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Author Topic: looking for exterior side docking lights.  (Read 8773 times)
Sean
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« Reply #15 on: March 11, 2008, 03:03:30 PM »

... Sean, do you by any stretch, have pictures to go with the part numbers?  and do you have any more info on that Whelen scene light?


Here's the best I can do for a photo:


(Larger version at http://picasaweb.google.com/slwelsh/ForumPostGraphics/photo#5176596489331221618)

The part numbers are buried deep in my written notes, long since stored away.  I can probably retrieve them with some effort, but I'd like to be sure someone really, really needs them (like, they are heading to the Chevy dealer to order the parts) before I go through the effort to find them.

I can't even say for sure that these parts are still available -- it's for a very old truck model, maybe late 70's early 80's.  Later than that, they started using recessed lights for the truck beds.  This one, as you can see, is surface-mount.

Here is the info on the Whelen scene light, direct from them:
http://www.whelen.com/install/131/13113.pdf

The model 508 is specifically made for surface-mount applications, and mounts with four sheet-metal screws, or can even be mounted with industrial double-backed tape, as indicated in the spec sheet.

When you first look at a model 508, it looks like the light will emit in all directions,, and mostly straight out from the side of the vehicle.  This is true for the warning-light models (red, blue, amber, or white lens).  However, the scene light model (white lens only) has a built-in Fresnel lens, which directs most of the light downward toward the ground.  It is quite effective.  That means the lens is directional -- make sure you install it right-side up.

You'll need to go to an emergency vehicle supply house to order these.  Several companies now have on-line ordering, so you can hunt around on the web for them.  We went to a local supplier in Oregon for ours.

The Whelen scene lights are what you want if you don't mind doing the work to mount them. We use them on the ambulances all the time while on accident scenes.


Umm, the only work we did to mount ours is to drill the hole for the wires, and screw it down.  Oh, and we also re-wired the fixture so that the two 12-volt bulbs are now in series rather than parallel, so we can run it on our native 24-volt system.

That being said, the vast majority of Whelen scene light models (600, 700, 900) do require recesses in the vehicle side for mounting.  The light ships with a cutout template so you can cut your sheet metal.  We did not want to do such an invasive installation, nor deal with a potential source of leakage, so we went with the model 508 surface-mount unit.

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com
« Last Edit: March 11, 2008, 03:11:22 PM by Sean » Logged

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Sean
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« Reply #16 on: March 11, 2008, 03:59:02 PM »

Let me clarify.  ...  These provisions vary from state to state, but they often include some wording that would make most docking light setups illegal.

From Michigan's Code:

[elided]

From Pennsylvania's Code:

[elided]

On a state-by-state basis you will find restrictions that spell out one or more of the following:

1) If they are not FMVSS108 listed they must be covered and unlit while driving. The "covered" requirement does not only apply to forward facing lights.
2) They may not project white light in the side or rear direction unless they are back-up lights, and most have a requirement that back-up lights must be rear mounted.
3) They may only be operational when vehicle is parked.
4) They must be automatically switched off when vehicle travels in forward direction.
5) Requirement that all exterior lights have a lens and reflector that meets specific criteria/approvals

(In addition, there are specific exceptions allowed for ambulances, truck unloading, and "original manufacturer equipment". Most of us are dealing with bus conversions that did not have them originally [H3Jim excluded], so we don't qualify)

I'll rephrase my original statement to be more clear and state: "Most of the docking lights that are installed on our converted buses are not legal in all 50 states."
   

I would say, instead, that some of the docking lights on some conversions might not be legal in a few states.

The intent of these laws is to prohibit driving on highways with unlawful lamps.  They are not intended to preclude, for example, trucks from having loading lights, and RV's from having patio lights, nor any vehicle from having appropriate auxiliary lighting such as the turn-assist lights that Jim spoke of (which are legal, BTW, in all 50 states because they are expressly permitted by FMVSS 108), or auxilliary back-up lights (which are how I would classify most "docking" lights.)  Incidentally, I read both of those code sections as allowing docking lights if they are wired to the backup lamps.

Consequently, most states (and there are notable exceptions) provide exemptions for these kinds of lighting.  From the code snippet you sent, and the link, I see that the way PA deals with this is to leave it up to the OEM.  Which means that when Fleetwood or Marathon mounts a bunch of docking lights and patio lights they are legal.  So if I get stopped in PA, that's my answer -- they are original equipment as mounted by the "completed vehicle manufacturer" (what Fleetwood is, under the law).  As a self-converter, you are, essentially, the completed vehicle manufacturer (although it's best not to argue this point, since most states have a bunch of requirements for those folks that you probably don't meet.)

Incidentally, the code section you cite for PA applies only to trucks and buses -- your conversion is neither, it is a "passenger vehicle" if I read their code right.

My advice is to make your exterior lighting "look" OEM.  And don't drive with the docking lights on.

That said, I will give a quick anecdote here.  As a (former) California Highway Patrol trained and certified motorcycle instructor, and (former) part-time certified traffic motor officer, I am thoroughly familiar with the federal regs and also the California state code on motorcycle lighting.  As a complete safety geek, I've always equipped all of my motorcycles with a "headlight modulator," which is a device that alternately modulates the high-beam of the headlamp at 240 flashes per minute during daylight.  Now these are explicitly allowed for all motorcycles by FMVSS 108 (CFR Title 49, Chapter V, Part 571, Subpart B, section 571.108 paragraph S7.9.4, et. seq.).  Nevertheless, motorcyclists regularly get stopped for them, and we got stopped in Oklahoma.

The trooper said to me (after first correcting me when I called him "officer": "That's TROOPER"), and I am not making this up, "We don't follow them federal laws; we got our own state laws supersede that."  No amount of arguing the law on the side of the road was going to convince this overbearing punk otherwise, and we finally persuaded him that we would just turn them off until we left the state.  (In fact, we turned them right back on after we couldn't see his taillights in our mirrors -- I am NOT going to compromise my safety based on ignorance in a uniform.)

Back in those days, I was still working, and could not afford to sit around Ponca City for a week (or more) to take this to court, otherwise I would have dared him to write me the citation.  My point here is that this sort of ignorance is rampant -- search the internet for "headlight modulator" and you will find dozens of reports of motorcyclists being harassed for having this important (and legal by federal mandate) safety device.  So even if you know that the lights you have installed are legal and covered under some provision of your state's laws, don't assume you will not get pulled over and/or cited for them.  If you can't handle that, my advice is to stay out of the hobby of bus conversions, because you are eventually going to tinker with a system that can, theoretically, get you ticketed.

I just don't worry about it.  Law enforcement has plenty of better things to do than go over my bus looking for lighting violations (although I don't have any, other than the bit I already mentioned about the uncovered flood lights -- we complied with the letter of the law in our registered state of Washington and, before that, California).

FWIW.


-Sean
« Last Edit: March 11, 2008, 04:16:41 PM by Sean » Logged

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pete81eaglefanasty
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« Reply #17 on: March 11, 2008, 05:30:48 PM »

 What I did was to buy cornering lights from www.JCWhitney.com and mounted them under my Bus at 4 corner's. One at the end of the last bay & one at the front of the first bay on both sides. I've had them there for 9 years now never had a problem, they work great for backing up, It gives out a good ray of light when backing up. They shine right were the wheels are going and some what behind you. The backup lights behind the bus take care of the rest.

          Pete & Jean
            FANTASY
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WHAT EVER YOU DO, OR TO WHO YOU DO IT TOO, DO IT WITH A SMILE, IT MAKES IT LEGAL THAT WAY.
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« Reply #18 on: March 11, 2008, 05:33:12 PM »

I forgot to post the pictures

             Pete
          FANTASY
« Last Edit: March 12, 2008, 04:33:12 PM by pete81eaglefanasty » Logged

WHAT EVER YOU DO, OR TO WHO YOU DO IT TOO, DO IT WITH A SMILE, IT MAKES IT LEGAL THAT WAY.
Dreamscape
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« Reply #19 on: March 11, 2008, 05:50:31 PM »

Hi Pete,

That's a heck of an idea. I had not seen lights in those locations. I'll add that to my looooong list.

Paul
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« Reply #20 on: March 11, 2008, 06:30:34 PM »

Here is one that almost works, it has a red lens, which can be changed, and a slightly curved base, which might cause a problem.  The price is right at $16.00.

http://www.jcwhitney.com/wcsstore/jcwhitney/images/imagecache/G_13589G_CL_1.jpg

Ed
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« Reply #21 on: March 11, 2008, 06:46:41 PM »

the lights regs in vehicle codes is refering to lights and reflectors that are used while the vehicle is in operation of public roads.

Docking lights provided they are not turned on on the highway are perfectly legal in all 50 states, canada and mexico

as with most codes...you cannot look at just one section or paragraph...you have to look at the whole thing.


I agree that a paragraph by itself cannot convey the whole meaning, but posting the whole thing wasn't really practical.

One question: If simply keeping them turned off while on public roads was sufficient to make them legal, why do the state  codes mention the need to have them covered?   
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« Reply #22 on: March 11, 2008, 06:52:18 PM »

Hello.

On the older transits, there were lovely fixtures mounted down low outside the doors to light the ground for disembarking passengers.

Round chrome fixture with a globe shape, top half blocked out, single bulb.

AMGeneral, GM, and Flyer all used them.

Gotta find the supplier....

happy coaching!
buswarrior
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« Reply #23 on: March 11, 2008, 06:59:55 PM »

the lights regs in vehicle codes is refering to lights and reflectors that are used while the vehicle is in operation of public roads.

Docking lights provided they are not turned on on the highway are perfectly legal in all 50 states, canada and mexico

as with most codes...you cannot look at just one section or paragraph...you have to look at the whole thing.


I agree that a paragraph by itself cannot convey the whole meaning, but posting the whole thing wasn't really practical.

One question: If simply keeping them turned off while on public roads was sufficient to make them legal, why do the state  codes mention the need to have them covered?   



Ummmm, because the state didn't consult with tekebird first?    Grin
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« Reply #24 on: March 11, 2008, 07:21:02 PM »


I would say, instead, that some of the docking lights on some conversions might not be legal in a few states.


Agreed.

Quote
Incidentally, the code section you cite for PA applies only to trucks and buses -- your conversion is neither, it is a "passenger vehicle" if I read their code right.

Yes, I actually looked at both sections of the Code. The paragraph wording is identical in the passenger vehicle section, I just linked my reference to the wrong one.

Quote
My advice is to make your exterior lighting "look" OEM.  And don't drive with the docking lights on.

Yep. As stated in my first post: If you make them look like they are original, you won't get the unwanted attention of hanging 6" Hellas on there.
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Sean
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« Reply #25 on: March 11, 2008, 07:50:54 PM »

One question: If simply keeping them turned off while on public roads was sufficient to make them legal, why do the state  codes mention the need to have them covered?   


Keeping them off is usually sufficient.  The simple answer to your question is:  states generally do not trust you, the average citizen, not to turn them on while driving.  Having a cover over it is insurance that you won't do just that, and not having the cover is a priori evidence that you planned all along to use it while driving.

States do, however, trust ambulance drivers, power company employees, the phone company, Bob's Excavating service, etc., not to turn on their lights, generally exempt from such rules, when driving.

The intent of these laws is to ensure that people do not use inappropriate lights while driving.  Inappropiate usually means:
  • Lights that will impair the vision of other drivers, or otherwise create a safety hazard.
  • Lights that will insinuate in some way that you are some sort of official or emergency vehicle, such as law enforcement, fire apparatus, etc..
  • Lights that imitate traffic control devices, possibly confusing other motorists.
  • Lights that will distract you or otherwise impair your ability to safely operate the vehicle.

The lights we've been talking about, generally, do not fall into any of these categories.  Sure, docking lights could possibly be aimed in such a way to create glare for other drivers, which is why they should never be on while you are driving down the road.  But any law enforcement looking at those lights is going to know what they are for and that you, as Obi-Wan once said, are not the droids they are looking for.

We all know who they are looking for, because we've all seen them:  cars equipped with half a million candlepower of front lighting, as if at any moment they might have to participate in the Baja 1000; cars equipped with all manner of colored lights for "cruising" the boulevard at night, including fluorescents, red and blue LED's on the wheels, blue dot tail lights, etc..  Any cop knows that even though you've got those lights turned off, you are going to turn them on the minute you get in front of a group of hot chicas on Sunset Boulevard.

Having those laws on the books let's that cop write the citation immediately, without having to actually see the lights in use.

Can that be used to cite you for having a docking light?  In some states, yes.  But, as I said, you are not the target of this legislation -- you probably will not get ticketed as long as the light stays off, and I doubt you will even get a warning.  It's called "selective enforcement"  -- the law is there for when it's needed, but it is not trotted out willy-nilly.

FWIW.

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com
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« Reply #26 on: March 11, 2008, 08:07:04 PM »

Are there any regulations prohibiting roof mounted spotlights?  If positioned right, a set of them might work since you could point them where you wanted.
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« Reply #27 on: March 11, 2008, 08:16:31 PM »

Hey Steve
I have looked for the lights you ask for on the web for over a year without luck. What I was successful in doing is going to junk yards and collecting them from 1980-1989 Chevy pickups. I have only been successful in collecting two of them this way, but the cost has been $30 for 2 assemblies. When I went the local Chevy dealer to ask about the parts, I got a "deer in the head light look" from the parts man. O'course the "parts man" was a computer savy, still wet behind the ear 19 year old kid who wasn't born when the lights were used. He said the computer didn't go back that far. I don't think he even knew that there used to be paper books with the information in them in the past.
If I can find them, I plan to use one for over the entrance door and 2 on each side. I plan, like others on here, to change out the backup lights with something much more illuminating.
Sean, your pic is the right light that I am looking for and I suspect the one Steve is looking for as well. If the numbers are handy, it could possibly help but I understand what "packed away" means.

Rob
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« Reply #28 on: March 11, 2008, 08:18:45 PM »

I installed sealed beam halogen flood lights that are mounted in a rubber casing and have a flange to mt it to the rear of my S&S.  I do not know what the wattage of the little 5 inch lights might be but it is something unreasonable.  They are used on back hoes as work/flood lights.  The beam is really spread out so you see what is almost under the light and also what is over the rear, like branches, and the light directly to the rear would be enuf to drive with at 25 MPH.  "Mikey likes em"  and me too.  Cost next to nothing.  I used a relay that is powered by my "back-up-light" circuit and I also have a switch to disable them during daytime or where too much light might be a bother to someone.  I considered mounting a pair halfway down the side on the roof facing out as I don't have any light there and must use my interior lights with drapes open and that works only OK.

Looks aren't everything though "looking" sometimes is.

FWIW

John
« Last Edit: March 11, 2008, 08:21:23 PM by JohnEd » Logged

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« Reply #29 on: March 11, 2008, 08:24:05 PM »

Sean:

I agree completely with all your comments in the last post. By not turning them on while traveling public roads, you drastically reduce the chances that anyone is going to make an issue out of them.  I raised the question only to point out that turning them off doesn't make a set of illegal lights legal.  

It's like a guy driving through a state where radar detectors are illegal, and he has one mounted to the windshield, then tries to tell the trooper that he didn't have it turned on.

Lin:

Yes there are spotlight regs, which vary from state to state.  Most address forward facing lights that can be aimed by the driver. I don't recall any distinction that makes roof mounted units treated different from others.

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