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Hey electrical geniuses

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  • Hey electrical geniuses

    So one of my tail lights is giving me grief. If I touch the plugged in assembly to the tail light housing, meaning one of the 2 extrusions that hold the thing in place in the housing, the ground is good and the light functions properly. BUT when I actually plug it in and turn it to lock it in place I lose the ground and the light dims. There is that plastic ring on the socket that holds the thing tight in the housing, I'm assuming the extrusions must contact the housing on the inside since the plastic also insulates? I've tried to jimmy the extrusions both tighter (closer to the plastic) and looser but nothing seems to be working. Ideas??
    South Delta, BC, Canada
    1960 White T-Bird, PS, PB that's it
    Red Leather Interior!
    Thunderbird Registry #61266

  • #2
    I had similar problems. If originality is not a problem, you might consider soldering a new wire to the outside of all the sockets. Ground each of them with a terminal end, and a sheet metal screw.
    Mine actually burned brighter than before with a good ground.


    • #3
      I'm famous for harping about, 'solid ground wires'. I think we have all had episodes with aluminum lamp housings and those 1157 sockets with 'teeth'. The problem is, aluminum corrodes under the teeth then the sockets become loose. Notice that modern cars have plastic lamp housings and the sockets include the ground wire. This costs much more but these lights are a major safety item. They cannot fail.

      Mike is telling it straight and I totally agree with his post. Take the guts out of the lamp socket (so you don't damage the internals) and solder a ground wire to the outside of the shell. Individual ground wires can be #18. They need to stretch to a good inner body trunk support. The new ground wires from each shell should all be crimped with ring terminals and screwed to the body support under the same screw. Sheet metal screws work but I prefer #10-32 brass machine screws and nuts.

      I take 'installing grounds' a step further by running a #10AWG stranded copper ground wire from the battery all the way to the tail lights, tapping off with branches along the way. My tail light assemblies are connected to that ground wire as well as my fuel tank, license plate light, trunk lid and trailer light harness. THHN or bare stranded wire from the box stores works very well and is reasonably priced.

      Notice how modern cars are grounded. Mine have a short, separate wire screwed to the body right next to the negative battery terminal. They do not depend on engine grounds for body lights.

      Details: If your car is 20-feet long, get 25-feet of #10 wire. Buy yellow crimp terminals (for #10 wire) and start sliding a lot of them on your new ground wire. When you get to the dash, crimp one of the terminals there. Continue along the floor to the power windows and crimp another terminal for them. Power seats, another terminal, convertible top motor, another crimp, etc., until you get to the back of the trunk. Notice, I never cut the ground wire. Instead, I crimped a ring terminal for each tap. Tap wire branches can be #14 with a ring crimp terminal bolted and nutted to the main branch's ring terminal. For some reason, good solid grounds are hard to find under the dash. I need one for my CVR, AM/FM/MP3 radio and Newport Engineering electric wiper motor w/interval wiper switch. 50 yr-old spot welds make horrible electrical connections. - 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