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More Corroded '55 Sockets

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  • Electrical: More Corroded '55 Sockets

    I realized nine years ago that the Speedster I had just bought had inoperative front parking lights, but the turn signals flashed, so I left them alone. I likely should have continued to ignore them. While thoroughly cleaning the front lenses and internal reflecting surfaces last week, I thought I would replace the two #1158 bulbs. That's when I realized how bad the sockets were. One bulb was extracted in pieces using long-nose pliers. I was able to easily clean the crud from the contacts of both sockets, but the corrosion of the inside walls of the sockets and failed springs for those contacts mean dubious function of the new bulbs. I know that the short answer is to replace the sockets. They seem to be pressed into the big diecast side grilles/lamp housings. They easily rotate a little. Can they be safely pried out and replaced from the front without dismantling everything (from fog lights and bumpers to the three massive chromed grille sections)? I did find a source for sockets for 1158 bulbs (from another forum thread.) Would there likely be enough length of wire behind the socket to work with?

    As far as the parking light function, would be great if they worked on a Speedster with everything else working (except clock). Test light shows there's current to the terminal at the junction block, so problem lies between there and the sockets. But I'm more concerned with the directional signals. Maybe I should practice my hand signals.

    Gil
    Gil Zimmerman
    Riverside, CA

    1955 Speedster
    1956 Golden Hawk
    1958 Packard Hawk
    1958 President
    1963 Avanti R2

  • #2
    Originally posted by riversidevw View Post
    Can they be safely pried out and replaced from the front without dismantling everything ...?
    Absolutely! Just be careful; pry the pressed flange of the socket so you lose as little as possible of the cast housing. If they already are loose you can expect some powdered corrosion of the housing. Someone here should be able to recommend a product to clean and treat that corrosion before you swedge in the new sockets. Remember, for the lights to work your sockets will need a clean ground to the housing. If you need more wire simply add it with a sealed butt connector.
    Last edited by rockne10; 11-22-2016, 07:41 PM.
    "All attempts to 'rise above the issue' are simply an excuse to avoid it profitably." --Dick Gregory

    Brad Johnson, SDC since 1975, ASC since 1990
    Pine Grove Mills, Pa.
    sigpic'33 Rockne 10, '51 Commander Starlight, '53 Commander Starlight "Désirée"

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    • #3
      A couple of thoughts:

      If you can find the exact socket to replace your existing unit then it's probably just fine to go ahead. Just be sure you can see which way it's mounted. I'd bet they are put in from the back and swedged in place from the front.

      If you can't find the exact socket then you may want to see how corroded the originals are. If they can be cleaned up with a Dremel tool or other method then I'd probably go that with the originals. You can just use the guts from any inexpensive socket to replace the springs, insulator and contacts. Before you reassemble it just smear the inside of the housing with dielectric grease. If they turn slightly you can try to gently stake them with a small punch. Be sure to see that the socket still has a good ground.

      Good luck, Bob

      Comment


      • #4
        I used channel locks to carefully crush the old socket, from the backside, to avoid damaging the housing. Don't have the PN, but found metal "snap in" sockets at NAPA. I haven't found a need to secure them with anything, but might require slightly bending the tab. I did use a small amount of silicone sealer from the rear to keep water out.

        tempestan

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        • #5
          I have been dealing with the same thing.

          I had managed to lose the wiring out of the sockets in my project car, a 1955 President State Sedan. I ordered up a set of directional signal wiring from Donald Erickson of Lark Works. I did not think the sockets he sent with the wiring would work because the sockets in the ’55 had round holes in the back of them. I decided to try to retrieve the Bakelite contacts from the parts car and use them in the project car. I could then use them with the rest of the wiring to rewire the directional/parking lights.

          I managed to get one out but the other had to be cut out from the back side of the socket. Since I had ruined the socket anyway I took a punch and ball peen and knocked the socket out of the grill. It was well corroded so came out easily. I would knock a portion inward, rotate the socket a little and knock a little more inward and it popped out.

          The really pleasant surprise was the 1158 socket I had received from Donald snapped tightly into the hole. Because of the corrosion in my ’55, I am not going to mess with trying to keep the original sockets. I will knock them out and snap the new ones in. Donald suggested I get some adhesive heat shrink large enough to slip over the socket. The tubing that came with the wiring could then be slid up close to the socket and the heat shrink should then tie the two together and make a pretty secure weather proof seal.

          Charlie D.
          Attached Files

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          • #6
            I did something similar with my 48 Champion, except I used plastic sockets from a mid 1980s Mazda. There are plenty of cars of that vintage that have similar sockets, so that you can twist and remove the sockets from inside the trunk to replace bulbs. I just removed the old rusty sockets, reamed out the holes to right diameter, then filed some small notches for the locking tabs. These are dual element 12 volt 1157 bulbs, and I am pretty sure the 1158 is the equivalent bulb for 6 volts. Because the sockets are plastic, notice there is a black ground wire for each socket. I rewired the whole car, and to improve reliability, I ran a ground wire to every light bulb in the car.

            Click image for larger version

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            The other option would be these that bolt in: http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/3314376...&ul_noapp=true
            Trying to build a 48 Studebaker for the 21st century.
            See more of my projects at stilettoman.info

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            • #7
              Rhode Island Wiring Service has internal parts for sockets: contacts, springs, insulators, color coded wire, too. They also offer the replacement harness to the parking lights @ $53/pair. I'm not sure if that includes the sockets. Mike M.
              Last edited by Mike; 11-23-2016, 12:01 AM.

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              • #8
                All the information is very much appreciated. The old sockets looked discouraging. (Photo shows remains of old passenger side bulb.) But most of the replacement sockets I researched seemed intended for installation from the back side of the housings. My housings/side grilles are in surprisingly nice condition, I wanted to keep them that way. Maybe I don't have the same spirit of adventure as when I took on similar projects 48 years ago (my 56J). So I used a small round file on the walls of the old sockets to reach a surface with some hope of ground contact for the bulbs. The new bulbs were hopelessly loose and wobbly in the sockets, thought due in large part to demise of the small springs for the internal contacts. For each of the replacement bulbs, I built up one of the bayonet pins with a little solder, then carefully filed back the solder until the bulb could just barely be inserted (more like wedged) snugly deep in its socket. The directional signals flash again. The parking lights inexplicably work again (mostly). Who actually uses parking lamps, other than to see if they still function? It's not a complete, elegant or permanent solution, but will most likely get me to the annual gatherings of local car guys with working turn signals. I seem to recall that the tail/directional lights in the '55 Commander Regal coupe I drove at school were often temperamental. That was about 1961.

                Seeing the lights function was a nice small gift on Thanksgiving morning. Best to all for the holidays.
                Attached Files
                Gil Zimmerman
                Riverside, CA

                1955 Speedster
                1956 Golden Hawk
                1958 Packard Hawk
                1958 President
                1963 Avanti R2

                Comment


                • #9
                  Here's another option... A local friend used these in a '55 Commander and they work fine.

                  https://www.summitracing.com/parts/rfw-rr33

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                  • #10
                    Those are nice looking Sockets,they look durable too.

                    Originally posted by mbstude View Post
                    Here's another option... A local friend used these in a '55 Commander and they work fine.

                    https://www.summitracing.com/parts/rfw-rr33

                    Joseph R. Zeiger

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                    • #11
                      That is a great find! Nice job! All the Best, Doofus

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                      • #12
                        I agree this seems a first-rate solution. Just a bolt-in for the openings in our light housings? I notice it would convert '55 front parking/directional to bulbs with offset pins, same as the tail lights. Not a big deal, they are usually more easily found. I even found some plastic sockets on LED.Light.com for about three bucks; have ground wire lead that would need to be soldered. But why endure hours of labor only to cut corners?

                        LED.Light.com incidentally offered some LED bulbs in "warm" white that are good for dome and courtesy lamps. Same bulb works in 6v and 12v applications regardless of negative or positive ground.

                        Gil
                        Gil Zimmerman
                        Riverside, CA

                        1955 Speedster
                        1956 Golden Hawk
                        1958 Packard Hawk
                        1958 President
                        1963 Avanti R2

                        Comment

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