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Headlight Reflector History

Before the introduction of the sealed light headlight bulbs on automobiles and trucks the next best way of adding the most light was the use of reflectors behind bulbs. In this way most of the light was not lost. It was “reflected” to get the most light to shine in one direction.

(This method is still used today on many hand-held flash lights)

The shape of reflectors are designed to push the otherwise lost light into one direction so all become concentrated in a straight line. To get the most reflection in the 1930’s was to plate the surface with silver and then add polishing. This is still considered as the best in reflection and is rated as 100%.

Unfortunately, silver has a problem! It soon begins to oxidize (tarnish) as it combines with oxygen in the air. Headlight reflectors are at their very best the day they are polished. They slowly lose their quality after that day!

To help slow this oxidation, auto and truck manufactures placed a non-metal rim seal around the perimeter of the reflectors to lessen air flow. After a few years the seals also began to deteriorate and then oxidation continued. Of course, with each bulb replacement the outside air entered and oxidation was increased.

Much of this occurred during our country’s “Great Depression”. Little disposable income existed and replacing reflectors was almost out of the question. Fortunately there was little night driving and fewer vehicles, plus speed was so much less during the pre-World War II years.

NOW enters the modern technology of the 21st century! Reflectors can now be made with no oxidation at much less cost than repairing originals and having them silver plated. New coatings cover reflectors with a micro-fine spray on aluminum that give a 92% reflective quality of silver. Once sealed with a clear coating there is no oxidation! They remain at 92%.

NOTE: Two of these reflectors are available from Jim Carter Truck Parts and several of their full stocking early GM truck suppliers.

1934-36 Chevy and 1936 GMC Truck. Part # LGL110, 8.25 diameter.  Available now uses 1929-34 32/32 candle bulbs
Part # LGL110 8.25 diameter

1937-39 Chevy GMC Truck.  Use with halogen 12 volt
H-4 bulbs.  That are included Part # LGL109 7.5 ” diameter.


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