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  • Speedo / Tach / Gauges: 1950 champion instruments

    Has anyone tried to use ultraviolet led's to get the speedometer etc to light up? I'm wondering which one gives the most effect?

    I have read a couple articles on using clear led's but as the numbers are floresent paint, ultraviolet should give a much brighter display.
    sigpic
    Barn Find
    1950 Champion
    Before I started
    Jim Berry
    Midlothian, TX

  • #2
    Yes, for my '51 Champion. Made up 2 "bulbs" from 4 Radio Shack uv leds and four 180 ohm resistors. I used the bases from the burned out incandescents and soldered the leads to it. For a positive ground vehicle the short led lead goes to the center 'hot' part of the base and the long leads go to the shell.

    Because the leds are very directional, the leds are bent to point at the speedometer / odometer and are splayed out to give a wider arc of light. Getting the bulbs optimally positioned/pointed was a larger part of the task than I anticipated.

    The upside is that I can finally read the odometer. I couldn't read that when the car and I were much younger. The downside is that I've not been able to position the bulbs to provide the evenness of light that Studebaker designers intended. Also, I didn't make bulbs for the side gauges and now they are too dim, relative to the speedometer. I may make two more bulbs for them before Radio Shack is gone.

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    • #3
      Forgive my ignorance but wouldnt brighter bulbs have been easier?? doofus

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      • #4
        My 1950 Champion was restored 20 years ago, then sat tucked away in a garage for the next 20 years. When I first drove it at night I thought all the instrument bulbs were burned out. They weren't, but the glow in the dark stuff just didn't light up. This went on for about a month, then one day after setting out in the bright sun all day, when I drove home that night the instruments were well lit. Seems they like sunlight to stay active for the glow in the dark paint.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by doofus View Post
          Forgive my ignorance but wouldnt brighter bulbs have been easier?? doofus
          DAGNABIT!!!! My mother told me that playing hooky would get me into trouble. What day did I miss in school that we learned we were supposed to be looking for easy? I thought we were looking to have fun. Do I need to trade the Champion for a modern diesel pickemup now too?

          Besides, BEZHAWK made me do it. He suggested it. Of course, it always was the smart kid in class who suggested jumping off the corn bin into that pile of hay.

          In my defense, I started by cleaning the inside of the lenses and supplying new incandescent bulbs. I still could not read the speedometer. Here is a picture of my dash in the dark with UV leds. Even though the camera can't see the ammeter / fuel / temp / oil pressure gauges, my eyes can, but its a strain. I may try to work up a 3 led bulb so one can be pointed at the 10 and the 90. You never know when you might need to read the 90 in the dark running the hills and hollers of the Ozarks before them boys from back east can catch you.
          Attached Files

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          • #6
            The big problem is the mounting holes for the lamps have a dark blue dome over the bulb that was designed to let only ultravilot thru. If these could be removed the instruments could be lit quite easly. Problem here is the instrument cluster has to be removed and taken apart to do this. I have a 1950 Champion dash and cluster in the shop so I intend to experment with it to see how to best install UV LED's for full lighting.
            sigpic
            Barn Find
            1950 Champion
            Before I started
            Jim Berry
            Midlothian, TX

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            • #7
              If you are doing 90 over hills and hollers in a 50 Champion, you better be praying. Or maybe you are dreaming.
              RadioRoy, specializing in AM/FM conversions with auxiliary inputs for iPod/satellite/CD player. In the old car radio business since 1985.

              17A-S2 - 50 Commander convertible
              10G-C1 - 51 Champion starlight coupe
              10G-Q4 - 51 Champion business coupe
              4H-K5 - 53 Commander starliner hardtop
              5H-D5 - 54 Commander Conestoga wagon
              56B-D4 - 56 Commander station wagon
              60V-L6 - 60 Lark convertible

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              • #8
                Originally posted by doubledaddy View Post
                The big problem is the mounting holes for the lamps have a dark blue dome over the bulb that was designed to let only ultravilot thru. If these could be removed the instruments could be lit quite easly. Problem here is the instrument cluster has to be removed and taken apart to do this. I have a 1950 Champion dash and cluster in the shop so I intend to experment with it to see how to best install UV LED's for full lighting.
                The purple glass filters should be transparent to an ultraviolet LED.
                RadioRoy, specializing in AM/FM conversions with auxiliary inputs for iPod/satellite/CD player. In the old car radio business since 1985.

                17A-S2 - 50 Commander convertible
                10G-C1 - 51 Champion starlight coupe
                10G-Q4 - 51 Champion business coupe
                4H-K5 - 53 Commander starliner hardtop
                5H-D5 - 54 Commander Conestoga wagon
                56B-D4 - 56 Commander station wagon
                60V-L6 - 60 Lark convertible

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                • #9
                  Don't worry about the filters if you are going to use UV leds in the original holes. They will have very little impact on the UV light transmitted.
                  But if you are taking a cluster apart you could sure get a nice even lighting by running a string. of leds across the bottom.
                  Are you positive ground 6v or?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by RadioRoy View Post
                    If you are doing 90 over hills and hollers in a 50 Champion, you better be praying. Or maybe you are dreaming.
                    Dreaming, defintely. But with the new distributor which has some mechanical advance I can now do 65.

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                    • #11
                      I wouldn't change the instrument illumination. I always thought the gauges on my 1950 Commander were some of the most beautifully lit gauges I've ever seen. Now that my 1950 Champion has been in bright sunlight for a few days, then instruments light up nicely also. Ultraviolet lighting was sure one of Studebakers better ideas.

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