Charlies guide to polishing acrylic /plastic windows / headlights

Discussion in 'Motorhome Detailing' started by Charlie, Oct 24, 2015.

  1. Charlie

    Charlie Funster

    Joined:
    May 16, 2015
    Messages:
    2,236
    Likes Received:
    2,585
    Location:
    Herefordshire / Worcestershire borders .
    Many MH owners have plastic or acrylic windows on their vans and its often been asked how to deal with these when they become scratched by perhaps bushes or tree branches when going down narrow lanes or become swirled from washing.

    The truth is polishing these elements is about as easy as it gets when we endevour to remove these scratch or swirl marks from any surfaces .

    There are many products designed to polish these areas . Do we need them ? AN EMPHATIC NO !

    To restore plastic / acrylic windows. Window guards , Front headlights, Or rear light clusters all you need are ordinary traditional car bodywork polishes. All the fancy products are re packaged and/or Re branded automotive polishes only several times the price .

    As with any polishing task Always start with a low cut polish and increase the level of cut only if the marks are disappearing . A low cut is safe and will correct the finish but may just take a wee while longer.

    Always lubricate the polishing pad with water misted over whatever you are polishing. This will accelerate the speed at so as to break the polish down so it will cut and will aid the overall speed of finish.

    ALWAYS try a small area first before committing to say a large window. Its just to ensure the polish and pad combination is not destructive.

    Headlights that have yellowed can be restored but is fair to say they will usually discolor after time but polishing them back time after time is acceptable.

    By machine select a low cut polish and a soft pad (Usual blue) Polish at no more than speed number 3 which is nice and slow. Slow really is so much safer and there is far less risk of damage from heat build up. Plus its much easier anyway !

    It is possible of course to restore these elements by polishing by hand. Its going to be slow but possible nonetheless.
     
    • Like Like x 12
  2. ambulancekidd

    ambulancekidd Funster

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2014
    Messages:
    536
    Likes Received:
    1,306
    Location:
    Ayrshire Scotland
    I've always used T-cut to polish the face on my watch which has been scratched half to death. Just use it in a straight line & never swirls & its always come out perfectly. I bought a caravan a number of years ago that someone had taken a deck scrubber to!!!! I was busy looking for windows & decided to try the T-cut trick, I had nothing to lose but they came out perfectly! Again, just always in straight lines & hey presto. I know the chemicals are harsh but that caravan belongs to a friend of mine & its still tip top.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  3. Mattyjwr

    Mattyjwr Funster Life Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2013
    Messages:
    1,817
    Likes Received:
    3,124
    Location:
    Beds
    I've used polish and wet and dry paper to good effect.
     
    • Like Like x 4
  4. Steve devon

    Steve devon Funster

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2014
    Messages:
    184
    Likes Received:
    127
    Brasso
     
    • Like Like x 1
  5. TheBig1

    TheBig1 Funster Life Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2011
    Messages:
    7,220
    Likes Received:
    9,600
    Location:
    Dorset
    you really do need to use wet and dry in various grades to remove deep scratches. but then finish with cutting compound and polish. when done right, its like having new windows as you have removed the pitted and scratched surface. makes a massive difference to the appearance especially if preparing a motorhome or caravan for sale. have lost count of the number i have done over the years
     
    • Like Like x 3
  6. FJmike

    FJmike Funster

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2014
    Messages:
    636
    Likes Received:
    730
    Location:
    Swindon
    This is where I have to disagree with Charlie ( slightly ). Having polished literally hundreds of van windows I can recommend Meguiars Plastic, good results can be obtained by hand polishing but to get crystal clear plastic windows it's best to use a DA polisher , using Charleis method this will ensure you do not build up too much heat and not damage the window. Be very cautious using a polisher as all poly windows fitted to motor homes an caravans are coated and if you are too agresive you can polish through this coating, resulting in a very blotchy finish
     
    • Like Like x 2
  7. John Laidler

    John Laidler Funster

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2013
    Messages:
    8,573
    Likes Received:
    11,553
    Location:
    Plympton, Devon
    The suggestion from Charlie is for glass windows, not plastic.
     
  8. FJmike

    FJmike Funster

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2014
    Messages:
    636
    Likes Received:
    730
    Location:
    Swindon
    I tink your mistaken DBK :):):)
     
  9. Mattyjwr

    Mattyjwr Funster Life Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2013
    Messages:
    1,817
    Likes Received:
    3,124
    Location:
    Beds
    Charlie did a similar thread today on glass polishing :)
     
  10. FJmike

    FJmike Funster

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2014
    Messages:
    636
    Likes Received:
    730
    Location:
    Swindon
    I have seen Brass recommended on another forum, personally I wouldn't be too happy using something that contained that much ammonia
     
    • Like Like x 2
  11. jezport

    jezport Funster

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2008
    Messages:
    1,635
    Likes Received:
    1,067
    Location:
    West Yorkshire
    Brasso and Tcut have ammonia and other nasties in them and should not be used on plastic windows. Some plastics can be degraded using them. The thing to remember is certain plastics can be damaged by certain chemicals. i.e. polycarbonate will be completly dissolved if treated with acetone, that is one of the reasons why polycarbonate headlights and lenses have a coating on them. A second reason is polycarbonate is extremly strong, in fact 10 times stronger than many plastics, but without the coating even a wipe with a soft tissue would cause scratching as its a very soft plastic. So, if you polish the coating off polycarbonate you would need to have it re-coated. Plastic headlights are very likely to be polycarbon.

    Use the correct product for the plastic you are treating. You might think you are saving £5 or £6 but you may cost yourself £100s in repairs !
     
  12. jezport

    jezport Funster

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2008
    Messages:
    1,635
    Likes Received:
    1,067
    Location:
    West Yorkshire
    For glass windows you need jewelers rouge or Cerium Oxide . But be careful jewelers rouge it stains many surfaces, is hard to work and can polish optical aberrations into the surface making the window unpleasant to look through.
     
  13. Jimbohorlicks

    Jimbohorlicks Funster

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2012
    Messages:
    640
    Likes Received:
    822
    Location:
    Cheshire
    Thanks Charlie(y) can you please advise which product you use or would recommend?:)
     
  14. John Laidler

    John Laidler Funster

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2013
    Messages:
    8,573
    Likes Received:
    11,553
    Location:
    Plympton, Devon
    Yes I am! Sorry. :):):):)
     
    • Like Like x 2
  15. John Laidler

    John Laidler Funster

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2013
    Messages:
    8,573
    Likes Received:
    11,553
    Location:
    Plympton, Devon
    Indeed, getting my Charlies confused! :unsure:
     
    • Like Like x 3
  16. Charlie

    Charlie Funster

    Joined:
    May 16, 2015
    Messages:
    2,236
    Likes Received:
    2,585
    Location:
    Herefordshire / Worcestershire borders .
    Mike I never said the dedicated products didn't work I said there is no need to buy them. Any low cut automotive polish will achieve IMO the same or better results..

    I imagine most of those who have polishing machines will have DA machines rather then Rotary but it matters not as long as the slow cut way of polishing is applied And the correct soft pad is used .

    I mentioned clearly that a test area MUST or at least should be tried and I would underline that but we cannot edit posts for some reason after a short time.

    Brasso Or Tcut ? Hells teeth these vile products should be disposed of ! They have the capability to completely ruin any material they are applied to except the specific materials there WERE designed to be used on and even then the BIN is still the best place for them.

    Cerium Oxide has been mentioned in this thread.
    For the purpose of clarity NEVER EVER USE CERIUM OXIDE ON POLY/PLASTIC/ OR ACRYLIC materials or you can and very likely WILL ruin them.

    Cerium Oxide are very similar in base products to Jewelers rouge . But jewelers rouge can (But does not always) contain highlighting colour additives which as Jezport mentions can leave a light staining. Please remember I never mentioned Jewelers rouge in the thread specifically written on polishing Glass. NOR WOULD I EVER USE THAT PRODUCT ON VEHICLE WINDOWS.

    I agree with Jezport again on not using a cheap or wrong product. I think that's covered now.

    But to clarify further there is often no need to buy products that are or look to be specifically made to do one job in this case polishing Plastic/Acrylic. By all means if you are unsure buy them. For me I will use what I have provided no damage will occur and the product will achieve the results I want.

    Lastly and with respect it bloody horrifies me when someone who clearly knows nothing about the subject suggests taking wet and dry paper to windows on flaming expensive vehicles. Sorry but again with respect that is just stupid.

    In detailing we can correct plastic/acrylic by a method we call wet sanding .

    Wet sanding can be done to various surfaces like those mentioned above and car paint. Wet sanding is an EXTREMELY RISKY business undertaken by only the very highly skilled and confident/competent people !

    On car or what I call Automotive bodywork we when wet sanding use dual layer PTGs (Paint Thickness Gauges) These PTGs in dual layer form cost around £2.000 and up. So I would have to suppose not many even keen detailers have them and even if they did they would work on car Automotive bodywork and not on Plastic/Acrylic windows. Not that there is any laquer on those windows but there can be a coating.

    What Im trying to say is DO NOT take wet and dry to your windows. I cannot stress enough the damage that can be done. Ask me to do the same to your windows and you will get told where to go. Its to risky.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  17. Diesel

    Diesel Read Only Funster

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2015
    Messages:
    154
    Likes Received:
    62
    Location:
    Birmingham
    @Charlie - a question if I may - I plan soon to polish our windows, I understand once headlamps are polished they will again oxidize, my question is does the headlamp oxidisation happen quicker after headlamps have been polished (Are they UV coated?) and if so will my windows on the Hymer oxidise quickly after polishing if unprotected - should I apply sealant after?

    Cheers
     
  18. Mattyjwr

    Mattyjwr Funster Life Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2013
    Messages:
    1,817
    Likes Received:
    3,124
    Location:
    Beds
    To clarify, I've had good results using wet and dry on acrylic headlights - they were yellowed and hazy before and failed the MOT but were restored to clear with very fine wet no dry (1,000 up to 4,000 grit) and passed. The coating had deteriorated so wasn't offering any uv protection. The headlights require a quick buff once a year to resore.
     
    • Useful Useful x 1
  19. Charlie

    Charlie Funster

    Joined:
    May 16, 2015
    Messages:
    2,236
    Likes Received:
    2,585
    Location:
    Herefordshire / Worcestershire borders .
    Use of a sealant will help.. Sealants need time to cure typically 15 minutes or so. Read the label to be sure and apply twice..
     
  20. Charlie

    Charlie Funster

    Joined:
    May 16, 2015
    Messages:
    2,236
    Likes Received:
    2,585
    Location:
    Herefordshire / Worcestershire borders .
    You can use wet and dry but go for ultra light cut. Of course polish after to remove the fine marks wet and dry leave.

    It is only necessary to use it on extremely bad units. Most will not need to do it .
     
    • Useful Useful x 1
Loading...

Share This Page