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Mini-bar mounting options

Discussion in 'Strobe Lighting' started by Maine_Train, Dec 29, 2009.

  1. Maine_Train

    Maine_Train Senior Member
    Messages: 462

    It's going to be awhile before I can get a Backrack and associated mounting brackets for my truck. I just picked up a used Star 9200SQ strobe mini-bar, and am thinking of setting it up with vacuum magnets and a lighter plug for this season.
    The plastic base plate on the bar has two 5/16" thick magnets glued to the bottom, both about 3" x 6". They don't seem to have much pull to them. Most of the screw holes on the underside of the base plate are stripped out.
    [​IMG]

    The folks at Star Headlight & Lantern Co. are on holiday break until 01/04/10, but I emailed them this afternoon. I have a copy of their parts list, and it looks like I can get a metal base plate with vacuum magnets for less than the cost of just two separate VMs. The vacuum magnet mount base is only a few bucks more than the price of a base plate with four 2" (38 lb. pull) magnets.

    Anyone here using a vacuum magnet setup on a mini-bar? How well does it hold when you're plowing? Do you remove it from the roof when you're not plowing, and is it a pain to take it down when you dismount it?

    BTW, this bar cost me about 10% of the 2008 list price for a new 9200SQV, so if I put some time and a few new parts into it, I think I'll do alright. :cool:
     
  2. SafetyLighting

    SafetyLighting Senior Member
    Messages: 601

    I definitely wouldn't trust the magnetic strips that are on it now.
     
  3. Maine_Train

    Maine_Train Senior Member
    Messages: 462

    No, those seem like one of those "good ideas that didn't really make it." Other than that they appear more rigid, they're kinda like magnetic sheet (sign) material. If I cut them off the base, I could have some colossal refrigerator magnets. ;)
     
  4. SafetyLighting

    SafetyLighting Senior Member
    Messages: 601

    Yeah, LOLOL.
     
  5. Too Stroked

    Too Stroked Senior Member
    Messages: 555

    Well, that's pretty much a redneck version of a decent light bar. We run the Star Mini Bars on all of our trucks in either the two vacuum magnet or four mini magnet forms. Somebody removed the OEM magnets and replaced them with what you now have - which I wouldn't trust for anything more than a lawn tractor.

    In response to your question, either of the Star magnetic mounting options works just fine unless you plan on driving your truck at over 90 MPH. We've never had one blow off and we leave them on full time. I think you'll find that the vacuum magnets do a lot less damage to whatever painted surface you mount them to. The regular magnets - if equipped with the round black protective stickers available from Star - don very nicely too.
     
  6. Maine_Train

    Maine_Train Senior Member
    Messages: 462

    I think it started life as a permanent mount. Whether the bolt holes got torn out-of-round while it was still attached to a vehicle, or if it happened when someone was trying to make it into a mag-mount, I don't know. I think it was one of those ideas that seemed good at the time, but . . .

    Okay, thanks. I try to keep my plowing at 70 MPH or less, but sometimes it's fun to see how big a "rooster tail" the truck can throw. :jester:
    I think I'll be calling Star on Monday, and see if I can start getting this thing rebuilt.
     
  7. Too Stroked

    Too Stroked Senior Member
    Messages: 555

    If Star's pricing makes it more cost effective to go with the full base plate and soft mount magnets, go for it. It's definitely a better setup. All you'll have to do is swap over the power supply, diamond mirror, stobe bulbs and inner domes and that's actually pretty straight forward. Take it easy on reefing down on the fasteners though. The plastic base plates don't hold the Pem studs as well as the older aluminum base plates.

    While you're inside the light, you might want to consider rewiring the main power supply and ground wires. (In your picture, they were both chopped off right at the base plate.) We take all of our mini-bars apart when new and install a two prong quick connect available at most auto parts stores. (It's a 2 lead version of the standard "flat 4" trailer connector.) All of our trucks have the other end of that connector installed and run out underneath the HMSL / cargo light. This makes installation, replacement and removal a snap.
     
  8. Maine_Train

    Maine_Train Senior Member
    Messages: 462

    From the parts price list, it looks like $53.36 for two of the vacuum magnets ($26.68 each), but $48.83 for a metal or plastic base plate with the "soft magnets" on it.

    Okay, that's what those are called. (I just looked up PEM studs, and found Penn Engineering's site.)
    I thought the existing base was plastic because of the way some of the holes had widened out, but now I'm thinking they might have split or chipped if it was plastic. Any places where the black finish wears/is worn off will tell me if it's actually aluminum. I was planning to go with metal for the new one.

    Ah ha! I was thinking of replacing that remaining stubby wire, and you just gave me a good suggestion for a better way of doing that, even if I start with the 920-10 lighter plug cord. :salute:

    Here are a couple of pics, before and after I cleaned the dome with Novus plastic polish. From the eBay pics, I thought that "haze" might be condensation inside the dome, but when I got the bar, it looked more like something had crazed the plastic. (Ruh roh!)
    [​IMG]

    Fortunately, it cleaned off with the Novus and some scrubbing. (Whew!)
    [​IMG]
    I think somebody mighta spilled a Mountain Dew or something inside it when they were working on it.

    I can't believe I got it 12/28 and still haven't put any test leads on it and tried it out. Having to replace the power supply would really take some of the satisfaction out of the "bargain price."
     
  9. Too Stroked

    Too Stroked Senior Member
    Messages: 555

    The base plate you have right now is plastic. Trust me, I've worked on enough Star stuff to know. (Their factory is only about 30 minutes from my house.) Truth be told, the plastic base plate isn't bad, but I'm kind of partial to the aluminum ones. Go for the soft mount magnets and the base of your choice and you'll be all set.

    Nice work on polishing out the outer dome. Meguiar's Plast-X works pretty well too.

    One thing you might want to add to your parts order is the gasket that fits between the outer dome and the base plate. Trust me, you'll need it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2010
  10. JohnnyU

    JohnnyU 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,040

    Are you guys ordering directly from Star? I am looking for a pair of vacuum-magnets myself and don't really know where to get them. Thanks!:cool:
     
  11. Maine_Train

    Maine_Train Senior Member
    Messages: 462

    I kinda figured you were in their neighborhood somewhere. I was out that way in '94, Pittsford/Fairport area, when an old friend of mine got married. Nice country. Mike was originally from L.I., but he has since moved to Albuquerque. I bet he misses the snow already. :p

    I've also got three Model 292 Trainman's Lanterns kicking around here that can probably go back into use once I get some miscellaneous small parts for them. From my user name, you probably guessed that I've seen/used some other Star stuff in the past. :cool:

    Thanks. I think I've seen Meguiar's recommended in regards to guitar polish.

    Yeah, that's in the Micro$oft Excel spreadsheet I made up to track parts needed for the mini-bar. (Very handy for a math-impaired individual like me.) The one on there now looks kinda raggedy, so for $2.60, I figured a new one would be a good investment.
    Do you know if the PEM studs can be swapped over to the new base, or are they included with a new one? One of the ones holding the dome was bent, and the head on it was partially broken off, so it pulled through the mounting hole. I haven't tried pushing on any of the other ones, in case they're somehow crimped or glued into the holes.

    I really should get out there between any snow flurries this afternoon, and put 12 volts to those wires. :dizzy:
     
  12. Maine_Train

    Maine_Train Senior Member
    Messages: 462

    I was gonna give them a call on Monday, and see how to go about getting some various parts for my "new" mini-bar and some railroad lanterns I have.

    There may be a distributor in my state, but I figured I'd go right to the manufacturer first.
     
  13. SafetyLighting

    SafetyLighting Senior Member
    Messages: 601

    I can provide Star parts if you have trouble finding them.
     
  14. Too Stroked

    Too Stroked Senior Member
    Messages: 555

    Truth be told, I just go directly to the factory in Avon, NY and pick the parts up from my friends in Customer Service. If memory serves me correctly, thier web site lists a phone number and you can ask for Customer Service from the main switchboard. Hope that helps!
     
  15. Too Stroked

    Too Stroked Senior Member
    Messages: 555

    The new base will come with the studs already pressed in. Once they're pressed into a hole, the stud is generally still reusable, but the hole ends up getting enlarged, so trying to put a new stud in doesn't work very well.
     
  16. Maine_Train

    Maine_Train Senior Member
    Messages: 462

    Okay, thanks. I thought it might be something like that. I could see the knurled part under the head, to keep it from turning when the acorn nut is tightened. Penn Engineering makes some pretty clever hardware.

    I cut some wire and dug out some alligator clips to make a ground wire for testing. I'll go out and check it to make sure whatever was on the inside of the dome didn't attack any electrical components.
    "I love the sound of capacitors firing in the morning." :D
     
  17. Maine_Train

    Maine_Train Senior Member
    Messages: 462

    Oh, quap.

    Hooked it up, but nothing happens. No clicking, no whistling.
    I lifted the Fresnel domes off just to make sure there are flash tubes in there. They don't seem to be cracked or discolored. There's no evidence of the crud that was inside the dome on any components on the top side of the base.
    If I set my digital multimeter to 200k ohms and touch the probes to the skimpy power wires, I get a very brief reading of 1,800-something. If I set it for 2000k ohms, I get a rapidly decreasing reading that starts around 1872. On the chance that that's caused by that fat electrolytic cap charging up,[​IMG] I decided to leave it until Monday.

    I hope I'm left with something more than the mirror (to which the power supply is glued), inner lenses, and dome. This project could turn out to be like that old joke about "jack up the radiator cap and put a new truck under it." :mad:
     
  18. Too Stroked

    Too Stroked Senior Member
    Messages: 555

    When you call Star on Monday to order parts, ask their Customer Service folks what they think is wrong. Bulbs are pretty inexpensive, but the power supply is around $60.00 if memory serves me correctly. The chances of both bulbs being bad is pretty low though.
     
  19. Maine_Train

    Maine_Train Senior Member
    Messages: 462

    It's about twice that now. Both the Double Flash and Quad Flash types come with a mirror assembly, $119.68 each. There's also a version of each that has an adapter plate, for the same price. I'll have to ask somebody what that's about on Monday.
    The ST3901-7 strobe head assemblies are around $50 each.

    When I pulled the three-wire plugs (Molex?) to the flash heads and checked them with the meter, the same two pins showed continuity on each, so that might or might not be a Good Thing.

    Well, maybe some day I'll be able to say "I rewired that for more power. R! R! R!" :D
     
  20. Too Stroked

    Too Stroked Senior Member
    Messages: 555

    At some point - probably very soon - you're going to be better off just buying a whole new light.