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Old 06-28-2009, 02:53 PM   #1
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Resourceful Replacement for '70s Tail Light Cans

Both reverse tail light "Cans" in my '72 were rusted beyond belief. Of course, these Cans aren't being made any more, so I got to thinking today what would be a suitable replacement for these? "Hey! How about a large tuna can?," I said to myself. These cans are almost the exact same size at a hair under 4 inches. I don't have one handy for this photo but I have another that illustrates my point. The lens can be filed down every so slightly to fit the contours of the can.

The large tuna can can be cut using tin snips on top which will be needed so the light can shine out but leaving enough of a lip so that the lens can be screwed into the Can. After completing all cuts the can would essentially look like the original Airstream Can. Drill a large hole on the bottom for the socket and positive lead, spray a coat of primer, then a couple coats of black Rustoleum spray paint.

What a cheap and inexpensive (about 2 bucks a can) way to refurbish your Airstream leaving the original tail light look while retaining use of the Fiber Optic system.

I'll start on this tomorrow and post my results.
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Old 06-28-2009, 03:20 PM   #2
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Ingenious!

How are you going to secure the screws?

Remember if you paint the can with silver paint instead of black it will reflect the light better making it brighter.

Mary
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Old 06-28-2009, 03:31 PM   #3
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Thanks, Mary. But I doubt I'm the first to think of this.

The lens would be secured to the top of the can. Like I said in my original post, "the large tuna can can be cut using tin snips on top which will be needed so the light can shine out but leaving enough of a lip so that the lens can be screwed into the Can."

This solution will work and save me money on new lights or LEDs. Yeah, I thought of using silver paint earlier, but it won't look vintage if I do that. Of course, who will see it but you, LOL.
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Old 06-28-2009, 03:56 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mello mike View Post
Thanks, Mary. But I doubt I'm the first to think of this.

The lens would be secured to the top of the can. Like I said in my original post, "the large tuna can can be cut using tin snips on top which will be needed so the light can shine out but leaving enough of a lip so that the lens can be screwed into the Can."

This solution will work and save me money on new lights or LEDs. Yeah, I thought of using silver paint earlier, but it won't look vintage if I do that. Of course, who will see it but you, LOL.
Exactly. I would think that the brighter light for safety, should out weigh the vintage issue. IMHO

We are going to be putting the LED lights on ours. We got them from Inland RV. I just wish they had a more vintage look to the lens, or maybe a design in the plastic lens to not allow the actual "LEDS" to be seen directly.

Mary
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Old 06-28-2009, 09:44 PM   #5
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What about small stainless steel bowls from the dollar store? I'm not saying I have checked if this will work, it's just a thought.
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Old 06-28-2009, 10:11 PM   #6
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Exactly. I would think that the brighter light for safety, should out weigh the vintage issue. IMHO

We are going to be putting the LED lights on ours. We got them from Inland RV. I just wish they had a more vintage look to the lens, or maybe a design in the plastic lens to not allow the actual "LEDS" to be seen directly.

Mary
Mary.

Welcome to modern technology, that strives to make things better as opposed to keeping them the same.

We certainly would not, for a number of reasons, want tire manufacturers to make them like the good ole days.

In our inherent search for bigger, better and the like, some mistakes will happen. We all strive to keep them at a minimum.

Tail lights that are brighter, and at a lesser cost of power (amps), is a huge improvement for highway safety, and helping, however small, to keep our planet greener.

Andy
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Old 07-01-2009, 05:17 PM   #7
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Okay, I didn't think I was the first to think of this and I was right. Here's one guy's solution using a tuna can. I wouldn't do it quite this way, but he has the right idea.

Get Out the Map

After rumaging through grocery stores, it doesn't look like anybody makes a can the same size as the Airstream canister. The Airstream canister is a little over an inch high and the canned tuna and chicken cans are higher than this. So time for plan B. I'll need to cut a 4" can to size and use a little JB Weld on the top for the lens to screw into. The open end of the can will house the lens, opposite of the what the guy did in the above link.

If anybody knows of a can that will fit the requirements of an Airstream tail light canister, I'd be interested to know about it.
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Old 07-01-2009, 05:49 PM   #8
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If anybody knows of a can that will fit the requirements of an Airstream tail light canister, I'd be interested to know about it.
Mike, sure do.

It's called an LED replacement.

No more worries about rust, bad bulbs or sockets, and is the bulkb really working.

Andy
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Old 07-01-2009, 11:44 PM   #9
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Mike,

Check with these guys. They are local to where we live, and my hubby Steve says they can find and deal with many different lighting manufacturers. It can't hurt to ask.

http://www.luslighthouse.com/


Hope you & the family have a good 4th,
Mary

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Old 07-01-2009, 11:52 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Inland RV Center, In View Post
Mike, sure do.

It's called an LED replacement.

No more worries about rust, bad bulbs or sockets, and is the bulkb really working.

Andy
Not everyone has the means to go out and buy all the new technology. It might be the easy solution, but not the only solution. Necessity is the mother of invention. Maybe through Mike's search for finding a cost effective replacement, he'll find a something that others could benefit from too. Not everyone has deep pockets to fund repairs and renovations.

Mary
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Old 07-02-2009, 12:21 AM   #11
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If I'm not mistaken, those 'cans' look like the standard sizes used in the trucking industry for many years...

Look up a truck parts supplier or large truck stop in your area to find brand new replacements, along with LED units that will fit...

I've seen those light 'cans' made of aluminum and even stainless steel (used on SS tankers)...

Our 78 has the Marathon, square lights, and I had to modify some LED fender mounted truck units for our tail and stop lights...they sure BRIGHT...
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Old 07-02-2009, 06:23 AM   #12
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Hey Mike!!

I've been researching Grote, and they have a pretty comprehensive selection of lighting for the automotive industry. They may offer something that will work for your application.

I'd never heard of them before, but they are original equipment on our 73 Avion.

Best of Luck,

Kevin

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Old 07-02-2009, 06:58 AM   #13
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Mike,

I think you're being a bit short sighted in your quest for a cheap alternative. The vegetable can will rust very soon, regardless of what you do to prevent it.

Either do the LEDs or a modification of the Truck lite, but using a tin can will require you to face this dilemma again,most likely within 2 years.

This is an area where I think it is best to sink the cost, get it done right, and not worry about it again as long as you own the trailer.

(But maybe I'm the only guy on the forums who has delayed departures more than once to screw around with tail lights and a 12v tester because one light didn't work.)
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Old 07-03-2009, 12:27 AM   #14
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I spoke with Steve at Vintage Trailers today and he is seriously considering making these canisters. It appears that this type was used in model years 1969 to 1974, which is a pretty sizable number of trailers. Doesn't sound like metal is feasible, which I think is a good thing. Those who would like to see Steve add this to his already impressive list of vintage items, should call him and encourage this addition. Guys like him need our support.
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