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Old 08-28-2015, 07:43 PM   #1
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How-To: Casting my own Pathfinder/Bargman clearance lights

If you didn't know...those teardrop clearance lights used on thousands of RV, campers, and trailers are no longer being manufactured as of this year. First made by Bargman, then Pathfinder (662), and then Blazer. I watched 5 of these lights sell for $216 on ebay. I just need the lenses!!

So I found this product Alumilite and I'm casting my own lenses. I purchases all the proper materials to make a rubber mold and start the production! Today I started on the mold making. Check out the pics. I will update this daily as I go along. The hope it to make 7 amber lenses and 7 red. I only need 5 of each, but I'd like 2 spares. Luckily I had one single lens in perfect shape!

BTW..this forums is poor as image posting. It has taken me longer to post photos than start the mold. I finally used an external image host service.

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Old 08-28-2015, 08:20 PM   #2
Restorations done right
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I am curious how this will go. I think the bases is going to be more difficult to reproduce.
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Old 08-28-2015, 08:33 PM   #3
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See last sentence in first paragraph. lol
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Old 09-02-2015, 01:18 PM   #4
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NAILED IT









The orange one in the last picture is my reproduction. It took 7 tries to crack the code on making these but now they are coming out BEAUTIFULLY. The key: pressure pot. They don't look any different than the originals. I just have to clean up the edges and drill the center hole. I'm going to start cranking these out now!
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Old 09-02-2015, 06:24 PM   #5
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Sweet!
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Old 09-02-2015, 07:01 PM   #6
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Thumbs up

"BTW..this forums is poor as image posting. It has taken me longer to post photos than start the mold. I finally used an external image host service."

Try TinyPic




Like to see them BIGGER....

Bob
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Old 09-17-2015, 07:44 AM   #7
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Wow! Those covers are fantastic. Do you sell them?
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Old 09-17-2015, 03:15 PM   #8
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Nice work. I'd love to try that!
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Old 09-17-2015, 03:23 PM   #9
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"In-obtainium" overcome!

I think you've just started a cottage industry. If you don't want to make them for forum members you'll probably be wise to tell them where to obtain the directions, materials, and what glitches you had to overcome - like the pressure pot. Now the dumb question from someone who will NEVER do this kind of work - could you have used a regular kitchen pressure cooker instead?


VERY NICE of you to share. I'm sure you've saved more than one restorer's hair.

Paula
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Old 09-17-2015, 10:40 PM   #10
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I think this is just amazing! Knowledge+nerve+determination= wonderdul solution. You AS'ers are the embodiment of ingenuity. Call me impressed. I'd love to see the step by step of your process unless of course you'd rather sell 'em to this TX gal? :-) :-) :-)
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Old 09-18-2015, 08:10 AM   #11
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Comprehensive How-To...don't say I never helped anyone!

What you will need:

All obtained from Alumilite.com for $100 Great service and great product!
-Water Clear resin (1lb is plenty! you could make 50 lenses with that)
-Plat 55 Silicone (1lb)
-Rubber to Rubber mold release
-Red dye
-Orange dye
-Synthetic Clay

Harbor Freight:
-Pressure pot $100 (I returned mine when I was done...free loan)
Paint Pressure Tank - 2-1/2 Gallon

Great instructions on their site:
How to make a mold: http://www.alumilite.com/PDFs/Printa...-Equipment.pdf
How to cast a lens:
http://www.alumilite.com/PDFs/Printa...h-Equiment.pdf

Now I am going to tell you what to do outside of their instructions.

FIRST OF ALL!! If you are not an obsessive compulsive this job is not for you. Haha. I am relentless once I set my mind on something. I first set off down this path because I am a purist and want the original look. VTS is going to start making these lights but in LED and I assumed that even if they were $10 each I would have $100 in, so why not just do it myself for $100 (I almost regret this decision due to how hard casting resin can be). YOU MUST HAVE A PRESSURE POT. The compression in the pot keeps the bubbles from expanding and ruining your lens. One thing I did not do that the alumilite instructions say is the vacuum degassing. That's about a $300 investment I didn't want to make.

First make your mold. Follow the instructions from Alumite on this process but instead of degassing in a vacuum chamber just allow the rubber to cure in the pressure pot at 30-40PSI. I first used High Strength 2 rubber for my mold and later realized it couldn't handle the pressure pot so I made a second one with Plat 55.

Find a material to house the mold. Form the clay and set the original piece.




Pour the first half and let this set overnight and it comes out like this.


Apply the mold release and then pour the second half.




Here is my second mold with Plat55. A harder rubber and it cured it in pressure to reduce air bubbles in it. But I did make a mistake on this mold and was able to somewhat save it but ended up with air bubbles on the edge, which you can see in my castings.


Now it's time to cast some resin!

First pour the Side A of the Water Clear resin. You are suppose to weigh it but I didn't need much and I used the numbers on these tiny cups.


Apply a tiny drop of the dye. TINY


Stir in the dye


Now add the Side B up to number 4 on the cup. This resin is a 50/50 mix and is VERY sensitive. DO NOT deviate from a 50/50 mix or it will never cure.


STIR IS FOR EXACTLY 3 MINUTES. Trust me on this. I once stirred for only 2 minutes and it never cured properly. Learn from my mistake.

Heat the mold in the microwave for 60 seconds. Then pour the resin in.


Brush some resin on the other half to help reduce surface tension and reduce air bubbles.


Put it together. DO NOT MESS WITH IT. You start messing with this and you'll get thin lenses and all kinds of other crap. Just put it together and leave it be.


Now place the mold in the pressure pot. I liked to carry the mold on this little plate I made so that I wasn't accidentally squeezing it and causing issues. TRUST ME, DO NOT man handle the mold once you've poured the resin.


Connect the air compressor and get to 50PSI and let it set for about 4 hours.


Separate the mold.


The first time I had one come out this good I almost cried (after a week of failures and frustrations and realizing all I needed was the pressure pot)


Now it just needs some trim with scissors. YOU MUST let it set for a week to fully cure.


The resin is still soft so be very careful handling it. Again, it take a week to fully cure.


You can see the rough edges. I plan to clean this up and polish them once fully cured. The little bubbles are from my mistake on the mold process. But I am confident I can sand those off and polish with plastic headlight polish (and it's the edge and I could care less )


You can see I've been making quite a few. I have 22 lenses after a week of pouring them as I have time.


This is what happens when you DO NOT have a pressure pot. Tons of air bubbles. I was super discouraged when I tried so many times and got no where.
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