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Old 05-19-2009, 07:56 PM
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Make a poor man's billet 3rd brakelight.

The price of chrome or billet 3rd brake-lights gives me a headache so I decided to fabricate one of my own. I scrounged all the pieces for this one from my junk bins but my guess is it would cost you $3 or $4 if you had to go out and buy everything.

This piece of junk provided the basic idea for my light. It's from a TV antennae my brother-in-law tossed out years ago. The aluminum center section of this piece will make a nice "housing" for the light.



The major challenge on this little project was how to make a lens that would fit and stay secured inside of the tubular aluminum housing. To do this I used some broken and discarded plastic dropped ceiling lighting tile. The material looks like this.



To curve the lens to fit inside the tubing I used my heavy duty heat gun. I'm not certain, but I think a decent hair dryer would also do the trick...just take a little longer. I heated the plastic and bent it around a piece of pipe that was a slightly smaller diameter than the inside of the aluminum tubing.



You'll want to bend the lens material so it is just slightly larger than the aluminum tubing. That way, you can compress it enough to slide it inside the housing and when you loosen your grip it will hold itself in place by friction. Here's a shot of the lens being test fitted. Once I had the lens to the right shape I painted it using an aerosol can of Candy Apple Red paint (the type commonly used for models and sold in any hobby store).



You can "let the light out" in a number of different ways. I chose to cut three horizontal slits in the tubing using my 4 1/2 grinder. You could also drill holes or cut slits in the vertical direction rather than horizontal as I did. Note how I secured the tubing while it was being cut by clamping wood stops on every side.



I then sanded down all the rough edges on the slits, buffed up the housing, and inserted the painted lens. Presto...third brake light.



The bulbs for the unit are inserted from each end and are friction fit by wrapping foam around the base of the bulb. In place of socket connections, I soldered wires directly to the plus terminal on the bottom of the bulb and to the negative surround at the base of the bulb. The end caps for the unit will be fabricated from oak to match the oak trim which goes around the rear window. These pieces can not be made until the car comes back from the upholsterer and I know the exact size to make them. So I'll update this thread when the unit is finalized and installed.

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Old 05-19-2009, 09:05 PM
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You da man , now get really fancy and use LED's.

Vince
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Old 05-19-2009, 09:24 PM
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Originally Posted by 302 Z28
... now get really fancy and use LED's.
Interesting because I purposely used the incandescent bulbs. I'm running LED's in my regular tail lights and and also running an AudioVox cruise control. And I discovered when I put that combination in my '32 pickup, the cruise stopped working. Come to find out it is fairly well know problem. The Audiovox cruise must be able to sense the resistance in the brake light bulbs in order to operate properly. And the LED's provide so little resistance, you have to either put an incandescent bulb in the brake line or put in small resistors. I figured I'd just kill two birds with one stone...use incandescent bulbs instead of resisters and make them the third brake light.

So I had an ulterior motive for my bulb choice. But your point is a good one. Someone else doing this could easily figure out a way to stuff a row of LED strip lights into the tubing and fasten them in place.
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Old 05-23-2009, 01:33 PM
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Very nice Dewey. I think you would find that a regular hair dryer would not be strong enough to form the plastic. The industrial heat gun is the way to go.
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Old 05-23-2009, 01:39 PM
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Looking good there cboy. .Cole
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Old 05-23-2009, 07:31 PM
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At first I had some concern on what this would look like. Came out very nice! Job well done. You need to be applauded for your enginuity and creativeness.
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Old 05-23-2009, 08:13 PM
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Great Job

Shane
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Old 05-24-2009, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by kleen56
At first I had some concern on what this would look like. Came out very nice! Job well done. You need to be applauded for your enginuity and creativeness.
And his ability to squeeze a nickle until the buffalo screams........
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Old 05-24-2009, 08:19 PM
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And his ability to squeeze a nickle until the buffalo screams........
I HAVE to squeeze my nickles...to afford my crazy upholsterer!!!!!!
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Old 05-25-2009, 09:48 AM
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I'm not crazy, just colorful. (the voices made me say that)
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Old 06-01-2009, 11:06 AM
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3rd brake lite

Quote:
Originally Posted by cboy
The price of chrome or billet 3rd brake-lights gives me a headache so I decided to fabricate one of my own. I scrounged all the pieces for this one from my junk bins but my guess is it would cost you $3 or $4 if you had to go out and buy everything.

This piece of junk provided the basic idea for my light. It's from a TV antennae my brother-in-law tossed out years ago. The aluminum center section of this piece will make a nice "housing" for the light.



The major challenge on this little project was how to make a lens that would fit and stay secured inside of the tubular aluminum housing. To do this I used some broken and discarded plastic dropped ceiling lighting tile. The material looks like this.



To curve the lens to fit inside the tubing I used my heavy duty heat gun. I'm not certain, but I think a decent hair dryer would also do the trick...just take a little longer. I heated the plastic and bent it around a piece of pipe that was a slightly smaller diameter than the inside of the aluminum tubing.



You'll want to bend the lens material so it is just slightly larger than the aluminum tubing. That way, you can compress it enough to slide it inside the housing and when you loosen your grip it will hold itself in place by friction. Here's a shot of the lens being test fitted. Once I had the lens to the right shape I painted it using an aerosol can of Candy Apple Red paint (the type commonly used for models and sold in any hobby store).



You can "let the light out" in a number of different ways. I chose to cut three horizontal slits in the tubing using my 4 1/2 grinder. You could also drill holes or cut slits in the vertical direction rather than horizontal as I did. Note how I secured the tubing while it was being cut by clamping wood stops on every side.



I then sanded down all the rough edges on the slits, buffed up the housing, and inserted the painted lens. Presto...third brake light.



The bulbs for the unit are inserted from each end and are friction fit by wrapping foam around the base of the bulb. In place of socket connections, I soldered wires directly to the plus terminal on the bottom of the bulb and to the negative surround at the base of the bulb. The end caps for the unit will be fabricated from oak to match the oak trim which goes around the rear window. These pieces can not be made until the car comes back from the upholsterer and I know the exact size to make them. So I'll update this thread when the unit is finalized and installed.
Wow! looks great , that is true hot rodding ingenuity!
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Old 06-01-2009, 09:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 57fordft
Wow! looks great , that is true hot rodding ingenuity!
Thanks 57. What I like most about this site is posting up a small project like this and have it spark an idea in someone elses head who can then take it one or two steps further to make something REALLY good looking and inexpensive.
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