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 NACO and ALA Tail Lights

Due to the many different, seemingly unrelated, Tail Light part numbers in the Willys Parts Lists it can be difficult to determine which tail light is correct for an early CJ. Be sure to read the article Early Civilian Jeep Taillights on The CJ-3B Page to become more familiar with Jeep tail lights. Another great web resource for CJ-2A tail lights is Sean Collins' Deciphering CJ2A Tail Lights article. On the left below is the common cross section view of a NACO tail light. On the right is the ALA type. The item descriptions are also shown.

NACO Tail Light ALA Tail Light

Item #1 is the Door or Bezel Item #2 is the Door or Bezel w/lens
Item #2 is the Housing Item # 3 is the License Lens
Item #4 is the License Lens Item #7 is the Housing
Item #6 is the Lens

I have combined the information from as many Willys Parts Lists as possible into one spreadsheet to help sort out the tail light part numbers. Each different list can add something to the understanding of a part. Follow along in the spreadsheet while reading the text to see the sources for the part number information. The spreadsheet taillight.xls can be downloaded here or view the HTML version by clicking here. It includes part numbers relating to the left (drivers) side tail lights obtained from the following sources.

Source code
1945 CJ-2A Parts List information found on www.cj-2a.com
1947 CJ-2A Parts List information found on www.cj-2a.com
Parts List Jeep Models CJ-2A and 3A 1949
Willys Master Parts List 1950
Parts List Model CJ-3B 1953
Willys 1945-1949 Master Parts List 1955
Parts Catalog for Truck V-35/U, 1 Feb., 1950
Information found on The CJ-3B Page in the article Early Civilian Jeep Taillights
Willys Parts List of Popular Parts 1947 through 1961, Issued October, 1961
Revised Parts List Jeep Models CJ-2A and CJ-3A, March 1, 1968

The first Tail Light assembly used on CJ-2A's is part number 640749.
The Housing, part number 640866, is black in color. A black Door and Lens assembly, part 640565, was used up to vehicle serial number (CJ-2A) 45723. The 1961 Popular Parts Catalog indicates this Door and Lens assembly is NACO. Click here to see a drawing of Tail Light 640749 on the www.cj-2a.com web-site.

Up to
(CJ-2A) 45723 we have a black NACO Tail Light with a black Bezel.

Existing tail light H
ousing 640866 (black NACO) continues in use up to serial no (CJ-2A) 209951. After serial number (CJ-2A) 45723 the Door and Lens assembly change to 643618 which now has a chrome plated Door. This combination of components have the Tail Light assembly part number of 643726.

(CJ-2A) 45723 to (CJ-2A) 209951 the same black NACO Housing is now used with a chrome Bezel.

After serial number
(CJ-2A) 209951 and up to serial number              the Tail Light assembly changed to part 646594. All of the Parts Lists I have seen to date do not have an entry for the "up to" serial number. See a mechanical drawing of 646594 on www.cj-2a.com. The drawing clearly shows that this is still a NACO tail lamp with vertical mounting studs.  This assembly still used the same chrome plated Door and Lens assembly 643618, but had a new black enamel Housing, part number 646599. More information about this change is found in Service Bulletin 48-64, dated November 15, 1948. "Tail Lamp - The tail lamp and license plate brackets were redesigned so the rays from the tail lamp would illuminate the plate better. Effective with Model CJ-2A Serial No. 209951. Part No. 646594 tail and stop lamp assembly, superseded Part No. 643726, and new bracket, Part No. 669879 was adopted......" Because of the new Bracket (spacer), part number 669879, between the tail light and body, the Housing would probably now require longer mounting studs. When the previous Housing (640866) is compared to this new housing we see the connector, and so also the bulb, is located further into the body. This would accomplish the bulletins stated claim of providing better illumination for the license plate.

From serial number (CJ-2A) 209951 up to an unspecified serial number, a new black enamel NACO Housing was used with the existing chrome plated Bezel. The connector/socket is deeper in the housing and the vertical mounting studs are longer than previous housings. A spacer is now used between the tail light and the body.

After the unspecified serial number the Housing was changed to part number 647051, making the new Tail Light assembly part 646918. This would still be a NACO tail light since the previous chrome Door and Lens did not change. A note in the 1950 Master Parts List states "use 801157" as the replacement for 646918 Tail Light assembly. Part 801157 (more information to follow) has horizontal mounting studs so it is likely the housing mounting studs were changed from vertical to horizontal at this time. This Tail light assembly, 646918, first appears in the 1949 2A/3A Parts List and we know it was introduced some time after CJ-2A 209951. That places the change in the 1948 to 1949 range. If the unspecified serial number was the last CJ-2A produced it means the mounting studs were changed to horizontal for the CJ-3A. This is a reasonable assumption since examination of existing vehicles proves the theory. The latest CJ-2A surveyed to date is serial number 222638 and it still has vertical mounting studs. The earliest CJ-3A so far is serial number 10961 with horizontal studs. If you own a late CJ-2A or early CJ-3A between these serial numbers please contact me with your tail light information so it can be added to this article.

In the first half of 1950 a vehicle very similar to the CJ-3A was produced. The CJ-V35/U was a special order military vehicle based on the CJ-3A. The Parts Catalog for Truck V-35/U dated 1 Feb., 1950 shows a NACO Tail Light and spacer. The Housing, Door and spacer part numbers differ from CJ-3A components, probably due to special military paint application.

Starting at an unspecified serial number and up to CJ-3A 53768 a NACO Tail Light with a chrome Bezel was used with the same spacer as previous Tail Lights. It is possible that this new tail light Housing utilized horizontal studs instead of the prior vertical studs. The CJV-35/U also used a NACO Tail Light with horizontal studs and a spacer which were probably painted green.

Service Bulletin 50-40, dated November 16, 1950, states "Tail Lamps - to prevent rusting, a change has been made from a steel stamping to a zinc die casting for the tail and stop lamp assemblies. Effective with Model CJ-3A, Serial No. 53768; ...... Part numbers will be furnished by Parts Department as soon as available." Although there are no part numbers listed, the description indicates the change from NACO (with a stamped steel housing) to ALA (with a cast zinc housing) tail lights. Serial number CJ-3A 53768 falls in the second half of the 1950 model year. Tail Light assembly, part number 801157, first appears in the 1950 Master Parts list. This is an ALA lamp with a black enameled Housing, chrome plated bezel and horizontal mounting studs. It is interesting to note that by 1953 another ALA tail light "with bezel in prime" is listed for the CJ-3A and CJ-3B. Instead of  a chrome bezel this would need to be painted before use.

 At (CJ-3A) 53768 the tail light changed to an ALA type. The ALA light with spacer continued through the end of CJ-3A and well into CJ-3B production.

Summary of Drivers side Tail Lights

Part #
CJ-2A 10001
CJ-2A 45723
NACO, black housing, black bezel

CJ-2A CJ-2A 45723
CJ-2A 209951
NACO, black housing, chrome bezel
change to chrome bezel
CJ-2A CJ-2A 209951
unspecified (last CJ-2A?)
NACO, black housing, chrome bezel 645594
better license plate illumination
CJ-3A 10001
CJ-3A 53768
NACO, chrome bezel
change to horizontal studs?
CJV-35 10001
CJV-35 11000 NACO
probably painted green
CJ-3A CJ-3A 53768
end of production
ALA, black housing, chrome bezel
change to ALA
453-GB2 10001
57348-34451 ALA, black housing, chrome bezel 801157

On the left is a photo of an NOS ALA Tail Light and original box. "801157 - Light Tail Stop-L-Glass Group - 15-09B" appears on the box. Click on the thumbnail for a larger photo.

Who was the manufacturer of these tail lights? Military vehicle Parts Lists are unique since they also include manufacturer information. According to the Parts Catalog for Truck V-35/U the NACO tail light was made by CB, or Corcoran-Brown Lamp Co., 4900 Spring Grove Ave., Cincinnati 32, Ohio. In 1934 Electric Auto-Lite purchased the Corcoran-Brown Lamp Company and it operated as a division of Auto-Lite. The Auto-Lite company was a major supplier of electrical components for Willys. Upon examination of an ALA tail light several markings are found. CB 17674, TEACO, and ALA are cast inside, with ALA on the outside of the housing. The lens has CB-17683 on the inside and ALA, the Auto-Lite symbol, AGA and Stimsonite-No.30 on the outside. From these markings it seems like the ALA tail light was also made by Corcoran-Brown/Auto-Lite.

Auto-Lite symbols on publications and ALA tail light lens

Thanks to Sean Collins and early CJ-3A owners Gary Keating, Bob Jones, Woodie Faler, Glen Storrie and Webb Worth for help with this article.

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