Posts Tagged ‘Build a hot rod’

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.


1928 – 29 Model A Ford Dash Rail Installation

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

1928 – 29 Model A Ford Dash Rail Installation


Several years ago when I purchased the 1928-29 Model A Ford roadster body manufactured by Brookville Roadsters in Ohio, it had several parts missing. The body was stored in a barn 5 minutes from my home.  The doors, trunk lid, and dash parts were all removed and lost over a long period of time while the body was in storage.  This is why I was able to purchase the body for $1200. 


After a few emails to the folks at Brookville Roadsters, I ordered the doors, dash rail, 1932 Ford dash insert, 1932 Ford rad shell and grille, and all of the window parts.  All of these parts were shipped to me via the post office.  I already had the purchased the trunk lid outer skin and inner panel at a swap meet for a 31 Ford coupe I already had but decided to use it on the 1929 roadster body instead. All of the parts arrived in the mail a week later.  It was easy to install the doors.  When it came to assembling the window parts and installing the dash rail and 1932 Ford dash insert I had no instructions and no experience with these types of parts.  Over the years I have fabricated and built many things.  Using a bit of common sense I quickly figured out how to assemble and install these parts.


My first attempted at installing the 1928-29 Ford dash rail I was a bit confused about the two holes in the middle of the dash rail.  There was not anything to attach them to on the Ford roadsters body.  At that point I decided to just leave this problem for another day.  This past summer I finally completed the wiring that also included the dash instrument cluster in the 1929 Ford roadster hot rod.  Now I wanted to properly install the dash rail to the hot rod and I needed to figure out how to use the middle two mounting holes in the dash rail.

1929 Ford roadster dash rail - picture 1

1929 Ford roadster dash rail - picture 2

After a bit of thought and noticing that the middle bolt holes in the dash rail lined up with the a couple of mounting bolts for the Model A fuel tank an idea came to mind.  I found a couple of “L” shaped brackets that were stored in a jar for many years.  Who knows what they came from, but it is a good thing I saved them.  The mounting holes were drilled out to ¼ inch.  I removed the two ¼ inch bolts from the fuel tank and inserted the “L” shaped brackets for a trial fit.  As luck would have it, the holes in the “L” brackets lined up perfectly with the middle mounting holes in the dash rail.  The brackets needed to be about an inch closer to the back side of the dash rail.  Now giving this a bit more thought, I realized that I would need to install a ¼” threaded insert for the mounting bolt for the dash rail but I still would need to be an inch closer.  I could make a new bracket and install the ¼” threaded insert or I could weld a ¼” by 1” coupling nut to the bracket.  The coupling nut was quickly brazed to the “L” shaped bracket.  At this point I thought it would be a good idea to weld an additional plate to the coupling nut to offer a bit of support for the dash rail.  Initially this backing plate was about 1” by 3” using 1/8” steel plate.  After a test fitting, I decided to make this part smaller and cut it back to about 1” round.   With another test fitting, I decided the newly made mounting brackets for the center of the dash rail would work perfectly.

  1929 Ford roadster dash rail - picture 3

1929 Ford roadster dash rail - picture 4

That evening, while on the internet, I decided to search out Model A Ford dash parts.  I quickly found the parts I made were on the Synder’s Antique Auto Parts website:

Synder’s Antique Auto Parts had the center dash rail brackets part # A-1001-ACB for 1928-29 Ford used on roadsters, phaetons, and roadster pickups for $19.00 per pair.  While looking on this web page, I also discovered that there are rubber dash rail pads.  The rubber dash rail pad set part number is A-11900-P for the 1928-31 Fords for only $1.95 per set of six.  Who would have thought that these parts were still available and manufactured?  Oh well, I did already solve my problem in a couple hours.  I still need to make the rubber dash pads and that will only take a few minutes of my time using some scraps of rubber and the drill press.  For this I used a discarded inter-locking ½” rubber matt.  Using a 1.25” bi-metal hole saw in the drill press with a speed set to a maximum rpm, I was able to make several rubber dash rail pads in a few minutes.  The rubber is reasonably soft and will compress nicely in behind the Model A Ford dash rail.

1929 Ford roadster dash rail - picture 5

In hind sight, I’m not sure I would have ordered the parts.  $19 for the brackets, $2 for the rubber pads, and around $10-12 for shipping this would have cost $31-33 and well over a week to receive.  Was this a good use of about 2 hours of my time?  Maybe not, but I was pleased that I came up with a similar solution as the Henry Ford designers of Model A Ford did.  Not only that, I sorted out a small challenge while building my hot rod something I thrive on.