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Hot Rods Hydraulic Brake Light Switch Failure.

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by 2many projects, May 19, 2019.

  1. I’m on my 3rd hydraulic actuated brake light switch in 5 years on my 47 Ford street rod.
    In the past my 36 Ford ate 3 of them. Also my 28 Ford would blow thru about one every 18 months.
    I keep packages of spares on hand, using Painless switches presently and 1157 tail light bulbs, no LED’s.
    Is it something I’m doing wrong?
    Seems rather excessive.

    Sent from my iPad using H.A.M.B.
  2. Torana68
    Joined: Jan 28, 2008
    Posts: 1,050

    from Australia

  3. clem
    Joined: Dec 20, 2006
    Posts: 2,209


    Go to a mechanical one, and be done with replacing them.
    That’s what I did after replacing three in a about 5 years and I haven’t touched it since.
    (Admittedly they would have all been Chinese knock offs).
    Last edited: May 19, 2019
    Tim likes this.
  4. Yep, install them because you like to change them?
    What's even better is when they are in a F U spot

    Make it easy like changing the oil
    Go mechanical
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  5. This issue has been around for years. Long time back I started using relay's for load carrying and switches just for there ground. Ended that issue. Now I gotta watch out for Cheep relays. Manual switch is easier on new projects. I also started wiring my in dash signal indicators to the brake side so I know the brake lights are working.
    Mr48chev likes this.
  6. Truck64
    Joined: Oct 18, 2015
    Posts: 2,999

    from Ioway

    Add another part # to the growing list of components that NOS or good used are the only way to go.

    Maybe a used part is better than NOS in this case, as brake fluid tends to preserve rubber. A part sitting on the shelf may dry rot.
  7. Inked Monkey
    Joined: Apr 19, 2011
    Posts: 1,448

    Inked Monkey

    Have you tried one off a Harley? I use them when I can. They are lower pressure than stock so the lights come on easier.
    deucemac likes this.
  8. I'll second that... plus HD still uses them, so they've kept quality up for reliability.
  9. I had to replace mine just a few weeks ago at the NATS SOUTH in Knoxville,Tennessee with the help of the Michigan Hot Rod Repair.

    This is the first one I have ever had to replace and after 31 years I can't complain about it's longevity or simplicity. HRP
  10. olscrounger
    Joined: Feb 23, 2008
    Posts: 3,356


    I have had a few fail over the years as well. I have since gone to mechanical switches. My 40 has had one for many years with no issues thus far but others have failed-some within 4-5 months.
  11. pprather
    Joined: Jan 10, 2007
    Posts: 1,139


    Can you Harley guys provide a part number? Thanks.

    Dino 64 likes this.
  12. ^^^^^ 72023-51D/E but I don't ride.
  13. Marcosmadness
    Joined: Dec 19, 2010
    Posts: 319

    from California

    The tail light amperage draw is what is killing the pressure switches. You can either instal a relay to handle the problem or switch to led bulbs which draw almost no amperage. There are numerous companies that make LED bulbs that fit the old style bulb sockets. The better LED bulbs that fit the old sockets have the added benefit of having brighter tail lights without the LED pinpoint light effect. This is done by using LEDs with a wider light emission angle. The LEDs with a wider light emission angle cost slight more but give a much better "balanced light" look. The cheaper LEDs are what you are seeing when you can see a old tail light with separate dots of light as seen through the lens. Typically these lower cost/cheap LED bulb conversions use less LEDs as well.
  14. Bert Kollar
    Joined: Jan 10, 2007
    Posts: 893

    Bert Kollar

    In addition to HD the early VW Beattle switches seem to last forever. I have one in a Dune Buggy I built in 1972 and works great.
  15. I'd be concerned with the thread pitch on those. A lot of the imports bikes used these also, and most I've seen are BSP (British Standard Pipe) which looks the same as SAE at a glance but isn't... IIRC, one is 27 threads per inch, the other is 28. It will sorta thread in, but can damage the threads and have issues with sealing.
  16. pprather
    Joined: Jan 10, 2007
    Posts: 1,139


    I'm currently using a repop of one sold for early 50's Ford, sold by Mac's, or one of the catalog resto parts catalogs. Used in six volt cars. Seems good so far and was advertised to activate with low pressure.

  17. Doublepumper
    Joined: Jun 26, 2016
    Posts: 240


    This is exactly the issue with these. Tear one apart sometime and look what's in there for contacts...they're pretty wimpy. Most all of them are rated for 5 amps max. Painless Performance has one rated at 20 amps. That's the highest rated hydraulic brake switch I'm aware of.
    I just installed a mechanical switch the other day and was surprised to find it's rated at 42 amps.
  18. Truck64
    Joined: Oct 18, 2015
    Posts: 2,999

    from Ioway

    Relays aren't needed if the parts are made correctly, the originals keep plugging away anyway.
    Hombre and zzford like this.
  19. I have been using a hydraulic switch intended for a Jeep CJ- has low pressure cut in and has been very reliable.
    Easy to get at Napa

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  20. zzford
    Joined: May 5, 2005
    Posts: 1,818


    But, a lot of the newer VW switches are Chinese made crap. If you can get new German made Bosch or Hella brand, those last.
  21. Jmountainjr
    Joined: Dec 29, 2006
    Posts: 799


  22. deucendude
    Joined: Oct 31, 2008
    Posts: 436

    from norcal

    Put a manual switch in . Many styles available.
  23. Dirty Dug
    Joined: Jan 11, 2003
    Posts: 3,523

    Dirty Dug

    Mac's sells there standard offshore one for $8.49. But they also sell a U.S. made one for $40.49, pricey but I've been using them for years without a problem after the first $8.49 one failed. Part number C1AZ-13480-TQ.
  24. tomic
    Joined: Jan 8, 2008
    Posts: 113


    been there done that. solution: Ron Francis brake light switch.

    when the original ('63 Rambler Classic) died back in the 80's, installed an Echlin part from NAPA. that failed soon, as did next two replacements. i started carrying a spare in the glovebox.

    someone told me about Ron Francis Wiring's switch -- $20! not $4! but installed, late 90's? can't recall -- still working when i sold the car in 2010.

    i disassembled the crap Echlin part. CLEARLY not designed for 1000 psi brake service. simple rubber disc is all the kept brake fluid out of the contacts.

    yeah, mechanical switch will do it. but so will a quality replacement part. also the Ron Francis part turns on at a lower pedal pressure.

    the $20 switch is now $32. i assume it's the same good part:
  25. Dirty Dug
    Joined: Jan 11, 2003
    Posts: 3,523

    Dirty Dug

    ^^^^That's the same one Mac's sells.
  26. Terrible80
    Joined: Oct 1, 2010
    Posts: 660


    I ran a non- traditional industrial proximity sensor off the brake pedal arm on an OT Harley. Been working for years.

    Sent from my LG-TP450 using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
  27. Chappy444
    Joined: Jan 27, 2012
    Posts: 715

    1. Maryland HAMBers

  28. jailbar joe
    Joined: Nov 21, 2014
    Posts: 266

    jailbar joe

    the brake lights on my victoria were staying on and a mate told me to take out the hyd switch and clean it with
    metho and all would be good again....the problem being the silicon brake fluid....
    after a bit of thought and the fact that i hate bleeding brakes...i bought an electric switch and mounted it on the
    steering column with hose clamps (temporary) and just making contact with brake pedal and all is good again
  29. Bob Labla
    Joined: Aug 15, 2012
    Posts: 68

    Bob Labla
    from mitten

    Some have commented that the amperage draw is the problem, and it may contribute. In my case, I have LED brake lights, and the switches still failed. I think the issue lies in the quality of the switch materials. I tried several "quality" pressure switches, and all of them failed. Went to a mechanical switch, I don't trust the pressure switches anymore.
  30. I think of the pressure switches as a consumable and needed schedule maintenance interval.
    the problem is when they go out you don’t have brake lights and that triples the chances someone runs into you.
    I don’t care for those odds much.

    The track record is that failure is eminent and frequent. For every 100 a few will survive. Your odds of having one fail is way better odds that you’ll not.

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