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1947-52 Blacklight Illuminated Gauges

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  • Lark Hunter
    replied
    Originally posted by nvonada View Post
    Some enterprising vendor should do some research and offer a kit of similar paint and LED UV bulbs to fix this. It would take a little work but I bet they would find some buyers.
    Agreed! Though I'm not an enterprising vendor, I think I've got a general idea of what paint was used . Other than the issue with lack of space inside radios for a dark glass filter mentioned by Radio Roy, the rest is doable with standard 2cp incandescent dash light bulbs...

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  • Dwain G.
    replied
    As a youngster I remember how impressive the so-called 'black light' gauges worked in the family '47 and '51. Very readable, and this from a back seat view!

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  • rockne10
    replied
    Something like this? UV reactive?

    https://www.technoglowproducts.com/w...dark-uv-paint/

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  • nvonada
    replied
    A movie was recently released about this called Radium Girls. I believe it is on Netflix streaming. The girls in the factory were painting radium on clock faces and wetting the brush with their tongues. Several died from radium poisoning. They literally became radioactive.
    This problem was well-known by the 50s. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radium_jaw. Plus radium is expensive so no way the CASC (cheap-a$$ Studebaker Corporation) would use it. But radiation is entirely different from fluorescence. Any fluorescent paint will glow under UV light. Phosphorescent paint will continue glowing for a while after the light is removed. They must have used a phosphorescent paint. Some enterprising vendor should do some research and offer a kit of similar paint and LED UV bulbs to fix this. It would take a little work but I bet they would find some buyers.

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  • Lark Hunter
    replied
    Originally posted by 6hk71400 View Post
    Tory,

    There are some 52 Commander's here in Tucson. I gave one away no cost but last I heard, the person wanted $2,000 for it. It was complete and had a decent interior. Engine was stuck but that could have been freed.

    He also acquired a 51 Pontiac but I don't know what shape it was. He thought about asking $12K but I gently as I could told him that unless it is a convertible, that figure is way off market I also told him that my Overdrive equipped running 56 President Classic was purchased for $1,400 plus shipping of $700.

    Had I known you were interested in the 52, I would have made you the same offer as I did on the 61 Lark. One night, I did shine the flashlight on the cluster and still got the green glow.

    Bob Miles
    Ah shoot, Bob. That's mighty generous of you! Perhaps it's all for the better, as my automotive ADHD has been known to take me away from the projects that I probably *should* be focusing on, and then I end up with 4 cars in pieces instead of one that runs . I don't think I've ever seen a 47-52 with gauge faces fully restored so they function like when the cars were new (or even photos of them online)... I suppose it's not a huge priority for many owners since few drive these cars at night, eh. Mebbe I'll be able to procure an instrument cluster to work on in the future, as that wouldn't be too hard to find bench and shelf space for.

    Hard to say without seeing the car, but the pricing on that Pontiac does sound a little ambitious. Values on those years always trail the Chevrolets by a healthy margin, even though they're a fair deal more car than their Chevy counterparts... like more robust engines with full pressure lubrication (especially that smooth straight 8), available Hydramatic vs Powerglide, nicer interiors and more trim inside and out, and the option of a lighted amber lucite hood ornament to lead the way

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  • Champ51
    replied
    The 70 year old paint on our car's gauges glows brightly at night thanks to some UV LEDs installed in place of the regular bults. They continue to glow after the bulbs go out, although not as long as they did 50 years ago.

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  • 6hk71400
    replied
    Tory,

    There are some 52 Commander's here in Tucson. I gave one away no cost but last I heard, the person wanted $2,000 for it. It was complete and had a decent interior. Engine was stuck but that could have been freed.

    He also acquired a 51 Pontiac but I don't know what shape it was. He thought about asking $12K but I gently as I could told him that unless it is a convertible, that figure is way off market I also told him that my Overdrive equipped running 56 President Classic was purchased for $1,400 plus shipping of $700.

    Had I known you were interested in the 52, I would have made you the same offer as I did on the 61 Lark. One night, I did shine the flashlight on the cluster and still got the green glow.

    Bob Miles

    Leave a comment:


  • Lark Hunter
    replied
    Originally posted by RadioRoy View Post

    No. At least in 50-52, the original radio dial glass has the paint that glowed with black light, but the bulbs illuminating the dial do not have the black light filters. The bulbs merely have green filters, so they do not make the dial glow, even though the dial COULD have glowed if it had been given the correct spectrum of light.

    The only thing I can figure is that there was no room for the thick purple filters over the bulbs. There is precious little room in these radios for even just the lights. The purple filters around the dash lights are quite thick.

    I wonder if UV LEDs would fit and work?
    Appreciate it, Roy! These are the little details I'm always digging for. Yes. Blacklight LED's would definitely work... probably too well. Was looking at examples of the old Sony clock radio model that I used to have, and many people have replaced the little fluorescent blacklight tube that's always burned out and no longer available, with LED's... it works very well. Compared to either of these sources, an incandescent bulb with a Wood's glass glass filter does produce UVA, but it's in minuscule quantities. I wish I had a car in the 47-52 range to play with; or even a few clusters, clocks, or radios... but that'll likely have to wait until disposable income is a thing again

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  • Lark Hunter
    replied
    Originally posted by StudeRich View Post

    All of the Painted on Markings and Needles Glowed a Bright Green, of course the "Light" was all a Purple Glow from the thick, Glass, Purple Lenses over the Bulbs. Very easily read and beautiful.
    Dad had a '49 Lincoln Cosmopolitan that was the same, and a '50 Ford.
    Ahh... never knew that FoMoCo used it in other lines besides the Ford. I've always liked the 1949-50 Lincolns more than most!

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  • Lark Hunter
    replied
    Thanks everyone for the answers and information! It sounds like the numbers/markings were done in zinc sulfide paint, which tends to appear off white during the daytime, and usually glows a greenish color in the dark... depending on the doping agents used (usually copper). These phosphors are also excited by UVA from blacklight sources, as well as alpha particles emitted by radium... radium itself causes a weak blue glow; it was most always mixed with zinc sulfide paint to net that never-ending greenish light. I think the latter was more often used in places where an external light source might be impractical or not available, so it would be redundant on a car's instrument panel. Either way, zinc sulfide loses its efficacy over time, and takes more light or radiation to glow- and glows for a shorter period of time after light source is removed. I have a couple of clocks with radium dials that no longer illuminate on their own, but will if you shine a bright light on them or put them under fluorescent blacklight. The radium is still as hot as it ever was, as it has a half-life of 1600 years! And I also learned that radium *does* give off radon gas as it decays... so probably add adequate ventilation to the list when you've got radium dial stuff around.

    Leave a comment:


  • Edsel Face
    replied
    A movie was recently released about this called Radium Girls. I believe it is on Netflix streaming. The girls in the factory were painting radium on clock faces and wetting the brush with their tongues. Several died from radium poisoning. They literally became radioactive.

    Leave a comment:


  • Crowel, Mark
    replied
    Originally posted by RadioRoy View Post

    Nope. It was not radium or anything radioactive. It merely glowed in response to UV light. Radium glows without any light source at all.
    That's a relief to know. Thank you for that info.

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  • rockne10
    replied
    My biggest memory of those gauges as kid was riding in the back seat at night and seeing the gauges reflection in dad's door window.

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  • StudeRich
    replied
    Originally posted by Lark Hunter View Post
    /Cut/So, here's the questions: Has anyone experienced these instrument panels back when the numbers still glowed? What color did they light up? /Cut/
    All of the Painted on Markings and Needles Glowed a Bright Green, of course the "Light" was all a Purple Glow from the thick, Glass, Purple Lenses over the Bulbs. Very easily read and beautiful.
    Dad had a '49 Lincoln Cosmopolitan that was the same, and a '50 Ford.

    Leave a comment:


  • RadioRoy
    replied
    Originally posted by Dwight FitzSimons View Post
    I assume that the material used in the paint was radium, a radioactive element. Watches used it until it was banned. Industry sometimes does the DUMBEST things. (Without looking it up I think that radon is a gas.)
    -Dwight
    Nope. It was not radium or anything radioactive. It merely glowed in response to UV light. Radium glows without any light source at all.

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