Early tail light help please!

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Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2019 6:59 pm
First Name: Gary
Last Name: London
Location: Camarillo

Early tail light help please!

Post by modeltbarn » Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:45 pm

I've finally found a Model 78 tail light, but it needs some attention..... I'm hoping someone here is more familiar with the details early tail lights than I am!!

I need to install a round red lens into the rear panel of an early Jno Brown tail light (Model 78), and a blue lens on the side panel.

1. How do you replace the glass without messing up the brass retaining rim?

2. The lenses are 3 1/8" diameter. I need to find a blue lens... does anybody know the size of the blue lens on a 1913/14 tail light? It appears to be the same size as the 1912.

3. It looks like all of the sides and the reflector are the same as a model 105 (1912). Does anybody know if the lenses and reflector are the same for a 1913/14?

My reflector is well worn and needs to be replated. Does anybody know somewhere I can have this done? Is a 1913/14 reflector the same? I'm thinking I may need to just find a reflector with better plating than mine from a donor lamp, if a 13/14 will work....

Thanks in advance!

Scott Rosenthal
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First Name: Scott
Last Name: Rosenthal
Location: Cincinnati OH

Re: Early tail light help please!

Post by Scott Rosenthal » Sat Sep 21, 2019 10:35 am

Hello Gary:
Bad news is that it is not possible to remove or replace the #78 lens without wrecking this brass retainer plate. The lens was rolled into the plate as it was being formed, so some amount of this retaining diameter would need to be removed in order to extract the old lens and load the new. Two options are (A) turn a cup-shaped brass cap that contains the lens and solder this over the original retaining boss (looks like a repair), or (B) spin a new plate with the lens rolled in after forming the retaining boss area, like originals are made (See Youtube created back when I conducted a DIY Brass presentation at MTFCA Museum).

13/14 Brown lenses are 3 1/8" diameter however, these later Blue and Red lenses have inner concentric ribs, where the #78's are smooth, as I recall.

Rolling new plates and then rolling the lens into the plates requires tooling, however this can be accomplished with hardwood forms, and the plates can then be turned on a conventional lathe. I had a similar dilemma with #105 Brown plates and lenses, so I wound up making a batch of these.

The reflector can be removed and re-plated, except this is a ton of work and expense for very little aesthetic return. I have hand polished these interior surfaces to where this completely removes all of the plating, and if you work it long enough, you now have a mirror like brass surface that looks excellent from the outside of the lamp. Only you will ever know this shiny reflector surface is yellow and not white metal.


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First Name: Kim
Last Name: Dobbins
Location: Southern California
MTFCA Number: 8243

Re: Early tail light help please!

Post by KimDobbins » Sat Sep 21, 2019 5:53 pm

Gary, Im not sure its all that grim. I've seen lenses replaced that look fairly decent. True the best method is to spin the lenses into new pieces. There is a guy up in the California gold country, might be called California metal spinning, im sure his name is Jeff. He made a run of JB #85 founts for me that were real nice. He may be able to help you out.

Posts: 450
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2019 12:16 pm
First Name: Kim
Last Name: Dobbins
Location: Southern California
MTFCA Number: 8243

Re: Early tail light help please!

Post by KimDobbins » Sat Sep 21, 2019 6:06 pm

west coast metal spinning, Coloma, CA

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First Name: Charley
Last Name: Shaver
Location: MO

Re: Early tail light help please!

Post by HornsRus » Sun Sep 22, 2019 6:31 pm

i wanted to compare my 13 115 tail light. 1 1/2 hr to find it,in a trunk in the top of the shop!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!charley

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