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Difference between Pilot Ray lights, Trippe lights, and Lorraine lights?

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After an Internet and forum search, I am still left confused regarding the difference between Pilot Ray lights, Trippe lights, and Lorraine lights. Any wisdom is appreciated, thanks! -Alex

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Pilot Rays are found on the Best of the Classics. They have linkages that tie in with the steering and turn with the wheels to light up the street you're turning into. Trippes are also found on Classics but can also be seen on lesser cars in the thirties. They are fixed and mounted on the bumper brackets. Lorraines are spotlights mounted through the top side of the cowl and can be aimed by the driver with a knob to shine on the side of the road.

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There appears to be no evidence that the large bumper bracket mounted Trippe lights were ever original equipment on any Classic car from the 1920's-1930's.

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While not installed at the factory, Trippe lights were sold at Packard dealers, and were found on Packards when they were new. There are a number of different models and sizes of them, appropriate for different years and sizes of cars. They were also used on commercial vehicles, but usually painted rather than chrome. Let's face it, most of the headlights on American cars of the 30s aren't great. There was a reason people put driving and fog lights on cars, much like they do today.

There appears to be no evidence that the large bumper bracket mounted Trippe lights were ever original equipment on any Classic car from the 1920's-1930's.
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I challenge you to find a factory picture of a Classic with Trippes or a factory accessory catalog that shows the large round bracket mounted Trippes. No denying that they were installed in the Classic era but were they a factory authorized accessory? They have long been grandfathered in by AACA in any case.

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1939 Packard 12 convertible sedan - with owners Mr. and Mrs. Truman Newberry, investor and board member of Packard Motorcar Co. He opted for a spot light, Lalique mascot, double whites and a zip out panel on the side of the top, and Trippe lights. He was not a down market buyer, and I will venture to say that all of these were installed at the Packard plant before delivery.

post-30705-143141813095_thumb.jpg

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I challenge you to find a factory picture of a Classic with Trippes or a factory accessory catalog that shows the large round bracket mounted Trippes. No denying that they were installed in the Classic era but were they a factory authorized accessory? They have long been grandfathered in by AACA in any case.<!-- google_ad_section_end -->

Rick,

These images from The Making of Modern Michigan, Digital Collections are by no means conclusive proof that Pilot Rays and Trippes were catalogued as factory-approved accessories, but they are official Packard images with contemporary notes. Lorraines are catalogued, at least in 1934, as approved accessories.

EB01e715.jpg

Description of 1933 Packard from Earle C. Anthony's Deal.

EB01e132.jpg

Description of Edward MacCauley's personal job in front of his father's home. They appear to be Trippes, as the factory road/fog lamps below are smaller, without the Trippe "dimples" on top.

39_road_lamps_facts_book.jpg

From my '39 Packard Data Book, Service & Accessories Section.

Now, all we have to do is find a contemporary Packard showroom image of a car with Pilot Rays or Trippes...

TG

Edited by TG57Roadmaster (see edit history)

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Not all Pilot Rays turned with the front wheels, I have a set that are bumper iron mounts. The turning feature was a significant advertising presentation. Also my personal choice on the Trippes is the look of the senior model. ---Bob

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The 1932 Packard Accessory Catalog shows a single center mount Trippe mounted on a non steering cross bar similar to the Pilot Ray but these differ from the commonly seen bracket mounted large Trippe "commercial" lights. Interestingly in the catalog the Trippe that is shown is on a 900 Light 8 rather than a Senior car.

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The 1930 Packard accessory brochure shows several different types of accessory lights, including the optional "Bright Bumper" (a 3-inch tubular bumper with lights on the ends), single Pilot Ray light WITH steering linkage, Lorraine "Driving Light" (like a spot light and mounted on windshield post), twin "Saf_De-Lites" (driving lights the likes of which I've never seen on a car), "Open Car Spotlight" (which operated differently than the Lorraine light), cigar lighter and utility light, fender lights, and a magnetic kit lamp (with 12 feet of cable).

In regards to Trippe lights: while I think the leveling bubble on the Senior Trippe Lights is an interesting and novel idea, I MUCH prefer the looks of the smaller Junior Trippe Lights because they do not overpower the looks of the front end of the car (AS MUCH). My first choice would be no extra lights on the front of the car at all. My second choice would be the twin Pilot Ray lights, again, because they aren't nearly as big as the Senior Trippe Lights.

In concours judging, I have it on good authority that a twin pair of Trippe Lights installed MAY hinder you getting a first in class, for the same reason that having a trunk on your trunk rack MAY prevent you from getting a first.

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Just to play devil's advocate for our friend who is new to the hobby...

While the Pilot Rays are very cool and stylish, and perhaps just a little cleaner looking in the mount, the ones I have had, other than the 32 Cad type, are almost the same size as a the senior Trippe lights, and the lenses will actually interchange. There are a lot of Duesenbergs and Cadillacs that have had Pilot Rays added and still win at concours. Granted that the lights have fallen out of fashion in the last few years, but a lot of past Meadowbrook and Pebble winners have had plenty of extra lights. I would agree that the junior Trippes are good looking lights, but probably inappropriate for a pre 1940 senior Packard in the sense that a person buying a 37 senior wouldn't have put the junior lights on his car nor would the dealer have pushed them. Trippe also made a light to replace the 40 and newer sealed beam units which gave better light. Back in the 30s and 40s it was more about better light than bling. In Europe, there were a lot of suppliers of replacement kits for the American headlight lenses, reflectors and bulbs as a unit, because the lights were thought to be so poor. I have Packards that I actually drive at night and I have put halogen bulbs in the headlights as well as driving lights for purely practical reasons. I'd also have to say that I have tried smaller lights on pre 1940 big Packards and because of the scale of the car, they don't look right to me.

Some of these accesories were practical - lights to see better and a trunk on a roadster which has no storage space, and they were made to look as good as they could, but they still aren't part of the original design and may not enhance it, but I think taking off for them in judging is very subjective. If you feel that is ok, then I think it is ok if I won't give a boat tail speedster, roadster, disappearing top Model J Murphy roadster, sport pheaton, Darrin convertible victoria or Mercedes special roadster a first if it is shown with the top up.

The 1930 Packard accessory brochure shows several different types of accessory lights, including the optional "Bright Bumper" (a 3-inch tubular bumper with lights on the ends), single Pilot Ray light WITH steering linkage, Lorraine "Driving Light" (like a spot light and mounted on windshield post), twin "Saf_De-Lites" (driving lights the likes of which I've never seen on a car), "Open Car Spotlight" (which operated differently than the Lorraine light), cigar lighter and utility light, fender lights, and a magnetic kit lamp (with 12 feet of cable).

In regards to Trippe lights: while I think the leveling bubble on the Senior Trippe Lights is an interesting and novel idea, I MUCH prefer the looks of the smaller Junior Trippe Lights because they do not overpower the looks of the front end of the car (AS MUCH). My first choice would be no extra lights on the front of the car at all. My second choice would be the twin Pilot Ray lights, again, because they aren't nearly as big as the Senior Trippe Lights.

In concours judging, I have it on good authority that a twin pair of Trippe Lights installed MAY hinder you getting a first in class, for the same reason that having a trunk on your trunk rack MAY prevent you from getting a first.

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Dave

I like the Pilot Ray lights. They would be my second choice right after nothing at all.

Also, I did not say that cars wouldn't win at concours shows if they had Trippe Lights. I said they MAY not win, based on the opinion of the judge who was looking at the car and how stiff the competition was. In many cases, it may be that every car in contention for winning best in class has a set of Trippe Lights. In that case, the Trippes wouldn't prevent them from winning, but they certainly wouldn't help, either.

In my opinion, Trippes have a very heavy appearance, and look like something that should be mounted on a truck.

Edited by West Peterson (see edit history)

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I understand your opinion on the Trippes, I just want our new to the hobby friend to understand that it is a matter of taste rather than authenticity. The lights are authentic and period correct, whether they look good to you is another question. I have absolute proof in the form of the paperwork from 1938 that the Trippe lights were installed on the convertible victoria before it was delivered to the customer by Derham and clearly they are in the photos of it taken before delivery.

I feel that my opinion is just as valid that having the top up on a boat tail speedster on a sunny day is worse than having Trippe lights on your car. I feel that the top was an ugly necessity that the designer never intended to be up if it didn't have to be, it spoils the purity and clean lines of the design. Just because we don't like something doesn't mean that it is non authentic. I think a judge should look past the accessories at the quality of the car and at a concours also at the style. If they want to deduct for the accessories they should ask if they were on the car when new. If the original owner put them on, then I don't think that a judge should rewrite history to suit his taste. I think we got to the point of having too much bling - white walls even wider than the ones that were made in the era, extra chrome in the form of lights and trim, trunk racks - let alone trunks - on cars that never had them, chrome wire wheels instead of painted discs, and cars with paint that makes them look like they were dipped in thick clear plastic, (and fabulous original cars that should have been preserved being restored) in large part because owners wanted to get judges attention and win trophies. The sad thing is that it worked.

Dave

I like the Pilot Ray lights. They would be my second right after nothing at all.

Also, I did not say that cars wouldn't win at concours shows if they had Trippe Lights. I said they MAY not win, based on the opinion of the judge who was looking at the car and how stiff the competition was. In many cases, it may be that every car in contention for winning best in class has a set of Trippe Lights. In that case, the Trippes wouldn't prevent them from winning, but they certainly wouldn't help, either.

In my opinion, Trippes have a very heavy appearance, and look like something that should be mounted on a truck.

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Lights being installed on request by the factory on a car purchased by a major stock holder is one thing. Being a factory authorized accessory available to the average buyer is another. Tripp (no e) is apparently still in business manufacturing ambulance lights and such.

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I think a judge should look past the accessories at the quality of the car and at a concours also at the style. If they want to deduct for the accessories they should ask if they were on the car when new. If the original owner put them on, then I don't think that a judge should rewrite history to suit his taste.

That's not how concours judging works if the show uses French rules (and most use French rules). If a judge feels the car would look better without lights, and trunk, and chrome wheels and white sidewalls, he is free to think that and deduct accordingly. If the class judges agree that Car A looks better than Car B because it isn't cluttered with clutter, then Car A wins. The same can be said if those same judges dislike the color choice, and it doesn't matter if it's the exact same color it had when it left the factory.

You are probably familiar with a 1931 (or '30) Packard convertible victoria that was painted yellow and green and orange, done that way to be displayed at the New York Auto Show. I don't know if it could have been restored more perfectly. It NEVER won a first in class at a concours because it looked like it was done for a circus parade. At a concours, authenticity is a part of judging, but style and taste probably plays more into winning than anything else. Condition, while important too, is not always a factor when selecting a winner.

For those that aren't aware, it should be pointed out that the Pebble Beach Concours is completely different, as they point judge at that show... at least to determine class winners.

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A Trippe-made light was a Packard factory-authorized item, according to the 1932 accessories catalog. It is a different looking light than what is most commonly seen on cars today.

post-33613-143141815472_thumb.jpg

Edited by West Peterson (see edit history)
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My research finds that Trippe lights were no longer a factory-approved accessory for Packard after 1932. After that, the "official Packard accessories" list show spot and road lights, but they are definitely not Trippe.

That is not to say that a Packard customer could not have ordered Trippe Lights and had them installed by the dealer. Packard bent over backwards to please its customers.

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Class judging at Pebble Beach is based on points, including authenticity, but there is also an "elegance factor" of about 10% that the judges can use to determine the winners if the judges feel the cars are otherwise equal. In years past, there were often more than 3 cars which would garner perfect scores and the judges had to choose between them somehow. Some years extra consideration is given to cars that completed the tour in the event of a tie. Of course the overall look of a car is important there, but I clearly recall that the chief judge also made it clear that if the car is otherwise fantastic, you can't let your personal like or dislike of some aspect or accessory get in the way. I have also seen the head judge demand that a team come to agreement and give him the three award winners because they have spent hours debating which car is the best.

I still think that the totally subjective "walk by" judging isn't consistent and often has little to do with authenticity or quality of restoration. Concours tend to have celebrity and sponsor judges who may know a great deal about the class they judge and they may not. I have been amazed that judges - and very well known ones - will say "I don't know why I'm judging that class, I don't know anything about those cars." Sometimes it seems like the judges are selected randomly or purposely not judging the cars they are experts in. That, coupled with concours "taking care" of big collectors who repeatedly show or donate erodes the credibility of the judging. I think that in the past this lead to the glorification of ultra wide whites and lots of chrome and extra lights etc. I believe it was the very concours judging that encouraged over-restoration and over accessorizing cars. I feel that the beauty pagent concours judging makes the AACA, CCCA and marque club judging more important, the judges may not be "professional", but are often very dedicated to the task and they are more consistent; the standards are written and understood to promote the cars being restored authentically. In strict club points judging a well restored, correct car, which would have no chance at a concours - such as a plain sedan with blackwall tires and no accessories - is still recognized and honored. The concours judging you describe is true to a point, since things are starting to change, but we both know that cars have been "upgraded" from original with the goal of winning major concours and those cars have been rewarded fairly often.

Quote:For those that aren't aware, it should be pointed out that the Pebble Beach Concours is completely different, as they point judge at that show... at least to determine class winners.

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Dave, interesting that you mention "taking care" of certain collectors at the big events. At the more local level, this is of course called "good old boy" judging. Good old boy judging is one reason I don't have cars judged any more, but for a different reason that everyone is probably thinking........

In the early '80's I bought a Sears Autobuggy from a friend in Natchez, Mississippi, the car having been restored by David Stewart in Longview, Texas, and subsequently awarded an AACA first place.

The car was beautiful, started and drove perfectly, and was original down to the ignition switch with a rod for a key. I decided to take it to Petit Jean mountain for the annual show. I did, and lo and behold in the same class was Mr. Stewart with a newly acquired 1911 or so Buick roadster. His car was very nice, but he'd bought it as is, and it wasn't a restoration at the level of where he'd done the Sears.

At the time, the judges would stand in front of a grandstand, you'd drive your car there and stop, and they'd judge it as it sat idling.

When the winners were announced, Mr. Stewart, who was well known by everyone at the meet (I was a new-comer) got first place for his Buick, while the Sears took second.....I found out then I didn't really care that much, but man, was he hot....the judges had gone the good old boy route, not realizing that HE was the one who restored the Sears. So, trying to make him feel good, they ended up making him mad, and interesting turn of events....and I felt bad for him too...

I've also seen a Classic car owner sell a car, after not getting best of show at a Pierce meet. That's not a love of cars to me....

So, I'll drive my cars and have pride of ownership, but really not much interested in having anything judged.

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