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replacing tail lights fuse on 1959 t-bird

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  • replacing tail lights fuse on 1959 t-bird

    I'm hoping someone here can help me with a problem. My tail lights and brake lights aren't working, but the bulbs look brand new. I'm guessing the problem is the fuse on the back of the light switch, but I'm having a ******* time getting to it. Any tips? How do I remove the remaining bezels (refer to the pics)? Is that the last step to getting the instrument cluster removed? I have a tendency to break things because I pull when I should have twisted, or I twist when I should have pulled., etc. My next step is to use more force, so I'm hoping someone on this forum can help me avoid breaking stuff. The t-bird is a 1959 that I've now owned for about one week.

    Thanks!

  • #2
    You don't have to remove the instruments to get to the light switch fuse. You can get to it from under the dash. It takes some agility to lay on your back with the seat in the way but it's doable. You can also take the light switch out by removing the knob and unscrewing the bezel.

    John
    John Pizzi - Squarebirds Administrator

    Thunderbird Registry #36223
    jopizz@verizon.net 856-779-9695

    http://www.squarebirds.org/picture_gallery/TechnicalResourceLibrary/trl.htm

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    • #3
      If your dome light or backup lights work then it's not the fuse. There's also a stoplight relay in the trunk that could be bad.

      John
      John Pizzi - Squarebirds Administrator

      Thunderbird Registry #36223
      jopizz@verizon.net 856-779-9695

      http://www.squarebirds.org/picture_gallery/TechnicalResourceLibrary/trl.htm

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      • #4
        Did you take the bulb out and test it and check the tail light socket. You could have corrosion in the socket itself.

        John
        John Pizzi - Squarebirds Administrator

        Thunderbird Registry #36223
        jopizz@verizon.net 856-779-9695

        http://www.squarebirds.org/picture_gallery/TechnicalResourceLibrary/trl.htm

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        • #5
          IF you do not have a Shop Manual, you need to get one... You can get one on CD cheaper then the book. Check the Bird Nest website...

          Ray Clark - Squarebirds Administrator
          Walking the beaches of Hawaii
          Contact me via Private Message for my email address, or Call (Cell) 210-875-1411

          http://www.squarebirds.org/picture_gallery/TechnicalResourceLibrary/trl.htm

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          • #6
            I don't know if the '59 is the same as my '60. My fuse is directly under the ignition switch. I had the same problem.

            Chris.....From OZ.

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            • #7
              The '59 has the stop light fuse on the end of the Headlight Switch. The '60 has a separate in-line fuse laying next to the Headlight Sw.
              To remove the Headlight Switch handle, push it in all the way and press the button on the switch body. This button disengages the handle. Keep pressing while pulling the handle out. It should come 'easy'.

              CLICK THE 'FORD HEADLIGHT SWITCH' LINK BELOW to see the Ford Headlight Switch internals and how it works.

              The fuse on the Headlight Switch feeds the Stop Light (pressure) Switch on the master cylinder. This is the most frequent cause for a blown brake light fuse; someone shorted the feed wires to ground at the master cylinder. It's easy to do because after fifty-odd years the wire ends are sometimes bare and exposed. One wire is always hot, which is why the brake lights work even with the key removed.

              The flasher unit fuse is also next to the brake light fuse on the Headlight sw. Stay with me here... The directional signal switch interrupts the brake lights so both feed wires (flasher unit and brake switch) go through the directional signal switch. The Stop Light Relay that John mentioned only controls the inner brake lights and it doesn't flash so that power comes from the same Stop Light (pressure) Switch.
              My latest project:
              CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

              "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
              --Lee Iacocca

              From: Royal Oak, Michigan

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              • #8
                My 1960 directional fuse blew when the flasher unit shorted on the instrument panel. I taped the prongs so that doesn't happen again. That fuse is definitely in the headlight switch. - Dean

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Deanj View Post
                  My 1960 directional fuse blew when the flasher unit shorted on the instrument panel. I taped the prongs so that doesn't happen again. That fuse is definitely in the headlight switch. - Dean
                  That's right. Maybe I should explain these circuits more clearly. Ford made stop light and turn signal wiring and overcurrent changes in all three Squarebird years. The switches and fuses are different from each other:

                  The '58's Headlight Switch has ONE fuse. It feeds the Stop Light (pressure) Switch. A separate in-line fuse feeds the Flasher Unit from the Key Switch..

                  The '59's Headlight Switch has TWO fuses. The Stop Light (pressure) Switch wiring remains the same as the '58. The additional Headlight Switch fuse controls the Flasher Unit, fed from the Key Switch.
                  .
                  1960 is different altogether. Ford took the Stop Light (pressure) Switch OFF the Headlight Switch fuse., and they added a separate in-line fuse holder for that. Power for the Flasher Unit now comes from that additional fuse on the Headlight Switch.

                  All Squarebirds (and most Ford cars) have brake/signal circuits made for the same Flasher Unit which operates, one front turn signal, one rear turn signal and a dashboard indicator light (on each side). So, all Squarebirds came with only ONE rear signal lamp (on each side). Current for those lamps in all years goes through the turn signal switch in the steering column. That is how the turn signal interrupts the brake light (while the opposite side brake light appears 'normal'). When Ford added more stop lights, current for those lights went through a relay contact (instead of the steering column) and they never flashed. These are only for the 'inside' lights in the rear.

                  It helps to visit the TRL and go over the wiring diagrams for all three Squarebirds. I hope this helps and makes understanding the circuits more clear.. - Dave
                  My latest project:
                  CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

                  "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
                  --Lee Iacocca

                  From: Royal Oak, Michigan

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                  • #10
                    Thanks everyone for the help and advise! Work's been hectic this week, so I just now got around to testing the fuse, and that appears to have been the problem. I have a feeling my lights probably went on and off each time I hit a bounce. In fact, I'm surprised the fuse even stayed in as long as it did.

                    I have the shop manual already, but I didn't see where it said how to actually get to the back of the light switch. It showed how to remove the ignition switch, the speedo, etc., but I couldn't find anything about the light switch (aside from the wiring info and the diagram). This t-bird is actually going to be a retirement gift for my parents, so I'm trying to get everything as reliable as possble before handing it over to them. I have about 5 weeks before I hand it over. I've already replaced the generator with an alternator, and I bought a power flush on the cooling system and replaced with stock radiator fan with electric. I still need to repair the leak at the exhaust manifold and swap the front drum brakes for discs.

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                    • #11
                      Rick, Dave ~ simplyconnected, gave you the link to the Technical Resource Library, showing how to push down that little button on top of the headlight switch. That allows you to pull out the shaft, and take off the headlight switch so you can check the fuses, check the wiring, check and clean that dimmer rheostat... Here is that link again... http://squarebirds.org/images_headlight_switch/

                      Ray Clark - Squarebirds Administrator
                      Walking the beaches of Hawaii
                      Contact me via Private Message for my email address, or Call (Cell) 210-875-1411

                      http://www.squarebirds.org/picture_gallery/TechnicalResourceLibrary/trl.htm

                      Comment

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