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1955 Ford Part 44: Failure, Success, and Backup Lights!

Updated: Dec 27, 2019

Failure, Success, and Backup Lights

Since we are working so much these days on all things lighted and electric, I figured it was time to get underneath of the car and install the backup light switch. Although Ford had offered backup lights from the factory in 1955, most cars did not have the option. The 1955 Ford Fairlane we are working on was no different. While it did have a radio, Magicaire heater, clock, 272 V8, and Fordomatic, such items as power windows and seat, or power steering, were not originally on this car. And so it was with the back up lights. But it's 2018 and I have decided for safety's sake upgrades such as 3 point seat belts, power brakes, and backup lights needed to be installed. (and emergency flashers too, but more on that later)

I had already installed the housings, sockets, bulbs, and lens for the backup lights some time ago and had tested to make sure the ground was good, the lights worked, etc. Now it was time to run a simple 14 gauge wire from one light to the other, following the Rebelwire harness, and to run the lead to the opening at the shifter.

Hurst doesn't give any instructions on how to go about doing this, just a simple diagram for reference. The voltage is obviously low so there is no need for a relay. I did run the hot lead from the fused side of the headlight switch where the battery lead comes into the switch. Therefore, I have brakes and backup lights without the key in the "on" position. The cheap, but strong, bracket had to be bent, adjusted, and re-adjusted a few times until I was happy with the action.

However, it all worked out fine in the end - take a look at the video and the "test run".

Now on to the story with the Emergency Flashers. The Rebelwire harness has a hot lead labeled "hazard" that is live from the battery post, no key in the "on" position needed. And, this hot lead is set up with a separate flasher than the turn signal switch. I tested the lead a few times by plugging in the terminal for each wire that led to the four corner lights on the car. Success. Now to figure out how to wire up the live "hazard" wire to a toggle - easier said than done. I tried different ways of separating the leads that are connected to the four corners (front turn signals and brakes at the rear) but each time my simple on/off toggle switch idea did not work. When I called Rebelwire the representative explained to me that I needed a special toggle switch (which unfortunately no local auto parts store like O'Reilly's, Autozone, or Advance carries) that would keep those leads separate until the switch is thrown. I did order a toggle switch to correct the issue - $7! The amount of money I have had to spend on terminals, heat shrink tubing, wiring for special leads/runs in the car, zip ties, switches, etc has been embarrassing. I only spent $165 for the harness (and I am very happy with it!) but I have already spent that much alone in the "accessories" to finish it out. And... don't even get me started on the price of bulbs!

Thankfully there are other items to work on for the car besides wiring since we are this far along. I installed the rear view mirror...

Finished the vinyl windlace...

Special thanks to Dan Evans for helping me locate those pesky pinch clips that keep the small trim pieces tight to the sheet metal!

Worked on the dash wings and installed those...

And I have been working on finishing the headliner, installing the interior panels and trim, etc. We will post more on those projects later.

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