Vintage look headlight, turn signals, tail, brake

Discussion in 'Electrical' started by HoughMade, Feb 13, 2009.

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  1. HoughMade

    HoughMade Guest

    In my state, there is a pending bill that will require registration of my bike. Equipment wise- no problems....except I will need a good headlight, turn signals, a brake light and tail light. We, therefore, have found the next project for the HoughMade '71'.

    The good news is that the new laws do not incorporate U.S. DOT lighting regulations, but set lighting standards by performance. This is important because I do not have to purchase lights that are "DOT Approved" as long as I can make lights that meet the performance requirements.

    I have looked into previous topics about using an MR16 halogen light as a basis with an SLA battery. Good idea, but I want a vintage look and although price is always a consideration, ultra-cheap is not necessary. I went looking at the home stores and came across the landscape light pictured below. It is the right size to be a good scale for a vintage look. It is cast aluminum. It uses a 12 volt, MR16 halogen lamp and comes with a 50 watt spot and even in the display with the 50 watt spot going all day, the case gets warm, not scorching hot. I will need to mount it- and I want something that looks like it was really meant to be...not simply functional.

    I have a new 12 volt 7.2ah sealed lead-acid (SLA) battery which will provide well over an hour of light (I do not ride at night, I just need lights for legality and emergency, so this will be OK). That battery will run the turn and brake lights forever and a day. Plus, I am looking into options for a bit of charging on the go so that run time can be extended (don't bother mentioning solar unless you can show be a 1910 motorcycle with a solar array). I am haunting the thrift stores for an old leather case of some sort to house the battery (old Polaroid camera cases are good).

    I am building the turn'tail/brake assembly from scratch, but I will probably scrounge for lenses or incorporate clearance lights of some sort- I smell a Tractor Supply Co. trip!

    Anyhoo- I have gathered some parts and building begins tomorrow- pics in process will be forthcoming.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 13, 2009

  2. DetonatorTuning

    DetonatorTuning Active Member

    is there anything new to add over in the legislation thread ?

  3. HoughMade

    HoughMade Guest

    Still pending in the same committee...and the state reps. I e-mailed have not replied to me. Honestly, that seems odd to me. One in particular has the time to go house to house and personally show up to introduce himself, but he won't answer an e-mail....pretty clear that the election is over.

    In any event, I thought decent lights may be a good idea anyway.
  4. skyl4rk

    skyl4rk Guest

    heh, I just picked up a red led clearance light for a taillight at Tractor Supply about an hour ago for $7. I am using the headlight from a 12V dynamo kit. I have a 10 AA NiMH battery pack that puts out about 12V. I am hoping to put the system together this weekend, hopefully with solar, dynamo and killswitch wire charging systems. I picked up a small canvas bag at the army surplus store to hold the battery and tools n stuff. Now I have to decide what connectors to use and how to put it together.
  5. HoughMade

    HoughMade Guest

    Sounds like a good plan. I'd like pics of the results!
  6. Nuttsy

    Nuttsy Member

    Bummer about the pending legislation. I think it will doom the classic looks of your hard work.
    That having been said, that home center light looks kinda Rail Road Signal-ish as opposed to motorcycle. Is there no way to incorporate a 12V higher wattage bulb into your existing headlight/speedo setup?
    Tail light suggestion could possibly be an old model A type deal from JCWhitney or some such. Although those tend to look out of scale on the large side, you may be able to find something smaller and more period correct in the antique auto arena.
    Turn signals...sheesh! That will completely kill the look IMO.
    Good luck, tho
  7. KilroyCD

    KilroyCD Active Member

    I put together a retro-styled turn signal set for my Whizzer. Here's the link to the thread:
    Of course I was helped immeasurably by the fact that the Whizzer has an electrical system and wiring harness in situ, but perhaps elements of the system might work for you.
  8. HoughMade

    HoughMade Guest

    The reflector is a flood reflector and wat too shallow to get focused into a tight enough beam. Trust me, I went down that road. I won't let the look be harmed. Ironically, the present headlight actually was a railroad lantern.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 13, 2009
  9. uncle_punk13

    uncle_punk13 Guest

    I'll be glad to expound later as I'm off to bed for the night (up work at 4:30A.M.) standard automotive #1156 12v bulb ad housing (local junkyard- a back up lamp from old Pinto) wired in the old railroad lamp for headlight; old brass alarm clock housing (3" in diameter roughly) with a reflector and again 1156 automotive back up lamp wired in with red lexan lens for tailamp. Very inexpensive, easy to build, looks "period". I dunno what to do for ya' for turn sigs, but I'd bet you could do so,ething very similar utilizing the bullet style trailer running lights readily available...
    Also there's some good info found amongst these articles:
    (I am in NO WAY, SHAPE, or FORM affiliated AT ALL with this website! Period. Just so you know...)
  10. loquin

    loquin Active Member

    Re the solar recharge...

    There's at least one company that's making solar cells that are fairly flexible, and they make a roll-up panel array. You could have the solar panel rolled up, like a small bedroll, behind the seat. Unroll it when you get the bike parked. Roll it up again & go.

    Instead of using the high purity silicon like for integrated circuits, they essentially spray the solar cell material on to a mylar backing in a vacuum. (similar technology to that used to make those mylar "emergency blankets" that reflect body heat back to the body)

    A quick google search turned up several companies that are making 'em now...

    The technology:

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Feb 14, 2009
  11. HoughMade

    HoughMade Guest

    I like that style. Very, very nice!
  12. cgbjake

    cgbjake Member


    Please post pictures of your project, sounds interesting!

    I also like the solor panel deal, I was thinking of that for a long time, just wondering when others would post about it. After the trike is done I'll work on the lights!
  13. skyl4rk

    skyl4rk Guest

    I don't have it put together yet, still need a place to mount the solar panel. I am thinking of bolting an ammo case to the Titan rack and gluing/caulking the solar panel to the side of the ammo case. I usually park my bike with one side facing the south, so I can probably get by with one panel facing to the side.

    The 10 pack of AA batteries is made up using this case:

    I have used this solar panel to charge 10 NiMH AA batteries in the above case:

    I took the ugly red case off of the solar panel, and now have an ugly hunk of black glass that I taped up facing south (on my boat). There is a simple charge controller inside of a cigarette lighter connector. I took apart the cigarette lighter connector and put a smaller connector on the output of the charge controller. The guts of the charge controller now live in a plastic film canister.

    This combination has worked for several years. I used it on my boat to always have charged NiMH batts for my VHF radio for emergencies. They have been out in the sun for 3 or 4 years and stay charged up, no problem. A battery pack of this size should be able to power lights for quite a while.

    As far as the circuit goes, the solar panels will be connected to the batteries all the time through the charge controller that comes with them. There will be a switch to turn the lights on and off. I will add a diode to the output of the dynamo and connect the output wire to the battery to allow for charging when the lights are off.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 15, 2009
  14. HoughMade

    HoughMade Guest

    Got some more parts and figured some things out this weekend.

    The first picture below is the clearance light which will be my tail/brake light. It is about 2.5 inches across. It comes with a socket for a single element light, but I am removing that and installing a dual element socket for a standard 1157 tail/brake lamp. Actually, the socket in there now will fit a single element 1156 turn bulb, but I need the dual element so that with one bulb, I will have the tail and brake light. Of course I will paint the housing gray to match the rest of the bike. It is actually slightly narrower than the bell bicycle light there, but because it will use the automotive light- it has a running light of 6.7 watts and a brake light of 21 watts- big wattage for the brake, but it has to show up in daylight and is used a couple of minutes total in a long ride.

    The second pic below shows the rear fender/leaf assembly. You can see where the tail/brake light will go. I have been thinking about the turn signals and I think I have decided to remove the 1/2" steel tube that runs horizontally to connect the leaf to the struts that connect down by the axle. I will use a 3/4" tube in its place which will allow a lamp socket to fit within it. The bulbs will extend out either side where the acorn nuts are now (circled). Right now i am thinking of using exposed amber bulbs...yes, the glass is exposed, but I can see if that is a problem. Also, I will be setting the socket deep enough to allow the bulb to be depressed to be removed but so that the neck of the bulb and the socket are inside the tube. Only the round portion of the bulb will be exposed. The wiring will run inside the tube and exit under and through the leaves to hide it.

    I think in this way, it is more work, but alters the overall look less than other options I have looked at.

    I will post pics when there is something to see.

    Attached Files:

  15. RdKryton

    RdKryton Active Member

    I am using an 1157 LED bulb in the tail light of my Whizzer. It is plenty bright with 12 LED's and uses very little current. I had to modify these to work at a right angle because of the side mounting of the socket. Here are a couple pictures.

    Attached Files:

  16. HoughMade

    HoughMade Guest

    Now that's an idea! Do they draw enough current to make a regular thermal flasher work?
  17. loquin

    loquin Active Member

    If you have LED turn signal lamps that don't provide enough load for a standard flasher, you may want to try the circuit below.

    I's a simple circuit, using a 12 volt, low current relay, with SPDT or DPDT contacts (Single Pole, Double-Throw, or Double Pole Double-Throw,) a resistor, and a capacitor. It takes advantage of the fact that relays pull in, or energize, at a higher voltage than they drop out, or de-energize. With a typical, 12 volt relay, it might pull in at around 9 to 10 volts, and drop out at about 7 volts.

    In the circuit below, note that K1-NC and K1-NO are the Normally Closed and Normally Open K1 relay contacts, respectively.

    When you energize the circuit, current flows through the normally closed (NC) contact, through R1, to the relay coil and the capacitor. Initially, there isn't enough voltage across the relay coil to energize the relay. As time goes by, the voltage builds up across the capacitor, and eventually, there's enough voltage (about 10 volts, with a 12V relay) to energize the relay. Energizing the relay opens the normally open contact, allowing the capacitor to discharge through the relay coil. after a while, the voltage drops enough so that the relay becomes de-energized (at about 7 volts.) The normally closed relay contact closes again, and the current flows through the contact & resistor to the relay coil / capacitor, and process starts over again. This charge-discharge cycle will repeat as long as power is applied to the circuit.

    Now, while all this is going on, when the relay is not energized, the power to the indicator lamp is on. When the relay IS energized, power to the lamp is off.

    (If you use a DPDT relay, you can use the second NC contact to make the current flow to both at the same time.)

    I haven't included values for the capacitor C1 and the resistor, R1, as they depend on the relay.

    The value of R1 should be about that of the relay coil. If your relay coil is 250 ohms, the resistor should be about 250 ohms. The actual value isn't critical - so long as it's within 20 percent or so. The power rating should be calculated as follows.

    P = E * E / R

    If you had a 220 ohm resistor, this value would be 12V * 12V / 220 Ohm, or, 0.65 Watts. You should have at a minimum of 50 percent 'extra' power capacity, so, multiplying by 1.5, the value needed is 0.98 watts. The next larger resistor power rating is 1 watt.

    Now, for the capacitor. We could go through an involved calculation, but, we would need to know the actual resistor value, the relay pull-in voltage, and drop-out voltage. Probably a better approach is to do a little experimentation, using your actual relay and resistor. Start with a 220 microfarad, 16V (or greater) capacitor. If it flashes too fast, increase the capacitor value. If it flashes too slow, decrease the value. (You can wire two capacitors in parallel, and the capacitance is added together. Don't wire them in series for this circuit, as the result will be much too small.

    This circuit can be used with 6 volt batteries, or just about any voltage, for that matter, with the proper selection of relay, resistor, and capacitor values. I've also added a diode in series with R1, and a 120 volt DC relay and used the circuit in industrial applications, to flash a 120 AC volt lamp as a warning indicator.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Feb 18, 2009
  18. RdKryton

    RdKryton Active Member

    I Have not used them on the flasher circuit only the tail and brake light.

  19. HoughMade

    HoughMade Guest

    The answer to my question is "no"...they do not trigger a thermal flasher. At least one alone does not. I'm too far into this to not use them, though. A further report and pics coming....eventually.
  20. RdKryton

    RdKryton Active Member

    I have found flasher units that will work with LED's. I need to see which bulb my turn signals are so I can change them out. The more current I can save for the headlight the better. I noticed already the LED tail/brake light makes the turn signals work good even at an idle. Ebay has a big selection of LED's and flashers.