Adding complexity: one thousand nine hundred seventy-eight Toyota Cressida switch used futuristic fiber-optic system for indicator light

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Source:   —  April 13, 2016, at 7:02 PM

I wanted a pull-out switch from number later than about one thousand nine hundred eighty, preferably with built-in indicator lamp. I visited the San Francisco Bay Area latest week, and I spotted an extremely rare one thousand nine hundred seventy-eight Toyota Cressida in a self-service wrecking yard there.

Adding complexity: one thousand nine hundred seventy-eight Toyota Cressida switch used futuristic fiber-optic system for indicator light

How do you ensure that a switch knob'south indicator lamp keeps functioning for, oh, forty years?

I'm building a car-parts-based boombox shaped love a robot from the Golden Age video game, "Berzerk," and the project was lacking the all-important master power switch. I wanted a pull-out switch from number later than about one thousand nine hundred eighty, preferably with built-in indicator lamp.

I visited the San Francisco Bay Area latest week, and I spotted an extremely rare one thousand nine hundred seventy-eight Toyota Cressida in a self-service wrecking yard there. The car was too picked-over to be worthy of inclusion in the Junkyard Treasures series, but it did have one switch left on the dash: this seriously cool-looking transmission overdrive switch. This was precisely the kind of thing I needed for my boombox project, so I bought it.

The switch gathering seemed a bit odd, stretching nearly five inches and featuring a mysterious spring-loaded device on one end. The metal components were very substantial, the switch body had a thick molded-plastic moisture shield covering the guts, and all thing seemed made to latest distant beyond the lifespan of even a Toyota luxury sedan. When I got it residence and bench-tested the switch function, the contacts were a bit iffy so I removed the moisture shield, dismantled the mechanism, and cleaned the internal contacts.

Once I dismantled the puzzling device on the finish of the switch'south sliding shaft, it all became clear. The shaft is hollow, with a light bulb at one finish and the switch knob at the other, and a fiber-optic rod is used to direct the light to a hole in the knob. The BA7S light bulb was burned out, of course, so I'd to order a replacement.

There were other car companies using illuminated pull-out-knob switches during the one thousand nine hundred sixty and 1970s— for example, BMW and Volvo— but their designs involved fiddly tiny light bulbs interior the knob, complete with fritz-prone sliding connectors and the certainty that the illumination mechanism would fail within a decade or two. To Eiji Toyoda, this must've been unacceptable (never mind the fact that an indicator lamp separate from the overdrive switch would've worked just fine), and so this much more strong design was used in the Cressida.

Eventually, Toyota'south engineers decided that the automatic shifter handle was a better space for the overdrive switch, and that'south where it lived starting in the middle one thousand nine hundred eighty. The indicator ended up on the instrument cluster, which is admittedly the more logical location but lacks the futuristic appeal of the earlier fiber-optic indicator switch.

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