August 10th, 2003 : Backup Lights
They didn't put backup lights on these old trucks, so I bought a pair of 1947 - 1953 Chevy pickup parking lights and removed the mounting brackets and screws. They look the part, and I wanted to get rid of the cheapo, plastic amber units the previous owner had on the truck. He had them wired for turn signals, but when I rewired my truck I wired them up for backup lights, knowing I was gonna do something like this. I bought these from The Truck Shop ... they had the best price, and I was happy to see the lenses were made of heavy glass!
The first thing I had to do was remove my tailgate. I thought it would be simple -- there are only two bolts to deal with -- but, no way, man! There's this "trunion" thing to deal with. You can see it here - driver side :
It's a cylinder, about an inch wide, and it sits in the end of the tailgate, holding it in place. When you turn the bolt that holds it in place, it turns with the bolt -- maybe there's a tool made that will hold that bugger, but I sure don't have one, and there was no way I could find to keep it from moving freely. Anyway, when I tried the other side, with an allen wrench stuck in one of these holes (see below), it held the trunion and I was able to remove the bolt. With the passenger-side trunion out, I was able to lift and pull the tailgate off of the trunion on the driver side and I was home free. I have a sneaking suspicion though, that the trunion and bolt on the passenger side was just not locked up as badly as the other side was ... and I got "lucky" with it.
With the tailgate out of my way, I removed the old lights that were there ...
... then, I used the chrome bezel for the new lights as a template for cutting the proper size hole -- I turned it face-in, and scored the paint with an awl.
Here you can see an easy score-line to follow with the dremel -- this is why I removed the tailgate ... it would've been a real pain in the neck to cut in this space with the tailgate there.
The hole is cut. It was slow going with the dremel, but certainly a whole lot easier than a hacksaw!
After filing all the dremels-cuts smooth, I wired the new lights up and installed them. The chrome bezels originally attached to the light housing with machine screws ... I wanted to mount everything to the truck body, so I bought 4 stainless steel #10, 1-inch oval head screws, drilled the housing-nuts out with a 3/16-inch drill bit and drilled 11/64-inch holes in the truck body. Unfortunately, I cranked one of the screws too tight and cracked the glass lens! $5.00 gets me a new lens, but if you're doing this on your truck, remember this is a glass lens -- snug your screws up, but don't go crazy like I always do; I tend to go overboard tightening screws ... but I'm learning -- good and snug is good enough!
Here's the before ...
... and here's the after.
PS -- I later replaced those trunions with a much nicer pair of black urethane trunions from Chevy Duty ... these are quiet, too! Chevy Duty calls 'em "Tailgate Hinges" ... part #11-516.