Archive for April, 2014

1928-31 Model A Ford Halogen Headlight Conversion – A Cheap Alternative

Friday, April 25th, 2014

1928-31 Model A Ford Halogen Headlight Conversion – A Cheap Alternative

Some time ago I experimented with a simple and cheap halogen headlight conversion in a set of beat up and very poor condition vintage headlight reflectors. The reflectors came from a pair of original 1928-31 Model A Ford headlight pots. I found that I was able to successfully mate a halogen bulb holder taken from a Ford Mustang headlight to the vintage Model A Ford reflector. Now it came time to replace the reflectors with something a bit better. At a few swap meets I did see aftermarket reflectors for my headlight pots. Since there was a fair bit of work to do on the hot rod, the purchase of the new reflectors was not high on my priority list.

One day while in the shop cleaning up, I was looking at the reflectors I modified for the halogen bulbs and noticed a pair of stainless bowls sitting beside them. I had just purchased the stainless bowls to use in the shop for cleaning small parts. As I was looking at them, I noticed that they appeared to be very similar in size and shape as the Model A Ford reflectors. All of a sudden an idea came to mind, why not use these bowls as reflectors if they fit in the headlight pots. I picked up one of the bowls and placed it in the headlight pot. It fit perfectly!! There was even enough clearance in between the back of the bowl and the headlight pot for the halogen bulb and socket. The bowls came from the Dollar Store had a decent amount of reflective shine on the inside of the bowls. So, this is how my next project developed for the 1929 Ford hot rod.
I already had another set of halogen headlights removed from a Ford Explorer and everything else to make my new reflectors for the hot rod headlights. The day was still early so why not make my rather unconventional headlight reflectors and save a few dollars. In the end the project only cost me $12. The bowls were a $1 each, two new signal light bulbs $5, and a bit of foam seal tape $5. I did sell the first pair of vintage reflectors that I converted on Kijiji for $25.
To purchase new aftermarket chrome plated reflectors with halogen bulbs and amber turn signal bulbs would cost about $100 plus shipping. Sure, my cheap alternative doesn’t have the correct parabolic reflector shape or the best reflective finish. But, do remember, this conversion will offer more lighting than the original reflectors with the stock incandescent light bulbs that came with the headlights back in 1928-31. Secondly, I suspect that I am also using a higher wattage halogen bulb compared to the one that comes with aftermarket kit for the Model A Ford. For now, this will do till I get some of the more expensive parts to finish the hot rod first and on the road. I will have a better idea about the quality of this unconventional and very cheap set-up once I see how the light focuses on the road and the distance of the lighting. Rat rod builders should love this conversion, as they focus on being just a bit different then everyone else, and that’s great that they do. That is what makes this car hobby so very interesting.
Below is a video I took of the process involved with this conversion.

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Metal Lathe Cone, Bullet, Ball, or Radius Cutting Attachment

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Metal Lathe Cone, Bullet, Ball, or Radius Cutting Attachment

I have been working on a custom power steering reservoir made from three inch aluminum tubing. For the inside of the end caps of the tube I needed to machine a concave or a dish shape. This was especially important for the bottom end cap so that a swirl effect could be created in the fluid flow back to the power steering pump. The fabrication of the parts I made for the power steering system will be an entirely different post at later date but does lead into this post. A few years ago when I purchased the machine shop equipment from an elderly hobbyist, many bits of tooling and attachments where part of the deal. The metal lathe came with a considerable amount of accessories, even an over the top ball cutting attachment.
Over the top ball / radius metal lathe attachment
Of course this ball cutting attachment would not cut a concave or dish shape into a piece of three inch round aluminum stock or cut larger cone or bullet shapes. So I embarked on a new quest. Designing a cone / bullet and concave attachment was an interesting challenge. To design an attachment to machine the concave shape into the round three inch diameter stock wouldn’t be too hard to do. Making the attachment to also function as a cone / bullet cutter, especially for round material up to two inches in diameter would be a bit more difficult. There where all kinds of designs on the internet that would do the job on much smaller diameter stock, but none could be found for what I needed. To start the process off, I thought it best to start with the design of the cone / bullet cutting attachment. On a piece of gridded paper, I drew a length of 1” diameter stock and then using a compass started to play around with the position of the compasses center point and radius. I quickly found that the cutter would need to have a pivot or turning radius of 2.5” for the desired cone shape. When I repeated the process for 2” diameter stock, I determined that the cutter pivot point or radius would need to be 4.5”.
Drawing 1
Drawing 2
Now armed with a bit of information I took my compound feed off the metal lathe, mounted some 1” diameter stock in the chuck, and started making some measurements on the top of my cross feed. I repeated all of this again for some 2” diameter stock in the lathe chuck. Having all of the information needed for my design, I started looking at what steel I had to make this new cone / bullet cutting accessory for the metal lathe. As it turned out, all I needed to purchase for this project where a few specialty bolts. Fortunately, having a milling machine, simplified the fabrication process and I didn’t need to MacGyver anything. As it turned out, this attachment cuts perfect cone / bullets shapes.
 Metal lathe cone / bullet attachment
A finish aluminum 1
I did attempt to use it for the machining of a 3” x 0.75” concave (dish) in some aluminum. This did not work out so well. There is a very slight amount of play in the pivot point and having the cutting tool 7.5” from the pivot point resulted in an uncontrolled cut. I believe this problem can be rectified by supporting the swing arm of the cone / bullet cutting attachment. That will have to wait for now. In the end, I set up the compound feed to machine a funnel shape into the end caps of the power steering reservoir.
Below is a short video of the cone / bullet cutter in action on my metal lathe cutting a cone shape onto some 1” diameter aluminum stock.

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