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Trying to get the NL320 tail light bezel reproduced...


nl320_1963

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So I want to get these reproduced.  I have heard that certain plastics can be chrome plated by first plating with copper.  Does anyone out there know of a place that could pull a mold off this NL320 tail light and make up some plastic reproductions.  I would be willing to do a small group buy on these, as I know that they are impossible to find, and most of them have some damage on them.  This is the only NOS one I have ever seen, and I have had NL320's since the 80's
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IMG_3847 by nl320_1963, on Flickr

 

12244513975_56933883fa_c.jpg
IMG_3848 by nl320_1963, on Flickr

 

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Wow, what I would give for that one, as I have one brand new NOS bezel myself.

There is a guy down there in Ana Heim CA 92806 that can chrome plastic, I sent him a grill once, and he called me and said the grill had road rash on it(scratched) and he could not do the job, and he sent me my grill back, I have never seen his work, but he was recommended to me by a plating company up here in the Portland, OR area.

He seemed to be honest, but wasn't cheap by any stretch of the imagination.

If you can get the bezels made, there is someone out there that can plate them, this is the USA, the almighty buck talks here.

If you PM me, I will give you the guys number, but I would appreciate it you can at least figure out the molding of the parts before contacting him, know the answers to the questions he is likely to ask you before you call him, such as what type of plastic it is going to be made of, look at the products that the company has already made, the point being that the parts when sent to the plater need to be perfect, because if he could not fix the grill I sent him, then he is not going to be able to fix anything, what he gets from you is what you will get back, only chrome plated.

I do not know if this guy plates things like you described above, he does some kind of vacuum thing I believe. 

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It's "Vaccum Deposition" coating. Perfect in, perfect out. Crap in, shiny

crap out. The alternative is expensive "lost wax" casting in preferably Brass or Copper followed by proper Nickle and Chrome plating. "Tri Chrome" except that the base Copper or Brass coating would already be replaced by the base casting. I doubt that there are enough NL329, or less than cheapskate, Ratsun members to make this a viable alternative. Hope you find what you need!

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I thought electroless nickel worked on plastic.  That's some nickel chelate that IIRC doesn't even require electricity, it just deposits onto a surface.  Then once you have the nickel, you do copper, and evenually chrome.

 

Edit: the name "electroless" = no electricity, duh.

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Looks like the reflector assembly is removable--is that part available or would it need to be reproduced also? 

 

It would need reproduced also, very difficult.

There are reflectors that are close, like the Datsun roadster reflector above that taillights, but you would have to ruin one to find out what it would even look like, as they are not removable from the housing they sit on, unlike the NL320 bezel housing that is removable.

They seem to be the same size round, but the housing they are in is thicker, NL320 on the left.

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Nl320 on the left, the housing that the reflector is in is different.

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Only someone that knows what they are supposed to look like would know at a show if you are careful about removing them from the roadster housing they are connected to, but getting them off there might be tricky, as I have no clue how they are connected, glued, spot welded???

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I have two sets of roadster reflectors in the box I got from Nissan a few years back.  I will dig one out and take a look.  I'm not going to destroy one of them, but I'll see what they look like and report back. 

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Here's a shot of the inside.  I would guess it is welded inside the reflector housing behind the plastic reflector.  I pried it with my fingernails and it definitely wasn't going to pop off. 

 

rdstrrflctr.JPG

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Yea, I popped mine off the car to look at it, and seen the same thing, didn't think about taking a photo though.

Mine is actually damaged a little as you can see in the photos I posted, but I just don't care, it's a driver, not a show car, so I am not buying another set just to see if I can pull it apart without damaging the reflector and the chrome ring around it.

 

Here's a shot of the inside.  I would guess it is welded inside the reflector housing behind the plastic reflector.  I pried it with my fingernails and it definitely wasn't going to pop off. 

 

rdstrrflctr.JPG

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I seen a photo of one of these roadster reflectors pulled apart today, so I went out and pulled one of mine apart, so now I know that one can get them apart easy, one might even be able to buy them separate, but anyone that knows an NL320 taillight bezel will know what one is supposed to look like, so if you go this route to spruce yours up, you will likely get some shit about it not being original, maybe you can pull yours apart and use this as a replacement reflector, as they look the same.

They just snap in.

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One would have to cut the tabs off and stick it on somehow, but it would likely make it look better if you have cracked reflectors, and if you have no reflectors at all, it's a win for you.

 

EDIT

I could only find complete reflector assemblies, I could not find just the reflectors, so it is a bit spendy for just 2 reflectors. :(

I only looked in 2 places though, Ralleye and datsunparts.com, so there may be other places, but I only looked at them two.

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The roadster reflectors are kind of expensive. 

 

If I were going to reproduce the NL tail light housings I would probably get them to mold the entire metal bezel in one piece including the reflector housing attached but with the reflector removed from the housing.  That way you would have one solid piece in plastic that could be chromed.  Then you could have a small round reflector reproduced separately that you could just press in (or glue) to the re-pop plastic bezel piece. 

 

The problem there is getting a reflector reproduced--easy enough in theory but it would probably have to be a bit smaller in diameter than stock because the plating would make the opening on the re-pop bezel reflector housing a bit smaller by the thickness of the plating.  And you'd want to be sure that that process of pressing in the reflector didn't scratch off or damage the chrome plating on the plastic. 

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Personally I would not add any extras into the process, I would just see if you can have bezels made the way they are stock, it's going to be expensive enough to do that and have them chrome plated, I suspect it's going to be out of most peoples price range just to do that, it was almost $400.00 to have a small 720 grill chrome plated.

The plating is so thin that you would need a very expensive micrometer just to measure it, and you will likely get a better deal for everyone including yourself to have all the bezels plated at the same time rather than make them and let everyone else try to figure out how to get them plated themselves.

 

What Conner said above has some merit, having the reflector housing cast as part of the bezel with the reflector removed, but I still think that you will need to buy the roadster reflectors for the reflector, as they do look like the same type and are the correct size.

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In my case, I have the reflectors, so it is not an issue.  I am still moving forward on this, but some of the urgency has diminishes as I found a good set of bezels that I thought I had lost in a move.  I will probably just powder coat this set as I have never seen a good re-chrome done on pot metal that has pits.  I am sure it can be done, but I bet the cost is huge.  Thanks for all the ideas guys.

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Got a reply from a part prototyping outfit that I had found.  The mold to do a run of the plastic bezels is $1300, with each part costing $230  Then there is the plating cost...  I guess I am going to abandon this venture as I suspect that there is very little stomach for a $500 repro bezel.  I had seen that solder product previously.  I wonder how well the old bezels turn out after they are plated.  I have seen some really awful jobs done re-plating pot metal, although I guess there are guys that can do it well.  All it takes is money

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One guy just cannot soak up the cost of the mold, that is the issue about the wingwindow gaskets also, the molds are expensive, there have been a couple guys that have got as far as getting a quote, the molds always kill it(4 to 6K), and $230.00 each is a tough one to swallow also.

It seems like in the very near future we will be able to take a bezel to someone and have it 3D printed out of plastic, so hang in there, I don't think it is that far off.

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Wayno the person I know want between 2500 and 3k for the mold. Computerized design. Not a bad price for such a mold. Keep in mind that once the mold is designed he stated each set would run in between 3500 to 500 a set. Metal not plastic.

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