Switch Restoration

Heinkel switches are one of a few high visibility items on the cars that are not available as reproductions. This may seem a little surprising since these Bosch switches were used on other German microcars of the period, including Goggos and Zundapps. A decent set of NOS (New Old Stock) ignition and turn signal switches went for close the $300 on eBay UK recently. So, if you want to complete a concours restoration, don’t have NOS switches, but can’t bear to reinstall your rusty pieces, do you have any options?

It turns out that you do. Let’s look at the switches and see what we can do.

Heinkel Cars and Cabin Scooters
Old turn signal/horn combo switches

These turn signal/horn combination switches are in typical condition. The stalks are rusty, the plastic is discolored (or painted over), and the knobs are in poor shape.  The switches are one piece plastic construction, which can’t be taken apart. Since you can’t take them apart you can’t rechrome the stalks.

I initially approached the rusty stalk problem. I considered chrome paint and foil tape and realized that neither would  be acceptable to me. Then I decided on an “encapsulation” approach. I searched out chromed tubing, but could not find anything that would work  Then I considered stainless steel, but could not find any tubing that would fit. I finally came upon aluminum tubing that would work.

Heinkel Kabines
An aluminum tube is an almost perfect fit

Here’s an example of aluminum tubing and the fit over the existing stalk. These are 1/4″ K&S aluminum tubes, with a wall diameter of .0014″. They fit snugly and have minimal wall thickness, so I decided to use them.

To make them look like chrome I highly polished them with three grades of compound, then clearcoated them to prevent oxidation.

Heinkel Cars and Cabin Scooters
Cutting tubing to size- you can use a tubing cutter too

I cut them using a standard band saw with superfine teeth. You could use a tubing cutter as well.

Heinkel Cars and Cabin Scooters
Switch with tubing sleeve

I also lightly sanded the plastic housings with superfine sandpaper. Don’t use thinners to try to strip the grime off of the switches; I tried that and it started dissolving the plastic! The last step involved the the knobs and cover for the ignition switch. The English Club sells reproductions for these items.

Heinkel Cars and Cabin Scooters
Restored Heinkel Car Switches

Here are the completed items. Almost indistinguishable from unobtainable NOS for about $20.

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