Jump to content


Tinted rear lights DIY. The STR look on the cheap


Lazlo Woodbine
 Share

Recommended Posts

I always prefer an understated look with cars, lots of chrome just doesn't do it for me. What has always really stood out to me on my S-type is the rear lamps, they just look a bit, cheap, maybe even chintzy.

What I've always liked is the STR units, I've only ever seen them in photos but they have that dark look to them. However, I'm not prepared to pay the sort of prices they seem to go for when that money could be used to make my car go/stop/handle better. What I needed was a cheapskates alternative, and I think I've found it.

I got a pair of spare standard tail lamp units off a scrap car and went about trying to figure out the best way to tint them slightly darker. I hate the completely black look and peeling paint or film just looks rubbish so I needed a subtle, durable solution. I figured getting rid of some of the chrome inside the unit was the way, after all it is this you can see through the lens and is what gives the lamps that light, shiny look. The problem is that the lens is heat-bonded on to the main part of the unit.

IMG_2767.thumb.JPG.dc82bde0112d508b4a1194af99cff4b9.JPG

 

Drastic action was required.IMG_2769.thumb.JPG.f09f54f4a288f0bdb4a7d90b39ea99bf.JPG

 

The problem with cutting ABS plastic is that it melts so easily. I started off with a slow speed to try to avoid this but it still melted, and clogged. I ended up on the highest speed and melted it purposely.

IMG_2772.thumb.JPG.b017d1480ff273a29fa5c9d325465c24.JPG

Once I'd been all the way round the lens prised off, be careful though as the plastic is brittle.

 

The lamp unit is made up of three major parts as seen here.IMG_2774.thumb.JPG.6bbb6ab080ac6110d1ac1311da66c3c0.JPG

It's that part in the lower left corner that I'm going to make black.

I'd considered paint but then there's the risk of runs and it not sticking properly. On the back of this part there was some chrome missing, and joy, it was black! All I needed to do was remove all the chrome.. Enter a bottle of poundshop bicycle cleaner.

 

This stuff will take the anodising off aluminium and the skin off your hands, in fact I'm not sure it's bicycle cleaner at all.IMG_2782.thumb.JPG.a0321d8405df9be5cd9ee8bb0d5263c9.JPG

I applied it to the part and stuck it in a carrier bag to stay wet and get to work on that chrome. Had I had more, or was able to go get it today, I would have emptied a couple of bottles or so into a pan and submerged the part in it, it's only £1 a litre after all and probably still fine to use on my bike afterwards.

 

After repeated sprayings and baggings the chrome just rubbed off with a rag. Some bits were a little awkward, mould lines and some acute corners needed a bit more elbow grease.IMG_2771.thumb.JPG.9c6d5ceefc5033940f4f68df5e5f3acd.JPG

 

Here's a freshly de-chromed one compared to the standard finish.IMG_2780.thumb.JPG.8442180d958b572385271bb0da0d73f5.JPG

 

Here it is sat in the main part of the unit. None of the reflectors have been touched and the operation of the lamps will not be affected in any way.

IMG_2784.thumb.JPG.8527b5991bb8147e14fb7c159a2a76e8.JPG

 

I've now glued the lenses back on both units with 2 part epoxy resin. The house will still stink of it in the morning. Whilst the seam is of course visible it will only be when the boot is open, no big deal to me. These are my first set and I'm sure improvements can be made and incorporated into the next pair.

Tune in tomorrow for pictures of the completed units in the car and comparisons with the standard ones.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites


Well done Laz, sounds creative and effective! Interested to see the pics of them on the car to help decide whether I want to do this on mine :yes:

PS. I have that same bike cleaner, didn't realise it was so caustic!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks. To be fair I have seen a similar thing done to headlamps so I can't take full credit. But I've not seen sealed units like this opened up to do it before. I'm really hoping they don't look rubbish on the car, I don't know yet because it's tipping it down here. Hopefully it either stops raining soon or I stop being a wuss and go out in it. The smell of araldite had faded just in time for me to get it out again to fill in some little holes I missed, the last thing I want is for moisture to get in there.

That bike cleaner is notorious round here, well in our little mountain biking circle anyway. Just don't leave it on anything too long, I wasn't joking about the anodising. I suppose it says it all that when I want to remove any finish off anything I think of the pink terror.

 

To re-attach the lenses I coated the cut edge of the lens with just a smear of epoxy knowing that the majority of it wouldn't touch the main part of the unit. I placed the lens face down on a rubbery mat and placed the main part on top then weighed it down with a box of cat food (it was heavy and to hand). Where there was a sizeable gap between the edges I put a wedge under the lens to exert more pressure on that spot to close it. My epoxy is the quick stuff so after half an hour it was as stuck as it would ever be. I then mixed up some more and started filling in the gaps all the way round. It's messy stuff and actually the standard rather than quick drying epoxy would be much better for this as you wouldn't have to rush to use it up before it hardens. This is probably the slowest part of the job and it stinks. 

Here's the seam that is visible within the boot aperture.IMG_2793.thumb.JPG.9eebdcb12ec75f75e8cabd3921d31f4f.JPG

Once the gap is filled completely I could sand off the excess glue but as these are the first attempts I will opt for reliability over looks and leave it.

These spare lights weren't immaculate to begin with and I did actually manage to put a small crack in one of the lenses so, assuming they work, one day I'll do another pair and use what I've learned this time to make them neater and better.

One thing I really want to improve upon is cutting them open. Melting my way though is messy and inaccurate and so if I can find a tiny hand saw that would cut this stuff I'd rather take the time doing it neatly. A miniature jigsaw might work if such a thing exists.

The weather's drying up now so after lunch I'll go and fit these things.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The rain hasn't made it to the Isle of Wight yet but is on it's way I expect! A neater way of cutting and sealing would be nice, I might be able to score it through with one of the lasers or the CNC router I have on order, but TBH, using hand tools is likely to be the best bet if the pieces aren't completely flat, and setting up the job could take longer than doing it with a hand tool! Perhaps a bladed cutter rather than the abrasive disc would generate lass heat? I have various tooling here that might work and relatively cheap couriers for collecting and sending stuff about the country if we could get hold of some for testing. There are probably a few light units locally I could track down as well :yes:

Some sort of black silicone / mastic could seal and neaten them up, and or a strip of rubber or perhaps black ABS over the edge might help. I have various things I could cut and send you if of interest?

Didn't know you were a fellow cyclist! I've mainly been hitting the road this year as I'm doing L'Etape in July, but still love my MTB when I get a chance to ride it. I'll be careful of the 'pink terror' in future. Don't want it attacking the carbon fibre!

Cheers, Russ :wink1:

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't think there's a flat surface on them! My dad's got one of those electric oscillating tools, a bodgers friend as he calls it. I may well try that, my only worry is that it may shatter the plastic lens which is probably the most brittle part. You can only go in about 10mm before hitting the part that gets de-chromed (we should officially name these different parts for ease. But that said, I named the piece of water pipe from my suspension bush thread "the pusher" but my dad kept singing Steppenwolf every time I said it so I had to just call it "water pipe"). You can actually see where I caught it in one of the photos above, fortunately it's not visible when re-assembled.

The standard lamps go for naff all money on eBay, my guess is they don't fail or get broken too often. There's certainly a lot of bumper sticking out past them! If a Jag breaker would do a big box of them that would probably be the way to go, certainly as far as delivery costs go. The chap I bought my grill off was very fair, he chucked in a badge that goes for a tenner or so on eBay for free just with me asking what he wanted for it.

Thank you for the offer of bits but I'll pass the moment as I don't know how soon I'll be able to do another set. Mastic's a good idea, if the edges could be cut neater than I did it then a nice bead of that could probably take the place of glue on that face. It's the one that really needs sealing as the water from the boot gutter flows down that way.

I suffered a broken back last year and have only just started cycling again, very gentle forest loops on the XC bike so far. I hoping to be hitting some bigger stuff by the end of the year and maybe get back to doing some DH riding. I recently got my first carbon part, some bars for my "hardcore" hardtail but I'm not entirely confident in the fancy wonder plastic yet, I think they will be going on the XC bike instead.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites


I fitted the lamps. I think they look quite good...

IMG_2798.thumb.JPG.18fcd77397fff45b240c81ca2f28062e.JPG

..compared to the standard ones.IMG_2799.thumb.JPG.6c2bd9713bba5d3570e78f7834823d73.JPG

 

Here's a picture of the car with one of each, unfortunately there's a water droplet on the camera lens over the original lamp.IMG_2797.thumb.JPG.d5c917b36affec75d99da4932902c576.JPG

I did consider leaving chrome on just the bevelled edge around the clear section of lens to give a little detail. However removing the chrome as I did made that tricky, maybe I'll try it with another pair.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites


Very nice Laz, I think I like that a lot!

Sorry to hear about the broken back, wishing you a full and speedy recovery! 

PS. I've had a carbon fibre MTB since 2005, and carbon fibre road bikes since 2008, done right, it is the wonder stuff :yes:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...
On 5.6.2017 at 1:19 AM, Lazlo Woodbine said:

These are my first set and I'm sure improvements can be made and incorporated into the next pair.

That's usually my thinking as well. And I suspect you and I are alike in that we're not afraid to try things we haven't done before.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 5.6.2017 at 1:11 PM, Lazlo Woodbine said:

One thing I really want to improve upon is cutting them open. Melting my way though is messy and inaccurate and so if I can find a tiny hand saw that would cut this stuff I'd rather take the time doing it neatly. A miniature jigsaw might work if such a thing exists.

Could it be possible to use a drill press at the lowest possible speed (200rpm or something like that) with a router bit?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 23.8.2017 at 9:45 AM, R2e said:

I've been thnking about this. It should be possible to attach the sawblades to a miniature screwdriver (or a larger screwdriver) with a chuck, like jewellers and watchmakers use, and turn it by hand. I've done it a lot with drill bits when I repaired cameras in the olden days, and Laz is willing to spend some time on it. :smile:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you. It does seem to have worked out well.

However the one lens I put a small crack in has developed a few more in random places. So I would say, don't try to remove the lens when cutting it off, just cut away until it falls off itself.

I haven't really looked at doing another set yet. The originals off my car are still languishing in the shed so I should really get round to it soon. The wood blades look promising for sure, though I can't help thinking that the plastic's a bit brittle for them to work.

I'll have a look as soon as I get a chance and let you all know what method I try.


 

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share





  • Join The Club

    Join the Jaguar Owners Club and be part of the Community. It's FREE!

     

  • Topics

  • Our picks

    • Simply Jaguar show at Beaulieu - Sunday 23rd June 2024
      Jaguar Owners Club have a stand at this year's Simply Jaguar event at the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, Hampshire on Sunday 23rd June 2024

      Tickets are available online here: https://www.beaulieu.co.uk/events/simply-jaguar/
        • Like
      • 7 replies
    • Post in Event Ludlow Racecourse Shropshire 16th June 2024
      Not long now to Ludlow. It sold out before the event last year it is very popular.

      To book a ticket in advance go to EVENTBRITE or Message me. 

       

       
    • JAGUAR’S LAST PETROL SPORTS CAR: F-TYPE ZP EDITION TAKES THE CHEQUERED FLAG
      Jaguar is commemorating the end of its internal combustion sports car lineage in 2024 with an exclusive limited-edition F-TYPE inspired by two iconic 1960s racing E-types

      Just 150 examples of the F-TYPE ZP Edition will be the last internal combustion-engined sports cars designed by Jaguar. These 575PS supercharged petrol V8 F-TYPEs feature specially curated interior and exterior details by the personalisation experts at SV Bespoke.
        • Like
    • UPDATE SHOW INFORMATION !

      Please find attached your club label – please can this be distributed amongst your club members prior to the event. Please ensure that they print this label and display it in their windscreen upon entry to the event, this ensures that all members wishing to park within your club area are directed to the correct parking location by our stewards. Please do not modify or add logos to the club label.

      We do ask that all individuals have purchased their tickets on an individual basis in advance via our website, to speed up the entry process on the day. This can be done on our website here until 2pm on the day when admission closes: https://www.beaulieu.co.uk/events/simply-jaguar.

      Note that we do have two entrances available, one is exhibitors gate at the bottom of the hill as you come in to Beaulieu, with the other being the normal Simply event entrance within the attraction. Either entrance is fine to use and both are open from 9.00am, with the exhibitors entrance closing around 11am.

      Jaguar Owners Club (1).pdf
    • Simply Jaguar - Beaulieu Motor Museum - 25th June 2023
      Jaguar Owners Club have a stand at this years Simply Jaguar event at the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, Hampshire on Sunday 26th June 2023

      Tickets are available online here: https://www.beaulieu.co.uk/events/simply-jaguar/


      TICKETS & PRICES
      Participant prices are only valid if arriving in a Jaguar and taking part in the rally. They are not valid for those arriving on foot.

      Participants can make the most of our EARLY BIRD discount by booking before 28th February 2023.

      Children under 5 require a ticket, this can be booked online free of charge.

      Participant and visitor tickets will include entrance to the rest of the Beaulieu attraction, including the National Motor Museum, Palace House, Little Beaulieu, World of Top Gear, Beaulieu Abbey and its grounds and gardens.

      The best time for viewing the Simply rally is between 10am and 2pm.

       

       


      Adult


      Child




      Participants – Early Bird*


      £14.00


      £7.50




      Participants – Standard & On The Day


      £16.00


      £8.00




      Visitors


      Normal admission applies.


      Normal admission applies







      *Early bird tickets are available until 28th February 2023

      VEHICLE ENTRY
      Entry with your Jaguar is from 9am – 2pm. Please make sure you have your ticket printed or available on your phone, ready to be scanned on arrival.

      Please do not arrive early for our Simply rallies as no facilities will be open prior to 9:30am.

      Cars cannot leave and re-enter the grounds for the Simply rallies.

      ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

      CLUB STAND ATTENDEE LIST

      We do ask for a final update on numbers 2 weeks prior to the event following which we will send out club labels to you via email for you to then distribute out to club members. Club members then need to print and display these in their windscreen on arrival. This helps us then park you all in your club area together.

      1. Trevor (admin)
      2.  Paj
      3.  
       
      • 6 replies

×
×
  • Create New...



Forums


News


Membership