Thursday, August 30, 2012

Lights At The End Of The Tunnel: Restoring an original SEELITE sealed beam headlight

As I was rummaging through my supply parts boxes, I came across two sets of original SEELITE headlight bulbs.  One set was from my GPW and the second set was from one of the parts jeeps in the yard.  Well, since I do not have a working set of 6-volt headlights, I figured now would be the opportune time to try to undo the sealed beam frame and replace the internal bulb.  Originally, these headlights were meant to be discarded upon burning out.  That was back in 1944 and the supplies were virtually unlimited.  In 2012, however, nothing gets tossed (in the jeep world, at least) and I might as well "give it a go".  I chose the bulb that was in the worse condition of the four...just in case...
Step one, is to flip the bulb over and remember which way is up!  The next step would be to cut the outer edge of the frame.  In my case, the frame had already separated, due to rust, at the bottom edge.  At this point, I just needed to gently coax the frame off of the perimeter.  There is one spot that has a clip that sits in the outer frame.  Simply (I use it loosely), pull the frame away from the clip.
Front.  See that SEELITE on the bottom?!

Backside.  The "top" as actually at the 3 o'clock position. 
You can read "Corcoran Brown" on the outside edge of the frame starting at the 5 o'clock position.
Rust had already separated the frame near 9 o'clock.

Frame is off.

The glass lense practically fell out.

The old bulb was soldered in place.  Patience and heat removed it.
 It took a bit of research to figure out what style/type of bulb was needed to replace the original AND that would plug into the headlight wire harness.  The sour part is most local auto part stores do not carry 6-volt stuff, much less the unique style of plug needed.  I kinded of thought/guessed/hoped that the bulb I needed was labeled P45t (or P45t41).  I will be the first and foremost to admit that I cannot read,nor understand lightbulb charts!!  Next off, I had to find a place that sells them.  Although I found the bulb available in the US, I ended up sourcing the bulb from a company in England.  Amazingly with the price of the pound AND shipping, it was still more *economical to buy them overseas!  (*if I was to buy more than one AND it was, indeed, the correct fitting lamp!)  If somebody finds them cheaper, let me know!
The new bulb (R) and the original bulb (L). 
The new bulb needs a bit of trimming to give it a chance of fitting.
 I used a dremel cut-off disc to cut most of the skirt away from the bulb.  When it got too close for comfort at the base, I used some cutting pliers to do the rest.  It was kind of like rolling open a can of sardines.  I think the skirt was actually soldered to the base. 
Now, with the new bulb standing bare, it still will not fit into the old matter how much I filed it down.  If I remember correctly, the base was 20.93 (give or take) mm wide.  The original hole was smaller.  I clipped four spots in the round edge and then chose a socket that was very close to the same diameter of the bulb.  The socket (15 mm socket) was then pressed through the opening, expanding it.  The opening was still a tad too small, so I placed the socket back back into the opening and wiggled it around with a screwdriver.
Pressing the socket through.  I thnk my closest socket was 20.76 mm.

At this point, I stuck a screwdriver through the socket and wiggled it 360 degrees to slightly open it.

New bulb slid right into place...reminiscent of socks on a rooster!

New bulb soldered. 
Before soldering, I checked the depth of the bulb to make sure it was suitable with the glass lense.  Also, it looked like there was some sort of detoriated gasket between the lense and the shell.  I smeared a thin bead of permatex #2 around the perimeter to help seal the two, as well as hold the lense in position during final assembly.

Ideally, I would have preferred to use solder to seal the rust-through area.  However, the gap was too wide for my amateur soldering skills, so I opted for a bit of JB Weld.  Same difference, I guess.  The scar will not be visible when the light is in the bucket.

Old rust-through spot is sealed with JB Weld.
 I placed the bulb in a pair of clamps that held it in place over night so the epoxy could set.
Bulb installed and tests A-OK!  The headlight buckets are on hinges that flip upwards so if the GI is making a repair at night, he can use the jeep to light up the engine bay.
Now multiply this by FOUR and I'll have all of the SEELITES done!  For now, I'll just do one more and have this jeep done.  The other two will be saved for a rainy day next year.

 And as a bonus feature, Nora and I changed out the old 12-volt bulbs from the blackout marker lights and installed new 6-volt #63 bulbs.  The springs on the back of the housing wire has lost a bit of their "oompf" so I built up the soulder tip on the bulb so it would make a better connection...although I do not plan on using these to drive!
Nora is putting the final touches on the marker light cover.

Jack is at school full time, so I need to start training another assistant.  She appears to be glowing. 
That is not an angelic light, but rather the humidity playing games with the camera's lense.
This is mainly my reference for future replacements, but read on if interested!

6- volt bulbs used:

Headlights-       P45t
Marker lights-  #63
Dash lights-     #51

I didn't post anything about the dashboard lights, but what I did was A LOT of sanding with a dremel wire brush (and a dab of solder on one bucket) in order to get a REALLY GOOD GROUND to the tub.  That is the secret with those guys:  make sure you have a bare metal touching at all of the connecting points of the small dashlight housings.  And now they, too, work!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Its Getting Hot in Here: The Temp Gauge EDITED 8/24!

I began the disassembly of the temp gauge earlier this week.  Something wretched happened to the face of the gauge at some point in its life.  I'm not so sure what I can do to save it.  Ultimately, the best solution would be to sand the face down and silk screen a new one across it.  I'm researching that option, but I am not so sure if I am capable of doing it...yet.  For now, I have resigned myself to trying to touch it up with modeling paint.  In hindsight, I should have left it well enough alone or shipped it to Stacy for the paint job.  Well, maybe someone can learn from my errors on the face restoration.
Untouched, cloudy and nasty.

With patience, a paint can opener and a flat headed screw driver, the bezel comes off.

The cloudiness of the glass was actually an improvement.

There were two tiny screws that mounted it to the canister. 
They were quite stubborn to relinquish their hold.

Cleaned-up and remounted to the canister.  A hack job at best. 
All that is left is to affix the bezel and glass.

I've been fretting over this darn temperature gauge for a bit over a week now.  I was finally able to source an appropriately sized piece of tube that has an inner diameter (ID) small enough to accommodate the small capillary tubes of the old and new temperature gauges.  At this time, I give the much deserved props to Robert, one of the plumbers we routinely hire for our property management business. 
"Buddy, you think the tube on a thermo-couple is small enough?" 
"What the hell is a thermo-couple?"  I ask. 
"Buddy, it doesn't matter.  Go pick one up at Lowes and check it out."
Well, how 'bout that.  It is PERFECT!  So, for $7.50, I bought a thermo-couple and chopped it up so I could use a 1" piece of its copper tubing.  By the way, I have several more inches left so I may try this again on my old, broken GPW gauge!
The theory is to remove the lower portion of the old capillary tube and mate the upper portion with the lower portion of the new tube.  To do this, the two cut ends will meet in the middle of a small tube which will act as a sleeve connecting the two.  The tricky part is that the sensing bulb contains ether gas, which travels through the tube and into the dashboard gauge which registers the engine coolant temperature.  If the tube gets cut, the ether gas escapes, rendering the gauge useless.  Also, it is VERY IMPORTANT to note that ether gas is HIGHLY FLAMMABLE!  To overcome this obstacle, it is a must to cut the tube without the gas escaping and then to solder (without flame) the edges of the sleeve airtight.
To begin the process, I picked a spot on my original, broken capillary tube to cut.  I went conservative in case my first attempt failed.  If I had been brave, I would have cut the tube closer to the gauge so the graft would be hidden behind the dash board.  I chickened-out mainly because I have ZERO confidence in my soldering abilities.  I'm pretty much historically O for 100 with successful solders.
Original capillary cut and a portion of copper tube is exposed to slide into the grafting sleeve.

The tip of the tube is cleaned AND I had to open the hole up since it was crushed during the cutting.

The new sensing bulb and the location where I cut the protective shield for the new capillary. 
At this point, I took the carnival inside to where I had my bucket of ice.

The sensing bulb is buried in a bucket of ice water. 
This "theoretically" ensures that the ether remains in the bulb while the tube is cut.

Before cutting the new tube, I soldered the sleeve onto the old line. 
To protect against solder creeping into the small hole in the capillary tube, I slid a small wire into the tube while soldering.
 Something of importance, at least for me. I practiced soldering another sleeve and a thick wire to see if I actually could make a good solder before attempting on the real deal.  Once satisfied, I moved up to the major leagues.  Also, I soldered the sleeve onto the old line BEFORE cutting the line with the new sensor bulb.  I figure the less time the ether can escape, the better.
The new capillary is securely soldered in the sleeve.
The video below is terrible.  I think I needed one more hand, but the kids were off playing so I didn't bother them.  However, I am pleased to report that the gauge works!  However, my only beef with this repair is that when I tested it in boiling water, the digital thermometer read 213 degrees F. while this gauge indicated about 195 degrees F.  Well, it is almost 70 and it barely needs to be recalibrated.  I think I will just keep the actual difference in my head while driving.   Now, if I can just figure out something to do with the face of the gauge.
The other project that I am currently stymied on is the speedometer gauge.  If anyone has a watch hand puller, can I borrow it?   See you next time!

EDITED 8/24/2012  New information added!

I could not stand how the face of the gauge looked so bad.  I have been contemplating other options (replacing the face, vinyl sticker with copy of face, silk screening, etc), but I just haven't found a solution that I felt I could do effectively as well as financially.  However, the other night as I was tidying up the garage, I found a second MB temperature gauge that needed the same repair.  Funny that I found it within minutes of getting my first one installed in the jeep!  That is how it goes.

The second gauge is from one of the boneyard jeeps.  This one has a great looking face, however, the protective glass is cracked across the middle.  I rummaged some more and located a bit more modern gauge (and when I say modern, I'm talking 1950s- its all comparative, right?) and this gauge appeared to have the right sized glass.  So, I did the ol' switch-a-roo.  Now the MB has a great face, great glass, and just needs a new bourbon tube!

I performed the surgury.  At first, I thought I had a bum gauge when the needle didn't move when I placed it in hot water.  I took it out and looked it over, stuck it back in and then it went!  It was 10 degrees lower at 150 degrees F.  By 180 degrees, it was within 5.  At 190, it was still within 5.  By 195 it was staying just short of the 190 mark on the gauge and it stopped moving.  No big deal, but just something to keep in my head when it is in the jeep and the engine is running.
Gauge reads 185ish, thermometer was 190.

By the time I focused, it crept up another degree.
On a side note, I found another supply of the copper tubing that is needed.  It was at the autoparts store in the gauge section.  Although I could have received a longer strand, it was $4.50 more than the thermocouple.

And as for the speedometer, I think for the current time, I am going to put a CJ model in while I disassemble my original Motometer.  I have made a friend in France who has had success rebuilding the speedos.  He is going to send me some pictures and instructions to help me with the restoration!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

NOTHING TO SHIELD YOUR HAIR IN THE WIND: A Journey Around the Outer Frame.

Well, the windshield restoration got off to a precarious beginning...I thought I'd get clever and use the windshield frame that already had the inner windshield removed.  Also on this frame, the ORIGINAL hardware for the canvas top was in place, too.  Bonus.  The frame appeared to be sturdy and solid, and I did not find ANY rust-through areas.  Double bonus.  The down side to this windshield is that it IS of WWII MB vintage, it was not the windshield that I removed from the jeep.  Yes, that is a big strike.  Do not fret, oh legion of loyal blogsters, unnoticed at the time and thus deeming this one currently unacceptable, which in turn becomes unusable, this windshield frame was missing the riveted-in arms that allow the inner part to swing open.  Darn, missed it the first look-over.

So back to the original.  And the original has it's own set of issues.  The first and foremost is that the inner frame that holds the glass is going to need some serious repairs.  Luckily, it isn't of urgent nature and that part of the restoration will take place at a later date.  However, there are some areas on the outer frame that definitely need to be addressed before painting and mounting on the jeep.

Interior view BEFORE

Exterior view BEFORE
 The first challenge came in the form of needing to remove the inner frame before cleaning everything.  I squirted a healthy amount of penetrating oil into the hinge area in order to loosen things.  I had to use vice grips to persuade the smaller screws on the push-out arms in order to remove them.  Everything came apart without any mishaps.
Inner frame removed.

Along the bottom edge of the outer exterior frame, there is an extensive amount of rust-through.
 Lets clean this up and see exactly how bad it really is!

And there we have it....

The exterior is cleaned and now we really get a good idea of where all of the bad metal is: all along the bottom portion.
Luckily, I did not uncover any other unexpected issues.
Things could be worse.  I should be able to patch these areas without having to replace the entire outer skin.  The difficult part is that the metal is a very thin gauge, which is prone to over heating when welding and is easy to burn through it.

I carved the front skin into five different zones that needed replacements and then two small holes that I could just weld shut.  With having the compromised metal AND the fact that the skin is so thin (I was using 22 gauge steel to replace it), I needed to make sure that I carved enough out to get back to the healthy metal, but in turn I didn't want to needlessly remove more original metal than necessary. 
I cut my replacement pieces and then traced them across the compromised areas. 

Before cutting out the other four, I thought I would weld the first replacement panel in place just to see if I could do it without burning holes everywhere.  If successful, then I could continue down this path.
 Here is one tip that I did that made fitting the new pieces a lot easier than in the past.  Since I was using a Sharpe marker to trace the pieces, I made sure I cut the old steel out just inside my lines.  I did this because the Sharpe tip was just about the same width as the cutting disc.  In the past, I would often have a hole a little larger than anticipated.  This time, my replacement pieces fit quite well.

Also, because the steel is so thin, I did not weld in area for very long so as not to overheat.  I pulled the trigger three quick times and then moved to an opposite side and repeated.  I worked my away around the seams very similar to the technique used to tighten lug nuts.
Number one solidly in place and without any ill side effects!  All systems go.

Two down, number three is on deck.

Once finished with the front, I flipped it over and very quickly hit the seems from the back.

Hard to see, but I have smoothed out all of the seams.

Solid and smooth!
All in all, I was VERY PLEASED with the outcome.  And truthfully, I will be a whole heck of a lot happier knowing that I restored and reused the original out frame.  I was hesitant to weld the thin metal, but in the end, I did some of my better welds. 
Primed and installed.

I wonder how long I will be able to stand it before I HAVE to paint it? 
I hope long enough to get the seats and smaller bolt-on items ready so I can paint all at once!
Don't even get me started on the bumper.  I'm starting to like it.

Going for that rustic "motor pool" look.
Alright, I am going to make a gigantic confession now.  Don't get your knickers in too big of a twist because it isn't that ginormous, but it is kind of funny.  Remember how I was questioning the originality of the hood?  Well, it was really bugging me so I decided to do a pictorial review.  I discovered that the (above pictured) hood WAS NOT, indeed, removed from this jeep.  The pictures told the truth:  the original hood has lots of blue paint and did not have the lube chart envelope, not the grease gun bracket, but the hood I cleaned did.  A-Ha!  So, I found the original hood stashed in the rear of the other parts jeep.  Besides the hood I cleaned, I have six other hoods in hibernation.  Easy mistake to make, right?  Now, because of my historical integrity, I will have to clean the original hood.  At least I have another chance to find those numbers!

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Boys in the Hood

The last few days were spent working on the hood.  I actually started it the same day I finished the air filter, but I elected not to talk about it since there really wasn't much to talk about.

Originally, I had pleasant thoughts and dreams of slowly and deliberately sanding down layer after layer of paint on the hood in order to carefully find and, perhaps, preserve the original hood numbers.  When I dug the hood out of storage, those hopes and dreams were quickly shattered when I discovered that the entire outside of the hood was pretty much a nice light dusting of surface rust.  There was barely a lick of paint to grind off.  I wonder where it all went?  Oh, well.  Perhaps next time I can preserve some hood numbers because, unfortunately, these numbers are long gone.  I will be able to get a decent estimate on what the hood number is, but in the end, it is most likely lost to history.

The first day of work went rather quickly since there really wasn't any paint to grind through.  I used the hand grinder with a wire brush and cleaned it to recognizable metal.  I then coated it with rust preventative chemicals and let it sit for a few days while I worked on the inside areas.
This is the "before" picture.  The large white spots would be a fairly thick layer of bondo.  
Hmmm, wonder what is hidden below it?

"After" the wire wheel.  All in all, it was in very decent shape. 
I found one hole smaller than a dime near the top right corner.
 The bondo just hid depressions in the hood where it was dented.
 A hammer, a steel block, and a plumber's wrench corrected those areas!

This is the underside before any work was done.
Since I could not find any of the original hood numbers, I decided to try my hand at just removing one layer of paint to see how much of the original paint could be preserved on the underside of the hood.  Original is only original once, right?  I guess I had it in my mind that I was going to do some sort of detailed work, so this was my last opportunity. 

I went with a "wet sanding" technique.  I used a medium grade sandpaper and would wet the surface with a paper towel and gently rub away the red paint.  During the process, I would continually wipe away the paint residue and apply more water.  Unfortunately, there were wide surfaces areas that lacked any paint at all.
The left side has been done and the upper portion of the right side.

This is the somewhat cleaned and finished product. 
I may go over some other areas with a fine piece of sand paper later.
In the end, I discovered something new about the hood and possibly the vehicle.  For starters, I thought it weird that I could  not find any of the holes for the windshield blocks.  By the time I cleaned everything, I found where they had been welded shut.  What a relief.  I temporarily began to doubt that this was a military hood.

The other interesting thing to note is that this hood might possibly have belonged to a USMC vehicle.  When I removed the Lube Chart envelope, I found original paint beneath it.  It appeared to be the late war, dark semi-gloss...maybe.  However, below the top layer of red paint, I found in some areas a darker green, perhaps that of the Marine Corps, and it was across the black tar substance that the Marines are notoriously known for spreading across the undersides of their vehicle.  Interesting (to me).  Especially since I did not uncover any of that tar anywhere else on this jeep.  So, this hood may not necessarily be original to this vehicle.

I'm sitting on the fence with this original paint.  I know it does not look great, but some of the lighter green does match the newly painted OD on this vehicle.   But like I said before, its only original once, and once I remove it, it will never be again.  So, I figure I can keep it like this for now and if I ever grow tired of looking at it, I can then remove and repaint.  Until then, it is just a great reminder of this vehicle's history.

As for the small hole repair, I had a tiny scrap of steel already cut.  I just traced it on top of the hole and then carved out the hole so it would fit.  It was welded in place, the seams were ground down and then a coat of primer paint was applied.  It will be some time before it gets to look OD.  I figure I will do the windshield, seats and whatever other pieces all at once.
The hole!  Horrors!!

The replacement before welding.  Oh, joy!

Primed and soon to be installed.

A close-up of the area that had the hole.  I've done worse! 
I do notice I have some runny paint.  Punch list.
I still haven't found my 1/16" piece of steel tube so I can attempt my temperature gauge repair.  Since that fix is a no-go, I'm leaning towards doing the outer windshield frame clean-up this weekend.  That way I can mount the hood and have a place to lean it while I'm repairing whatever the heck it is that I forgot to do in the engine compartment!  That, my friends, is using my brain...kind of.  Thanks for reading.