’32 Update: headlight/shock mounts (article 21, archived)

Before I start this article, I want to say a few things about street rod parts. Most of the time, they are designed by the manufacturer to be installed in a specific orientation. Some parts are not. If the installer wants to mount something in a way not endorsed by, but also not discouraged by, the manufacturer, he (generic “human being”) should expect that the part may not work how it was intended to work. Things may not quite line up, or in this case, headlights may point heavenward … Read on…

We’ve liked this headlight/ shock mount combo from Pete & Jakes for a long time. We didn’t think about installing another bracket, because we like the curves and gracefulness. A stock ’32 headlight (the big one) has the mounting bolt coming out of the bottom at an angle of about 30 degrees towards the back. This means that when the bracket is mounted to the frame, the headlight mounting cone has to be tilted forwards at the same angle. Pete & Jakes designed the bracket to be mounted perpendicular to the ground at ride height (and I think for Dietz headlights with the mounting studs poking straight out the bottom). I held it up there, and thought I’d like it tilted back a bit, to match the caster of the axle (about 6 degrees). What I didn’t realize I was doing was bringing the angle of the cone more towards horizontal, and when the headlights are mounted, they’re more effective as airplane landing lights. I tried to modify them to work, but came up with an easier idea. The brackets are also designed to mount perpendicular off the frame rail. Because our frame is pinched, and because I’m kind of a sucker for details, I decided to trim a bit off the back side of the tube so the bracket mounts parallel to the axle (perpendicular to the centerline of the frame). Also, because we have the front c-notched, the bracket wouldn’t go on the back side of the shock because it was right over the c-notch. All that means is that the headlights will be an inch or two ahead of where Peter & Jacob meant them to be, which means there may be some tire interference.
So, all that said, these are still great looking brackets. I’d use them again. I didn’t use them as intended, so I spent more time making them work.

Instead of grinding, grinding, grinding, I ordered two new cones from Pete & Jakes and lopped off the old ones. I also figured out how much I could get away with taking off the mount to tuck the lights nice and close to the radiator shell. With the die grinder, I notched the end to accept the tapered, angled radius of the cone. I had to keep in mind that the headlight bolt couldn’t interfere with the shock which would be mounted right behind.

I know it looks screwed up. But I tacked the cone with it welded to the headlight, so I knew it was at the right angle. In this picture you can also see how much the front end needs to come down – the shock is set at ride height. Since we’re using the short shocks, and the shock mount bracket can’t come down any further on the frame, we’re going to have to figure out some other way of lowering the front end. I guess we COULD use regular shocks, but the shorties look so much… shorter. And I’ve never complained about having to go lower.

We have these monster 12″ long 5/8″ bolts around that I used to set up the other cone to the same angle as the first one.

While holding the bolt with one hand, and tacking with the other, I got it close and then tweaked them to match. You could use a threaded rod for the same effect.

It worked.

They’ll look lower when they’re off the lift. Before you finish weld anything, make sure that you can turn your wheels both ways!


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