Making custom tail light lenses

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Old Stuff

Well-known member
RRR Supportor
Joined
Nov 22, 2021
Messages
343
Location
Austin, Texas
I've got some pre-59 tractor headlights that I want to use on the back end for taillights and turn signals. No color lens replacements that I can find- which makes- but have found gaskets for them.

I've seen folks take a red sheet of translucent plastic (?) and cut to fit things. Have seen a heat gun put to it for a bit concave. All good there.

A quick internet search only made me realize that advertised "translucent" can actually turn out to be transparent- it may not make a difference? :confused:
Option?

Not trying to overthink it, just want to learn it good. What are you guys using? [S
 
I found a big section of a tail light 'lens' (one of those that goes clear across the back of the vehicle) along the side of the road, and naturally, I stopped to pick it up.... (Drives my wife crazy.) I had in mind to cut sections out of it, and then figure out some way of making an edge on it that would mate with a gasket. The other idea was to press something into the back side to make a form (to get the cross-hatch surface which breaks up the light), and after making the surrounding piece, heat it in an oven so that the plastic lens takes the shape of the mold. Never tried it yet, however, and it might just catch fire, or at least make a terrible stink. (I remember reading about how to make your own windshields & stuff for model cars many years ago - must have been in Mechanics Illustrated or Popular Science, because my dad subscribed to both of those when I was a kid, and I can't think of any other place I might have seen that. They made the shape out of a block of wood, then covered it with felt before shaping the plastic over it in the oven.)
 
For a "real" tail light look, you can get the lens off a 4' or so florescent light and cut you out a inner lens. I did my front turn signals on the Lincoln that way, I just used them clear and put amber bulbs in. When the light shines, the diffuser of the lens keeps you from having hot spots of bright light and none at the edges.
 
I don't know what diameter your housings are, but big truck taillights are probably four inches. There are bulb and lens ones and seal beam ones. They come in red, amber, and clear. They might do the trick.
 
I found a big section of a tail light 'lens' (one of those that goes clear across the back of the vehicle) along the side of the road, and naturally, I stopped to pick it up.... )

Forgot all about those big lenses. Gives me another lead. Thanks Neto!

I don't know what diameter your housings are, but big truck taillights are probably four inches. There are bulb and lens ones and seal beam ones. They come in red, amber, and clear. They might do the trick.

Thanks for that MM. These are 4 1/2" clear glass lens, 6 volt single pole bulb. Add the ring and the light's overall width is right at 4 3/4". Might be able to find the ones like you're talking about in 4 1/2"- I really do want to stay with glass instead of plastic.... just because :D

If I do end up with the plastic/acrylic or whatever, I'll get the little LED bulbs that retro fit into that socket.

A buddy of mine just mentioned that Duplicolor (?) has some "red clear" paint that is transparent that he's used on metal. Might try that out on a broken piece of glass lens I have and report back!

Wish it was really simple but I will admit some of the fun is in the hunt- along with learning new stuff of course! [cl
 
Just use the clear lens and install a red projector led.
've done this several times and the projector led's are very bright.
 
For a "real" tail light look, you can get the lens off a 4' or so florescent light and cut you out a inner lens. I did my front turn signals on the Lincoln that way, I just used them clear and put amber bulbs in. When the light shines, the diffuser of the lens keeps you from having hot spots of bright light and none at the edges.

This one slipped by me! Slick idea for sure- would me much better than the smooth stuff. Will add that to my mental hard drive. Thanks!
 
I had some old lights that came off of an old fire truck. They had red lense. They were the same size as the utility lights on an old tractor. About 4 inches.
 
I had some old lights that came off of an old fire truck. They had red lense. They were the same size as the utility lights on an old tractor. About 4 inches.

I absolutely love all the ideas. Keeps giving more things to be on the lookout for! :D If you still had those lenses I'd try and talk you out of them! I love those type lights and will start keeping my eyes open for those red lenses. Thanks Kenny. :)

I do have a particular bransd and will get you the part number tomorrow

[cl
 
Unfortunately I sold them at a swap meet. I had 2 recycle bins of assorted lights and the only ones that sold were those. I sold both bins to one guy a couple months later.
 
Here's the brighest led's I've ever used.
It doesn't matter if your lens are clear or red either.
I got these off Amazon.

iBrightstar Newest 9-30V Super Bright Low Power 1157 2357 2057 7528 BAY15D LED Bulbs with Projector Replacement for Stop Tail Brake Lights, Brilliant Red
 
Here's the brighest led's I've ever used.
It doesn't matter if your lens are clear or red either.
I got these off Amazon.

iBrightstar Newest 9-30V Super Bright Low Power 1157 2357 2057 7528 BAY15D LED Bulbs with Projector Replacement for Stop Tail Brake Lights, Brilliant Red

Thank you sir! That will be the affordable way to go. Red for tail/stop/turn and amber for the turn signals- but all the lenses remain clear glass for a uniform good look. [cl

All I need to do now is to pick up 3 glass lens running lights. :cool:
 

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