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How to Restore an ABS Plastic Grille
When restoring older cars, it is often too expensive to replace a broken grille. And, that is assuming a new grille is available. In cases where new parts are too expensive, too difficult to find, or, impossible to find, you will need to restore what is already there. The ABS Grille on this 1971 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser is a good example. It has cracks and missing pieces.
Step by Step Instructions
This grille has cracks and missing pieces. This "How-To" will just show how to create the missing piece.
Drop the molding bars into boiling water. Heat the water in the microwave. It takes just a few minutes. Allow enough time for the heat to soften the molding bars all the way through and remove the molding bars from the boiling water. They will be soft and pliable for a short time.
While the molding bars are still soft, press them onto an existing part to create a negative. Hold it in place until the molding bar cools off. This will be the pattern that you will use to create the missing piece.
Tape the molding bar into place. This particular piece has a curve and we didn’t have a curved section to make a pattern with, so we used aluminum tape to create a pattern for the curved part.
Squeeze 2 or 3 drops of liquid onto the powder then use the tip of the needle to stab the ball of liquid and powder. The hole of the needle is on the side of the needle; not at the tip. When you transfer the ball of liquid and powder to the pattern, give the bottle another squeeze. The liquid will run down the side of the needle and wash off the ball. Continue using this method until the mold is filled with PlastiFix.
Another technique to apply Plastifix is to sprinkle a thin layer of powder, then saturate the powder with drops of liquid. Keep adding layers until you get the desired thickness.
On more thing… this technique works best on horizontal surfaces.
Allow time for the PlastiFix to cure fully before removing the tape and molding bar.
Sand PlastiFix smooth starting with 180 grit sandpaper and then 320 grit sand paper.
It looks pretty rough right now.
Use a rotary tool or sand paper to get the cured plastifix to the right shape.
Mix a small amount of Putty Flex with cream hardener on a mixing board and apply the Putty Flex the best that you can with a spreader. In the curved area, it is easier to apply it with your finger.
Sand the Putty flex with 180 grit sand paper and finish sanding it with 320 grit sand paper to get it really smooth.
Apply primer to the grille and it will be ready to paint.
As you can see, the grille looks great. Now, for the rest of the car.