I failed to snap a "before" pic of the grille but let's just say it was looking very tired. I tore it down removing the stainless inserts, aluminum trim, bezels, lenses, etc. Someone had repainted the grille with a heavy coat of silver argent. Talk about some serious texture! It looked troweled on in one spot. Don't know what that's all about other than it was probably part of some crash damage repair.
The chrome plated plastic bezels around the turn signals were really corroded. They cleaned up amazingly well though with some metal polish in a tube.
The headlight bezels were stripped of paint. Some claim luck using brake fluid as a stripper so I tried it because it was handy - barely fazed it. So, I picked up some paint stripper and that took care of the bezels quickly.
The bezels were then dropped in a bucket of warm water with a dose of crystal Drano. The active ingredient is lye (sodium hydroxide). It effectively removes the bright dip (anodizing) from the piece. You can sand it off but it's a lot more work! It has to be removed before polishing.
Above is a chemically stripped bezel. At right, stone chips and pits are sanded out and the piece polished. The center part of the bezel will be repainted so there's no point in polishing that area.
After "V"-ing the cracks followed with a very cool product called PlastiFix. It's a two part product consisting of a powder and liquid which can be used for repairs and even fabricating pieces. When combined it cures into a sandable, machinable plastic.
Interesting stuff. Worked well on repairing a cracked a-pillar trim piece, too.
(Right) A very small mounting tab on the grille has been recreated using PlastiFix. It appears to be as tough and durable as the original ABS. It can be sanded and finished to blend with the surrounding plastic.
(Left) I made a “stripping tank” for long pieces of trim from a piece of vinyl gutter and end caps sealed with silicone.
Both of the upper mounting tabs at either end of the grille were broken and missing.
Using a picture and measurements I got from a BigBlockDart.com board member, I fabbed a new tab in metal.
The PlastiFix kit includes a "FlexMold molding bar". When the semi-rigid material is dropped in hot water it becomes soft and pliable. It can then be formed around pieces and when it cools (quickly) you have a mold for recreating damaged or missing parts. It's reuseable too.
After repairs were made the main section of the grille was primed and sanded smooth - then top coated in semi-flat black.
The other aluminum trim was stripped of anodizing and sanded before polishing. Years of rocks and grit striking it left it pitted even after polishing. Aggressive sanding to remove them would have left it thin or even with holes. It'll have to do until another solution can be found. In the mean time, it doesn't look bad. The stainless trim was cleaned up and polished too.
A pair of NOS turn signal lenses finish off the restored grille.
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Site updated: January 2014