Imperial Homepage -> Repair -> Body -> Plastic
Tip from Marcus:
I had a problem with the very rare window squirter bottle on my '67 getting brittle and cracking. I found a perfect jug with a working motor and all, only problem was that over time with exposure to elements and engine heat the plastic had the consistency of old cheese. In order to make it usable I put a Glad sandwich bag over the electric motor and suspended the whole thing on a piece of wire. Then proceeded to hose it down with clear Varathane in a spray can from Home Depot - two coats. The jug is in the car squirting away with no cracks or leaks.
Tip from Arran:
I thought that I might share this site with you. http://www.halcyon.com/smiles/repairs.html He uses silicone molds and appropriately died marine epoxy to repair cracks and chips in old plastic radio cabinets. When I ran across this I immediately thought thjat it would be a practical way to repair cracked steering wheels as well as reproduce knobs and other similar plastic pieces.
Question from BT:
I am looking for small plastic dash parts: knobs, the ends on temp selector switches, etc. I need these for many cars ALL makes from '40's to '70's
Look for an outfit called Old Time Reproductions on the internet. The proprietor, Larry Bordanaro, specializes in old radio knobs but plastic car knobs shouldn't be out of his territory. If you need plastic parts for Chebbies or Fords there are a number of outfits that already sell parts for those, just do a web search.
For your small plastic parts, dash, knobs, selector switches etc. (reproductions) contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Does anyone know of a supplier or where I can find the two small reflectors that appear on the top of the fins at the end of the molding on a 1960? Someone who owned my car before me spray painted the reflectors white for some strange reason. I guess they were doing some touch up and missed the trunk or fenders. Anyway, I have been looking for NOS or very good originals and haven't had much luck. Actually, I have yet to even see one. Repros wouldn't be a problem either.
Reply from Per:
If you can get them off the car in one piece, try putting them overnight in some DOT 4 brake fluid. The should come out as good as new, use a used toothbrush to get any paint off that's left on the reflectors. If the "red" also comes out, there's special glass paint that you can buy in art supplies stores.
Question from Tony:
I bought some really nice Imperial eagles that are covered in clear plastic. They are somewhat lightly scratched, and I'd like to make 'em sparkle plenty. Any suggestions?
Years ago, I worked in a Hi-Fi store. We found a polish meant for boats and aircraft windshields & canopies worked the best. I'm sorry that I don't remember the brand name, but maybe this will expand your range of places to check & find the best. By the way, we were using the stuff on plastic dust covers for turntables.
Since I don't have a buffing wheel, I use the stuff for polishing gel-coated fiberglass tubs. It's a liquid that comes in a can -- available at any home center. It has kind of a solvent smell so I wouldn't guarantee that it's safe on all plastics. Another trick, which I haven't tried myself, is to use cornstarch and a dry cotton rag. Some detail shops use cornstarch to buff out the polishing swirls you get with orbital polishers. Cornstarch is a *very* benign abrasive and will remove slight crazing (not scratches).
Try jewelers rouge which is a VERY fine grit polishing compound . I guess you might talk your local jeweler out of some, or maybe they know where to get it, I don't know where. The rouge I have used looks like a lump of yellow-brown clay.
It really depends on how badly they are scratched.
Brasso polish works excellently on plastic; I use it on the clear parts of my model airplanes all the time. There are a lot of polishes around; some made just for plastic. I've heard of using a special polish jewelers use on watch crystals. Also, try some "whitening" toothpaste; it has very fine abrasive in it.
Don't polish with paper towels or tissue; they are made of wood which is harder than the plastic and coarser than the polish you're using. Cotton diapers or old t-shirts work well. I like the cotton "beauty pads" from the make-up section.
If you need to, you can actually start with some very fine sandpaper (do these things have a relatively flat surface?), say, 1500 or 2000 grit which you can get from a paint-and-body supply store. Use plenty of water! After that, you can start polishing.
As for polishing those emblems... I used a car finish polish called "Zymol" to polish the faceplate of my instrument cluster. This polish was given to me and I'm told it's kind of expensive, but it did a really nice job taking out those fine scratches that occur when someone uses a dirty cloth to wipe down the face of the panel. There were some heavy scratches on my faceplate so it took three passes with the polish to get the desired results. Just another idea...
There are some plastic polishing compounds on the market. I'll have to go home and get the name of the polish that I use -- it was used by Western Electric to polish out telephone shells and it does wonders. My other hobby is collecting phones.
Question from Mitch (1968):
The Bronze metal trim on the door pulls in my 68 has pulled loose and I am wondering what kind of glue to use to glue them back. I tried contact cement but it will not hold for long due to the temperature fluctuations here in Colorado. Any suggestions?
I have had good luck with "Quick-Tite", which you can purchase in most hardware stores.
When I redid my bronze about 3 years ago I used a 2 stage epoxy and none of it has come off (in fact, I doubt if I'll ever get any of it off again). However, if you are only talking about gluing a corner that has come loose it may be difficult to apply. In cases like that I have bought a needle & syringe and injected some liquid epoxy up under the corners. The only problem with this is, you have to be ready & move fast because the epoxy dries quickly in the syringe, and two, you have to have a wet rag or a solvent close at hand to wipe up the excess. Be careful not to put too much under there because when you press it down it will squirt out around the edges and become a pain to clean up.
Here are a few more tips for gluing these pieces back on. The first is to clean both surfaces thoroughly before applying the glue, but that's just common sense. The second is to use some strips of masking tape to hold the strip to the handle while the epoxy sets. The third bit of advice, if you do use the masking tape, is to use the 24 hour epoxy rather then the 5 minute type. The 24 hour epoxy is less convenient but I have found that it bonds things together better and is more resistant to heat. To clean up use household ammonia while the glue is still soft.
Follow-up from Robb:
I would gather that you have never tried using ammonia near vinyl or bronze. Ammonia will mark vinyl and will etch soft metals. Alcohol wipes epoxy very well and leaves no marking. However, the best way to avoid a mess by using a slow set epoxy is to use the PROPER material to do the job. Why not just go to the local auto paint store and get TRIM ADHESIVE..... 3M has excellent products for this. And some can be purchased from local Menards or Home Depot. 3M Super 77 or Super 90. I personally prefer 77. Make sure and read the instructions, it is very easy to use.
When I refinished the bronze on my 68 coupe I used 3M press in place emblem adhesive product #08069. This stuff has worked very well and we have even greater temperature fluctuations here in Minnesota. The adhesive comes on a sheet with a double backing. Peel off one side and apply to the bronze, trim to fit, then just before installing the piece remove the second piece of backing. The adhesive is now applied to the metal. Press in place with even pressure. I would recommend using a soft cloth to press the bronze in place so that you don't cause any scratches. That's it! No drips, no ooze and secure bronze. I did the entire job in my Crown Coupe with this stuff. It was designed to stick exterior emblems to cars. I found it at Napa and at auto body supply stores.
I'm sure an epoxy would be fine for that application that was mentioned earlier, you may also want to consider the 3M brand product " Plastic and Emblem Adhesive "...its clear and sets up fairly fast, but if you ever want to remove the item later, this stuff has the advantage of letting you take things back off NON DESTRUCTIVELY!
Follow-up from John:
This is a good product. I used it to mount those pesky eyebrow medallions on my 60 & they've managed to stay on for the past 8 or 9 years.
Question from Mark (1981):
Does anyone have any experience with replacement "crystals" for the '80's Imperials? Specifically, a part number and whether or not they stay on?
They stay on just fine, but they don't look like the originals, as they don't have the Cartier watermark, and they deteriorate in the weather rather quickly. I put a set (available from the dealers for $40 per pair) on my Black 81 in about 1994, and they are still on there, but they have a very cloudy look, and my car NEVER sits out in the desert sun for more than the duration of whatever trip it's on. The originals, which were still on my dear departed Blue 81, were still perfect in 2000, even though that car lived outside all its life in my same desert area, and had the oxidized paint to show it. I think the part number shows in the Brad's NOS auction mentioned the other day - look on the plastic envelope in the picture. The number in the parts book is probably the original crystal part number, so it won't do you any good.
I have used the plastic replacements and they stay on but fogged rather quickly. I only had that one experience, though.
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