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Author Topic: Headlights: Dumb Question  (Read 5025 times)
PP
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« on: January 01, 2008, 06:25:53 PM »

My running lights and headlights quit working today, luckily while it was still light out. When I opened up the buss box to check for blown fuses, I couldn't find any typical little glass fuses like I have in my car. What should I be looking for? Please, help. I didn't realize how stupid I was! Thanks
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pete81eaglefanasty
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« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2008, 06:31:43 PM »

 What kind of bus do you have, And what model ? It will help a lot.

           Pete & Jean
             FANTASY
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« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2008, 06:37:38 PM »

I would guess a Prevost my his ID......

 might have resetable circuit breakers....they do go bad from time to time
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« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2008, 06:50:00 PM »

I thought I would recognize circuit breakers and fuses, but I'm not recognizing anything in the front electrical panel except a whole lot of connectors. I have 2 panels of breakers for the coach inside (1-AC & 1 DC).
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« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2008, 07:37:08 PM »

a self resetting circuit breaker is just a little metal box with two connectors.

Or you might have a broken or disconnected wire.

If you have the wiring diagrams, start tracing the lighting circuit, and confirm power at every junction point along the way.

Check the inside of the electric panel door for a diagram, or your maintenance manuals

a multi-meter is a busnuts good friend!

Let us know!

happy coaching!
buswarrior
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« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2008, 07:50:24 PM »

I'm not trying to be a wiseass or anything, but how long have you owned this bus? 

I'm going to guess you didn't convert it yourself?

Do you have manuals and wiring diagrams?

Do you have a volt meter?  Do you have any experience with automotive electricals?

We're gonna need a bit more background on you and your coach to help. There are many possible gremlins that could
cause this. Most likely are switches, and breakers, and relays.

craig
 
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Craig Shepard
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« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2008, 08:16:30 PM »

I suggest you check the headlight switch first.  If you can access the back of the switch, just take a look to make sure you don't have a wire loose or broken.  The HL switch probably turns the marker lights on along with the headlights.  Also, I would think the headlights will be on an automatic resetting circuit breaker, while the marker lights are more likely to be on a fuse.  Just winging it here; whaddya think, guys?  Good luck, let us know what u find.
Dennis
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« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2008, 06:13:02 AM »

I suggest you check the headlight switch first.  If you can access the back of the switch, just take a look to make sure you don't have a wire loose or broken.  The HL switch probably turns the marker lights on along with the headlights.  Also, I would think the headlights will be on an automatic resetting circuit breaker, while the marker lights are more likely to be on a fuse.  Just winging it here; whaddya think, guys?  Good luck, let us know what u find.
Dennis

Yeah, sounds good to me. I'm not a Prevost guy, but that's the way the MCI works. Headlights turn on the markers, too, although there is a separate switch for markers, also.

This, of course, will be spelled out in a wiring diagram.

So, if you lost both, it could very easily be the switch or wiring to it.
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Craig Shepard
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« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2008, 07:41:58 AM »

PremiumPrevost, this thread has morphed into a pretty good thread on headlights.  Would you mind changing the title to include the word headlight so that it can be searched? Done. DML

I am not sure what the original Eagle headlight switch looked like, but I recall having problems with it.  I changed it over to an after-market switch.  I was recently installing relays on the headlights and must have momentarily shorted one of the leads.  In any case when I went to turn on the headlights, they would not work.  I did a lot of trouble shooting and nothing logical was found.  I then went to the switch and it had an old type fuse built into the top.  It had blown.  As others have said, that is a logical place to start looking.

The Eagle has fuses that are mounted like the old glass fuses, but they are larger with a black body.  The headlights have four of these and I have had a lot of problems getting good contact with the fuse tabs.  Nothing seems to improve that contact.  This caused a significant problem with the headlights, since they are relatively high current circuits (makes the problem worse).  At one time all four had bad contacts and that was a ton of fun to trouble shoot Angry.  That is the reason I went to relays.  The old circuit only needs to pass enough current to trigger the relay.  I ran a heavy circuit to the relays from the main power supply (protected by a resetting circuit breaker).  It really seems to have improved the headlights (which were not much better than a candle previously).  The test will come later this week when we hit the road.

Changing the subject slightly, once you get the headlights working, you will probably find that they leave a lot to be desired (seems to be a common complaint on buses).  The Eagle has four round 5 3/4 headlights and I like the look.  Those headlights were not really good to begin with (with the fuse problem, they made driving at night a real white knuckle adventure!).  I have ordered some special European style units (not the obnoxious blue ones!!! Angry Angry) from Daniel Stern (http://www.danielsternlighting.com/).  I ordered the CSR units (pricey), but they are out-of-stock, so I can't report on their performance.  I highly recommend this website.  Daniel appears to be an expert on headlights and his website is filled with good information.

Jim
« Last Edit: January 02, 2008, 01:58:59 PM by DrivingMissLazy » Logged

Jim Shepherd
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« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2008, 09:08:11 AM »

PremiumPrevost- I have a set of manuals for your bus that will answer many questions that you either have or will have. If you are interested, email me at 14bama@bellsouth.net
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« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2008, 10:30:55 AM »

I don't know if this applies on a Prevost, but on the older Bluebirds, it is common to have headlight switches go out because they were forced to carry too may amps, especially if you had gone to Halogen headlights. A popular upgrade is to install a relay system so the switch carries very little amperage and the lines that actually fire the headlights are heavier than originally designed. This cures the switch problem and really lights the headlights much brighter. Here is a link to the wiring:
http://www.pbase.com/iamflagman/image/59743927
Good Luck and Happy New Year,
Doug Engel, Gunnison, CO
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« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2008, 12:36:44 PM »

While we're on the subject of lights, the best auxilliary driving lights I have ever used are actually aircraft landing lights, intended for small private planes.  They are 12 volt sealed beam lamps, about 4 inches or so in diameter.  They fit "Unity" lights that we used to attach to bumpers back in the 50s and 60s.  I still have mine; I'm saving them for my bus!  I think all the hardware and replacement lamps are still available.  If anybody really, really, really wants particulars, send me a p.m. and I'll take one apart and give you part numbers. I think they are rated at about 100,000 candlepower.  They might not be any better than some modern stuff that's available out there, but they are the best I've had.  They do draw a pretty good load electrically, so relays work best for powering them. 

The fused headlight switches someone mentioned above might be mounted so the fuse is on the top, and the d##% switch is bound to be where you can't get your big head under it to see.  Might have to use a mirror.  Good luck.
Dennis   
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« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2008, 01:54:45 PM »

While we're on the subject of lights, the best auxilliary driving lights I have ever used are actually aircraft landing lights, intended for small private planes.  They are 12 volt sealed beam lamps, about 4 inches or so in diameter.  They fit "Unity" lights that we used to attach to bumpers back in the 50s and 60s. 

Hear! Hear!

You must be from deer country!

I've used aircraft landing lights on the front of my vehicles since my first one in the late 70s. I mount them in black rubber tractor/utility housings. Makes it easy to get in and out, and if you hit something, it won't ruin the housing. Might break the bulb, but you just install a new on in the rubber housing and you're good again.  I like to mount 4 on the front. The outside two are pointed towards the fences on either side of the road. The inner two are pointed down the road. Good for a mile or so of illumination. I miss them, because I live where there is too much traffic now, and you can't use high beams let alone aircraft lights!

I have intentions of putting 4 of them on the MC9. Maybe this spring I'll get that done.

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Craig Shepard
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« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2008, 05:57:24 PM »

Wow, I wish I had found this site a long time ago! You're the first bunch of people that aren't only helpful, but you know what you're talking about. The minute you mentioned the little metal boxes, I realized I was looking at about 100 of them. The trusty ohm/voltmeter told me they were working. I have upgraded 4-light Halogens that work great. The headlight switch is a 3-position toggle. The back toggle position triggers a solenoid that powers the running lights. The forward position turns on all the lights. Center is off. Following the wires back (Yes, I do have a complete schematic on the bus-thank God) I found the problem in the tightest of places, in the housing with all the switches and too much wire to get your fingers in. A simple crimped connector let a wire from the switch loose, and all the lights quit. Laying on my back with a flashlight and feeling thankful that I'm near-sighted, I finally got the switch free and put on a new connector. Switched the batteries back on and everything is working fine. PS- I had a jeep back in the 70's that we used for offroading down in Tx and we all swore by aircraft landing lights, especially the army surplus type. I'm not sure if anything else was even available back then. Thanks again for everyone's help, you got me on the right track.
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« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2008, 06:12:14 PM »

Thanks for the closure, PremiumPrevost!

Glad you've found a new home!

happy coaching!
buswarrior
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« Reply #15 on: January 02, 2008, 07:45:25 PM »

Nice going, PP!  We never had a doubt you could fix it!  Gumpy, you got it right; I'm smack in the middle of notorious deer country.  I look out the windows every morning to see what they ate next...
Dennis
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« Reply #16 on: January 02, 2008, 08:23:16 PM »

... I'm smack in the middle of notorious deer country.  I look out the windows every morning to see what they ate next...
Dennis

Easy way to fix that. You just stay outside at night and put a few of the varmints in the freezer before morning.  If you're freezer is too full,
pack them up in styrofoam and ship them direct to me.  Cheesy

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Craig Shepard
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« Reply #17 on: January 03, 2008, 02:00:56 PM »

I'm pretty amazed at all the posts about aircraft landing lights because it is well known to all us fly types that these things are VERY fragile in airplanes? Most of the failed ones are from vibrationl Some were mounted on landing gear legs but failed so often most were moved??

They also badly overheat so that when taxiing I always turn them on and off to cool and use only one at a time.

Can it be that you all were talking about 24v lights because mine have all been 12v?

Shame on you guys who spotlight deer!!
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« Reply #18 on: January 03, 2008, 03:12:33 PM »

Gus,
I stand slightly corrected.  I found my lights, took both bulbs out, but the numbers are about worn off the back of the sealed beams.  Looks like these are Phillilps bulbs. No voltage readable.  My previous bulbs with an identical appearance were GE, I think.  And I THINK they were rated at either 14 or 16 volts.  Of course they were on a vehicle having a 12 volt system.  That would account for the longevity, I guess. 

I was an aircraft crewchief for a couple of years in the Vietnam era, and don't recall any particular problems with those landing and taxi lights, but they were not 12 volt lights either.

As for spotlighting deer, I didn't say that.  I admit to holding them in a less esteemed spot in my heart, since I live among them, but I don't even hunt them, much less spotlight them.  I was talking about driving lamps, not hunting lamps.  To each his own.  Anyhow, all my lights need is a bus to fit 'em!
Dennis   
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« Reply #19 on: January 03, 2008, 03:24:41 PM »

Not spotlighting deer. But if they come out in front of the aircraft lights, they get seen a lot sooner than with regular lights. More time to react.

That was just a suggestion to Dennis on how he can cure his loss of landscaping vegetation, no spotlight intended.

The lights we are talking about are sold as Aviation/Marine lights. They are 13V. Can't quite make out the wattage, but the one I have is a Wagner bulb #4509. The ones that come in the rubber housing are tractor/utility lights. The primary difference is that the tractor lights have a diffusion lense which has lines and such in it like an ordinary headlight. The aviation lights have a smooth clear lense.

They will burn out, but they seem to stand up well on pavement. I typically lost more to rocks than to burn out.

They're not cheap, though. Last time I checked they were $15-$18 for one bulb.


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Craig Shepard
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« Reply #20 on: January 03, 2008, 04:17:13 PM »

I recently was looking for a 24v high beam.  My local parts store came up with a 28v aircraft landing light that would fit, but he said it was a flood.  I did not buy it thinking that the beam might be to broad.  They were less than $20.  Would these actually be good headlights?
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« Reply #21 on: January 03, 2008, 04:21:46 PM »

No, they'd be illegal.

Actually, the aircraft landing lights in the rubber housings are illegal in some states (e.g. CA).

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Craig Shepard
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« Reply #22 on: January 03, 2008, 10:01:12 PM »

Aircraft are the best. It takes a lot of power to run these spots so put each one on its own switch. I burned the wiring harness out of an old KW in the middle of the nite at Ankeny Hill once. It got very dark when the lites all went out and the cab filled with smoke.

 Scared hell out of me. Since then I have always powered at least one of my spots from a hot wire directly from a battery to a throw switch close to my left hand.
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« Reply #23 on: January 03, 2008, 10:16:19 PM »

Looks to me like the original headlight is 35 watt while the aircraft light is 100 watt.  I guess things would look brighter!
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« Reply #24 on: January 04, 2008, 06:56:24 AM »

So, Gus's comments on longevity got me kind or curious and I wanted to see if the 4509 bulbs available at a lower cost online, so I started doing some searches and I found some interesting info. Seems the aircraft people are also complaining that the bulbs burn out quickly, and one site indicates the bulbs are rated for only 25 hours! However, there is another model that seems to last longer. It's a Q4509 bulb, and as near as I can tell, the Q stands for quartz halogen, vs the standard tungsten filament. Seems to run about $25-$60 for it. It seems to be rated for 100 hours.

Now that I see this info, I do recall that some of the bulbs I've used had the quartz type element, and some had the coiled filament. I can't recall if either were more durable, but I know there was a time when it seemed they were burning out more frequently, so maybe that's what was going on. I didn't have internet access then so was less informed  Smiley

Then I found a Q4631 bulb which is rated at 500 hours, and, get this.... 250W!!! It's about $110 each (though I did see it for about $75). I bet that thing would rearlly light up the countryside Shocked  BTW, all these bulbs are PAR36, which is the size (about 4 1/2 inches).

I may have to get me a couple of those Q4631s and try them out on the front of my bus next summer!


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Craig Shepard
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« Reply #25 on: January 04, 2008, 09:28:42 AM »


Then I found a Q4631 bulb which is rated at 500 hours, and, get this.... 250W!!! It's about $110 each (though I did see it for about $75). I bet that thing would rearlly light up the countryside Shocked  BTW, all these bulbs are PAR36, which is the size (about 4 1/2 inches).

I may have to get me a couple of those Q4631s and try them out on the front of my bus next summer!


Those would be a great way to gently suggest to the oncoming driver that they dim their lights Tongue
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« Reply #26 on: January 04, 2008, 09:49:42 AM »

The bulbs in mine are probably standard spotlight bulbs.  Can't quite make out the old markings, but appear to be 100 watts.  The old ones I used previously were marked "aircraft landing".  Both have clear lenses, no prisms.  Concentrated spots.  Relays, overcurrent protection, and adequate wire size is important.
Dennis   
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« Reply #27 on: January 04, 2008, 10:36:16 AM »

Yeah, that sounds like the 4509s I used.

I think I'm going to try a couple of the Q4631s this spring, just for kicks.  Maybe I'll mount a set of Q4509s next to them for
comparison.  Ultimately I'd like to have 4 on the front of the bus. 

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« Reply #28 on: January 04, 2008, 10:41:18 AM »

Q4631 lamp 250 watt / 13 volts. Roll Eyes
The Q4631 lamps were used on the DC-10-10 series aircraft for wing ice detection lights.
Yes they are very bright.
I had one mounted on a old German made Mercury Capri many years ago.
It was located in the center of the front grill between the left and right head lights.
I installed a 12 volt heavy duty 30 amp relay with #10 wire from the positive side of the battery and it sure would light the road at night and the amp load on the battery would make that little alternator work very hard when the light was on.
jlv Grin
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« Reply #29 on: January 04, 2008, 11:17:23 AM »

Yeah, 250 watts at 14 volts is just under 18 amps. I figure 10 ga wire, with a separate relay for each light. My Vanner equalizer will get a workout with these. I'll have to run the wires all the way back to the batteries, I think. The feed to the front J-box is only 10 ga. The one in the A/C J box might be larger. Or, I could probably wire them up in series on 24v like the headlights on the MC9 are, and then just tie in a 10 ga 12v line for backup in between.  Then I could get by with a single relay.  Hmmm...  Smiley


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« Reply #30 on: January 04, 2008, 06:42:34 PM »

Gumpy,
If I understand your intention, the 12 volt backup circuit wouldn't necessarily be required like it would be in a headlight circuit.  If you're using the driving lamps as auxilliary lights, with the two bulbs wired in series, along with low beam headlights, and both go out if you loose one, you still have the headlights.  So you're not in the dark.  HEY! I heard that! Somebody was snickering, Gumpy.  Was it something I said about you bein' in the dark??
Dennis 
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« Reply #31 on: January 04, 2008, 07:26:03 PM »

I've been in the dark for most of my life. I just don't like it when I'm in the dark on a deer infested highway. I hit two deer in my bus last year. I'm not saying I wouldn't have hit them if I had these lights, but I might have been paying more attention outside the bus than I was when it happened  Wink

I know I wouldn't necessarily NEED the backup line, but having one of these big monsters would be better than having neither of them, and in looking at the headlight schematic, I could probably utilize the headlight backup circuit to aid me with this with some minor modifications. If I decide to put 4 lights on the front, though, I'd have to add separate backup circuits.
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« Reply #32 on: January 05, 2008, 04:52:26 AM »

     When we changed our headlights over to 12 volt, I modified the high beam headlight "cans" to accept a high/low beam bulb. We now have 4 lights on low beam as well as high beam. Since the low beam lights aim down lower, we have never had anyone flash their brights at us when we are using low beams. This also gives us redundancy, if 1 bulb burns out, we still have at least 1 bulb on each side.  Jack
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« Reply #33 on: January 05, 2008, 12:17:39 PM »

Gumpy & others -

Personally, I still think the best bang for the buck is to replace the lousy US-code headlamps with the high-quality European-code Cibies.

Very precision optics in the lenses make for a much more pleasant night driving experience, both behind the wheel and to oncoming traffic.  Use stock H-series Quartz-Halogen bulbs available at any auto parts store.  Also available w/ 24v bulbs, for those so blessed. 

Easily aimed - all that's needed is a blank wall and the ability to be parked 25 feet away on a level surface.

Provide a low-beam with a very sharp cut-off to the left, which eliminates glare to oncoming drivers.  Has a very sharp rise to the right, which throws the light a LONG way down the road, even on low beams.  High beams are like aircraft landing lights, but with much more precision.

www.cibieusa.com

Not cheap - $320 for a set of four in the 5" size, but then again, what price SAFETY??  Also available in the 7" size for 4104 and Scenic owners, plus the two common sized rectangulars, for those so-equipped.

TTBOMK, the only reason they're not US DOT-approved is because they don't come with those three little "pips" on the front for use with those antiquated suction-cup headlight aimers.  (Which aren't much good with all the aero-shaped headlights on cars today anyway. . .)

Chris Christiansen up in Idaho put them on his 4905, and so far, he's been the only other busnut who's backed up what I've been saying for over 40 years. . .

Or at least was willing to invest in a set to see if I was just spouting hot air?

FWIW & HTH. . .

 Wink
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« Reply #34 on: January 10, 2008, 02:28:02 PM »

Hey Russ,

     I've been running Cibie's on my 93' Toyota for about five years now.  I agree completely on the light output benefits over US-DOT patterns.  Sadly  Roll Eyes, headlight shape was even a consideration when I bought my bus (I really liked the light output of the Cibie 6x8" fixtures), because I wanted to install Cibies in that too.  My only problem with them to date was that I took a rock to one of them about a year ago ($$$).
     I've gotten a few comments on these since I put them in my truck - some asked if they were HIDs (this coud be ignorance or shock at the quality of the light output).  I just run the off-the-shelf H4 bulbs they were designed for at 55Watt Low-beam, 65Watt High-beam - although I've seen specialty bulbs up to 75Watt low, 100Watt high.

Dan Stern is a great guy - I had a chance to talk with him a few years back, very knowledgable.  I bought my fixtures from Aardvard International (they run the Cibie USA site).  They are great to work with.

With the Philips H4 "Truckstar" bulbs the same housing can be used on a 24volt rig without any fancy dropping resistors, or complicated series circuits (just hook them up to a 24-volt power-buss with a fuse/breaker and a relay and voila!).


The only better solution I've seen to the Cibie fixtures, is the Hella 90mm HID modules with E-Code "Z" beam patterns (like what they use on the new Prevost H3-45's, Vanhools, and Gilligs).  Those do require building a mounting surface though, and reallly get a boost from auto-leveling (this is required in europe, but since the US-DOT regulations are about 25years behind the rest of the world, you can get away with not having this).

Cheers!

-Tim
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« Reply #35 on: January 10, 2008, 03:30:33 PM »

Jack -
When you changed to 12 volt headlights, do you mean that you just changed the bulbs and then ran them in series to handle 24volts or did you switch to 12 power to each headlight?
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« Reply #36 on: January 10, 2008, 03:39:39 PM »

Jack -
When you changed to 12 volt headlights, do you mean that you just changed the bulbs and then ran them in series to handle 24volts or did you switch to 12 power to each headlight?
      We changed the entire system to 12 volt, running off our house batteries (and charged by a 12 volt alternator we added to the bus engine.  Jack
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