I spent a few evenings reworking the tail-lights in my 88 1/2 Samurai.  Please note that their existing condition should be attributed to the previous owner, not me.  (c:

Despite replacing the entire truck's old wiring harness with a nice, clean, pretty one, my tail-lights were still so dim I couldn't even see them in daylight.  The pig-tails to the sockets were a mess, with taped connections, and wires ripped out of the sockets.  The lenses were broken, held together with silicon sealer, and missing large pieces.





I thought they were unrepairable, mostly due to the wires being ripped out of the sockets.  I couldn't see any way to solder a new wire into those little black rubber plugs.

But I found a miracle!  Push on that rubber plug with a ball-point pen, and the whole thing pops out the front:





This means the entire wiring pigtail be can be replaced.  Melt the solder holding the old wire to the little circuit board, and pull it out:





Strip 1/8" of insulation from the ends of your new wires, tin them, and solder them to the boards (this wire was tinned, I promise):







For the two-wire brake circuits, you'll need to add some heatshrink to the spring to keep it from shorting out the new wires.  You'll also need to squeeze that part of the spring to a smaller diameter, because the heatshrink will make it too fat to fit back into the light [not shown here].  Note: Pay attention to which wire is which, or you'll end up with your brake/parking lights swapped.





The ground wires were more trouble.  Pry open the top crimp, snip off the wire flush with the bottom crimp (which I couldn't get open), and sand the metal before soldering in the new wires.







The plastic housing does not have a reflector for the parking/brake light.  Since I needed all the help I could get, I sprayed it with chrome paint for extra brightness.  It turned out shinier than the reflectors, so I painted those too.  Be sure to tape over the sockets so paint doesn't get in them. Then use a wire brush (I used a battery clamp brush) to clean the inside of the sockets, where the bulb goes.





Here is the finished housing. [Note: make your ground wires, between the sockets, longer than mine by a couple of inches.  I had to bend the tabs down to get enough slack to fit around the truck frame.]  I used spade connectors since my truck is missing the proper plugs.



A wire wheel makes quick work of cleaning up the corroded old bulbs:







Lastly, I used super-glue gel, red tail-light repair tape from Walmart, and clear packing tape to repair the lens.  First I washed the pieces I had, and glued them together.  I covered the red portions (which had faded to orange) and missing areas with a layer of red tape.  Then I went over the entire lens and around the back & sides with the packing tape, which I have learned is pretty weather-proof, if it goes in a nice clean surface.  You can barely see the missing piece on the lower left corner of the brake light.  The packing tape is invisible when not using a flash.  My father-in-law thought I had installed new lenses.



Here is the final result, parking lights and then hazard lights:





The brake lights are even brighter, but I couldn't get a picture by myself.  I consider it a great success, and they'll work great until I'm ready to upgrade to a new bumper with LEDs.

 

Credits

This article was originally written by iStormy off Zuwharrie and was used with his permission.

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