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Dash lights 50 Champ.

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  • Dash lights 50 Champ.

    My dash lights are hard to see at night. I check all the bulbs and they work. Are the normaly dim like that?
    My car is a 6 volt.


    1950 Champion business coupe

  • #2
    JP, I agree the paint on the dials is "dead", but it's not radium. It's fluorescent paint, same as on your Jimi Hendrix black light poster. :&gt

    There's no radium there; it relies on UV light from the filtered bulbs to make it glow.

    Interestingly enough, military vehicles and aircraft DID use radium dials. They are self-illuminating, powered by the radioactivity of the radium in the paint. My Weasel speedometer has radium numerals up to 30 MPH. Beyond that, ordinary white paint. And yes, I can go out at night, and see the speedo softly glowing. You can really only see it in near-total darkness.

    Jeff, it may help to disassemble the dash, and thoroughly clean both sides of the little purple glass filters that the dash bulbs set in. If the paint on the gauges has turned brown, though, it is probably shot.

    There's enough of these '47 to '51 cars out there that use the "black-light" instrument panels, that it would seem to be a worthwhile business opportunity for some SDCer to develop a foolproof way of renewing the markings. Maybe scan images of the dial faces, create a silk screen from the scan, and use that as a stencil to spray new fluorescent paint on top of the old?

    Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands
    Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands


    • #3
      The radium dials get excited by the purple UV filter and "glow". You can try cleaning the filters, but the radium is probably dead.

      64 Daytona HT/R2 clone
      64 GT R2
      63 Lark 2 door
      52 & 53 Starliner
      51 Commander

      JDP Maryland


      • #4

        I had the same problem on my 1950 starlight. The instrument numerals were nearly
        unreadable,even in pitch dark. The messages above are right on in that the "brightness
        of the numerals decreases with age. I bought six volt krypton flash light bulbs and silver soldered small bosses on their bases to adapt to the twist in socket. I now have ample brightness. One caution-the krypton bulbs are hotter than the usual 55's but so far haven't
        affected the instruments. There may be other, brighter, bayonet base, 6 volt bulbs available
        but I couldn't find any small enough to fit.

        The 1950 Champion Starlight
        Santa Barbara


        • #5
          Back when I was still driving Old Spot at night I used to turn the map light on to throw a little more light on the guages. I don't know if a 50 even has a map light, but the 52 Champion did. I bought some flourescent paint at a craft store as suggested in a Cooperator one month, but I never actually tried it.

          1952 Champion Starlight since October,1971. 1962 Daytona
          since May, 2007.Searcy,Arkansas
          "In the heart of Arkansas."
          Searcy, Arkansas
          1952 Commander 2 door. Really fine 259.
          1952 2R pickup