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37 Buick clock wiring and light sockets...


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Deciding to take another small step toward getting my project closer to finished,  I wanted to connect the new wiring harness to the clock in the glove box door.   When removing the old wiring from the clock I bought and had cosmetically restored I noticed the power wire to the clock had a pigtail extending to the glove box light.   I thought it was strange that the light would always be on because the wire was coming from the live power source.   Its a three wire harness.  I'm assuming the other is ground and the third is the power wire from the light switch that powers the bulb that illuminates the clock face when the light switch is in a certain position.


Back to wiring.   I needed to attach the bulb sockets to the new harness.  The clock face illumination bulb socket was straight forward but it's the glove box socket that taught me something today.   When I took it apart I learned there was 5 small "three-thirty-seconds" diameter balls in the socket,  of course I didn't know they were there and they fell on the floor.   After alot of searching, sweeping, using a magnet....  I was able to find them(good thing the shop floor is clean as far as shop floors go).   At least I think there were only 5(does anyone know for sure).   Then it dawned on me...those balls complete the circuit when the glove box door is OPENED.  In the vertical position there aren't enough balls in there to complete the circuit but when the door is opened and the balls roll to the side(bottom when opened) of the cavity they occupy the circuit is complete to illuminate the bulb.   What next???


I rewire the sockets because I found the braided cloth insulation is usually deteriorated exposing the wire.   It's a pain in the butt but I think it's worth it.


I sure hope the shop manual wiring diagram shows where the other end of the harness attaches to.


I found this unusually interesting.

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Good Afternoon,


I have a few notes for you based on the restoration I completed on my 66C.

  • My switch contained 5 of the little metal balls.
  • The wiring harness to the glove box door is only 3 wires as you have observed;  None are ground.  Ground is provided through the door hinge, so the mounting screws need to be clean.  One wire is for the clock power, and one wire each for the bulbs that illuminate the glove box and clock.  It does not appear on the factory wiring diagram, I assume because the clock was an extra-cost accessory. 
  •  You need to make a small opening in the left base of the glove box shell to route the wiring.
  • The clock power and glove box light feeds need to be "always on", therefore I used the lighter as the source of power for the clock as the lighter is the closest source of continuous power to the glove box.  I did put an in-line fuse (hidden under the dash, hear the lighter) so I can remove the fuse when I'm not using or showing the car so there is no battery drain from the clock (it isn't very much, anyway) when the car is not in use, and to reduce wear on the clock.
  • I used the instrument light circuit for the lamp that illuminates the clock, tapping into the instrument bulb circuit at the radio.



  • 08_Glovebox_Light_Complete.JPG:  My glovebox switch / socket after restoration.
  • 03_Glovebox_Light_Detail1.JPG:  Image of glove box switch / socket (note 5 balls made up the switch)
  • 09_Clock&Glovebox_Complete.JPG:  Back of assembled glove box door after restoration





Edited by 1937 Buick 66C
Typographical correction(s) (see edit history)
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25 minutes ago, 1937 Buick 66C said:






My harness looks the same.  But I see 3 wires from the harness(????)  Red and white going into the clock.  The black one going into the clock face illumination bulb socket.  Then that jumper wire(the one I called the pigtail) coming back out of the clock to the glove box light.   Mine will be the same at the clock and I may follow your lead on the other end of the harness.


Thanks so much for the reply.

Greatly appreciated.


Edited by 1937McBuick (see edit history)
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Is your clock tempermental?

I only had mine cosmetically restored.   I thought I heard they can be finickity.  My car won't be shown and maybe not even driven much.  I am still actively working and we have winter here.

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This motion switch is crazy.

Everything is clean.

Those 5 balls barely have enough surface contact to complete the circuit.


I dropped beads of solder(small gauge) into water to create balls.  They are not perfectly round but they at least they complete a circuit.


We even tried #7-1/2 steel shot out of a shotgun shell... no luck.


The originals were cleaned with brake clean and fine grit emery cloth,  they're shinier than when they came out of the switch.


Did it ever work reliably?


I haven't set it together permenantly yet.


Picture credit to 37 Buick 66C


Edited by 1937McBuick (see edit history)
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But the balls that were in there seem clean after I cleaned them.    There's continuity everywhere except in that cavity...  although(obviously) none in the glove box door closed position but really none in the open position either.... the odd time if you rock it a bit... but very very very seldom.


Where did you find ball bearings that small?  Out of what?

I thought the shotgun steel shot would have done the trick... nope.

Cleaned them in brake clean too.   I even tried polishing the old ones with steel wool.

The inside of the cavity was even polished with steel wool as was the tapered button contact the wire is soldered into.


I think the surface contact is so tenuous because of size and weight that achieving a closed circuit is difficult.   You can lay them out end to end in a creased piece of cardboard and contact the leads to each end... nothing.    Even if you just try between two balls...nothing...unless you can apply a bit of pressure.   Yet barely touch the two leads together and the multimeter buzzes.

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3 hours ago, Roadmaster71 said:

If you have some spare ball bearings or steel shot you might want to sand flats on them. It may increase contact surface area. Also, I wonder what a little graphite powder might do?

They are so small they're hard to handle.   

The solder balls I made are definitely irregular shape,  they conducted the best when in the switch.

I lined up about 10 steel shot in the bottom of a small plastic bag and flattened them a bit in a vice.   That didn't seem to change much at all.

I still have the unmolested originals. 

I might try to make copper balls by melting a light gauge wire with an oxy/acetylene torch and having the molten copper fall into water.    A Google page has copper almost at the top and steel near the bottom of the conductivity list of metals.   But how much difference could there really be???

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16 minutes ago, 1937McBuick said:

I wonder if it would fit.

If not, you could probably add some short insulated wires to the switch leads and tuck the switch up under the bulb mounting bracket where it would be hidden from view. 

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The copper balls actually work the large majority of the time.   Almost polar opposites of the steel balls which very seldom worked in mine.   Even the solder balls I made worked but I think the copper is even better.


If feel like a real hillbilly hack.

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