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22nd and 23rd Series Fluorescent Instrument Lights


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Hopefully you all will pardon a Buick guy over here! (Although I did grow up with a 23rd Series Eight as the family car...)

 

I have always been fascinated with the instrument lights on these, with the fluorescent effect. This idea was adapted from the WW2 planes with the same setup on the instrument lights for night flying. This was accomplished, I know now, by using thin Wood's glass dome filters over the standard 55 bulbs. Apparently these filters were very fragile and most did not make it to the present day. Also, apparently the phosphorescence on the indicators and numbers could fade over time. I know that the filters were not present in our Eight, and the car was less than 10 yrs old when we got it.

 

I always ask the 48/49 owners that I see at car shows about the inst lights and pretty much all have told me that the lights are either filterless or so dim as to be essentially useless. I recently had the opportunity to check out a 48 in a friend's shop with a UV flashlight and here is the result:

48_pckrd_uv.thumb.jpg.6d010823e55101d2bb8a088ad17251ad.jpg

In this car all of the phosphorescent paint still looks good, but all of the filters are gone.

 

So I started to think about those with the filterless cars and wondered about using UV LEDs. If the car has been converted to 12V there is a UV version available using the BA9s base (same as 55). My friend is getting some to try so we will see about brightness since they have a diffusing dome over the LED. For the 6V owners I think I could make some using BA9s bases from dead 55s and setting the LED and dropping resistor (for current limiting on the LED) in epoxy. But I would still have to make some prototypes and test.

 

So my question is, is there any interest in the 48/49 crowd in acquiring these if they could be a drop-in replacement? Or are most not driving their cars at night? Or has someone beat me to it? To check out the phosphorescent paint quality you can buy these UV flashlights pretty cheap: https://www.amazon.com/TaoTronics-Blacklight-Flashlights-Detector-Batteries/dp/B00RV8PREI/ref=sr_1_6?dchild=1&keywords=UV+flashlight&qid=1591406304&sr=8-6

(BTW these are good for tracking oil and antifreeze leaks as the liquids fluoresce under UV)

 

 

Thanks, Dave

 

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There are plastic UV filters over regular incandescent bulbs and they do glow in only a very dim purple which is almost useless for direct illumination.  Several have converted to 12v and just changed the bulb to a 12v equivalent and had the dash work fine.  The LED bulbs might work well but as long as the filters are intact not sure they  would be much better. 

 

The biggest problem with the old dash instruments is the fluorescent paint flakes off or, if exposed to years of direct sunlight if the car is sitting outdoors somewhere,  just plain gives up.  The flaked off paint leaves large gaps where nothing is happening so it makes the instrument hard to read at night or the tired paint doesn't work at all.  When that happens many have removed the filters to use the regular yellowish incandescent glow so when illuminated the instrument panels just resemble the earlier and later cars.  If someone wanted to restore a dash which is missing the filters that might be when the LEDs would come into good use.

 

There is a fluorescent powder which can be mixed with a clear carrier.   That combo closely duplicates the original glow but taking the instruments apart to repaint the needles and lettering in white and then paint over the white with the glow medium is a project and a half -- definitely not for the faint of heart or for those not comfortable doing detail work.  http://unitednuclear.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=28_45&products_id=1079

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