’32 Update: License Plate Lights (article 54)

Even though I don’t understand why, license plate lights are an essential.  I have decided to withhold my rant on license plate lights and the frustrations they presented me, the “installer”.

OK, just a little one: Anyone I’ve asked why I need a license plate light has told me one of the following:

“They’re for the police to see your license plate in the dark”
“I think it’s so the police can see your license plate if you’re speeding away in the dark”
“You know, when it’s dark out, and the police like want to see if your license has expired or whatever?”
“If you’re driving all day and you don’t notice the sun has gone down and you don’t remember turning your headlights on but wait they turn on automatically so of course you wouldn’t have noticed and you get to the border at Detroit and they ask what your license plate is but you can’t remember so you get out of the car and walk to the back of the car only to discover that the power has gone out at the border and there are no lights there so you can’t see your license plate so now you’re unable to tell the border guard your license plate so you get turned around and are headed for home again and oh crap there’s a cop behind you with his lights on and he pulls you over for not having a license light but just then his car battery dies and he is unable to shine his headlights on your license plate to check if your tag is expired and he accidentally forgot his flashlight back at the station plus there is a total eclipse of the moon tonight so there is no light anywhere.”

I made that last one up.  My point is this: there will always be a light to see your license plate, and any bad guy knows that if the only thing between getting away and getting caught is a license plate light, they would spend the big bucks and snip the wires going to the light, or just remove the bulb.

So why do you think we have license plate lights?  You can comment at the end of this post.


These stupid little lights in the spreader bar took FOREVER to decide how to make.  Not that it took a long time to actually fabricate them – it took a long time to decide the cleanest/tidyest/smallest way to do it.  Here’s what we came up with.

The main reason it took so long is because I didn’t want wires showing behind the license plate and because of how the plate is mounted, that proved difficult.  We tried Lite N Bolts, and while nicely made, the wires head straight out the back of the units and I had a hard time wrapping them back and down the back side of the plate.  I bought a few LED lights and was going to make up a battery operated thingy that would be almost like a louver on top of the plate, but then “we” decided it would be best to have the lights come on with the tail lights.  So then I started on the idea which became the final product.  I put a small bend in a piece of 3/8″ stainless fuel line (for a nice radius) then cut out a small section of the bend and notched one end the diameter of the spreader bar.  The other end I cut almost square.  I laid the two tiny pieces of fuel line on the spreader bar in line with the license plate bolts, marked the position and drilled holes in the spreader bar where the “housings” would be.  By this time, we had bought two 12 volt LED lights from Watson’s.  I made sure the lights would slip into the housings (and pull all the way through in case of a problem) then I tig welded them to the spreader bar.  There are two wires coming out of the LED… one for ground, and one for power… just like every other light.  I extended the wires and ran the grounds to a 1/4″ bolt I welded to the inside of the spreader bar at the passenger side frame rail.  I ran the power wires through a little hole at about 5:00 on the bottom of the spreader bar, then up into the body and spliced into the tail light wires. I used some silicon “goop” to hold the lights in place.

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