Posts Tagged ‘hot rod headlights’

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 – 31 Model A Ford Headlights – Restoration

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

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.

1928 - 31 Model A Ford Headlight Restoration - picture 1

1928 - 31 Model A Ford Headlight Restoration - picture 2

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.

1928 - 31 Model A Ford Headlight Restoration - picture 3

1928 - 31 Model A Ford Headlight Restoration - picture 4

1928 - 31 Model A Ford Headlight Restoration - picture 5

1928 - 31 Model A Ford Headlight Restoration - picture 6

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.

1928 - 31 Model A Ford Headlight Restoration - picture 7

1928 - 31 Model A Ford Headlight Restoration - picture 8

1928 - 31 Model A Ford Headlight Restoration - picture 9

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.