Author Topic: 79-81 TA tail light restoration  (Read 56512 times)

wez50

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Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #40 on: March 14, 2009, 10:06:58 AM »
I am part way through painting mine.

A word of warning.  The bright silver coating on the inner housings is very easily damaged.  Even plastic polish will remove it.

GO LIGHTLY WHEN CLEANING!!

Updated71

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Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #41 on: June 22, 2009, 06:53:48 AM »
I would think a bright chrome paint would reflect better than white.  Has anyone that has done this resprayed with the chrome or or some other very shiny silver color with good results?  I'd just like to get the brightest possible look back there.
The surgeon general never said nuthin' 'bout smokin' the competition!

brian c

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Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #42 on: June 24, 2009, 12:25:58 PM »
I would think a bright chrome paint would reflect better than white.  Has anyone that has done this resprayed with the chrome or or some other very shiny silver color with good results?  I'd just like to get the brightest possible look back there.

If you look back a page, my post shows the before and after affects with new silver paint inside. I had Honda Outboard Silver left over so I used that. Has a fine metallic flake in it.
1978 Y88 Gold Special Ed (1970 4 bolt main 455 bored 0.060 over)

Updated71

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Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #43 on: June 24, 2009, 12:32:28 PM »
I would think a bright chrome paint would reflect better than white.  Has anyone that has done this resprayed with the chrome or or some other very shiny silver color with good results?  I'd just like to get the brightest possible look back there.

If you look back a page, my post shows the before and after affects with new silver paint inside. I had Honda Outboard Silver left over so I used that. Has a fine metallic flake in it.

Kind of hard to tell which is brighter without having the lights on though. 
The surgeon general never said nuthin' 'bout smokin' the competition!

tinman

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Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #44 on: July 08, 2009, 07:13:21 PM »
I would think a bright chrome paint would reflect better than white.  Has anyone that has done this resprayed with the chrome or or some other very shiny silver color with good results?  I'd just like to get the brightest possible look back there.

If you look back a page, my post shows the before and after affects with new silver paint inside. I had Honda Outboard Silver left over so I used that. Has a fine metallic flake in it.

Kind of hard to tell which is brighter without having the lights on though. 

with lights on and white paint. as stated above.
I am hoping to do this in the next couple of weeks, but I just wondered those of you that have painted the inside of the lights white, did you use a matt or gloss white?

Thanks in advance

i used gloss white on mine.


78 y88 new project

Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #44 on: July 08, 2009, 07:13:21 PM »

CT Bird Fan

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Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #45 on: January 13, 2010, 04:33:30 PM »
Wow, this is a great thread! I will have to do this to my tail lights before I install them! 8)
Gone but not forgotten - 1979 Formula, 1980 Esprit.

Being birdless sucks!

Updated71

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Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #46 on: February 20, 2010, 06:18:32 PM »
I used somthing called Magna Shine head light restorer on my drivers side lens.  It was so scratched up I thought it was unsalvagable.  It did very good considering it was my first time using the stuff.  There is a youtube video about the product.  Only thing the don't mention is you should use a tack cloth prior to putting on the sealer.  There was dust trapped underneath it. 

My passenger side was from a different car and it looked good so I didn't do that.
The surgeon general never said nuthin' 'bout smokin' the competition!

Chrislax21

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Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #47 on: February 14, 2011, 09:53:49 PM »
Just bought my first trans am (79) about a few weeks ago and decided to tackle this project last week.
Been reading in this site since I got the car and I'm amazed at how much info is out there.  Thought I should try and offer some help before I start asking questions about my car.
I went and got the dremel "cloth wheel" attachment for this project and it worked amazing.
I also got the #10 and #17 cleaning and polishing, but I already had the easier to find plastex.  I have to say, I thought the plastex did a much better job at removing the "haze" from my lenses. 
I would highly reccomend getting the cloth wheel dremel attachement, it will save your fingers from getting in those tight corners on the 79+ tail lights.

Aus78Formula

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Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #48 on: February 22, 2011, 06:28:48 AM »
If you find that your 79-81 outer lenses are beyond restoring and having trouble finding a decent set, be patient and you will find them in repro shortly.

LeighP

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Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #49 on: February 22, 2011, 02:37:53 PM »
Yep, I just posted a pic in the Parts Review forum.......
Regards,
Leigh

Sydney, Australia
1968 Pontiac Firebird 428 5 speed coupe

Former Firebirds -
1969 Pontiac Firebird 400
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1977 Pontiac Trans Am
1976 Pontiac Trans Am
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1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 coupe


Grand73Am

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Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #50 on: February 27, 2011, 08:20:33 AM »
That is good news  :) .
Steve F.

winks79

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Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #51 on: March 26, 2011, 07:45:09 PM »
Just wanted to relay some info. this was a very helpful post, thanks Michael. my lenses were not in that bad of shape to start with, but like they always say the devil is in the details. i used Krylon fushion satin paint. the only thing i did different was i did not take the back off the fuel filler door. i thought, hey, i'm painting the outside of the lens cover why not just paint the outside of the door. it turned out great. these things look brand new. Thanks again Michael, very good post, especially for someone who is ticky like me. Here are some pix.












« Last Edit: January 23, 2016, 07:26:17 AM by winks79 »
Chad

winks79

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Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #52 on: March 29, 2011, 07:49:22 PM »
I uploaded the pix above today.
Chad

mrpontiac80

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Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #53 on: March 29, 2011, 11:28:56 PM »
They came out great! I really like the way mine are holding up over the years. Just like I did them yesterday. I too used the Krylon Fusion paint but I went with the gloss.  I like the satin look very well though and Im sure it looks more like factory.

It made a huge differance in the look of the car by your previous and recent pics!
Michael Russell


Grand73Am

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Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #54 on: April 03, 2011, 03:26:06 AM »
Nice job!
Steve F.

Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #54 on: April 03, 2011, 03:26:06 AM »



ayers1981

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Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #55 on: April 22, 2011, 07:31:42 AM »
I uploaded the pix above today.

The tail lights look great! And I must say you have a very nice car there.
Is it fast? It has a bird on the hood don't it!

RikkiB

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Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #56 on: August 12, 2012, 07:52:11 AM »
Pulled mine yesterday and worked on them last night. Will be reassembling them today. Probably a silly question, but for those who have done this, what specific adhesive did you use to reseal the lens? Thanks.

Aus78Formula

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Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #57 on: August 12, 2012, 08:00:51 AM »
I'm not familiar with how 79-81 lights seal, should be similar, here's a pic of some square sponge seal length I used on 74-78 lights.

« Last Edit: May 18, 2014, 06:32:03 PM by Aus78Formula »

formula4004spd

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Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #58 on: August 12, 2012, 09:58:46 AM »
Great thread. Thanks to all who contributed their experiences and knowledge here. I did mine and they came out great.
A man's only as old as the woman he feels.
Groucho Marx

RikkiB

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Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #59 on: August 12, 2012, 01:00:03 PM »
Thanks Aus78Formula. The grooves in mine had a lot of the gray adhesive left in and that stuff is tough to try to get out. Based on your idea, I bought some 3/16" X 3/8" seal and ran around the perimeter as you did. A little tight getting the little clamps back on, but it worked great!

737driver

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Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #60 on: February 07, 2014, 06:25:14 AM »
A good cleaner for the old adhesive is MEK Substitute . It works very well and does not harm the plastic. Laquer Thinner will work also.
Jim
1979 Trans Am- Heritage Brown -W72 (Pontiac 400) -4Speed-WS6
1972 LeMans Convertible
1977 Trans Am
1972 Firebird
1971 Firebird
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paceta80

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Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #61 on: February 08, 2014, 01:56:46 AM »
Mine are in good shape but I hope somebody reproduces these soon for those in need.

McElroy

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Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #62 on: March 17, 2014, 09:53:30 PM »
Wow, they are stunning.. Once I find me a pair of lights I will have to follow you're steps!

TATurbo

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Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #63 on: December 04, 2015, 09:27:39 PM »
Still no repro's! So, here goes....I started my 1981's tail lights.  I'd say they are in fair condition.  The passenger side has significant fine 'spider-web' cracks. But, there's no through cracks, chips, or other damage.
 I'm posting here now because I'm going to try something a little different in an attempt to hide, or at least lessen the appearance of those fine cracks.  After completing all the steps outlined in this thread, I'm going to apply a light coat of spray tint over the outside of each outer lens.

Here's what I'm starting with.....I'm not sure how all this crap got inside, between the inner and outer lenses. But, there was a lot of dirt, chips from the metallic finish inside, and even some glass from an exploded bulb or two. You can see it piled up near my hand on the left side of the pic below:



Here's the worse of the two outer lenses...



And the back sides.....  The one in the background was cleaned once using dish soap, water, a sponge and terry cloth rag. The one in the foreground was gone over a second time with a spray cleaner shop towels and Q-tips.



I decided to go with white on the inner pieces:


In an earlier post someone asked to see a pic of how the fins where masked off.  I'm sure they have moved on by now, but I had a similar thought first time reading this thread. So, here's a pic of the masking. God bless my wife for masking these for me.  I don't think I'd have the patience let alone a dead eye and steady hand required.  Thanks Babe!


 
This is how they sit today. I hope to paint them this weekend then apply the spray tint next week after the paint has fully cured.  I'll post finished photos later.

-Tom
Tom
King of Prussia, PA

1981 Turbo Trans-Am
Build thread - http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=69897.0

Grand73Am

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Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #64 on: December 04, 2015, 10:03:17 PM »
Repros may be available soon. Made in Australia. Looks like they'll include the 2 outer lenses and the gas door and the price around $550, but don't know if that's Australian or American dollars. Here's a link to a thread about them that shows some of the finished pieces:   http://camaro-firebird.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3340&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=105&sid=ec35a4d1a5f4565b9f57502ffd92255d
Steve F.

jonathonar89

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Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #65 on: December 04, 2015, 11:12:38 PM »
Restoring these '79-'81 lenses is brutally hard.  I didn't know about the painted sections until I had my '79 that was stored '84-'05 by a collector.  My previous '79 10th anniversary had it all washed off.

1979..."It will never pass this way again"

TATurbo

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Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #66 on: December 05, 2015, 12:43:44 AM »
Thanks Grand73. I'll keep an eye on that post and DMCPont. It's good to know I may have a fall back plan if these come out bad AND/OR for future improvements to the car down the road.
I didn't know there was paint on these things either.  Much of mine is gone, but if you're looking for it you could see it. I would've never known to look had it not been for this thread. So, thanks again to the author and contributing posts.
I'll post pics of the finished refurbishment here and more detailed pics of the before and after, probably in my 'Projects' thread here at TAC.
Tom
King of Prussia, PA

1981 Turbo Trans-Am
Build thread - http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=69897.0

Aus78Formula

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Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #67 on: December 05, 2015, 04:10:57 AM »
I played with several sets of fresh white and fresh silver inners. The white is definitely 'lighter' and perhaps brighter, the silver was much more intense and focused as that is the point of the design and how it works. But either way is obv an improvement.

TATurbo

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Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #68 on: January 20, 2016, 10:29:38 PM »
Circling back after finishing this job. 
Holy crap were these a project! About 80% of my garage time over the past 8 weeks. Some of that was self inflicted.  Hopefully someone might learn from my mistakes.
You can see my starting point a couple posts up. I intended to get mine looking acceptable and save some $$$ at this stage.  Probably replacing with Repro's if/when they become available.
So, here's what happened to me...

You can see my starting point a couple posts up.
We cleaned them up and the wife masked them off to match the original stock paint lines:




I painted the lense fins with a semi-gloss spray paint.  So far, so good.
I also painted the inside/back in white:


At this point the black around the edges looked good, and the lenses were sort of shiny, but the spider cracks were very noticeable and the leading edge of the fins was not improved at all.  They looked a little better, but I wanted to try something to cover the spider cracks some.
We cleaned everything with wax and grease remover.  Then, I used a spray tint put a light coat of tint over the lenses and outer edges of the fins.  I had used this spray tint successfully on other projects. But, these lenses didn't take it...the spray tint seemed to go on OK, but shortly there-after started fish-eying and running.  Terrible.



So, back to the drawing board.  After several attempts to remove the tint with cleaning products, mineral spirits etc, I ended up using my Dremel 'sanding/polishing' kit to sand the spray tint off!
After sanding/buffing with compound and plastic polish I was almost back where I started:



BUT...All that Dremel work left the lens face pitted and uneven...


At this point they were pretty much ruined.  Since I didn't have anything else to work on, and I couldn't make them any worse I decided to mask them off and start over.  This time we masked only the flat face of the lenses. Leaving the whole fin (including the leading edge open to be painted black:


After paint, I took the advice of an auto body person I know and tried cleaning the lenses with alcohol...like Rubbing alcohol.  With the lenses in this bad of shape, this was NOT a good Idea... The alcohol appears to have seeped into tiny cracks in the surface and caused some sort of crystallization! Spots like this came up in various places on the one lens we tried it on.  Luckily the wife noticed something wasn't right almost immediately and watered the alcohol off right way.  But we were left with several spots like this:



I looked into something to smooth out the lens surface and bring the shine back.  I ended up finding a clear acrylic product to try on the lenses.  We taped up the 'open' flat end of each outer lens, then mixed this two part acrylic epoxy. Laid the lenses flat on their back, and as level as possible, then poured a thin layer into each section of the lights, covering the flat lens surface between each fin.  The stuff worked! It created a clear, shiny level face between each set of fins.  It seems to have completely hidden some cracks, and significantly reduced others. Here's a before and after on the worse of the two lenses:



Here's the whole assembly including the door which is no longer droopy and loose thanks to a hinge rebuild.



A couple side notes: The product I used is not UV resistant and probably shouldn't be used on a daily driver or even a car that will be outside most of the time.  In my case it's temporary and the car will be driven occasionally only, and in a garage when not in use. I have no idea how this will hold up.  But..right now, they look way better then when I started.
Also - The big spider cracks are still there. I noticed that the horizontal cracks are still noticeable when standing over the car looking down at the lens.  The way the light hits these particular cracks, at this angle, they still show.  But, the lighter cracks, and especially the vertical ones are significantly reduced. As are those crystally spots.  From straight on and behind,  the lights look much, much better...shiny, smooth, and with no really harsh, noticeable cracks.

Finally...I don't have an electrical system...So I have no idea how they will look when lit!

Here's a Before and after, on the car in daylight -

Tom
King of Prussia, PA

1981 Turbo Trans-Am
Build thread - http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=69897.0

NCBadBird1979

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Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #69 on: January 22, 2016, 10:54:27 PM »
Repros may be available soon. Made in Australia. Looks like they'll include the 2 outer lenses and the gas door and the price around $550, but don't know if that's Australian or American dollars. Here's a link to a thread about them that shows some of the finished pieces:   http://camaro-firebird.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3340&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=105&sid=ec35a4d1a5f4565b9f57502ffd92255d

I'm ready for these to come out  8)
1979 Trans Am Black & Gold Hardtop

Mac

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Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #70 on: March 19, 2016, 02:12:10 PM »
I restored or should I say cleaned up my tail light lenses. Instead of repainting the top of the lens black, I polished the plastic lenses and used satin black pin striping on top of each fin on the tail lenses. In my opinion it looks better than the factory paint. I did have to search the Internet for the correct width and finish as most pinstriping is glossy or metallic.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2016, 03:32:33 PM by Mac »
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Grand73Am

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Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #71 on: March 19, 2016, 03:06:42 PM »
Good idea!
Steve F.

mitch_04

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Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #72 on: June 18, 2016, 09:53:49 AM »
Looks great!

formulapk

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Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #73 on: September 01, 2019, 10:52:44 AM »
Just a quick add on, in terms of paint manufacturer / color, what about SEM - 39143 Trim Black Satin Finish for spraying the fins and backings, i was under the impression this OEM match would be the closest to the original used ? Even though the tail lights are now available aftermarket i got a great deal on a clean original pair that just need a light restoration so ill be attempting this repair over the next week. 

Aus78Formula

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Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #74 on: September 01, 2019, 05:15:57 PM »
Sound good. Just check that it can be sprayed straight onto plastic without a primer, which they usually do. I'd almost be tempted to polish the lenses with plastic polish first and then clean the edges for paint, rather than later.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2019, 07:46:12 PM by Aus78Formula »

formulapk

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Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #75 on: September 04, 2019, 05:56:36 PM »
In regards to primer, once polished and prepped anytime I spray any plastics I use Bulldog Adhesion Promotor, sure there are other brands but have used this in the past and works great def recommend to anyone attempting this restoration.

Re: 79-81 TA tail light restoration
« Reply #75 on: September 04, 2019, 05:56:36 PM »
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