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Old 08-26-2011, 05:35 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default DIY LED tail lights on my 65 Mustang!

OK, I have posted this on two forums, dont shoot me.

OK, so after ordering some new $110 "LED tail lights" from a vendor that used a flat panel with plug in wires, and NO 1157 sockets I thought I would be set, but what I got in the mail instead was two LED 1157 bulbs, bulbs use 1157 sockets and I dont trust em.
I find that 1157 sockets are either 45 years old or a cheap re-pop that tend to give me trouble, YMMV.
Not to mention these same bulbs are around $9 on Ebay.

So, I returned them in disgust and was ready to pony up the big bux for a new set from a popular vendor when It hit me....wait, all of my equipment trailers have LED tail lights and they have stop/turn function and are really bright!
So I run out and take one apart to see what was inside, I purchased them from Harbor freight and installed them but never bothered to look inside, now I must know.

It turns out that they are just a disk with a circuit board of LED lights, the one side had a license plate light but both had side marker lights screwed onto the side of the disk, and they measured out to be just a tick bigger than my 65 mustang's tail light housings, so off to HFT I go to give them my $40 (no coupon this time :icon_eek

I get them home and strip them down to the bare bits and this is what I end up with. In this pic I had already unscrewed the side marker array of LED's and spun them around and super glued them back onto the post they were on, only this time instead of facing out the side they face front for more light.

Here, I took the side marker light off and spun it around and super glued it on so the LED faces forward adding more overall light. This section does not blink, so I left it to the center of the car to enhance the tail lights brightness.




Spun around. I did cut off the LED's used for the license plate light since it would make one side brighter than the other.




After trimming the ends that my fingers are grasping they just fit into the housings.




Now you can just use an adhesive of your choice or just shoot a screw through a corner to hold them in place so it doesn't bounce around.

In this video I learned that I did not like the panel close up against the tail light lens, sure it looks cool to see the LED's but the performance was much better when I recessed the lens just a little bit. It seems that those diamond cut patterns in these tail light lenses really "pop" when you put LED's behind them, they get a glitter effect.





And here is the end result, not bad for $40 and a few hours.
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Last edited by Fstbk; 08-27-2011 at 11:31 AM.
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Old 08-26-2011, 05:42 PM   #2 (permalink)
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That looks real cool. Nice work.
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Old 08-26-2011, 06:30 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Very cool - how about a part number from Harbor Freight? Is it Item #95974?

Last edited by maxx424; 08-26-2011 at 06:33 PM.
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Old 08-26-2011, 06:34 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Something like this FST: LED Trailer Light Kit - Complete with Wiring & LED Trailer Lights

How'd you wire them up?
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Old 08-26-2011, 06:37 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Nice work and a great idea
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Old 08-26-2011, 08:11 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Sorry mustang project am going to be use fstbk idea for rear less. Does the turn signals,brake,emergency all work.
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Old 08-26-2011, 08:17 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I'd assume it'd work for them too because if you wire them up right, shouldn't be a problem. Besides, it's the tail light for a trailer so the trailer light like those would have the functions for turning, braking, and when the headlights are on. I think I might have to do this project.
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Old 08-26-2011, 08:36 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Did they wire right up with built-in resistors (for led's) or did you do any custom wiring?
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Old 08-27-2011, 12:49 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Sorry, I went out for a drive.

SDmustangriders link is correct, sorry I should have listed that. They look like this.



As for the wiring I already had a hole in the back of my housing from when I did the upgrade to new sockets, so a simple grommet pass through with the wires, put post style plugs on them to match the OEM harness and plug them in. I should mention that I already had a dedicated ground wire from my repop 1157 sockets so I used that for the ground, but you could also just use a local ground. The circuit board has enough wire on it to reach inside the trunk, so no real wiring work is needed.

They work just like on the trailers I have them on, and at night you can see em from space.

I did use an electronic flasher that I got from Ebay, but most parts stores will have them, the stock unit worked on a thermal load to cause the flasher to let go when it saw enough heat due to current load but the LED provides no real load so an electronic flasher is the way to go.

I recommend this for the 65 for sure, and I think a guy could use these other types for the 67 & up if he got creative.





Goodnight.
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Old 08-27-2011, 10:34 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I wonder if you couldnt find a thin lens to put over the LED assembly to help scatter the light pattern more evenly across the taillight lens area. Maybe something like the lens material they sell in sheets at Home Depot for flourescent light fixtures? I think they call one style "cracked ice"?
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Old 08-27-2011, 11:03 AM   #11 (permalink)
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It scatters fairly well, if you walk around the back of the car they actually glitter much more than they would with a bulb. I think anything else would cost you brightness.

FWIW The LED's are already red.
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Old 08-27-2011, 11:22 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Great idea. Thanks for sharing. That's one of those "why didn't I ever think of that" kinda things.
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Old 08-27-2011, 11:30 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Nice job Fstbk! I wonder if you stripped down all the extraneous parts off of this one;

if it would fit in a 65-66 housing, hmm. I may take a look at a set. Thanks, kip
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Old 08-27-2011, 11:31 AM   #14 (permalink)
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great idea!...im doing a 67 shelby taillight setup on mine and need to go do some measuring at Harbor freight...thanks for the idea!
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Old 08-29-2011, 03:07 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Brilliant! I love this kind of project.
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