Register now to get rid of these ads!

Technical Great Info on the Autronic Eye & Guide-Matic! LOTS OF PICS!

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Abomination, Apr 14, 2011.

  1. Abomination
    Joined: Oct 5, 2006
    Posts: 6,693

    Abomination
    Member

    [​IMG]

    I was checking out this website, which is about the restoration of a GM Futureliner the other day: http://www.futurliner.com/

    Eventually, I got to the Autronic Eye section: http://www.futurliner.com/autronic.htm

    I'd run across this before, as they were actually working on this restoration (which completed in 2006), and pocket this information, as well as John Oldenburg's name for later use. Hell, I've even included his info in my "Finding Cadillac Parts" thread:
    http://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=298882

    John Oldenburg Rebuilder of Autronic Eye systems
    http://home.comcast.net/~oldsfan/MySite/oldenburg.html
    263 North Rocky Hill Rd
    Galena, IL 61036
    815-777-2937

    Anyway, John has some really good information he shared on the Futureliner site. I figured I'd pass it on, just as I found it here: http://www.futurliner.com/autronic.htm


    [​IMG]



    The picture above consists of all of the components associated with the AUTRONIC EYE that will be re-installed on the Futurliner. John Oldenburg has donated his services, components and instructions for installation. John Oldenburg has been restoring Autronic Eyes for over 20 years. He sent us some information prior to shipping the package:

    "I ran a final test with one tester that I use to test all the units of those years, I have 21 of the testers, but I use only one for the final test to make sure all units leave with the same calibration settings. After I installed the wiring harness, it changed the setting and was slow to dim. I discovered that with the long wiring, there was a voltage leak that was coming back to the amp as a signal that it was dark and locking the high beams on. I removed the wiring and used shielding on the wire all the way to the ends. Normally, in a car, the wiring is only 3-4 foot long and would not matter, but this harness for the Futurliner is 26+ foot long. I have sent additional terminals if you need them.

    In the center of the coil of wire is the actual unit that will be installed on the dash. The Autronic Eye was an automatic headlight dimming system that dimmed the Futurliner headlights when traffic approached. From what we've picked up from the Paraders that drove the Futurliners, the units weren't very practical and seemed to dim the lights for everything except oncoming cars. Every streetlight activated it, and so you go down the street with your lights flashing up and down. Out in the country, reflection from highway signs set it off and oncoming cars often don't activate it soon enough and they flash their high beams at you before it dims for them. If you happen to be on a curve at the time, the sensor is looking out in space and never does see the oncoming cars."



    COMMENTS ON THE AUTRONIC EYE FROM John Oldenburg

    I remember the first time I saw a phototube, or as many people call the "eye" It was perched on the dash of a 1962 Oldsmobile StarFire, it looked like something from outer space, I let my curiosity get the best of me, I knew I wouldn't be satisfied until I knew everything about this option. Over the years I have restored and repaired hundreds of Autronic eye and Guide-matic systems for all divisions of General Motors, and Ford Lincoln.
    The first of automatic headlight dimming systems were called Autronic eyes. They were first offered in 1952 for Oldsmobile and Cadillac. All other divisions started 1953. They kept his name until 1959. 1960, and up the name was changed Guide-matic but it served the same purpose, to automatically switch the head lamps between upper and lower beams in response to light from an approaching car.


    [​IMG]

    Lincoln started purchasing Autronic eye's in 1957, Ford and Mercury and 1964, before this they had a high failure rate until they started purchasing units from Delco. The typical system consistent of four individual units, the photo, amplifier, power relay, and a special foot dimmer switch, or a auxiliary override footswitch.
    In 1955 Oldsmobile offered the first on/off switch integrated into the headlight light switch, this was the only division to offer this until 1962 when Cadillac and Buick had a off switch built into the phototube. Many people asked me how to identify a Guide-matic system or an Autronic eye for there car, I think we have all been to swap meets and seen parts or complete units that a vender is trying to sell. But was not sure what it was off of, if you ask the vender, he may ask what car you have first, before he tells you the car you have, or we have all heard "they are all the same in those years" this is not true! Some of the first clues are the shape of the phototube lens. The square clear lens was used in 1952-54 (mid year) but Chevy retained the square lens until mid 1955. But this was only to use up old inventory. Chevy only, used 6-volt Autronic eye systems on 12-volt cars with a special 12 to 6volt reducing resister. This was a poor idea, as it was a larger load on the charging system. But it was cheap!

    [​IMG]
    The round clear lens was first used in 1954 and lasted through 1958 on Cadillac and Oldsmobile. Buick, Chevy Pontiac retained the round lens through 1959. The 1959 Cadillac and Oldsmobile unit was a one-year only unit, and a breakthrough in technology as this was the first of the low voltage units. The phototube was supplied with just 2.25 volts. This phototube was still large but the lens was oval and clear and there was a knob on the back to adjust the sensitively while driving. There was one exception a 1959 dealer installed unit that was a high voltage DC unit.

    [​IMG]

    The amplifier was mounted behind the kick panel (all amp's were here in 1959 through 1962 in Cadillac, all others 1958 through 1962) this phototube had a knob on the back of the eye as well and a clear round lens.

    [​IMG]
    There was a large (black box) or the amplifier under the hood of the car,. If it had one adjustment knob under it, it was used for 1954 and earlier, 1955 and earlier for Chevy. This was a high voltage DC unit. If it had two knobs, this was a high voltage AC unit and was used in 1955-58. This means the phototube was supplied with up to 1000 volts to operate the system. 1958 was the last of the large amplifier under the hood for Cadillac and Oldsmobile.

    [​IMG]
    In 1955-58 Oldsmobile used a rubber isolation system on the amplifier to reduce shock or harmonic vibration. This had 2 separate metal legs and 4 large rubber isolators.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
    The 1960 phototube was another breakthrough, This was the first year of the small phototube. it had a amber color lens to make the system less sensitive to fog or snow. The earlier ones had this as well but was inside the phototube housing.








    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    In the Cadillac division only, the phototube was removed from the dash in 1964 (unless it was a dealer installed unit or a professional car) and installed behind the fender or grill. These units are unserviceable and should be replaced if not working.

    The first and only year to sport a "safety salute" was 1960, this was a two-step relay. When the headlamps were switched to low beams the upper beams would remain on at a reduced candle power for one to two seconds to indicate the car was equipped with a Guide-matic system. This was a great idea, but poor design and thus had a very high failure rate. There was several attempts to salvage this part of the system by the GM tech dept. but by February of this year GM sent notification to all dealers to disconnect this parts of the Guide-matic system if there were problems.

    The phototube mounting changed almost every year with the new contours of each dash. You have to make sure you have the correct one for your car. On a Cadillac it is easy to make sure you are mounting the phototube in the correct location, as the holes are there for you, in the steel dash anyway. Just take a awl and poke a hole through from the under side. For other divisions you must have a template, mark and drill a hole from the top.

    The next clue to check the serial number printed on a paper sticker on the amplifier. If the amplifier was mounted under the hood of the car for a long time the tag maybe deteriorated and fell off. The phototube had a metal tag in the years 1952 through 59 and a paper tag between the phototube and mounting in 1960 through 66. The serial number consists of nine digits. The first digit indicated the division this unit was sent to. The second and third digits indicated what year the unit when into. The remaining 6 digits indicated the serial number starting with number one. If you run across a very high number starting with the 100,000 range, this means there may have been a minor mid year production change.
    Here is a breakdown of the model and serial numbers as they apply to the various car lines;

    156 000001 Chevrolet
    256 000001 Pontiac
    356 000001 Oldsmobile
    456 000001 Buick
    556 000001 Cadillac
    857 000001 Lincoln. An "A" will follow the serial number 1964 and up
    864 000001-B Mercury
    864 000001-C Ford
    756 000001 Warrant Replacement.


    The number 7 was GMC truck division and no automatic headlight dimming system were ever used in trucks *There is a exception to this coding, in 1952 this system of numbers was not used yet, but it still had a serial number with all 9 digits.

    [​IMG]


    After properly identifying and making sure the Autronic eye is complete, It is time to start restoring the unit, The bad wiring should be replaced with new. Next make sure all connectors are clean and free of corrosion (all electrical connectors on the car should be cleaned, at these were made of brass and on a 40 plus year old car they will tarnish making poor connection).


    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The amplifier housing cover 1952-1958 should be glass blasted, primed then painted gloss black, the phototube and mounting should be dissembled, and glass blasted, primed and painted the color of your dash. If this unit was originally purchased over the counter at the dealer the phototube was painted Cumulus gray or dark gray, 1960 units and later, the housing was sent in primer, either red or dark gray.


    [​IMG]


    All vacuum tubes should be replaced or tested to make sure they are in top working condition. The vibrator in the amplifier (1952-1958) should be replaced with a solid-state replacement vibrator, which will last for many, many years.



    Today driving standards have changed considerable from yesteryear. In 1956 it was dark out there! Today we have halogen headlights, reflective signs, and reflective paint on the highways, so, if we would use the factory sensitivity adjustments, your upper headlamps would seldom turn on. Though many hours of testing of my own cars, I've recalibrated most of my factory testers, most all dealers had one or more of these. Once the unit is running I have always let it run for several hours, if not days, to see if it is going to fail. In my option if the unit is going to fail it will do so in the first 24 hrs of operation.


    [​IMG]


    Another option that was available on Cadillac and Buick was the "twilight sentinel" this was first used in 1960. I am often asked if this option was part of the guide-matic system, It is not. It is a completely separate unit from the Guide-matic. This is a electronic device which automatically turn the headlights on and off. The operation of the lights is determined by the amount of daylight available for safe driving. The twilight sentinel used the same numbering system as the Autronic eyes, but the number always started with the letter "L".
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2016
  2. Abomination
    Joined: Oct 5, 2006
    Posts: 6,693

    Abomination
    Member

    [​IMG]

    From: http://graylady.webng.com/AE%20History.htm


    Title: DEVELOPMENT OF THE GUIDE 'AUTRONIC EYE'
    Accession No: 00220374
    Author: Onksen, G. W.
    Journal Title: Highway Research Board Bulletin
    Publisher : Highway Research Board
    Corp. Authors/ Publisher: Highway Research Board 2101 Constitution Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20418
    Publication Date: 1953

    Abstract: A MULTIPLIER PHOTOTUBE IS THE SENSOR USED IN THE AUTOMATIC HEADLAMP-CONTROL DEVICE CALLED AUTRONIC EYE. POSSIBILITIES FOR SOLVING THE HEADLIGHT GLARE PROBLEM INDICATE THE FOLLOWING DESIRABLE CHARACTERISTICS OF AN AUTOMATIC HEADLAMP CONTROL DEVICE:
    (1) SWITCH TO THE LOWER BEAM PROMPTLY WHEN SUBJECTED TO SUFFICIENT LIGHT AND SWITCH BACK TO THE UPPER BEAM PROMPTLY WHEN LIGHT IS REMOVED
    (2) RETAIN THE LOWER BEAM WHEN THE APPROACHING DRIVER DIMS
    (3) DIM FOR CARS ON CURVES AND NOT DIM EXCESSIVELY FOR EXTRANEOUS LIGHT AT THE ROADSIDE
    (4) NOT BE AFFECTED BY VARIATIONS IN THE REFLECTIVITY OF ROAD SURFACES
    (5) FUNCTION UNDER CONDITIONS OF ADVERSE WEATHER, SUCH AS RAIN, SNOW, AND FOG
    (6) PROVIDE THE DRIVER WITH A MEANS OF OBTAINING A LOWER BEAM FOR USE IN THE CITY AND WHEN FOLLOWING ANOTHER CAR, WHEN THERE IS INSUFFICIENT LIGHT TO RETAIN THE LOWER BEAM AUTOMATICALLY
    (7) PROVIDE THE DRIVER WITH A MEANS OF OBTAINING AN UPPER BEAM FOR SIGNALING AND AT DUSK
    (8) FUNCTION WITH NORMAL VARIATIONS OF CAR LOADING
    (9) PROVIDE THE LOWER BEAM DURING WARM-UP
    (10) NOT BE IMPAIRED WHEN OPERATED IN THE DAYTIME
    (11) BE INSENSITIVE TO CHANGES IN BATTERY VOLTAGE
    (12) USE A MINIMUM OF CURRENT TO AVOID EXCEEDING THE GENERATOR CAPACITY
    (13) WITHSTAND THE ABUSES OF AUTOMOTIVE SERVICE WHICH INCLUDES HEAT, COLD, VIBRATION, AND MOISTURE, AND
    (14) BE EASILY ADJUSTABLE IN THE FIELD
    THE AUTRONIC EYE COMPLIES WITH ALL OF THESE REQUIREMENTS AND EXPERIENCE DURING THE FIRST YEAR OF PRODUCTION DEMONSTRATES THAT IT OFFERS REAL POSSIBILITIES FOR IMPROVING THE GLARE PROBLEM.

     
  3. Abomination
    Joined: Oct 5, 2006
    Posts: 6,693

    Abomination
    Member

  4. Abomination
    Joined: Oct 5, 2006
    Posts: 6,693

    Abomination
    Member

    Register now to get rid of these ads!

  5. Abomination
    Joined: Oct 5, 2006
    Posts: 6,693

    Abomination
    Member

  6. Abomination
    Joined: Oct 5, 2006
    Posts: 6,693

    Abomination
    Member

  7. Abomination
    Joined: Oct 5, 2006
    Posts: 6,693

    Abomination
    Member

  8. Abomination
    Joined: Oct 5, 2006
    Posts: 6,693

    Abomination
    Member

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2011
  9. Abomination
    Joined: Oct 5, 2006
    Posts: 6,693

    Abomination
    Member

    Indeed - And I'm curious how they work nowadays with dude's setup. Here's a quote:

    "Today driving standards have changed considerable from yesteryear. In 1956 it was dark out there! Today we have halogen headlights, reflective signs, and reflective paint on the highways, so, if we would use the factory sensitivity adjustments, your upper headlamps would seldom turn on. Though many hours of testing of my own cars, I've recalibrated most of my factory testers, most all dealers had one or more of these. "

    ~Jason

     
  10. Abomination
    Joined: Oct 5, 2006
    Posts: 6,693

    Abomination
    Member

    Also, sorry for all the bullshit you have to wade through to get to the comments...

    ~Jason
     
  11. Abomination
    Joined: Oct 5, 2006
    Posts: 6,693

    Abomination
    Member

  12. Abomination
    Joined: Oct 5, 2006
    Posts: 6,693

    Abomination
    Member

    Last edited: Oct 18, 2016
  13. Abomination
    Joined: Oct 5, 2006
    Posts: 6,693

    Abomination
    Member

    This guy services them, according to:
    http://forums.aaca.org/f120/autronic-eye-207199.html

    Alan J. Kris
    1872 Portsmouth Way
    Union, New Jersey 07083
    (908) 688-2092

    He advertises his service in Journey With Olds Magazine.
    Good luck with your project, Dave<!-- google_ad_section_end -->
     
  14. Abomination
    Joined: Oct 5, 2006
    Posts: 6,693

    Abomination
    Member

  15. Abomination
    Joined: Oct 5, 2006
    Posts: 6,693

    Abomination
    Member

    Here's one on a '55 Packard:

    [​IMG]
     
  16. Abomination
    Joined: Oct 5, 2006
    Posts: 6,693

    Abomination
    Member

    There's word that this guy fixes them:
    http://classicoldsmobile.com/forums/members/fiftytwos.html

    Also, somebody named "Mr. Dorr" who advertises in the Cadillac/LaSalle Club magazine, the "Self-Starter".
    https://www.cadillaclasalleclub.org/publications/the-self-starter

    *UPDATE*

    Barry Door is the guy's name - he's the son of the original "Mr. Dorr" the CLC club used for years. Here's a snapshot of the pricing from 2007 of his retrofit, where he can sell you a $195 solid state board to replace the tubes, to put in your gutted control box:
    https://web.archive.org/web/20080516181153/http://www.dorrengineering.com/pricing.htm

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2016
  17. Abomination
    Joined: Oct 5, 2006
    Posts: 6,693

    Abomination
    Member

    FYI. many, many guys that restore old tube radios can repair the electronics on the Autotronic eye.
     
  18. Abomination
    Joined: Oct 5, 2006
    Posts: 6,693

    Abomination
    Member

    Anybody on the HAMB fix these, or know someone who does?

    Anybody ever retrofit one?

    Years ago I found a guy that would gut the control boxes and replace the innards with a printed circuit with all solid-state electronics, and retained the old style connectors, essentially making it 'plug-and-play'. There were even pictures of this on his site.

    That was maybe in 2002. I've since lost the link, and cannot find it, even after months of looking.

    Anybody happen to know who that guy is?

    ~Jason
     
  19. flynfrog
    Joined: Sep 19, 2009
    Posts: 52

    flynfrog
    Member

    Ive been looking for one for my conti. Great info
     
  20. Abomination
    Joined: Oct 5, 2006
    Posts: 6,693

    Abomination
    Member

    This place sells tubes:
    http://www.audiotubes.com/

    I still can't fins the guy that makes replacement boards with solid state components for the control box.

    ~Jason
     
  21. junkyardjeff
    Joined: Jul 23, 2005
    Posts: 7,292

    junkyardjeff
    Member

    When I had a 53 Olds years ago I thought about taking one of those off a couple 98s I was robbing parts from but looked like it could be a bunch of work to get it working so I passed.
     
  22. HellRaiser
    Joined: Jun 14, 2006
    Posts: 1,240

    HellRaiser
    Member
    from Podunk, NE

    Got one in the 52 Olds 98 (First year) and it works fine. Got one in the 53 Olds, and it works fine too. The 52 is 6 volt as mentioned, and the 53 is 12 volt. I've got the service book around here somewhere. (If I'd stop hoarding, I could find it)


    Hellraiser
     
  23. crazy_tonguezz
    Joined: May 16, 2013
    Posts: 376

    crazy_tonguezz
    Member
    from glendale

    i know this is an old thread but i also got one recently from a 1960 oldsmobile 98 convertible
     

    Attached Files:

  24. had the factory beam setter - will see if I haven't gave it to a buddy....

    Chrysler's had them also....
     
  25. crazy_tonguezz
    Joined: May 16, 2013
    Posts: 376

    crazy_tonguezz
    Member
    from glendale

    i bet the mechanics who had the beam setters had bragging rights in the shop
     
  26. Smokin' Joe
    Joined: Jul 4, 2006
    Posts: 1,000

    Smokin' Joe
    Member Emeritus

    Great thread!!!
     
  27. Kustomkid
    Joined: Nov 21, 2010
    Posts: 513

    Kustomkid
    Member
    from Montana

    I got a almost complete 59 caddy autronic eye set up and I just need a power relay. Does anyone know where to get replacements?
     
  28. elgringo71
    Joined: Oct 2, 2010
    Posts: 2,815

    elgringo71
    Member

    I have the autronic eye for sale (just the part that goes on the dash with the cable) from a 1961-2 Cadillac if any one needs one.
     
  29. Automatic headlight dimmers..... LOL.

    As was pointed out in the first post, these never did work very well, with one of their main shortcomings being unable to tell the difference between oncoming cars and 'other' light sources. Bill Lear (the inventor of the 8-track tape cartridge and the Lear jet among other things) figured out how to correct that. He invented (and patented) a circuit that could distinguish the difference between AC light sources and DC light sources by 'looking' for the 60 cycle 'flicker' in AC sources. When he approached Detroit with his improved design, none of the manufacturers were willing to pay his licensing fees for his patent and it was never installed as OEM. But even this design had flaws; when first designed, nearly all outside lighting was still based on incandescent lamps. But once newer lighting types came on line (mercury vapor, then metal halide, then sodium vapor), these didn't display the 'flicker' anymore and his design worked pretty much the same as the original idea.
     
  30. Abomination
    Joined: Oct 5, 2006
    Posts: 6,693

    Abomination
    Member

    Bump for the interested... it's been a while.
     
    Kustomkid and 302GMC like this.

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.