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Headlight Reflectors (again...)


Bloo
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I'm getting ready to send my headlight reflectors (1936 Pontiac) off for resilvering. Yes, I have heard of Uvira, the reviews are very good, but for the moment I am considering real silver.

 

Uvira sends up the cost quite a bit, and they have to go to a plater first, and unfortunately one of my reflectors isn't very good. I have not been able to find another. It has metal broken away and missing on one side where it mounts (picture below), and the mounting area on the other side of the reflector is still hanging there, but barely.

 

It seems a shame to dump a whole bunch of money into this broken reflector, but it is functional, and it can't really move around that much when the headlamp is assembled. The silver is thin, even gone in some spots. I need to brighten it up for now. I'm pretty sure if I sent this thing off to a chrome shop for nickel, waited months for it to come back, sent it off to Uvira, got it back, reinstalled it, that a good restorable reflector would show up the following week. Thats the way my luck runs....

 

Also, I really want these back by spring.

 

These are "Guide Multibeam" reflectors, and are contoured, so cheapie universal reflectors wouldn't be a great option.

 

After gleaning a bunch of old threads around here (and some other forums) about silver, including an old one of mine, I came up with the following companies. Do any of you have recent experience with any of these for silver plating? Who does a nice job?

 

Sterling Silver and Silverplate specialists:

 

http://thesilverpeople.com/index.htm

 

http://brinkmansplating.com/antique-restoration.htm

 

A couple of automotive ones:

 

http://www.stevesautorestorations.com/services/headlight-resilvering/

 

Craig Riker of Toledo OH, possibly no longer doing this? (no link)

 

An outfit that also does chrome:

 

https://www.rschrome.com/

 

Thanks!

 

Picture of broken reflector:

 

jNpO4y8.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

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Bloo.

Get your tin snips out, cut a small piece and solder it in.

I've done it to both my reflectors and though it is tedious work, it's no big deal.

I painted the insides with "chrome paint'.

Headlights on the '31 Chrysler are about the same as a Zippo in a holder

The Buick has sealed beams, thank goodness.

 

Mike in Colorado

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Do you have a part number? I suspect that the same reflector was probably used on some other GM products of the era. I don't have any Pontiac parts books but if you have a part number, I can check to see if it was also used by any era Buicks. If it happens to match either 1937 or 1938 Buick, I can check and see if may have an extra one available. I know I have a few lens that I have purchased that were supposed to be 1938 Buick that turned out to be wrong. I seem to recall some of the numbers showing up in an online search as Pontiac part numbers.   

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GM 918970.

 

It was used in all 1936 Pontiacs. Also, 1935 Pontiac sixes I think. It has a tiny parking light socket in the top. I doubt 1936-7-8 Buick has that, though because of the fender top lights. (I do believe Buick used the same lenses in 1936.)

 

Olds used a deeper convex lens (different), but might have used this reflector? I think 1936 LaSalle used the Pontiac lenses, but I don't know about the parking lights. I don't have books to look any of that up.

 

I read somewhere that this reflector fits 1939 Diamond T trucks. I think this reflector may have been used in a mid 30s International truck. I saw one of those and it sure looked right, exact year unknown.

 

EDIT: This is probably the same part as 1935 OLDS 6 & 8

 

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
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No, I saw that one, and I doubt it fits much of what he lists, if anything. Most of those cars would have Multibeam like my car does, or some close version. Mine have a flat area at the bottom of the reflector, and a much smaller parking light bulb.

 

Thank you for looking!

 

Wzmy0KJ.jpg

 

 

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That broken piece can be repaired/replaced by silver soldering a piece of brass and shaping it with a file. I know most local chrome platers know some repairers who repairs pot metal and other small parts for chroming. Or if you are handy you may be able to do it your self. Use Borax with heat to clean parts .

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The last problem set I had we bought reflectors from https://restorationstuff.com/pdf/RestorationSupplyCompany.pdf (see page 10), then we removed the rim from the reproduction reflector via carefully grinding it off and glued the reflector via JB Weld into the original reflector - a half days work, but came out just fine and car has good light at night. Also, there are reproduction reflectors via such as Ford V-8 places and Filling Station for such as Chevrolet. 

 

And, for the really good cars - pays to find a great set of reflectors and then restore them properly. 

Edited by John_Mereness (see edit history)
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One more question. I think I should replace this socket wiring. The two are different, one reflector has everything wired in cloth wire, and the other in rubber wire that had completely rotted and fallen apart. You couldn't tell what colors it might have been. It appeared light beige or white. It had expanded like popcorn from the rot. I covered that up in black heatshrink 3 years ago when I got the car.

 

I have a really hard time believing that they had different wire on them originally, right vs left. The reflectors and sockets have the same part numbers right and left. I'm guessing cloth wire. Any idea what colors?

 

And what is that black rubber thing with the 3 holes? It just sits there, not attached to anything. Does it belong there? Only one side has it. I think I saw those for sale somewhere, like The Filling Station or Bobs.

 

(oops the picture didnt post... i'll try again soon....)

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
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Check your wiring diagram for colors.  The wiring here does not show, so just pick 2 different colors and be consistent on the 2 lamps.  Do replace the wires.  Those are probably 12 gauge if they are headlight wires.  If you want to spend money and go fully authentic, contact Rhode Island wire and the will make you a correct set.  I like to solder the end on the wiring of my old cars, and not just crimp them.  There may have been a ground wire in that extra hole.  

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Rhode Island Wire was the first place I checked. Their records for this particular car (1936 Pontiac Master) cover the harness itself but not the pigtail inside the headlight buckets.

 

The main harness wires themselves are different (color/tracer) right to left because of the "multibeam" system (dips one side only), and the fact that the headlight switch goes through all sorts of machinations to keep the left headlight on it's own fuse no matter what beam it's on.

 

The reflectors, sockets, and pigtails are the same part numbers right to left, and so probably didn't follow the colors of the main harness.

 

Rhode Island wire can supply authentic terminals, (and wire too as soon as I tell them what kind to send). I do solder everything. This car is an unrestored driver, so it doesn't matter THAT much, but I will put it back original if I can figure out how.

 

There never was a ground wire, but I will probably add one.

 

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4 hours ago, John_Mereness said:

Like night and day difference - I always suggest adding 

 

Installing new wires is only half the job. Making sure of a good ground path is the other half,...…  that many fall short on and then, after the new wires are in, they wonder why the lights are not as bright as should be.

 

Sometimes there isn't room in the connector to run a ground wire when the ground path was originally through the bucket, to the mount, and on through the  chassis back to the battery (aka single wire systems). Especially a problem getting a good ground path with fresh paint on all surfaces.

 

I use electrician anti-corrosion paste between the bucket, mount, and chassis points, after scrapping away some paint in those contact areas to prevent the  patch of bare metal from corroding. The paste not only prevents corrosion, and water or oil getting into all electrical connections, it actually slightly lowers the resistance of even clean connections.

 

And the same paste used to coat clean battery connections it's good for the life of the battery.

 

For over 25years I've been using Gardner Bender paste on all my customers electrical connections, including bulb bases and battery terminals. Even the batteries of my modern cars.

 

Paul

Gardner Bender Ox-Gard..JPG

DSCN8151.JPG

Edited by PFitz (see edit history)
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20 hours ago, PFitz said:

 

Sometimes there isn't room in the connector to run a ground wire when the ground path was originally through the bucket, to the mount, and on through the  chassis back to the battery (aka single wire systems). Especially a problem getting a good ground path with fresh paint on all surfaces

 

 

Been there done that - sometimes you can run multiples say # 4 strands to make an equal to an # 8 gauge wire.   And on a few earlier cars, I just drilled the housing and added a braided lacquered wire hanging outside - not ideal look, but I live in town in a large city and need bright taillights matched to not every street has street lamps on it. 

 

Paint is a ground killer !!!!!!!!!

 

For those reading - for fun of it one day make a ground wire with alligator clips on it and jump from battery ground directly to your lamp reflector or bulb socket - and SEE THE LIGHT !

Edited by John_Mereness (see edit history)
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  • 3 weeks later...

Looks like silver- the highest reflective percent of white light at about 95% reflectivity. Next down is aluminum at about 92%,... but exposed to air, it tarnishes dull very quickly. That's why Uvira coats the polished aluminum layer with a very thin layer of glass to seal it.  But unlike silver, you don't have to ever polish it.

 

Last set of reflectors I had done were though a plating shop that does the polished aluminum then sends it out to Uvira.

 

Edit, the plating shop does the polished nickel that is needed to plate the aluminum onto. It's Uvira that does the polished aluminum plating, then glass coating. 

 

Paul 

Edited by PFitz (see edit history)
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Not for now. If I were going to do that I would have had to plate them nickel instead. I don't know for sure what metals Mance plates, and I didn't ask because one of these reflectors was damaged. One mounting ear was broken off and missing, and another hanging by a thread. I was holding out for a better reflector before seriously considering Uvira.

 

As it turns out, Mance was able to repair/replace the broken mounting ears, and it seems as good as new. Had I known how well it was going to turn out, I could have asked about nickel plating there. Nickel plating from any of the other sources I know would be out three months or more, plus however long Uvira takes (not long I've heard).

 

Silver is original and they came out really nice. :)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Found these old pictures of the rubber wiring I found in the right headlight when I brought the car home 2 years ago. It almost looks white doesn't it? Black rubber is what has been found inside Chevrolets (and one Canadian Pontiac) from the same time period by people over on the VCCA forum.

 

1jzDIm2.jpg

 

ef2snvo.jpg

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  • 4 weeks later...

Bolt repair.......

 

In that above photos you can see where the wires to the sockets attach on the inside of the bucket. Those are nickel plated brass machine screws.

 

On the outside of that bakelite block, where the main wiring harness attaches to the headlight buckets, some steel hex-head bolts were used. Interestingly, the center ones (high beam) are larger (#10) than the outside ones (low beam and park), which are #8. All have the same head size.

 

When I removed the headlight buckets, i had been spraying those with penetrating oil for a few days, and was gentle, but still managed to break two of the six bolts.

 

Here are the two heads, bored out and tapped to #8 threads, and chamfered at the top. They will be brazed.

 

ItQjgqF.jpg

 

nsluaW7.jpg

 

I am sure I took a picture of them brazed before I filed them down flat. I can't find it. Anyway, here they are after replating with zinc. 2 of them are #10 and four are #8. I am pretty sure that is one of the repaired #8 bolts in front.

 

g3SMmwy.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 1 year later...
  • 2 months later...
Posted (edited)
On 5/14/2021 at 9:07 PM, philipj said:

Hello Bloo,

Where did you purchase the components to wire the sockets, such as fiber discs, springs, etc? 

 

Oops I don't know how I missed this, sorry.

 

Most of it was recycled from the old sockets. I dunked the springs in evaporust and then zinc plated them. The small parts and supplies I did use all came from Rhode Island Wire. I don't recall if I got new fiber discs, and I am not sure if they had them for double contact. They did have contacts, and I ordered some but don't recall if I used them. I may have used them on one socket. Theirs have a hollow hole to solder the wire into, while the salvaged originals resemble tacks, but are made of brass. https://www.riwire.com/

 

 

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
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