1961 Taillight Assemblies


Electrical, Exterior



The question has come up again about how the taillight reflectors are assembled on a 1961. So here goes! This is only for the 1961 model year.
The chrome plated potmetal bezel has a molded rubber seal that presses onto the back lip of the bezel. This seal could be light gray (very early production cars only) or black. The bezel has four threaded rods at the rear (two long, and two short.) These feed through the "dogdish" that fills the bumper "Q." Two of these studs secure the bezel to the "dogdish" and the other two attach to the special clamping ring that draws the dish into the
"Q" and centers it.
The reflector unit that houses the light socket gets slid into the bezel from the front, while you feed the wire harness through the "dogdish" and its' securing bracket. This reflector may or may not have a sponge rubber seal between its backside and its fit on the bezel. This is the exact same seal as used with the '61 taillight lens. If it does have this seal (and most likely it will), it will be glued in with weatherstrip adhesive. THAT is why they don't come out! Added to that, is the fact that taillight wiring harness is secured to the back side of the bumper brackets where you cannot get at them.
So, if you have trouble with a poor taillight reflector ground, here is the fix. If you look inside the trunk behind the taillight area, you'll see a round protrusion in the stamped metal. What you need to do is drill a hole 1/4 inch or so into that bulge. Next, drill a hole into the outer part of the reflector away from the flat area where it butts against the chrome plated
potmetal bezel. Now take a piece of insulated 14 gauge wire and fish it from the predrilled reflector hole to the hole you drilled the trunk panel bulge.
Install a ring terminal on either end of the wire. Next drill another small hole in the bulge, and another in the reflector. These will be used to anchor the self tapping sheet metal screws you will use to secure the ring terminals at each end. Remove all paint at both termination points. Install the self-tap sheet metal screw (or equivalent) with a star washer. Put a small daub of RTV over each hole where the wire is. That's it. Make sure you scuff and repaint the reflector with highly reflective aluminum paint such as the one sold by Eastwood. Install the taillight lens with a new sponge rubber
gasket and line up the three taillight lens holes with the reflector, and install the special screws.
Your other option is too drop the bumper. Believe, this is easier!