BATTLE HEADLIGHT: Mk4 VW Golf

Headlights on this 1999.5 VW Golf are heavily clouded. I’ve been planning on replacing / restoring them for quite a while. I saw a pair on craigslist that were a match, and jumped at the chance!

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STEP ONE: BUYING THE WRONG HEADLIGHTS!

well, not much to add there. I bought a used pair of Jetta ( not Golf  ) Headlights. I wish I had a good reason for that fuck up, but I don’t. Typical lack of attention to detail.

STEP TWO: RATIONALIZATION

ok, so now these are going to be “practice” lights, so I can try and polish them up BEFORE I attempt to do it on the real lights. This is an ok idea. The basics of polishing headlights are

  • Tape off, or remove, headlights
  • Wet Sand your way from 600 grit to 2000+ grit.
  • Polish / Buff
  • Admire work!

There are plenty of youtube videos on this, and they are all pretty similar, and it looks pretty easy, right?

Here is a cool McGuires one, that talks about using their cutting / polishing agent at the end.

STEP THREE: SOMETHING IS MISSING

After watching a few of these, I started running into videos where people talk about using 600 grit at first to get all the Clear Coat off. However none of the videos I was watching talks about restoring the clear coat afterwards. That is a red light.

Reading up on a few forums, I saw people asking about how to clear coat. apparently if you DONT clear coat, your lenses fade/haze again super fast. I don’t know if I am missing something in the previous videos, or if the companies selling these headlight restoration kits are deliberately leaving off the clear coat at the end.

STEP FOUR: FURTHER DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE

Ok, so now I’m looking for clear coating videos… This seems pretty easy, dude just uses a spray can

But I see a lot of bitching about just using a spray can clear coat – poor application, runs, burns off easily, etc…. So what is the best way? Which product to use? Time to enter the forums…

http://www.autogeekonline.net/forum/show-n-shine/19021-headlight-restoration-new-uv-sealant-idea.html

oh look, a 100 FUCKING PAGE THREAD ON THIS METHOD, that spans several years. No quick answers here. But I do at least find a summary of 2 methods here:

http://www.autogeekonline.net/forum/show-n-shine/37701-headlight-sealant-spar-urethane-vs-opti-coat-2-0-a.html

And… this is where I start to tap out, when we talk about mixing custom urathane and what not. I do find a nice video showing some pros restoring headlights, and adding some clear coats.. however my inability to understand some of what they are saying, scares me off. This is probably the method I want to use – remove lights from car, hand sanding, then pressurized sprayer to get nice even coats. But it is looking like a fucking production by this point.


STEP FIVE: THE ALTERNATIVE THAT ISNT

So rather than spending an entire afternoon mixing up different batches of clear coat, setting up a spray area, etc etc.. how about I just replace the lenses! I don’t even need to swap out the whole thing… just some nice new snap on lenses.

Lovely video on how easy that is!

Heat gun! Silicone Caulk! yeah I’m out.

STEP SIX: LIVE TO FIGHT ANOTHER DAY

Simply too much work, when I can go buy a NEW, already clearcoated, ready to go set of Bora lights on ebay for $80 shipped. But what I thought would be a simple, and rewarding project has turned into a complex mess, with lots of room for me to fuck things up.

SCORE:

Project Completed: -20
Money Spent: $40 for used headlights, $15 for a buffer, $80 for a new set of headlights
Time Taken: 2-3 hours of watching videos

So yeah, it’s looking like a bad loss, but if I had moved forward It would have looked like this:

Project Completed: +50
Money Spent: $40 for used headlights, $15 for a buffer, $70 for misc rubbing compounds, polishes, clear coat.
Accidental scratches on car from shitty job taping it off: yes
Times spraying own face with new air compressor toys: 2
Toxic Fumes Inhaled: +.0005% cancer
Quality of final project: Maybe Meh, Maybe Awesome? Will never know!
Time Taken: 8 hours or more

So it is hard to walk away, especially with those stupid headlights I bought and can’t use, but fuck this. Hopefully installing the new lights won’t be nearly as much of a chore.

 

 

 

 

 

BATTLE SPEEDLITE! PART UNO ( Speedlite 420EX Camera Flash )

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Because I don’t have enough hobbies, and because apparently shopping for things is more fun than actually using them, I have taken up PHOTOGRAPHY! And because I am cheap, and hesitant about spending money, I limit my impulse spending to “great deals” and stuff I can “surely fix even if it IS broken”…

I purchased a first generation DSLR with some accessories at an auction. Enter the 420EX flash – surely a GREAT deal, until I got it home and it won’t power up.

STEP 1: Test the obvious shit

Step 2: Tool time!

Using my multimeter, I tested the batteries ( you know, just in case ). Placed the 4 batteries into the Speedlite Flash, and then checked to see if power was flowing between the two pairs of batteries. It was not. This suggested to me that there might be a broken connection inside the camera – I was pretty happy about this, because I can solder shit. A physically broken ( or corroded ) connection is probably in the realm of things I can fix.

Please ignore the voltage readings you see here. This is what I did, but the first time I did not get these readings.

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Step 3: Breaking it Down

Started taking out screws, took me a while to find them all. 4 are hidden on the top of the flash, and you have to rotate it 90 degrees to see them. I very quickly stripped that top screw, but the others came out nicely.

IMG_8237-800My goal was to get inside, check the continuity of the battery connections, and hopefully narrow down the problem. When I opened it up nothing major fell out… but this time when I checked the voltage on the batteries… I got nice readings ( see top picture for reals this time ).

HEY I FIXED IT, I naively thought. Perhaps some wires were twisted, and I magically untwisted them, and lets go play with my new flash. I tried to put it back together again, and ran into these two little issues:

STUPID PLASTIC THING THAT WONT GO BACK IN ITS HOME

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That thin plastic is supposed to slide between the board and the rotating part of the flash. For the life of me couldn’t get it back in. So I took it out. I’m guessing it might be important, but for now I don’t care.

IT WONT CLOSE EVEN WITHOUT THE PLASTIC THING

To get the two halves back together I had to push down the rotate button on the back of the flash.. this raises a pin, and allows the pieces to snap back in place. It is conveniently labelled “PUSH”.

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I didn’t put all the screws back in – just once screw in the bottom so the whole thing wouldn’t fall apart while I was holding it.

Step 4: HEY I FIXED IT!

While the Speedlite 420EX flash would not power up on it’s own, I thought perhaps that this flash might only work on the camera. why? who knows, but I was feeling hopeful.

I went and plugged it on my camera, and of course nothing happened. Frustrated, about this time is when I actually READ the user manual I downloaded… looking for some secret answer to my problem. Perhaps there was just a switch I was missing.

It is worth noting that I took the entire thing apart, risked breaking it, and wasted a bunch of time BEFORE I even read the fucking manual. This is why I am pretty terrible at fixing things, and why every single victory in this blog is not just a victory against some horrible broken piece of trash, but against my own innate inability to Measure Twice and Cut Once.

So I RTFM’d and set all the switches, and nothing changed. Since I’m now in RTFM mode, I decide to download the SERVICE MANUAL and give it a read. Something important to note here… I could have really shocked the shit out myself. There is a capacitor that needs to be drained before working on this flash. And I guess there are like up to 100 volts that can sit around in it and shock the shit out of you.

So I learned a bit, and was preparing to go tear this thing apart again… but while playing with the rotation of the flash, suddenly it powered up. There may or mayn’t have been a crunching noise as it turned and then energized with an awesome whine.

Now the flash is not fully put together yet, so some wires are loosely held in place, and my initial thought is that some wire must have been pinched, or there was a short, or something that my monkey like banging has fixed. Not the most noble victory, but I’ll take it.

Tomorrow.. the exciting conclusion to BATTLE SPEEDLITE 420EX!

So many projects… so little attention to detail

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Sorry in advance for everyone who was nice enough to post on my crappy blog! You rock. I’ve been out of the loop, because I purchased a house, and that has eaten up a few months of my life.

In that time I’ve done enough stupid repair projects that I have more than enough material to post… had I taken pictures, etc etc.

So instead I’ll just say that

  1. I fixed some shit
  2. I broke some other shit
  3. I hired some people to fix the shit I broke
  4. I Threw away some stuff I was never going to fix
  5. I have new tools for fixing stuff
  6. There is a hole in the bucket, dear Liza a hole