sanding 87-91 headlight lenses to make clear lenses - Ford Bronco Forum
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-03-2017, 09:58 PM Thread Starter
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sanding 87-91 headlight lenses to make clear lenses

as we all know 87-91 trucks have pretty much no aftermarket headlights available. For 92-96 trucks, there is a moderate selection of headlights including projector housings. In my 96, i bought crystal clear lenses and adding retrofit projectors. this got me thinking about the possibility of sanding down the ribs in the 87-91 lenses and making them to a flat clear lenses so one can do projectors in them aswell. the ribs are to distribute the light without being blinding so they will not work correctly with projectors

so as an experiment, i stole a old broken headlight form my 88 Bronco. its an original headlight, the lens fell off and was glued back on, it had mud, mold and broken glass inside, the housing itself was broken. nothing of value was lost.

since the lens was already glued back on, i managed to just pry it apart again with no trouble. after about half an hour of washing the mud, glass and mold this is what it looked like. how it was originally was jsut plain disgusting



this is a pretty foggy headlight and the outter right side was peeling actually.. the outside had scars from falling on the road when driving. as i said this was an expeiment, if i were to really do this i would buy a new pair on ebay for around 165$.



heres a comparison of how bad it is vs a set i recently put on my F250. ya theres no way this was ever gonig to be truly clear


i bought some low grit sand paper to sand the inside ribs down and also a headlight restoration kit that includes a 500 grit, 800 grit, 3000 grit, and a polishing compound



i couldnt find my palm sander when i started so i jsut used a drill with the 40grit. it was taking forever and it was hard to do the edges but it was working


today i found my palm sander and it worked much better. i was able to get the edges sanded better but since it was just an experiment, i didnt worry about making it perfect, i just wanted to see if it was possible. i went ahread and sanded the outside at the same time but you can see how it was still bad and peeling. i slowly worked up to 3000grit and this was the end result.

as i said this lens being in such bad condition never had a chance. but even so it still came out somewhat comparable to a brand new crystal clear lens from my 96 Bronco. with more time and a actual new pair of lenses it might actually be worth the time to do this and make a pair of projectors

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-----96 5.0 E4OD--------------88 5.8 C6--------------96 5.8 E4OD------
---------KIA-------------------Mud/Trail---------------Daily Driver------
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-03-2017, 10:34 PM
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interesting project

one thing I find on a lot of retrofits is they are horribly blinding to other drivers ,specially the fake hid bulbs


hope yours works out ok
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-03-2017, 10:36 PM
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I'll probably be getting into similar with recently purchased 81. Was reading that toothpaste works well also.

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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-03-2017, 11:38 PM
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All that's going to do is make your headlights into spotlights of glare for oncoming traffic. Unlike later reflector headlights with clear unfluted lenses, these headlights beam throw patterns aren't created by the shaping of a faceted reflector. The fluting in the 87-91 lenses is what creates the throw pattern of the headlights. Getting rid of this will cause you to just have two hot spots straight out in front of you and you will lose the fan pattern to the sides.

This may work with the projectors you propose, but you have one problem. Ford made these lenses out of polycarbonate. When exposed to air and sunlight, polycarbonate turns an opaque yellow in short order unless you have a special protective coating on it. Ford did apply said coating, which greatly slows down the yellowing but can't stop it. Unfortunately, by sanding these lenses, you just removed the coating...
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-04-2017, 12:38 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trustyrusty View Post
interesting project

one thing I find on a lot of retrofits is they are horribly blinding to other drivers ,specially the fake hid bulbs


hope yours works out ok
well i have HID in both trucks already and they are blinding anyways. so i plan on making them less blinding by going to projectors in the bronco. in the F250 i am gonig from 55w HID to 40w LED but the projectors are still in my mind if i decide to do this to a good pair

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Originally Posted by bargeahead View Post
I'll probably be getting into similar with recently purchased 81. Was reading that toothpaste works well also.
yours will be glass, not plastic. and this isnt for fixing a headlight, its for modifying them to use projectors

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Originally Posted by Spktyr View Post
All that's going to do is make your headlights into spotlights of glare for oncoming traffic. Unlike later reflector headlights with clear unfluted lenses, these headlights beam throw patterns aren't created by the shaping of a faceted reflector. The fluting in the 87-91 lenses is what creates the throw pattern of the headlights. Getting rid of this will cause you to just have two hot spots straight out in front of you and you will lose the fan pattern to the sides.

This may work with the projectors you propose, but you have one problem. Ford made these lenses out of polycarbonate. When exposed to air and sunlight, polycarbonate turns an opaque yellow in short order unless you have a special protective coating on it. Ford did apply said coating, which greatly slows down the yellowing but can't stop it. Unfortunately, by sanding these lenses, you just removed the coating...
well the ridges are all on the inside, you shouldnt have to touch the outside. i only sanded the outside because i needed to in order to see how effective it would be on these crappy lenses. even then i can probably use one of the coatings used in the restoration kits on the inside which should last a long time due to no airflow or UVs. and if they do start to yellow on the inside , you just sand them again some to remove it


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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-04-2017, 02:05 AM
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this is awesome, eventually i need to do something with the headlights on my 87. if this works, i may give this a try.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kingfish999 View Post
even then i can probably use one of the coatings used in the restoration kits on the inside which should last a long time due to no airflow or UVs.
the headlight coatings/sealants I've used (meguire's brand i believe) wore off pretty quickly. again, this may be because its on the outside and exposed to the elements (including rain). a buddy of mine tried painting clear coat on this headlights and even that didn't work great. but again, this was on the outside so might be different using this stuff on the inside.

also, I've been told that the high intensity light from the headlight itself can cause some of the yellowing. i don't have any scientific evidence of this but it might be an issue, especially with any kind of coating on the inside of the headlight.

good luck to you and keep us posted on the result. it looks like you're on the right track now.

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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-05-2017, 02:19 AM
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TCM GLX has been making bricknose projectors for a while now...the price is up there but it's a plug-n-play setup.


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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-05-2017, 09:33 PM
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Generally, the yellowing is on the outside of plastic lenses, and comes from UV in sunlight. Try sanding the outside first, starting with 600 grit kept wet. once the yellow is gone switch to 1000 grit and then 2000. At that point you can use polishing compound or vinyl floor polish like Future or a product like Wipe New, to clear the lens up and protect it.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-05-2017, 10:29 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by forbye View Post
TCM GLX has been making bricknose projectors for a while now...the price is up there but it's a plug-n-play setup.

ya im aware of them but im more of a DIY person. i do stuff the hard way. if it will save me couple hundred bucks doing it myself for slightly lower quality that i did myself i would. while i probably cant get it as perfectly clear, thats alright, i dont really wanna see the projector itself anwyays

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Generally, the yellowing is on the outside of plastic lenses, and comes from UV in sunlight. Try sanding the outside first, starting with 600 grit kept wet. once the yellow is gone switch to 1000 grit and then 2000. At that point you can use polishing compound or vinyl floor polish like Future or a product like Wipe New, to clear the lens up and protect it.
this was jsut an experimant i used on a garbage lens. the idea isn't to restore headlights, id rather jsut buy a 160$ set of headlights. the point of this is to remove the ridges inside and make it as clear as possible to use retrofit projectors. the ridges on the inside act as a prism to distribute light which would defeat the purpose of the projector
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-06-2017, 10:05 AM
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Glad to see someone else test this theory out. I had thought about this a lot. The light output upgrade would wake this worth it.
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-06-2017, 04:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kingfish999 View Post
im more of a DIY person. i do stuff the hard way. if it will save me couple hundred bucks doing it myself for slightly lower quality that i did myself i would. while i probably cant get it as perfectly clear, thats alright, i dont really wanna see the projector itself anyways
Got it...perhaps rigging a cheap vacuum form machine and molding the appropriate lens material over the sanded lens?

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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 01:38 PM
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That headlight from TCM looks great. Any way to get clear marker lights too?
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-22-2017, 11:08 AM
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is there a link to those TCM's?
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-23-2017, 09:32 AM Thread Starter
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Teaser....87-91 headlights

but price is something like $650ish. not sure exactly


-----96 5.0 E4OD--------------88 5.8 C6--------------96 5.8 E4OD------
---------KIA-------------------Mud/Trail---------------Daily Driver------
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