Looking to try something new, need a set of factory headlights.

Discussion in 'Lighting Discussion' started by 08_rado_rocker, Apr 8, 2012.

  1. 08_rado_rocker

    08_rado_rocker Member 2 Years 500 Posts

    Hey fellow GM kinfolk. I am looking to try something a little different than I've ever seen done with our factory headlights. I know quite a few people on here have changed over to different styles of headlight housings, so I was wondering of anyone has a set of stockers they'd like to donate to my project or sell to me for a decent price... I'm not looking to spend a whole lot, as this is either going to work great and I will use them on Truck Norris.. or it wont work at all and they'll basically be scrap.

    For those who are now curious, I am going to attempt to bake and remove the lenses from them, remove the reflective coating from all areas except where the lights actually reflect outward, and paint them to match the truck's summit white. Then replace the lenses and see how it turns out!

    Anyone ever seen this done before or possibly tried it themselves?
  2. Enkeiavalanche

    Enkeiavalanche Loving the Outdoors Staff Member 5+ Years ROTM Winner 5000 Posts

    I've seen it on Honda's and my friend did it on his Altama and it looks Great.. But as you said Try it first on a extra pair before your own..
  3. ChevyFan

    ChevyFan The Sheriff Staff Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    This sounds very interesting to say the least, any photos (any vehicle) to show what this would look like?
  4. 08_rado_rocker

    08_rado_rocker Member 2 Years 500 Posts

    how about any new Vette? lol That's where i got the idea, i parked my truck next to a burnt orange vette and went "HMMMMMM"
  5. Jeremy09LTZCrew

    Jeremy09LTZCrew Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    Rado, How urgently are you wanting to do this? I'm planning to get some new headlights for my truck at some point relatively soon. Haven't decided when yet. When I do, I'll send you mine if you just pay for shipping. If it doesn't work I'm happy to donate to the test and if it does work, it'd be awesome to see my old lights get a second life in a custom set-up.
  6. ippielb

    ippielb Epic Member 5+ Years ROTM Winner 1000 Posts

    Have to agree that would look pretty nice, try a wrecker, even if you find one with a damaged lens, it would be great practice.
  7. SurrealOne

    SurrealOne Former Member ROTM Winner 1000 Posts

    To date I've pulled apart six OEM headlights for NBS trucks (99-06's) ... and painted two of them (silver), as well. All were done for light projects ... and the first two ended in catastrophic failure that served as learning experiences for the follow-ups. Hopefully you can benefit from my experiences...

    IMHO, you shouldn't need to heat or bake the housings to remove the lenses. I found that heat really didn't help and that it just made handling the assemblies more awkward. What I do is use a pair of (different-width) flat-bladed screwdrivers and a carpet knife to remove the lenses ... by prying open a 1-2inch wide lens section (starting at the lower portion of the rounded corner section of the assembly) and carefully cutting away the sealant in a section that I've pried open. This is time-consuming and requires patience. To give you some idea, I can do a single headlight in about 3 hours. I don't know how this will compare to the NNBS headlights, but I figured I'd offer it for consideration.

    Normally you must be exceedingly careful not to scratch the chrome with the knife and screwdrivers, but in your case since you plan to paint over it, anyway, you can probably be more liberal and go a bit faster. However, understand that scratches will require you to apply more paint coats to smooth things out ... so taking your time during dis-assembly will save you paint time later -- your call on where you want to spend your time. :) One thing I've also noted with the NBS assemblies is that you must be careful not to apply too much prying force when trying to expose a section of sealant to cut, as too much force will cause you to crack the plastic housing. I learned this the hard way on one set of headlights... and then I made an even bigger mess with super glue on that set, too ... which all made for an expensive learning moment. Thus, I recommend err'ing on the side of taking your time and using very little force.

    Once you have the lenses off you should clean as much of the original sealant from around the lens perimeter AND from the channel in which the lens perimeter resides when the assembly is together, as you'll want to ensure solid contact with your new sealant when buttoning it all back up. As for the paint prep and work, you shouldn't need to remove the chrome. Instead, carefully mask off the bowls (reflective area where the bulbs go) and then use something like Krylon clear coat for plastics to prime the surface. I mention using something intended for plastics because it's made to adhere to smooth surfaces and that's suitable for the chrome surface, as well. You could also use 3M adhesion promoter to do the same ... but it costs a lot more.

    Apply three light coats in a criss-cross pattern with a 10 min interval between coats ... then apply your white paint doing at least four coats in a criss-cross pattern and waiting at least 10 mins between coats. Finish off with another 3-4 coats of clear (again, 10 mins minimum between coats). You can use more coats at any stage as you see fit, these are just what I would do as minimums.

    Allow it all to cure AT LEAST 24 hours before handling and then carefully remove your masking tape from the bowls ... and then clean any fingerprints from the bowls using a microfiber cloth. Next lay a bead of clear Permatex sealant (about 1.5 tubes to do both headlights on NBS assemblies; not sure on NNBS) in the outer assembly channel where the perimeter of the lens normally goes ... then press in the lenses and replace the clips that hold it all together (this is what NBS assemblies have; again not sure on NNBS). Wrap the lens and assembly with masking tape in uniform fashion to apply a bit more even pressure than the clips, alone, provide ... and then let this cure for 24 hours.

    After it's done curing remove the masking tape and take the carpet knife to any clear Permatex that's oozed out of the housing ... so that you have a nice, clean look. Install, take pics, post, and show us how it turns out.


    P.S. You can remove the ugly amber reflector while you're in there if you're so-inclined. It pops out on NBS trucks; not sure on NNBS.
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2012
  8. 08_rado_rocker

    08_rado_rocker Member 2 Years 500 Posts

    Wow.. really appreciate the insight on doing this project. Gave me lots to use as tools! :great: I figured this would be time consuming already, and I don't plan on getting in any kind of hurry. I'll be doing it out here in the field more than likely, as I (apparently lol) have lots of free time even when I'm on shift. Again, thanks for the insight on that. Glad there's someone else that has done it. I do have a question for you though, why do you feel it is unnecessary to remove the chrome from the inside of the housing? In the past, dealings with this sort of coating proved to me that i could basically get it off by barely even touching it (exaggeration). This also makes me wonder how well ANYTHING would adhere to it.

    ---------- Post added at 12:46 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:43 AM ----------

    I don't really know when I plan to do it.. but it will be a "spare time in the field" , which is basically all the time while im working, project. So I'd be willing to wait and definitely willing to pay for shipping on them. Not to mention it would definitely be greatly appreciated!

    Also, finding a set of broken ones in a wreckin yard to practice with may actually be a smart idea, so thanks for that! @ippielb
  9. SurrealOne

    SurrealOne Former Member ROTM Winner 1000 Posts

    The chrome layer has no adhesion problems ... it's just very thin. The headlights I was working with had no flaking problems (except for one spot within a bowl -- where I wasn't painting) ... so I wasn't worried about the chrome coming off. If you're working with a set that is flaking ... or you think is prone to it then, by all means, sand away. It certainly won't hurt.

    Two things that I failed to mention that may also help you:
    1. I masked the bulb entry holes on the backs of the bowls ... to prevent paint from entering the bowls that way while hitting the assembly with blasts from the rattle cans.
    2. I also masked the assembly channel where you will lay new sealant followed by the lens perimeter ... to prevent my new sealant from adhering to paint that may merely be attached to old sealant ... resulting in a questionable bond/seal.

    I think I have some pics lying about, somewhere. Want to me to dig them up?
  10. 08_rado_rocker

    08_rado_rocker Member 2 Years 500 Posts

    By all means yes, please do share them with me.

    I'm kind of confused as to what you're calling the actual parts of the headlights, so maybe the pics could help? Maybe if you have some extra time use your paint program to point out exactly what parts your calling what name for me??

    If you can do this I'd greatly appreciate it!

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