Any tips on how to get headlights, and tail lights working on a '61 Fligntliner

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Wanted33

Finally riding a big boys bike
Oct 6, 2019
180
66
Concord, NC
I'm near through with the old Flightliner, but I have no experience on repairing non working lights, and even the horn. The light/horn tray in the front is in pretty good condition, but I don't seem to be getting good contact to get the stuff working after cleaning the contact points. One light will barely shine with new the batteries, and the horn is dead as a doorknob. The rear light tray while in good shape outward, inside the rust did a number on the contact plate that holds the bulb in the middle. After cleaning, and soaking it in rust remover it's still pitted quite badly. Any advice on how to attack this is appreciated.

Jim
 

AndyA

Finally riding a big boys bike
Nov 24, 2017
179
72
bergen county
Jim:
I had a 1960 Flightliner when I was 12 years old. As I recall, the electrical system never worked well. Those big D batteries rattled around, so contact was always sketchy. The little headlight bulbs hardly put out any light. So, getting them to work on a vintage bikes will be a challenge. Contact with the batteries is essential; you need to clean the contact points on the battery holder with emery cloth or something similar. It's also possible that the wiring is crusty. You could try replacing the wires with heavier gauge stuff. In any case, the stock equipment is just for fun. If you're actually going to ride at night, you need to use an LED highlight and an LED taillight that use quick attachments to the handlebars and seat post.
Have fun
 
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rustystone2112

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Feb 7, 2014
2,131
58
IRVINE CA.
It's just a loop , all you need to do is find where the break in the circle is. Many times it's the switch not closing the loop, if it's not to crusty you can fix them sometimes with a can of spray electrical contact cleaner.
 
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39zep

Finally riding a big boys bike
Oct 10, 2007
426
Mission Viejo, United States
If you post some detailed pictures, I would be happy to give you my 2 cents.
 
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Wanted33

Finally riding a big boys bike
Oct 6, 2019
180
66
Concord, NC
Thanks for the help folks. Andy, the old boy won't be ridden much, and I guess I was hoping to get them fixed just for bragging rights. :) Rusty, I tired cleaning the contacts with an old points file I had in the toolbox. I'll go over them again, and I didn't even think of the switch being a culprit. I'll get the contact cleaner out, and work on that. Zep, not thinking I didn't take any pictures. But, since we are basically quarantined I certainly have a little time to get some. Of course that will be as soon as I can clear some of my honey-do list of chores. Should be tomorrow as I've been ordered to level the stove as soon as I'm through here. :cool:
 
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Wanted33

Finally riding a big boys bike
Oct 6, 2019
180
66
Concord, NC
@39zep , I was able to grad a few while in the basement gathering up some leveling tools. I didn't get any of the switch, and horn as that involves removing the tank to get to them. later I hope.

That's the back plate that the rust has destroyed.

100_5028.JPG


100_5029.JPG


And the front battery holder

100_5032.JPG
 
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rustystone2112

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Feb 7, 2014
2,131
58
IRVINE CA.
tail light is missing the contact that the end of the bulb is supposed to touch . drill out the rusty battery contact opposite the switch and make a contact for the bulb and reattach with a small nut & screw
 
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Andrew Gorman

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jun 15, 2008
3,030
Pasadena (Hastings Ranch), United States
Steel makes a lousy conductor for a 1.5 to 3 volt system. I've had success with replacing the contacts with brass and using large diameter stranded wire to create the circuit. The original switches were not good when new and have usually failed. These systems were not good, even when new. Putting in a modern battery box is an easy short cut and won't show. Best but non-original set up is just to convert to LEDs, so you actually have light rather than a dim yellow glow that goes out when you hit a bump.
 
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Wanted33

Finally riding a big boys bike
Oct 6, 2019
180
66
Concord, NC
tail light is missing the contact that the end of the bulb is supposed to touch . drill out the rusty battery contact opposite the switch and make a contact for the bulb and reattach with a small nut & screw
Rusty @rustystone2112 by contact do you mean a small piece of strip metal bolted to the battery contact, and over to the end of the bulb?
 

Wanted33

Finally riding a big boys bike
Oct 6, 2019
180
66
Concord, NC
Steel makes a lousy conductor for a 1.5 to 3 volt system. I've had success with replacing the contacts with brass and using large diameter stranded wire to create the circuit. The original switches were not good when new and have usually failed. These systems were not good, even when new. Putting in a modern battery box is an easy short cut and won't show. Best but non-original set up is just to convert to LEDs, so you actually have light rather than a dim yellow glow that goes out when you hit a bump.
@Andrew Gorman, Andrew, I'm quite electrically challenged. The modern plastic battery boxes I've seen have two wire running from them. Where would I attach these to make it work? And, of course I'm completely out in left field when it come to converting anything to LED.
 
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Andrew Gorman

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jun 15, 2008
3,030
Pasadena (Hastings Ranch), United States
LED conversion is probably easier than making the incandescents work again. Take a look at some antique flashlight repair videos and you will get the basics. DC circuits are super easy to understand.
 
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rustystone2112

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Feb 7, 2014
2,131
58
IRVINE CA.
Rusty @rustystone2112 by contact do you mean a small piece of strip metal bolted to the battery contact, and over to the end of the bulb?
Yes, and all 4 battery contacts must be isolated with the fibre shoulder washers to keep them separate from the switch & battery tray

DFA4E2C7-46B2-46C8-9501-9801B57F2762.jpeg
 
Last edited:

Wanted33

Finally riding a big boys bike
Oct 6, 2019
180
66
Concord, NC
Yes, and all 4 battery contacts must be isolated with the fibre shoulder washers to keep them separate from the switch & battery tray

DFA4E2C7-46B2-46C8-9501-9801B57F2762.jpeg
Thanks Rusty. That's what I saw in my old mushy brain. Looks easy enough
 

Wanted33

Finally riding a big boys bike
Oct 6, 2019
180
66
Concord, NC
LED conversion is probably easier than making the incandescents work again. Take a look at some antique flashlight repair videos and you will get the basics. DC circuits are super easy to understand.
Thanks Andrew. It's YouTube to the rescue. I'll look at some vids.
 

rustystone2112

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Feb 7, 2014
2,131
58
IRVINE CA.
Thanks Rusty. That's what I saw in my old mushy brain. Looks easy enough
No problem. Just remember the metal strip can not touch the mounting bracket , it must be isolated like the switch side and the contacts at the other end . The switch closes the loop completing the circuit. The battery tray is the ground thats why the battery contacts must be isolated.
 
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