Re: Polish for plastic lights



I do this all of the time when I paint cars. I just use a very mild rubbing compound (swirl mark remover), which is available in any auto parts store. You can apply it with a buffer, or by hand. If you do it by hand it will probably take 10-15 minutes per headlight.
You'll have to do this again from time to time as the lens will continue to scratch from driving, but it's such a simple thing to improve the look of the lens that it's worth the effort.
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Mike Marlow wrote:

Mike - When you're done polishing them out, clear coat them with regular clear coat. They will not oxidize for about the same time as when they were new to when they started clouding the first time (i.e., as long as the clear coat holds up.
Bill Putney (To reply by e-mail, replace the last letter of the alphabet in my address with the letter 'x')
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I never gave a thought to throwing a coat of clear over them Bill. I am going to try that on the next one I do. A good coat of clear should last a very long time.
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Mike Marlow wrote:

I haven't done it - getting ready to, but after polishing it with whatever, I'm sure you need to chemically remove the polish residue with an appropriate solvent to make sure the clear coat sticks and doesn't bead up. Maybe rubbing alcohol? (Test in inconspicuous spot before doing that.)
Bill Putney (To reply by e-mail, replace the last letter of the alphabet in my address with the letter 'x')
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If you use automotive rubbing compounds you won't need any solvents to clean it off afterwards. It wouldn't hurt to wipe them down with wax and grease remover, but it's not necessary. The stuff I use is $50 per gallon, so it's no something that everyone is going to run out and buy. Rubbing alcohol has oils in it so I wouldn't use that at all. However - any hardware store will carry denatured alcohol for under $10 for a gallon of the stuff, and that would work very well. Useful for lots of stuff around the house as well.
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Mike Marlow wrote:

Hmm - good thinking.

As long as you can be sure the denatured alcohol won't harm (dissolve, craze, etc.) the plastic. But I suspect you know or you wouldn't have said it.
It may actually be best to leave it not so highly polished before the clear coat application. The clear coat will fill in the sanding scratches (polish works by doing that as well as removing material to make the scratches ever finer/microscopic/invisible), and perhaps the scratches will give it something more to adhere to. Might be worth some experiments - trial and error, a few failures, but ultimate success. I do know that it's done all the time - I just don't know the nitty gritty (literally) details to optimize everything.
Bill Putney (To reply by e-mail, replace the last letter of the alphabet in my address with the letter 'x')
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Actually, you'd want the clear to be applied to as smooth a surface as possible. Underlying scratches get magnified (or at least to the eye they appear more exaggerated) by clear coat. The clear should adhere just fine to a glass smooth surface. The difference here between what a polish does and what clear does is that the polish fills the fine scratches with an opaque substance that hides them. Over time it washes out and the scratches seem to re-appear. With clear, you'd fill them with a clear substance which would hold up to washes and wear much longer, but would show those scratches. You can see this in re-paints on cars often. If the primer was not sanded with a fine enough paper, or if it was used as a filling primer and subsequently shrinks some, you'll see scratches in the underlying primer, through the clear coat.
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