Does anyone dive their Model T's at night ? How do you get the best lighting from your model T so you feel safe driving at night? Does anyone know how to brighten lights on a six volt system?
Daniel what year "T" the ford service manual has detailed instructions on adjusting your headlights for the electric lights although if your reflectors were as bad as mine you may need to get a new pair.
OOPS! forgot to look at your profile see you have 2 of the improved ford's the section in the service manual on servicing improved fords has the info on adjusting your headlights.
Driving at night is something I personally try and avoid however there are times I have been caught out after dark. To get the best out of my lights I spent a good deal of time on polishing my head light reflectors. This must be done correctly and carefully if they are silvered reflectors. I also ran a dedicated ground to all lights terminating at the frame. I made sure that my turn signals were wired with #12 wire to get the brightest possible light. Also I keep a magnetic flashing light to put on the rear of the car, I don't care if I am stopped by the police for this practice as I think any trooper with common sense will see the reasoning in this. Lastly I really don't worry about my head lights as there is not much danger in over driving them at 35 mph, rather worry about the guy coming up behind at 65. Have a good rear view mirror and check it often and be prepared to take evasive action just as you would in daylight. KGB
Like Keith, I'm much more afraid of being rear ended than I am about not being able to see. The TT has 6 volt lights on chrome repro reflectors, the Touring has magneto lights on old original reflectors. Could they be brighter? Sure. Are they bright enough? They are for me. I can see where I'm going. The rear end of neither is bright enough to be very safe. I do have a magnetic LED flasher that I keep in case I get caught out after dark, but I try to avoid driving at night. We do have a night Christmas parade coming up that we will arrange for a modern escort vehicle to follow us along a right turn only route home. I was nearly T-boned 3-4 years ago after this same parade, making a left turn with a modern escort following us. The other vehicle tried to pass my escort vehicle never knowing I was in front of it turning left. We have done the right turn only route home since then.
I added a pair of dual function (brake/tail) LED lights to the back of my '26 touring. Pics were taken in bright daylight, so at night they really stand out. They have an extremely low amp draw. For headlights, I replaced my old bulbs with 25 watt halogen bulbs. I would estimate them to be about 50% brighter than my old bulbs. The reflectors were in need of refurbishing, so rather than re-silver them I opted to have them plated with bright nickel and shipped them to Bill Atwood at Uvira for their reflective process. When it gets dark up here in the northwoods, it gets REALLY dark. Not much ambient light. I want to be as safe as possible in all conditions. Not only want to see, but also be seen.
I have found with magneto powered lights that sometimes you have to drive in low gear to get enough light to see if the magnets are a bit week.
Getting back to the original question...
Make sure all the ground-path connections are clean. Paint and corrosion are the primary reason lights are dim.
1. The bulb socket to bucket sleeve.
2. The bucket mount to bar.
3. The bar mount to fender brace.
4. Fender brace to frame.
5. Battery ground strap to frame.
6. Clean battery terminals.
Then check all the light feed connections for corrosion.
1. The bulb connector plug.
2. The connections at the terminal block.
3. The connection at the switch.
Don't try to compare the T headlights to modern cars for brightness. The T bulbs might range from 22-32W with some 50W bulbs available. As G.R. mentions, the reflector is a critical element for producing the best light.
I like the bright flashing LED lights for the rear of my Model T.
In Texas and probably most states, RED indicates an emergency vehicle. Use "Amber" lights, they are legal.
Lots of hardware stores and places like TSC in Texas sell a large Amber light with a magnetic base. It has batteries but for the limited night driving I do, the batteries last a long time.
I also had an almost rear end accident and since than, I use those bright flashing lights. Still could get hit, but your chances of being seen are much better.
Keep the in mind-
No matter how good the ground is....
No matter how bright the bulbs burn....
IF you don't go to the trouble to FOCUS and AIM the headlights according to the manual--- you will still be disappointed with your night vision.
The process is simple and the time spent beats the heck out of watching TV.
I drive after dark with my roadster and it is a 12v system. I did focus the head lights which helped. I have to drive on 70 mph state highways to go anywhere so I was most concerned with rear lights. I went with a pair of "A" lights with stop/brake/running lights. They are bright! Much safer on these roads. PK
If you have repro reflectors and repro light bulbs, you will likely not be able to focus them efficiently, neither are made to the original standards.
Chrome reflectors are a poor substitute for Silver, or for Uvira coated reflectors--and in most states, still illegal! There was/is a reason for those now-outdated laws.
Synders now sells Model A reflectors made to the Ford drawings with the Uvira coating system, but a call last week to them indicated there was no plan to do the Model T reflectors. RATS!
Correction! That should be stop/turn/running lights. Turn signals are real important. Hand signals don't work after dark, most younger people didn't know what they mean anyhow. With stop/turn combined you don't need the extra lights hanging on the back. PK
I figure my headlights are more for people to see me coming than for me to see where I'm going! I guess I regard the "T" headlights as having about the same degree of "shortcomings" as the "T" brakes!
My Model T headlights work good enough for me to see what I'm going to hit just before I hit it!
Luckily I have yet to be caught out to late. I certainly have gotten home just in time on a few different occasions. I live inner city, so we have lots of ambient street lights, to navigate by. The head lights are just good frontal marker lights. For the rear, I have added turn signals and brake lights (no marker lights). I also added a couple of brackets to the frame under the turtle to mount two (2) bicycle flashing lights too. They are bright and noticeable. My thought on using two of them is someone might think there are multiple bikes on the road and be a little more careful, approaching. I also have red and white reflective stickers you see on the side of semi truck trailers attached to the flexible magnets. I have many of times as I am leaving a venue at night slap them on the side and rear of the T. To me it is best to be safe.
I want to add a few of the bright white LED motorcycle front marker lights (not sure what they really are called). They are bright and eye pursing, so I should be seen even easier.
I have both a 6V and a 12V system in my T. 6V runs all the OEM items, and the 12V runs all the aftermarket stuff.
If you have good reflectors, the 6 volt should be just as bright as 12 volt if you use the correct voltage bulbs. The bulbs are rated for candle power. You might find some type of LED or Halogen bulb which is brighter?
I personally would not drive a T at night unless there was a dire emergency. It would be OK in the city with slow speed limits and street lights, but in rural areas, they are just not fast enough. Even with good lights they are likely to be hit because others are not expecting the slow moving vehicle.
Hey Bill, I thought Suzie was the one who adjusted the headlights on your cars!?
I don't want to take away from the Model T experience so, no turn signals, reflectors or flashing lights for me. I do run the 25 watt halogen bulbs up front with the original reflectors. They are bright enough and odd looking enough that people really see me coming. Like the others, I'm more worried about getting rear ended. I get by without a mirror because the cars behind me reflect off my windshield. I choose my routes carefully. I think my tailight is bright enough but, I might put the halogen in there as well. Of course all the light in the world won't save you from Bubba with his hat turned sideways and an ashtray full of joint butts.
I didn't mention, but I've been out several times after dark in my '25 TT 6v. I was surprised how good the lights were. I was expecting a candle like experience. PK
A couple of years back forum member Oliver (from France) and his family were injured and their lovely T badly smashed up after being rear ended on a foggy day, if I remember correctly.
I did a fair bit of highway/freeway night driving crossing Australia and in Iran on my trip. Attached four of those thin magnet strips covered with highly reflective tape to the rear tub and very bright bicycle rear lights. No holes, everything comes off in seconds. Unless you're looking for a period correct injury or death I suggest do the same.
The battery powered LED flashing amber light with a magnetic base Willie mentions also works well. Cost about $50.
All the electrical issues have been addressed, but there's another issue that I don't think many people have noticed.
What I discovered is that the new headlight sockets are made improperly (or maybe it's the light bulb, not sure which one). The filaments should be arranged horizontally, not vertically. When they are vertical, switching from dim to bright just moves the beam from right to left, not up-and-down like they should. Plus, I had always wondered why I couldn't adjust my headlights like the book showed. The pattern was always terrible no matter what I tried.
I modified my headlight housings using some tin snips to cut a new slot 90 degrees off of the original one, and then drilled a new hole for the adjustment screw.
Lo and behold, with the filaments horizontal, I can actually see with my headlights at night, and I was able to adjust them just like the book said! What a difference!
Are there any good 6 volt LED bulbs that will work in the T headlights?
Find a set of 15 to 17 sockets. When installed in the later housings it does the same thing, rotates the filaments to the correct angle.
Cameron, the problem is the light bulbs. I compared an original lamp socket with a new one and they are identical. I also noticed that the bulb filaments are not orientated correctly. I did exactly the same thing as you to one lamp and it works much better than before. It is now actually possible to correctly focus the lamp, which was impossible before. I can't get the ring off the other lamp, but when I eventually manage to remove it I will do the same to it. I very rarely drive when it is dark but, it will be nice to be able to see.
I know of one 1926 T that the owner found a pair of six volt sealed beam headlights that fit very well in the standard T headlight frames. He used an 8 volt battery to run things. The generator and starter worked ok on the 8 volt battery.
Tin snips are not required to horizonally align the bulb filaments. The insert has 4 holes and is pressed into the bucket and held in place by 4 dimples (highlighted by white marks in the photo). The holes and dimples align and retain the insert in the bucket.
Simply (gently) tap the insert out the front of the bucket, rotate the insert 90 degrees so that the slot is on top, drill a new hole in the bucket 90 degrees from the original hole- at the top. Then install the socket/bulb and focus.
John Z and I just updated 3 cars and we found that the 6volt 32/50 candlepower bulbs align great and are much brighter that the 32/32 bulbs. End results are not as noticeable with the 32/32 cp bulbs. We have 3 cars left to do.