VW Taillight Lamp





Introduction: VW Taillight Lamp

About: Part Snatcher, DIY-er, Tinkerer, Volkswagen Nut, and Occasional Mad Genius.

As you may guess, I am truly a VW nut. My biggest problem? I will read VW books, magazines, catalogs, and manuals while in bed. If only I had a lamp... Then it struck me! Turn the spare taillight for my 1973 super beetle into a lamp! Now how cool would that be?

Step 1: Materials

To complete this instructable, you will need the following items: -1 VW tail light (in my case it was a 1973, but any model year from 1968-1979 should do. You could use a 1949-1967 light, but it would be much smaller and nearly impractical. -1 wood plaque ( get one a little bigger than your tail light.) -1 9 volt battery clip -Electrical wire -Small light bulb and holder -Toggle switch -Solder and soldering iron -Drill and drill bits -basic electrical knowledge (If you don't have this, don't try this project)

Step 2: The Plaque

First things first, we need a wood plaque to mount everything to. I was lucky enough to find one that was just slightly larger than my taillight, but you may not be so lucky and may have to make one yourself. Anyway, first remove the back mounting plate from the taillight, as we are only going to be using the lens. Then center the taillight lens on the wood plaque so that it is evenly spaced around the taillight lens. Once you have completed this, take an awl or a small screw driver and mark the wood through the two bottom screw holes. This is what will attach the taillight lens to the wood plaque. Once you have marked the wood, drill the two bottom holes. BE SURE TO DRILL THESE AT AN ANGLE. If you do not do so, the taillight lens will not mount properly. Once the holes are drilled, paint the plaque. In my case, I painted it white, but you can paint it almost any color. If you want, you can screw in the taillight to see if it is straight.

Step 3: Wiring

This is not terribly complicated, but if you are unaware on basic electronic knowledge, please search this site for some before you do this project. Anyway, the circuit is rather simple. Wire the toggle switch to the light bulb, light bulb to the battery, and battery to the switch. My light bulb happened to be a 9 volt bulb, so I used a 9 volt battery and snap. However, if you have a 3 or 6 volt bulb, adjust the batteries accordingly. See electrical diagram for further explanation.

Step 4: Mounting

To mount the switch, simply drill a hole through the plastic lens. I put my switch on the top of the lens, but the middle would most likely do ok also. The battery and lightbulb mounted to the metal reflective strips inside the taillight lens using hot glue, but alternatively, you could use carpenters tape. Once you have finished mounting the inner works, line up the screws with the holes you previously drilled in the plaque, and screw them in. Don't over tighten them though, or you will crack your taillight lens. Mount your fully assembled taillight lamp to the wall using command strips, but if you want a stronger mount, use screws and wall anchors.

Step 5: In Conclusion...

In conclusion, I am very pleased with how this project turned out. I mounted it above my reading chair, and it provides just enough light to allow me to read, but not too much that my entire room is lit up. Comments are greatly appreciated! Leave a photo of yours if you'd like!



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    7 Discussions

    I am also working on turning a deck lid into a headboard or wall art... Will give update soon!!!

    That would be awesome to put one in a bus... I first tried a row of 10 LEDS, but they burned through the battery just as quickly as this did. I have considered a plug in transformer. Please post a picture of yours when you build it!!!

    Just my thoughts.

    If you put a bulb in each colored section, along with a four-way selector switch (off, white, red, orange [you could even do an eight-way selector: off, white, red, orange, white+red, red+orange, white+orange, all three]), you could easily make the lamp even cooler. Also, a less-noticeable switch and a DC power jack would make this lamp very clean and even more useful.

    Super cool idea as I am a VW nut also. The light bulb will burn through the 9 volt battery pretty rapidly so you could change it out for a bright LED, or connect a transformer and just plug it in. Nice work, I'll be building some for my VW friends. Imagine using the original 12 volt bulb and installing one of these in your VW van.

    Long live slug bugs. Wish I could build a time machine and go back to the 3 I once owned. Thanks for the trip down memory lane, love your project