1955 Ford Part 46: 12 Volt Cigarette Lighter for Modern Power Point

Updated: Dec 27, 2019

12 Volt Cigarette Lighter for Modern Power Point

Most cars of the 50s came with a dedicated cigarette lighter accessory installed in the dash. I am pretty sure that originally that was all it was designed for - smoking. On the average, more people smoked back in that generation. While I may come from tobacco road having quite a few relatives that raised tobacco on sharecropping farms, I never smoked a day myself. Whatever the case, this accessory needed to put into service since so many aftermarket chargers and other accessories are powered by what Ford calls a "power point" in their late model vehicles. The dilemma I had was two fold - first of all this 1955 Ford was a 6 volt system from the factory, and that meant that all of my original parts were 6 volt pieces. (Ford made the change the following year in 1956, as did many other automobile manufacturers.) The second was that the receiver well I had was not working - most probably the insulation between the positive/negative was dried out making the unit short out.

After some research I decided to purchase a 1956 12 volt element and receiver well. Ford did little to change the appearance of the knobs from 55 to 56 - the most glaring difference would be the subtraction of the chrome bezels. The "kit" I purchased came with an element, receiver well, grounding cylinder (this also secures the unit to the dash), and a small washer.

The four pieces to the right in the photo above were what I received for $21.25. The 6 pieces on the left were what was original to the car. Thankfully the knob and shaft, element, and and washer disassembled quite easily. The bezel is not pictured above for I had already placed it in the dash as pictured below.

The main difference among all of these parts is actually the new washer from the kit. The shaft on the 55 was too big. Everything else fit perfectly though and came together like they should.

The next item on the installation list was to locate the wire lead that would supply full time power to the cigarette lighter without the keyed ignition. And here it was...

I had already installed a blade terminal on the end of this wire so installation was a snap when I set the element and grounding cylinder into the chrome bezel and attached the wire. I was pleased to find that an extra grounding wire was not needed (you can see the blade on the end of the grounding cylinder if you examine the photos above) since I had already grounded the dash pretty good. The test on the element was a pass since it did heat up, but I never let it get to the point of "popping out" of the well. The test run on power to a 12 volt accessory that uses this type of plug is shown here in the following video:

If you are paying attention to the details of the photos you can see the carpet is already in position, but I will be making a post about all of that later on in another segment. Since the pre-sewn seams were not laying out where they needed to, the carpet install was a process I visited repeatedly over a few days time.

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© 2019 by Daniel Jessup