Register now to get rid of these ads!

Converting a '39 Ford BACK from sealed beams

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Alienbaby17, Nov 12, 2009.

  1. Alienbaby17
    Joined: Sep 13, 2005
    Posts: 918

    Alienbaby17
    Member

    I've got a '39 Ford Standard sedan that had an aftermarket sealed beam headlight conversion on it when I got it. I've never been very fond of the 'bug-eyed' look it gave the car and want to convert it back to the original type bulbs, lenses, etc. Over the last month or two I've been picking up (hopefully most of the) pieces I need to accomplish this. The car is still a 6 volt system so I'm buying all original type parts to do this.

    I need some help determining what parts I still need to make this happen.

    Here's what I started out with...not terrible looking but I don't care for it.

    [​IMG]

    After removing a couple of screws and the trim/ bulb assembly.

    [​IMG]

    And we now have this...

    [​IMG]

    I know I'm going to have to convert the current 3 wire connector back to the original style two wire connector. I also know I'm obviously going to need the headlamp bulbs. I bought some reflectors and in addition to the opening in the center for the headlamps they also have a small opening for a connector underneath the bulb. Is this where the third wire will run to once I put on the original style headlamp bulb connectors? Also, what is this little bulb for? The car has marker lights mounted seperately from the headlamps. Could these reflectors I bought have been from an earlier model (37-38) that wouldn't have used seperate marker lights outside of the headlight buckets?

    These are the parts I've purchased so far...

    [​IMG]

    Obviously I will have a few extras of some things. I know I will also still need the gasket-type material between the glass lense and the outer trim piece. What else is there to get?

    Also- what holds the external stainless trim in place? There is only one screw hole in the bottom of the trim piece so I'm guessing there must have been something that it latched over on the top. Currently there are some tabs there to mount the sealed beam conversions (see photo for clarification). I'm assuming these will have to come off and I'll need something completely different once I put the original trim back on.

    What holds the reflectors in place? Do I have what I need still in place in the buckets or will I need something else? (Again please consult photo for clarification.)

    Anybody able to 'shed some light' on this for me. ANy help would be much appreciated. Pictures would be even better!

    Thanks, Jay
     
  2. junkyardjeff
    Joined: Jul 23, 2005
    Posts: 7,734

    junkyardjeff
    Member

    If I were you I would change over to 12 volt before before putting the original type headlights back in since I think there are kits available to put halogen bulbs in the original reflectors. With 6 volt bulbs you wont like the light they put out,I have the original headlights in my 37 chevy p/u with 12 volt bulbs in them and I run the brights most of the time and will be looking for a kit for halogen bulbs. I like the look of the original headlights but there is a reason sealed beams were put in.
     
  3. halogen bulbs get damn hot and the old glas may just fail..
    thats why some kits have new glass lenses
    now wwhat about new L.E.D. HEADLITE .. murderCYCLE TYPE bulbs????

    and i was told that some trophy shops or jewlery stores may be able to bring back the shine of polished nickel reflector its applied to the surface and is mucho thin carful what you use on it

    i have 38 deluxe and will watch what you do it has the bugeye units too
    i have collected some original parts most folkes sellin.. can not distinguish between the years 37-39 good luck..
    and let there be light
     
  4. junkyardjeff
    Joined: Jul 23, 2005
    Posts: 7,734

    junkyardjeff
    Member

    If you dont go with halogens at least convert it to 12 volts so the lights will be brighter,those original headlights look nicer but are nothing like sealed beams. I have been driving my 37 for 9 years now with the original headlights and have to be carefull while driving when its dark.
     

  5. Alienbaby17
    Joined: Sep 13, 2005
    Posts: 918

    Alienbaby17
    Member

    At this point I'm really not interested in converting to a 12 volt system.

    I did see that MAC's Antique Auto Parts offers a 6 volt quartz bulb conversion for use with the original reflectors. Here is a link to that if anyone is interested.
    http://www.parts123.com/parts123/yb...~S2SJ10Z7HN68168146050h~Z5Z5Z5~Z5Z5Z50000021D
    This is a halogen 6 volt kit. It says it may require the use of a 35 amp generator. I also would hope the extra heat from the halogens wouldn't be an issue...

    I may end up going that route but for now I just want the simplicity of converting everything back to original first before I make any other modifications.

    I'm really trying to get a couple of answers about this.

    1) How are the reflectors held into the retainer? The retainer currently inside the buckets looks identical to the one MAC's sells as original so I think it will work. I just need to find out how they are installed.

    2) What is used to hold the original stainless trim in place- especially on top? The current tab/ bracket thing is definitely not going to work and I assume something different should be there.

    3) What is the small light for beneath the headlight?

    Thanks for the input so far...

    Jay
     
  6. you may have 37 lenses and surounds they are different than38-39 they have a peak at the top which (not 100%sure )the 38-39 do not have

    i suspect that the correct frame would go on your existing set up ???

    i think the reflector is held in place by a spring clip simular to the ones holding the headlite in your bugeye bucket

    have you tried to just push in the reflector there is a couple of catchs ther on that inner ring?

    there should be a spring wire on top of the frame ...set up so a squared off '"tablike "part of it fits at the top ???

    gosh i aint helpin ya much i'll shutup maybe someone here has a real 39 and will take some pics.. good luck

    i have benn collecting parts for mine too and seems they all look alike but may not fit alike ..
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2009
  7. Alienbaby17
    Joined: Sep 13, 2005
    Posts: 918

    Alienbaby17
    Member

    Paperdog- according to all of the information I can find the lenses and trim surrounds for all 37, 38 and 39 Standard (which I have) models are all the same.

    Jay
     
  8. MrkCat37
    Joined: Jan 15, 2009
    Posts: 62

    MrkCat37
    Member

    Look at your reflectors. There are three cutouts in the rim. Inside the bucket the holder has a locator tab and two spring clamps the reflector just pushes in place.

    The gasket material goes between the bucket and glass lens.

    The trim hooks on the top of the bucket. The clamp at the top holds the glass lens in place and has a tab for the trim. The clamp in your photo looks a bit off. Around the bucket you'll see what looks like some swelled spots or hooks, the trim somewhat clips on those as well. More of a locator than a clip.

    I've run 12v halogen bulbs on mine and have had no issues with the original glass. Even running the halogens I feel like I could use more light at night.

    Hope this helps.
     
  9. Those sealed beam conversions are ugly as a man's ass.

    The stainless trim just hooks over the bucket rim & the single screw at the bottom holds it on. Can't remember exactly how the reflector is retained. MrkCat37 sounds like he knows what he's talking about though.

    The small holes in the reflectors are for parking lights. Install an amber bulb. They are gorgeous at dusk with only the parking lights on.

    I bought a '96 Impala once for the parking lights as much as anything. Absolutely sinister at dusk...

    JH
     
  10. junkyardjeff
    Joined: Jul 23, 2005
    Posts: 7,734

    junkyardjeff
    Member

    Since you want to keep the 6 volt system drive cautiously at night when you get them hooked up as you can easily out drive the lights and thats with 12 volts,you say now you want to keep it 6 volt but after you drive it the first time you will be changing your mind. Those sealed beam conversions are ugly but remember there is a reason they were installed and you will soon be finding out why.
     
  11. Alienbaby17
    Joined: Sep 13, 2005
    Posts: 918

    Alienbaby17
    Member

    ***UPDATE***
    It's taken longer than I hoped as some parts were back-ordered and others were not in stock but as of tonight I think I finally have this 'buttoned-up'.

    I don't actually have the wiring finished or the completed buckets installed yet but I will put it all together Sunday afternoon and then get the headlights aligned that evening.

    The first thing I had to do was remove both of the old sealed beam conversions and then remove the original headlight buckets. This is what we had after doing that.

    [​IMG]

    The old buckets were pretty crusty so I decided as long as I was going to all of this expense and time I might as well do it right and repaint them.

    [​IMG]

    I brought the buckets into the house and disassembled them. This meant removing the headlamp reflector retaining rings and the three aiming screws and springs. Once the buckets were cleaned up I noticed the inside lower halves appeared to have originally been silver or white in color. I decided to repaint the inside of the housings with a gloss white hoping that it might help with night driving.

    I painted the exterior of buckets and the reflector retaining rings flat black. I also clipped off the added on ground wire that had been part of the sealed beam conversion and soldered to the bottom of the housings. When I was finished this is what I had.

    [​IMG]

    In the photo you can also see that I've already glued on the cork headlamp bucket to fender gaskets.

    After that it was time to install the reflectors. I was going to install some older/ original ones I had purchased on Ebay but after looking at them I decided that they were too tarnished to use. I don't know if it would really help that much with night driving but I opted to spend the $30 each for new brightly plated ones. I guess part of the beauty of owning an older Ford is the ready availability of aftermarket parts.

    The reflectors are VERY SIMPLE to install as was mentioned in a post above. You simply align the reflector (so the marker lamp opening is at the bottom) and then push the reflector onto the reflector retaining ring where it will snap in place on both sides. You will need to line up a small cut out at around the 10 'o clock position with a tab on the retaining ring. Once everything is in position you can slide the reflector up about 1/8" inch and slide it under a small tab at the 1 o'clock position. With that it's done. However...

    You will want to install the wiring harness, connector and bulb into place first. This proved to be one of the biggest pains of the whole project.
    I bought new wiring harnesses with bulb connectors with all of the parts I purchased. You will need new harnesses and connectors to replace the sealed beam bulb three wire connectors. I wouldn't say the ones I bought were very high quality. The light bulb socket end of these original connectors is kind of a strange design. You push it into place (it only goes in one way) in the reflector and then turn it 1/8 of a turn to lock it into place. There are three little locking pieces that you twist into place and I managed to break one on both of my new harnesses trying to do this. I was pretty disappointed. I ended up going to my box of Ebay parts and using two original sockets and installing the new harnesses into them. This seemed to work much better. It was also kind of a pain to get the bulb into the socket. You pretty much have to put the bulb and socket in at the same time. The bulb also twists and locks into place so it was a bit of a fight until I figured it out.

    With these original headlamp designs they also incorporate a small marker bulb under the headlight. I bought new bulbs but when I attempted to install them in the sockets they both broke. The glass part of the bulb spun out of the socket end. I didn't want to leave them without bulbs in them because it looked like the wiring end was going to touch the side of the socket. I pulled the wire and connectors out of the harness for now.
    That pretty much completed the insides of the buckets now I just had to finish the outsides.

    As part of the old sealed beam conversion the original trim mount at the top of the bucket was removed. I wish they had saved it because this is only available as a 4 piece kit of the small tabs/ brackets etc. that mount the lense to the bucket. I only needed the one piece but still had to buy two of the kits to do both and the kits were $17 each.
    Here is a photo of the tab I am talking about. The little tab is circled.
    [​IMG]
    There was also the matter of the cork gasket that goes between the bucket and glass lense. These were pretty basic looking. They simply wrap around the bucket in the groove that the lense sits in and helps seal the bucket. Although the guy at Little Dearborn said most people just glue these to the bucket I ended up buying the brass headlamp retainer bails that are designed to hold them in place. I did a couple of test fits and no matter what I tried the lense would fit right with the cork gaskets installed. I will mention that you will need to NOT have the upper lense mounting tab in position until AFTER the lense is situated correctly. THEN you put the upper tab on to help hold it in place.
    Here is a photo of one of the brass bails and the cork gasket.
    [​IMG]
    The brass bail just wraps around the cork gasket once it is place and holds it in position by locking the two ends of the bail into each other. Very simple.
    The problem that I found was that the cork gasket was too thick. It was so thick that I couldn't get the lense under the mounting tabs with cork gasket installed. I ended up cutting the gasket in half and then putting it on and this worked perfectly. Once that was done I was able to get the gasket and lense into position and lock everything down by putting on the top mounting tab.
    Here is a photo of the gasket and brass bail in position.
    [​IMG]
    And a photo of the completed assembly from the side.
    [​IMG]

    Parts list to follow.

    Jay
     
  12. Alienbaby17
    Joined: Sep 13, 2005
    Posts: 918

    Alienbaby17
    Member

    Parts you will need to convert your Ford back from a sealed beam conversion.

    All part numbers (and prices) are Little Dearborn numbers but I believe they may be fairly universal Ford numbers.

    Headlilght lenses: 78-13060-S $30 each.
    Headlight trim: 78-13001-RM $32.50 each.
    Headlamp bucket-to-fender gaskets: 78-13044 $8.00 pair.
    Headlamp bucket hardware kit: 78-13061-K $17.00 each.
    Headlamp lense gaskets: 78-13066 $2.50 each.
    Headlamp gasket retainer bails: 78-13067 $14.00 pair.
    Headlamp reflectors: 78-13028 $29.95 each.
    headlamp bulbs:48-13007-6 $2.50 each.
    Marker lights: ??? cheap.
    I don't have a part # for the headlight harness and sockets but was pretty unimpressed with the quality. they were $20 each.

    So I guess if you bought everything new you'd have spent around $300. Holy cow I'm glad I didn't total that up as I went. I personally found the lenses and trim rings on Ebay for less-than-half the cost of new ones so that was a big money saver. They are VERY commonly on Ebay for the 37-39 models.

    I'll post a picture on Sunday when it's all done- at over $200 it better be a pretty big improvement to justify the expense.

    Jay
     
  13. Alienbaby17
    Joined: Sep 13, 2005
    Posts: 918

    Alienbaby17
    Member

    Got everything reassembled yesterday. Despite the headaches and expense I think it was worth it.

    Before:

    [​IMG]

    After:

    [​IMG]

    I didn't really realize just how bad the sealed beam conversions looked until I switched 'em back to stock.

    Jay
     
  14. Django
    Joined: Nov 15, 2002
    Posts: 10,197

    Django
    Member
    from Chicago

    Nice job. I agree...I HATE the sealed beam conversions. No, HATE isn't strong enough of a word... ;) :D
     
  15. junkyardjeff
    Joined: Jul 23, 2005
    Posts: 7,734

    junkyardjeff
    Member

    Just be carefull when driving at night with them as you have been warned about the short comings of them,they look better but are not as good as what they have replaced.
     
  16. bonesy
    Joined: Aug 14, 2005
    Posts: 2,999

    bonesy
    Member

    1,000,000 times better. You are correct, the before and after shots are like night and day.
     
  17. hey
    bought them turn signal bulbs were the little pins on them not at the same plane ? ya need to push them in quite a ways possibly why they broke also the contact /spring must be free to move in- out..and replacement ones could come from a common newer socket or check the napa belden book

    the car looks way better without dem frog eyes
    i have some reflective material i may try in my buckets..or foiltape.. or bags from computer parts..
    good luck stay warm
    paperdog
     
  18. Jake H.
    Joined: Sep 16, 2003
    Posts: 489

    Jake H.
    Member

    Very useful tech, at least for me.

    I'm bringing home my newly purchased '39 DeLuxe Tudor this Saturday. It's just about perfect other than... you guessed it, THOSE DAMN UGLY sealed beam conversions up front.

    I will be using this thread very soon. Thanks.
     
  19. junkyardjeff
    Joined: Jul 23, 2005
    Posts: 7,734

    junkyardjeff
    Member

    Have you driven it at night yet and how did they perform.
     
  20. Tim G
    Joined: Jan 3, 2009
    Posts: 548

    Tim G
    Member

    My 39 Standard also had the fugly conversions, First thing that i removed when it arrived.... Looks better even with empty eye sockets!

    I really don't care about how bad the originals are at night as I very rarely drive at night anywhere that is not well lit anyway...

    This thread is useful to me, Thanks!
     
  21. junkyardjeff
    Joined: Jul 23, 2005
    Posts: 7,734

    junkyardjeff
    Member

    My 37 Chevy p/u will be getting halogen bulbs in the future and not the sealed beam type.
     
  22. Looks much better. HRP
     
  23. Gene Boul
    Joined: Feb 9, 2006
    Posts: 805

    Gene Boul

    I did the same thing...except twice! Bought the conversion from Bob Drake...threw most of it away. The wire is absolute junk. Purchased Tyree Harris headlight wires and NOS bulb sockets. Painted the inside white and soldered a ground wire to the socket. 6 Volt system works very well, and I can't out-run my lights!
    Sold the old sealed beam conversion on E-Bay for 40.00! The beauty of the 37- 39 fat fendered Fords was the teardrop headlights!
     
  24. Did the reverse conversion on my 36 Ford several years back. Some goober had "upgraded" to sealed beams before I got the car. Never was happy with it. Found a nice set of old convex lenses and reflectors at a swap meet.
    Looks much better now......
     
  25. Tim G
    Joined: Jan 3, 2009
    Posts: 548

    Tim G
    Member

    That is very interesting, did you do this long ago, any links to parts suppliers would be useful if you have them.

    Thanks
     

Share This Page

Register now to get rid of these ads!

Archive

Copyright © 1995-2020 The Jalopy Journal: Steal our stuff, we'll kick your teeth in. Terms of Service. Privacy Policy.

Atomic Industry
Forum software by XenForo™ ©2010-2014 XenForo Ltd.