LED bulb replacement - bow light - suggestions?

Kris Cringle

Super Anarchist
I'm glad I read this. I was going to swap my running light bulbs with LED's this season. They are the old cast bronze (Perko maybe) fixtures with green red and clear lens. I want to keep those are the bow fixture are mounted on SS plates, part of the pulpit. What do you do in this case?

I swapped out the anchor bulb while re-doing the spar and it occurs to me how strong all these fixtures were built. The long masthead fixture is the natural hand hold for wrestling the spar around.

Spar move 2012 2.jpg

The actual bulb fixture is a heavy bronze casting that is threaded onto a 1/2" bronze pipe nipple. Between the pipe nipple and the fabricated SS masthead threaded fitting, is a coupling.

I had to open that coupling for the first time to check and re-new the wire ends and connectors. The coupling came off easily and allows a clever space to stuff the excess wire and connections. All safe and dry, I've never had a problem with this 1961 fixture.

I re-used the 60's original wiring; a round fat duplex outer covering that covers the black and grey 14-16 gauge copper wire. The new cuts exposed like new shiny copper.

The only problem I had was no ability to determine + - on the LED bulb with 2 contact points. Not a problem with incadescents but with LED's, you get a heads or tails shot. Naturally, I lost and had to switch the black and gray at the mast base connections in the head.

I look forward to being able to use this fixture again. I had two bulb choices and opted for the larger output as the draw is still about .1 amp., 10% of the incadescent.

I've been using a Davis light for a few years to save power (not very bright). Plastic, despite careful use, it's falling apart with a cracked lens and base, it fills with water when it rains.

We get junk these days and don't expect it to last that long.

Spar ready 2021.jpg
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Super Anarchist
Anyone here know much about good quality LEDs for a bow light?
Not an answer to your specific question, but . . . . . Based on my experiences, for offshore usage, I would not spend a whole lot of money on bow lights. It is a VERY wet place (offshore). I tried all the 'best' brands and options at different times on Hawk and they all failed. I may have gotten 2 or 3 years out of the best of them. Nothing was significantly 'better/longer lasting' than the default aqua signal product. Also, mostly bow lights are not so much use offshore - the masthead tri-color will be your primary offshore nav night. The bow's have limited range (down low and potentially blocked by waves). And they are typically used as 'motoring lights', which means that (led) power usage is not any sort of concern for this light.


Super Anarchist
Edgewater, MD
@Kris Cringle Dr. LED, Marine Beam and a few others make perfectly adequate LED replacement bulbs. They've got the color and temperature right. The arguments of 3-5 years ago really don't apply anymore unless you cheap out and get off-color, weak, no-name replacements.

Frankly, when I look around the anchorages the anchor lights I see are brighter and more powerful than the incandescent bulbs of the past. Some are a cooler white and some are warmer depending on what the boat owners have installed but there's no doubt about what they are.

I've found Aquasignal products to be pretty good considering the all plastic construction. Their chief failing is the plastic lenses fogging up over time due to exposure to salt and UV.

This little guy is an anchor light, tricolor and distress signal in one unit:

You activate the distress function by toggling the circuit breaker in a particular pattern.