Headlight reflectors on my 1974 230 w115. - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-02-2012, 09:31 AM Thread Starter
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Vehicle: MERCEDES BENZ 230 W115 1974
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Headlight reflectors on my 1974 230 w115.

I purchased a pair of H4 Euro headlights that were in good shape. The reflectors are peeling and rust covered(slightly). Has anyone ever taken these apart to paint (or polish) to bring them back up to full beam strength?
Is there a special kind of aluminum paint I can buy? I live in Toronto.
Thanks! Ted.

Heres my 230 taken on a movie set. See how one light is darker than the other?
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-03-2012, 07:41 PM
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I don't know how much reflection you will get with painting them. I do believe these reflectors are silver covered and if you try to polish them it will remove all the coating. That's the info I have been able to find any way. Same with my fog lights that are in the bottom of the lights, totally gone .

'71 250C "work in progress"
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-06-2012, 07:41 AM
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You can clean them (that will probably remove more of the silver) and then spray paint them with a nice quality silver paint. This could improve the situation depending on how bad they are. But it won't make them look new. The silver paint is reflective but never mirror like as the original was.

I'll bet you could find new replacement reflectors but you might have better luck looking for them on European web sites.

Better yet, find the replacement but don't buy it. Then paint yours and if it comes out sub-optimally buy the replacements.

I have painted the reflectors of my fog lights and had good results.

Good luck

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-06-2012, 07:05 PM
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Replate them yourself... Standard DIY caveats apply... (and hopefully your reflectors are metal and can be plated)

Use this kit:

Plug N' Plate® Kits - Brush Plating Products - Electroplating & Anodizing - Caswell Inc

And look here for before and after pics from some antique car folks:

Resilvering Headlight Reflectors - VCCA Chat
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-09-2012, 07:34 AM Thread Starter
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Headlight reflectors

Thank you everyone who answered my headlight reflector question.
I live about an hour away from Caswell Inc here in Ontario. Ive never tried
replating but it seems to be alot cheaper than buying new!
Thanks everyone..I love this site!

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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-14-2012, 05:37 PM
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I have some experience here recoating Euro 107 reflectors.

These, I believe, were steel, THEN coated with an epoxy paint, and THEN vacuum coated with aluminum using 1960's-70's technology.

You will NOT get acceptable results from ANY paint you use, period. End of story. Do not waste your time. Light simply doesn't reflect this way. MAYBE you can get away with this on fog lamps, but NOT on what you use to see at night.

The first set, I sent to a very expensive shop to have SILVERED (which is the way it was done 60-90 years ago). This is among the BEST reflective material for visible light even to this day, beaten only by truly exotic materials, but of course, it tarnishes. I will not mention the name of the shop who did it but their preparation work was disappointing considering that what I gave them to do was not in bad shape other than the coating to begin with. I would not do this again. And, I have to use silver polish on them every six months or so.

The second set, I did in a very novel way, which worked FAIRLY well, which I described on another "well-known" forum. I prepped the surface smooth, epoxy painted it (2-part epoxy, which dries very hard and level, and glossy) and then used aluminum HVAC tape in pieces over it. Getting the wrinkles out involved care, burninshing, and sandpaper(!) in very fine wet-or-dri grits. THEN (and this is ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL), I polished them with metal polish and a buff on and arbor. These came out accetptably well, put out light with higher-wattage bulbs comparable to my silvered lamps, and wasn't that expensive to do.

The third set, I had vacuum-plated by a Michigan company who does modern aluminum coating for Detroit prototypes. Their coating includes a very good durable UV-cured overcoat, which makes them last MUCH longer. This is very comparable to modern plastic headlamp assemblies. It wasn't cheap and I had to do the prep, but they are better than new. Unfortunately, this company didn't seem that interested in repeat business. There may be liability issues.

Beware: if your seals are bad, you will run into problems fairly quickly AGAIN. Euro 107 headlight gaskets are not easy to find in the US. I had to do some RTV work on one of the sets.

Plating at home is NOT as easy as it looks. Also, consider that you might think that CHROME plating would be great, chrome is (surprisingly!!) only about 60% reflective to visible light, as opposed to 91% for aluminum and 98% for silver. This is a BIG difference.


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Last edited by strife2; 11-14-2012 at 05:59 PM.
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