Monday, May 16, 2011

Project: New Headlights and 3M Headlight Protection Film!

So... this was a project that was long in the making...It had long bothered me that my car's headlights were clouded over. Not on the outside plastic - this is me, Mr. OCD (Obsessive Car Detailer) - of course I had used the kits and Porter Cable on the headlights in order to remove the typical yellowing of plastic. But to no avail.

I had even taken one unit apart, in the hope that I could polish the INSIDE of the lens. What I found though was that, whether through age or heat or whatever, the plastic lens covering both the Xenon low beam and the Halogen high beam had formed small fissures in them. This is how it looked:

So I had always wanted to replace the headlights with new units. But, checking on Yahoo Auctions here in Japan, most "slightly used" units were expensive (about 120,00 yen per pair) and there was no guarantee that they would be any good. No returns, either. And inquiry at Nissan Prince - new units were available, but just the housings alone would cost 100,000 yen - EACH!

So I was resigned to putting this on the back burner until I found BRAND NEW UNITS on sale in the US - on Ebay, being sold by a Nissan dealership... for about half the price they are in Japan. A phone call and credit card transaction later, I was in business. Don't ask me why a US Nissan dealership would have them in stock, but heck for the price I paid, I'm not complaining.

Anyway, I had actually ordered new R33 Series 3 Xenon headlamp units last year... I think it was around Christmas? So I guess you can say this is one of the two boxes Santa dropped off on my front door! Nice huh?!

Of course I opened the box up to find this:

And then after digging through the cushioning:

These things are wrapped really really well!

Wow, the smell of new! NO scratches, no blemishes, clear plastic! Ahhhh..

Of course - how do I keep them looking new? Whether on the track or the expressway, cars ahead of me kick up debris - so I decided to apply some 3M headlight protection film. Unfortunately, no kits exist for the R33 GT-R (nor for the R32/R34 GT-Rs either) so I had to make my own. So, I ordered a batch of bulk film (their "Lightgard" product) from these guys:

First step was to make a template. I got some tracing paper, taped two pieces together as these headlights are quite big:

I cut where I could, then taped along the sides to the headlight unit to try to get the shape correct...

...and ended up with this.

This I used to trace onto two clean pieces of paper that were taped together...

Which I then cut out, and laid over the film, traced the pattern on the film, and finally cut the film...

ending up with this film that fit perfectly on the headlight unit.

Now - time to apply the film onto the headlights. The film itself stretches slightly, so I actually trimmed the template to be slightly smaller - say about 5mm from the actual edge of the headlight housing, in anticipation of having to do some last minute adjustments.

First, apply the 50/50 soap/water solution to the headlight (after cleaning the headlight, of course... nothing like loose dirt getting caught under the film to ruin your day):

Peel back the film to expose the sticky side, and similarly spray with soap solution:

Apply the film to the headlight unit. I've already applied some water/alcohol solution by spray in order to start the bonding process - otherwise the film would be sliding all over...

And here it is, almost done. All of the solution between the film and the headlight is the water/alcohol solution.

Using a plastic squeegee (the end of which I covered in cloth to avoid scratching), I carefully pushed the water solution out from between the film and plastic...

To get this. No bubbles! Any slight fogging, I learned, disappears over time.

Next post - headlight replacement and installation!


RE-Xtreme said...

good work!!!

clear as crystal.

antique car restoration said...

I love it.thanks for sharing.regards!

Libbrecht Emmanuel said...

Nice work with the headlights!

Do you know where I could get the inner lens part (part that is attached to the lens itself)? I'm replacing the lenses of a series 2 with a Behrman set and would like to renew the inner lens as well :)