© 2019 by Daniel Jessup

1955 Ford Part 43B: Headlights, Headlight Switch, and Turn Signals

Updated: Dec 27, 2019

Wiring the Lights and Switches (Part 2)

Now with the headlights, parking lights, and tail lights all acting appropriately, it was time to tackle the turn signal switch, wiring, and the brake lights. The photo above shows the turn signal mechanism as it should sit in the steering column cup. To my dismay when I opened the bag that had the old switch and mechanism from a 1956 Ford, one of the mounting brackets had completely broken free! How this happened I have no idea, but after looking at the rust and corrosion it must have been before the part was given to me by a friend of mine. Oh well - no problem, I began disassembly and further inspection.

The unit was pretty dirty and after discovering that I would need to weld one of the brackets that mounted the whole thing to the column cup, I just decided to completely disassemble EVERYTHING, clean it all up, lube it, and re-install correctly. You can see the broken part in the background of the first picture below. Following that photo are a few more that catalog the process.

Separate parts and pieces like the canceling cam were removed, cleaned, lubricated, and re-installed.

Once that was finished I made a video showing some of the work I did and testing the action of the switch.

After that it was back to the steering column for installation of the mechanism and switch. The wires feed into the lowermost of the two largest holes in the cup.

In the photo below, the two smaller machine screws secure the mechanism and switch to the cup. The small bolt secures the turn signal lever to the switch.

The next photo shows a very important element of the steering wheel - the collar that actuates the cancelling cam as you steer through a turn and come back to straight ahead. This collar is what moves the mechanism to turn the switch off.

In the following video I tested the canceling cam and the action of the turn signal lever.

Next came the frustrating part: testing all of my connections! The turn signals up front were great and working as they were supposed to. But the brake lights and rear turn signals - nope, nothing lighting up. I checked my diagram, checked my connections, and wondered in amazement. Then I thought, "Let me check these bulbs."

I had purchased the taillight assemblies a long time ago and had tested them after installation with a simple hot wire to the pigtails. I thought they would be OK at this time. To my chagrin when I removed the bulbs ---- they were 6 volt units! They were dual filaments but the brighter filament had burned out. I ran down to the local auto parts store and picked up some 1157's. The harness and whole system I have set up for the car is indeed 12 volts. Now we were cooking. But, I had a new problem. The brake lights stayed on even if I wasn't pressing the brake pedal! Say what? The switch worked properly but I wondered what could be the matter here.

Back to post 43A - if you will recall, I had followed the original diagram and attached the brake light lead to the BATTERY side of the headlight switch. It needed to be removed from there and installed on my mechanical switch, another hot lead to that switch, and then a separate "brake light switch" line was running to the turn signal switch. The pointer in the picture points to the BATTERY post that was hot because it was connected to the main lead from the battery.

Once those changes were made we were off and running! A video to prove the success:

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