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Back-Up Lights on 50 Deluxe
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Trying to sort out why my back-up lights are not working. Does the back-up light system shown in the attached photos look like a factory accessory? All these years I thought the on/off knob said "Utility Back Up," but it actually says "Unity Back Up." Does anyone know which of the following have to be on for the back-up lights to work: ignition switch, the headlights, engine running? Tough to track down the problem if I don't know how to turn them on. Thanks in advance.

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Posted on: 2020/9/18 20:40
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Re: Back-Up Lights on 50 Deluxe
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Without the photos coming across it is only a guess but sounds as if the backup light is some kind of aftermarket unit. If that is correct then no idea what is involved in the operation so it may be a matter of tracing wires to see where the power is coming from.

EDIT: After the photos which finally posted and are visible, definitely aftermarket. Power could be from anywhere. The ign sw GA terminal, the headlight switch tail light terminal or if constantly powered, from the aux breaker on the back of the cluster. are common places. Best suggestion is to trace the wires or measure to see when power is present. The switch appears to be a typical aftermarket switch similar to those fog lights or heaters used where you just turn the knob.

The factory backup light is powered from the tail light terminal off the headlight switch so it does require the head or parking lights to be on to provide power. The switch is on a bracket bolted to the steering column and operated by the R - 1 lever on a standard trans or the Ultramatic lever on those models. The gearshift lever only needs to be placed in reverse to turn it on or shifted out of reverse to turn off.

Here is a photo of the factory unit as well as the install instructions.

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Posted on: 2020/9/18 21:28
Howard
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Re: Back-Up Lights on 50 Deluxe
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I was having a little trouble attaching my photos but they are now attached. The light/lights look a little different and yours appears to indicate only one light was used. My back-up light is activated manually by a knob and is connected to the tail light wiring in the trunk. Apparently my system was installed by the owner - in this case my father 70 years ago. I have a pretty good idea now how it should work, I just have to figure out figure out why it doesn't. Thanks.

Posted on: 2020/9/18 22:08
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Re: Back-Up Lights on 50 Deluxe
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Check the bulbs/sockets first. Check socket ground for continuity to chassis ground.
Make sure the car/power is "on" or engine running/brake set. Start at the switch and turn it "on". Then track down wiring with a VOM looking for voltage to the light. There are other ways but need more tools.

Instead of a mechanism to turn them on from the reverse lever, it's just a manual switch. I'd forget to use it...
They had all sorts of gadgets and gizmos back in the day for things you didn't get from a factory car. I think "Unity" was a GE brand or associated co. Made spotlights, etc.

Posted on: 2020/9/19 7:52
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Re: Back-Up Lights on 50 Deluxe
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Quote:
The light/lights look a little different and yours appears to indicate only one light was used.


You are correct. Until 51 the backup light option was typically a single unit mounted on the left if it was a LHD car. The 22-23 series lights mount to the vertical panel below the trunk lid and are on sort of a stalk which is needed to extend the light if the car is a Custom with the rear eggcrate grill below the trunk lid. The spacer which forms the stalk is placed on the inside of the trunk on models without the eggcrate which brings the light closer to the panel for a more flush look.

The true flush mounted dual lights somewhat similar in shape but smaller than yours came along in 51 and lasted in some models thru 55. Most years mounted them flush on the flat surface below the trunk lid but other years or models had an extra chrome piece under the lights so they could mount on the curved surface below the tail lights.

IMO, a single light does look a bit incomplete or unbalanced. Others must have thought so too because there are a few photos in the archive of 22-23 series models where an owner must have bought a second light and had it installed on the right side.

Posted on: 2020/9/19 8:13
Howard
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Re: Back-Up Lights on 50 Deluxe
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As usual, thanks for the responses. Looks like another adventure awaits!

Posted on: 2020/9/19 12:41
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Re: Back-Up Lights on 50 Deluxe
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Someone in the past installed backup lights on my 1949-renumbered-as-a-1950 Custom. These lights were (I assumed) from the '51-'55 accessories. They are set up to go on when the Ultramatic is in the reverse gear. The wiring was routed through the hood opening mechanism hole which leads me to believe they were not installed by a Packard dealer. They have been temporarily disconnected until I can re-route the wiring in a way less likely to burst into flame.

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Posted on: 2020/9/19 16:32
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Re: Back-Up Lights on 50 Deluxe
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If I recall correctly, the tail light harness runs down along the interior under the carpet inside rocker or trans tunnel into the trunk. Haven't worked on that one in a few years. Manual here, not sure where the ultramatic wiring comes from. Should be on a wiring diagram in the shop manual.
After a second peak, reading the addtions, those wires on the Unity are not circa '50 materials, so a dead give away, it's after market. Not a big deal to parallel a second light off the one. Just has to be wired parallel or one will be dimmer.

Posted on: 2020/9/19 18:55
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Re: Back-Up Lights on 50 Deluxe
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Nice looking Packard!

Posted on: 2020/9/19 19:41
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Re: Back-Up Lights on 50 Deluxe
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The Unity wires are replacements. The originals had fabric insulation, but were badly frayed.

Posted on: 2020/9/19 19:45
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