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Just make sure it is the type tried and proven. There are two versions offered by Minwax, oil based and water based. You want oil based which is in the green can. Make sure it's not too old also. I plan to do the Nissan lights next and I'm going to apply a double coat for more UV protection in hopes of a greater longevity which currently appears to be about a year +/-. Some have upped the urethane concentration to 60% and as much as 70% I recall reading, but I believe these individuals are more experienced in the application, because the thicker mix is more prone to streak if your hand is not steady and efficient during the application.
I might just go with the Turtle wax kit. I used it before and it worked great. Includes wet sand paper, lube, polish and sealant for ~$10. If I had more lights to do it would make more sense to buy things separately but I only need to do 2 headlights every few years.


For those unaware, hi temp paint gives off a lot of smoke while being cured by running the engine to heat up the exhaust. The can also says you can cure it in the oven, but since most ovens are indoors I don't think they gave that idea enough thought.

I didn't fully cure those pipes in the oven so there was very little smoke. I just wanted to partially cure them so that less paint came off while installing them on the bike. You know how chalky that hi-temp paint is until cured. It's also a good idea to turn the outside-vented range hood fan on high and weather permitting, open some windows.


I had cleaning the valves, and changing the motor mounts scheduled for yesterday, to follow changing the plugs in my mom's saturn, a 1hr job tops on her LY7 motor, which does not require removal of the intake. Then I got distracted and forgot that I had not put the socket back on the new plug that had already been partially threaded, stuck the extension in the hole on the back side of the FWD motor, which wedged between the plug terminal and wall, twisted and snapped the plug stem sending porcelain bits down around its perimeter and instantly the 1hr job turned into 6 hrs. I had to remove the intake, eventually crush the bits further by hammering a 12 point socket down in the hole not too roughly, when I could not blow them out with my air compressor, which I had to make a custom diaphragm for from heater hose first, upon discovering the original had sprung a leak holding me to 50 psi of the 100 I was seeking.

Finally got the bits and a new plug and had to go back and purchase a thread chaser because during the plug twisting inward a little to help further crumble the bits to blow them out easier, some wedged in the threads. Cranked the car up after the plugs were finally in and it was skipping, the scanner pointed out I had forgotten to plug in the variable intake valve, I corrected that, cleared the codes and fired it up. It idled smooth until I gave it a little gas where it started skipping again and making some bad noises. I shut it down and felt doomed except for scanning again to see if the miss was coming from the cylinder the plug broke on. Cranked the car up again and no trouble, test drove it and had my mom test drive it with no further problems. I thanked God and called it a day after starting at 10 a.m. and finishing around 5 p.m. I will not make that mistake again.
Wow! That was a helluva day, I feel for ya. I've had days like that and they're not much fun. I bet you're glad it's over.

I'm really hoping to get the valves cleaned today because I have an 80 mile drive back home from my Mom's, having had to stay overnight because of the excursion. The last hwy mpg test netted 28 mpg on the return trip and I want to see if it improves after addressing the valves. I also measured the before height of the intake relative to the strut tower brace to see if the mounts raise the motor any after install.
I also hope that you get to clean those valves as I intend to base my own valve cleaning foray upon your methodology and experience. I've seen a few videos and DIY's on the subject and the one thing I don't like is the use of metallic brushes. I'm hopeful that stiff nylon brushes will suffice. I'd hate to lose a few stray SS or bronze wires into the engine. Hopefully the solvent will soften the deposits enough that the nylon bristles will do the job. I do hope that you consider making a DIY for this procedure. Padgett must be green with envy at your hwy mpg!
 

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Discussion Starter #22
I tried the 3M kit recently on my Mom's car and it worked well, however, it's a matter of time before it is necessary to refresh the lights again. The minor kit I first used on my own lights worked in that it improved the appearance, but nowhere near what they are now and it was only good for about 3 months barely.

It depends on the condition the lights are in. I still have a 3M kit left, but in the experience I've gained over the past few months, I wouldn't use any of the quick kits again because even their instructions allude to the need for more sanding work for the best results which requires more grit stages than they provide. It does appear regular waxing afterwards will buy some time.

The spark plug incident was definitely a Twilight Zone moment. Correcting that is where I lost the time to do the valve cleaning I had planned as the engine mounts were a bear and I'll posting a brief thread on that shortly. In the mean time I'm going to perform a test run of the valve cleaning method on one of the loose cylinder heads. I intend to use both brass and nylon bottle brushes for the job and don't believe there will be a problem with the bristles, especially with an air compressor close by to clear the ports. I have no doubt that the carb cleaner in the gallon can I mentioned will make short work of the deposits.
 

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I suppose the question of how to restore depends heavily upon one's expectations. What I like about the Turtle wax kit is the convenience of having everything in one package for a low price. IIRC it includes 3 grits of wet sand paper and polish. OTOH, I may just pick up some wet sandpaper and urethane from Lowes. I've got weeks of winter left to decide. Any thoughts on Meguiars headlight sealant? It's supposed to last a year and is easy to re-apply annually.

Nice write-up on the motor mounts. May I ask how many miles you had on those? If the carb cleaner doesn't work as well as expected I recommend trying Gumout or CRC valve cleaner. They're both loaded with PEA. I found a video of a BMW owner cleaning his valves with CRC. It's rather long but 16 mins in it shows the CRC foaming away as it eats the carbon. I look forward to your results and hope that you take lots of photos, if practical.
 

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I suppose the question of how to restore depends heavily upon one's expectations. What I like about the Turtle wax kit is the convenience of having everything in one package for a low price. IIRC it includes 3 grits of wet sand paper and polish. OTOH, I may just pick up some wet sandpaper and urethane from Lowes. I've got weeks of winter left to decide. Any thoughts on Meguiars headlight sealant? It's supposed to last a year and is easy to re-apply annually.

Nice write-up on the motor mounts. May I ask how many miles you had on those? If the carb cleaner doesn't work as well as expected I recommend trying Gumout or CRC valve cleaner. They're both loaded with PEA. I found a video of a BMW owner cleaning his valves with CRC. It's rather long but 16 mins in it shows the CRC foaming away as it eats the carbon. I look forward to your results and hope that you take lots of photos, if practical.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kn6NVHLy-Xc
 

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Discussion Starter #25
I have no experience with the Meguiars sealant but did see a demo along with some reviews that by comparison were not as good as the pro grade 2K clear which I have and initially intended to use, before giving the less toxic urethane a try. The mounts went out at 175k, but those are mostly hwy miles. One thing's for sure, when they're good there's no vibration, not even what I thought was innocent and inherent of the motor at one time.

I looked at the video and also read several reviews some of which stated what I suspected, that the cleaner used doesn't do as good a job as the foaming action might lead one to think and that means a good bit of manual scrubbing would be needed with it. There's no doubt the carb cleaner in the gallon can will work because I've used it on hardened carbon deposits before and it is intended to have parts soaked in it. It doesn't bubble, it dissolves the deposits making them easy to brush away. Even the dirty used solvent I have left is effective at doing this. I don't intend to allow anything to enter the cylinder.

I just finished a near 800 mile round trip to Panama City FL yesterday (in one day), the storm wrecked that place, I thought I-10 was bad with snapped and downed trees all over the place, but the town really got hammered. On the return leg I stopped in Tallahassee to see the good friend and mentor who helped me along early in my diy automotive experience. He's on the out skirts of town so I got to experience the old canopy roads I appreciated when I lived there as a youngster. The bright lights lit them up like the sun and again I could see the cutoff line on the trees in the periphery. I had my youngster with me whom the trip was for and it made for an exciting ride for her, driving through that darkness, especially one point where the well lit road looked like it just dropped away like a cliff as we approached a slight crest. I feel a lot better about the lens swap now that I notice characteristics that I don't recall having with the original lenses.
 

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I'm just looking for a spray application and I won't be using the 2K clear. It may be better but I'll settle for a less toxic, less expensive solution for my modest expectations. My mounts feel fine and hopefully they'll stay that way for a few more years. The only thing wrong is a suspect TPMS sensor and a low speed-constant drivetrain hum that sounds like the driveshaft carrier bearing to me. I'll take a look in the spring.

That carb cleaner may work great, I wouldn't know. It does seem odd to me that a solvent designed to remove varnish from a carb would be more effective at softening carbon than a solvent designed for it. PEA is what makes Techron so effective at carbon removal. But whatever works. I'm looking forward to doing mine when winter ends.

That sounds like a fun drive, albeit a little long for my liking.I'm glad that you're enjoying your newly reconditioned headlights so much. I'm anxious to do mine and replace all the bulbs. I'm still researching my low beam options but it will be either LED, HID or H9 low beams, H9 highs and LED markers. With any luck I won't have to pull them again for a few years.
 

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Discussion Starter #27
Without doing the research, I imagine a significant amount of varnish is carbon and since the associated areas contain both forms of deposits, the cleaner is designed to be effective on both and at the same time safe for carb components. I've sprayed numerous aerosol cleaners over the years and none have come remotely close to the effectiveness of the carb dip.

The drive wasn't a trip I looked forward to, but my "baby chick" wanted to attend the funeral of a relative she was close to so I had to go. I just checked the odometer on the first drive since the trip, 775 miles, zeroed before leaving home. I haven't driven like that since I was 19-21 yrs old making the 1400 mile trips on leave from the Army between Tampa FL and Ft. Riley KS in one day. Insane.

The picture shows some of the improvement, but not as much as can be seen from behind the wheel. The greatest difference between the two is in the center.
 

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Nice clean cut-off in the bottom pic. The top pic has a fair amount of glare above the cut-off. I don't really see much difference in illumination or brightness. Maybe a bit more width and foreground in the bottom pic.
 

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Discussion Starter #29 (Edited)
There are also other characteristic differences with distance which probably explains why my attention is also drawn to the shoulders of the road which can be perceived as either brightness, or greater illumination from increased width of the beam which you've observed. I definitely see a positive improvement with the condensation resolved. I'm also able to see the beam movement better when the steering wheel is turned. Some have described the adaptive movement as gimmicky, but on those narrow pitch black canopy roads the other night, I was glad to have that flashlight action.

The bright phase is pretty impressive, acstudios alluded to that here;

https://www.cadillacforums.com/forums/2008-2013-cadillac-cts-appearance-mods/1068164-hid-headlight-problems-lenses-suck-lol-5.html

I tested them on the interstate on a wide stretch bounded by trees and they zapped the area pretty intensely. Despite the improvement, I wouldn't encourage anyone to open up perfectly good headlights to make the change, but if the covers are coming off anyway, consider it. I still believe making an adjustment to the cutoff screw, to lower the shutter a bit and allow a little more light through would be perceived as a welcomed improvement.

The picture comparison is not ideal since the distance from the wall was off by a few feet (editing makes it look about the same) and the ambient lighting was also brighter in the after picture, so the difference could possibly have been a bit more pronounced than it appeared under more closely matched lighting. I need to look into my adjustments also as I may need to aim them up a little.
 

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Discussion Starter #31
Can fixing the condensation problem be accomplished without taking the lenses apart?
Yes, see the picture up above showing the vent location on each headlight that can be accessed while they are still on the car. Depending on the severity, you may have to get proactive in your approach. My problem most certainly is the result of water vapor held in the sealant, that was sealed inside when I closed the access doors before applying it, leaving no place for it to escape. The way to minimize this is to provide ventilation as it cures and to make sure the assemblies are the same temperature, or cooler than the environment they will be in so moisture is less likely to condense. Otherwise you can use butyl rubber to seal them, but you have to have sufficient anchoring points; screw sockets and molding clips remaining to help with pressing the cover into the sealant, which you will need to heat by baking the lights a second time to soften.
 

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These came out great!
Be glad that the vapors cleared up, silicone outgassing while it cures can etch into the polycarbonate lenses, especially if it says that it releases acetic acid, many people have ruined their projects like this. GE Silicone II is kinder in this aspect, but really this is what butyl rubber is for.

The 2.5" clear lens swap is the easiest way to improve the output, and those two little torx screws let you fine tune the sharpness/color of the cutoff line. I needed to do some tweaking here on mine to get the cutoff just right, it wasn't totally great by just swapping in the clear lenses. This was done off the car, powering up the ballasts with a computer power supply.

Lens swap lets you retain the swivelling, which is how the stock projectors compensate for the narrow beam pattern, but a larger 3" projector like the G5-EX or MiniD2S 5.0 have a much, much wider pattern to begin with.
 

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Discussion Starter #33
These came out great!
Be glad that the vapors cleared up, silicone outgassing while it cures can etch into the polycarbonate lenses, especially if it says that it releases acetic acid, many people have ruined their projects like this. GE Silicone II is kinder in this aspect, but really this is what butyl rubber is for.

The 2.5" clear lens swap is the easiest way to improve the output, and those two little torx screws let you fine tune the sharpness/color of the cutoff line. I needed to do some tweaking here on mine to get the cutoff just right, it wasn't totally great by just swapping in the clear lenses. This was done off the car, powering up the ballasts with a computer power supply.

Lens swap lets you retain the swivelling, which is how the stock projectors compensate for the narrow beam pattern, but a larger 3" projector like the G5-EX or MiniD2S 5.0 have a much, much wider pattern to begin with.
Thanks, I was aware of the potential trouble from sealants and glue from my model building days. The sealant I used is not silicone based and just gave off a lot of moisture (because I used a lot). I also used it to seal the third brake light at the mount points on trunk last week.

I watched a brief youtube video on a 2", 2.5" and 3" projector comparison which didn't reveal enough to be called a comparison, but what I did note was the guy saying there wasn't any difference in the lens performance and that the diameter increase filled the headlight better. I thought to myself, "That can't be right". After leaning back on my physics courses, I quickly realized the larger diameter lens allows more light through, or basically increases the width of the beam. So yeah, I've already been looking into the 3" projector, except with the possibility of mounting a 3" lens to the existing frame work once I get a hold of a damaged assembly for a reasonable price.
 

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9 months later and it was time for a redo. They weren't awful, but they were obviously starting to dull, especially on the top. I waxed them on occasion, but I'm not sure if that had any prolonging effect. I did a little more research looking for support on my theory that additional coats, or a higher ratio of urethane in the mix should provide more UV protection and found it in the form of some pros stating that they use 60-70% urethane and achieve good durability and appearance in excess of a year.

I went wayyy off script this time, but it ended well so far. Since the lights had been restored with the spar method previously, it doesn't take much to remove the old coating. I started with the lights on the car this time, which I will not do again, it's inefficient and the slurry can settle on car bits beneath the surface, harmless but messy. I can remove both assemblies in 15 min so it isn't necessary either.

This time around; 500, 800, 1000, 2000, buff with Meguiars PlastX, cleaned with 70% alcohol and then with mineral spirits. 500 wasn't necessary. There is some debate on the finishing grit and whether or not to polish I found, but I'm going to keep doing what worked for me. The initial resto was finished with a 3000 grit pad supplied with the 3M kit I used at that time. What I've found is that the finer the grit, the clearer the lens gets naturally and it was most evident when I jumped to 2000 grit paper, I didn't have 3000 and did not feel it was necessary although in the future I will use it.

It takes a little practice to get comfortable with the application process and I ended up with a few small streaks of bare surface. This is where I went afoul of the process. The lights really looked good and although the streaks were not easily seen, I couldn't leave them alone. The rule is to promptly wipe the spar off with mineral spirits and reapply. Since I missed the prompt period, didn't want to do anymore sanding and had read where someone waited 25 min and applied an additional coat while the initial was still a bit tacky, that's what I did, for one light and for the other with a few bare streaks on the top, I just applied a second layer to the top. So one light has a full second coat of what I estimate to have been at least a 60/40% mix. Time will tell what the outcome will be, otherwise they look very nice again.

I'm amazed at how the lenses can go from ashen to clear in this process.
Round 2 one.jpg
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Round 2 four.jpg
Round 2 two.jpg
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