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Author Topic: Headlights Revisited  (Read 8039 times)
Lin
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« on: January 10, 2011, 11:45:51 AM »

 I try to avoid driving at night due to the old eyes and the terrible headlights.  I have been thinking of upgrading them (the headlights, not the eyes) and have read through some of the archives on the subject.  It looks to me that properly adjusted e-codes would be the way to go.  From what I gather, Cibies seem to have the most favorable reputation.  However, Hella's seem to be close behind and less than half the price.  I am considering both but leaning toward cheap since I expect the improved pattern plus the upgrade to halogen will be enough of an improvement to make me happy.

My questions are these: First, would it be reasonable to just switch out the low beams for now and evaluate whether to do the high beams later?  Second, it appears that the H4 bulbs come in several different wattage.  The most common I have come across were 70/75 watts.  I believe that the standard is something like 55 watts.  Would it be best to stay to the lower wattage?
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bevans6
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« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2011, 12:06:25 PM »

I am using a kit from Hella with two 4" by 6" low beams.  They work about as expected, a lot better than the sealed beams.  I think they are DOT legal, but I don't know the bulb wattage, I just used what came in the kit.  Having high beams would help, but they aren't bad on high beam by themselves and they are pretty good on low beam.  They come with an adapter cable to the sealed beam plug, which has a different pin-out than the Halogen bulbs.

Brian
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Len Silva
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« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2011, 12:17:01 PM »

Before you spend a lot of money on lights, carefully check the voltage right at the headlamp.  If it's not within a tenth of a volt from the battery voltage, it's time to examine all the wiring and connections.

Chances are, it will not be what it should and perhaps never was.  Going to a higher wattage lamp might only make it worse.
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rv_safetyman
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« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2011, 12:42:13 PM »

Lin, as Len pointed out, the first thing you need to do is to get the voltage to the headlight.  Without question, I would install relays at the headlights with a large conductor, from a good source, feeding the relays.  You only need one large conductor to feed the two relays.  You will be happy you made that modification.  On Eagles the headlights are fed through fuses that do not have good contact after years of abuse.

I learn the hard way, that you need to house the relays in a water tight enclosure or use moisture proof relays.  Should be obvious, but sometimes idiots don't think (me Roll Eyes).  One time the headlights were on without the switch and another time I could not get the headlights on - both times after being in a rain storm.

In your research, I am sure you ran across what I believe is the best site for headlight technology:

http://www.danielsternlighting.com/

He is not the most pleasant person to deal with and never did ship my headlights after I ordered them (they were back ordered - he did not charge me).

I wanted to keep my stock dual 5.75 light and that really dictates something like the E code bulb.  I had justified the cost after a terrible trip on a mountain road at night - definitely not planned.  After he failed to ship my order, I spent the money on something else and have never gotten back to where I could justify the cost again.

I think you could go with just the low beam and you would be in much better shape.  Obviously both beams would be better.  Daniel does not favor higher wattage bulbs.

Lately I have been trying to find some good "off road" lights.  The are a lot less expensive.  When you think about it, we really only need super headlights when we are out in the boondocks.  The chances of getting in trouble using them are pretty small if you use good judgment.

Jim
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Jim Shepherd
Evergreen, CO
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stevet903
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« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2011, 02:25:33 PM »

If you want an upgrade but don't want to spend Cibie or Hella prices, check out the Autopal line of headlights - quality wise I'd rate them way better than the typical Sylvania found at Auto Zone, but not as good as a Hella.  I put a 4 light set on an 89 Prevost and it made a huge difference using 55 watt bulbs.  I will second and third that the voltage needs to be right up there or you will lose some of the benefits.  If you go with higher wattage bulbs you should consider the relays mandatory.  I would do the high beams as well - my experience is that they will throw a lot of light and are very useful when you are looking for those hidden campground or street signs late at night.

Source for the Autopal lights:  http://rimiusa.com/

Wiring diagram for relays - last post on this page:  http://www.ifsja.org/forums/vb/showthread.php?t=113846

You may also consider a set of low mounted driving/fog lights in addition to the headlight upgrade - depending on what you get and how they are aimed, they can provide a broad fill pattern right in front of the bus which will supplement the regular headlights (fog lights) or a narrower, longer distance beam (driving lights).
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rv_safetyman
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« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2011, 02:30:28 PM »

Hopefully the subject of driving lights is not too much of a hijack. 

In our part of the country, we don't get much fog.  I am more focused ( Grin) on driving lights.  Anybody have a favorite?

Jim
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Jim Shepherd
Evergreen, CO
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« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2011, 02:37:47 PM »

10 years ago I could not drive at night because of the poor headlights.
Replace 5.75 inch headlights in 79 prevost with Cibie 5.75-HCR 5 3/4" E-Code Halogen Low/High Beam - Cibie H4.
I used 75w 24volt bulbs so I did not have to rewire the headlights.
Now its almost like driving in daylight. This was the best $160 investment in the coach I have made.
Expensive yes , but seeing at night priceless.
I have a four bulb system and I purchased the high beams, but have not installed them yet since I have to modify the back of the headlight buckets to fit the longer bulbs.  I really don't use the high beams much

I got them through Talbot & Co. aardvark international    http://www.talbotco.com/
I have outstanding service.
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chuckd
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« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2011, 02:42:50 PM »

I did the same thing as jp, bought from Talbot, and used 5 3/4 E beams, huge difference not only down the road but off to the side, you can actually see the roadside signs.

Chuck
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gus
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« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2011, 02:53:46 PM »

I assume you have 12v lights.

After you check the voltage and grounds my suggestion is to install sealed beam Halogen lights.

I didn't know they existed until a clerk at NAPA told me about them. They give you the advantage of Halogen plus if the lens cracks the light still works. These are not regular sealed beams.

Only $13 a couple of years ago for 7" round ones for my 4104, best buy I ever made. I assume they have rectangular ones as well as the round.

Much brighter than straight sealed beams.
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RJ
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« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2011, 03:35:35 PM »

Lin -

I'm a strong believer in the E-code headlamps, as you've probably found by reading the archives.

I have owned Cibie, Hella, and Marchal lamps.  Of these three, IMHO, the Cibie's are worth every penny, with Hella being my second choice.  I haven't seen Marchal lamps in a long time, nor have I seen the Italian Carello's, either.  All four brands were quite popular back in the middle 60's amongst the car rally crowd.

I had never heard of the AutoPal headlamps Steve mentioned, so I did a little Googling.  Found out they're made in India - probably helps explain the lower cost.  Mixed reviews of product quality.  E-codes seem to be ok, Diamonds not so much. 

But best of all, on a Jeep forum, somebody posted pics of the difference in lighting pattern between the US DOT and E-codes when mounted on the front of a CJ.  These are the larger 200mm rectangular lights, which have a slightly different spread pattern compared to 5" or 7" round lamps.  Regardless, LOOK at the difference in light pattern on the garage between the two.  Notice the sharp cut-off on the left side, with the rise to the right.  That sharp cut-off is what reduces/eliminates glare to oncoming traffic.  Here's the link to the Jeep forum, the lighting pic is partially down the first post:

http://www.jeepforum.com/forum/f11/autopal-h4-conversion-install-400577/

That picture is a great representation of what I've been babbling about for years on these forums about headlamps!

The stock 55w H1, H2, H3, or H4 bulb, depending on what's required for the particular lamp, seems to work fine with the E-Codes.  I'd suggest the higher wattage only for the high beams on a four-lamp setup, don't want to draw too much attention to yourself running around town.

Speaking of drawing attention, I want to reiterate that I have NEVER been stopped by law enforcement for my headlights, and I've been running E-Codes since the mid-60's.


Jim -

No doubt, the preferred long distance driving light favorite of the serious car rally crowd is the Cibie Super Oscar.  TTBOMK, nobody else makes one nearly as powerful nor optically superior.  Mount a couple of those on the top of your Eagle's bumper, use the available 100w bulbs with appropriately relay-controlled wiring, and you'll think you're driving in daylight.  BTDT2!  Available from www.cibieusa.com, which is also the same as Aardvark International or Talbotco.  Nowadays about $300 for a set of four, or $150 for the two headlamp systems.

(Actually, if you have the 4-headlamp system on your Eagle, the Cibie E-Code high beam patterns are very similar to the Oscars, just slightly less intense.)


Gus -

You're partially there!  Take a look at the photo in the link I've provided, and you'll see the difference that adding the E-Code optics to the halogen lights provides, compared to the USDOT pattern on the left.


All -

When it comes to headlights and nighttime driving, I will repeat again my mantra:  "What price SAFETY?"


FWIW & HTH. . .

 Wink
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Iceni John
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« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2011, 07:52:21 PM »

One of the first things I did after I got my bus was to change out the useless DOT high-beams to Neolite E-code lights.   I kept with 55W lamps to avoid having to rewire and add relays, and their improvement over the original DOT lights is significant.   Are they as good as Hella or Cibie?   No, of course not, but for only $30 each they are more than good enough for driving at sensible speeds at night.   Their cut-off and definition are not as good as my car's HID projector lights (no other lights I've experienced are), but they still put more light further down the road without dazzling oncoming drivers than any DOT headlamp ever could.   One downside was that I had to futz with them to make them fit right  -  their alignment tabs were not in the right place to exactly fit my headlamps buckets.   Like the AutoPal, Neolites are made in India, so I guess that makes them I-code?

Of course I would like some Hella or Cibie lights, but for the minimal amount of night driving I do I cannot justify spending their several hundred dollars.

John
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« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2011, 08:17:32 PM »

Hella also makes e-code composite housings to fit most older sealed beam lamp buckets with other bulb replacements like H4 lamps or 9007\9004 halogens.

That is what I am planning to use on my baby, except with xenon bulbs and ballasts.  Xenon aftermarket kits have come down drastically in price over the last few years and provide a much closer color to actual daylight.  Not the blue and purple lights the rice cars are installing!!
I purchased a kit for my truck about 3 years ago and the performance has been flawless!  Animal eyes are much more visible from a much greater distance!  I would recommend a color spectrum around 5000K-6500K.

BTW e-code lenses are NOT legal in the US because most of them are not DOT approved. (not that that will stop me from having safer lighting)  but thought i should mention it.

:-)
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« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2011, 05:00:35 AM »

BTW e-code lenses are NOT legal in the US because most of them are not DOT approved. (not that that will stop me from having safer lighting)  but thought i should mention it.

Is there any true E-code headlight that is DOT approved?  Aren't E-code and DOT headlight patterns direct contradictions of each other?  Ken Masters has some different style of headlights on his Dina that say DOT on them, but I don't know that they are E-code.

At one point someone mentioned part of the reason for the DOT light pattern is to illuminate roadside signs with the excess light.  The interesting thing is that RJ showed the lighting pattern of an E-code light at his seminar at Bussin' 11 and the E-code pattern seems to send as much or more light to the side of the road.

E-code lights have never made it to the top of my list, but after my trip to Arcadia I think I will finally upgrade.  The lights seemed dimmer that I recall from my trip 4 months ago, but out west we were able to use high beams a lot at night.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2011, 05:23:10 AM »

I don't want this to sound like a broken record but as others have stated, check the voltage at the light. That can't be stressed enough. Mine was only getting 8 volts. I used the feed to run relays and added a 12 volt sydtem to the bus and couldn't believe the difference.
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« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2011, 05:53:44 AM »

Are folks running a direct wire all the way back to the battery for the 12 volt connection to the lights?  My headlights are already relay controlled from the factory in the main electrical panel, but who knows if the wiring is really big enough?  I guess I should go out and measure the voltage to see if voltage is even an issue.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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