“Braking News” or “LED Story” – Dave’s Garage

How many of you are worried about over-taxing the electrical system on your antique car?

How many of you are looking for a way to make the rear lights on your car more visible? Recently I was behind a Cadillac with a LED third brake light and conventional incandescent left and right stop/directional lights. I was struck by how much faster the third brake light illuminated as compared to the conventional incandescent tail lights when the driver hit the brake.

MG TD led brake lightI thought about this when our MG TD burned out yet another brake light switch. The replacement brake light switch lasted about 300 miles before it burned out. The replacement switch just can’t handle the amperage of the incandescent stop lights. The MG does not have a relay in the brake light circuit, or any other circuit for that matter. All the switches in the car handle the full amperage of the circuit. Of course this is true for the stop light switch too.

Another problem with the tiny brake lights on the MG is they are dim, and not very visible. I have almost been rear-ended more than once, and I have even had people yell at me that the lights don’t work, because they could not see them in day light.

So, I have decided that with the lower current draw, quicker illumination, longer life, cooler operating temperature, and most importantly, the brighter light it would make sense to replace the standard incandescent bulbs with modern, plug in LED bulbs.
The old bulb is a clear bulb behind a red lens, so it makes since to get a replacement white led bulb right? WRONG! Science has a nasty way of proving conventional wisdom to be wrong.

Here is the reason that you do not want to use white LEDs behind a colored lens or filter:

  • Unlike tungsten lights, white LED’s ‘trick’ the eye into seeing white. Most White LED bulbs are made using two wavelengths of light, 460 nanometer Blue and 590 nanometer Amber. They are mixed about 70 percent blue and 30 percent amber. Using white LED’s behind a filter (Red or Amber) will actually result in very little light being visible at all. This is because red and amber LEDs are color specific, they only emit one color. Incandescent bulbs and white LEDs produce all colors, which produces a visible white light.If you put a white LED behind a red filter, all of the colors and the light energy required to produce those colors are filtered out, re-sulting in a much dimmer light.Assuming that you are using a white LED behind an amber or red lens, you will lose (in the case of an amber lens, about 70% of the light generated). It is a very counter productive thing to do.This is why they make white, amber and red plug in replacements for standard 1156 and 1157 bulbs.

    The physics behind this is a bit complex. All you need to remember is to use a white LED with a white lens, a red LED with a red lens, and an amber LED with an amber lens. Simple enough, huh?

    LED lights are another great invention that offers a modern, plug in upgrade to the old car hobby. LED lights are much safer, use a fraction of the electricity, run cooler, shine brighter, light up faster and last much longer than conventional incandescent bulbs. By replacing just the rear bulbs, there should still be enough of a load on the circuit to still cause the flasher unit to operate for the directionals.

    LEDs are Light Emitting Diodes. Diodes only allow electricity to travel in one direction. They are like one way valves for electricity. When ordering replacement bulbs you must specify positive or negative ground, and 6 or 12 volts.


  • Please email all inquiries to: Dave
    or snail mail
    32 Turkey Hill Road
    Richmond VT 05477

Fond Farewell

There are, as I’ve said before, some of the nicest, kindest, interesting and unique, members of our VAE club. It seems appropriate to pay tribute to Joe Kaelin and Gene Towne whom we lost recently. I didn’t know Joe as well as I knew Gene, but always thought he had the kindest face and demeanor about him. Meeting his family at his memorial service illustrated what a great parent and grandfather he was. One of his daughters told us how Joe was always available to watch over grandchildren and she shared with us a “Joe moment”. A granddaughter was crying and carrying on when he turned to her and said, “You need to stop that noise – it is Sunday and therefore not your day to cry”, and then went back to what he was doing. She was so busy trying to figure out what had just happened that the crying ceased. Joe had such courage and always kept his subtle sense of humor, indeed, a unique gentleman.

We first met Gene when we bought his house in Milton located on what was appropriately called Swamp Road. We had to walk to the house, as the road was impassable by car, truck or tractor, a real mud bog in the spring. We bought the house anyway as it was brick and surrounded by beautiful countryside. One day in mid winter, Gene stopped by to ask what we were using for water. I answered, “the faucet” and he said, “I’ll be darned; that water pipe under the road usually is frozen by now”. Sure enough, two days later, it did freeze, so we called Gene and asked what do we do now. “Oh, you call the local “go-to” guy who will bring out his arc welder, hook it onto that wire next to the road and thaw out that pipe.” Wendell knew the wire he meant, because he had cut it off the previous sum-mer. After much poking into frozen ground with crowbars, shovels, etc., we finally located the pipe and had it thawed. This was in the 1970’s and over the years we met the entire Towne family and were made to feel part of it. Then there were the phone calls from Gene: “Wendell, want to go to an auction or sale and/or check out a car, boat, tractor, or, let’s go to Dearborn for Ford’s anniversary celebration.” “Mary, how do you make rice pudding?” “What’s that guy’s name? You know, the one that lives on the hill?” He was always sure that I needed something he happened to have (many “somethings”), and I should come over and take a look. I’m not sure that we ever saw him wearing anything but his trademark overalls, slouch hat, and suspenders, of course. We will miss Joe and Gene and feel privileged to have had them in our lives. They were true Auto Enthusiasts!

’30 Chrysler Roadster CJ

2013 Chrysler Roadster CJThe picture here was taken in Wendell Noble’s barn in Milton, Vermont about a week ago. As you can see much more work remains but it should be easy to see the exhaustive work that has been done.

Resurrecting an old car takes determination, planning, a lot of love and simply one step after the last until it is complete; Wendell Noble is on that journey with this 1930 Chrysler Roadster CJ (Chrysler Junior). Wendell had completed the wooden sections of the body using mostly rotted parts as patterns that he found at a location in South-ern New England. He then attached the steel ‘skin’ with screws and nails; just like the facto-ry did it in 1930. The CJ body arrived at John Johnson’s body shop in Enosburgh (Mountain View Autobody & Sign Design…check out the business card on page 14) last Fall for the finish paint work. The correct paint color was found, after a lot of research and 85 to 100 hours later the beautiful green finish with a darker green trim was completed (see page 16). Here is a part of the process at the body shop…

  1. The body was attached to a dolly while at the paint shop. Ken Labonty did most of the 70 plus hours of work on the body to get it ready for paint. The first task was to remove most of the filler that Wendell had applied during his hours of preparing it for paint. Johnson said he wanted to be certain the filler would be compatible with the layers of work that he would be adding. Johnson’s advice; if you are going to bring him something to paint…just prime the steel, he will do the rest. The plastic filler that Johnson uses is Everlast Rage and when that work was complete it was block sanded with an 18X4 inch pad four times using 36 grit to 180 grit paper.
  2. The next step was to use a relatively new process of ‘spraying’ the coats of filler on the body then going through the block sanding pro-cess again. Body filler resin is a thermal-set plastic, it cures with heat. In body-shop terms, the thermal-set filler allows it to “not-wake-up-again” so no matter what is added to the surface of the filler material, the filler will not break down. It is unbelievable the humps and bumps an automobile can acquire over the years, especially an 83 year old car, and that is where the filler comes in. Light is used to detect the body imperfections but a good body-man can simply use his hands to know where the work is needed.
  3. When the filler process was complete it was time for Ken to apply the Acrylic Primer Surfacer, at least three layers so the sanding pro-cess will not ‘break through’. Then more sanding with up to 300 grit paper.
  4. Next the Primer Sealer is applied and Ken’s job was done; the body was ready for the ‘base PPG 2-stage’ paint and then the clear coat. That is when Chad Johnson comes into the story, Chad is John’s broth-er and the resident paint expert. When the base coat is complete a clear coat is applied and for this CJ there was up to 30 hours of buffing that brought it to the finish you see today.

Wendell then brought his frame to the shop and everyone was involved in very carefully placing the body on it. Speaking to John Johnson later, he mentioned the work on Wendell’s car would have cost at least another 25% if it needed to be returned in a short or specific time. Having the car for these 11 months allowed him to bring it out when the shop was not busy instead of having his shop tied up with this one project. Something for all of us to think about when we send a project out.

So, where did Wendell get this 1930 CJ? It came from a VAE member who lives in the North East Kingdom, Dave Maunsel. Wendell got the car basically as a collection of parts and pieces, just like Dave had gotten it some 34 years earlier from a gent in Saxton Rivers, VT. Dave had collected additional needed parts while he had it along with hav-ing the engine rebuilt by Tri-Town Automotive in Brattleboro. Dave did work on the frame, hired a fellow to rework the doors and found a friend of Pevy Peake’s to do body work on the cowl, hood and rear deck. As the repaired car parts returned to the Maunsel home they found many places for storage….over the garage, in the cellar and even under some beds. When the collection of parts arrived at Wendell’s home it was discovered the doors were missing. Dave found them three days later in an upstairs closet.

Dave has always loved the Chrysler CJ since he had a 4-door sedan in the 60’s while attending UVM in Burlington. He bought the 4-door from a Shelburne dealer by the name of Henry Parker and drove it for 15 years. When asked about the best feature of the car Dave said the Lovejoy shocks were probably it. The ride is great and his car never breaks down.

So when Dave heard about the CJ Roadster for sale in 1979 he had great plans to be driving one again. The day Dave purchased the col-lection of parts there was no paper to be found to write a bill-of-sale so instead of paper a hub-cap was used. The Saxton River gent turned out selling what he called a “complete car” with a few important parts missing and no matter how hard Dave tried to get the parts he was not successful.

Dave was later able to find what he needed for parts in Monticello, NY; a rumble seat lid and many of the rear steel body parts. Asked where the bill-of-sale hub cap might be and Dave said it got miss-ing years ago.

You can see in the picture to the left the Chrysler CJ is now continuing it’s restoration journey. Finish assembly, the electrical, the upholstery, some chroming and maybe even a new top. Dave Maunsell said, in jest, that he should have included in the sale agreement that he be allowed to have the finished CJ to drive for three weeks…..wouldn’t that be a hoot!