Fix the Reflective Layer on a Rear Light

Introduction: Fix the Reflective Layer on a Rear Light

I'm working on a 1967 Citroen Ami 6.

The reflective layer on the rear light bulp holders is almost completely gone.
In this instructable I'll explain how i fixed this.

Supplies

  • Wire wheel
  • Drilling machine
  • Air die grinder
  • Glossy black paint
  • Chrome paint
  • Masking tape
  • Eye protection
  • Gloves
  • Hearing protection

Step 1: Step 1: Dismantle the Light Holder

A short simple step on this car.
Disconnect the wires in the boot/trunk, at the moment there is no battery in the car if there is one It is a good idea to disconnect this first.
Unscrew the top and bottom bolds of the holder.

Step 2: Step 2: Clean to Bare Metal

I mounted the piece on a wooden block. This way it will keep in place whilst cleaning.

To get it to bare metal I used a couple of wire wheels in different shapes and sizes.
I uses brass wire wheels, these are a softer than steel ones and wont scratch the mild steel.
I used a corded drill for the biggest parts. For the small details I used an air powered die grinder.

Safety measure

If you use a wire wheel, at least wear gloves and eye protection. Hearing protection is also advised.

Step 3: Step 3: Choosing the Way to Create the Reflective Layer

Looking a the part i think the original layer was chrome or tin.
It is an European car so probably it is/was tin.

There are couple of options to create the reflective layer

  • Pollish
    One option is to polish the steal and clear coat it, but polished steal is impossible to paint properly and I don't think it will last
  • Chrome
    The most durable option, but the most expensive, and the most work you need to dismantle it completely.
    In Belgium there are not so many places who chrome parts.
  • Tin
    Could be possible to try it my self but I think it will be difficult to create an even layer
  • Chrome paint
    Cheap, relative durable for me the way to go

Step 4: Step 4: Base Color

If you are going to buy paint you must ensure that it is suitable for outdoor use.
The chrome effect paint you buy in DIY store is for indoor use so it will not last long.

I bought a rattle can at my local car part supplier. It is sold as chrome wheel paint.
I asked the vendor what the best base layer is to maximise the effect of the chrome paint.
For this paint it is high gloss black.
I masked the parts and put 3 layers of high gloss black paint.

I also added a layer of black paint to the back to prevent rust.

Step 5: Step 5: Adding the Chrome Paint

Before adding the chrome paint you must make sure the black paint fully cured.

I added 4 layers of chrome paint, for this paint it is essential to add the next layer before it starts curing
On the data sheet it says add the layer after 5 minutes at 20°C /68ºF

The first image is after one layer, the second after 4 layers

Step 6: Step 6: Mount the Part on the Car

I cleaned the panel underneath the holder and mounted the holder after the paint was cured.
Reconnect the wires and add (new) bulbs and mount the cover

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