Tag Archive: Lights

As of spring of 2013, I’ve seen hundreds of Westinghouse solar lamps (item number 577105-08W) being sold at my local Wal-Mart for .97 cents apiece. The value of the components (battery, solar cell, LED) well exceeds the cost of the product, so I decided to pick up a few of them and see how well they perform.

When night fell, I noticed that the Westinghouse lamps were not as bright compared to my existing lamps, and for .97 cents, I really shouldn’t complain. I removed the light cap from the Westinghouse and from one of my existing lamps and laid them side by side for comparison. Both lights were outputting the same brightness. When holding the Westinghouse lamp over my existing fixture, the brightness was comparable to the other existing lamps that I had in my yard.

I believe I had the same problem with my existing fixtures when they were new. What happens after a couple years is that the plastic lens deteriorates from being in the hot sun. When it does, the lens develops a foggy look. The fogginess of the plastic acts as a diffuser and evenly distributes the light in all directions. LED’s shine in one direction, and that direction is down when used in most solar lighting applications.

So what is this all coming down to? Well, if you read my post about the Compaq Presario Power Light, you already know that I placed a piece of matte finish Scotch tape in front of the extremely bright power light to act as a diffuser. So why not try it with the Westinghouse solar lamps and see if it helps improve their visibility.

The lamps have a small amount of “neck” below the LED. This neck is perfect for applying some matte finish Scotch tape around it. I wrapped the tape around the neck twice making sure the tape completely covers the LED. (2/3 of the tape should cover the LED). When done, the tape resembled a straw with a LED in the middle. All I had to do now was wait until nighttime.

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The tape definitely helped, and the light looks brighter and can be seen from farther away. I was happy with the results, but the bottom-half of the lamp was still not well lit. I decided to improve the lamp by adding a straw inside the lens in order to help carry the light towards the bottom of the lamp. What I used was a clear wide straw from a fast food restaurant. (The Arby’s straws seem to work the best). I measured and cut off about 1¾ inches of the straw and then wrapped matte finish Scotch tape around the entire length of the straw in sections. Then I used some tape to hold the straw onto the base of the lamp, just below the LED.

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When night came, I was surprised at what I saw. Although the straw allows some light to reach the bottom of the lens, it does give the lamp a cool fade effect, kind of like a flame. The straw makes the solar lamp look almost like a bug zapper with a long thin line in the middle of the lens. Overall, the modifications were worth the time and effort.

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At one time we owned two Ford Aerostars- One being a ’92 with lots of optional features and the other being a ’95 with very few optional features, despite being a XLT model. Before the ’92 was towed away to the junkyard, I decided to take a look to see if there was anything that can be transferred to the ‘95. One of the easiest features to remove and install were the interior lights.

Disclaimer: Use the following information at your own risk! Always disconnect your battery when working on electrical components or anywhere near the airbag system!

Foot Well Lights: These lights are located under the dash right by the front doors. A single wire (hot) connects to the bulb while the bracket serves as the ground, connected to the frame of the dash. When installing, look for a single black wire with a connector at the end loosely taped to the wire harness. Remember to save the screw to be able to hold the light.

Glove Box Light: The light is easily removed by pushing the combination light/switch unit out of the holder. When installing in an Aerostar that wasn’t originally equipped with the glove box light, the wire maybe taped to the wire harness underneath the dash. This may require removing the glove box to gain access.

Dome Light with Map Lights: The following may vary from different models/years. The dome light is feed by two wires; one being the hot, the other being the ground. The map lights are fed by a third wire which is always hot since the dome light is hot only when the door is open. If this third wire is not present, you will need to run a wire from the hot terminal of the car battery to be able to use the map lights. You will also need to install a fuse between the two points to protect the electrical system.

Rear Dome Light with Switch: This rear dome light contains a switch to turn the light on/off when the door is opened/closed, always keep the light on, or always keep the light off.

Disclaimer: Use the following information at your own risk! Always disconnect your battery when working on electrical components or anywhere near the airbag system!

I was cleaning out my glove box one day when I noticed a light socket underneath the dash. I installed a light bulb and it didn’t light up. I looked all around the glove box, but didn’t find any switches. To my understanding, Ford must have dropped the glove box light starting with the 1997 model to cut costs. They probably didn’t want to modify the wire harness so they left the light socket in and the light switch out. At my next visit to Pull-A-Part, I found the switch (actually a push button) behind the glove box of a 1995 Contour. It was located down by the passenger’s foot well.

Before the switch can be installed, the wires for the switch have to be cut in order to feed the wires though the little mounting hole since the plug on the switch doesn’t fit. Push the switch into the mounting hole until it snaps into place. Don’t connect the wires back together yet. You might run into a problem during the install process later on.

The other end of the plug is located underneath the dash on the passenger’s side. To get to it, you must drop the glove box down to the floor. I did not detach mine but you might want to if you need more room. Remove the four screws that secure the liner in place. Remove the liner carefully by pulling it straight out. Remove the light socket from the liner by twisting the base. From underneath the dash, move the vent duct that goes to the passenger side vent. You should see a plug with two wires cable tied to the frame underneath the passenger side air bag. Disconnect your battery and wait several minutes before working around the air bag! Cut the cable tie with wire cutters. The plug will be lowered. Put the vent duct back in place.

If the plug does not reach the switch, you may have to extend the wiring on the switch. Use a pair of wires long enough to reach between the switch and the plug under the dash. Crimp one end to the switch and the other to the plug that was originally on the switch. Make sure no bare wires are showing.

Run the switch plug up the right side of the glove box following a nearby wire harness. Connect the switch plug to the plug under the dash. Install a type 194 light bulb and reconnect your battery. The light should now light. Make sure your light goes off by pressing the switch. Using cable ties, tie the wire that goes to the switch to the nearby wire harness located on the right side of the glove box. Make sure the wires for the switch that you just installed are tidy and will not get in the way of moving parts. Insert the glove box light socket into the liner and snap the liner into place. Insert the screws for the liner, attach the glove box door and pop it back in place. Close the glove box door, making sure the light goes out before it latches.

Disclaimer: Use the following information at your own risk! Always disconnect your battery when working on electrical components or anywhere near the airbag system!

The original visors in my 97 Contour did not have lights beside the mirrors. I wanted to replace my driver side visor because whoever had the car before burnt a hole into it with their cigarette, so I went down to Pull-A-Part looking for a replacement. All the cars there with a tan interior had lights in the visors. So I decided to buy a pair of visors with lights.

Removing the caps off the screws for the visor mounts is a little tricky. I took a small flat blade screwdriver and bent the tip about 40 degrees. This serves as a pry tool to remove the caps. Some scuffing around the visor mounts may occur. I also came across another problem; there was no wire harness for the visor lights, at least in my car. After another stop at Pull-A-Part, I found out that the wire harness for the visor lights went to the dome light wire harness, spliced into the dome light connectors. I couldn’t remove the wire harness because it was attached to a support underneath the liner. Sure, it’s a junked car and I could rip the liner apart to get to it, but then I would have to do the same to my car.

This is what I did… I took some wire I had lying around in my garage and fished it though the holes where the visors attach to, over to the dome light. On the visor end of the wire, I crimped a male and a female connector to correspond to the connectors on the visors. Where the visor wires come out by the dome light, I twisted each side of the visor wires together, making sure the polarity matched, and crimped a male connector on one and a female connector on the other. I also created two homemade “Y” adapters and crimped on connectors so that they would plug into the dome light wire harness. One wire will go to the dome light, the other going to the visors. I also took a short piece of wire and crimped a male connector on one end and a female on the other. This will serve as an extension for the 12 second delay connector. I did all of this so I wouldn’t have to cut the old connectors off of the dome light wire harness.

Connecting and wiring will be hard, lengthy, and probably confusing in my own words if I wrote it out. I have drawn a diagram below to help simplify installation of the visor lights as well as creating “Y” adapters if you wish to install lighted visors in your Contour. After connecting the wire connectors together, remember to apply electrical tape around each wire connector so the connector doesn’t short to the frame of the car. An alternate is to use wire connectors that have a plastic boot molded around the connector. Make sure you DO NOT reverse wires 3 and 4 or otherwise the 12 second delay will always be on and the map lights/visors lights will relay on the 12 second delay circuit!

I was at Pull-A-Part one day, removing and installing the instrument clusters in some Contours for some practice. I took an instrument cluster and removed all the lights from the back. I held it up towards the sun. I discovered three indicators that were not used and were not listed in the Ford manual.

 All three unused indicators are located on the bottom right strip below the gas gauge. The only indicator on that strip that is used is the “overdrive off”, unless you have a manual transmission.

            1               2              3               4

1.)    Safety Belt Reminder – This indicator is already used at the top of the cluster. This light should have been a door ajar light since the Contour doesn’t have one.

2.)    Strut – ???

3.)    Sport – ???

4.)    Overdrive Off – Overdrive turned off for the automatic transmission.

If anybody can provide me some information about these unused indicators, please leave a comment.