invisible bra

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retrobrd

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I picked up my yellow/white Friday afternoon and spent all day Sat and a few hours Sunday with my husband installing all the invisible bra pieces. This is the x-pel product we've talked about here before. I practiced last summer on my 90 Miata. Similar curves so I knew what I was in for. Well, this is not a job for beginners. The curves make it very tricky. I borrowed my sister's garage to have a somewhat sterile environment. Good thing too because on a yellow car all kinds of imperfections (like dust and lint) stick to the 3M membrane and show up alot more that on my silver Miata. The best complement I received when I finished was from my sister's husband who said the car "looks exactly like when you brought it in yesterday". Great news since it is supposed to be invisible. I couldn't be happier with the efforts. Now I'm ready for some serious "cruzen" knowing I'll be saved from stone chips. I put the product on the hood, fenders, front bumper, side mirrors, inside the wheel wells and on the back bumper and door sills. The whole works! The back bumper was the easiest along with the door sills and inside wheel wells. Mirror curves and front were a bear. I would post a picture but you can't see anything---that's the point. X-pel said I was the first to order a kit. If you order one how about using me as a reference. I'd appreciate it. Deborah Hughes

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Good for you, this is what more of us need, wilingness to put improvements on our cars.

Did you put the headlight protection kit on too?

Why are the mirrors difficult?



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'56 Bird
'02 NMBird
'98 F250 4X4 Super Cab
'01 Olds Aurora 4.0
'68 AMC AMX 390 GoPack
'73 Volvo 1800 ES
 
The mirrors are bowl-shaped and the membrane is flat===hence the problem of not getting wrinkles or bubbles. It is tricky, but worth the time. You just need patience.
 
retrobrd,

Can you give us an explination of what the x-pel material is like. Does it have an adhesive back? If so, once it makes contact with the car can it be pulled back up and repositioned?

You say the membrane is flat when talking about the mirror, are all the membranes flat or are some contoured to fit the specific area they are being applied to.

If the membranes are flat, how do you make them fit a compound curve, do you have to put a slice in them so that they make the bend or is the material elastic and will stretch to fit the curve?

Are instructions included with the kit?
 
RTBRD:

I did the Xpel on just the lights of my Z3. This is WAY easier than the body but it still takes patience. I have a lot of respect for someone who does the front of the car!

Yes, the Xpel does have an adhesive back. It wants to stick to whatever it touches in the worst way. The trick is that you spray a mixture of water & rubbing alcohol on every surface involved, the car, the Xpel, and a TON on your fingers. This keeps the adhesive "floating" until you get the plastic where you want it. Then you use a squegee to press the liquid out. After 24 hours or so the whole thing dries out.

There's lots of ways to do it wrong. Misalignment, bubbles, and most especially dirt under the plastic. But it can be done by the average do it yourselfer with patience, or you can pay to have it done.

Just don't ask me to help.

Tom M
 
3M invisibra is also available in sheets to cut out any pattern you want.
Xpel did not have the time to measure a Bird for this application.
The company needs a car with a hard top to check the proper cuts and make a template.
If anyone is near the Xpel offices please cal and get them your car for this very needed accessory for the 2002-? birds.
Contact info
www.Xpel.com
Reflex Enterprises 1-800-447-9928
10414 Gulfdale
San Antonio, TX
 
The "slip" you make to allow the membrane to slide is water with a few big drops of baby shampoo in a spray bottle. Once you spray on the 30% solution of alcohol/water you are adhering the vinyl. As to directions. X-pel sends a kit with the tools and about 10 pages of small print to get you started. The kits are die cut for each model of vehicle and I have enough material left over to make a pattern to do my gasket for the hardtop. That install should be easy as it is relatively flat. You shape the material around curves/bowls stretching and shaping and rubbing and eventually may be some small slices when you get desparate. The whole kit costs about $500.00 and it comes with a lifetime warranty and insurance policy for $1000.00 to fix anyplace that a stone chip cuts it into the paint. Once you remove the invisible bra (using adhesive remover) it is not reusable.

I've had mine on my 90 Miata for a year and you can wax right through it, no problem. It is air and water permeable also, so it cannot hurt the paint.

I love the effect, but it is a chore to install. Good luck. I'll be happy to share hints with anyone who wants to try it. Deborah
 
I just ordered a universal kit, to be placed on my 93 when the new paint has cured, plus they had one of the lights kits available for $42.95. Paid about $200 for everything, and will have it installed by a local shop down in Iowa City.

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I talked to Xpel Monday, and they said they weren't going to sell a top seal protector kit as it has too high a wastage factor, and would be too expensive. They suggested making my own from segments. I don't really like that idea.

Later I talked to a dealer for the 3M film in Traverse City, MI and he buys material directly from 3M and uses the Xpel patterns to make and sell the kits.

He is also putting me in touch with an installer who travels the state and installs the kits in your own garage. Says the front protection should be less than $500 installed. That does not include headlights, sills, wheelwells, rear bumper, or hardtop seal. I am thinking about getting this material and installing myself.

At my urging, he is trying to locate a Bird at a local dealership, and will consider offering a pre-cut hardtop seal kit, most likely in three sections, but he is not sure yet. I told him I thought several of us would be interested in the kits as soon as they are available. I will post what I find out.

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Chris
2002 Premium
Thunderbird Blue/Blue/Partial
 
I have measured the deck area for the hardtop protection and it is something that will require 3 or 4 pieces.
This will save hundred bucks and could be do-it-yourself.
The edges near the doors start out at 1/2 inch and the max needed is about 2 inches, this would be a lot of waste for 1 or 2 pieces.
The best thing FORD can do is build this protection in at the Factory. It is a minus when quality is looked at a year from now, to have paint damage because of a great design, but no protection.
 
Retro,

I'm thinking about putting the X-pel on the front of my Bird. What are your observations about the treatment? Any negative aspects to putting it on the car?

Thanks
 
I think the invisible bra is great. It makes driving on highways worry free cuz stone chips won't go through the 3M product. And you have to look very close to even see it on the yellow car. Same with my silver Miata. I usually have to point it out for people to notice.
 
When we hd the Wixon tour last Monday the Ford Guy explained about the deletion of the 'chrome strip from 03 plans.
I asked about 3M expel and if it would work. He did not even know what expel was! Interesting I heard that Ford uses it behind the wheels on Expeditions and some other trucks.
They feel that the film included with the newer cars would be the answer for longer times with the top in place. If you put it on for a day or two just keeping the contact area clean would suffice.
He did say on some long term testers which were not cleaned when the top was removed there were some spots where the paint was worn through to the steel!
I like the idea of the Expel if I ever deceide that the top is not just a garage decoration! I do not expect to be driving it up here in Canada from December to April!
 
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