Lotus Elan

Is there a black-restore product for rocker switches?

PostPost by: JonB » Mon Nov 20, 2017 4:37 pm

Meguigar's do a good plastic restorer called "Ultimate Black". It's a white cream, ironically. I have just put some on my switches and they came up OK but the plastic is sort of rough in texture and may need a clean first. I've used it on other black plastics and it works well. Not as greasy to the touch as Armor-all and thicker. Apply with a cloth (no temptation to spray it with Armor-all and get spots of it everywhere).

http://www.halfords.com/motoring/car-cl ... lack-355ml

Not cheap but worth it.
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PostPost by: JonB » Fri Aug 30, 2019 9:22 am

I've done some testing on my grey rocker switches with various products.

  • Megiar's Ultimate Black gave OK results but faded quickly.
  • Armor-all Glossy, Matt and Tyre foam again was OK but soon faded to grey.
  • T-cut, buffing, sanding didn't seem to do much (but then I didn't persevere for long).

So basically, scratch those expensive products from the list.

I wasn't able to test DOT-5 as none of my cars use the stuff so I haven't got any. It's looking more and more like I will have to buff with rouge as mentioned in another thread on the subject.
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PostPost by: elanfan1 » Fri Aug 30, 2019 12:21 pm

Gentle rub down with fine wet and dry to remove finger grease and dirt avoiding rounding the corners and edges. Then a couple of coats of satin black aerosol paint, job done and will last years and look really good too. No need for expensive and non lasting solutions.
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PostPost by: Mudmouse » Fri Aug 30, 2019 1:40 pm

For info, having worked in the plastics industry for too many years I can confirm that the whitening phenonenum that you see is actually micro cracking on the surface of the plastic due to uv degradation.

It is similar to the effect of shattering of an old fashioned toughened windscreen. It looks white but is in reality not. When you smear an oil over the surface it fills in the microcracks such that the appearance returns to how it was originally. I.e. the colour has not faded but surface scattering of the light due to the microcracks has made it look as if it has faded.

If you can remove the surace layer that has the microcracks it will return to its original colour.

Hope this helps

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PostPost by: 69S4 » Fri Aug 30, 2019 1:59 pm

So the other Steve's suggestion of painting the surface with satin black should work? It'll keep the UV away - won't it?
All I need to do now is work out a way of spraying them in situ :?
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PostPost by: Mudmouse » Fri Aug 30, 2019 2:44 pm

Something I have just thought of but not tried - black boot polish. That is soft enough to be pressed into the surface then polished off.

It should work and be easy to reapply if needed. Does anyone have a spare switch they could try it on?

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PostPost by: JonB » Fri Aug 30, 2019 3:16 pm

Boot polish - immediate impact but it goes back to grey after a short while. Probably after the wax has dried out.
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PostPost by: Mudmouse » Fri Aug 30, 2019 3:20 pm

Ah well, just a thought. Thanks for that though.
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PostPost by: mark030358 » Fri Aug 30, 2019 3:27 pm

Gtechnique ermanent trim restorer...
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PostPost by: JonB » Fri Aug 30, 2019 3:45 pm

I may have found a solution from my mates in the retro computing fraternity.

  • Clean all traces of dirt from the rocker. I use hot water and detergent then brake cleaner. The plastic will come up quite white after this.
  • Rub a mineral oil into the plastic. For example, baby oil seems to work well.
  • Rub some more in, then buff with a clean cloth. Repeat until satisfied.

Take a look:

img_5748.jpg and


  • demist = as it came out of the car
  • LH win = after cleaning with detergent then brake cleaner
  • wiper = after treatment with baby oil
  • fog = after three goes with black boot polish

So the best things about using a mineral oil are that its easy to apply, even in situ and it won't mark the dashboard or your fingers in use because it is clear. Of course, it may wear off or evaporate but so far it's looking promising.

img_5749.jpg and
Closeup of the wiper switch
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PostPost by: USA64 » Fri Aug 30, 2019 4:02 pm

I have seen non-gel toothpaste touted as a fine-abrasive for headlight covers. I will try a little on a Dremel buffing wheel when I get to that; hopefully soon.
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PostPost by: JonB » Fri Aug 30, 2019 4:13 pm

img_5750.jpg and
All done.


The switches have still got some patina, which is nice, depending on your point of view. New switches are ?30 a pop :shock: and have shiny plastic that looks cheap. I'll stick with matte.

(BTW I did try some toothpaste with a cloth but it didn't really help. With a Dremel there is a better chance if you don't mind the stuff getting everywhere.)
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PostPost by: nmauduit » Fri Aug 30, 2019 6:01 pm

nine pretty maids all in a row, waiting to be switched on...
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PostPost by: JonB » Fri Aug 30, 2019 6:46 pm

Looking good, and they still haven't greyed.

img_5751.jpg and


That's the new dashboard. I've done the switches, fusebox and heater controls. Tricky. Measure twice, drill once. I'll put the rear brackets on next, then the various other bits that are hidden, and finally the glovebox and lid. It's going to look epic.
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PostPost by: Mudmouse » Fri Aug 30, 2019 6:55 pm

That looks fantastic. I will have to do mine at some point
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