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TOM: Crafting detailed light bulbs

Our tip this time comes from astute modeler Stan Weeden in the U.K. Stan has come up with an impressive method of making automotive light bulbs that add the type of detail we just love. They not only add a perfect touch behind the clear lenses of vintage autos, but they also would look great placed on a workbench as a classy dioramic touch. Here’s how he does it: 

Remove the outer insulation from a piece of telephone wire to reveal the several single insulated wires inside. Cut off about 1 inch of one strand and remove the sheathing to expose about 1/4 in. of bare wire, then twist the loose wires together.

Cut a 3/8-in. x 1/4-in. piece of aluminum foil and wrap it around the sheathing to represent the bulb cap. Before wrapping it all the way around, use a dab of super glue to hold the foil in place. Now cut the twisted wire, leaving 1/16 in. of wire exposed.

Dip the exposed wire into a drop of canopy glue, or any white glue that dries clear [Clear epoxy would work too – KH]. Hang the wire upside down with the glued end at the bottom. That way the glue will dry in a “tear drop” shape and allow it to dry completely. If you’re not satisfied with the size of the bulb, repeat the dipping process.

Finally, cut the foil end of the bulb, leaving enough length to ensure the bulb can be tightly secured into the headlight shell. Also, be sure to set it back far enough that it won’t hit the lens. If you’re making loose bulbs to sit on a workbench, cut the foil a little closer to the bulb.


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