To control your 12-volt garage work lights, strike a junkyard

Given that we have boxes full of automotive switches, lights, clocks and other electrical accessories pulled during All You Can Carry junkyard sales, and given that not all of that things gets consumed during my scandalous Car Parts Boombox Building Parties, we always have copiousness of high-quality electrical hardware on palm when we need to do some low-voltage electrical plan in my garage.

LED off-road light bolted to garage ceiling

These things get knocked off 24 Hours of Lemons competition cars all a time, so we take them home if nobody claims them. Photo by Murilee Martin

In my purpose as the really cool Chief Justice of a 24 Hours of Lemons Supreme Court, we transport to racetracks all over a country, reviewing new cars and dispensing my unique code of justice. Many 24 Hours of Lemons cars have arrays of LED pushing and off-road lights bolted on, and when they pile-up into any other (which happens frequently during tricky, swarming marks such as Sonoma Raceway or New Hampshire Motor Speedway), these lights get knocked off. At a finish of any day’s competition session, a wrecker crews collect adult all a busted-off automobile tools they can find — e.g., bumpers, mufflers, starter motors, hulk skunk tails and pushing lights — and dump them in a store in a black-flag chastisement box. The racers come by and rescue their parts, though for some reason they never take banged-up-but-still-functioning LED pushing lights. we brought a few of them home and mounted them to my garage ceiling, for use as work lights. we have a tasty 50-amp, 12-volt-DC energy supply, to run my junked-Winnebago-sourced propane furnace, so we had a energy … though we got sleepy of carrying a lights come on whenever we activated a energy supply.

Ceiling lights in Murilee Martin's garage

1980s lane lighting retrofitted with 12-volt LED bulbs and flashy with eremite counterpart ornaments from junkyard cars. Photo by Murilee Martin

I also have some rejected 1980s track-lighting fixtures, that used 12-volt illuminated bulbs. we substituted in some LED spotlights, afterwards combined a few some-more to tuber sockets screwed onto a 1×6 hunger board. The junkyard-found eremite mirror-hangers have my garage lonesome on all theological angles, from Falun Gong to Catholicism. The lights worked great, generally when we need to photograph some automobile clocks, though we indispensable switches to control them. Junkyard tools to a rescue!

Building garage light control box

I could have usually mounted several $1.99 hardware-store light switches on a square of plywood, though where’s a fun in that? Photo by Murilee Martin

I systematic a inexpensive cosmetic plan case, dumped out some boxes of automotive electrical hardware, and got to slicing and pasting. Because we had space in a plan case, we motionless to supplement some screw terminals for outmost energy (helpful when operative on other 12-volt projects), and since we adore automobile clocks we combined a Kienzle time from a 1976 Jaguar XJ-S (actually, we used a integrate of Jaguar Kienzle clocks from my stash, before we found one that kept semi-accurate time). we commissioned a CATALYST power-on indicator light yanked from a lurch of a 1976 Fiat 124 Sport Spider, a cigarette lighter of different automotive start (for plugging in phone chargers or other lighter-jack-powered accessories), and 4 switches to control a spotlights: a hazard-light switch from a 1976 Volvo 264 GL, an E-AT transmission-mode switch from an early-1990s Nissan Pathfinder, an ECO/PWR transmission-mode switch from a 1990 Mitsubishi Sigma, and a rear-defrost switch from a 1974 Datsun B210. Each circuit is fused separately, as is a incoming extract from a energy supply, and a time is powered by a relay-switched wall-wart AC adapter when a large energy supply gets switched off.

I retrofitted LED bulbs into a Jaguar clock, and it looks really good when we spin out a splendid lights in my garage.

Garage 12-volt light control panel

It looks good and gets a pursuit done, and it was usually 19 times some-more work than a quite organic design. Photo by Murilee Martin

I mounted a finished control row right over my workbench, and it’s good to be means to supplement all that splendid LED light to my work area. Being means to insert energy wires to a screw terminals on a tip and bottom will make destiny electrical projects easier, too.


Murilee Martin


Murilee Martin

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