It’s in the (flasher) can


Here’s a trick that has been around for a while, but it’s a simple way to help to maintain the original appearance of your vintage car.

Old electrical parts do fail after a while – this Niles thermal flasher can from my ‘67.5 Datsun roadster finally gave up the ghost after almost 50 years.

The thermal flasher is a simple device that makes and breaks contact to create the blink in the blinker. A bi-metallic strip, with one side made of copper and the other made of steel, is heated by the voltage passing through. Due to different expansion rates, one side causes the strip to bend away from the contact and break the contact. The strip then cools off and remakes the connection. And so it goes, as the guy in front of you on the freeway leaves his left turn signal on for miles.

flasher guts

Back to the upgrade. The aluminum can simply houses the flasher mechanism and does not need to be grounded or otherwise electrically connected. The old flasher can can be carefully opened up by straightening out the bends in the lip that retain the phenolic base. I use a needle-nose pliers. The replacement flasher can be opened up as well. The new flasher is much smaller, but the base is very close in size.

I’m sure you can see where this is going. Insert the new flasher into the old can and carefully bend back the retaining points. I use the outside of the the needle-nose pliers.


Mount the can and hook up the wires and you are good to go. I tried a few different flashers trying to find one that was nice and loud. It can be hard to hear the flasher with the top down and the Solexes growling! Look for a heavy-duty or truck flasher. Unfortunately, J.C. Whitney no longer sells the Elvis “Love Me Tender” musical flasher. This is the only video I could find that demonstrates it.

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