Help with tail light restoration

FullstackViking

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I was able to track down some export tail lights. I have wanted a pair for over a decade now, but never got around to actually pursuing them. I bought a pair from overseas, but unsurprisingly they weren't quite as "great" as the classified promised.

The drivers side light is mostly clean with a foggy reverse light, and the passenger side is a lot more foggy throughout the lens. The inside reflectors are caked in grime too. The right side seems to almost be an entirely different shade of ABS - which I wouldn't be surprised as they were from 2 different cars.

I took a plastic polish material to them with a drill and buffing pad, but it made no noticeable effect. My fear is that the lenses have just deteriorated past the point of return.

Is there any hope for this set, or do I just have to take this one on the chin? My next plan of attack was going to try to polish a part of the inside of the lenses.tempImagewM7SFQ.pngtempImageSbiX9x.pngtempImageAx7E9s.png
 

ttocs

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if you just tried buffing them by hand, try running them down a buffing wheel if a buddy has one. You only need to do it for a second but it should make them look good as new. Worst case scenario do some wet sanding and then buff them and your fine as long as all the defects are on the outside. If its inside, that will be harder.
 
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FullstackViking

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if you just tried buffing them by hand, try running them down a buffing wheel if a buddy has one. You only need to do it for a second but it should make them look good as new. Worst case scenario do some wet sanding and then buff them and your fine as long as all the defects are on the outside. If its inside, that will be harder.
I buffed them out with a drill at 2000rpm and a buffing pad. I will try a wet sand too, but I'm not holding my breath. The reflector housing has some small cracks in it in the rear so they definitely weren't sealed well when sitting. I pulled a bulb and ran my finger along the reflector and it came out full of gunk too, which lead me to this theory.

My guts telling me these things are dirty from the inside-out, unfortunately.
 
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ttocs

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if the inside is dirty I would probably start there by just letting them soak and rinse them out a few times
 

96blak54

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2000grit wet sand with ammonia glass cleaner, then use a lens polish made for headlights. Takes alot of elbow grease
 
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FullstackViking

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I got to cleaning them this weekend. The inside of the lenses of the passenger side were filthy. Had a few rags come out like this, just from wiping down the backside of the lenses through the lightbulb holes. The lenses definitely cleaned up, but are still foggy. I'm going to attempt a wetsand and buff next. The drivers side reverse light is still foggy as well.

Unfortunately the "chrome" reflective paint in the passenger side housing also started rubbing off. Even without any solvents being used, I could rub my finger enough and have it wear down to the black plastic. So the bottom line is that these units are pretty junk in general, which is disappointing. If I can manage to buff them clear I may attempt opening the housing with some heat and refinishing the reflective surfaces. But if I can't get the lenses looking good I'm not going to bother.

Progress.


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