'54 Mercury tail-lights, how can I make them brighter?

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    Nothing scarier than dim brake/turn lights with a tailgater about to ram you in the back!

    It is worst in daytime, I guess nowdays drivers nowdays expect to see bright red or amber strong lights they cannot miss…………….

    I have tried halogen bulbs, they dont do much and they burn easily.

    I have not dismantled the lenses, but from the utside there seems to be one more plastic round lens inside the red one; has anyone tried removing it?

    I’m also thinking of modifying the Back-up lights with dual filament bulbs, I wonder if this might work.

    Has anyone tried the new-type of LED bulbs? They seem stronger, but I wonder how will the flasher unit work with them.

    Any suggestions?



    One way to get brighter lights and the potential of adding A/C (your other post) is to switch to a 12 volt system.  You mentioned that you will not do that.  I am curious as to why.  Obviously if you want to keep the car original you must keep it 6 volt.  There is also the expense of switching.  The benefits are many however.  The option to add A/C is one, a modern sound system is another, and the brighter lights are another. 

    As to options for the 6 volt system and brighter bulbs.  I am not sure anyone makes a 6 volt LED bulb but maybe you have found them.  I’m not sure, but don’t the LED bulbs “plug” into a socket instead of the push and twist style for the stock bulb.  To add a filament to the back up lights you will need new pigtails that have a dual contact system like the brake/turn signal bulbs.  Don’t know what you might gain and if it is worth the trouble.

    Have you thought about using an 8 volt battery to get the bulbs brighter.  It will not burn out the bulbs any faster and they will burn brighter.  I use an 8 volt battery in my ’55 and it seems to work without trouble.  You will not need to change anything in the electrical system and only adjust the voltage reuglator to put out a little higher voltage.  The starter loves the extra voltage and will spin the engine that much quicker.  NAPA stocks an 8 volt battery that fits fine in my ’55.  (Don’t know if you have NAPA in Greece however!).

    As to the A/C, I recall, when I was a kid, that we had a swamp cooler for the car that plugged into the lighter socket.  It pumped water over a pad and then a fan circulated the air through the pads.  It sat on the driveline hump and although it wasn’t dry air like today’s A/C it was a little cooler than ambient air.  I think ours had a 12 volt pump and fan but I would think you could use a 6 volt heater motor to run the pump and fan.  Just a thought. 



    Hi Virgil,

    Thanks for the input!

    For now I’ll stick to 6volt, going to 12v to me is altering the car too much; I love driving the car and remembering the old days with everything that comes with it. I have done another conversion on another classic, by converting the generator to an alternator keeping it at the original 6volt positive ground, it works with an alternator hidden inside the original generator; it’s expensive (about $850) but it makes a hell of a difference and looks are 100% original, maybe I’ll do it in the Merc as well.

    The 8 volt battery is also a very good idea, I now have Optimas that last long and do a great job but you are right, maybe I should go for it, BTY, NAPA does not ship outside the US, I wish they did though !

    The sound system was another story, driving for hours with AM mono was not good enough, so I’ve converted the original radio to a powerful AM/FM and with powerful speakers hidden under the front seats I’t really ‘rocking’ ! It works with 6-to-12volt inverter (or what they call it) hidden in the uit and has iPod and 3,5mm pin inputs and it also gives out a 12v cigarette lighter adaptor for charging phones, GPS’s etc, it’s really worth the change and of course the looks are still original.

    Same for sweating without AC, but I guess I have to live with it, unless this issue is also resolved for 6V in the future.

    I’m only worried about safety with the rear lights, i guess I’ll give a try to the 6v LED’s i have found various types on the web, I will also try to remove what seems to be a second inner round lens, maybe it will help.





    Here is something I used to do with my older cars to brighten the rear lights. Take the lens off and get some aluminum foil, crinkle it and then open it and put it around the bulb as an added reflector. Hope that helps.

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