1928 – 31 Model A Ford Headlights – Restoration
Several years ago at a local automotive swap meet, I purchased a pair of 1928 – 31 Model A Ford headlights for a reasonable price. These headlights needed new reflectors, and the mounting base in the headlight pots were rusty and didn’t look too good. In hindsight, the lower price tag made up for the imperfections. Now it’s time to clean them up for the 1929 Ford roadster hot rod. Who said that building a hot rod was easy? It’s all these little jobs that take a bit of time to complete but these jobs keep the build of the hot rod to a minimum.
From the inside of the headlight pots, I carefully ground off the back side of the steel rivets attaching the mounting hardware to the headlight pot using a 4.5 inch hand held grinder and air die grinder. Once this was completed, the rivets were easily removed with a slight tap using a small center punch and hammer. Great care was needed for this step to prevent any damage to the headlight pot.
The mounting hardware was then cleaned up in the sand blast cabinet. In the off chance I wanted to run wires through the main headlight mounting bolt, I drilled a 0.25 inch hole through the middle of it using the metal lathe. Instead of using steel rivets to reattach the mounting hardware back onto the headlight pot, I used 0.75” x 0.25” stainless steel bolts with a slight modification to the bolt head. The 0.25” bolt was mounted in the metal lathe and the hex head was ground to the same shape of the rivets removed. While the bolt was still in the metal lathe it was quickly sanded smooth to provide a matt type finish. This was done for 12 bolts, 6 for each headlight. This only took about 20 minutes to do.
I decided to fabricate my own headlight conduit using a standard braided stainless stain flex hose found in the plumbing section in the hardware store. This is the same type of hose that is used to connect your sink faucets to the wall plumbing and is very reasonably priced. To fasten this new headlight conduit to the headlight, a simple mounting method was developed. This involved inserting a short 0.5” national pipe thread (NPT) nipple to the existing hole (used for the vintage headlight conduit to pass through) in the steel headlight mounting bracket. This was then brazed in place.
All of the parts were then primed and painted. While I was waiting for the paint to dry, I thought it would also be a good idea to spend a few minutes polished the vintage headlight pot while all of the mounting hardware was removed. It didn’t take too long to shine them up.
With all of the parts cleaned, painted, and polished, the headlights were quickly reassembled using the newly made fake stainless steel rivets. To hold the stainless steel headlight conduit to the headlight pot, I small O-ring was cut so it would fit inside the female pipe fitting. This will become a compression fitting to hold the stainless steel braided hose to the 1928 – 31 Ford headlight pot.