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Thread: Vintage Kellite 2C (Kel-Lite CPL-2)

  1. #1

    Default Vintage Kellite 2C (Kel-Lite CPL-2)

    First of all I would like to thank bykfixer who helped me with getting this light. I got this from the founder of Kel-Lite, Don Keller. This is a piece of history, and Don is the game changer of the industry of flashlight in the 20th century.

    Great little 2C light. It is solid built, small and good looking.

    The light was designed from 1969-1972 by Don Keller and this copy is the first generation, it should be produced in 1971-1974 according to the information from Kellite.com. The light was produced in Barstow, CA.




























    The light is shorter than the 2C Maglite ML25iT




    The head is actually smaller than the Maglite standard C or D cell.
    Maglite 2C V.S. Kellite 2C




    Surefire 6Z V.S. Kellite 2C



    Maglite 2AA V.S. Kel-Lite 2C










    Last edited by konifans; 08-25-2017 at 12:35 PM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Vintage Kellite 2C (Kel-Lite CPL-2)

    Man, that thing looks great against the classics.
    John 3:16
    "I'm still a Toys R Us kid" -PK

  3. #3
    harro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Kellite 2C (Kel-Lite CPL-2)

    Wow, beautiful. How does the switch operate on the Kellite? Does the whole switch slide back anf forth on the body of the light, or does the center of the switch move, while the sides remain stationary? Just thinking along the lines of scratching on the main body of the light.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Vintage Kellite 2C (Kel-Lite CPL-2)

    Quote Originally Posted by harro View Post
    Wow, beautiful. How does the switch operate on the Kellite? Does the whole switch slide back anf forth on the body of the light, or does the center of the switch move, while the sides remain stationary? Just thinking along the lines of scratching on the main body of the light.
    This is the 1st generation so it is the whole switch moving, and it does scratch the barrel but nothing serious. The switch is plastic.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Vintage Kellite 2C (Kel-Lite CPL-2)

    The 3 generations of Kel-Lite switches:


    The Don Keller designed slider (generation 1)
    Buttery smooth off or on. Attached contact strip slides back n forth with the switch making contact with reflector or not. Idea begun way back in the Franco and Ray-o-lite days of mid 1910's.


    The Norm Nelson designed slider (generation 2)
    Note, mid-way signaler ability. Fixed contact strip always touches reflector. Contact takes place or not inside the switch assembly. Distinct off, signaler, on points. Idea began in the 1920's.
    Also note most had a red button but some had a black button.


    The push button. Generation 3 Kel-Lites were made by Streamlight.
    Not that much different than Maglite switches.
    Last edited by bykfixer; 08-25-2017 at 08:57 PM.
    John 3:16
    "I'm still a Toys R Us kid" -PK

  6. #6
    harro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Kellite 2C (Kel-Lite CPL-2)

    I like that second gen switch, looks pretty purposeful. On your pic bykf you can just barely see that little bit of scratching. Haha, if jelousy is a curse, then i'm cursed with looking at both lots of pics. Very nice.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Vintage Kellite 2C (Kel-Lite CPL-2)

    In case fans is worried about scrathing by the switch plate... here's how my beater has held up over the years


    Kinda beat up frontal area


    Missing anodize in the rear


    Switch marks.

    So the plastic switch plate really doesn't mar the coating all that much... provided grit doesn't get between the cover and the light.
    Last edited by bykfixer; 08-26-2017 at 02:01 PM.
    John 3:16
    "I'm still a Toys R Us kid" -PK

  8. #8

    Default Re: Vintage Kellite 2C (Kel-Lite CPL-2)

    My 4C Kel-lite was purchased in 1976 for a trip to Europe, and is 1st generation. I got it in a sporting goods store that sold good-quality gear, and I was impressed with how well-made it was.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Vintage Kellite 2C (Kel-Lite CPL-2)

    Man, that 4C is a goody too.

    I did a fun mod that's a simple, reversable mod...
    3 Rayovac e-cell alkalines and a 3 cell maglite krypton bulb. Yup, no insta-poof with the krypton.

    I did a 2x 18500 LifePo4 with a 4 cell xenon to the CPL-2.

    Being Kel-Lite used the same parts for lights up to 7 cells I knew no melting issues are a concern.
    John 3:16
    "I'm still a Toys R Us kid" -PK

  10. #10
    harro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Kellite 2C (Kel-Lite CPL-2)


    Switch marks.

    So the plastic switch plate really doesn't mar the coating all that much... provided grit doesn't get between the cover and the light.[/QUOTE]

    That's pretty much nothing, and certainly nothing that a small sharpie wouldn't fix, if it became a worry. Thx for the great pics.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Vintage Kellite 2C (Kel-Lite CPL-2)

    Got one more Kel-Lite 2C!
    Note the Knurling on the barrel is a little bit different.


  12. #12

    Default Re: Vintage Kellite 2C (Kel-Lite CPL-2)

    Yessssssssss!!!

    Now question:
    Is the knurling on the one on the left "more gentle"?... it seems I read somewhere that the knurling was made more 'holster' friendly along the way...
    I wondered if a bit more area was knurled to make up for the potential lack of grip or... were the early ones less grippy than users preferred so perhaps they added more area in later editions?...

    Just curious. Both are gorgeous btw.
    Last edited by bykfixer; 09-09-2017 at 04:31 PM.
    John 3:16
    "I'm still a Toys R Us kid" -PK

  13. #13

    Default Re: Vintage Kellite 2C (Kel-Lite CPL-2)

    Quote Originally Posted by bykfixer View Post
    Yessssssssss!!!

    Now question:
    Is the knurling on the one on the left "more gentle"?... it seems I read somewhere that the knurling was made more 'holster' friendly along the way...
    I wondered if a bit more area was knurled to make up for the potential lack of grip or... were the early ones less grippy than users preferred so perhaps they added more area in later editions?...

    Just curious. Both are gorgeous btw.
    Actually, the right one has more gentle knurling.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Vintage Kellite 2C (Kel-Lite CPL-2)

    Quote Originally Posted by konifans View Post
    Actually, the right one has more gentle knurling.
    Then I would speculate the one on the left was machined before the one on the right based on feed back from police asking for less aggressive knurling... but I say "machined before" as a serial number may show otherwise.
    John 3:16
    "I'm still a Toys R Us kid" -PK

  15. #15
    Flashaholic LiftdT4R's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Kellite 2C (Kel-Lite CPL-2)

    Very nice!! I can't believe I missed this thread. I was lucky enough to pick one up with a lanyard ring end cap a while back. Nice little light and I use it all the time!







    I have a blog where I posted most of my old Kel-Lites too if you're interested: http://otherflashlights.blogspot.com/

    I mostly collect Maglites but I've wound up with a bunch of other lights over the years too. Nice to see interest in these lights and other folks that keep helping to keep them around and in use!
    ~~~~~~~~
    Always looking to buy Vari-Beams and Vintage/Rare Mags. Please let me know if you have any, top dollar paid.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Vintage Kellite 2C (Kel-Lite CPL-2)

    Quote Originally Posted by bykfixer View Post
    Then I would speculate the one on the left was machined before the one on the right based on feed back from police asking for less aggressive knurling... but I say "machined before" as a serial number may show otherwise.
    You are right. The serial number of the right one is 6594541 and the left one is 2343751.
    I just found that the barrel of the right one is a bit longer than the left one, and they have different reflectors and different bulb holder. I will post some photos here.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Vintage Kellite 2C (Kel-Lite CPL-2)

    Quote Originally Posted by LiftdT4R View Post
    I have a blog where I posted most of my old Kel-Lites too if you're interested: http://otherflashlights.blogspot.com/

    I mostly collect Maglites but I've wound up with a bunch of other lights over the years too. Nice to see interest in these lights and other folks that keep helping to keep them around and in use!
    Nice collection!

  18. #18

    Default Re: Vintage Kellite 2C (Kel-Lite CPL-2)

    Here's a fun little mod for the 2C that is completely reversable.



    2- LifePo4 18500's, a 4 cell krypton and a (19mm) 3/4" piece of pvc gas pipe cut to length.

    The PR based Maglite xenon is even brighter but kryptons are still easier to find and provides a nicer overall beam.


    Left is the 4 cell, right is the stock bulb mine came with.
    It provides a very respectable output.
    A 5 cell bulb would be closer to matched voltage sent to the bulb, while the batteries over drive a 4 cell bulb. But so far I've yet to poof a 4 cell krypton or xenon using these batteries in a few different 2C lights.

    The batteries are available in box stores in the US called "solar lamp" batteries. I don't know how available they are where you are konifans. But anything higher output than LifePo4's would insta-poof a 4 cell bulb.
    Last edited by bykfixer; 09-11-2017 at 11:01 AM.
    John 3:16
    "I'm still a Toys R Us kid" -PK

  19. #19

    Default Re: Vintage Kellite 2C (Kel-Lite CPL-2)

    Quote Originally Posted by bykfixer View Post

    The batteries are available in box stores in the US called "solar lamp" batteries. I don't know how available they are where you are konifans. But anything higher output than LifePo4's would insta-poof a 4 cell bulb.
    I have some Soshine AA size Lifepo4, it should work with AA to C cell adapter. Will try to get some good quality 18500.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Vintage Kellite 2C (Kel-Lite CPL-2)

    Comparison of two Kel-Lite CPL-2
    The left one is from Don Keller's collection and the right one is from an ebayer who purchased in 1970S.









    The left one is a bit shorter.




    Different bulb holders and reflector gaskets. I believe the right one is original.














    Different reflectors.




    Note the thickness of the rims.



    The beams.





    Edit: both are having Mag 2-cell bulb, the left one has fresh battery so it looks brighter.
    Last edited by konifans; 09-14-2017 at 07:34 PM.

  21. #21
    Flashaholic LiftdT4R's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Kellite 2C (Kel-Lite CPL-2)

    Very interesting. I believe the lights that Don's selling are new production using some NOS parts. I never did get around to asking him the last time I chatted with him but based on the machining differences I think they're new production.

    I do know that Norm nelson ended up with all of the intellectual rights and tooling to produce the lights. When he passed he left all of this to his protege Andy Studer. I had a chance to talk with Andy once and he had no desire to produce the lights so he sold everything to a business that put in a bid on it. That corporation happened to be owned by Don. The only thing Don doesn't currently own is the Kel-Lite name. That is owned by the former investors in the now defunct Nordic Technologies which attempted to produce some lights including a pilot's model in the late 80s after purchasing the rights to the name from Streamlight.

    That trademark hasn't been used and I'm no expert but it is due to expire pretty soon where I'm fairly sure Don can claim it because he's been using it.
    ~~~~~~~~
    Always looking to buy Vari-Beams and Vintage/Rare Mags. Please let me know if you have any, top dollar paid.

  22. #22

    Talking Re: Vintage Kellite 2C (Kel-Lite CPL-2)

    A Kel-Lite CPL-3 (3C cell).




    2C V.S. 3C





    Maglite 2C V.S. Kellite 3C




    Got one 3C Kel-Lite! It is smaller and shorter than a Maglite 2C!

    I am using it with 2x 18650 Lifepo4 batteries + Maglite 5 cell Xenon PR bulb. It is as bright as a Surefire 6P.

    So now I am missing a Kel-Lite 4C... Any one has one for sale please drop me a PM.
    Last edited by konifans; 09-23-2017 at 09:59 AM.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Vintage Kellite 2C (Kel-Lite CPL-2)

    Quote Originally Posted by LiftdT4R View Post
    Very interesting. I believe the lights that Don's selling are new production using some NOS parts. I never did get around to asking him the last time I chatted with him but based on the machining differences I think they're new production.

    I do know that Norm nelson ended up with all of the intellectual rights and tooling to produce the lights. When he passed he left all of this to his protege Andy Studer. I had a chance to talk with Andy once and he had no desire to produce the lights so he sold everything to a business that put in a bid on it. That corporation happened to be owned by Don. The only thing Don doesn't currently own is the Kel-Lite name. That is owned by the former investors in the now defunct Nordic Technologies which attempted to produce some lights including a pilot's model in the late 80s after purchasing the rights to the name from Streamlight.

    That trademark hasn't been used and I'm no expert but it is due to expire pretty soon where I'm fairly sure Don can claim it because he's been using it.
    Did not know that Don Keller finally got his tools back. This is great! But Don is now very old? I do not think that he can start production again, considering that the demand of this old staff is very small. I think he is using NOS parts or refurbish the parts he got from the second hand market like Ebay.

  24. #24
    Flashaholic LiftdT4R's Avatar
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    Post Re: Vintage Kellite 2C (Kel-Lite CPL-2)

    Quote Originally Posted by konifans View Post
    Did not know that Don Keller finally got his tools back. This is great! But Don is now very old? I do not think that he can start production again, considering that the demand of this old staff is very small. I think he is using NOS parts or refurbish the parts he got from the second hand market like Ebay.
    Don told me he acquired all of the original tooling and plans from Andy however, I don't know for sure what he is producing and what he's using NOS for. I think I recall him saying that barrels, end caps, and bezels are relatively easy to produce through a machine shop. Reflectors, switches and contacts I believe are old stock, some used and some new. I've restored a few lights and he almost never has reflectors or they are very expensive and not new. Other parts he has a ton of and they're inexpensive.

    I know Don has a partner that helps him who I believe is in CA and is younger.

    I'm experimenting using aircraft stripper and Almost Chrome to restore the reflectors instead of replacing them but I haven't had a whole lot of time to mess around with them lately and no new restorations came in. I only do about a dozen restorations a year and only 1 or 2 Kel-Lites so I haven't had a lot of demand for the reflectors yet.

    Also, I'm restoring a 1st gen 4C right now! It had a stuck battery. I'm half way between selling it and holding on to it. I have sooooo many lights and I'm really only supposed to be collecting Maglites.

    Have you ever seen the "Baton Lights" from Kel-Lite? I don't have one but would love to one day. They are 5Cs with a spacer that came in 18", 22" and 26" models. 22" is the size of a Mag 7D so they are some long lights! I'd also love to have a 1-SKL (1D) but they are next to impossible to find.
    Last edited by LiftdT4R; 09-23-2017 at 11:03 AM.
    ~~~~~~~~
    Always looking to buy Vari-Beams and Vintage/Rare Mags. Please let me know if you have any, top dollar paid.

  25. #25

    Default Re: Vintage Kellite 2C (Kel-Lite CPL-2)

    Quote Originally Posted by LiftdT4R View Post
    Don told me he acquired all of the original tooling and plans from Andy however, I don't know for sure what he is producing and what he's using NOS for. I think I recall him saying that barrels, end caps, and bezels are relatively easy to produce through a machine shop. Reflectors, switches and contacts I believe are old stock, some used and some new. I've restored a few lights and he almost never has reflectors or they are very expensive and not new. Other parts he has a ton of and they're inexpensive.

    I know Don has a partner that helps him who I believe is in CA and is younger.

    I'm experimenting using aircraft stripper and Almost Chrome to restore the reflectors instead of replacing them but I haven't had a whole lot of time to mess around with them lately and no new restorations came in. I only do about a dozen restorations a year and only 1 or 2 Kel-Lites so I haven't had a lot of demand for the reflectors yet.

    Also, I'm restoring a 1st gen 4C right now! It had a stuck battery. I'm half way between selling it and holding on to it. I have sooooo many lights and I'm really only supposed to be collecting Maglites.

    Have you ever seen the "Baton Lights" from Kel-Lite? I don't have one but would love to one day. They are 5Cs with a spacer that came in 18", 22" and 26" models. 22" is the size of a Mag 7D so they are some long lights! I'd also love to have a 1-SKL (1D) but they are next to impossible to find.
    You are right that the aluminum parts are easier to make. All of them are turning parts, even the barrel can be made from a solid aluminum bar, although the original barrel were made from extrusion. No need tooling, but detailed drawings.

    But for the reflector, I guess it is a stamping part, which needs a stamping tooling and a stamping machine. And the plastic part need injection tooling and injection machine. Those machines are very very big and expensive. So even if he has those tools / moulds, it could be useless. Also, anodize of the aluminum part and electroplating of the reflector in the US could be very expensive, if the quantity is too small. I guess all of the parts Don is using are from old stock / collection or the second hand market.

    As for the reflector, I am thinking, if it is possible to be made from solid stainless steel - by turning - and then polish it. It can be mirror high gloss, just done by polishing. High grade stainless steel lasts forever, even better than chrome plating. The bulb retainer can also be a turning part, and it can also be metal....
    Last edited by konifans; 09-23-2017 at 11:30 AM.

  26. #26
    Flashaholic LiftdT4R's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Kellite 2C (Kel-Lite CPL-2)

    Quote Originally Posted by konifans View Post
    As for the reflector, I am thinking, if it is possible to be made from solid stainless steel - by turning - and then polish it. It can be mirror high gloss, just done by polishing. High grade stainless steel lasts forever, even better than chrome plating. The bulb retainer can also be a turning part, and it can also be metal....
    That's exactly how KAI does their Maglite reflectors except they are aluminum.
    ~~~~~~~~
    Always looking to buy Vari-Beams and Vintage/Rare Mags. Please let me know if you have any, top dollar paid.

  27. #27

    Default Re: Vintage Kellite 2C (Kel-Lite CPL-2)

    Quote Originally Posted by LiftdT4R View Post
    That's exactly how KAI does their Maglite reflectors except they are aluminum.
    Right, that's aluminum + electroplating, the cost is much cheaper with a large production quantity.

  28. #28

    Default Re: Vintage Kellite 2C (Kel-Lite CPL-2)

    I am not sure, if the reflectors from those vintage Eveready or Rayovac or something like these, can be used in Kel-lite... as they look quite similar and use the same "conduction technique".

  29. #29

    Default Re: Vintage Kellite 2C (Kel-Lite CPL-2)

    Quote Originally Posted by konifans View Post
    Right, that's aluminum + electroplating, the cost is much cheaper with a large production quantity.
    Lax enviormental laws and government over sight also plays a roll. In America it's becoming more difficult to even do the process unless your donations to the secret policemans ball are long as train smoke.

    Quote Originally Posted by konifans View Post
    I am not sure, if the reflectors from those vintage Eveready or Rayovac or something like these, can be used in Kel-lite... as they look quite similar and use the same "conduction technique".
    Correct-uh-mundo.
    The silicone ring around the reflector is an improvement over primative cardboard that eventually evolved into a hard plastic contact breaker. The silicone has excellent flexibility and doubles as a wet weather stopper.
    John 3:16
    "I'm still a Toys R Us kid" -PK

  30. #30

    Default Re: Vintage Kellite 2C (Kel-Lite CPL-2)

    The thirst for a 1st gen 3C was quenched tonight. Decent price too. It's got enough scuffs to take it out to play without fear of scratching it. Woohoo!! Thanks for the pix konifans.
    The Kel-Lite collection is complete now.

    I'll do some 1 amp 18650's and a 6 cell bulb in it and put up pix when it arrives.
    John 3:16
    "I'm still a Toys R Us kid" -PK

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