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How: To Headlight Restoration (updated better pics 4/16/13)

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How: To Headlight Restoration (updated better pics 4/16/13)

Postby haitian-REX » Tue Apr 09, 2013 5:57 pm

ok so i had the same problem that faces pretty much every crx owner who still has the original headlights: faded/pitted/just plain deteriorated reflective chrome inside of the housing resulting in poor headlight performance..

after doing alot of research on this forum and others i was pretty depressed at the probable conclusion that my only options were to order new ones, get mine restored by a professional company (which would cost more than brand new ones), retro fit some (which would be awsome but a litte to much for me right now) or buy those crappy halo projectors that arent even all that good and look like doo-doo IMO...

then my gears started turning and i figured a way to restore the headlights myself (as any good honda/crx owner should)

here is a somewhat write-up of how i did it and this is my FIRST "write up" so it may not be up to par with others but its a shot...

Supplies:
2 worn out crx headlamps
1 oven
1 hammer
1 flat head screwdriver
1 can (or bottle) of glass cleaner (I used Rain-X Foaming Spray)
2 tubes of Permatex Ultra-Grey RTV
1 can of Eagle One Never-Dull Wadding Polish (safe for both chrome and aluminum making it ideal)
1 roll of Nashua HVAC tape (i'm not sure if this comes in different grades but the roll i had seemed pretty industrial)
and lastly some razor blades and I used and Exacto Knife as well

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To start you have to get the headlamp off of the car which means you must take off the front bumper, here is a quick thread on bumper removal if someone needs it: https://crxcommunity.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=22827

once you have the headlamp out and separated from the black bracket you have to BAKE the entire headlamp for about 3-5 mins at 400 deg so that you can separate the glass from the plastic housing. Be sure to remove the c-shaped clamps that hold the glass to the housing before baking it. The clamps can be easily removed with a flat head and a hammer by lining up the flat head (perpendicular) on the side of the clamp and tapping it with the hammer to slide them off. This is what mine looked like at this point:

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as you can see they were pretty bad off

Now that you have the glass separated from the housing you will want to clean off all of the old sealant from both the glass and the housing, this is where the razor blades and Exacto knife come into play. this is a tedious process but should be done well to promote a good seal in the end; here is a couple pics of my glass and housing after getting all the old sealant off; also this is a good time to go ahead and remove the focus box that is mounted inside the housing by two screws:

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Now that you have the housings and the glass clean and clear of the old sealant you can begin the actual "restoration" process:

This is where the HVAC tape comes into play. This tape made to withstand and remain adheasive in both high and low temps and it has the quality of being very reflective, which is needed. Take the aluminum HVAC tape and start off with some small strips (2-3/3-4 inches) and sit and trim and cut panels to re-cover the interior of the housing where all the chrome is dying. Just take your time and make sure that you lay every piece as smooth as possible, my finger tips felt bruised afterwards from pushing down so hard to ensure the tape laid flat.

Once you have the interior surfaces completely covered with the aluminum tape you can go ahead and polish. Now i selected a polish that was safe for both chrome and aluminum because I wasnt sure if i wanted to cover the entire surface or just the badly worn areas and leave the sections of chrome that were still good alone, so i wanted to have a polish that was safe for both materials; even though i ended up just entirely covering the interior surface of the housing.

So here are some pics of the interior housing after polishing:

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as you can see after a good polish the aluminum is pretty much as reflective as the original chrome

after polishing the aluminum its time to go ahead a reassemble to headlamp. I used the Gray-RTV because i wanted to try and stay as close to OEM with the look, and it can withstand some pretty high temps also.

First off, make sure that your glass (both sides) and housing (inside) are nice and clean and you have re-mounted the focus boxes on the inside of the housing. I laid a pretty fat bead along the entire perimeter of the housing filling the "channel" or groove about half way with the sealant then placed the glass onto the housing and applied the metal c-shaped clamps in a criss-crossing fashion using the same method to put them back on as i did to remove them, by tapping them into place with a hammer and flat head.

Here are some pics of the final product:
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And here are some pics of them on at night:
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like i said this is my first ever write-up and i just hope it will help out anybody looking to fix up their headlights a little bit. and comments or questions are welcome

thanks for looking!

p.s. no, those arent HIDs.. just plane jane bulbs
Last edited by haitian-REX on Mon Feb 25, 2019 4:03 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Headlight Restoration

Postby haitian-REX » Thu Apr 11, 2013 7:40 am

Bump
Last edited by haitian-REX on Fri Apr 12, 2013 10:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Headlight Restoration

Postby windraver » Thu Apr 11, 2013 9:07 pm

Put a "How To:" on your subject. A moderator should add this to the FAQS or one of those pinned threads. Good job btw.
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Re: How To: Headlight Restoration (one option of many)

Postby mossin_90 » Fri Apr 12, 2013 4:17 pm

Can you update this thread after driving the car several hours at night or just driving the car during the day(your decision) with the headlights on?
I am curious to know what will happen to the adhesive glue after long term exposure to heat. same as driving few hrs at night.

I saw a same design tape but the one used on satellites and that thing is way more $$ than a new set of head light assemblies.

thanks
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Re: How To: Headlight Restoration (one option of many)

Postby shorty_boy » Tue Apr 16, 2013 4:24 pm

I am about to do the similar above process. I did not think of the polish though, good call. I have some of the HVAC tape laying around and I can attest that it does withstand heat and cold very well. I worked industrial HVAC back in high school.

I too would like to see if there are any before and after pictures. If you do not have them, then I may post some in my build thread later on this weekend when I attack this. I was debating on going HID with a TSX or TL retrofit but funds may be tight in the near future so this is the cheapest option for me right now. Thanks for the write up.
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Re: How To Headlight Restoration (updated w/better pics 4/16

Postby haitian-REX » Tue Apr 16, 2013 9:49 pm

mossin_90 wrote:Can you update this thread after driving the car several hours at night or just driving the car during the day(your decision) with the headlights on?
I am curious to know what will happen to the adhesive glue after long term exposure to heat. same as driving few hrs at night.

I saw a same design tape but the one used on satellites and that thing is way more $$ than a new set of head light assemblies.

thanks


i have been driving the car since posting this resto and the foil is holding up just fine.. and to test it the other day it was pretty hot out ( i do live in GA) and i rode around with the lights on ally day, so i'm pretty confident in them..

shorty_boy wrote:I am about to do the similar above process. I did not think of the polish though, good call. I have some of the HVAC tape laying around and I can attest that it does withstand heat and cold very well. I worked industrial HVAC back in high school.

I too would like to see if there are any before and after pictures. If you do not have them, then I may post some in my build thread later on this weekend when I attack this. I was debating on going HID with a TSX or TL retrofit but funds may be tight in the near future so this is the cheapest option for me right now. Thanks for the write up.


no problem, glad to help

And i posted some more pics into my original post for this thread so u can check those out for "after", and if you want some before pics just check out my early pics in my showroom thread (there is a link in my signature)
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Re: How To Headlight Restoration (updated w/better pics 4/16

Postby mossin_90 » Wed Apr 17, 2013 6:04 pm

:-)b
tks
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Re: How To Headlight Restoration (updated w/better pics 4/16

Postby haitian-REX » Wed Apr 17, 2013 8:24 pm

mossin_90 wrote::-)b
tks



word 8)
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Re: How To Headlight Restoration (updated w/better pics 4/16

Postby BrakeExpert » Fri Apr 19, 2013 11:53 pm

Replacing the chrome with Nashua tape. Can't believe it but...brilliant. And cause you have fluted glass, no one will ever know.
Man I used to work at a warehouse that sold a/c products, and Nashua tape is REAL tape. No comparison to the 'duct tape' they sell at like walmart, you could tow a car with Nashua tape.
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Re: How To Headlight Restoration (updated w/better pics 4/16

Postby haitian-REX » Sat Apr 20, 2013 12:29 pm

Yea and what I liked the most about it was how strong the adhesive is.. There was a couple times I laid a panel down wrong and wanted to peel out off and almost couldn't..
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Re: How To Headlight Restoration (updated w/better pics 4/16

Postby shorty_boy » Mon Apr 22, 2013 9:41 am

I just tackled this over the weekend. It literally took me a whole day to do this. Lots of elbow grease is involved. I actually painted my focus box blue because it was rusting and the blue rustoleum was the only thing that I had on hand. So I will be posting some pix on my thread later. Silly me, I forgot to take some before pictures of the lamps before I started the project. Noticeable difference though. One word of warning, the never dull will create a black deposit depending on how much aluminum is in the tape. While it may look dirty when you polish the tape, it is actually pretty shiny. I was able to get a pseudo finish, however from some angles, it looked black-ish.
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Re: How To Headlight Restoration (updated w/better pics 4/16

Postby haitian-REX » Mon Apr 22, 2013 11:46 am

shorty_boy wrote:I just tackled this over the weekend. It literally took me a whole day to do this. Lots of elbow grease is involved. I actually painted my focus box blue because it was rusting and the blue rustoleum was the only thing that I had on hand. So I will be posting some pix on my thread later. Silly me, I forgot to take some before pictures of the lamps before I started the project. Noticeable difference though. One word of warning, the never dull will create a black deposit depending on how much aluminum is in the tape. While it may look dirty when you polish the tape, it is actually pretty shiny. I was able to get a pseudo finish, however from some angles, it looked black-ish.



awsome! i'm glad this helped u out...
and about that black/gray look, i just kept friggin buffing with a nice soft cloth and eventully all of that came off leaving a nice polish.

but def let us know when u get some pics up, cant wait!
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Re: How To Headlight Restoration (updated w/better pics 4/16

Postby shorty_boy » Mon Apr 22, 2013 12:59 pm

We will see how it goes, I may have to crack them open again... :x
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Re: How: To Headlight Restoration (updated better pics 4/16/

Postby haitian-REX » Wed Aug 13, 2014 8:59 am

just wanted to chime in on this with a little update.. it has been over a year since doing this mod and the lights are holding up just fine and bright as ever... so anyone debating on doing this fix, go for it!
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Re: How: To Headlight Restoration (updated better pics 4/16/

Postby Danharvey6 » Sun Sep 07, 2014 4:45 pm

I plan to do this one mine as well. Ive used this stuff on the inside of the interior lights on my truck last year. Behind the lens, the puddle lights on the door panels are just molded into the plastic. The panel is black, so no reflective properties. After putting this tape in, the puddle lights put out twice as much light on the ground. Which is great for me considering I work at night.
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Re: How: To Headlight Restoration (updated better pics 4/16/

Postby haitian-REX » Mon Jul 20, 2015 8:08 am

just an update, the tape is still holding strong and as reflective 2+ years later :-)b
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Re: How: To Headlight Restoration (updated better pics 4/16/

Postby shorty_boy » Mon Jul 20, 2015 3:17 pm

Awesome . I have to do mine again. Apparently I did not seal mine correctly and moisture has wreaked havoc.
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Re: How: To Headlight Restoration (updated better pics 4/16/

Postby haitian-REX » Tue Jul 21, 2015 8:06 am

shorty_boy wrote:Awesome . I have to do mine again. Apparently I did not seal mine correctly and moisture has wreaked havoc.


sorry to hear that. i used Permatex Ultra Gray to re-seal mine when i put them back together. also be sure to give it a few hours to cure before re-installing (or at least before turning them on lol)

best of luck buddy
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