The other day I was poking around with some old trucks pieces and parts and came across an oddity, a solid brass headlight retainer ring. Most all of them I have ever seen were stamped steel. The ring in question I believe came off of my early prewar February 1941 military truck. Were headlight retainer rings on prewar era trucks made from brass? This one had no signs of chrome, just OD green paint over brass. Can any of you deco and earlier guys offer any insight?
hi Paul the headlight parts on early (about 47-50) AD trucks are also brass, plated with chrome, later they changed to stainless steel both the inner bulb holding ring in your photo and the outer beauty ring with the single bottom screw hole
the brass outer trim rings are one continuous ring and don't have the spot welded splice at the bottom screw location, see photo attached some of my trucks have the early brass and by 53 for sure it was stainless, i don't know what year(s) Chevy/GM transitioned to stainless. early cars headlight trim could also be chromed brass parts, i know i have also seen them at the wrecking yards. -s
Thanks for the intel. Seems brass may have been used before cheaper or newer metal designs were developed. It may had been a carryover from an earlier time too as very old vehicles tended to have lighting components made exclusively from brass.
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Back before stainless steel was in common use, brass was the go-to metal for things like that, because it was very easy to form, didn't rust, and could be chrome plated without a lot of intermediate steps that steel required. In the WWII years, brass and copper were reserved for production of ammunition, and so more things got made out of stainless steel. Remember the steel pennies from 1943? Brass was in such high demand for the war effort, that even cartridge cases got made out of steel. Even in the Korean War years, Chrome was a war effort reserved metal and the '53 Chevy pickups came with painted bumpers instead of chromed ones.
Kevin First car '29 Ford Special Coupe #2 - '29 Ford pickup restored from the ground up. Newest Project - 51 Chevy 3100 work truck. Photos [flickr.com] Busting rust since the mid-60's
I have seen the brass retainers with what I figured, was plated with nickle rather than chrome, since it was easy to remove with anything abrasive. I was not pleased with myself when I found out that it was not chrome.