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Hi all.

I have a couple of Lucas 700 headlamp units which are of an age. Does anyone have any ideas on how to clean the years of oxidisation of the silvered reflector without damaging the silvering which outside of needing cleaning appears in good condition.

Any informed ideas gratefully received.

Neil

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Oxalic acid will remove rust but not attack chrome, but silvering is not chrome so test on a non recoverable unit first. I tried to repair an Audi silvered headlamp reflector many years ago and the silvering wiped off with a dry rag instead of being cleaned, so resorted to using silver paint to replace it instead, close up it was not the same but it passed all the subsequent MOT inspections.

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Hi Shemozzle, Some auto pats stores or detail supply places sells headlight cleaning kits.

A soft cloth with a steel bar sewn into it like a little pad. You roll it up & push through headlight hole.

It comes with magnet. You place magnet on outside of lens & reflector & move it.

I don’t know if magnet will pull it on our shells or not. But the pad is heavy enough to slide as you roll headlight shell.

They had some sort cleaning solution.

On these cars bulb access had sealed cover. If lost or loose dirty splash would get inside. $1200 for reflector. These were plastic so magnet worked good.

If silver comes off you did best you could.
Don


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Hi Kommando, TR7RVMan.

Thanks guys, I am frightened of wiping the silver finish off, I suspect as Kommando has said that the plating is vey soft, someone on the forum will I hope have a sure fire solution. Lets give it a couple of days to see if anything comes up.........

KR

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I am sure that some companies can re silver a headlamp ? But economics may be against you

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Hi Shemozzle, Your between rock & hard spot here....

New repro Lucas $50-65. I have no idea what silvering costs.

I just ran into a dull reflector recently. Rather than like chrome, it was more like bright to dull silver. So obviously tarnished. Some rust(??) looking stuff showing through. I'm wondering if this headlight was left open in rain & it got water in & sat until it evaporated.

I put cut up piece of wet t-shirt fabric stuffed through reflector hole. I wetted with distilled water. Shook it all around well. Cleaned glass fairly well. The silver was only very slightly better. Dirt & some silver chips came out on rag. I put dry cloth in to dry it. I did this 3 times. Not being bright silver reduces light out put a fair amount.
I cleaned my own head light same way. Silvering was perfect, but what I'll call a little dusty. The dust stuck to rag. Dried it as above. Set in sun to fully dry. Came out perfectly. As it wasn't bad the improvement in light was minimal. No silver came out, nothing bad happened. It looks like new to my eyes.

Here's another aspect. It depends on what you want for lens. The original lens pattern & Lucas Logo is no longer made so far as I can tell. It would depend on exactly what you have now of course. But if it must look original, re silvering would be desirable.

I guess it would depend on what you have now, the repro ones seem to shine on road similar to the originals, even though glass looks different.

My hunch is if your silvering looks bright & solid, just dusty it will survive cleaning well. The one above that lost some silver I could see through the lens enough to tell the silvering was delaminating in places. I expected it would loose silver. The glass was quite dirty, it cleaned up well.

My experience is if the silvering is "tarnished/dull, it's junk. Until you attempt cleaning, might be hard to tell if dull or dirty. Keep us posted on your results.
Don


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Hi all.

Did a youtube search, there was a chap on there showing how he cleans modern HD lights with 99.9% alcohol, does anyone have a view on this method ?

Thanks

Neil

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Buy a lot of fresh orange juice and drink the booze. Alcohol is a great cleaner, but does nothing for tarnished old fashioned silvering.

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Companies that re-silver-plate antique knives, forks, and ornamental cups and pitchers can re-plate headlamp reflectors if they are willing to do it.

Years ago I had two of them done for for an I.H. "Cub" tractor I was working on, but I believe that company is out of business now.

The problem is: You will have to remove the glass from the reflector before the reflector can be re-silvered.

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Strangely enough I was watching an episode of "Car SOS" on TV the other day and they took a couple of headlights from a WW2 Austin Tilley van to a specialist restorer in Birmingham called Genius of the Lamp, see This Link.

They specialize in all aspects of headlight restoration including re-silvering of reflectors, so maybe worth trying as they are nearby.


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You can buy cans of 'silver cleaning fluid' for your kitchen silver.
I gather this is just very dilute sulphuric acid = watered down battery acid.
You just dip them in, and they come out brighter.
Too much cleaning, and the silver might be getting a bit thin !

I've got a multitude of old reflectors (got them as a job lot with other stuff),
I'll give some of the poorer ones a try. Stay tuned.

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Hi all.

Thank you for the responses. The main obstacle in re-silvering the reflectors is the removal of the headlamp glass which is crimped around the circumference making it very difficult (I would have a clue how to do this this) to remove the reflector part. This is why I was trying to find a cleaning agent that you could use by simply pouring some into the headlamp unit and swill it around without having to resort to mechanically cleaning which I think will just destroy the very soft silvered finish. Look forward to hearing if Rohan's solution will work.........

KR

Neil


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