1929-1936 Headlight Conduits & Wires

By Stephen Kassis

Headlight wires in early Chevy cars & trucks are nearly always a problem and must be replaced when restoring the vehicle. The wiring inside the headlights was a cloth or rubber covered wire that, after 75+ years, has become brittle and cracked. This leaves bare wire exposed, creating a danger of shorting out the electrical system. Rebuilding these small harnesses is a tedious job and requires patience.

Each wire has a small tack soldered into the end of the wire as a contact nub. Start by removing the sockets and wires from the headlight reflectors and buckets. The socket in the headlight bucket is held in place by a bend-over tab. Bend the tab out and this allows the socket to be slid out. The reflector socket had two different types of retainers. The early (1929-1930) type was a spring loaded clip. In 1931-1936 the retainer is a looped spring.

Once the harness and sockets are removed, you can start the disassembly. Heat the tip of each wire with a soldering iron while holding it steady with needle-nose pliers. Save each tack for use when assembling the new harness. One method to consider is to build the new harness as you disassemble the old one. As you take each wire off, build the new replacement wire.

There are two types of headlight internal wiring harnesses two-wire and three-wire. The two-wire harness is used on headlight reflectors that have only headlight bulbs mounted in the center of the reflector. The three-wire harness is used on headlight reflectors that have both a headlight bulb in the center and also a parking light socket mounted at the top edge of the reflector.

Be sure to save all of the hardware as you disassemble the wire harness. If any of the insulators are broken or missing, replace them with new insulators. The parking light uses a one-hole insulator. The headlight uses a two-hole insulator. The main headlight bucket socket uses two 3-hole insulators.

If you don’t have the patience or time to rebuild your original headlight wiring, you can now get pre-assembled harnesses with sockets. Also available are the stainless headlight flexible conduit sets for 1929-1936 cars and trucks. These sets come with headlight, horn and tail light conduits for one vehicle.

There are headlight socket wires, reflector sockets, retainers and insulators available in addition to pre-made headlight wiring kits.