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Discussion Starter #1
I am trying to improve the brightness of my 64 Galaxie tail lights. The brake lights are barely visible in the daylight. I'm going to start by changing the bulbs from 1157 to 2357 which offer more lumens (but with shorter life). Based on other recommendations, I tried to paint the inside of the tail light housings satin white since white reflects more light than bright aluminum. I started with several coats of Rustoleum semi-gloss 2x (high coverage) paint with no primer. After one week, dissatisfied with the flat appearance, I sanded the paint with 1000 grit and then applied standard Rustoleum satin white. Almost immediately, the paint bubbled up as if it dissolved the original paint. With a little mineral spirits and paint remover, I was able to easily remove all the paint like there was no adhesion.

So, I have a few questions: (1) does anyone know the finish of the housings? Is just polished and anodized or does it some type of plating? (2) Has anyone tried painting the housings? (3) What have other people done to improve tail light brightness?

Thanks for your help.
 

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I don't have a '64 so I can't speak directly to your concerns, but have you given any thought to the LED taillight assemblies that are available?

Supposedly they are "at least 5 times brighter" than stock taillights, but man do they have a hefty price tag!

I tried painting my '67 taillight housings with "chrome" paint but it wasn't nearly chrome. Or very reflective for that matter. So what I ended up doing was polishing the crap out of them with Scotchbrite pads attached to an angle die-grinder. I polished them until they where almost mirror-like then used GE Nighthawk 1157 bulbs which are claimed to be 20% brighter than a standard 1157.

After all that work, are they any brighter? Yeah, but still not as bright as I'd like them to be.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hey, thanks for the reply.

For what it's worth, I was a 10-year old kid and with my father when he bought a new 67 Galaxie 500 4-door sedan off the showroom floor. I eventually learned to drive on that car....great memories.

I've considered the LEDs but I frankly don't like the look or the price. I've also heard horror stories about the heat melting the lenses. It's still an option but I'd like to get the incandescents to look brighter if I can.

Satin white will reflect a lot more light than polished aluminum. I'm discouraged that the paint would not adhere. I haven't given up on that yet but I need a better strategy.
 

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I have recently put new LEDs in my 65 - http://www2.cougarpartscatalog.com/plasma2.html. This after trying some other cheaper LEDs to get the brightness up to modern standards...

Here's a pic of "old" LED tech next to new. Gecko poo for size comparison:



And lights on (soft red glow) - old LED:



Lights on (soft red glow) - new LED:



And brakes on (or flasher, same intensity) - new LED:



Can't complain about not seeing that!

Because the lights function as indicators as well, a standard thermal flasher can won't work anymore as the current draw from the LEDs isn't enough to activate the clicky-clicky inside it. The solution is a different flasher can, available just about anywhere for $15 or so. Just make sure it's an electronic flasher can, rather than the old thermal type. Plugs right in.

EDIT - to that last point, I changed the flasher can on my car because the older LED bulbs wouldn't work with the flashing turn signal - you might be OK with these new ones. I never tried the old thermal flasher can on the new LEDs as I had already replaced the flasher can after the first conversion. But yeah, they're less than $30, and they are MUCH brighter than stock incandescents...
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hi Neeek,

Nice report. I was not aware of these new technology LEDs. Your pictures show quite a difference. Have you checked how hot they get after running for a while? This may be worth looking into. Thanks!
 

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Have you checked how hot they get after running for a while? This may be worth looking into. Thanks!
Nope - have never given it any thought at all. Nothing's melted yet! I am led (see what I did there?!?) to believe that LEDs don't heat up as much as incandescent bulbs, given that they draw so little current in comparison.
 

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I tried some LED lights that weren't really like either of those but they didn't fit the light socket, a hair smaller than the 1157. I tried the 2357 because i accidentally used one in a park light once and it was brighter than my headlight i think. Didn't do much for the brake lights though. My next plan is a row of led lights, edge lighted in the tail light housing and connected to my brake light wire. People are always telling me my brake lights aren't working in the summer time but think people have gotten so used to the new cars they just think they should be brighter or something or maybe just don't see them well.

Those new LEDs might be nice though. Hadn't seen that style but again not sure if they would work or not and i'm not going to change bulb sockets to make them work. I have accidentally bought 1157s that have the leaf? shaped lead contacts on the bottom eons ago and they didn't work so kinda wonder if that's why the LED bulbs i bought didn't work more than the circumference.
 

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Dont know if its easy to do for those years but took my tail lights apart. Reflector inside was a dull grayish silver. Got some shiny silver paint coated it better (more evenly). Then mixed up some silver metal flake medium flakes with some clear. Now its got like a thousand mirrors brightened it up a lot
 

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Leds will not melt the lenses. Using turbos tip above and some drop in bulbs will definitely make you say let there be light! Less draw and better light. It's a win win. Ecklers I think has retrofit assemblies I saw them in the catalog...not sure about the year(s) though. Did a full led interior light upgrade in my f150 and man its nice. Galaxie led fit is on the future list.

-Mike

Edit: also look into the waterproof led strips...you can cut and size to you're needs...the possibilities are endless.
 

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I used a Halogen 1157 motorcycle bulb in mine They are very bright. You have to wear gloves when you handle them. The oil on you skin will burn them out if you handle them without gloves. They are however about $10 per bulb. I will have to look into the newer led 1157. They seem to be a bit brighter.

Larry
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Dont know if its easy to do for those years but took my tail lights apart. Reflector inside was a dull grayish silver. Got some shiny silver paint coated it better (more evenly). Then mixed up some silver metal flake medium flakes with some clear. Now its got like a thousand mirrors brightened it up a lot
I thought painting the reflector would work well too. Some prior research suggested that semi-gloss white would be better than silver paint. I tried painting with Rustoleum satin and there was no adhesion even though I cleaned up the surface well. The original finish is a like a polished aluminum but not mirror like. I've given up on painting. I'm now thinking hard about the LEDs.
 

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After a few helpful motorists told us 'you have a light out!' during the day, when none were really out, I decided to research LEDs for the tail lights. I finally decided to go with red colored ones. I also read that for max brightness, on lamps like our cars have (centers filled with back up lights, etc), it's best to use a bulb that shines out the sides, radially, then the light fills the lamp's body, then reflecting that light outward. A bulb that shines a focused beam, such as a flashlight does, won't do much good --merely striking the back of the back-up lamp.

Here's the bulbs I bought on ebay:

2X 1157 High Power 5630 Chip CREE LED Red Turn Signal Brake Tail Lights Bulbs | eBay

Plus, here's a back-end shot with my phone (which probably makes them too bright --but this is taillights alone, no brake lights!). End result= Very noticeable difference to me.

taillights0516 by 1964 Galaxie 500, on Flickr

Hth Norm

(3) What have other people done to improve tail light brightness?

Thanks for your help.
 

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Those of you who have gone the LED route, what did you do about the flash rate?

It's my understanding that because there is so little draw with LED bulbs, that the turn signal flash rate is affected. Did you splice a resistor into the wiring, change to a different type flasher or is there some other solution?
 

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You can splice in a resistor but the easiest route is to get a led specific flasher relay. Grote makes em...check your local international or peterbilt dealer...usually have them in stock.

-mike
 

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Discussion Starter #15
After a few helpful motorists told us 'you have a light out!' during the day, when none were really out, I decided to research LEDs for the tail lights.
Hi Norm,

I too have gotten the "your brake lights aren't working" from passing motorists. I've been avoiding LEDs but that may be the right solution. What did you do about a flasher?

gary
 

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Scares da crap outa ya, doesn't it? (someone driving up along side shouting that! lol)

A "no-load" flasher is available, as mentioned, yup. I bought one online from an amazon seller, but I see lots on eBay too! For sh*ts I decided to just turn the blinkers on when I was done, and hey, my old flasher works like a charm, ha.

Now..... I have not changed out the fronts.....but I did go to 2357 bulbs (real diff is when they flash, they are brighter than 1157). My research showed that if you change all 4 turn signals, then you more than likely need that other flasher, or those "loads". YMMV as the ole saying goes, lol.

ps: we drove all around Sunday and the flasher did it's little thang the whole route.

Hth Norm

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41w6TwQLPBL._SY355_.jpg

Hi Norm,

I too have gotten the "your brake lights aren't working" from passing motorists. I've been avoiding LEDs but that may be the right solution. What did you do about a flasher?

gary
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I really appreciate everyone's help on this. I like to think if the old incandescents were good enough in 1964, they should be good enough in 2016...ha. I'm going to try the 2357's first and see how they look. The LEDs are my backup plan.

gary
 

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Yer welcome Gary ;)

So even if you said "ha" and meant it kiddingly, I just wanted to add a serious-side mention to your point:

Yes, you're right, our cars were perfectly fine back then. But now we have whole generations of drivers not accustomed to snuggling in behind you, or me, in our 'old-but-mechanically-good-tech' cars, tail-gating-while-texting, and then, and seeing us. Add to that NO 3rd brake light (unless you have one?).

I live in a fairly large, and really fast-paced driving metro area......so I admit I do fret a bit about being seen. --but's that me. :)

Anyway, have fun, enjoy, and be as safe as ya can out there :) Norm

I like to think if the old incandescents were good enough in 1964, they should be good enough in 2016...ha.

gary
 

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Funny you say that. I was just talking to a friend with an old car and saying the same thing. They are so used to these new cars with the blinding brake lights and multiple ones that they don't even notice ours.

The led i bought had a bottom like below and discovered years ago, even the regular bulbs with this bottom don't work in my car. I had bought some like this by accident once. Is the bottom of the bulbs you used the 'normal' 2 round 'dots' so to speak? The pics don't show but the single on ebay but they are showing dimensions so a stock photo is probably used.

sylvania_7225longlifebottomview.jpg

When if these led strips defeat me on how to attach them i will most likely go with what you posted. Or maybe I'll do both! Those look great! It's usually the brake lights people tell me don't work in the summer sun.


Yer welcome Gary ;)

So even if you said "ha" and meant it kiddingly, I just wanted to add a serious-side mention to your point:

Yes, you're right, our cars were perfectly fine back then. But now we have whole generations of drivers not accustomed to snuggling in behind you, or me, in our 'old-but-mechanically-good-tech' cars, tail-gating-while-texting, and then, and seeing us. Add to that NO 3rd brake light (unless you have one?).

I live in a fairly large, and really fast-paced driving metro area......so I admit I do fret a bit about being seen. --but's that me. :)

Anyway, have fun, enjoy, and be as safe as ya can out there :) Norm
 

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Hi Deb,

Those ebay ones I bought really went in nice, I mean right in! I've even had non-LEDs be a bit tough to go in on various sockets, likely because the 'recipe' has changed some over the yrs, meaning chinese bulbs are a slightly different size, lol. (eye roll)

But honestly I can't remember what the base contacts were shaped like, if that still matters knowing that they fit my same year car. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at the brightness difference too! I will have to get wifey to hold the brakes on, while I click off a pic --in broad daylight, and then report back here. We have a car show tomorrow, so it could be real soon!

Oh, btw ....2 ten or so mile cruises in the past week, and no one has yelled out at me from a neighboring car, haha.

I'm also researching 3rd brake lights, but still looking ......don't like a lot of what I see out there, but if the LEDs helps me, I can bid my time on the 3rd one.

Hth Norm

Is the bottom of the bulbs you used the 'normal' 2 round 'dots' so to speak? The pics don't show but the single on ebay but they are showing dimensions so a stock photo is probably used.
 
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