Monday, October 13, 2014

More Vintage Hot Rod Dashes From 1961 (Custom Craft)

1961 Custom Craft, November

This is an interesting article that features not one, but two Stewart Warner Hollywood gauge panels, and both are using the Sun Tach. That should tell you about the problems that SW had with it's electric tachometer business in the late-50's, early sixties.

Interestingly enough, this panel is using the Sun Tach AND an electric SW speedometer, which is curious since the SW tach and the SW speedo are based on the same technology, yet they still went with the Sun instrument.

Here you see, again, a Sun Tach in a Hollywood panel...

All Stewart Warner, from gauge to panel, except the Sun gauge. At least the speedo is a regular, non-electric instrument.

It's very telling that you would see, consistently, this arrangement; pure SW, and a Sun tachometer. This tach gave Sun foothold in the aftermarket gauge market, breaking the Stewart Warner stranglehold.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Dashboard Lights: Part Five, The Signal Indicator Corporation

Not much is known today about the Signico Company today. They seemed to be one of the war cottage industries, that supplied equipment for military and electronic use, then fell by the wayside due to better-funded competitors.

One cool aspect of their light designs was that hot rod double-step in the bezel, both in the lens bezel and the holder as well. This gave it more of a true beehive styling appearance, and it stood out from Dialco, Gothard, Drake and the others. These are VERY hard to find, only a handful have crossed my collection.

It's too bad they at least didn't hold on to their New York building till today (16 Hudson St., downtown Mahattan); you're looking at tens of millions in value... that'll buy a lot of faceted glass!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Dashboard Lights: Part Four, The Mallory - Yaxley Company

By the 1940's, Mallory was already a well-known manufacturer of capacitors, and with their merger with Yaxley, they became a multi-faceted producer of many radio parts, including lights.

1940 Mallory Yaxley catalog

Formed in 1916, by P.R. Mallory, the company was a real pioneer in battery technology, becoming associated with Duracell later in the Century. In 1931, they acquired the Yaxley Company, and became a full-line producer of radio parts, including the jeweled light style pictured above.
It's a 3/8" style, with a rich red faceted jewel, and is easily interchanged with a 6 or 12-volt bulb for your hot rod dash.

Mallory Factory in Indianapolis
Although they didn't produce much, if any of the wider range of light styles that some of the other spotlighted companies did, in the end they were one of the most successful, leading the way in battery technology.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Dashboard Lights: Part Three, The E.F. Johnson Company

Like many of the light companies spotlighted in this series, E.F. Johnson's roots were in radio. Founded in 1923 by its namesake, this is another example of a company that responded to the market. These were initially built for radios, but were also easily adapted to light boards or dashes, as they could accommodate 6 or 12 volt bulbs and related current.

The example above is a beautiful red-glass lensed light in the 3/4" size. It has the "beehive" step around the bezel, signifying its older age. Of course, being based out of Minnesota, their mascot is a Viking!

The company was the pride of Waseca, branching out into as many fields as their equipment could support

They also made Morse keys...

and CB Radios.

 E.F. Johnson finally sold itself in 1997 to software manufacturer Transcrypt International, ending the manufacturing of its varied and unique lines.
But when their other vintage products are no longer functioning, and the repair parts have evaporated, their simple, but beautiful lights will shine on!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Dashboard Lights: Part Two, The Drake Manufacturing Company

Drake occupies a special niche, as it will forever be known as the "Fender Amp Light". 
Yes, that beautiful little jewel, that comes to light as the big tubes warm up, was made by the Drake company for many years, and it's amazing how a single faceted glow of color can be so evocative of the past...

These amp lights were the 11/16" size. They also made a 3/8" as well, and either one worked great for dashboards...

Again, they were beautifully crafted, with rich colors, and were yet another vestige of the great but disappearing Chicago manufacturing base, along with Stewart Warner and others.

Drake lasted from the war years until 1972, but their memory will live on for as long as we remember our first hot rod, and our favorite great guitarists...

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Dashboard Lights: Part One, The Gothard Pilot Light Assembly Company

In the beginning, there was glass.

There were a few notable entries in the dash and accessory light business in the 1940's. Gothard, Drake, Dialco, Cole Hersee were a few of the bigger ones, and they produced similar styles, all with individual touches, all with their strengths and weaknesses.

1944 Gothard Catalog

Gothard was a pioneer. One of their design "flares" was that little six-sided bezel. The other companies had a circle bezel. I actually dig the more industrial look that Gotham produced.
The overall design is, as I mentioned above, fairly standard, and because the product is pretty uniform among the companies, it became a battle of sales and attrition, and unfortunately, Gothard succumbed, losing a lawsuit which strained company finances, and led to their sale to the Sangamo Electric Company in 1954.