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Thread: Did sealed beam dies wear out decades ago?

  1. #1

    Default Did sealed beam dies wear out decades ago?

    Any truth to this assertion?

    According to a discussion some years ago with Mr. Stern, even sealed beams ain’t what they used to be.

    Manufacturers crank them out using the same dies they used for years. According to Mr. Stern, the dies wore out 20+ years ago, but the market is so limited now, there’s no motivation to replace them.

    So even a brand-new sealed beam light ain’t what it used to be.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Did sealed beam dies wear out decades ago?

    Looks like you're quoting from here. Yes, it's true more or less as stated, with some additional complications.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Did sealed beam dies wear out decades ago?

    Quote Originally Posted by -Virgil- View Post
    Looks like you're quoting from here. Yes, it's true more or less as stated, with some additional complications.
    What are the complications?

  4. #4

    Default Re: Did sealed beam dies wear out decades ago?

    Well, that's the reason all of Sylvania's and most of GE's sealed beams are godawful. Then you've got Wagner, whose own-made sealed beams were at least as godawful as the Sylvanias and GEs for the same reason, but then a few years ago Wagner shut down their SB plant and started sourcing their sealed beams from made-in-China Eiko. At best they're equally as bad, but they're sloppily made on carelessly-made new tooling instead of sloppily made on worn-out old tooling. You can look at the individual prisms in the glass and see the crudeness, the rough texture of the lens mold. So the end result is the same (crappy sealed beams) but the "why" is a little different.

    The Wagner/Eiko case is especially pathetic, because it shouldn't really have cost much more (any more?) to make good tools and wind up with a line of at least passably decent sealed beams.

    GE shut down their SB plant last Spring or Summer, and as far as I can recall that was the last one in the USA. They almost certainly have warehouse stocks sufficient for the next "n" number of years, and I'm guessing the same is true of Sylvania. After that...who knows!

  5. #5

    Default Re: Did sealed beam dies wear out decades ago?

    Quote Originally Posted by -Virgil- View Post
    After that...who knows!
    Can't people switch to LED sealed beams from, say, JW speaker? Well, I guess cost would be a factor too...I should know, I was just moaning about the cost of new lamps for my car earlier!
    Last edited by Ls400; 10-17-2018 at 10:25 PM.

  6. #6
    Moderator Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: Did sealed beam dies wear out decades ago?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ls400 View Post
    Can't people switch to LED sealed beams from, say, JW speaker? Well, I guess cost would be a factor too...
    Well, yes. And perhaps as more people get them, that could mean the prices inch down somewhat, but the number of new cars being made to use that form factor is pretty low, a lot of the older cars from the sealed beam era are aging out, and many of the "collectors" don't want to put what doesn't look period correct on their show cars.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Did sealed beam dies wear out decades ago?

    Hey, look! I'm Internet Famous™!

    Yes, that discussion with Daniel Stern happened around 2003, when he and I had several business dealings. So now those dies are 35+ years old.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Did sealed beam dies wear out decades ago?

    Quote Originally Posted by eggsalad View Post
    Hey, look! I'm Internet Famous™!
    Shall I start your 15-minute countdown timer, Mr. Eggsalad? :-)

    Yes, that discussion with Daniel Stern happened around 2003, when he and I had several business dealings. So now those dies are 35+ years old.
    I don't know that age in years matters as much as how many stamps/usages they have on them. By any counting method, they're way past end of service life.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Did sealed beam dies wear out decades ago?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alaric Darconville View Post
    a lot of the older cars from the sealed beam era are aging out, and many of the "collectors" don't want to put what doesn't look period correct on their show cars.
    A lot of commercial trucks still use sealed beams, as do motorcycles.

  10. #10
    Moderator Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: Did sealed beam dies wear out decades ago?

    Quote Originally Posted by eggsalad View Post
    A lot of commercial trucks still use sealed beams, as do motorcycles.
    By "but the number of new cars being made to use that form factor is pretty low" I wasn't very clearly also indicating that trucks and motorcycle usage is diminishing, but it is.

    I'd be really interested to know how many sealed beams are being made on this worn-out tooling that simply won't produce a compliant beam as they would have when made on new tooling.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Did sealed beam dies wear out decades ago?

    From my observance (purely anecdotal) owner/operators are switching to LEDs (good ones or dubious ones, hard to tell from a distance) while fleets are sticking with sealed beams.

    I'd love to see the results of a brand-new sealed beam being tested by someone with the proper equipment. I suspect it would be simultaneously hilarious and sad.

  12. #12
    Moderator Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: Did sealed beam dies wear out decades ago?

    Quote Originally Posted by eggsalad View Post
    From my observance (purely anecdotal) owner/operators are switching to LEDs (good ones or dubious ones, hard to tell from a distance) while fleets are sticking with sealed beams.
    It was something I feel like I've observed. It's the same with the 50 Brazilian LED sidemarker lamps all over the vehicles, and the Yosemite Sam mudflaps. The (private) owners want to 'trick their ride', the fleet owners want to minimize costs.

    I'd love to see the results of a brand-new sealed beam being tested by someone with the proper equipment. I suspect it would be simultaneously hilarious and sad.
    It would be interesting, to say the least.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Did sealed beam dies wear out decades ago?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alaric Darconville View Post
    It was something I feel like I've observed. It's the same with the 50 Brazilian LED sidemarker lamps all over the vehicles, and the Yosemite Sam mudflaps. The (private) owners want to 'trick their ride', the fleet owners want to minimize costs.
    We're drifting off-topic here, but as far as I can tell, there are minimum legal requirements for clearance and marker lights, but no maximum. My guess is that the laws were codified in the days of incandescent lamps, where your alternator would dictate how many lights you could run! Nowadays, you can run "50 Brazilian" LED markers, and your alternator won't even notice.

    At least here in Las Vegas, the ultimate result of this is box trucks that run up and down The Strip. But the sides and rear of the truck box are replaced completely with LED display tiles advertising casinos and strip clubs. They're blinding, glaring, and distracting, but perfectly legal.

  14. #14
    Moderator Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: Did sealed beam dies wear out decades ago?

    Quote Originally Posted by eggsalad View Post
    At least here in Las Vegas, the ultimate result of this is box trucks that run up and down The Strip. But the sides and rear of the truck box are replaced completely with LED display tiles advertising casinos and strip clubs. They're blinding, glaring, and distracting, but perfectly legal.
    An argument could be made that if they render regulated motor vehicle equipment inoperative, they're not legal. The "argument" part comes in with trying to prove that the displays interfere with people seeing turn signals or stop lamps amongst all the optical noise.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Did sealed beam dies wear out decades ago?

    There's a provision in SAE J2042 as follows:

    7.1.1 Identification lamps must be clearly visible as a co-linear, co-planar group of three (not more or fewer), so the distance between an identification lamp and any auxiliary lamp shall be not less than twice the distance between adjacent identification lamps. For example: if the identification lamps are spaced 20 cm apart, no auxiliary lamp similar in color and/or intensity to the lamps defined in this standard shall be placed closer than 40 cm to its nearest identification lamp.

    This finds its way into FMVSS No. 108 in different words:

    S6.1.3.6 Auxiliary lamps mounted near identification lamps. Each auxiliary lamp must be located at least twice the distance from any required identification lamp as the distance between two adjacent required identification lamps.

    So that means the (many) trucks with a line of lights across the front and/or rear instead of just the three identification lamps in the middle and the two clearance lamps at left and right, are noncompliant.

    But there's nothing preventing anyone from making one or more lines of lights down the side of the truck, as long as the colors are correct (amber except at the rear). And, very unfortunately, there's no law against the kind of super-bright "rolling TV" trucks eggsalad mentions. For that matter, those super-bright displays are equally as much of a traffic hazard when they're mounted on sign poles or buildings and aimed into traffic.

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