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Old 03-10-2004, 03:35 PM   #1
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Should I? (adding exterior lights)

Our '63 GT didn't come with those teardrop-shaped lights on the front or rear crowns (you know, the foreheads.)

I don't know whether or not to add them...

They've never been there, shall I leave well enough alone?

On the other hand, it's a classic, vintage look - it's almost as if they're pointing to the nameplate with pride.

Plus, I can only imagine it would make the trailer a bit safer, especially from behind at night.

Don't know if I should cut holes in a unbroken, vacuum-formed vintage aluminum for the sake of a few running lights. What does everyone think? Is it a more unique look without them?

Brad

Example photo from Midamrail (borrowed without permission, thanks Midamrail)

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Old 03-10-2004, 05:25 PM   #2
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Don't ya love it when no one answers you questions....

I'm not an expert, still learning what's the right and wrong thing to do. But I think they are sharp. It's the epitome of vintage lighting. The question is, how will you get the wiring there?
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Old 03-10-2004, 05:46 PM   #3
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Well, as for wiring... once the guts are completely torn out, the inner skins removed, the body lifted off the frame (to sand and rustproof) and the old, soggy insulation all gone...

*pant, pant, pant*

...wiring up 3 baby lights on each end ain't gonna seem like a big deal!

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Old 03-10-2004, 05:49 PM   #4
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oh, and I totally agree about them being the epitome of the Airstream "look." It just doesn't seem quite complete without 'em, but I would think twice if someone came on here and said,
"According to some moldy records in Jackson Center... EVERY single 1963 had those lights, and because yours doesn't, it would be a crime against humanity to put them in!! It's the ONLY one like it in the WHOLE world and worth 10 times more becuase of the lack of lights!"
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Old 03-10-2004, 05:59 PM   #5
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Ya know, I'm thinking of doing the same thing when I get my insides out. Maybe not the tear drop style, but the regular oval ones. Will be interesting to see this thread evolve....
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Old 03-10-2004, 06:47 PM   #6
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I would prefer the look that you have now, especially if it's going to be polished. Very clean and uncluttered. But I often prefer minimalistic approaches.
I thin it looks cool to not have any of the lights and relfectors there.
Sort of like shaving door handles etc. on hot rods, only yours are factory like this.
Of course it would be a possibility that the segments had been replaced, and that the shop simply did not put the lights in. Does it have the front ones?
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Old 03-10-2004, 07:38 PM   #7
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Good Q, Uwe.

Nope, I'd bet $1800 (what I paid for it!) that it's stock. It'd been sitting in the woods for decades, and all pieces appear to be the exact same age. Doesn't have front or rear.

I agree on the minimalist approach, it's a clean look. I feel a little leery about not having the high mounted ones back there on dark highways at night though, which is why I'm leaning towards adding them in the first place.
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Old 03-10-2004, 07:53 PM   #8
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Might as well add another query onto my original one...

What's the official color usage for these running lights? Yellow in front, red in back? Red on both, and yellow along the sides of the trailer? I don't think I've ever figured that out.

Maybe there's no rhyme or reason to it, but in nautical usage there's the whole official green/starboard, red/port thing.

Just wondering.
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Old 03-10-2004, 08:31 PM   #9
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So even though a lot of us have the 'what's it worth' in the back of our minds, do you have your airstream as an investment, or for pleasure. You should do whatever makes you happy, especially if it's a safety issue for you.
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Old 03-10-2004, 10:00 PM   #10
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Should I? (adding exterior lights)

Greetings Brad!

There was quite a bit of discussion on the Vintage Airstream Club Discussion List several years ago regarding the DOT Clearance lights on the smaller Airstreams (I believe this included the Babmbi, Bambi II, Globetrotter, Caravel, and possibly Safari) of the early 1960s. It seems that on these smaller trailers of the period were not required to have these lights and thus were not equipped with them from the factory - - un less, of course, if a customer specifically requested them. In doing your restoration there wouldn't be anything to stop you from adding a set of lights, but you would also be adding potential leak points - - they were one of the biggest leak culprits on the rear of my '64 Overlander when I first purchased the coach.

You migh try checking out the VAC List archives at for the thread on clearance lights:

Viintage Airstream Club Discussion List Archives

Good luck with your restoration!

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Old 03-10-2004, 11:14 PM   #11
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Thumbs up Excellent point

I gotta hand it to Kevin..
Quote:
they were one of the biggest leak culprits on the rear of my '64 Overlander when I first purchased the coach.
My line of thoughts exactly~
Not only that but, the aluminum is special for that era and, if perchance ever find you need to replace or repair a mistake..You're out of luck..
Polishing without those lights being in the way is something else to consider.
IMHO, I'd leave it as "original" but...having said all of that..I'd like to wish you good luck on your project~!!
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Old 03-11-2004, 02:32 AM   #12
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I haven't read the entire thread but that's not going to stop me!

Do not add the lights. Yeah, they look really cool. And would look sooo-ooo good......
Aside from not being stock on your trailer (and hey! It's yours, do what you like with it) is the DOT factor. Department of Transportation. In Iowa known as IDOT, which we sometimes refer to as Idiot. Anyhow, the rules for enforcement of motor vehicle laws says all lights on a vehicle MUST work. More lights means greater potential for being stopped by some Idiot office needing tickets issued.... simply because you have a light out. And once they got you for one thing, soon the list grows expotientialy (sic) Cut your exposure rate, and leave them off. Oh! And remember to stay in the right hand lane except when told to be in some other lane....

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Old 03-11-2004, 09:23 AM   #13
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Nice, good points from Kevin and Elizabeth (in Iowa)!

I think when it all gets boiled down, I remember how I would've preferred to have them driving our trailer home, through the snow, at 11 p.m. outsize Bozeman last December. The trucks were flying by me, and I felt like the GT was this big dark boulder, blocking everyone from seeing my taillights. I would even turn on my hazard lights as soon as I saw the tiny headlights coming up behind me.

So... while I'm definitely leaning towards adding them, the vulnerability to leaks and giving reasons to pull me over if one burns out - are both great points, and I'll weigh it carefully in making a final decision.

Thanks all!
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Old 03-11-2004, 12:07 PM   #14
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Bredlo,
There are other ways to make your rig visible.
Rework the original taillights, make them reeeaaaly bright, they have halogen bulbs available for the 1156/1157 series of bulbs.
Make sure the wiring is not corrodet, and that the grounding and bulb contacts are clean. Same with the trailer cord.
Another good way to go is to make the license light extra bright, it will illuminate a lot of the rear section of the trailer, giving plenty warning to vehicles approaching from the rear.
And, how about leaving on the light in the rear of the trailer, so that the window emits light.
Probably much more attention getting then the three little red lights on top.
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