By John Gunnell
Imagine having a trouble light in your shop that you can toss on the floor, then drag back to you via the cord like a fish on a line. Or imagine a trouble light that you can stand on while balancing on one foot on top of the light! That's exactly what Bill Meister did, during the Fall Jefferson show in Jefferson, Wis. "I do that to demonstrate the toughness of our bulb," Bill said. "And I've been doing it to this same bulb for three days; I've got in about 30 hours of abusing it."
One of Bill Meiste's Trouble Free Work Light demos involved balancing on top of his product on one foot. Try this with your old trouble light.
Although the modified CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulb that Bill tried to scrunch is durable and long-lasting, the interesting thing about the retro-fit work light unit that the tough bulb screws into is that it stays cool to the touch for hours. It is called the Trouble Free Work Light and it is catching on with old-car hobbyists who want a trouble light that's extra bright, but doesn't get hot or short out every time you bang it against something or drop some cool fluid on it.
"Trouble Free Lighting Co. wanted to develop a trouble light that would not burn you," Meister explained. "They used a 20-watt CFL bulb that puts out the equivalent of 130 watts and then they created a lamp housing with a reflective back that produces even more lighting up to 150 watts. They charge the bulb with more phosphorous than anybody else does to get extra lighting. Then, they put twice the electronics into the base of the unit, so the light is actually ready to come on at minus 32 degrees and 15 seconds. They put spacers in between the coils of the CFL bulb to strengthen the tubing and then hand dipped the bulb twice in a water-based rubber solution to give it a 'tuff-coated' surface."
According to Meister, the base of the bulb is designed with a spot that locks it into the housing, so it can't spin. This alone reduces breakage by 90 percent. The modifications also eliminate all of the key fat wires, so the bulb won't get hot enough to burn the user of the light. Trouble Free Lighting also uses a rubber washer to seal the socket so that water and chemicals can't get in. That prevents any cold fluids that get on the light from shocking it and causing shorts or fires. The light also has a 360-degree hook for better positioning.
"It's the best work light in the industry," claims Meister. "The nice thing about our light is that you buy the retro-fit unit for $20 and just take the lamp unit off your old work light and replace it with this one." All the parts are replaceable and everything, except the bulb comes with a 1-year warranty. "We can't warranty bulbs, because glass is still glass and it can break," says Meister. "But if you break the bulb, you can order a new one with all our upgrades for only $7."
For $20 you get the retro-fit unit complete with modified CFL bulb to install in your current trouble light.
Second Chance Garage asked Meister questions about the Trouble Free Retro-Fit Work Light and its usefulness to hobbyists and professional restorers. We wanted to go beyond the sales brochure and get some real world experience.
SCG: What do customers like best about your product?
BM: They like all factors combined, but most the idea of having a light bulb that's rated for 8,000 hours that you can actually get that out of, because it's not breaking all the time.
SCG: Do you have some big-name restorers using it?
BM: We've had a lot of professionals buy this product, but I don't know anything specifically. A lot of them have come up to us at shows. In our home area of Muskegan and Grand Rapids, all the car dealers have switched.
SCG: What has the reaction been of old-car restorers?
BM: Restorers absolutely love it because now they have a light that they can lay on a carpet, dashboard or seat and not wind up saying, "Darn I just wrecked my seat or carpet because I burned it."
SCG: What about the safety factor?
BM: That is big with the car restoration guys. I talked to guys who burned themselves with a regular trouble light. I talked to three guys who lost their cars in garage fires caused by trouble lights. The Trouble Free light throws off little or no heat, so now all your worries are gone.
SCG: How do you promote your product?
BM: We sell mainly at car shows and farming shows. Farmers can't tolerate trouble lights that get hot, because fires are so devastating for them, so farm shows are a big deal for us. I also did great at the National Street Rod Assoc. (NSRA) show in Kalamazoo lat week. The world of mouth was good and helped us a lot.