1956 Cadillac Reverse light lens cracking after gas spillover

Started by carguyblack, October 03, 2019, 06:48:16 AM

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carguyblack

Have any of you also experienced this problem? This is probably my 3rd lens that has exploded when fuel spills over on it accidentally. This last time I filled the car, I forgot my blocking towel and thought I could hear it when it was near full but no, I didn't. Cracked the thing in thirds. Really discouraging. That made for a $140 tank of gas! By the way, it was non-ethanol fuel.
When I purchased a replacement yesterday, I asked the vendor if others have complained of the same thing and he hadn't heard of that issue before. Just me?
Chuck
Chuck Dykstra

1956 Sedan DeVille
1956 Coupe DeVille (2 sold)
1957 Oldsmobile 98 (sold)
1989 Bonneville SSE

fishnjim

Is it a glass or plastic lens?   Was the light on or off(warm or hot*)?

Check your fuel tank vent hose.   
I think most of this period vent back near the cap in the fill tube.   fyi: They didn't use detergent gas back then.
{Period Packard's actually had a whistle built in to the vent tube so you knew when it was filling too fast or near full.}   The '58 tail lights flip up, so no issue.   Not sure that was to cure this or a design statement.   A lot of mid 50s had them either to mimic Cad or there was fueling probs.
I even have problems with my boat occasionally, if it fills too fast, it'll foam and trap air then spray out.   Slow flow down to the lowest notch.   Better to take a minute or two more than this.   (If I fill up at the big boy diesel pumps where the nozzle doesn't fit in, it's a mess.   Have to stand there manual fill the whole time.)
Not good for the paint either.   Make sure you clean and wax that spot soon.
Some of the non-attainment areas have those vapor recovery nozzles and they cause more problems than they are worth.
* - can change to a LED bulb.   Gas can leach plasticizers/UV agents out of plastic lens and they get hazed and brittle and eventually crack.   Some are cast acrylic.   Glass is always subject to stress failure.   May not even be related to the spill.

jaxops

Quote from: fishnjim on October 03, 2019, 09:20:59 AM
Is it a glass or plastic lens?   Was the light on or off(warm or hot*)?
Slow flow down to the lowest notch.   Better to take a minute or two more than this.   

I always put my ear down to the gas tube and listen as it fills, slowing it as I hear it filling the pipe and then stopping  it there.  In the Navy this was called "avoiding burping the tank" with an air bubble as described before.  You sure don't want this gasoline on your paint!
1970 Buick Electra Convertible
1956 Cadillac Series 75 Limousine
1949 Cadillac Series 75 Imperial Limousine
1979 Lincoln Continental
AACA, Cadillac-LaSalle Club #24591, ASWOA

carguyblack

It's a plastic lens and the bulb in the assembly continues to work flawlessly. It's just the lens that reacts violently (for me) to gas if it gets in contact with it. Heat in the area was never a variable.
Chuck Dykstra

1956 Sedan DeVille
1956 Coupe DeVille (2 sold)
1957 Oldsmobile 98 (sold)
1989 Bonneville SSE

cadman56

Chuck,
there should be a large masticated rubber piece around the filler pipe to direct spill over down the outside of the tube and away from the light assy.
Yes, check to see if the vent line is open.  I have owned and driven several 56's since the late 60;s and never experienced any problems like you mention.
Good luck,
Larry
1956 Cadillac Coupe deVille (sold)
1956 Cadillac Convertible (sold)
1956 Cadillac Eldorado Seville (sold)
1967 Cadillac Eldorado (sold)
1968 Cadillac Convertible (Sold)
1991 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham dElegance
Larry Blanchard CLC #5820

carguyblack

Hi Larry,
Thanks for your input and good to hear from you again! Hope you made it to Gilmore.
Here's a few pics of my gas filler area. Is mine missing that rubber you spoke about? Not sure where it would go in that tight quarters that would divert any overflow.
Glad you never had a problem with that but I guess I always want to be special and unique!
Chuck
Chuck Dykstra

1956 Sedan DeVille
1956 Coupe DeVille (2 sold)
1957 Oldsmobile 98 (sold)
1989 Bonneville SSE

J. Gomez

Chuck,

It should be a square piece around the filler neck, if you have a piece of the masticate rubber laying around you can make one yourself.

Here is one from Steele/Rubber the right way -> https://www.rubbertherightway.com/1956-cadillac-restoration-parts-gas-67038-prd1.htm?productFeedId=0&utm_source=googleBaseFeed&utm_medium=shoppingEngine&utm_campaign=Google&gclid=Cj0KCQjwuNbsBRC-ARIsAAzITuf9UFnBlfTyg3klqbO2rHxJhrhJMxVp-IpBRmCtq4PygQgaugJnaOMaAsReEALw_wcB

Also, did not see on your picture if you have the rubber gasket inside the tail light channel to protect the lens.  ???

One small thing I’ve notice on the repro lenses is they are tight around the tail light with the gasket so the screws would be just feather tight. Not sure but I guess the repro lenses are just a bit smaller than the OEM ones and may not flex as easier as the original ones.

Hope your next tank fill would be less $$$,  good luck..!   ;D
J. Gomez
CLC #23082

wrench

It could be a fluid compatibility issue with the plastic or it could be a combination of what was already described as a tight fit and or tight mounting hardware and then when the gas evaporates it cools the lense and shocks it thermally enough that the combination of tight fit and then it’s thermal expansion coefficient causes the lense to shrink, strain and crack.
1951 Series 62 Sedan
1969 Eldorado
1970 Eldorado (Triple Black w/power roof)
1958 Apache 3/4 ton 4x4
2005 F250
2014 FLHP
2014 SRX

Bob Hoffmann CLC#96

Steve,
I have ne idea what's causing that. But, I'll bet a NOS one won't do it.
Bob
1968 Eldorado slick top ,white/red interior
2015 Holden Ute HSV Maloo red/black interior.
             
Too much fun is more than you can have.

carguyblack

If anyone can send a picture of the filler area on a 1956 Cadillac that has those rubber pieces Jose told me about, I'd really be grateful. As the filler neck rides as high as the top of the reverse light lens itself, I'm having trouble picturing how any rubber below that would have an effect on diverting the overflow. The neck would almost seem to need some sort of fence around it higher than the filler to catch the splash and then send it down behind the lens rather than over it like I've been experiencing. Hope I'm not just being dumb about understanding this solution? Thanks Jose!
Chuck
Chuck Dykstra

1956 Sedan DeVille
1956 Coupe DeVille (2 sold)
1957 Oldsmobile 98 (sold)
1989 Bonneville SSE

Jay Friedman

Quote from: jaxops on October 03, 2019, 09:58:38 AM
I always put my ear down to the gas tube and listen as it fills, slowing it as I hear it filling the pipe and then stopping  it there.  In the Navy this was called "avoiding burping the tank" with an air bubble as described before.  You sure don't want this gasoline on your paint!

I do the same as Mark to avoid having the gas overflow.  In my gas tank the "gurgling" stops as the fuel level gets near the top and I then release the pump handle.
1949 Cadillac 6107 Club Coupe
1932 Ford V8 Phaeton (restored, not a rod).  Sold
Decatur, Georgia
CLC # 3210, since 1984
"If it won't work, get a bigger hammer."

Roger Zimmermann

'54 to '56 cars are difficult to fill-up (my '57 Brougham too) without spilling the gasoline. When the outside noise level is medium, the gurgling is difficult to hear. '55 to '56 Eldo models are even more difficult due to the lower positioned filler cap.
Anyway, the LH repro back-up lamps are cracking on a regular basis; I never thought that the gas spilling may have an impact. On the '56 Sedan I had, the repro lens was intact for a long time and suddenly it was cracked, but I don't remember if it happened after gas spilling.
1956 Sedan de Ville (sold)
1956 Eldorado Biarritz
1957 Eldorado Brougham (sold)
1972 Coupe de Ville
2011 DTS
CLCMRC benefactor #101

carguyblack

The only station in our town where they have non-ethanol gas is right on a major interchange of an industrial 5 lane road and a highway. There was so much traffic noise there that the listening to the tube method, which I did attempt, wasn't working. The only success I would have had was a thorough ear wax flush with fuel  :o
Chuck
Chuck Dykstra

1956 Sedan DeVille
1956 Coupe DeVille (2 sold)
1957 Oldsmobile 98 (sold)
1989 Bonneville SSE

J. Gomez

Quote from: carguyblack on October 03, 2019, 07:56:43 PM
If anyone can send a picture of the filler area on a 1956 Cadillac that has those rubber pieces Jose told me about, I'd really be grateful. As the filler neck rides as high as the top of the reverse light lens itself, I'm having trouble picturing how any rubber below that would have an effect on diverting the overflow. The neck would almost seem to need some sort of fence around it higher than the filler to catch the splash and then send it down behind the lens rather than over it like I've been experiencing. Hope I'm not just being dumb about understanding this solution? Thanks Jose!
Chuck

Chuck,

These are the best I can do hope you can see the pad around the fuel pipe under the tail light.

I do not remember the measurement when I cut mine, the center opening is just about the size of the filler pipe so you have to stretch to go around the filler neck. It is tugged inside the trunk filler tube cover and bubble upwards, so when the tail light is place it covers the inside up to about the rear lamp socket.

HTH
J. Gomez
CLC #23082

Jeff Rose CLC #28373

Interesting. The one on our 55 is worse on the left than right but just always assumed it was because it had slight pressure exerted on it when closing the upper part. Did it happen immediately or maybe when you put the reverse lights on? I wonder if you were to drill a small drain hole in the bottom of the lens to relieve pressure and provide a drain.
As your old one is broken, may I suggest an experiment? Maybe submerge it in gas for a day or 2 and see if it effects the plastic.
Jeff
Jeff Rosansky
CLC #28373
1970 Coupe DeVille (Big Red)
1955 Series 62 (Baby Blue)
Dad's new 1979 Coupe DeVille

carguyblack

I will soak the broken one in gas to see if it disintegrates more. Good idea as a test. The lens cracked  instantly when the fuel washed over it. It all happened in a matter of a second or two. Disheartening, that's for sure. I do recall a bit of an effort getting the repro lens to work into the bezel when I installed it originally so there may have been some plastic stress involved but not cracked until the solvent hit it. Apparently, the Chinese don't make the lenses quite like Detroit used to!
Chuck
Chuck Dykstra

1956 Sedan DeVille
1956 Coupe DeVille (2 sold)
1957 Oldsmobile 98 (sold)
1989 Bonneville SSE

cadman56

Didn't make it to the Fall Festival, 6 hospital  stays in Sept.
Now, on my last 56 I noticed the back up lens was tight when installing.  I lightly sanded the areas that contact the seals and made a muc better fit with much less stress on the lens.
I always tried to anticipate how many gallons of gas I would need to fill, and yes, listen for the vent gurgling.  I never filled up on the fast notch.  I put 8000 miles  in less than two years on my convertible with no lens breakage.

And the 56 Seville was a real pain to fill.

I wonder....Would the heat from the exhaust warm the lens and then with the sudden cooling of the spilled fluid be the cause of the problem?  Exacerbated by the stress on the lens from too tight a fit?
1956 Cadillac Coupe deVille (sold)
1956 Cadillac Convertible (sold)
1956 Cadillac Eldorado Seville (sold)
1967 Cadillac Eldorado (sold)
1968 Cadillac Convertible (Sold)
1991 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham dElegance
Larry Blanchard CLC #5820

Roger Zimmermann

The fact is that the original lenses did not crack like the repro ones. I suppose the plastic is not the same.
1956 Sedan de Ville (sold)
1956 Eldorado Biarritz
1957 Eldorado Brougham (sold)
1972 Coupe de Ville
2011 DTS
CLCMRC benefactor #101

carguyblack

As a test, I did now soak the 3 broken pieces of the reverse light lens in straight non-ethanol gas for a couple of minutes. When I tried to break the lens pieces further, they wouldn't budge. No additional breaks or sign of weakness. I must have had some sort of outward stress on that plastic mounted in the bezel because it split in 3's  on each side of the lens about an inch off the center tip. Next lens I get I'll shave any resistance off so the thing slides in effortlessly before I screw it on. I'm sure I just pushed the one that broke on hard back when and probably had the screws draw it in tight. Initially there were no cracks in the plastic but more than likely had constant outward pressure on it while mounted in the bezel. Won't do that again.
Chuck Dykstra

1956 Sedan DeVille
1956 Coupe DeVille (2 sold)
1957 Oldsmobile 98 (sold)
1989 Bonneville SSE