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Electrical... Talk & Q&A! Electrical Q&A.. The shocking truth, tips, tricks & more!

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  #1  
Old 01-14-2022, 05:03 PM
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Default Making custom tail light lenses

I've got some pre-59 tractor headlights that I want to use on the back end for taillights and turn signals. No color lens replacements that I can find- which makes- but have found gaskets for them.

I've seen folks take a red sheet of translucent plastic (?) and cut to fit things. Have seen a heat gun put to it for a bit concave. All good there.

A quick internet search only made me realize that advertised "translucent" can actually turn out to be transparent- it may not make a difference?
Option?

Not trying to overthink it, just want to learn it good. What are you guys using?
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Old 01-14-2022, 06:28 PM
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I found a big section of a tail light 'lens' (one of those that goes clear across the back of the vehicle) along the side of the road, and naturally, I stopped to pick it up.... (Drives my wife crazy.) I had in mind to cut sections out of it, and then figure out some way of making an edge on it that would mate with a gasket. The other idea was to press something into the back side to make a form (to get the cross-hatch surface which breaks up the light), and after making the surrounding piece, heat it in an oven so that the plastic lens takes the shape of the mold. Never tried it yet, however, and it might just catch fire, or at least make a terrible stink. (I remember reading about how to make your own windshields & stuff for model cars many years ago - must have been in Mechanics Illustrated or Popular Science, because my dad subscribed to both of those when I was a kid, and I can't think of any other place I might have seen that. They made the shape out of a block of wood, then covered it with felt before shaping the plastic over it in the oven.)
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Old 01-14-2022, 10:08 PM
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For a "real" tail light look, you can get the lens off a 4' or so florescent light and cut you out a inner lens. I did my front turn signals on the Lincoln that way, I just used them clear and put amber bulbs in. When the light shines, the diffuser of the lens keeps you from having hot spots of bright light and none at the edges.
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Old 01-14-2022, 10:49 PM
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I don't know what diameter your housings are, but big truck taillights are probably four inches. There are bulb and lens ones and seal beam ones. They come in red, amber, and clear. They might do the trick.
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Old 01-14-2022, 11:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neto View Post
I found a big section of a tail light 'lens' (one of those that goes clear across the back of the vehicle) along the side of the road, and naturally, I stopped to pick it up.... )
Forgot all about those big lenses. Gives me another lead. Thanks Neto!

Quote:
Originally Posted by MercuryMac View Post
I don't know what diameter your housings are, but big truck taillights are probably four inches. There are bulb and lens ones and seal beam ones. They come in red, amber, and clear. They might do the trick.
Thanks for that MM. These are 4 1/2" clear glass lens, 6 volt single pole bulb. Add the ring and the light's overall width is right at 4 3/4". Might be able to find the ones like you're talking about in 4 1/2"- I really do want to stay with glass instead of plastic.... just because

If I do end up with the plastic/acrylic or whatever, I'll get the little LED bulbs that retro fit into that socket.

A buddy of mine just mentioned that Duplicolor (?) has some "red clear" paint that is transparent that he's used on metal. Might try that out on a broken piece of glass lens I have and report back!

Wish it was really simple but I will admit some of the fun is in the hunt- along with learning new stuff of course!
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Old 01-14-2022, 11:35 PM
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Wait a minute OS..... you mean I gota put tail lights on this hot rod?????
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Old 01-15-2022, 08:57 AM
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Just use the clear lens and install a red projector led.
've done this several times and the projector led's are very bright.
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Old 01-15-2022, 12:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Iron View Post
Just use the clear lens and install a red projector led.
've done this several times and the projector led's are very bright.
Sounds KISS method for sure. 372 brands () There a particular one that you've had good luck with?
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Old 01-15-2022, 12:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bamamav View Post
For a "real" tail light look, you can get the lens off a 4' or so florescent light and cut you out a inner lens. I did my front turn signals on the Lincoln that way, I just used them clear and put amber bulbs in. When the light shines, the diffuser of the lens keeps you from having hot spots of bright light and none at the edges.
This one slipped by me! Slick idea for sure- would me much better than the smooth stuff. Will add that to my mental hard drive. Thanks!
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Old 01-15-2022, 12:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Couper View Post
Wait a minute OS..... you mean I gota put tail lights on this hot rod?????
No. I think you should use hand signals...
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