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Color Restoration

Okay class, today we are going to resurrect the dead, so please pay attention and take notes.

Seriously though, color restoration is not an easy task, but on the other hand, you don't need to have a big workshop to do it. The method I show here can be done at home with a modest investment and still get good results in about 45 minutes. The finished product can be nearly as good as factory if you take time and do it right.

Ericofons are prone to "color fade". This is when they discolor and take on a nicotine yellow hue to them. It's a combination of age and exposure to sunlight. I have found that some colors discolor more than others. Red for instance rarely discolors. Blue and gray are notorious faders. Also, some colors fade "deeper" than others. When restoring a white, not much sanding is needed to get back to the original color. On the other hand, gray fades very deep and needs to have the beegeebers sanded out of it.

I recently completed a major color restoration on a Princess Pink. CLICK HERE to take a look.

refurb1.jpg (14313 bytes) Starting off, you can see the poor soul on the left is actually a "Taj Mahal" (white) and needs a bit of help. I placed a comparable phone on the right. As you can see, the color is faded pretty badly.

I start out first by cleaning the dirt and grime with a cleaner called "Formula 409". It's basically a spray cleaner with de-greasers.

When cleaning, be sure not to spray a lot of cleaner into the ear holes. Also, it's best to remove the transmitter element (at the bottom) before starting.

refurb2.jpg (14134 bytes) Okay, as you can see, the cleaner went a long way to getting rid of the grime.

Next is sanding. I start out with 180 grit on a palm sander. A palm sander is the best bet as it moves extremely fast, and in a circular motion. This helps prevent sanding lines, especially if you have to dig deep.

If the color fade isn't too deep, I will start with 320, but in most cases I end up starting with 180 so I don't spend forever trying to get the color back.


refurb3.jpg (13836 bytes) In this case, I went with 180 grit paper. The 320 was just progressing too slowly. I stopped half way up the phone to take a picture to show the progress.

You want to look at the shell under good light to look for fading. If you see any color differences, continue the coarse sanding. Once you proceed to finer grits of paper you won't be changing color any more, only smoothing. The best way to know what color your phone should be is to look inside the shell, they never color fade inside.

After getting the color the way you want it, progress to 400 grit paper, then 600, then 1000 grit. You should try to spend around 5 minutes or more per grit. The more you sand, the smoother you get. Don't try to change color with any of the finer grits, it just won't happen. All color restoration must be accomplished with the coarser grits.

refurb4.jpg (12864 bytes) Here's the shell after 1000 grit paper. There are 2 ways to go from here. You can go to buffing on a "spiral sewed" wheel with tripoli compound, or you can use 2000 grit sandpaper.

I use 2 wheels on a standard 6" home bench grinder. The first wheel is a "spiral sewed" (#40) using tripoli compound. The second is a "cushion sewed" (#36) wheel with PBC compound.

WARNING: The bench grinder turns WAY too fast for buffing, so you have to be very very careful not to melt the shell. Always keep it moving, keep the pressure light, and don't dwell in concentrated areas allowing heat build up. ALSO, be very careful how you hold the shell against the wheel. If it gets hold of the shell, you'll have a lot of little bits of plastic everywhere and no phone (and possibly an injury from the plastic shrapnel). Don't go too slowly, but down go too fast either. I have found that going just the right speed to allow the plastic to warm up a bit causes the plastic to "reflow" to some extent. This will get you very close to a factory shine if not a perfect match.

refurb5.jpg (8709 bytes) I tried to get a picture here to show the difference in shine between a restored phone and an original finish. You can see that the reflections are just a bit on the dull side with the restored phone. Even so, it still looks good by itself.
refurb6.jpg (17637 bytes) Here's my "arsenal". The wheel on the left is the spiral sewed, the one on the right is the cushion sewed. This is a bench grinder I already had, I just took the guards off and used washers to space the wheels away from the motor for more room to move. The cushion sewed wheel is great for shining up phones too, not just for restoring. If you have a phone that isn't color faded, but just dull, this wheel is great for making it look new again. And if it has some scratching, the spiral sewed is good for buffing those out before shining up. These wheels and compounds are readily available at just about any hardware store.

The palm sander is one I bought specifically for working on phones. It has a square pad on it that is great at getting into tight places using the corners of the pad.


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