What is being used as the pad behind the mirrors in working John Brown acetylene headlights?
Several other gas headlights I have seem to have asbestos material cut in circles behind their mirrors. I can tell the back of the mirrors should not be on the metal because it could wear off the silver & protective coating.
Also, I have a question as to how the clear front lens is held in. Is there a retaining ring that goes in the grove in the headlight rim?
I am taking the electric setup out of my headlights this weekend and putting in the gas. The only gas headlights I have actually seen working was in San Angelo when Royce fired his up at the Texas T Party last Fall. It is surprising how bright that acetylene flame is.
Ken in Texas
It may be bright but it does not cast much of a beam. I have asbestos behind my mirrors. I was able to buy some from a vendor at Hershey a few years ago. I think there is a substitute for asbestos available that they use to wrap mufflers and I believe Lang's sells a heat resistant fiberglass pad to use in lamps. I think the door glass is held in place by a metal ring. I made my own up using one that I found in another makers lamp as a pattern.
Originally it was an asbestos cushion between the mirror and the bucket. The hi temp fiberglass will do the job just as well. There is a large C-shaped snap ring with upturned ends in the door that holds the lens in place. It fits into the groove that is embossed in the door:
In your post you mention that you are removing the electrical setup in you gas lamps. Are these the modern units available from the current vendors or a setup which was available back in the day? Just curious.
Good luck with your project. Bill
It was a setup cobbled together out of later T electric lights by someone before me. Reflector, bulb socket and H lens on six volts. I run it off a 6-volt battery on the running board. It is as good as my '25 on it's generator/battery setup.
I have seen the clamp-on bulb sockets that attach to your gas burners from back in the day. Easy enough to fabricate with a little brass strap and I will make a pair after I have the gas running correct. The heat down where the bulb would be when the gas is on/bulb flipped down is minimal.
The halogen bulbs must take quite a bit of current and probably wouldn't last long on a battery with no generator or alternator.
I have a stock 1913 engine with no generator and never checked to see how long the lights were "good" and strong but probably 45 minutes to an hour. Good for that twilight time we find ourselves in from time to time but hard on the battery.
The acetylene burners are so easy to light and set I will go without clamp-on electric if the beam is adequate. Should know this weekend. I have a NOS carbide generator but I can already see why Ford shipped many cars with Prest-O-Lite bottles. I am using a Prest-O-Lite B tank with a small Uniweld regulator.
I am going to leave one electric hooked up and see how well the acetylene compares to it. I have new clear lens for the gas and several sets of very good mirrors. I also have 5/8 burners and 3/4. Anyone running the 5/8th's?
The kerosene side & tail lights need to be working good or you are hard to see from the side even if you have electric headlights. I have the John B 110's and 115. There is NO smoke and they are bright when set correctly. I light them anytime after later afternoon when modern cars are using their running lights. Light them up and see the reaction you get from the other cars on the road!
Ken in Texas
Thanks for the information. The gas lamps on my '14 were electrified already when I acquired my car, quite possibly by the original owner as the patent date is 1912 or maybe '14 ( I don't recall clearly and it is too cold to go out to the car to check). I have seen the kit in my lamps advertised in period catalogs.
I have collected some of the bits necessary to restore my lamps to gas use at a future date, but the electrical modification is an interesting talking point on tours or at shows.
Good luck with your project, Bill
Thank you for the example. I made one from 4mm brass rod by wrapping it around a Prest-O-Lite bottle with ends like you showed. It snaps into the grove on the John Browns very tightly. All I need is the correct sized clear door lens.
The lens that I was supplied is 8-inch and way too small to fit in the door and I may have to just have two cut at a glass company. It looks like I need a 8-7/8 inch lens.
The burner bases are made by one source. I find that when combined with the 2-inch burner it puts the flame too high in front of the mirror in the John Browns. It makes the beam fall too close to the front of the car. I had to lower the burner about 5/16-inch and my beam seems about level with the car.
Maybe the weather will be better next week and I can take the car outside and focus the lights.
Ken in Texas