What to do with an old 3D Maglite

So I have this 3D Maglite sitting here. It’s an old-school one with the incandescent lamp.

I’ve seen the drop in LED bulb replacements, but I’m assuming the hive mind here has come up with far more interesting hacks.

I don’t want to spend a pile of money and I don’t (sadly) have a machine shop. Is there a drop-in regulated driver/emitter for these things?


I´ve started to mod my incan 4D, made a chunky alu-heatsink, bought an xm-l u2, a 3.04a driver and a new alu-reflector (as the original, even when stippled with clearcoat gives a really ugly beam).

I´ve yet to cut it down to 1D (26650 li-ion), a workcolleague has a lathe that he´s nice enough to let me use (first time though).

You don´t mod it because it´s economical, you do it because you find it fun, a little therapeutic… :slight_smile:

Emitter, driver, reflector, silicone wires, thermal paste or glue…. you do the math…

I´d get a BLF A8 for just the cost of the first 3 parts….

Cheapest is buying a complete xm-l drop-in from dx or kaidomain… dont know if fasttech has them…

There are some artists here who machine the heck out of the original design, turning them into real beauties, with power to match the look, but... how far would you want to go?

If you just want to make it "usable" with better output than stock, but keeping it otherwise stock (size, battery type, reflector, etc), then maybe a simple Terralux conversion pill is enough?

I have one in an old ex-incan 4D, and even if not a champ for lumens, has quite a good throw.

Take a look:


(but then look around for prices, there are cheaper places than BJ around... )

sadly the cost of upgrading it doesn’t justify the performance… $69.99 for the led upgrade??
you might as well get a new light such as Trustfire TR-J18 for less than $60
it’s a lot brighter and cooler looking too :wink:

I also got an old Mag-Lite ( D2007495219 ) and wonder would I could do with it.

Staying budget, what do I need to make it up-to-date (with, let´s say, an XML)?
Are there cheap all-in-one solutions for this?

This to me is about one of the cheapest best upgrades you can do with a 3D Maglite. Don’t need a lathe just common tools.
If you want to keep the 3D battery configuration with alkaline’s then exchange the driver out on this drop in to a amc7135 1400ma driver. If you want to have full output from a xml then use a 2800ma amc7135 driver and 3 Nimh’s. Alkalines can’t cope with the higher currents and the Nimh’s will have no problem keeping up.

If you want Flood and aren't worried about throw, then the Fusion 36 LED Drop-In is an excellent (and affordable) choice. It will work on your 3D version without issue.

I have a 3 C Maglite, and put one of these in it.
TerraLUX TLE-6EXB TerraLUX MiniStar5 LED upgrade for 2-3 C/D cell Maglites

It is amazing what a difference there is. If you want a cheap way to go, and increase the light a lot then it is the way to go.


…or you can choose the real budget solution:

I have had a couple 3D Maglites for 25+ years. The newer LED lights have made them obsolete, can’t justify spending much to modify but can’t just discard the old still working beaters. Offbeat from the norm, but here’s my most useful and cheap mod: A 3D cell mule light using a single 50 cent AMC7135 driver and a nice neutral XP-G2 or Nichia 219.

What use a big heavy dim flood light? (…well I prefer to use 3xAA at 5+ hour runtime in a smaller light) but 30+ hours on 3D alkaline for extended power outage use, and as a better alternative to glaring lantern light. A Nichia 219 will put out 100+ lumens, an XP-G2 166 lumen at 360mA, (about 2.8 volts Vf) . This flood set over the kitchen counter or dining table is a perfect illumination level.(reading light levels at 18-24 inches) Good illumination out to 20 feet it can easily light a room. A purpose light, a ‘mule light’ works great for indoor use and outdoors at close range (out to 20-25 feet). If you don’t already have one, all the more reason to do it with the 3D mag. Not concerned about the looks on these beat up old lights… I put an eyelet in the back to hang over the table, counter, from a tree, etc.

If you want to be able to use Alkaline( I generally don’t, but for emergency or as a loaner), current draw really should be at 0.5 amp or less. You can run to 1 amp but battery capacity really drops quick. I just soldered the single 7135 chip directly to the negative tab on the (cut off) bulb stem. This provides the heat sink , then solder the wires directly to the chip. Then finding something to mount the LED to…. Do you have a junk pile in the garage to forage for such things? Heat sinking requirements are modest at 360mA. The mount should be recessed some to avoid the glare from LED directly in the eyes. 30+ hours easy of full regulation, then many more hours as the light level and current drops until there is nothing left in those obsolete Alkaline D cells. I also made an adapter to run 3 AA Eneloops.

My other 3D currently has the original reflector, XPG R5 neutral and 2x7135 at 760mA…about 200 lumen OTF, tiny hotspot, awesome throw, (lotus flower corona) but meh, I have several (like UF-V3, at $17) that are much better at lighting spots down the hill or in the woods. This one just sits in the hall closet. A ‘mule light’ is a uniquely useful flashlight.

For quick and easy, the Terralux is a good option, quick as changing a bulb.

Thanks for all the suggestions! I may just do the Terralux bulb replacement for now, and do one of the multiple emitter mods later when I have some time.