RX-7 Round Tail Lights

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   '95 Mazda RX-7
   '98 Honda VFR800
   '99 Ford Explorer
   '82 Yamaha Virago
   '91 Mazda Navajo
   '93 Yamaha XJ600
   '95 Kawasaki EX500

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Info and pictures about the round tail light mod by Dax McCasland

Pic 1 shows a good shot with all the lights on. It wasn't easy catching the hazards :) but you can see that there is not much loss in lighting quality
Pic 2 shows what they both look like from behind, but the hazards aren't fully on. Also, the lights are round but the digital camera makes them look jagged.
Pic 3 is a close up. You can really see how nice they look by looking at the left hand red light.
Start off by taking them apart. The two main lens pieces are screwed together with 5 or 6 screws and you have to take those off before anything else. I used what I am calling a "heat gun" but it is basically a "shrink wrap gun" used to shrink wrap stuff. This is a real cheap one that I already had but I would figure that you could buy one at Home Depot or something similiar for fewer than 10 dollars. You have to get the plastic pretty hot but don't worry about it because you will melt the glue long before you melt the plastic. I just ran the heat gun up and down the joints where the glue holds the two pieces together by holding it for a few seconds in each spot. The glue, more of a glue / caulk compound, remains sticky for a while. After you have heated up the glue seams I just used my manly strength (not really) and pulled them apart starting at the easiest end which I believe was the yellow end.

Once you get a look inside it is easy to get upset. It's kind of sad to realize how easy it would be for Mazda to sell just the internal replacement lenses. I haven't seen the new lens and housing but I have a very good feeling that it's exactly the same thing but with two new internal lenses inside - it's that easy. Inside the main housing there are two lenses total with each one help on by one screw and a little more of that glue stuff on the tabs at the other end. One lens is yellow and the other red.

Now on to the painting. I went to Office Depot and bought some sticker labels in sheets. This part was probably the hardest but if I could find a round 3 inch sticker then it would be simple. I used a compass with an exacto blade attachment and cut out 3 inch circles. I don't know how big the circles on the actual lens are but 3 inches is the biggest circle you can fit on the yellow lens so I went with that size. I decided on spacing of 1 inch apart based on the size of the circle and the position of the light bulb with the circles centered over them. I set the lenses down as they would be on the car (not a hard thing to do) and used a ruler to line up the pattern.

I used Testors Gloss Enamel Black (the one in the spray can) to paint the lenses. I think that you could use any gloss black paint you wanted but with the durability that Testors has shown on my brake calipers I felt that it was good enough. I used several coats and let each coat have adequate time to dry before applying another. I didn't want to take the chance of any light shining through the lens. I did have a few imperfections and lint that fell on the lens that I wasn't happy about but when you put it all back together you couldn't see it with a magnifying glass. They look very good. I let the paint dry overnight and removed the stickers by prying up the edge with my trusty exacto knife. My roommate thought I was insane as he always does when I start taking my car apart but thought they looked exactly like the picture I showed him.

When I first pulled the two main pieces apart I was satisfied with the amount of glue on the pieces to believe that it would be plenty to hold them together and keep any water out. As for moisture, they are vented through a tube opening so I was more concerned about water leaking in when it rained. When you touch the glue it is tacky but after you run the "heat gun" back across it it becomes crazy glue again. I would recommend not touching the glue because it gets real stringy and tries to get everywhere. After I heated the glue back up I put the two pieces together and then realized that the screws are there for. I heated the glue up one more time and, in the same fashion, took them apart. I ran the gun along the seal and used the screws to tighten the whole piece back together. If you were really concerned about water leakage you could probably apply some caulk to the seam after you were all done. They haven't seen rain yet but I will update the list when they do.

All in all it can be done in a day but letting the paint dry overnight was a good thing in my book. It wasn't the easiest job but much better than spending 500 bucks. You could take the things apart and have some body shop paint them for less than that.