Posts Tagged ‘vintage bicycle lights’

no identifying features

Here are two of my vintage/classic bike tail lights, both “unswitched” – the first is unbranded, made of a thermosetting plastic that looks a bit like black bakelite. I believe it was Australian made but I’m not certain. It is about as simple as you can get, relying on screwing in the cap to make contact between the bulb and “D” cell battery via copper tracks that mate at a certain point of  rotation. This light is to be fitted to my old speedwell bike, and has polished up nicely with metal polishing paste on all external parts.


bulb and contacts

the neat bracket is obviously designed for a seat stay

on my speedwell diamond frame

The second is the Eveready, made in the UK, of aluminium. This one is slightly more robust in build and the lens doubles as a rear reflector. I may be fitting it to my loop frame Speedwell when it is finished – it needs a tidy-up, as the alloy has oxidised in places.

it’s working

the rubber washer prevents shorting the battery on the spring

the reflector/lens

The main disadvantage with both these lights is that the large battery tends to rattle around when the light is off and may also turn on at times because of this. Some tweaking with rubber washers should help with this issue. Alternatively, I can remove the battery till needed as these bikes won’t get a lot of night use.

The “D” cells back then must have been mostly insulated on the top (+ve) terminal as the holding spring will short out the modern “D” cells via the terminal plate, unless this part is insulated.


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woohoo! – they’e working

Vintage Eveready battery bicycle torch (L) and Australian army torch (R).

showing the rear mounting of the eveready

In a previous post, I showed an old Eveready army style torch that could be fitted to a bike light bracket. The batteries were supposed to be a No. 701A, however I couldn’t find any info on them online.

original packaging

I was playing around with a couple of “D” cell batteries yesterday and something jogged my memory. A quick search of my box of bits came up with these adaptors, and the original pack off one of them tells the story. Whatever the 701A was, these plastic and copper adapters were designed to upgrade the torch to take the new-fangled (sic) “D” cells. From the wording, it would seem that the old 701 battery came with the copper tracks on it, as a complete unit, and now it’s only necessary to buy the “D” cells once you have the adaptor.

The adaptor with “D” cells fitted is shown below :

the side copper track is for the bulb, the top one for the switch, which is screwed down to make contact

Here are some pictures showing how the working light fits two of my bikes :

speedwell “popular” loop frame

the loop frame speedwell has a bracket as part of the headset group

mounted on an accessory bracket on front hub – speedwell diamond frame

the same bike

front view

Next up, a working vintage battery powered tail-lamp…

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Here are a couple of very old battery lights for bicycles. The rear lights are about as simple as you can make – a spring holds the battery away from the bulb terminal until the body is screwed on far enough to compress it and make contact with the bulb. As the body is unscrewed the spring pushes the battery away from it to turn the light off.

battery tail lights - with no switch

the battery goes here - simple and austere

with seat stay bracket and reflector/lens

this dimple is the negative contact!

The blue one is stamped “Eveready” “Made in England” and the black one looks like bakelite and is unmarked. Both are from my grandfather’s collection.

The headlamp / torches above are multi purpose, perhaps for army / boy scout / camping, fishing etc. uses. The black one is marked “Eveready” “Made in England” and has a fitting for a bicycle light bracket on the back.

just the thing for your rusty old roadster ...

To operate the Eveready, the knob screws down. The brass Kempthorne knob pushes down and twists to lock.  The Eveready takes a battery size called No. 701A .

made in australia

The brass one is dated “1944 Aust” – I believe it may be an army torch, it has a sort of large pocket clip on the back.

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