Thursday, May 29, 2008
Tail Light Restoration
I kept my original tractor style tail light, which was used on the latter SS180s. My tail light was in good shape, minus a cracked OEM tail light (which can still be used, but looks out of place on a restored bike) and a some bends in the metal arms the license plate mounts to, but my paint/body shop guys took care of that.
Here's what I did:
1) I took apart the tail light.
2) I used painters tape to tape up the reflector and the entire wiring.
3) I hand stripped the paint with Aircraft Gel Stripper, because I was concerned that sand blasting would destroy it.
4) I had my body/paint shop take care of the housing.
5) I found new stainless hardware that was as close as possible to a match for the original.
6) I bought two new lenses. One was an Italian lens from a scoot shop and the other was from a tail light assembly sold as a kit from Lowes (for the same price as the scooter shop charged just for the lens). Neither were a 100% match, but Lowes was MUCH closer and only $6.
7) I ordered a new lens seal, but it came in black as opposed to grey (no one sees it).
8) I used a rubber replenisher (not a real word) to rejuvenate the seals I do have. The big fat circular gasket which goes between the light and housing frame I reused temporarily.
9) I purchased a matching "double filament" bulb.
10) I did the wiring to plug-n-play with the original light and used shrink tubing.
11) I mounted the light housing bracket.
12) I put the clear lens in place.
13) I put the seal between the bracket and light frame.
14) I put the bulb in.
15) I flipped the lens seal in reverse so the groove faces outward. I then put the seal in place.
Now that I had the seal in place I could not get the Italian lens to fit in. It was too big. It requires a different seal I believe. It lies flush with the housing, as opposed to how the original lens fit -- which was that it fit over the top and came over the edge. This is how the Lowes lens fits. It is bulkier like the original and that is why I decided to use it. It looks more stock and it fit naturally over the seal to boot.
16) With new stainless wood screws I installed the Lowes lens.
Note: the electrical diagram from Scooterhelp.com did not match the tractor style tail light; therefore I copied the way the wires were laid out on my stock wires from the original light and I made a guesstimate on placing the black wire based on the diagram. This is something I can very easily fix if need be and I left some excess wire if needed. This is where buying a complete bike comes in handy so you can just copy was what there before.