1st generation SVP-1168 Pancake comparison

Thebakerman

Registered Member
I don't normally care for SVP-1168 pancake lights but I recently picked this one up only because it's a first generation model, similar to the S&W L-11 Volunteer pancake. Was wondering if anyone who has an L-11 could tell me how their internal design compares to these 1st-gen SVP pancakes and if they're the same design or are there differences?

I remember using these 1st-gen SVP and the S&W L-11 Volunteer pancake lights back in the 1980's but back in those days I had no interest in emergency lighting and never took the occasion to pull the cover off one to peer inside. The moment I saw this 1st-gen SVP pancake I bought it right away and then bought a NOS 2nd-gen SVP pancake (gear drive model made in 1993) just to have both types for comparison for my collection. This first generation model came with a red lens on it that say's 'SVP Clearwater, FL' while newer SVP pancake lenses made sometime after that say 'SVP Pinellas Park, FL'. I found a NOS amber pancake lens to replace the old red one (pictured on the light) just to make it look nicer. This light was made around March of 1985 but the original red lens was pretty scratched up as is the bottom exterior of the light but inside the light it looks brand new and it's operation is both smooth and quiet with no issues of any kind.

If anyone has info on the design of these first generation SVP-1168 pancake lights I'd like to hear about it. SVP pancake's are extremely common but you rarely see 1st generation models like this.

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dmathieu

Premium Member
Similar in design to the S&W, but not exactly the same. These old SVPs were nice, and very effective, using a standard bayonet base bulb, and a slightly larger reflector than the newer SVP. They were also more prone to failure due to the friction rather than gear drive. Both S&W and SVP made engineering revisions over time for 2 reasons; to reduce failures, and to make them less costly to produce. Nice find!!
 
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Thebakerman

Thebakerman

Registered Member
The reflector size of both generation lights were one of the things I noticed right away. The older style has a noticeably larger reflector surface area versus the newer style, which had to have a large portion of the bottom section trimmed off to accommodate clearance of the motor. You can also see where the gen-2 light would likely be considerably less costly to manufacture due to it having fewer, not to mention, simpler, components from its predecessor.

Nearly every S&W L-11 Volunteer pancake I've ever seen have all been friction drive but I recently saw a Youtube video of one that was gear driven and I had to take a second look because I had never seen one before. I know gear drive lights are very reliable but there's just something about the old friction drive lights that always appealed to me despite their shortcomings. The one and only Federal Signal pancake light I saw (online) was also gear driven - not sure if they were ever friction or not.


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dmathieu

Premium Member
Federal acquired the rights to the S&W, and never used the friction drive. The light was completely redesigned, using the same dome. There was a company in between S&W and Federal, ERL maybe?
Also, notice the Filament in the newer SVP. If it were a vertical filament, it would fill the reflector better. The bi-pin bulb is not as easy to acquire as the bayonet base.
The next version of SVP went to a plastic base, I believe.
 
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Thebakerman

Thebakerman

Registered Member
Federal acquired the rights to the S&W, and never used the friction drive. The light was completely redesigned, using the same dome. There was a company in between S&W and Federal, ERL maybe?
Also, notice the Filament in the newer SVP. If it were a vertical filament, it would fill the reflector better. The bi-pin bulb is not as easy to acquire as the bayonet base.
The next version of SVP went to a plastic base, I believe.
I also don't know why SVP didn't include a vertical filament bi-pin bulb in their newer pancake light, unless it just wasn't made in that configuration - I've never looked. I've also seen the plastic model lights you mentioned. I believe STAR did that when they took over the SVP line. They changed several former SVP products that were all originally pretty good lights under their former branding. The model 1185 Hotshot II is one of several victims of this, having gone through a serious redesign after STAR took over. On this light they completely eliminated the metal retaining band opting instead for a twist-on lens, which IMO, cheapened the appearance of the light. They also changed the type of bulb it used from a 50-watt halogen bi-pin bulb (also used in 2nd-gen pancake lights) to a 50-watt bayonet base halogen bulb (that one might not be such a bad change). They also changed the all metal reflectors as well as the once metal base to cheap plastic. STAR made similar changes to the 1166 teardrop and the 1168 pancake, changing the reflectors from their former metal type to plastic, and the old aluminum bases were also changed to plastic... undoubtedly to cut manufacturing costs :confused:

The old SVP line of dash lights were actually pretty good products and had a good reputation but once STAR took over they cheapened everything, but I guess it no longer matters since there isn't much call for halogen revolving lights anymore. STAR is more known for their LED product line anyway.

One thing I think would have made the SVP pancake light a better looking light would have been if it had a metal retaining band the way the S&W pancake light hdoes. IMHO, that feature really makes most any dash light look so much better but that's just me talking. I think if the FS Firebeam and Whelen Cadet included even a simulated retaining band (like the Responder's painted-on band). They would look so much more professional by including some type of retaining band on them
 

dmathieu

Premium Member
I agree with all that you said. I use a FireBeam on my truck, and substituted a 120 FPM motor. Brightest, most effective rotator I've seen out there.
 

BLUELIGHT

Established Member
I also don't know why SVP didn't include a vertical filament bi-pin bulb in their newer pancake light, unless it just wasn't made in that configuration - I've never looked. I've also seen the plastic model lights you mentioned. I believe STAR did that when they took over the SVP line. They changed several former SVP products that were all originally pretty good lights under their former branding. The model 1185 Hotshot II is one of several victims of this, having gone through a serious redesign after STAR took over. On this light they completely eliminated the metal retaining band opting instead for a twist-on lens, which IMO, cheapened the appearance of the light. They also changed the type of bulb it used from a 50-watt halogen bi-pin bulb (also used in 2nd-gen pancake lights) to a 50-watt bayonet base halogen bulb (that one might not be such a bad change). They also changed the all metal reflectors as well as the once metal base to cheap plastic. STAR made similar changes to the 1166 teardrop and the 1168 pancake, changing the reflectors from their former metal type to plastic, and the old aluminum bases were also changed to plastic... undoubtedly to cut manufacturing costs :confused:

The old SVP line of dash lights were actually pretty good products and had a good reputation but once STAR took over they cheapened everything, but I guess it no longer matters since there isn't much call for halogen revolving lights anymore. STAR is more known for their LED product line anyway.

One thing I think would have made the SVP pancake light a better looking light would have been if it had a metal retaining band the way the S&W pancake light hdoes. IMHO, that feature really makes most any dash light look so much better but that's just me talking. I think if the FS Firebeam and Whelen Cadet included even a simulated retaining band (like the Responder's painted-on band). They would look so much more professional by including some type of retaining band on them
I agree. Don't understand why Star took a product that had good proformance and reputation, then ruined it by changing the design. Redesign and changing the tooling costs money. Better to have left well enough alone and charged a little more. Putting the motor on the base and trimming the reflector was a big mistake. Reducing light output is never a good idea.
 

BLUELIGHT

Established Member
I also don't know why SVP didn't include a vertical filament bi-pin bulb in their newer pancake light, unless it just wasn't made in that configuration - I've never looked. I've also seen the plastic model lights you mentioned. I believe STAR did that when they took over the SVP line. They changed several former SVP products that were all originally pretty good lights under their former branding. The model 1185 Hotshot II is one of several victims of this, having gone through a serious redesign after STAR took over. On this light they completely eliminated the metal retaining band opting instead for a twist-on lens, which IMO, cheapened the appearance of the light. They also changed the type of bulb it used from a 50-watt halogen bi-pin bulb (also used in 2nd-gen pancake lights) to a 50-watt bayonet base halogen bulb (that one might not be such a bad change). They also changed the all metal reflectors as well as the once metal base to cheap plastic. STAR made similar changes to the 1166 teardrop and the 1168 pancake, changing the reflectors from their former metal type to plastic, and the old aluminum bases were also changed to plastic... undoubtedly to cut manufacturing costs :confused:

The old SVP line of dash lights were actually pretty good products and had a good reputation but once STAR took over they cheapened everything, but I guess it no longer matters since there isn't much call for halogen revolving lights anymore. STAR is more known for their LED product line anyway.

One thing I think would have made the SVP pancake light a better looking light would have been if it had a metal retaining band the way the S&W pancake light hdoes. IMHO, that feature really makes most any dash light look so much better but that's just me talking. I think if the FS Firebeam and Whelen Cadet included even a simulated retaining band (like the Responder's painted-on band). They would look so much more professional by including some type of retaining band on them
I agree. Don't understand why Star took a product that had good proformance and reputation, then ruined it by changing the design. Redesign and changing the tooling costs money. Better to have left well enough alone and charged a little more. Putting the motor on the base and trimming the reflector was a big mistake. Reducing light is always a mistake.
 
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Thebakerman

Thebakerman

Registered Member
I agree. Don't understand why Star took a product that had good proformance and reputation, then ruined it by changing the design. Redesign and changing the tooling costs money. Better to have left well enough alone and charged a little more. Putting the motor on the base and trimming the reflector was a big mistake. Reducing light is always a mistake.
It was rather disappointing when STAR changed the design of the old SVP dash lights. Under the SVP name they were pretty good quality lights and then STAR comes along and cheapened everything. I remember first seeing the newly redesigned 1166 teardrop lights with its black plastic base and SQUARE reflector, and then further realizing even the reflector was made of plastic and was actually just the same reflector they used in the newly redesigned HotShot II. In all honesty, their plastic reflectors probably work okay but I don't think would leave one running for more than 10 or 15 minutes at a time. Then again, my old Whelen Responder had a plastic reflector and that was in the early 80's before I even knew they were plastic and it always worked fine but I think those reflectors were made of something like bakelite or something very similar vs some cheap plastic component. The Cadet replaced the Responder and it too had a plastic reflector but I really don't know how the've held up over time in actual service. I have several NOS models in my collection but I never used that model before.
 

Skulldigger

Site Guru
One advantage of the SVP design over the S&W is the counter wieght. The S&W did not have a counter wieght and it will rock as the light spins if it is not secured by the magnet. Had to repair the wire a few fimes as they tend to break where it exits the housing. I did a youtube on the disassembly and repair of that wire. Also if you do not keep the wire holders in place the reflector will tap it or hang on it as it spins. That being said the S&W was probably one of the best and most effective lights of it's time. I ran one on my dash for 20 years. It is sitting in my display now and still runs like new. Original bulb. I don't think I've ever see the Federal version of it.
 

dmathieu

Premium Member
The Cadet used a much lower Wattage bulb. It started with 27 Watt, and changed to 20 Watt, while the Star lights mentioned had 50 Watt bulbs with metal reflectors. After going to plastic reflectors the Hot Shot and teardrop went to 27 Watt bulbs. Most probably, the change was due to heat.
 
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Thebakerman

Thebakerman

Registered Member
One advantage of the SVP design over the S&W is the counter wieght. The S&W did not have a counter wieght and it will rock as the light spins if it is not secured by the magnet. Had to repair the wire a few fimes as they tend to break where it exits the housing. I did a youtube on the disassembly and repair of that wire. Also if you do not keep the wire holders in place the reflector will tap it or hang on it as it spins. That being said the S&W was probably one of the best and most effective lights of it's time. I ran one on my dash for 20 years. It is sitting in my display now and still runs like new. Original bulb. I don't think I've ever see the Federal version of it.
Didn't know the S&W didn't have a counter weight - I guess just assumed it had one but that's why I asked about the differences because the few times I remember using them in the 80's I never looked close enough at one to notice. I always wondered why the S&W split the power wire using two separate strain relief bushings rather than a single bushing the way every other light seemed to have. Funny how manufacturers will do sometimes things to make the product work.
 
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Thebakerman

Thebakerman

Registered Member
The Cadet used a much lower Wattage bulb. It started with 27 Watt, and changed to 20 Watt, while the Star lights mentioned had 50 Watt bulbs with metal reflectors. After going to plastic reflectors the Hot Shot and teardrop went to 27 Watt bulbs. Most probably, the change was due to heat.
I have a single speed Cadet with the 27-watt bulb and according to the paperwork in the box it was made in 1990 or 91 as well as a couple of newer 20-watt dual speed models made in 2006 and the other in 2008 (newer models had the manufacturing date stamped on the base inside). You wouldn't think 7-watts would make much difference (if any) but when both models are in operation side-by-side with the same color lens you can definitely see one is brighter and the 27-watt model heats up noticeably faster over the 20-watt. You really wouldn't think seven watts would make that big a difference but apparently it did and it's no wonder Whelen later reduced it to 20-watts. While they don't compare to the brightness of other halogen rotating lights of the period, the 20-watt Cadet can operate for long periods without getting superheated. Meanwhile, lights like the Fireball and Firebeam can't operate more than a couple minutes before they are so hot you can't rest your hand on top of them and Federal Signal even warns users not to operate those models more than 10 minutes (with the hood on) without risking damage the light - and voiding the warranty.

Regarding the original Cadet, there are a few other differences as well. The bottom edge of the magnet is flush with the foam piece (that is, the magnet doesn't protrude past the bottom edge of the foam like the newer models do which stick out a bit), and the motor, while it looks just like the one used in newer Cadet's, revolves opposite the newer ones and the reflector on the original is open at the top while newer models are closed off across the top and the plastic material of the reflector is white in color as is the plastic gear just below it but is brown in newer models. The original Cadet is almost dead quiet when in operation while the newer models are noticeably louder - some even being obnoxiously loud. The leads connecting the contact brushes are soldered on the original Cadet but are crimped on the newer models.

Some of this may sound rather petty but when you're retired, disabled and homebound you tend to notice minute details like that. Sorry for getting off the path from the SVP pancake light but when I see good points raised I can't help myself and tend to write a lot because I have lots of time to kill. As always, thanks for listening to my ramble :D
 

BLUELIGHT

Established Member
I have a single speed Cadet with the 27-watt bulb and according to the paperwork in the box it was made in 1990 or 91 as well as a couple of newer 20-watt dual speed models made in 2006 and the other in 2008 (newer models had the manufacturing date stamped on the base inside). You wouldn't think 7-watts would make much difference (if any) but when both models are in operation side-by-side with the same color lens you can definitely see one is brighter and the 27-watt model heats up noticeably faster over the 20-watt. You really wouldn't think seven watts would make that big a difference but apparently it did and it's no wonder Whelen later reduced it to 20-watts. While they don't compare to the brightness of other halogen rotating lights of the period, the 20-watt Cadet can operate for long periods without getting superheated. Meanwhile, lights like the Fireball and Firebeam can't operate more than a couple minutes before they are so hot you can't rest your hand on top of them and Federal Signal even warns users not to operate those models more than 10 minutes (with the hood on) without risking damage the light - and voiding the warranty.

Regarding the original Cadet, there are a few other differences as well. The bottom edge of the magnet is flush with the foam piece (that is, the magnet doesn't protrude past the bottom edge of the foam like the newer models do which stick out a bit), and the motor, while it looks just like the one used in newer Cadet's, revolves opposite the newer ones and the reflector on the original is open at the top while newer models are closed off across the top and the plastic material of the reflector is white in color as is the plastic gear just below it but is brown in newer models. The original Cadet is almost dead quiet when in operation while the newer models are noticeably louder - some even being obnoxiously loud. The leads connecting the contact brushes are soldered on the original Cadet but are crimped on the newer models.

Some of this may sound rather petty but when you're retired, disabled and homebound you tend to notice minute details like that. Sorry for getting off the path from the SVP pancake light but when I see good points raised I can't help myself and tend to write a lot because I have lots of time to kill. As always, thanks for listening to my ramble :D
Our pleasure. Thanks for noticing details most of us don't have time to see.
 

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