Retractable Underhood Light - Ford Bronco Forum
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-19-2019, 10:44 AM Thread Starter
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Retractable Underhood Light

So I stumbled upon one of the retractable underhood lights from the 80s at the JY yesterday. Seems info on these is few and far between. So I'd like anyone with info on these to chime in

These lights came on Ford trucks in the 80s. Mine is an 82 revision. They were apparently part of two option groups: the lighting group and the underhood toolbox group. Lariats automatically got the lighting group. Similar versions came on Jeeps from the same era. A different design came on heavy GM trucks and some suburbans, and its arguably better, due to not relying on a spring to retract, and use a crank lever instead.

As mentioned, the spring is a weak point. These can be opened up and repaired, but it requires drilling out the tiny rivets holding the case halves together.

They contain a mercury switch, that shuts them off when the hood is closed. This can cause problems with battery drain if you park on a steep hill.

I have read of guys removing the mercury switch and wiring it to a toggle switch. I've also seen guys replace the incandescent bulb with a LED.

The actual lamp head has a magnet so it sticks onto any metal surface. There is something like 20 feet of cord, so the lamp will reach any point on the vehicle.



A little window cleaner and Back to Black cleaned the case up real well.



Most of the bulb covers are hazy, glazed, or broken. Be careful removing and cleaning them. I took mine off and used the same glass cleaner on it, inside and out. Then some mothers aluminum polish to really crisp it up. Mine was in considerably good shape.

Before


After


Wiring these is simple. The 80s trucks already have a connection in the wiring harness, to the right of the brake booster. Otherwise, it just needs a 12v source, whether switched or constant (your choice) and a ground. It mounts to the hood bracing with two screws.

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Last edited by BigBlue 94; 05-19-2019 at 10:47 AM.
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-19-2019, 12:31 PM
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Yo Big,
For posterity,
Under-Hood, Mercury Removal Guide, Bronco, Ford, 70-95, etc. @ https://ecology.wa.gov/Regulations-P...switch-removal
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-19-2019, 01:18 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miesk5 View Post
Yo Big,
For posterity,
Under-Hood, Mercury Removal Guide, Bronco, Ford, 70-95, etc. @ https://ecology.wa.gov/Regulations-P...switch-removal
I think that's why you dont find these very often, as they are simply removed
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-19-2019, 01:34 PM
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got one of them in my shed i got from junkyard long time ago. one day ill install it. also got one with a crank from some other vehicle.
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-19-2019, 02:46 PM
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Wow, nice find, shes a beauty
congrats

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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-19-2019, 06:09 PM
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Old Nissan/Datsun Z-cars had a small lamp and cord. I never knew Fords had them. Cool, something else to look for in JY.
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-19-2019, 06:32 PM
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That's a sweet find, pretty neat. The junkyard by me has a few 80s ford trucks in the lot so maybe ill go take a look.....
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-19-2019, 06:40 PM Thread Starter
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This is the first one I've seen in probably 30 to 40 or so 80s fords in the yards. Good luck to anyone searching.

This one was at an actual Pick-N-Pull.

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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-19-2019, 07:18 PM
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Retractable Underhood Light

Both my 85 and 86 have them. Kind of cool. I have a $10 LED flashlight that puts out more light then 10 of them though; and it’s cordless

Nice job cleaning yours up.

They also have a magnet on one side for holding the light while in use.

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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-19-2019, 09:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by biggum View Post
Both my 85 and 86 have them. Kind of cool. I have a $10 LED flashlight that puts out more light then 10 of them though; and it’s cordless

They also have a magnet on one side for holding the light while in use.
I have flashlights scattered around the house and in each vehicle, and half the time I grab one, the batteries are dead... It's especially bad with the ones in the vehicles, as their batteries tend to get cooked in the sun and leak.

So, while the retractable underhood light tech may be old, it's way more useful for its intended purpose, IMO.
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-19-2019, 11:10 PM
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My dad's '86 truck came with one that still works perfectly, but the one on my Bronco had a stuck spring; I almost ground up the light in the fan at one point.

That's interesting about the tool box and the light being a combined option, as my dad's '80 truck has the under hood tool box, but no light to be found...looks like I'll have to find one
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-20-2019, 09:22 AM
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Here's a useful post from another forum:

https://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/1...t-install.html

If you Google "retractable underhood light" you'll find all kinds of info. on the Ford and GM style ans well as many others. They can currently be had for as low as $15 via eBay depending on the type/make. DO a search and check it out if you're looking for an OEM setup. Obviously, there are TONS of new aftermarket things that are universal, but some of the OEM ones are out there at a decent price if that's what you're after.
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-20-2019, 10:24 AM
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^ Typical prices appear to be in the $40-50 range, but perhaps $15 is doable with enough searching.

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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-20-2019, 10:44 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by csilvestri View Post
Here's a useful post from another forum:

https://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/1...t-install.html

If you Google "retractable underhood light" you'll find all kinds of info. on the Ford and GM style ans well as many others. They can currently be had for as low as $15 via eBay depending on the type/make. DO a search and check it out if you're looking for an OEM setup. Obviously, there are TONS of new aftermarket things that are universal, but some of the OEM ones are out there at a decent price if that's what you're after.
Lol that's the thread I got most my info from!

I'm really considering an LED replacement bulb to brighten it up.

ITT is the company that made both Ford and Jeep/AMC ones.

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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-20-2019, 11:36 AM
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The biggest issue I've had with these is that they're just an area light, since they don't have a focal point. Useful if you need to just be able to see, but not if you need to look at something in particular. But they sure are cool, and at this point, a lot of these things are simply about the cool, rarity factor.

I never thought about switching to an LED, so maybe I'll try that.

My '81 and '85 both came with the underhood light while my '84 only came with the simple underhood bulb. None of them came with the underhood toolbox (had to put that in myself).

Opening them up is pretty easy as you just drill out the rivets and then close it back up with either new rivets, or little bolts/nuts so you can easily open it back up.
On my '81, the mercury switch had rusted and broken, so I just wired it solid and put in a toggle switch. Unfortunately, it's actually more likely that you'll drain your battery with it, since it's easy to forget to switch it back off, but it works. :)

The hardest thing to fix is when they no longer retract. My brother has one in his '95 Jeep Cherokee that is all unraveled and he has it wrapped up and held with a zip tie. He's thinking of opening it up and just removing the retractor and installing a hand crank so he can just roll it up himself.

Either way, cool find!
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post #16 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-20-2019, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by fodder View Post
^ Typical prices appear to be in the $40-50 range, but perhaps $15 is doable with enough searching.

The eBay item number for the $15 one is: 283481978401
It is the suction cup version, but it is New Old Stock and I assume you could remove the suction cup and add a magnet... who knows.
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post #17 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-20-2019, 05:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by csilvestri View Post
The eBay item number for the $15 one is: 283481978401
It is the suction cup version, but it is New Old Stock and I assume you could remove the suction cup and add a magnet... who knows.
I didn't catch that one, since it was listed under Hobbs instead of GM/Chevy/Ford. That's the way to find the best deals...stuff that isn't listed under the best terms and most people miss it! Less so now that most stuff has gone away from true auction listings, though.

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post #18 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-20-2019, 05:24 PM
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you could put a toggle in line also that way it could be turned off and on and still function like oem. or your could put a button switch like a fridge or trunk. hood closed light off hood open light on. led would be good idea. I would do a toggle and button switch and swap to led.
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