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Old 06-29-2018, 10:30 PM   #1
Marshall V. Daut
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Default Another dumb 1937 Ford question...

'Sorry, Guys - 'Gotta ask one more probably stupid 1937 question, whose answer I can't seem to find in the 1937 Ford book or in the manual. It may be there, but then again, maybe it's TOO basic to have been addressed in print.
When you turn the lights on via the center hub, are the instrument panel lights supposed to also come on at the same time? I read in the 1937 book that that the one knob on the bottom left in the center of the dash controls whether they are on or not. It pulls in and out, but doing so makes no difference = in or out, no instrument panel lights. Is there some other place that turns on the instrument lights so that this on/off knob can come into play? Is there a brightness control once the instrument panel lights do come on? I suppose after 81 years, it's possible that all the bulbs are burned out in this car, but that's unlikely. I doubt that my 88 year-old owner-friend has driven the car in the dark since Eisenhower was the POTUS, so he may not know that the instrument panel lights do not come on. Is there a commonly-known cause for this no instrument panel light situation? What am I overlooking?
Thanks!
Marshall
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Old 06-29-2018, 11:00 PM   #2
JSeery
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Default Re: Another dumb 1937 Ford question...

Have you looked at the wiring diagram? There is a switch for the instrument lights. The wire leading to the switch is "hot" when the steering wheel light control is in any position other than off. To check it I would switch the steering wheel light control to the parking light position and see if there is power into the under dash switch. If so, then check the other side of the dash switch (the out to the instrument lights) and see if the power turns on/off with the switch. It was my understanding that the under dash switch was originally a toggle switch. And there is no dim capability.
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Last edited by JSeery; 06-29-2018 at 11:10 PM.
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Old 06-30-2018, 12:43 AM   #3
Marshall V. Daut
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Default Re: Another dumb 1937 Ford question...

Thanks, "JSeery". This is a good place to start. I have been fooling around with the various pull knobs, toggles and other electrical gateways that have found their way into this car. I thought the chrome toggle switch you pictured was an add-on by a past owner because it seems so inconsistent with the antiquey caramel-grey colored plastic-like pull knobs on the dash. The toggle is located on the bottom lip of the dash and is easy to overlook. Flipping it in either direction does nothing = still no instrument panel lights, whether the headlights/parking lights are on or not. Tomorrow is spoken for, but on Sunday, I'll lie on my back on the car's floor and start tracing wires using your posted diagram. I fear someone has messed with the wiring over the years because there are numerous mystery modern plastic-coated wires all over the place behind the dash and in the engine compartment that hook up to nothing anymore.
Q: If this chrome toggle switch is actually what controls the dash lights, what is the factory pull knob just above it that can only be pulled a short distance? It doesn't seem to have any control over anything, either. I'll study the diagram at length and see if I can figure out what's what.
Marshall
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Old 06-30-2018, 06:18 AM   #4
DavidG
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Default Re: Another dumb 1937 Ford question...

There was no toggle switch in the original '37 passenger car lighting system for the instrument panel lights. They were controlled by the dash-mounted push-pull switch so labelled on its plastic knob.


Any toggle switch on your car was added post-production and may or may not be part of the wiring for the instrument panel lamps
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Old 06-30-2018, 07:30 AM   #5
rotorwrench
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Default Re: Another dumb 1937 Ford question...

Toggle switches were used in the commercial pickups in that time frame but DavidG has it on passenger cars. The knobs are available for the push pull type on/off dash light switch but I'm not sure about the switches. They are likely similar to the ones Ford tractors used for their lights except with a knob and a more elaborate attachment to the dash. The dimmer rheostats came later in 1940 or so. They show up in the swap meet section now and then and possibly on flea pay. If yours is still restorable then that may be the best course of action.


I've seen farm trucks with added lights and switches. Owners got creative when they want to add stuff to tax an already busy electrical system back in the day. Some owners also have a tendency to add a new switch when an old one gave out. Especially when a new one is no longer easily available to them.

Last edited by rotorwrench; 06-30-2018 at 08:00 AM.
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Old 06-30-2018, 08:22 AM   #6
Marshall V. Daut
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Default Re: Another dumb 1937 Ford question...

I just sneaked down to the garage before we leave for the day so that I could check out the knob location. Using the text in the 1937 Ford book and the photo of the instrument panel light switch, I see where my confusion lay. On the bottom side of the dash panel, sticking through the metal lip, is a shiny chrome toggle switch, pointing downwards. Neither that nor the factory instrument panel light switch function at the moment. I now believe someone added that modern chrome toggle switch to control an undefined electrical device, hence it's not original. I can feel wires coming out of the back of the factory instrument panel light switch, but I will have to wait until tomorrow before I can trace them and see where the problem is. Obviously, there is no power going to the switch. Using the diagram provided by "JSeery", I'll try to find out why the switch isn't working. If I understand correctly what he wrote, the instrument panel light switch will not work unless the light switch is turned on. They can't be turned on alone. Is that right?
Marshall

Last edited by Marshall V. Daut; 06-30-2018 at 08:44 AM. Reason: changed "ignition key" to "lights on"
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Old 06-30-2018, 08:32 AM   #7
JSeery
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Default Re: Another dumb 1937 Ford question...

Dave and rotorwrench, thanks for the correction on the toggle switch. I thought my 38 had the toggle, now I'm going to have to go look!
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Old 06-30-2018, 09:02 AM   #8
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Default Re: Another dumb 1937 Ford question...

My '38 sedan has the chrome toggle under the dash to the left of the steering column.
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Old 06-30-2018, 09:09 AM   #9
rotorwrench
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Default Re: Another dumb 1937 Ford question...

The diagram of the light switch shows all the on positions ie. park, low beam, & high beam but it doesn't illustrate the OFF position. Lighting on most all the old Fords was independent of the ignition switch and could be turned on & off at any time. If a person only wanted the park lights on then all the others could remain off so as not to tax the battery while parked. Park lights were required to be left on in some states under certain conditions so a person wouldn't want anything else on that didn't have to be.


Ford changed things over the years with some dash configurations being similar to others. The toggle switch came & went over the years. Ford even used them for the rear work light on the tractors. 1940 was the first to go with a dash mounted head light switch. It was also the first to use a dimmer for those lights. I think the 1938 cars and 1939 standard cars had the toggle.

Last edited by rotorwrench; 06-30-2018 at 09:22 AM.
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Old 06-30-2018, 09:51 AM   #10
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Default Re: Another dumb 1937 Ford question...

Quote:
Originally Posted by rotorwrench View Post
I think the 1938 cars and 1939 standard cars had the toggle.
Save me a trip to check!
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Old 06-30-2018, 10:58 AM   #11
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Default Re: Another dumb 1937 Ford question...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marshall V. Daut View Post
Thanks, "JSeery". This is a good place to start. I have been fooling around with the various pull knobs, toggles and other electrical gateways that have found their way into this car. I thought the chrome toggle switch you pictured was an add-on by a past owner because it seems so inconsistent with the antiquey caramel-grey colored plastic-like pull knobs on the dash. The toggle is located on the bottom lip of the dash and is easy to overlook. Flipping it in either direction does nothing = still no instrument panel lights, whether the headlights/parking lights are on or not. Tomorrow is spoken for, but on Sunday, I'll lie on my back on the car's floor and start tracing wires using your posted diagram. I fear someone has messed with the wiring over the years because there are numerous mystery modern plastic-coated wires all over the place behind the dash and in the engine compartment that hook up to nothing anymore.
Q: If this chrome toggle switch is actually what controls the dash lights, what is the factory pull knob just above it that can only be pulled a short distance? It doesn't seem to have any control over anything, either. I'll study the diagram at length and see if I can figure out what's what.
Marshall
If there are numerous plastic insulated wires under the dash you are probably overdue for a new wire harness. If the cloth covering on the original harness is coming loose or there is fraying of the insulation you need to replace the harness. The original "push-pull" dash switch is not reproduced, so be careful when working with it. They are very hard to find in used condition. New harnesses are not that expensive and will save you hours of grief trying to fix what you have now.
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Old 06-30-2018, 11:18 AM   #12
rotorwrench
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Default Re: Another dumb 1937 Ford question...

The 1935, 36, & 37 switch were all similar. There were different knob configurations. They fit into the dash like a starter switch button set up with the spring ears on the sides. When there is a product that was only used for a rear or so, it makes it less popular with the folks that reproduce stuff. If it is a complicated part then the cost to tool up for it would make it take years to realize a profit from it.

A guy has to find someone in the street rod crowd that takes the good stuff out & puts custom stuff in. That is unless the street rodder guy doesn't realize what it is and chucks it in the trash.
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Old 06-30-2018, 07:29 PM   #13
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Default Re: Another dumb 1937 Ford question...

I believe there's a toggle with like the one pictured, mounted under the bottom lip of the dash on the right side that switches the heater blower motor on-off in cars equipped with a hot air heater.
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Old 06-30-2018, 07:53 PM   #14
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Default Re: Another dumb 1937 Ford question...

Quote:
Originally Posted by JSeery View Post
Dave and rotorwrench, thanks for the correction on the toggle switch. I thought my 38 had the toggle, now I'm going to have to go look!
The 38s do have a toggle switch for the dash lights
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Old 07-02-2018, 11:38 AM   #15
Marshall V. Daut
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Default Re: Another dumb 1937 Ford question...

I returned the car to its owner this morning so that he can drive it for a couple weeks before Round Two of repairs starts. I managed to fix the steering and ball joint issues, as well as a couple other problems. The owner tells me the extra toggle switch on the bottom lip of the dash panel (barely visible beneath the instrument panel lights on/off switch in the photo) was installed by the same idiot local "repair" shop that royally screwed up his brake system. The wiring under the dash and in the engine compartment looks like something Helen Keller would have done - on a bad day for her. What a rat's nest of wires with no rhyme nor reason where they go or what they are supposed to do. They added this toggle switch to turn the fuel pump on and off. I discovered this accidentally when troubleshooting the dash wiring, looking for a reason why the instrument lights would not come on. I had flipped this switch and noticed nothing had changed. Well, when I went to start the car, it wouldn't. Starter fluid got it going for a couple seconds and then the engine died. Flipping the toggle switch again while panicking, the pump started, and so did the engine. Mystery solved. That toggle switch was installed three years ago. Why the shop thought a separate switch to turn on the fuel pump was needed is a mystery to me. Isn't the pump supposed to automatically turn on when the ignition toggle is switched to the "on" position?
I traced the two wires from the instrument panel to where they were spliced with a new, green plastic wire. This wire runs down into the light switch and is plugged into one of the cloth covered wires, next to the headlight connections. The original on/off pull switch has wires running to the white knob at the top of the dash panel (just above the throttle knob in the photo) that has a million wires and a fuse connected to it. I think the shop must have added this, too. But to what end? Since the two instrument panel wires run directly to the bail, shouldn't they automatically turn on when the headlights or parking lights are turned on? The switch to control the original on or off feature apparently isn't connected in-line. But the dash lights do not turn on. I'll struggle with this problem when I get the car back in a couple weeks. 'Kind of frustrating, though, especially in this heat.
The choke pull lever just sits in the dash hole because the threaded portion on the back side is missing. I assume someone over-tightened it and broke it off the base. Is this mounting part behind the dash panel being remade? What would I call it to advertise for one?
Marshall
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Last edited by Marshall V. Daut; 07-02-2018 at 11:53 AM.
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Old 07-02-2018, 12:32 PM   #16
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Default Re: Another dumb 1937 Ford question...

Sounds like a new wiring harness is in order.


As for the choke control, like the throttle control, there was originally a tapered brown rubber grommet in the dash that the rods passed through. I was a snug fit and served the purpose of holding the rod in place in the desired position when in use. Those special grommets are available from Dennis Carpenter and no doubt other vendors as well. Originally the grommets were not split but were installed on the rods when they were assembled. The reproductions are either split or you will have to split them on one side in order to install them (as judging from your photo both of them require replacement).
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Old 07-02-2018, 12:41 PM   #17
Marshall V. Daut
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Default Re: Another dumb 1937 Ford question...

By the way, Bill informed me today that he is the second owner of this car! He had never told me the story of its purchase before: In the late 1950's he was driving down the street in his Illinois hometown when he saw this 1937 730-D Deluxe Touring Fordor Sedan pulling into the local Ford dealership (He didn't know until today what the car's designation was). Bill made a U-turn and also pulled into the dealership to talk to the driver, although he was not an antique car collector or lover at the time. He just liked the look of the car as it went by him on the street. The car was occupied by two young women, who were the daughters of the original owner. He had died recently, so the daughters wanted to sell the car to the Ford dealer that day. My friend said he'd buy it and give them a better price. So, right there on the dealership's lot, under the sales people's very eyes, he bought the car - for $250. I told Bill he could probably double his money by selling the car today.
Marshall
P.S. Don't judge the car's quality by the worn dash panel and knobs. That is probably the worst part of the car - besides the new wiring. The interior is pretty nice and the only thing I can see missing as a Deluxe model is the running board outer trim. Bill confirmed today that the rubber was in fact installed new a few years ago. They tossed the old side trim pieces.
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Old 07-02-2018, 09:23 PM   #18
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Default Re: Another dumb 1937 Ford question...

Quote:
Originally Posted by JSeery View Post
Dave and rotorwrench, thanks for the correction on the toggle switch. I thought my 38 had the toggle, now I'm going to have to go look!

Toggle switch on 38 pickups if that's relevant. Still using the original one from the truck.
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Old 07-03-2018, 06:51 AM   #19
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Default Re: Another dumb 1937 Ford question...

The steering column light switch has to be in one of the three "ON" positions and then the dash light switch should operate to turn on/off the dash lights. Like the 36 Ford the 37 Ford dash light switch pulls out to turn OFF the dash lights.
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Old 07-03-2018, 07:58 AM   #20
Marshall V. Daut
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Default Re: Another dumb 1937 Ford question...

Yes, I have tried all the lighting switch positions. The headlights and parking lights operate as they are supposed to, but in no position will the instrument panel lights come on. Moving the dash light switch in or out makes no difference, either. I'll have to do more sleuthing behind the instrument panel and through the rat's nest of re-wiring to find the problem when I get the car back in a couple weeks.
Marshall
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