Headlight Conversion Options

I'm not a young man anymore.  My arms have gotten too short to hold a factory service manual far enough away for me to see the print clearly. To be able to work on a car in the garage/shop, I had to double the amount of lighting recently.  Additionally, I live in the mountains, and all matter of critters love to jump out in front of the car in the middle of the night.  

I want to see them!  

Original style sealed beams are fine for a 19 year old who can spot a girl a half mile away in moonlight, but for us old guys, we need all the light we can get.  Pops' solution on his Model A was a set of 12V tractor lights clamped to the bumper mounts, driven by a 12V battery.  It works, but it looks odd and the cost of the lights, mounting hardware and battery are expensive.  Of course, the car can be changed out to 12V, but there's something about the "rump-rump-rump" of a 6V starter that well, sparks joy.  

Now I'm sure a bunch of guys already know this stuff, but there are many ways to adapt modern technology to help see with a 6V system - or to improve vision with a 12V system.  The first step is to get a pair of conversion lamps.  These look like sealed beams, but the reflector is configured to accept a modern halogen insert lamp.  The cost range is from $15-$35, with the more expensive brand name lenses closer to an original lens pattern.  
Now - if you're running a generator (and I like generators; when they go bad, you can fix them on the side of the road with $15 worth of brushes) you have the power output of a mason jar of fireflies.  What guys with modern classics and 12 systems do is pop in a high wattage (80-100) watt halogen and light up the night.  I had a four headlight factory system like this on my Bentley, and the light range was an honest two miles.  Unfortunately, the current draw of a pair of big halogen lamps may exceed the generator's capacity, especially if the system has increased resistance due to corrosion and age. 

A better solution is a pair of 6V LED headlight lamps.  Most moderns these days run LED's, and with the conversion headlights in place, the LED lamps pop right in like a halogen.  Wattage is less than half that of the incandescent lamp - with greater light output!  
With a pair of conversion headlights and LED lamps as shown above, you've a much brighter view of the world for $60 which looks very traditional - until you turn them on.  With lest load on the generator, you won't get the headlight dimming effect at idle that generator cars have, either.  I have to do a bit more research on LED tail lamps and turn signals, as the reduced wattage affects the blinker relay.

Hope this helps some folks!  

Comments

  • tbeilketbeilke Posts: 54Member
    Thanks, very en'lightening'.
  • dholckdholck Posts: 122Expert Adviser
    Not sure if this offers anything significantly different or better; these guys have bulbs that work on 6 or 12 volt, generator or alternator, etc.  I have a pair, but have not put them on the car yet.  http://www.logolites.com/products/led-headlights/
  • parkermparkerm Posts: 188Expert Adviser
    chucksherman, thank you for this information. I agree, I need brighter/better headlights and this will come in handy.
  • ratlee2ratlee2 Posts: 249Expert Adviser
    I have used the Rampage conversion on my Jeep Wrangler.  They are 12 volt, but it was a huge improvement over the seal beam lights.

    https://www.autozone.com/collision-body-parts-and-hardware/headlight-assembly/rampage-headlight-assembly-5089925/375860_742130_0

  • dholck said:
    Not sure if this offers anything significantly different or better; these guys have bulbs that work on 6 or 12 volt, generator or alternator, etc.  I have a pair, but have not put them on the car yet.  http://www.logolites.com/products/led-headlights/
    This is great information!  These are for older, pre-sealed beam headlamps with the socket style connections.  The above discussion was more for sealed beams, so this is a great addition!  
  • 50C8DAN said:
    Dan - this is a rapidly changing area.  I should have mentioned I do this sort of thing for a living, and products that werent available just a few months ago are available now - and - the technology is simpler, not requiring a driver, and costs have gone WAAY down! When I started in the industry, an LED replacement tube for the shop cost $120.  Now?  They're about six bucks.  A conversion for sealed beams is about $60, for earlier headlights, it's down to about $30.  For the vision and safety of a plug and play solution, it's an option that's hard to pass up.  

    I did lighting system upgrades for the Automotive industry, and have been in almost every plant in North America.  I just wanted to share some of that knowledge for the benefit of others on the board.
  • ratlee2 said:
    I have used the Rampage conversion on my Jeep Wrangler.  They are 12 volt, but it was a huge improvement over the seal beam lights.

    https://www.autozone.com/collision-body-parts-and-hardware/headlight-assembly/rampage-headlight-assembly-5089925/375860_742130_0

    The Rampages are awesome lights, and are bright as all get out!  At the same time, they look a tad "modern" on a Hudson stepdown.  There are traditional style lens conversions for about $80 for a 12V Hella setup, and the one described above has a slightly different lens, but close to an original pattern for $60.  I wanted to outline a solution which appeared stock - until the lights were on!  
  • GeoffGeoff Posts: 3,630Senior Contributor
    I have 6 volt q-h bulbs in my 1928 Essex, with a 45 amp generator and relay.   they are incredibly good.
  • supersixsupersix Posts: 60Member
    I don’t see any comments about working on a stock 6 V Positive ground system.Do they ? Thanks 
  • supersix said:
    I don’t see any comments about working on a stock 6 V Positive ground system.Do they ? Thanks 
    Yes, they do. 
  • ken1962ken1962 Posts: 238Member
    If you want 6v led positive etc light bulbs for all lights front and rear use these guys www.classicandvintagebulbs.com

  • Jon BJon B Posts: 6,940Administrator
    edited September 15
    I'm running the LED's (headlites , taillights and dash lites) in my '37.  All six volt pos. ground, and all fit in the original type sockets.  A good lighting improvement!  Here's where I bought them: http://www.dynamoregulatorconversions.com/online-shop-for-led-bulbs-and-light-boards-etc.php
  • ken1962 said:
    If you want 6v led positive etc light bulbs for all lights front and rear use these guys www.classicandvintagebulbs.com

    Ken - 

    I've been restoring old car hobby since '73.  Before there were all these one stop shop resellers, we had to figure out what part we needed and then find a source for it or something similar.  For example, I can get seals from Roger Zatkoff seals and Packings in Detroit. I still use that approach.   

    Since LED's are almost exclusive to China, and I'm the parsimonious sort when it comes to restoration work, I'm going to work up a bill of materials for LED replacement lamps at a lower cost than a one stop shop.  Conversion kits can cost over $100 for headlights, yet a little research yields a setup for less than $60.  

    I really want to get bright rear lamps for the small glass tail lights for safety's sake, and then sort out the blinker adaptor relay.  It's been solved for other vehicles, so it shouldn't be difficult to adapt to a Hudson.  

    Finally, I want a bright light for the Hudson emblem in the grille!  I LOVE that feature, and I want it to stand out when it's lit.  LED's generate a third of the heat of an incandescent, so it can be much brighter without damaging the plastic.  
  • KustomKreepsKustomKreeps Posts: 327Member
    Just a note. Some countries have rules about aftermarket LED conversion kits. Im thinking it might be the places that are RHD ( so potentially a third of the world). Near all the aftermarket kits are made for LHD systems that have a different spread/light pattern. Here in NZ they are now unfortunately illegal so those of use who are wanting to upgrade are stuck with Halogen setups. Might pay to check your countries regulations before undergoing the upgrade.

    One option for us RHD people is Hella or similar brands who cover RHD lenses.
    https://www.hella.co.nz/en/products/driving-headlamp/7-round-headlamps-and-housings/
    Lenses are made for RHD. By this i mean when you dim the lights etc the light pattern will point to the side of the road and not to the center/into on coming drivers eyes like they would if you used LHD lenses. 
    Note if you are looking at the above Hella link and the "chrome" ring then note they are plastic. - I wasnt amused when mine arrived and returned them. The stock Hudsons fit fine to aftermarket Hela buckets though.

    Also dont forget to use Relays.

    Chuck if the old eyesight is a bit underpar to read a manual then try a TV/projector/laptop in the garage hooked up to a chromecast. Makes life easy to have it on bigscreen  to glance up at as you work at the car. also has the benefit of being able to just search what you are after - no matter if its the car manual, google or youtube.

    thanks for the thread - also a number of really good ones if you search as well.
  • Max162Max162 Posts: 33Member
    It is very interesting indeed. Do someone know if LEDLight.com does shipping worldwide? If not, is there another  automotive lights company that does it ?
  • ESSX28-1ESSX28-1 Posts: 1,354Senior Contributor
    KustomKreeps,
    the link thatJon B gives above is from the RHD driving U.K. So  hopefully........

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