Lotus Elan

Chrom front Bumber trim alternative

PostPost by: jgrover » Tue Mar 26, 2019 3:21 pm

I have been re-furbing my Sprint for my son's wedding and the chrome bumper trim was scarred. I had another in the garage for a few years so after fixing the paintwork I thought I'd fit it. What a bitch! - it is basically a hard-ish plastic in two dimensions, but has to follow a curve in 3 dimensions - I tried boiling water and a heat gun and sort of bent it to shape, but far from perfect and I managed to melt it in one place. The original was pop riveted onto the body, but I could not get that to work so I glued it with dabs of polyurethane bonding adhesive/mastic.

However after the wedding (great success) I thought I would try again and see if I could find a cheaper alternative to the UK price of around ?20. I found 15mm wide self adhesive chrome plastic trim on ebay and tried that. It comes with a sticky foam backing (not the "T" shape of the original), but the foam is right where the gap is so nothing to stick it to, so I did the following:

Remove bumper and take household draught excluder strip (not the cheap foam sort) that's about 5mm thick and stick it to the body where the gap is so it is about flush with the body surface.
Refit the bumper, the foam closes the gap.
Cut a piece of the chrome trim to length (just over 6ft) and mark where it needs to curve with a permanaent marker (it's ok there is a protective cover on the chrome trim) and guess by how much it needs to bend.
Hold it flat on a bench and heat it either with boiling water or carefully with a heat gun and GENTLY shape it.
You'll need to try it in situ a few times to check the curve is about right.
Now the tricky bit - ideally with help.
First put some 1 inch long blobs of polyurethane mastic about every 3 inches on the sponge draught excluder - it needs to be thick enough to bridge the gap under the curve of the trim, but not so thick that it squeezes out the side. If it does you can wipe it off within 30 minutes with a damp cloth and once dry remove any remaining with cutting paste.
I started in the centre (this is why you need help to hold it off one side)
Push the trim gently into place and use 2" masking tape to hold it in place - use lots of tape, have bits torn off ready about 6" long.
Work around to the wheel arch, finish with a piece of tape over and into the wheel arch to hold it down. Then do the other side.
Check it is all OK - you won't move anything once the polyurethane goes off.
Leave it for 24 hours then remove the masking tape and any adhesive that has crept out as described, big blobs can be rubbed off with a finger.

And the cost? About ?6 for 15 metres so that will do the job 7 times with enough left to practice with!!!
How does it look - indistinguishable from the original or perhaps a bit more chromy.

Good luck
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PostPost by: RichardHawkins » Tue Mar 26, 2019 7:54 pm

Thanks for the suggestion, it a job I have put off as I am frightened of damaging body/ bumper.

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PostPost by: elanfan1 » Tue Mar 26, 2019 9:18 pm

Post up a photo please?

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PostPost by: jgrover » Wed Mar 27, 2019 9:01 am

Duct tape sounds interesting although not giving the semi-round profile and silver not chrome and also textured so it would look quite different.

Ref damaging the body/bumper. The polyurethane mastic is very flexible once cured and very strong. just pulling off the trim once fixed will almost certainly pull paint off. However this paint is hidden by the trim and another way is to slide a razor blade or other thin blade under the trim and slice through the mastic then rub off the remains. I think white spirit will soften it and make the process easier.

Good luck
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PostPost by: derek uk » Thu Mar 28, 2019 11:50 am

Link takes you to chrome trim overlays for a Toyota Hilux on USA Amazon.

Ingenius fix but success will vary from person to person. If, as you say, the price of a new bumper cover is ?20 I'd say you'd have to be very keen to attempt this job. IMO of course. Photos might convince a few to have a go though.
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PostPost by: Lotus14S2 » Fri Mar 29, 2019 12:48 am

When I restored a Lotus Elan coupe, I replaced the bumpers and the tee section chrome plastic trim. When I took my bumper off, the trim was healed in place with small self tapping, or sheet metal screws maybe #4 size. I used the same method to install the new trim, and had no problem.
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