Keep it Smooth – Installing Flush-Mount LED Taillights in Your Rod

May 19th, 2010

Who hasn’t wished for taillights that don’t detract from your street rod’s silhouette but light up super bright when you need them?

You’ve worked so hard to make all the lines on your street rod just right. It has required endless hours of staring at your car; not to mention, doodles on napkins and eyeing every car you pass on the road, but mostly it’s the numerous sheet metal modifications—both large and small—until everything is perfect. The last thing you want to do is ruin it with a set of brake lights that kill the sculptured look of the body you’ve worked so hard to perfect.
That’s why LED taillights that are mounted flush with the body of a car are becoming a popular option. LED technology means you can get a lot of light out of a small package, so they aren’t very obtrusive. Plus, flush-mount taillights can be sanded to actually follow the contours of your street rod, making them absolutely invisible in silhouette. Finally, although the lenses are red, a good painter can put a light coat of body-color paint over them when the car is painted to make the lenses virtually blend in with the rest of the metalwork.
Those are exactly the qualities Tom Elliott, shop owner of B.A.D. Co. Rods and Restorations, was looking for when he decided to install a set of flush-mount LED taillights in a ‘37 Chevy business coupe being built for a customer. This particular set is from Lambert Enterprises and includes the LEDs, lenses, some mounting hardware, and a very complete set of instructions. Lambert sells the LED kits in different lengths and sizes to fit your needs, as well as fiberglass housings to help mount the light kits and protect them from the elements.
Fabricator David Williams installed this kit in the Chevy, as well as a larger setup in a ’62 Chevy custom pickup, and says that installation isn’t overly difficult, but it does require patience and a lot of elbow grease. In order to properly install the lenses you should have some experience wet sanding a car. On this project Williams and Elliott spent the better part of two days installing four taillights. Most of the time was spent wet sanding the lenses until the joint where the sheet metal ended and the plastic lenses began was absolutely smooth. Once the extensive fabrication work is complete and the car is ready for paint, Elliott says he will tape off the lights for the majority of the paint work, then uncover them for a light coat of body-color paint (at this point, the plan is for metallic maroon), and then add several coats of clear to both the car and the lenses. Once that is complete, the taillights should be nearly invisible until the LEDs light up.

SOURCES

BAD Co. Rods & Restorations
Dept. WOR
1735 White Store Rd.
Monroe, NC  28112
704.622.9602

Lambert Enterprises
Dept. WOR
39 East Norris Rd.
Norris, TN  37828
865.494.9850
www.lambertenterprises.com

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