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TECH: Installing 54 Mercury taillight lenses into your kustom

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Ether, Nov 10, 2008.

  1. Here is one way to install 54 Merc taillights into your project. I will be showing how I put them in my 51 Merc build. The same technique can be used in many other models. The biggest issue with this taillight is the fact that the lense is relatively narrow. I will show a little trick later in the tech to get you past that problem.
    I first purchased a few lenses from one of the parts suppliers, a couple extra just in case. A lense surround was fabricated out of 3/8 solid bar stock.
     

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    Last edited: Dec 28, 2008
  2. Here is the back of the Merc before I started. I trimmed the taillight extension on the Merc to fit the 3/8 frame I previously made. The 3/8 lense frame had to be widened to fit the rear of the car. This is where it is important to take your time and measure. Also stand back and look at it to make sure it is flowing. Oxy welding rod was tacked to the top to help in visual and to assist when extending quarter panel.
     

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  3. Now that the frame is tacked into place, we have to deal with the fact that the frames were widened to fit the quarter. Here is where it gets a little tricky. We have to widen the lenses. This process can be used to narrow the lenses also but is probobly a rare situation.
    First I drilled a 1/4 inch hole about 3/8 from the edge of the lense on top and bottom. Right down the middle, I used a cutoff wheel to split the lense from the edge to the hole. Using an industrial heat gun, I slowly heated the lense and applied pressure till it started to move. This takes a little time and is easy to heat it up too much (dont ask how I know) so take your time. Check for fitment in the lense frame. I also used a rotary file on the frame to make the reliefs for the 3 ribs on the lens. Some people have heated the ribs at the ends and flattened them with a pliers. This is your choice. After the lense is fit we will be time for final welding everything so its a good time to step back and check it out.
     

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    Last edited: Nov 10, 2008
  4. Here is how the lenses look in the frames after widening. You can use some lense material to glue to the inside of the lense to keep it from cracking. A lense from a late model car in the junkyars works great, one that is flat. Im going to use some of the glue that Hagans sells for glueing in some of their flush tailight lenses.
     

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  5. I made patterns out of stiff paper (sorry no picks of the patterns) that transitioned from the wire to the side of the quarter, traced them onto some 18 guage flat sheet steel and trimmed. The steel filler pieces needed a little massaging to get the compound curve to fit the area. With the top tacked, I did the same on the bottom. Step back and make sure all is flowing and final weld the lens frame and fillers.
    Final weld and grind. I also used some 3/4 round bar stock and hit it on the side with a hammer against the bottom fillers to get the bumper relief.
     

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    Last edited: Dec 21, 2008
  6. flatblackindustries
    Joined: Oct 7, 2006
    Posts: 645

    flatblackindustries
    Member
    from Ogden, UT

  7. jivin jer
    Joined: Sep 14, 2008
    Posts: 3,089

    jivin jer
    Member

    Looks great.How about the lens mounting and lite bucket?
     
  8. The lens needs something to sit on and seal it on the top and bottom. Templates were made to fit the contour of the quarter. They were transfered to 18 guage steel and an extra 1/2 inch left on the edge for material to bend over for an attachment flange. They were then welded into the quarters.
     

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    Last edited: Nov 10, 2008
  9. slim53
    Joined: Apr 24, 2005
    Posts: 399

    slim53
    Member

    Very nice. How do you keep the lens in place though?


    Edit: Nevermind. Read the thread and posted only to have my question answered.
     
  10. SlowandLow63
    Joined: Sep 18, 2004
    Posts: 5,953

    SlowandLow63
    Member
    from Central NJ

    That looks mint Ether. Never woulda thunk you widened them. Great tech.
     
  11. UnIOnViLLEHauNT
    Joined: Jun 22, 2004
    Posts: 4,824

    UnIOnViLLEHauNT
    Member

    Kewl! Looks great man.
     
  12. Now for the back plate and light sockets. I cut a piece of .050 301 stainless steel the size of the area to be filled. The plate was bent in a crisscross pattern for strength and to aid diffusing the light. I then bent the edges a little to aid in stiffness. Three holes drilled in the top and bottom are used to locate the areas of attachment to the back of the lens shelf. After locating the holes I drilled the shelfs and installed rivnuts.
    You can purchase the light sockets at a local autoparts store. I used a marker light socket on top and a marker/stop on the bottom by drilling the holes in the backing plate with a step drill.
     

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    Last edited: Nov 10, 2008
  13. Here is the finished product after a little wiring. I will be using that black windshield caulk to seal the lenses in place when we paint the Merc. I plan on painting the merc black so it wont be so obvious. Im trying to find the red diffuser material to make a set of inner lenses so you dont see the light sockets threw the 54 merc taillights. Anyone??

    You can see the rest of the build here:
    http://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=229300
    http://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=264470
    and
    http://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=283711

    ETHER
     

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  14. Da Tinman
    Joined: Dec 29, 2005
    Posts: 4,226

    Da Tinman
    Member

    I have used flourescent light diffuser for the inside lenses. You can get broken or chipped ones for next to nothing, trim to fit, heat and bend like you did the lenses.
     
  15. blkcat77
    Joined: Jan 29, 2007
    Posts: 130

    blkcat77
    Member

    Thanks for the tech. I always wondered how to fasten the lenses.
     
  16. Tinman, Are you talking about red or clear? I am looking for some red diffuser material. Clear is worth a shot but I like the blood red look of the taillight with the red one. Right now I have a set from a 55 Chevy behind the Merc lenses, It looks great but doesnt fill the width of the lense back plate. You can barely make it out in this pic. ETHER
     

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    Last edited: Dec 21, 2008
  17. Da Tinman
    Joined: Dec 29, 2005
    Posts: 4,226

    Da Tinman
    Member

    The ones I used are white, but I think they can be dyed with rit clothing dye.

    Check out some of the RC sites, they dye the small white plastic and delrin pieces all the time.
     
  18. Hawt, nice job. I have a NIB set of those FS if anyone wants some.
     
  19. Pro; what do you have to have for them?
     
  20. rustysconny
    Joined: Sep 14, 2005
    Posts: 66

    rustysconny
    Member

    Holy Cats, what a cool post!

    Where'd you find the lenses? I'm guessing they're repops?
     
  21. MercMan1951
    Joined: Feb 24, 2003
    Posts: 2,654

    MercMan1951
    Member

    Yep, awesome tech. I am planning on doing the same for my Merc. I've only had the lenses for, oh, about 7 years... :rolleyes:

    I found mine on eBay...repops.
     
  22. FiddyFour
    Joined: Dec 31, 2004
    Posts: 9,008

    FiddyFour
    Member


    waste a perfectly good set of merc lenses on a friggin merc?

    you're a sick man dude :p
     
  23. pasadenahotrod
    Joined: Feb 13, 2007
    Posts: 11,776

    pasadenahotrod
    Member
    from Texas

    I like to paint the inside of taillamp housings with gloss white spray paint. It brightens up the lights considerably as white is the reflection of all light.
    Another thing, instead of the usual 1157 bulbs try 2357 which give you a much brighter stop/turn filament for that extra margin of safety.
     
  24. Ian Berky
    Joined: Nov 28, 2007
    Posts: 3,644

    Ian Berky
    Member

    looks killer! super clean job!!

    ian
     
  25. Good tip on the brighter bulbs, Now if I could get a lead on the RED prism lens material!!!! ETHER
     
  26. twochops
    Joined: Feb 28, 2006
    Posts: 1,510

    twochops
    Member

    I put a set of repops 54 on my 53 Merc ,the lens was so light
    that I installed a set 56 Chevys bullet red lens inside over the bulbs.
    TwoChops
     
  27. Twochops, Any pics?
     
  28. twochops
    Joined: Feb 28, 2006
    Posts: 1,510

    twochops
    Member

    Here's photo of the taillights turned on.
    T.C,
     

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  29. MercMan1951
    Joined: Feb 24, 2003
    Posts: 2,654

    MercMan1951
    Member

    That looks really cool. I like the look of the double lense. Adds depth in an unexpected place. Any shots of it in the dark?
     
  30. I got a set of smooth 54 lenses made from 1/8 red prismatic plastic at the Turkey Run. I trimmed them down and slid them inside the regular 54 lenses for a real great looking combo. Ill try and take some pics with the lights on.
     

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