wilbur

Brighter headlights on our old machines

Recommended Posts

I'd like to have more light in front of me when I drive my '28 Chandler ( and my T's and A's) at night.  I realize that having the headlight buckets re-plated is one of the top issues for improvement, but my question is more quick and dirty... Has anyone found a "better bulb" to use in the 6 volt systems that won't overtax the output of the generator?  I'm considering messing around with fitting an H3 Halogen 25 watt 6v bulb into the base of an old Masda 35-35w bulb.  Are any of the LEDs getting it right yet?  Bicycle lights are also drawing my attention.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't know about newer bulbs, but if your battery is near the front of the car you can rewire the headlights to operate from a relay that is controlled by the wire coming from your headlight switch.  Your headlights would be powered from the relay and would receive more voltage and be brighter.  DC electrical systems have a lot of voltage loss through the wiring that you'd minimize by doing this modification, and you could probably hide the relay so it wouldn't be obvious.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use 50/32's but found the drew more than the old three brush generator could put, especially when I drive a lot at night.  I installed a 6 volt alternator and have had no further trouble for 30 years.  My reflectors were re silvered but everything else is original.  At 55mph I can stop within the range of my headlights. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dave, if you plan on driving at night, be sure to add extra stop and tail lights. At our slower speeds, it's very easy for someone to rear end when they are doing 60 mph.  John

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yep.  The tail is well lit with full stop/turn/tail lights.  That relay idea is very interesting. I do have a 6 volt alternator on my A, but this Chandler's generator is driven by the timing chain and is the means of tensioning that chain... not going there.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's an offbeat idea for increasing the brightness of your TailLights:

In addition the cleaning the ground contact,

 

Line the inside of the taillight bucket with Aluminum Foil. 

It will reflect more of the bulb's light where the black, rusty surface was absorbing the light.

This also is a goood idea for the show car which might be driven home in the dark after a show or cruise night.

 

This also works on your older trailer lights if you have not upgraded to LEDs

Edited by Marty Roth (see edit history)
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, wilbur said:

I'd like to have more light in front of me when I drive my '28 Chandler ( and my T's and A's) at night.  I realize that having the headlight buckets re-plated is one of the top issues for improvement, but my question is more quick and dirty... Has anyone found a "better bulb" to use in the 6 volt systems that won't overtax the output of the generator?  I'm considering messing around with fitting an H3 Halogen 25 watt 6v bulb into the base of an old Masda 35-35w bulb.  Are any of the LEDs getting it right yet?  Bicycle lights are also drawing my attention.

 

The reason we go on about resilvering is that it is the only thing that helps (other than chasing the voltage drops out of your wiring). Putting bigger bulbs in doesn't help unless the reflectors are real good AND the charging system can handle it. There is no quick and dirty fix.

 

LED bulbs generally are not able to position the hot spot close enough to where it needs to be for a headlight bulb replacement to focus correctly. Maybe they will get it right someday. LEDs do draw far less current, and it could be a good thing to replace the OTHER bulbs (taillights etc) to leave a little more current available for the headlights.

 

There probably isn't really enough current available for the stock bulbs, let alone something bigger. The trouble is if you exceed the generator's output capacity, the system voltage instantly drops from whatever it is while charging (probably over 7 volts) to 6.3 volts (the natural voltage of a 6 volt battery) and goes down from there as the battery discharges. Meanwhile, the bulb brightness does not drop off in a linear fashion. It drops really fast. A tenth of a volt is a difference you can see. At half voltage, the bulb wont be half brightness, it might not even be lit.

 

The closest thing to quick and dirty fix I can think of goes something like this: 1) Get a sealed beam kit. 2) Get some top quality H4 (Cibie' or Marchal e-code) lens-reflector assemblies to fit the sealed beam mounts, 3) Get the biggest clear glass H4 bulbs that your generator can keep up with (probably 15 or 25 watt, maybe 35). They make small H4 bulbs like that for 6 volt motorcycles. THAT will get you more light on the same current. It will also make much better use of the available light.. It wont look right though.

 

Good luck!

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Harold said:

Don't know about newer bulbs, but if your battery is near the front of the car you can rewire the headlights to operate from a relay that is controlled by the wire coming from your headlight switch.  Your headlights would be powered from the relay and would receive more voltage and be brighter.  DC electrical systems have a lot of voltage loss through the wiring that you'd minimize by doing this modification, and you could probably hide the relay so it wouldn't be obvious.

 

This actually helps!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with relays and polishing or resilvering reflectors.  Other possibilities:

 

* upgrade #63 (3 cp) taillight bulbs to #1129 (21 cp).

 

* upgrade #81 (15 cp) stoplight bulbs to #1133 32 cp spotlight bulbs, which have a mushroom head.

 

* for cars with separate single filament tail and stoplight bulbs within the same housing, you may be crowded for room.  A good substitute for #63 in such cases is a #209 dome light bulb (15 cp) with elongated glass body but almost as small a globe diameter as a #63, and smaller than globes of #81 or #1129.  The #209 is the perfect substitute for 1915-24 Pierce-Arrow taillights' narrow housings.

 

* refresh and test the ground at each and every light.  A 6 foot long 10-gauge test wire with alligator clips allows you to compare outputs from the same bulb with improved vs. unimproved grounds.  If necessary, solder a separate ground to the socket and run it to the frame.

 

* while we're on grounds, test the ground between the body and the frame, using your test lead.  Easy to do from engine side of firewall to frame. Cars with rubber motor mounts need a separate body-to-frame ground, and those without rubber mounts may have developed some corrosion that you can't correct without moving the engine.

 

* with all those bulb upgrades, your electrical consumption has increased.  On my Pierce 8s which took a Group 3 battery of 140 amp-hrs (AH), there is room in the battery box for two Optima 6V batteries side by side, wired in PARALLEL.  Optimas have 100 AH reserve capacity, so with two in parallel you now have 200 AH reserve capacity for those long night drives home, even if your ammeter is showing a slight discharge.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent advice, fellows.  How would I go about having my reflectors resilvered and what might I expect to pay?  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is a company called Ulvira in Oregon, which I believe is still n business, that applies an aluminum oxide coating on reflectors. They have to be nickeled first though. The make reflective medical equipment.From what i understand, this material produces the highest level of reflection you can get.

Edited by jpage (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

UVIRA info:

Also consider using #1183 (single contact) or #1184 (two contact bulbs). They are 50 Candle Power bulbs without the heat and current draw of a halogen.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The rear turn signal lights that I added to my '25 Buick are NOS trailer lights that match the lone tail light perfectly.Tinfoil tart cups were added as reflectors and help a lot. I had a toggle switch/indicator bar that I mounted under the dash to activate them.An original accessory stop lamp (lights up green !) completes the package.I'm presently looking for a good pair of 1925=26-27 Buick cowl lamps to use for front turn signals. I like the stop lamp bar as well.

Jim

1925 Buick turn signals 002.JPG

1925 Buick turn signals 001.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Friartuck said:

Also consider using #1183 (single contact) or #1184 (two contact bulbs). They are 50 Candle Power bulbs without the heat and current draw of a halogen.

 

Wattage is wattage, so a 25 watt halogen will draw the same current as a 25 watt incandescent. A quartz-halogen typically provides about 40% more light for the same power.

 

The bulb envelope temperature is higher as the capsule is smaller but that should not be an issue for a headlight bulb as it is typically mounted in the center of a large metal heat sink (reflector).

 

Turns out that the the old 32cp bulbs draw about 25 watts and you can get 25 watt halogens. By swapping to that bulb you will get about the same light output as the old 50 cp bulbs but keep the load on the electrical system the same as with a 32cp bulb. That, along with a better headlight reflector coating (Ulvira mentioned in other posts above) and hiding a voltage regulator inside my 3rd brush generator, is what I have done. Headlights are not up to current HID/LED standards but are much better than stock.

 

It looks like LED bulb replacements are becoming available but the ones I've heard of that are simple plug in replacements are pretty expensive and I am not sure the light output is there yet. I am tempted to order a set to evaluate them but haven't done so yet. The ones I know about were mentioned in another topic/thread on this discussion forum and the vendor's page is at http://www.dynamoregulatorconversions.com/led-headlamp-bulbs-shop.php

 

I did a full article on this topic a long while ago, you can read it at http://www.ply33.com/Repair/lights

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am big on soldering a ground wire from the bulb socket and attaching it to the chassis for a ground. I do it often.

 

With these old reflectors I would be suspect of the original decision to go with silvering. Some old lamp maker may have ahd that idea pounded into him as a apprentice and never questioned it.

 

When parabolic area lighting was being promoted as the newest thing we did some testing and found out gloss white reflectors outperformed the mirrored or "shiny" surfaces. If the silver is shot on your reflectors paint them with gloss white and see if it improves, inside taillights, too. Check before and after with a lightmeter if you have or can get one. If the reflectors have deteriorated you don't lose anything.

 

There are a lot of perpetuated myths out there. Everything should be questioned.

Bernie

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, 60FlatTop said:

When parabolic area lighting was being promoted as the newest thing we did some testing and found out gloss white reflectors outperformed the mirrored or "shiny" surfaces. If the silver is shot on your reflectors paint them with gloss white and see if it improves, inside taillights, too. Check before and after with a lightmeter if you have or can get one. If the reflectors have deteriorated you don't lose anything.

 

Just curious, as I have wondered about this a lot. Were any of those silver surfaces you tested actual silver, or evaporated aluminum (as used by Uvira and also many modern cars)? I ask because in other (probably unscientific) tests I have read, Chrome, Nickel, polished Brass, and "chrome paint" all performed miserably compared to Silver. If white outperforms real Silver, that is a big deal.

 

I read in some other forum that white paint outperformed any other sort of paint on the reflectors of taillights, signals, etc. I have not verified it. In the 70s and 80s, when most cars had some sort of silver colored or mirrored reflector in the small lights, many Italian cars used white. Those lights were a masterstroke of dim, but there were probably other factors.... Getting the facts out there would be a good thing. If you know any more about this, please tell.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I conducted a totally non scientific test with two tail lights. On one, the inside was painted gloss white spray paint, the other painted with aluminum spray paint. Two observers were asked which was brighter when the brake was applied. The winner was the aluminum paint. Just my experience.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
30 minutes ago, AzBob said:

I conducted a totally non scientific test with two tail lights. On one, the inside was painted gloss white spray paint, the other painted with aluminum spray paint. Two observers were asked which was brighter when the brake was applied. The winner was the aluminum paint. Just my experience.

 

I think my idea of forming aluminum foil inside the taillight bucket should produce more reflection and a brighter taillight than even the white paint.

 

I would love to see a comparison.

Edited by Marty Roth (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

White reflects more light, but it scatters it.

 

Actual silver plating that was used in headlight reflectors is supposed to be  96% reflective, but it doesn't scatter the light like white will.  It is much better at directing the light energy in a beam and that's why it was used in head and driving lights.

 

So white paint would be better for park and tail lights, but silver would be better for distance needed for head lights.

 

I've had reflectors polished and re-silvered and I've had them done with the Uvira process. I find both are good.  And combined with  50 x 32 cp bulbs, the head lights are plenty bright enough for night driving on our country roads without over taxing the generator and draining a good sized 6 volt battery like a group 4.

 

Paul

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, 60FlatTop said:

I am big on soldering a ground wire from the bulb socket and attaching it to the chassis for a ground. I do it often.

 

With these old reflectors I would be suspect of the original decision to go with silvering. Some old lamp maker may have ahd that idea pounded into him as a apprentice and never questioned it.

 

When parabolic area lighting was being promoted as the newest thing we did some testing and found out gloss white reflectors outperformed the mirrored or "shiny" surfaces. If the silver is shot on your reflectors paint them with gloss white and see if it improves, inside taillights, too. Check before and after with a lightmeter if you have or can get one. If the reflectors have deteriorated you don't lose anything.

 

There are a lot of perpetuated myths out there. Everything should be questioned.

Bernie

 

5 minutes ago, PFitz said:

White reflects more light, but it scatters it.

 

Actual silver plating that was used in headlight reflectors is supposed to be  96% reflective, but it doesn't scatter the light like white will.  It is much better at directing the light energy in a beam and that's why it was used in head and driving lights.

 

So white paint would be better for park and tail lights, but silver would be better for distance needed for head lights.

 

I've had reflectors polished and re-silvered and I've had them done with the Uvira process. I find both are good.  And combined with  50 x 32 cp bulbs, the head lights are plenty bright enough for night driving on our country roads without over taxing the generator and draining a good sized 6 volt battery like a group 4.

 

Paul

 

My late father was an astronomer, not an amateur but PhD researcher. I asked him once about parabolic mirror coatings, the answer was that good quality silver was the best for reflectivity across the optical band but it was a pain to keep in good condition so they were using aluminum on the telescopes for his university. I am inclined to go with his opinion on this. I don't think the physics has changed too much in the years since I asked the question.

 

What PFitz writes makes sense to me. Though my choice has been to use 25 watt quartz-halogen bulbs that draw about the same power as a #1000 32-32 cp bulb but deliver about the same light as a 50-50 cp incandescent bulb.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, is anyone offering the 25 watt 6 volt Halogen bulb in a base that fits in place of our 32/50 bulbs?  I'm working on improving the ground path by doing independent ground wires from each headlight bulb socket and am going to polish the reflectors.  The relay is also in my list.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, ply33 said:

but it was a pain to keep in good condition

 

How often do these old car reflectors get polished?

Although physics doesn't change technology does. The lights in this topic generally have some level of tarnish on the silver reflector and the light travels through a diffusing lens, without the projector exiting we get used to on modern cars. The silvering of an antique headlight lens could be a lot less precise, as well. I worked on a reflective coating system, years ago, that used a cryogenic process to remove water molecules that could be trapped under the surface during the plating process. That was a company that ranged from scientific equipment to disposable contact lenses. I only worked on the cryo side, but that should be more common today. The surface of automotive resilvering probably looks like a corn cob next to high end stuff.

 

When you think about this era of vintage car the majority are positive ground. So the downstream side of the load  is where we find the switches and junctions is the location of the ground resistances in a negative ground car. That is important to keep in mind when servicing.

 

Hundred year old technology in today's world might mean staying home after dinner and sitting on the porch would be the best option. Live the lifestyle too.

 

On the painting white thought, white is white because it reflects all light.

Bernie

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, wilbur said:

So, is anyone offering the 25 watt 6 volt Halogen bulb in a base that fits in place of our 32/50 bulbs?  I'm working on improving the ground path by doing independent ground wires from each headlight bulb socket and am going to polish the reflectors.  The relay is also in my list.

 

I've got 25 watt 6 volt BA15d quartz-halogen bulbs from Classic & Vintage Bulbs in Australia in my '33 Plymouth as I write. They are a direct plug in replacement for the #1110 (21/21 cp), #1000 (32/32 cp) and/or #1188 (32/50 cp) bulbs. By my calculation the 25 watt quartz-halogen bulbs should be putting out about 600 lumens on both high and low beams. The 1188 bulb will put that out on high beam but not on low.

 

This morning I received an email back on my query to Classic Dynamo & Regulator Conversions in the UK regarding their "double dipper" LED BA15d headlight bulb replacement. They say the output of that is about 600 lumens.

 

So there appears to be at least two possibilities for a plug in replacement bulb that put out significantly more light than the original (about the same as a 50 cp bulb) but with less power draw than the 1188 (if using quartz-halogen) or any of the original bulbs (if using the LED replacements).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now