Thursday, July 28, 2016

High Beam Heaven

One of the things about old cars is that they have controls that are, shall we say, "unique".  In this case, I'm talking about the high beam switch.

It was common in the 50's and 60's to use a foot-operated high beam switch instead of a stalk operated one.  That's what I have.  What's funny, though, is that I can still flash the high beams with the stalk.  I guess the designer was afraid that too much current through the switch (because relays? What were those?) would melt it.

Here's the switch and base after 50+ years of neglect.

It's a neat little thing.  The button operates a spring loaded plunger to engage a toggle that flips the output from one terminal to the other.  Simple and effective, but mine has gotten sticky.  I can buy a replacement, but I wanted to see what was inside this thing.  (Obviously, I found out, otherwise I couldn't have told you how it works).

So I disassembled and cleaned up the switch.  Getting the button off was a pain as it's held in place with crimps that aren't easy to undo.  But here's what's inside.

What's neat about this switch is that the big spring controls the plunger, and the little spring controls the actual toggling.  So, you get good resistance until you reach the point where you engage the toggle to flip, and the switch goes 'click'.  The plunger has to return so the toggle can find the other position when it's time to change back.  It also keeps you from engaging the switch arbitrarily (because you rested your foot on it, since the switch is where the dead pedal would be).

All together now...

Works like a champ.  A little white lithium grease to free up the toggle and it's like new.  It works, too.

EDIT: Here's the finished product.

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