Datsun 240Z Tail Light Refurbish

240Z Tail Light Refurbish

If the tail light lenses in your 240Z are in sound shape, consider replacing the center chrome trim strip – for a ‘reasonable’ price this provides a very nice looking result.

240Z Tail Light Assembly - Assembly Front Before

Light assembly before the fix.

My tail light assemblies are mostly in good shape. The lenses are intact, with some minor cracking. The color is good. However, the trim strip running across the middle of the lens was very badly pitted, forcing me to paint it black. It has always bothered me.

Here is a BRILLIANT post with even more photos and some other excellent tips.  Suggested reading!  classiczcars.com 240z tail light refurbishment by Dr. 240Z of New Brunswick Canada.

New trim strips

I finally broke down an purchased the Replacement Tail Light Trim Set, 70-73 240Z (Code:33-1169, Price: $144.95) from MotorSport Auto. Happy Birthday To Me (and Christmas). These strips are damn expensive, but compared to $600+ for reproduction tail lights and $800+ for NOS, all of a sudden $150 seems oddly reasonable!

Removing the old lens

240Z Tail Light Assembly - Rear View

Light assembly rear view showing location of push nut retainer

Hot water and lots of it. The colored plastic lens is attached to the backing plate by one push nut bolt retainer and a caulking-like adhesive that softens when warmed. The push nut bolt retainer is indicated by the circle in the image to the right. These are a bitch to remove without damaging everything, and this one is in a really crappy place to attempt a non-destructive removal. Since I had no plans to keep the old trim strip, I just broke off the plastic pin and popped off the push nut. Soak the assembly in hot water – I used hot tap water with lots of gentle prying and careful ‘digging out’ of the adhesive. GO SLOW AND HAVE PATIENCE – forcing the situation will yield expensive results.

Removing the old trim strip

240Z Tail Light Assembly - trim strips and hardware

Trim Strips and Hardware new (bottom) vs. old (topP

240Z Tail Light Assembly - Lens Rear View Small

Lens Rear View

240Z Tail Light Assembly - Clips Close-up

Close-up of mounting clips

The trim strip is held on to the plastic lens by three clips, two small and one large. Under each of these is what is left of a small rubber washer. My light only had 2 of the three pins, highlighted in the blue rectangle and enlarged in the lower image (note some cracking of the lens can be seen also).

I pried off the clips taking care to not do any damage to the plastic lens. This photo shows the hardware – including the remnants of the rubber washers.

The new trim strip is included at the bottom for reference. I would encourage you to purchase new fasteners rather than try to reuse whatever you can salvage. Do it right, to it once.

What you need to buy:

  • Replacement Tail Light Trim Set, 70-73 240Z (MotorSport Auto)
  • 6 each Push Nut Bolt Retainer #6 (you only need 4, but trust me, you’ll dick-up at least two of them)
  • 2 Flat Type Rectangular Speed Nuts #12
  • Clear silicon adhesive/caulking (to re-attach the colored lens to the backing plate)
  • Rubber grommets, one to fit the large center pin (Approx 4.85mm dia) and two rubber grommets for the smaller pins (Appprox 3.55mm dia). These will be cut in half, so you only need one grommet per two pins.
  • Cement to repair any cracks (if necessary)

I was able to find the Push nuts and Speed Nuts at my local True Value hardware store for under a buck fifty. I got #10 flat speed nuts, and they were too small, I had to open them up, not easy.

Making the rubber washers

240Z Tail Light Assembly - Cutting the Grommets

Cutting a standard grommet to make rubber washers

Using a utility knife, carefully cut all the grommets so you end up with two rubber ‘washers’ from each grommet. In the image, one ‘washer’ has already been cut off and the second one is being removed now. Go slow. Fixing the cracks in the plastic Wash the plastic lens thoroughly with warm soapy water inside and out. Allow to dry completely. Use an air gun to blow any water out of the cracks.

 

 

 

 

240Z Tail Light Assembly - Cement

Cement to strengthen cracks

I used a Styrene & ABS plastic solvent cement since my cracks were very fine and there was no gaps to fill. This solvent is very thin (water-like) and wicks quickly into the cracks. Add it carefully until no more wicks into the crack. Moderation is key here.

Putting it together

240Z Tail Light Assembly - Completed lens rear view

New trim strip added

Put the trim strip onto the plastic lens and put it face-down on a rag or towel on a firm surface. Slide the three rubber washers over the pins. Put the smaller Push Nuts over the two end pins. Using an 8mm deep wall socket as a ‘driver tool’, line up neatly on top of the Push Nut and give it a smack. It is important to drive these Push Nuts down around their entire circumference – otherwise they are very prone to bending. This is why you buy 6 instead of just 4.

Push down the rectangular speed nut over the center pin. Turn the unit over and bask in the beauty of the restoration. Using clear silicon caulk/adhesive, replace the lens onto the back panel. Hold firmly together while drying. I used large woodworking rubber bands.

240Z Tail Light Assembly - Completed Lens Front View

New trim strip added, front view

Summary

I am super-pleased with the results. If your plastic lenses are in good shape, this is a good way to bring them back to life without costing a whole paycheck.

Alternate Source

I know nothing about this source for aftermarket trim strips.  Provided FYI only:
www.classiczcars.com/topic/50787-better-than-new-240z-taillight-trim/

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