Works Rally driving light mounts

  Works rally cars always ran auxiliary lights, so this naturally played into my rally car replica theme.  Driving light stanchions come in many variations and are available from a number of notable sources.  Given that, one might ask why I bothered to make my own.  The answer is that I was looking for something that was robust to the extreme, functional, and elegant in a utilitarian kind of way.   

In studying the many driving light mounts that are running around in the Healey world, I didn't find any that really met all of my objectives to the degree that I wanted.  So how did I address my goals?  The first design point was to make them robust to the extreme.  Since my rally replica will be running without front bumpers, as most all the the later rally cars did if the rules allowed it, I thought that the stanchions could serve double duty of mount and a bit of protection.  To that end I made mine out of 1/4" steel that is gusseted to provide more rigidity.  Those in turn are welded to 3/8" steel plates attached to the original frame bumper brackets.  The result is an extremely rigid piece that should take a nasty smack before flexing to allow impact with the shroud.  I hope to never test this, but it does provide a bit of reasurance that I've provided some protection.  The other reason for making them extremely rigid is to prevent driving light shake.  I had driving lights on my first Healey and, while they looked great, in use they quivered on their mounts making them really annoying to use for very long.  There won't be any quivering going on with these beefy pieces!

Second was functionality: One of the things that I have noticed is that the wires to the lights are always exposed.  In addition to looking a bit add on, the wiring is vulnerable to every road hazard placed before them.  So my plan was to provide a conduit for the wires to both protect and hide them.

The last design goal was to make them elegant.  To that end, I welded on a valance around the mounting pad that covers the driving light mounting lugs.  The valance also serves to add to the overall inflexibity of the mount.  I've made an effort to blend and smooth the lines of the resultant bracket to, hopefully, give it an integral look to the rally front end.  Finally, I had the stanchion powder coated in a black hammered finish which keeps a utilitarian and, yet, finished look to it.  Pic #1,2, and 3 show you the final product with my 7" Lucas lights and mesh guards attached.  

I'd like to tell you that I went from nothing to those you see above in one simple build session.  Unfortunately, that wasn't the case.  I first built each of the stanchions as two pieces and, only then, decided that I needed to take them to a higher level of refinement as noted earlier.  Pic #4 shows the initial form of the 1/4" steel bracket, back when it was part of a two piece arrangement.

In Pic #5 you see the initial fitting of the driving light mounting tab which is 1/4" angle iron....and you can see the 3/8" steel bracket that attaches to the original frame bumper attachment points.

In this picture, you see how the driving light tab looked following the adding of the valance and gusseting, all in 1/4" steel....this portion has not changed.  The light mounting lug is now enclosed giving it a finished look.

As time wore on, I came to the conclusion that one piece would be better for mounting, would allow me to improve on the shape of the stanchion to gain more ground clearance, make it easier to add the wiring channel I wanted, and improve the looks.  The first step was to weld the two pieces together and reshape the adjoining surfaces as seen below.  You will note that I used digital levels to ensure I kept everything square with the world.

Once the shape was established I cut 1/4" steel hollow tubing for the wiring channel.  In this picture I have the initial path clamped into place.  I tack welded the tubing to keep the shape, then removed it, and welded all around the joints so that it is completely sealed.  I then drilled a small hole at the lowest point, so if water does get in the tube it has a place to vent.

In Pic #9, the tube has been welded closed and is being final fitted before welding to the stanchion.

In picture, Pic #10, the wiring channel has been solid welded the length of the lower section to add additional strength to the unit and to further bridge where the two pieces are joined.....yes, certainly overkill.  From here, it went to the powder coater.

And lastly, after powder coating Pic #11 and 12.

My lovely wife accuses me of over thinking little things on this car and, certainly if that's true, this could be another example of that condition. 

Steve Thomton

This project paper was first posted Aug. 23, 2009.

Pictures #11 and 12 added Aug. 25, 2009