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Adding more taillights to a 56 Dodge Custom Royal
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56D500boy
Posted 2017-03-11 4:52 PM (#535738)
Subject: Adding more taillights to a 56 Dodge Custom Royal



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In my almost 50 years of driving I've been re-ended three times. All of them hurt, either physically, financially or emotionally. The first one effectively killed my 1955 Canadian Dodge Regent (it soldered on but its days were limited thereafter). My daily driver since 1998 has been a 1993 Audi S4 20valve inline 5 turbo. One of the first things I did to it was to add more taillights (and signal lights) (tastefully using existing but unused in NAmerica locations) I was happy with the result. As a result, when I bought my 1956 Dodge Custom Royal D500 with only the one taillight per side, I looked at the back-up lights and decided to convert them to more taillights). This project has been on-going for awhile. Yesterday I finally put it all together.

The initial situation: One two filament bulb taillight and one one filament bulb back-up light per side (not my car but the same colour and prettier):



The first step was to find two proper 56 Custom Royal taillight lenses. Initially I found two, except one was a 1604394 for an early 1955 Custom Royal (on the left) with a pebbly inside finish, instead of the smoother, clearer, 1956 Custom Royal's, 1658454 (on the right).



I am still looking for another 1658454. BTW, the PNs are cast into the inner most edge of the lens (IF your eyesight will let you see it).

The next step was to remove, clean and polish the existing back-up light housings. Based on Serge's "Make up your car thread", I also decided to paint the inside edges of the Custom Royal housings. I tried both Tremclad silver and Tremclad semi-gloss black. I settled on the semi-gloss black (the upper left below):



The next step was to create new replacement gaskets using 1/8" thick EVA foam:



The next challenges were how to wire up the new two pin (1157) bulbs. I tried a commercially available new aftermarket sockets but they didn't push the bulb far enough out into the housing. End result is I got two used sockets from John at Big M. (Thanks John):



So progress was being made. Just needed to figure out how to wire the bulb sockets up given that the OE wiring was too dirty to see what the colour code on the wiring was. In the end, I decided to re-purpose some female spade terminal blocks from a 1979 Datsun that I have been squirreling since 1983. These blocks had four slots and colour coded pigtails (two each of the same colour). I paired the pigtails and set them up with crimp butt connectors to connect to the existing wiring. I then cut the existing wiring and connected the two wires (per side) to my terminal blocks with the butt connectors. For the taillight sockets, I left about 5" of pig tail and crimped on male spade connectors. So two sockets per side, two wires with male spade connectors per socket. Getting closer.

I then reassembled the ex-back-up lights as taillights (with the red lenses) and installed them into the car. As a trial, one of them got an extra (non-OE) rubber gasket between base plate and the body using a EDPM roof vent rubber flashing that I re-purposed:



Then came the moment of truth: I installed one socket in one taillight (the original left taillight) and hoped that I got the male spades in the right female receptacles. Nope. Had to swap them (no biggy). Then I did the same with the second (new) socket on that side and, somehow got it right the first time. Then i repeated the process on the right side. I got both of those wrong the first time but it only took a minute to swap the male pins into the correct female receptacles (if I could have seen the OE wiring colours, I could have used logic to get them right the first time. As it was, trial and error was no biggy).

Taillight bulbs are United Pacific 36934 high power red 1157 LEDs (about US$20 each) *Very* bright, and therefore with four of the, very noticeable.

http://www.uapac.com/antique/2-high-power-led-1157-bulb.html



Almost forgot: With the LED bulbs in the back (even the one per side) and incandescent 1157s in the front (park/signal), I needed to use an electronic flasher to get the signal lights to work. The pure mechanical flasher didn't work, at least with one LED bulb per side.



The last item was the back-up light. What to do, what to do? As for the lack of back-up light, I found another United Pacific product. I also found that I can purchase United Pacific products locally (still have to come out of the US but at a bit less cost to me).

50121 14 LED Chrome License Frame - White LED/Clear Lens
"The Perfect Solution for Back-Up Lights on Corvettes Converted to 4 Tail Lights".

Mine is not a Corvette but the same idea, more taillights = need for another back-up light solution.

http://www.uapac.com/antique/14-led-chrome-license-frame.html



Wiring the back-up light was easy. I first figured out which of the two wires wanted to be LED power and which ground by using my battery charger (could have used the battery too I suppose). Then I connected the power wire to the OE harness back-up light connection (which oddly is a "hot" male 8 mm spade terminal (by modern standards, it should have been a shielded female spade terminal). The other wire was the ground and I crimped on a ring terminal and put it under one of the studs and nuts that hold the horizontal stainless steel trim to the body, inside the trunk, above the bumper. (I had drilled a small hole in the valence behind the license plate, added a rubber grommet and run the licence plate wires (22 gauge, tiny) through the grommet into the trunk).

That completed the install.

Now for some photos, in order:

1. As installed, all lights off. Day time. You can see which of the four lenses is the odd one out (Laugh at the duct tape if you want. I have the trim inside the house being cleaned and polished. The trunk will be repainted when it gets warmer out). How about lucking out on that license plate number. D(od)G(e1)956H(emi) LOL.



2. Installed and park lights on. Daytime. The odd man out lens is less noticeable.



3. Installed and park lights on. Daytime. Back-up light is on, i.e. engine is running and the Trans is in "R" (low speed idle, emergency on and rear wheel chocked). That is water vapour coming out of the tail pipes, not smoke.



4. Night time. Park lights on. In neutral.



5. Night time. Park lights on. In Reverse. (Note due to the automatic exposure, the back up light looks blindingly bright. In reality it is bright but not blindling so)



I think I am happy. It is what I wanted to do and I have done it. Three of the lenses are the proper late1955/1956 Custom Royal 1658454 lenses. One lens is the early 1955 Custom Royal with a pebbly interior finish. It is okay but noticeable. Something to score a proper 1658454 sometime either here or at a swap meet.

NOTE: I presume that a similar process could be used on the 1957, 58 and 59 Dodges if so desired.



Edited by 56D500boy 2017-03-11 9:43 PM
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mstrug
Posted 2017-03-11 5:46 PM (#535741 - in reply to #535738)
Subject: Re: Adding more taillights to a 56 Dodge Custom Royal



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Those are good Ideas! Thanks for the info. I got a 57 Dodge that may get this update. Thanks! Marc
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Powerflite
Posted 2017-03-11 9:29 PM (#535749 - in reply to #535738)
Subject: Re: Adding more taillights to a 56 Dodge Custom Royal



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Nice job. You could have kept using your original backup lenses if you installed a red LED to illuminate it. When it is off, it would look like a backup lamp, but once ignited with a red LED, it would look like a tail lamp.
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56D500boy
Posted 2017-03-11 9:40 PM (#535750 - in reply to #535749)
Subject: Re: Adding more taillights to a 56 Dodge Custom Royal



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Powerflite - 2017-03-11 9:29 PM
Nice job. You could have kept using your original backup lenses if you installed a red LED to illuminate it. When it is off, it would look like a backup lamp, but once ignited with a red LED, it would look like a tail lamp.


True. I considered that but it would only be a single filament 1156 equivalent red LED and would only be powered as either a stop or signal light, not a running light. I want to be seen all the time, not just while stopping or signalling. Remember I am in Canada and we love our Daytime running lights (I only drive the 56 with the lights "ON").

And I still would have to do something to replace the back-up light.



Edited by 56D500boy 2017-03-11 9:41 PM
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Powerflite
Posted 2017-03-11 9:55 PM (#535751 - in reply to #535750)
Subject: Re: Adding more taillights to a 56 Dodge Custom Royal



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Location: So. California
The dual filament 1157 red bulb will do the same thing with your backup lens as it would with your red lens so there is no difference there.
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56D500boy
Posted 2017-03-11 11:08 PM (#535754 - in reply to #535751)
Subject: Re: Adding more taillights to a 56 Dodge Custom Royal



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Powerflite - 2017-03-11 9:55 PM
The dual filament 1157 red bulb will do the same thing with your backup lens as it would with your red lens so there is no difference there.


I do not want to argue this but I am pretty sure that a red LED shining through a red taillight lens is much more red than a red LED shining through a clear(ish) back-up light lens.

I am happy with my approach. Thanks.

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miquelonbrad
Posted 2017-03-12 12:59 PM (#535792 - in reply to #535738)
Subject: Re: Adding more taillights to a 56 Dodge Custom Royal



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Your back-up light approach isn't a lot different from the '58 Plymouths, with the single light below the bumper center.
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FwdLk56
Posted 2017-03-12 4:52 PM (#535804 - in reply to #535738)
Subject: Re: Adding more taillights to a 56 Dodge Custom Royal


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Location: Indiana

very cool...
and kinda like a cell phone commercial, "can you see me now?"
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56D500boy
Posted 2017-03-12 6:51 PM (#535809 - in reply to #535804)
Subject: Re: Adding more taillights to a 56 Dodge Custom Royal



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FwdLk56 - 2017-03-12 4:52 PM
very cool...
and kinda like a cell phone commercial, "can you see me now?" :)


LOL. Something like that. I am pretty sure that they will see me for sure when I step on the brakes and I get all four lamps lit at the higher illumination levels. (I need to get my wife out to the garage to step on the brake while I watch).


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FwdLk56
Posted 2017-03-12 8:05 PM (#535813 - in reply to #535738)
Subject: Re: Adding more taillights to a 56 Dodge Custom Royal


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Location: Indiana

i crawl so slow to a stop that i have time to hit the gas if somebody is about to rear-end me...
when i was in high-school, we car-pooled and the neighbor was rear-ended while i was in the back seat...
so when i did start driving just a few months later, that feeling was so ingrained "in the neck", literally, that i've always used the crawl method and speed up to "prevent" the rear-end...
it's worked! TWICE... i have NEVER been rear-ended and i've had room in front of me TWICE to PREVENT what was GOING TO BE a rear-ending...

i think another part of it that has "saved me" is that i have *ALWAYS* driven MANUAL TRANSMISSIONS - **ALWAYS**...
so the first "half" of my braking distance is a very slow and gradual "downshift"...
NO BRAKE LIGHTS - so the guy behind learns just by creeping closer that he better pay attention

it's worked for THIRTY YEARS, *never* been rear-ended...
KNOCK ON WOOD !!!...
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mikes2nd
Posted 2017-03-12 10:19 PM (#535822 - in reply to #535741)
Subject: Re: Adding more taillights to a 56 Dodge Custom Royal


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mstrug - 2017-03-11 5:46 PM Those are good Ideas! Thanks for the info. I got a 57 Dodge that may get this update. Thanks! Marc

 

what he said...  Ill be doing it also.

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56D500boy
Posted 2017-04-03 11:06 PM (#537318 - in reply to #535738)
Subject: RE: Adding more taillights to a 56 Dodge Custom Royal



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More or less finished off this project today.

1. A few days ago, I removed all the taillights and the chrome taillight bezel surround and painted the "white" area, bright white (the off-white was too too almond). Polished what I could for the two intervening days while the paint got a bit a harder.

2. Reintalled the chrome surround today.

3. Installed the newly rehab'd upper taillight bezels (I had cleaned and polished them as much as possible and then painted the inner edges of the slots semi-gloss black like I done for the lower ones). Made new foam rubber gaskets and installed them.



4. Replaced the 1604394 early 1955 Custom Royal with a NOS 1658454 (the proper late 55 and 1956 Custom Royal Lens) in the lower right taillight.

5. Reinstalled all the remaining taillights and re-installed the LED bulbs back into the housings. Took a photo of the harness that I made but forgot to photograph for this thread earlier. Each one of the taillight bulb holders is connected to one of the black wires and one of the green wires. Both taillights on both sides are fully functional (running, stop, signal).






Edited by 56D500boy 2017-04-03 11:09 PM




(TailLightHarnessShowingTwo intoFourConnector.jpg)



(56CustomRoyalTaillightAreaPainted.jpg)



(56CustomRoyalTaillightAreaPaintedAndTaillightsReinstalled_off.jpg)



(56CustomRoyalTaillightAreaPaintedAndTaillightsReinstalled_On.jpg)



Attachments
----------------
Attachments TailLightHarnessShowingTwo intoFourConnector.jpg (117KB - 28 downloads)
Attachments 56CustomRoyalTaillightAreaPainted.jpg (147KB - 28 downloads)
Attachments 56CustomRoyalTaillightAreaPaintedAndTaillightsReinstalled_off.jpg (145KB - 29 downloads)
Attachments 56CustomRoyalTaillightAreaPaintedAndTaillightsReinstalled_On.jpg (149KB - 25 downloads)
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Powerflite
Posted 2017-04-04 1:29 AM (#537326 - in reply to #535738)
Subject: Re: Adding more taillights to a 56 Dodge Custom Royal



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I like it how you painted the grooves black. Really accentuates its lines to a nice effect.
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Chrispy
Posted 2017-04-04 12:18 PM (#537349 - in reply to #535738)
Subject: Re: Adding more taillights to a 56 Dodge Custom Royal



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If you just put some mega bright leds in you'll be ok without having to ditch the stock reverse lights. LED's also light up faster than an incandescent bulb. A set of these WILL get you seen, they are stupid bright @ 675Lumens. For reference the OP's leds are 250 lumens. I'm going to run these in my Firesweep,

https://www.superbrightleds.com/moreinfo/tail-brake-turn/1157-led-bu...

If they are too long for your lens, these are still quite bright and would work well, 290 lumens. I run the 1156 in the 3rd brake light of my 944.

https://www.superbrightleds.com/moreinfo/tail-brake-turn/1157-led-bu...

For upfront since i have white lenses, ill run these. White when the park lights are on, amber when the turn signal is firing. Great for daytime running.
https://www.superbrightleds.com/moreinfo/tail-brake-turn/1157-switch...

Edited by Chrispy 2017-04-04 12:36 PM
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56D500boy
Posted 2017-04-04 4:45 PM (#537362 - in reply to #537349)
Subject: Re: Adding more taillights to a 56 Dodge Custom Royal



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Chrispy - 2017-04-04 12:18 PM

If you just put some mega bright leds in you'll be ok without having to ditch the stock reverse lights. LED's also light up faster than an incandescent bulb. A set of these WILL get you seen, they are stupid bright @ 675Lumens. For reference the OP's leds are 250 lumens.


Thanks for the suggestions but the LED bulbs I am running are retina-burning bright and now I have four of them. The reverse light is now the new license plate surround as shown above in this thread.





Edited by 56D500boy 2017-04-04 4:47 PM
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Chrispy
Posted 2017-04-04 9:11 PM (#537388 - in reply to #535738)
Subject: Re: Adding more taillights to a 56 Dodge Custom Royal



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Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado
Are they retina scorching when heading into the sun at dusk? thats the use case i'm planning for. Also, i'm not trying to say you did this wrong, it worked out well. I mainly posted the alternative for anyone that doesn't want to change the lenses. The plates on the 57's are recessed so the plate surround you got would not work for the 57 Chrysler/Dodge/desoto for reverse lights. It would work for the 57/58 plymouth and imperial though.

Edited by Chrispy 2017-04-04 9:16 PM
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56D500boy
Posted 2017-11-16 7:48 PM (#552450 - in reply to #535738)
Subject: RE: 20171117 junda



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Ban this Chinese Spammer xiaojun and delete his posts
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uncltank
Posted 2017-11-17 7:25 PM (#552557 - in reply to #535738)
Subject: Re: Adding more taillights to a 56 Dodge Custom Royal


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Going to double up my tail lights on my '57 Dodge wagon. I was thinking of backup lights in the bumper pods, but The plate frame will work too...
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56D500boy
Posted 2017-11-17 8:27 PM (#552558 - in reply to #552557)
Subject: Re: Adding more taillights to a 56 Dodge Custom Royal



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uncltank - 2017-11-17 7:25 PM
Going to double up my tail lights on my '57 Dodge wagon. I was thinking of backup lights in the bumper pods, but The plate frame will work too...


The bumper pod thing would be cool if you could find a lens that works. (And a reflector)

As for the additional taillights, you will need two 2-pin sockets that fit your housings and two all red lenses.

This seems to be a good price for lenses:

https://www.ebay.ca/itm/PAIR-1957-DODGE-DART-LANCER-STOP-AND-TAIL-LI...

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Lancer Mike
Posted 2017-11-17 9:59 PM (#552565 - in reply to #552558)
Subject: Re: Adding more taillights to a 56 Dodge Custom Royal



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Super cool project! Have you thought about those add-on, eye-level center brake lights?
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56D500boy
Posted 2017-11-17 10:03 PM (#552566 - in reply to #552565)
Subject: Re: Adding more taillights to a 56 Dodge Custom Royal



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Lancer Mike - 2017-11-17 9:59 PM
Super cool project! Have you thought about those add-on, eye-level center brake lights?


I suspect that you are being more than a little sarcastic.

But yes I have. That would be too easy and NOT period correct.

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