The Appleton Spotlights have been used on countless 40’s and 50’s Custom Cars. They are not being produced anymore, so if you find a set they most likely need to be restored. Manual Reyes shows you how to!
By Manuel Reyes
The last time I disassembled an Appleton Spotlight, I decided to document every step of what is needed to do this. I took as much photos of the process as I thought would be helpful. These photos should visually explain how these Spotlights go apart and after cleaning/plating, go back together. I spent hours studying these Spotlights to understand how they where put together, before taking them totally apart. Bottom line, they were engineered very well, strong, and basically simple in their electrical connections,which is basically one continous contact, from switch through to the bulb. You have to be careful not to disturb how the electrical works, so you can re-assemble them properly. There were 2 connections for the wires on each end of the spots that could have been just cut off, but then I would have had to lengthen the wires. I decided to melt off the existing solder with a soldering gun and when it came time, I just re-soldered them back.
Most of the parts are connected with screws, but to remove the mounting plates from the buckets you have to drill out the rivets holding them together. When reassembling them I used stainless steel hex machine screws which I polished to a high polish. Looks like chrome when done. You really don’t notice that they’re not rivets. I looked at restored Appleton’s on high quality customs and that’s what they used. Great care should be taken thru-out the process of taking apart the spotlights and I advise to take plenty of pictures, so you’ll know how to put them back together later.
What stage of taking apart your spots are you at? I have about 40 pictures of my spots as I was tearing them down. All are close-up and many have notes regarding how to attach certain parts. I took all these pictures because I was sure I’d forget how they all went back together after chroming. As it was, it took my buddy to help me re-solder the wires back into their original location. I held all together while he soldered. Also, my buckets needed some dings removed plus block sanding the copper on the buckets several times until they looked good.
Anyhow, let me know where you’re at on the project so I can attach some helpful photos, or I can e-mail all the photos in batches.
I’m helping because I spent too much time restoring my spots and it just pays to help others from what I learned.
The Appleton Spotlight
Lets first take a look at the assembled Spotlight before we take it apart. As you can see below, we took plenty of pictures from all angles which we can refer to when its time to get the cleaned up, repaired or chrome plated parts assembled again.
Taking apart the handle
The plastic handle screws of with two screws. One at the end of the handle, and one on top of the metal part. (The screws are not visible in this picture), but the diagram above shows you which two screws need to be remove so that the handle can be taken off.
A small screw removes the plastic light switch from the metal handle. The small screw removed the top portion of the switch. A second screw holds the actual metal switch, once this is removed the whole unit comes off.
Removing the shaft
Removing the bucket handle
Removing the bucket
The metal ring around the bucket, holding the glass in place, is attached with a small screw. The ring is not shown in these photos, but can be seen in the complete dissembled spotlight photo at the end of the article. The light bulb and reflector can now be popped out.
The bucket bracket is the only part that is pop riveted to the bucket. These pop rivets need to be drilled out carefully to be able to remove the bracket. The light bulb socket is removed from the reflector unit. This photo shows the section of the bracket that is held against the bucket.
Here is a photo of a set of mine when I got them back from the chrome platers. Plenty of tiny parts that can get lost during the process. I gave the plater a picture of mine all torn apart, with each part clearly showing. This way we could verify I got all the pieces back.
Addition from May 21, 2015.
David Wolk, another CCC-Member shared with us that when he restored a set of Appleton S-552’s for his 1950 Mercury, he found a way to replace the rivets on the base of the buckets.
This is what he mentioned:
I’ve recently been restoring a set of 552 appletons and I’ve struggled in my mind with replacing the rivets. I bought rivets but I was afraid of damaging or dinging the re-chromed housings. A couple weeks ago I found this website Restoration Stuff they sell smooth headed stainless steel screws that look like rivets. See page 40 of their catalog. They call them threaded rivets. I purchased #4-40 rivets (screws) with lock washers, flat washers and enough nuts to double nut the screws. I spent less than $10 and don’t have to worry about damaging anything.
Check out the CCC-Article one how to install Spotlights from even more information.
We have also created a CCC-Forum post about how to install the Appleton Spotlight.
This is THE PLACE to find more information, or ask any question about the installation, restoration or any other questions about the Spotlights.
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