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Author Topic: Headlights Revisited  (Read 8566 times)
belfert
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« Reply #45 on: March 11, 2011, 09:26:24 AM »

I personally recommend that if people can afford it, the upgrade path should skip the middle two steps between Sealed-Beam and H4 Cibie, and if you can do 24Volts to the bulbs (better for voltage drop!!), use Osram "TruckStar" 24V-H4 bulbs not the Hella 24V-H4 bulbs.  And again for clarity, I don't recommend the HID path...

My headlights and all of my external lighting is 12 volt from the factory.  Are you recommending 24 volt headlights since I can certainly run 24 volts to them?

The Truckstar bulbs are mostly sold in Europe.  I found a US supplier, but I can get them shipped from the UK for less.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #46 on: March 11, 2011, 09:35:15 AM »

Brian -

Since you're coach came with all 12V external lighting, just stick to the stock 12V Cibie's and you'll be good to go.

Biggest advantage of 12V over 24V in this application?

If one burns out on you, you can easily pick up a replacement bulb at any auto parts place, even WalMart.  No having to scrounge around trying to find 24V bulbs at oh dark thirty in the rain!

Using relays is still a good idea, as has been suggested.  Make sure they've got a good ground, too!

Take "before and after" pics for us, like the fellow did on that Jeep forum link I posted way back on page one of this thread! 

FWIW & HTH. . .

 Wink
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RJ Long
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« Reply #47 on: March 11, 2011, 09:37:25 AM »

Art,

I agree with all you said.  I didn't learn until recently that 70/100 were available.  They come from the motorcycle arena where those guys only used to get one light, hence it was one that was a sub for two and significantly higher wattage...brightness.  Even had I known of them I would not have installed them.  I installed driving lights and they, curiously, are legal.

But here was a plan that I have always nurtured and never done.  The low beams being so finely focused and with the distinct cutoff could use higher wattage low beams.  Such as a 60/70 and I think one might get away with that.  In all seriousness, the Cibie or Hella with legal bulbs will perform so excitingly well that a bigger bulb just won't seem needed in any respect.

Whether you upgrade or not get the relays installed first as you will have to do that anyway and, in the interim, you will boost the performance of tungsten bulbs significantly.

John
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"An uneducated vote is a treasonous act more damaging than any treachery of the battlefield.
The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." Plato
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belfert
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« Reply #48 on: March 11, 2011, 10:57:09 AM »

I thought about the issues of getting 24 volt bulbs on the road, but I would buy a spare set of bulbs.  One reason 24 volt is attractive is because I would likely need to run the wire 30 or 35 feet back to my batteries.  I figure 12 volt might require 8 AWG and 24 volt would require substantially smaller wire.

12 volts probably makes more sense just because eveyone is used to having 12 volt headlights on most vehicles.  Daniel Stern has suggested higher wattage bulbs because the reflectors aren't that big on a 6.5"x4" light.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2011, 11:00:01 AM by belfert » Logged

Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #49 on: March 11, 2011, 11:09:04 AM »

You may not have to run new wires all the way back to the batteries.  I don't know about your bus but, on the 4104 there is a 1 ga. cable from the batteries to the main bus in the drivers compartment.  That should be adequate for the load.  The problem with that bus is that they used 14 ga. wiring from that point through the light switch, dimmer, etc. to the lights, which may not be big enough.

With the headlights on, check the voltage at the front power bus and compare it to the voltage at the batteries and at the headlights.  That should tell you where the voltage drop is.  There is no reason to correct it all the way back to the batteries if you don't have to.  You should probably check it with everything that runs off that bus powered up.  The headlights, markers, defroster blowers etc..
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Tim Strommen
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« Reply #50 on: March 11, 2011, 03:57:22 PM »

...One reason 24 volt is attractive is because I would likely need to run the wire 30 or 35 feet back to my batteries.  I figure 12 volt might require 8 AWG and 24 volt would require substantially smaller wire...
You may not have to run new wires all the way back to the batteries.  I don't know about your bus but, on the 4104 there is a 1 ga. cable from the batteries to the main bus in the drivers compartment.  That should be adequate for the load...

I my first pass (hobo conversion), I did rip out all of the electrical - I'm not suggesting that everyone do that, it's expensive and can be complicated, and there can be real electrical engineering involved.  My wiring was a mess due to 15+ years of "git 'er done" maintenance at LTD in Oregon.  Belfert's point is valid - the equation for Watts is Volts x Amps = Watts.  This means if you are running a 55Watt bulb at 12Volts, you draw roughly 4.6Amps - the same wattage bulb at 24Volts only pulls 2.3Amps.  If you recall my wire post a few post back the voltage drop on a circuit is directly related to the amount of current (Amps) you are pulling over that wire.  Less Amps, means less drop - and you can get away with a smaller wire, or use the same size wire and have roughly double the POWER capacity.

...Are you recommending 24 volt headlights since I can certainly run 24 volts to them?...

So I guess to answer your question Belfert, in my experience/opinion - if I'm going to have to replace or re-wire something (like someone used too small a wire for your headlights), I would want to find a way to really fix that so that I never have to touch that problem again (except to change bulbs, or replace a shattered housing).  I'd put in Cibie's, do it at 24V with TruckStar (better that the Hella since they don't coil a coil, so they keep better focus), install relays for the headlights (both high and low-beam), and pull wire to the batteries (both supply and ground) - then make sure all of my connections are both mechanically and water-tight.  The more of this you can do with sound mind and with the assurance the existing equipment or wire or placements are suitable, the better (Waste: Reduce-Reuse-Recycle).

The big reason I got away from 12Volt chassis stuff was the center tap issue.  My Vanner was dying, and it was going to cost me as much to swap out 12Volt for 24Volt parts as it was to replace or repair the Vanner.  One less expensive thing to worry about made that choice easy.  Since my bus was originally a transit, the interior fluorescent lights and blowers were 24Volts, and a 24Volt bus was pulled to the driver's compartment for distribution already.  That just meant I had to pull out the extra 12Volt stuff and move the lighting circuits over to the other supply wire.

My experience is probably unique compared to those of you with highway coaches...


-Tim
« Last Edit: March 11, 2011, 04:15:59 PM by Tim Strommen » Logged

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« Reply #51 on: March 11, 2011, 04:08:44 PM »

If you are starting from scratch keep in mind your history....never found a stock system that didn't drop 10%....  If it were me I would install really thin wire that could handle only a couple amps and make my headlight system from that but only right up to the headlight.  Use that voltage to power my little cube 30 amp relays to actually power the filaments.  That's what you do when you upgrade you tired and resistive stock system to power the bulbs with relays.

John
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“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”
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Tim Strommen
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« Reply #52 on: March 11, 2011, 04:23:01 PM »

If you are starting from scratch keep in mind your history....never found a stock system that didn't drop 10%....  If it were me I would install really thin wire that could handle only a couple amps and make my headlight system from that but only right up to the headlight.  Use that voltage to power my little cube 30 amp relays to actually power the filaments.  That's what you do when you upgrade you tired and resistive stock system to power the bulbs with relays...

And lest we forget - I've heard horror stories with MCI using really complicated 24Volt-feed dual 12Volt lamps with some resistor thing in there in case one bulb blows...  In my opinion, if it takes a paragraph to expain a DC lamp circuit - it's too darn complicated Smiley.  Simple is good, it's easy to troubleshoot...

-Tim
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belfert
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« Reply #53 on: March 11, 2011, 04:24:19 PM »

The 12 volt feed for the entire bus is a pretty small wire coming off the Vanner equalizer in the battery compartment.  It doesn't seem like a real big wire to supply all 12 volt needs in the bus although there isn't much 12 volt other than exterior lighting and the DDEC.

I will start up the bus tomorrow and doing some checking on voltages with all the lights on.  Maybe I can get by without any wiring changes.

I am already planning on relays.  I just need to find a power source with little or no voltage drop for the power to the relays.  Relays don't help if you don't have good power to start with.  My bus is a 1995 and I'm pretty sure the stock system hasn't been modified.  It already had 12 volt headlights from the factory.

I've driven a lot of miles at night in this bus over the past four years and I never thought the headlights were that bad until my recent trip to Florida.  The headlights really seemed to suck on that trip.  I think it might be because going out west on I80 I used the high beams a lot.  I've decided I need to try ECE headlights.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #54 on: March 11, 2011, 04:32:09 PM »

...Relays don't help if you don't have good power to start with...

Ah, but they are nice as service throw-aways.  You can replace a relay in a panel easier than you can replace a dash or column switch that you have to pull a bunch of stuff out of the way to get to.  It's easier to fit a switch in a dash to drive a 40mA (0.04Amp) relay coil, than it is to fit a 30Amp relay with high and low beam circuits.  There is a valid argument for relays.

-Tim
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« Reply #55 on: March 11, 2011, 04:44:27 PM »

Dina already uses relays for pretty much all of the lighting in my bus including the headlights.  They probably didn't want to run all the power through the switches on the dash.

There is about 8 feet of wire from the relay to the left headlight and I'm not convinced the wire is big enough to eliminate voltage drop.  I am going to measure the voltage with the lights on tomorrow and see if I need to add relays close to the lights.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #56 on: March 11, 2011, 05:53:05 PM »

Brian -

Dina already uses relays for pretty much all of the lighting in my bus including the headlights.

Look at that - we've been suggesting relays, and the factory beat us to it!

Based on that, take a look at the feed wire from the electrical panel buss to the headlamp relay.  If it's a 10 or 12 ga, it's probably sufficient as a feed for the Cibies.  (Tim - am I close here?)

You mentioned that there's about eight feet of wire to the left headlamp - about how many to the RH one?  IIRC, you've got to utilize the longest run for voltage drop calculations.

Refresh my memory - does your Dina have four headlamps, two per side (one low/high, one high), or just two lamps, one per side?

Glad to see that you're researching this to "do it right!" 

FWIW & HTH. . .

 Wink
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RJ Long
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belfert
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« Reply #57 on: March 11, 2011, 08:38:51 PM »

Dina uses two headlights per side.  There is at minimum 7 more feet of wire over to the right headlight.  I do not intend to replace the high beams since they provide enough light when they can be used and they aren't used all that much anyhow.

I'm still not 100% sure what bulbs to use.  Daniel Stern is recommending Osram 70/65W bulbs that sell for $22 each since I have relays and the reflectors aren't that big.  Others are recommending the Osram Night Breaker Plus bulbs that are new and are 60/55W.  I can buy a pair for Night Breakers for what one 70/65W bulb costs.  There aren't many good H4 bulbs over 60/55W because Europe only allows up to 55W.  I am leaning towards the Night Breaker Plus bulbs based on the good reviews.

I only want to do this once rather than the all too common stories of upgrading headlights just a little at a time and ending up spending way more money than just getting the good headlights to start with.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #58 on: March 12, 2011, 01:38:57 AM »

Brian -

Sylvania is the American division of Osram GmbH, Germany.

Thus, you can walk into any O'Reilly's and pick up a replacement Sylvania H4 bulb for all of $6.99.  Maybe a buck less at WalMart.  Same specs as the Night Breaker at 55/60W.

With the rectangular lights you've got, I really don't think you'd see any real difference in the extra 10W bulb's output, especially at 3x the price.

And if you only want to do this once, then buy the high beam units also and do it right the first time.

You won't regret it.  BTDT

FWIW & HTH. . .

 Wink
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RJ Long
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« Reply #59 on: March 12, 2011, 04:12:24 AM »

My rigs have 2 headlights and 2 fog lights, both 7" rounds from factory. I have had DinahMoe since 1996 and the lights seemed adequit both hi and low. High beam was and is great.

 Now that i am in my 50's i really notice the eye want more light working and driving. Highbeam is not my problem its the low beam crappy pattern. Replacing the regular lights with new stock makes a  difference.

I too hung on RJ's inspection/headlight discussion at Arcadia and i even requested a card and wrote the info on it. (Daniel Stern and Cibie's) When it warms it is on my list. What i did do before heading south was decline my fog lights to make them more driving lights. They worked great but even tho i angled them down and way to the right i would get a flash from oncoming on 2 lanes. the fogs are on or off no hi low and not sure but think they are on hi. anyway it is the patern that makes the difference.
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