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LED High Mount Brake/Turn Lights

Revised 4/21/06

This page has been created for the sole purpose of showing what I've done to my TD to give me some degree of protection from drivers who may have difficulty seeing Lazarus' low tail lights.  I have no idea as to the legality of this modification, so I certainly don't suggest that anyone else follow my example.

(Thumbnail images)

I'd been looking for a reasonably priced way to install a pair of LED light bars for use as high mounted brake and turn signal lights.  An ad from JCWhitney came along with a price that was low enough to tempt me ($6.99 each).  I ordered a pair of them for $20.97 including shipping. (JCW #124336)

Each bar contains 16 red LEDs behind a red plastic filter and is about 6" long and 1.5" wide.  It took a while to figure out a way to mount them onto the back of the TD so as to be visible from behind the car and up high enough to be seen in traffic.  What I decided to do was to make an adapter that would be held in place by the bolts that secure the fuel tank straps to the tub.  The ends of these bolts (2 per side) are normally capped off by chrome acorn nuts.  A trip to Home Depot came up with a piece of 1/16" thick aluminum angle stock, 1" on a side. that I cut into sections

The fuel tank bolts are 2" on center and the bracket is about 3" wide, so I cut a couple of notches in the bracket on 2" centers. I did this by drilling a pair of 11/32" holes 3/16" up from the edge and then use a file to create the notches. You can avoid scratching the tub if you slip the adapter between the fuel tank strap and the spare wheel carrier.  There's plenty of thread left on the bolt so that the 1/6" will have negligible effect.

It was necessary to move the LED bar out a bit on the bracket to space it away from the tub wood, otherwise it interferes with the lower edge of the hood.  Another lesson learned was that the back wall of the tub is not vertical.  I had to bend the top surface of the mount by what I estimate to be 10 degrees.  Here's what the assembly looks like before notching:

Going on it looks like this: (before the 10 degree bend).

The effect?

Initially the bars interfered with the tonneau cover, as seen above.  The solution was to remove some of the bracket metal outside of the fuel tank strap and across the top: and installed:

Wiring is really quite simple. LED devices are polarized, so you must be certain to wire them up properly.  In this case, there are two wires coming out of each bar; the black wire is the cathode of the LEDs and must be connected to the negative side of the circuit, the black and gray wire is the anode of the LEDs and must be connected to the positive side of the circuit.  If your car is wired in the original, positive ground, configuration you'll want to connect the black/gray wires to ground.  The black wires are then connected to the brake light wires, white/brown for right side and white/purple for left side.  Just reverse the wiring for a negative ground system, i.e., black to ground and black/gray to the brake lights.  The connections can easily be made on the frame, behind the left rear wheel.

How much current do they draw?  About 1.42 amps total for the pair, about 44 mA per LED.  A stop light switch would hardly notice the addition.  I must admit that they do look a lot neater than my previous solution.

  created April 7, 2006