuber Ratchets and Wrenches just released a 3 year update video on his 4 methods of headlamp refurb.
I was convinced to utilise his tip on using a 2K clear coat as a final stage sealer and thnakfully it looks like I should have at least 3 years of decent night-driving.
The Spraymax 2K clearcoat with it's hardener component has defintely contributed to the longevity of this refurb method. It's a bit pricey but ultimately, worth it.

Have a butchers'
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Headlight refurb. Overdoing it?

Post by Motionblurrr » Sun Oct 25, 2020 8:35 pm

Just an FYI about headlight restoring (I’m a huge lighting nerd so bare with me): Adding a clear coat is a bit detrimental to the headlight performance because the difference in opacity, the surface and weird patterns (waviness, orange peel from the clear coat) reduces the intensity and affects the beam pattern under the cutoff. The cutoff also becomes less razor sharp. It’s another layer the light has to go through and when it comes to physics; there’s no free lunch.

Obviously, it’s much better than a very hazed, damaged headlight but I’d just like to point that out.

The reason those headlight restoration kits they sell in retail stores use those very “light” coatings (in the form of spray or a wipe) that only last about a year, isn’t because they want to get your money—the beam becomes affected by a thicker, application of a clear coat—especially from a rattle can because clear coats aren’t as optically clear as the headlight lenses themselves—nor the year lasting “UV sealant” from retail kits.

I’ve done experiment where one side had a perfectly applied clear coat and the other side was restored by a Meguiar’s kit with the finishing “UV sealant” at the end, evenly applied. The Meguiar’s side headlight beam was a bit brighter and more sharply defined, while the clear coat side was a bit more dim and the beam pattern wasn’t as “sharp”.

Even if it looks to the human eye that it’s perfectly clear—it’s not and it won’t perform as well as a fresh new factory headlight, nor a restored headlight with a UV sealant from a retail kit.

I get it though—it looks a hell of a lot better than having faded headlights. :)

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Headlight refurb. Overdoing it?

Post by Chris_D » Mon Oct 26, 2020 10:00 am

I get what you say about laquering and was a bit concerned about refraction from the very slight orangepeel dissipating the beams but after electing to not sand down flat and then testing once the headlights were re-mounted I’m more than happy with the performance. Long throw, bright, sharp beam pattern, no weird dissipation.
Maybe this would be different between halogens and HID’s but I can certainly attest that my 5800k HID’s now work as they should.
The main benefit to spraying a few coats of laquer is longevity. As can be seen in the video the laquered headlights still look minty fresh 3 years on. Probably good for another 3 years too without needing a refurb perhaps. And when they do need a refurb you will be sanding and polishing back the laquer before you get to the plastic.
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