Author Topic: Final word on inverted W111 US License plate lights  (Read 1381 times)

wwheeler

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Final word on inverted W111 US License plate lights
« on: October 04, 2017, 04:42:55 »
I thought I would post the following from Dave Gallon who many know. This is in regards to whether the W111 coupes and cabs REALLY had the US license plate lights with the bulb holder screw at the bottom. There have been a few books that approach the topic, but Dave provides a perfect explanation:
 

In the 1950s, there was a "186" license plate light. It was mounted on the trunk lid and so it was reasonable that the bulb access and drain would both be on the bottom.

When the 220SEb coupe/cabriolet US version was configured, they used this same license plate light with an additional base. The only problem is that it was now mounted on the rear body panel so the bulb access on the bottom was really inconvenient. Nevertheless, DBAG continued this arrangement through the end of production on the 111 coupe/cabriolet in 1971. (To be clear, it was nearly impossible to replace the bulb without removing the entire license plate assembly from the car.)

With the introduction of the 108 sedans, DBAG produced a new US version license plate light, the "108" light, with the bulb access on the top. (The bulb access is on the top, the drain is on the bottom.) This is a much better design.

The conclusion is that the "186" light was used through the end of 111 coupe/cabriolet production and then shortly thereafter discontinued as a spare part. The 108/109 sedan used the "108" light through the production run. The "108" light replaced the "186" light as a spare part in the 1970s. So, if you see a really good US version 111 coupe/cabriolet it will have the bulb access on the bottom and the drain on the bottom. If the license plate lights have been replaced due to collision damage or weathering, they will almost certainly be the "108" lights and who knows how they will be mounted (I've seen every possible combination.)
 
Wallace Wheeler
Texas
'68 280SE W111 coupe
'60 220SE W128 coupe
'70 Plymouth Roadrunner 440+6

wwheeler

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Re: Final word on inverted W111 US License plate lights
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2017, 04:58:40 »
From my own personal experience, my W111 had the #108 lights installed and the bulb holder screw was on top when I bought it. It had previous rear end damage, so that makes sense with Dave's explanation above. Knowing this wasn't correct for my car, I "converted" the #108 lights to the earlier and correct #186 light. To do this you have to drill a new drain hole on the same side as the screw cap. Then you braze the old drain hole shut and plate the housing. Now you have the correct light and bulb holder screw location. Attached is a bad picture of my converted #108 light.

BTW, Dave also gave us the correct part numbers for both type lights:
W111 - 186 820 05 62 left and 186 820 06 62 right.
W108/109 - 108 820 03 62 left and 108 820 04 62 right.

As Dave points out, the only new piece available is the #108 part.   

Wallace 
Wallace Wheeler
Texas
'68 280SE W111 coupe
'60 220SE W128 coupe
'70 Plymouth Roadrunner 440+6

waltklatt

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Re: Final word on inverted W111 US License plate lights
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2017, 15:59:58 »
Wallace,
So they kept the heavy rubber and the separate chrome part in both?
What about the long captive nuts that go through the panel?
Everything is the same except for the location of the light screw and drain?

Walter

wwheeler

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Re: Final word on inverted W111 US License plate lights
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2017, 17:31:53 »
Hi Walter,

I think what Dave said is that the 300 cars (including 186) had the light fixture, but not the chunky rubber piece and chrome trim. They had a body seal, but was just a thin pad as normal. If you look at pictures of those cars, the lights are much more streamlined than on the W111. The lights on the W111 cars stick way out due to the much thicker rubber pad. I would presume the 300 cars had captive nuts, just not as long. But I do not know that as a fact.

As a whole, everything is the same on a 186 part versus 108 except screw location. The drains are always at the bottom obviously (or should be). There could be some other minute detail difference, I do not know. But I can tell you that converting a 108 light to what is correct for a W111 works just fine.   
Wallace Wheeler
Texas
'68 280SE W111 coupe
'60 220SE W128 coupe
'70 Plymouth Roadrunner 440+6

opopotts

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Re: Final word on inverted W111 US License plate lights
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2017, 03:43:53 »
I have the Euro version with the light at the bottom and it is a better design

wwheeler

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Re: Final word on inverted W111 US License plate lights
« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2017, 06:00:37 »
No arguments from me. I like the Euro design way better as well. But there is only so far I am willing to go and making that reversible is difficult. I at least wanted to make the lights correct for the car.
Wallace Wheeler
Texas
'68 280SE W111 coupe
'60 220SE W128 coupe
'70 Plymouth Roadrunner 440+6