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Technical 54 Chevy Frenched Tail Lights

Discussion in 'Traditional Customs' started by D squared, Nov 15, 2020.

  1. D squared
    Joined: Dec 22, 2013
    Posts: 8

    D squared
    Member
    from Santa Rosa

    I don't get in the mix much besides sifting through all of the awesome material here. Have done several projects over the years learning every step of the way. I am currently deep into a couple projects. The one i am most excited about is my 54 Chevy. I know there has been a ton of them on here, and many are tired of the this heavily customized year. Understandable, but to me, like so many, the platform is a classic and is hard to beat. I was first turned on to the 53-54 when my dad handed me an old HOTROD mag with the famous hardtop Moonglow on the cover. That was about 30 years ago. Finally got my hands on one and have been chopping away.


    The reason I have decided to post in the tech section, is when I was venturing into the frenching of both the headlights and tail lights, it was hard to find anything to guide my way. At least with my limited searching skill, on this site and the web.


    There was a little info on frenching headlights (this is a lot more straight forward and everything you need is there with the use of stock parts), but there was nothing on the tail lights. There was some discussion telling you what you should, or could do, but no actual tech that I could find that used images to help you make a decision that fit you best.


    I decided to take some shots as I went to help others get an idea on how to make your own light weldable buckets that flow well. Unfortunately, I lost a handful of images that showed the building of the frame of the light with round stock and then wrapping 16 gauge sheet metal. If I find them I will add them to the thread.


    I will start of by talking through the steps, up to the point of when I have images to accompany the description.


    1. The first thing I did was use the stock lights as the obvious template to guide my shape and design. I traced the stock buck with a sharpi to guide me in shaping my frame.


    2. For the frame of the new bucket I used 1/4" round stock and bent it gradually to find my way to the shape that matched the one I traced on my table. Having a few different metal shaping dollies will help in making some gradual bends. Having a roller would help as well for the sides. A tight narrow dolly for the top and bottom to get those tight turns would be best ( again sorry again for no images). You may have to do them in two halves and then weld the rode together. I was able to do them in one piece.


    3. Once you have the "hoops" done, they will be a flat oval. In order to get the profile correct you will need to use a medium curve to hammer the shape into the top portion to match as close as you can to the stock profile. I used may large vise tail as a back to hammer the curve in the frame.

    4. Once I had my frame the shape I wanted, I started on my shell. I used 16 gauge steel. obviously using a lighter gauge would allow for some easier pliability. I choose the heavier stuff so welding the buckets down the line is a bit more forgiving. I used blue painters’ tape and wrapped it on the stock buckets and trimmed it to the exact shape of the stock buckets. I then pulled the tape and placed it on to a heavy card stock that would allow me to have solid forms to lay on sheet metal for tracing and cutting. *Note you could just put the tape directly on the metal and cut it out, but you would need two tape copies. I want to use 1 template to get the two sides as close to the same as possible. Remember if they both look the same it wont matter if that deviate from stock buckets because there is symmetry on your new ones.


    5. Once you have you new templates, you will need to transfer to you metal. Trace your template on the metal and cut with a Beverly shear or something that works for you. Grinder cutting wheel will do all the work you need in this project.


    6. Once you have your shapes cut out, you can not start to wrap your frames. Make sure you lay your sheet metal about 50% over the round frame. You want the round stock to create nice curve that flows to the inside of the bucket, giving you that clean look. It is important that you lay the frames at the top center so you can tack weld dead center of the top of the frame and then lay the sides down and tack to keep the shapes meeting at the bottom to complete the weld and to finish the buckets.


    7. Finish welding the perimeter and machine finish the welds clean so the frame and bucket look to be one piece.


    8. You are now done with the most difficult part of the project. Next will be figuring out what you would like to do for the lighting portion of your buckets.


    9. I chose to use tuck tail light LEDs to be my light source and honeycomb lens material to lay into buckets.


    In hopes not to bore you to death with the writing. If you’re like me, you like pictures to help guide you learning. I have added the few images I have that should clear up some questions that you may have. If you have any questions let me know. Happy to help any way I can. You don’t need a bunch of tools to do this. As far as welder goes, I used a tig but a mig will work fine.


    I have been on here for years looking at all of the great inspirational material. I hope this will help someone gain some insight to maybe doing something in their version. This is just another way to do it. Lots of options and perspective. Thanks for taking a look. Id love to see other ways people did theirs. Please post some pictures of what you did. When I was doing mine, I couldn’t find any images to help guide my attempt. I hope some more people will post to show their work to improve this thread for others like me. I’d love to see what others do. I’m learning every day. Thanks for the support.


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  2. fastcar1953
    Joined: Oct 23, 2009
    Posts: 2,412

    fastcar1953
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

  3. D squared
    Joined: Dec 22, 2013
    Posts: 8

    D squared
    Member
    from Santa Rosa

    VANDENPLAS likes this.
  4. fastcar1953
    Joined: Oct 23, 2009
    Posts: 2,412

    fastcar1953
    ALLIANCE MEMBER


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