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dogface_313 07-15-2011 10:21 AM

Tinted Tails with VHT Nite Shades
This is my DIY on how to tint your own tails.

1. Remove tails and reflectors.

1(a.) Lift gate tails are removed in two steps
i. remove the interior panel.
This is done by simply wedging a small putty knife(i wrapped mine in painters tape to avoid marring) between the trim panel and the lift gate itself. Below is the actual trim piece. As you can see there are several plastic push pins that hold it on. Pull firmly but carefully because you don't want to break these.

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ii. There are 4 nuts that hold the lift gate tails on. Loosen and remove all four and the lift gate tails will just pull out. Be sure to pull slowly because the bulbs are still connected and you will need to disconnect before proceeding. Below are the pictures showing the 4 nuts in question.

Two that could only be accessed by removing the trim.

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Two that are on the outer edges of the lift gate.

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1(b.) Remove the main reverse/brake tail
These tails are very simple to remove. There are two push pins that must be pulled out, use a flat head screw driver and simply pry them out. Then once those are removed you pull the tail straight to the rear. there are two metal prongs on the front end of the tail so do not torque them, pull straight back.

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The reflectors simply pop right off. There is a small clip that holds them on. Pry that with your thumb and pull them off. The passenger side one is a pain because of its proximity to the muffler. Don't attempt to pull this off after you have been driving you will burn yourself.

2. With the tails removed there is a large opening where they were installed. This opening leads straight into the passenger compartment. As my garage is my work space the Jeep will be sitting outside. I solved this with some cling wrap and some painters tape.

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3. Tape off anything you don't want tinted.

I am very detailed oriented(read:anal retentive) so I taped everything that I did not want tinted including the backside. I also taped off the reverse section because I enjoy having as much light as possible to back up at night.

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Getting the corners correct on the reverse section is a pain, and mine are not perfect. But in order to see those defects you are going to have to be very very close.

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4. Wet Sanding
The key word here is "WET". The whole point of this step is to prep the surface for the Nite Shades. The smooth surface is not going to allow the tint to adhere well. So what we do here is simply "scuff" it up a bit. We are trying to allow the paint something to stick to.

I used 800 grit paper and allowed it to sit in the water for a bout 20 minutes prior to start. Place it on a sand block, and sand in one direction. I usually went the length direction to allow longer strokes. Be sure to be thorough and hit everything that is going to be tinted. Below is a 50/50 that shows how easy it is to tell what has been hit already. The dull area is what we are going for.

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5. Wipe surface
This is self explanatory but you want a clean surface. The last thing we want is dust or other particles in the smooth surface we are looking for. I placed a little 10/1 70% IPA on a microfiber and wiped them clean. Give this a minute or two to dry.

6. Apply first coat
I don't have an action picture because in my mind the first coat is the most important and I was taking my time/concentrating when i laid it down. The key things here are:
a. Start about 6 inches off of either side of the piece you are spraying, holding the can roughly 8-10 inches from the part.
b. Move your hand smoothly and in a uniform motion ensuring total coverage.
c. The first coat is a light coat so don't be alarmed if it seems like you have not covered everything.
Below is a picture of the parts after the first coat.

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Ok, a little lunch and then back out to wet sand the first coat with 1000 grit and then apply a second coat.

08Hemi 07-15-2011 12:58 PM

Re: Tinted Tails with VHT Nite Shades
great start on the write-up...I am sure this will help out some wk2 owners...looking forward to the final product :)

1200RT-P 07-15-2011 02:32 PM

Re: Tinted Tails with VHT Nite Shades
makings of a great writeup. In for more.

dogface_313 07-15-2011 03:02 PM

Re: Tinted Tails with VHT Nite Shades

7. Sanding
After letting the first coat dry for about an hour I then began sanding. The goal of this sanding was to make the first coat as smooth and even as possible. The Nite Shades itself is very watery and because of that you do get a good deal of "orange peel". Orange peel is the area where it looks like it is pitted, i.e. like an orange peel. This is really no big deal and can be handled fairly simply with some more wet sanding.

There are no pictures for this step as it is the exact same as the prior sanding, but instead this time use the 1000 grit sand paper. After you have created a uniform surface go ahead and lighten the pressure you are sanding with. Your final pass should be very very light pressure just allowing the grit to do the work. This is similar to compounding or polishing paint where you decrease the pressure you use to simulate using a less aggressive product as you finish.

8. Apply second/third/... Coat
I applied a total of three coats. In between each coat you should repeat step 7. This is necessary to ensure that your next coat has a nice smooth foundation to adhere to. By the time I applied the third coat the tails had a nice smooth coverage to them.

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At this point the required very little sanding. I used 1500 grit to give them a nice finish for the clear coat to adhere to.

9. The next step is to apply the Clear coat.

This is done similar to the actual Nite Shades however it is laid down heavier then the nite shades. After you have prepped the tails lay them down again for the clear coat. As before start 6 inches off to one side and make overlapping passes. Hold the can about 5-6 inches away and slow the actual motion of you hand down on these passes.

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The image above is after the first coat of the clear coat.

This is the progress so far. I am going to let the clear coat get a good cure over night before doing anything else. Tomorrow I am going to assess whether I think the one coat of clear is enough or if I am going to do another. The final steps will be to use a swirl remove, glaze, and sealant. I normally wax my lights so that will be the finishing step.

Everything is meeting and beating my expectations so far. The results are looking great. I didn't expect as much orange peel as happened but it was not that hard to deal with. I started this at roughly 9 am this morning with an hour lunch break so it has been about 6 hrs so far. Looking forward to the finished product.

dogface_313 07-17-2011 01:17 PM

Just sprayed a third coat of clear. I am taking more time then really needed on these just to make sure i get it right. Should have these done tomorrow. Going to sand the clear then compound and polish. I will post pictures of my final steps.

dogface_313 07-19-2011 09:35 AM

Re: Tinted Tails with VHT Nite Shades
So after applying 3 coats of clear, I had a nice thick clear coat laid down.

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As you can see in the photo above the surface is not a nice uniform and smooth surface. So guess what, you get to do some more sanding. Fun fun.

10. Sanding clear

Sanding of the clear is similar to that of the Nite Shades. You must be sure to use ample water to keep the surface lubricated, you don't want to dry sand because this will just strip the clear right off.

Start with the 1500 grit to even the surface. I really recommend starting with a sanding block because this will allow you to achieve the most even surface. Eventually you will be forced to switch to just a piece of sandpaper in your hand. Take a full sheet and fold it in have twice. Then use just the pressure of your finger tips. The main goal here is uniform material removal.

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The above photo is what your piece should look like after the 1500 grit sanding. Once again you want a smooth even surface. Don't worry about it being dull, we are going to take care of that.

**Side bar: I am an avid car detailer, and am a member of several detailing forums. One great piece of advice I picked up was to always do a "test spot" (as championed by Mike Phillips of autogeek, got to give credit where it is due). This is basically a spot where you test out your process, equipment, and selected materials all the way to completion to be sure that you get the desired results. It should always be done in an inconspicuous spot, as such I choose to use one of the reflectors as my "test spot"

Following the 1500 grit I moved onto the 2K grit. This sanding is different from your previous sanding, because you are not leveling the surface so to speak but instead you are simply removing the 1500 grit sanding marks. we are simply refining the surface from here on out. The same rules apply, keep the surface wet, and as you begin to finish with this step reduce the applied pressure.

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Above is the "test spot" after sanding with the 2K grit. Nice smooth even surface.

11. Polishing

To remove the sanding marks you will use a polish. I used a two step correction process using the "Wolfgang twins". These being the Wolfgang Total Swirl Remover(TSR), and the Wolfgang Finishing Glaze(FG). The polishing was accomplished using a Porter Cable(PC) 7274 XP dual action polisher and lake county CCS Pads. I used an orange pad with the TSR and a white pad with the FG.

I started with the TSR applied to the orange pad, and then followed that with the FG and a white pad. I am not going to go into exactly how to use a PC for polishing but if you would like more knowledge on this there are tons of forums out there that can help.

Below are before and after pictures of the one of the lift gate tails after the TSR.

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Below is a picture of one of the reflectors after the FG.

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12. Seal/Wax
Finally you should apply a sealant or wax whichever you prefer as you would to the rest of your paint. Remember your tails are now a painted part and should be cared for as such.

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Above is the finished product

Things I learned/recommendations:

Plan for this being a two day process. I had mine spread out over several days but that was because of other things that came up. You want ample time for the clear to dry before you sand and polish it. I would recommend over night.

Don't do heavy sanding between coats. I did this and it is one of the reasons I am not quite happy with the results. This is true for both the nite shades and the clear. You are going to encounter orange peel no matter what you do(with this process and equipment). Just use light sanding to allow do adhesion and deal with the orange peel all at once. this would have done two things for me
1. save A LOT of time
2. Allowed a much heavier over all coat.

My tails did not come out as dark as I was going for, they are close but not quite. Also I don't think they are as uniform looking as I like. I peg that up to over sanding between coats.

This is time consuming, quite an arm workout, and the results are mixed. For about $36 in material and about 12 hours of labor was it worth it? I'm not sure, it may be better to just send them off and get them done by the pros. I did learn a lot and I am going to attempt this again and fix what I didn't like from what I learned this go. If you have any questions or suggestions please feel free to contact me.

robpp 07-19-2011 09:58 AM

Re: Tinted Tails with VHT Nite Shades
while a great learning experience, and may i say 'great detailed write-up', there is nothing like the pro painters can do. the clear that they lay on cannot ever be matched using a rattle can IMO.

Chaoul1 07-19-2011 10:46 AM

Re: Tinted Tails with VHT Nite Shades
Wow...Somply amazing! Looks really good! Thanks for the Write-Up!

sined240 07-20-2011 09:41 PM

Re: Tinted Tails with VHT Nite Shades
looks better than those guys who almost smoke it out, even though im not a fan of smoked tails...looks too aftermarket

lll2for3lll 07-20-2011 09:47 PM

Re: Tinted Tails with VHT Nite Shades

I probably would have sanded and then taped off the reverse reflectors.

lll2for3lll 07-20-2011 09:49 PM

Re: Tinted Tails with VHT Nite Shades
Also, good job on the preparation. I'm also anal when it comes to doing thing write rather than taking shortcuts.

Good job man. That's the way it should be done.

dogface_313 07-21-2011 06:51 AM

After having them on for a few days they have really grown on me. I was at the dealer yesterday and had my jeep side by side with a stock tails setup. The tint i did drastically cuts down the stop sign image the stock has, but is not too dark. Overall I am very happy.

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