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Thread: Sealed-beam Conversions headlights

  1. #1

    Default Sealed-beam Conversions headlights

    I have to say i learned a lot so far from your forums thanks.
    Well i am looking to upgrade my headlights in my 87 Ranger.
    I have installed relays for my headlights big improvement there, but i feel thy can be better.
    I live in the NW it seems the rain and sometimes fog sure eat what little light i do have.

    my question is if its really that bad to use e-code H4 sealed-beam replacements. as far as i have read its illegal to run anything but DOT stamped in the glass, i want to set it up so its safe for me and other drivers. i been blinded to many times i dont want to do that to others and waste money.
    I see a lot of HID around here and i have yet to see any one pulled over for them not sure why, i just want to be that one guy how gets a ticket for not having DOT headlights.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Sealed-beam Conversions headlights

    The H4 ECE headlights are legal and you can get some that work pretty well ---- but that super cut-off they have does limit the total light coming out of the bulb.

    I think that you can find GE Nighthawks that will outperform them. But don't be daunted by the legality of the E-code lights; I had the round ones in my Jeep and they worked better than the OE H13s they replaced.

    Try Daniel Stern's website and look at the Cibies.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Sealed-beam Conversions headlights

    "Legal" for the purposes of your question depends on where the vehicle is registered and which conversion headlamps you're looking at (and what bulbs you install in them). They are not all alike.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Sealed-beam Conversions headlights

    You can always do a retrofit. I've making these for my Dad's Vett'


  5. #5

    Default Re: Sealed-beam Conversions headlights

    Quote Originally Posted by scott011422 View Post
    You can always do a retrofit. I've making these for my Dad's Vett'

    Please tell me that's not an HID "kit"...

  6. #6

    Default Re: Sealed-beam Conversions headlights

    Nope, Hand fab'd by me. The doner housings are cheap ebays. The projector assembly is an "FX-R" Which is basicly an aftermarket copy of the Acura TL headlamps, But modified to make retrofitting much easier.

  7. #7
    Flashaholic* Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sealed-beam Conversions headlights

    Not a fan. Neither is Scheinwerfermann.

    Those things are the Rolecks or Seyko of projectors.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Sealed-beam Conversions headlights

    How so? These outperform most oem assemblies? Off the top of my head, the only assemblies that rate better are the Acura TL's and the LS460's

  9. #9
    Flashaholic* Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sealed-beam Conversions headlights

    Quote Originally Posted by scott011422 View Post
    These outperform most oem assemblies?
    Of course not, but thanks for asking.

    Off the top of my head, the only assemblies that rate better are the Acura TL's and the LS460's
    Rated by who and to what standards?

    The genuine Acura and Lexus parts were made by (or for) those respective companies to conform to applicable laws using designs, tooling, and materials designed to ensure consistent build quality and performance. The "replicas" may not be made with such precision, and often have, hidden from the eye, certain cost-cutting measures. It may walk mostly like a duck, talk somewhat like a duck, and look quite a bit like a duck, but it's not a duck.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Sealed-beam Conversions headlights

    I now see this tends to be a touchie subject on this forum. It was simply a sugestion, I only mention what parts I used to say it wasn't a kit. Further, Of course aftermarket MAY or MAY NOT be everybit as good as factory, That goes without saying does't it? I would have loved to get a set of TL's in there, I have them in my truck and they are such an improvement over my factory 6" round shared hi/low beam, But There was no room. So FX-R's it was. Personally, No shared beam illuminary can or will ever perform better than seperate dedicated ones. But what can you do!

  11. #11
    Flashaholic* Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sealed-beam Conversions headlights

    Quote Originally Posted by scott011422 View Post
    I now see this tends to be a touchie subject on this forum. It was simply a sugestion, I only mention what parts I used to say it wasn't a kit.
    Not the same as the 'kits' that just let you drop in HID capsules, but still not as good as real lamp assemblies designed for the vehicle by legitimate vehicle lighting manufacturers.

    Further, Of course aftermarket MAY or MAY NOT be everybit as good as factory, That goes without saying does't it?
    Of course the quality may vary. Guaranteed mediocrity is sometimes preferable to an outright disasterously made product. There are too many variables with makers and marketers of the 'replicas' (as well as the near-impossibility of finding a responsible party should their products contribute to property damage, injuries, or fatalities.


    Personally, No shared beam illuminary can or will ever perform better than seperate dedicated ones.
    Such a broad statement is easy to disprove simply because it uses absolutes. I can come up with a few examples (Marchal Amplilux vs. a set of rectangular Wagner sealed beams being a major one). Granted, you acknowledge that it is a matter of opinion, rather than saying it is a statement of fact.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Sealed-beam Conversions headlights

    Quote Originally Posted by Alaric Darconville View Post
    Still not as good as real lamp assemblies designed for the vehicle by legitimate vehicle lighting manufacturers.
    Not necessarily true, Not as good in what regard? Build quality? Form? Function?? Just like building codes, auto manufactures have standards set for basic performance and safety. Ie a "Bare Minimum" as it were. This followed by the cost of the almighty dollar doesn't get you the best for that application. This gets you the best costing solution that meets minimum federal standards. Just because it isnít factory, doesnít automatically mean its inferior to the OEM. Age also plays a huge factor. In this case we are talking about sealed beam headlights. Its not difficult to outperform these lights with todays technology.


    Quote Originally Posted by Alaric Darconville View Post
    Of course the quality may vary. Guaranteed mediocrity is sometimes preferable to an outright disastrously made product. There are too many variables with makers and marketers of the 'replicas' (as well as the near-impossibility of finding a responsible party should their products contribute to property damage, injuries, or fatalities.
    All very true points. But lets not group all aftermarket manufactures into one basket. For instance, Does the aftermarket product in question meet any of the worst case that your talking about? Or is it an inferior product in your mind just because its aftermarket??? Are there better products out there? Absolutely! Are some of them OEM? Also absolutely. Do they fit every application? A firm NO.
    In this particular instance, With the space available this was the best solution. It fits, It vastly outperforms the 1984 designed oem, it improves the safety of the vehicle for nighttime driving. It meets and exceeds 1984 DOT specs as well as all current ones as verified by use of an optical beam setter.


    Quote Originally Posted by Alaric Darconville View Post
    Such a broad statement is easy to disprove simply because it uses absolutes. I can come up with a few examples (Marchal Amplilux vs. a set of rectangular Wagner sealed beams being a major one). Granted, you acknowledge that it is a matter of opinion, rather than saying it is a statement of fact.
    Yes, it is an opinion. But, apples to apples, Iíll still stand by it. Your example is helping my statement. The Amplilux uses two separate reflectors and bulbs. Each designed for their function. The Wagner is using one bulb, one reflector. Thereby compromising not only the low beam but also the high beam.


    Donít get me wrong, I do see your point. There are a lot of crap aftermarket products out there. There are even more idiots out there not only using this crap, but using the good stuff so incorrectly, It may as well be crap. I would hope that with this forum being for the use of and construction of lighting, that already would have weeded out most of the ďcap backward Civic racersĒ For instance, This topic on other forums would have turned into, ď I donít care what you say, I think I can see better so my lights are better, best! Glare? Who cares, I see better and the cops wont stop me!Ē lol

    Anyway. Has the OP looked into offroad led light bars? Rigid Industries make some awesome off road lights and the prices are not to bad either!

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Sealed-beam Conversions headlights

    Quote Originally Posted by ronclark View Post
    I have to say i learned a lot so far from your forums thanks.
    Well i am looking to upgrade my headlights in my 87 Ranger.
    I have installed relays for my headlights big improvement there, but i feel thy can be better.
    I live in the NW it seems the rain and sometimes fog sure eat what little light i do have.

    my question is if its really that bad to use e-code H4 sealed-beam replacements. as far as i have read its illegal to run anything but DOT stamped in the glass, i want to set it up so its safe for me and other drivers. i been blinded to many times i dont want to do that to others and waste money.
    I see a lot of HID around here and i have yet to see any one pulled over for them not sure why, i just want to be that one guy how gets a ticket for not having DOT headlights.
    Try taking a look at rallylights.com (Susquehanna Motorsports). They're a great source of info if nothing else but they do carry Hella H4 conversions which are DOT legal and also some other brands. I've got almost 30 years experience in amateur rallying in all sorts of weather and that much experience in working pro events. I can't think of too many better places to start than those guys.

    As for the rest of the thread, I don't know of any teams that would use a kit or jerry-rigged lighting setup. Rallying is tougher than almost any other motorsport I can think of and to me that says a lot about what to use and what not to use in the sport or just driving on the road. I know I what I would do at any rate.
    Last edited by chmsam; 01-05-2012 at 07:29 PM.
    "Show them a light, and they'll follow it anywhere..."

  14. #14

    Default Re: Sealed-beam Conversions headlights

    Shop very carefully and talk to more than one vendor before you make a decision. If you're shopping for rectangular H4 conversions, it's definitely a wise idea to stay away from off-brand poor-quality lamps, which means confining your comparison to Bosch, Hella, and Cibie. They're all three durably constructed of quality materials to OEM standards, but they don't all perform alike. The optics are different. For performance and efficiency my first pick by a large margin is the Cibie, followed by the Bosch. The Hella lags pretty far behind; it's not very efficient and has too much separation between the high and low beam hot spots: if you aim the low beams correctly, the high beams are focused too high up in the air. If you pull the high beams down where they should be, the low beams are too low and you have no seeing distance on low beam. The Bosch and the Cibie don't have that problem and are more efficient so for any given bulb you get more light on the road. Rallylights is a good vendor, but I'm pretty sure they sell only the Hellas. You might talk to Daniel Stern; I've bought a bunch of different brands of lighting equipment from him over the years (Cibie, Bosch, Hella, Koito, Carello, etc...) and he has always steered me towards and away from products based on performance, not on what he happens to have on the shelf -- in some cases this has meant he's steered me towards another vendor when he doesn't stock the best lamp for whatever my project was.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Sealed-beam Conversions headlights

    I did a similar retrofit for my 86 mr2. I got genuine fx35 projectors, but that was before fx-r (replica) projectors came out.

    Reflectors simply cannot come even close to projectors. It's totally worth the money, IMO... Except for crappy Ebay generic projectors, and even those can beat bad OEM reflectors.

    I never finished the job (bought a 2005 Mr2 instead), but here are pictures.

    http://guysmily.com/gallery2/v/mr2/mr2hid/
    (I would normally just do img tags to specific pics but I'm on my phone right now)

  16. #16
    Flashaholic* Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sealed-beam Conversions headlights

    Quote Originally Posted by scott011422 View Post
    It meets and exceeds 1984 DOT specs as well as all current ones as verified by use of an optical beam setter.
    An optical beam setter only allows one to aim the lamps properly; it does not at all prove that the lamps conform to any other specification.

    Yes, it is an opinion. But, apples to apples, Iíll still stand by it. Your example is helping my statement. The Amplilux uses two separate reflectors and bulbs. Each designed for their function. The Wagner is using one bulb, one reflector. Thereby compromising not only the low beam but also the high beam.
    The Amplilux is a single unit (yes, it does have multiple bulbs within, but it's a single assembly). For the "separate dedicated ones", let's use the road-legal Sylvania H4656CB "Cool Blue" for the lows and the H4651CB (again, "Cool Blue") for the highs. I'd just about pit my Koito-made HB2 headlamps on my Toyota Previa against that set and put money on it (so long as I've got Philips X-Treme Power HB2s installed).

  17. #17

    Default Re: Sealed-beam Conversions headlights

    Quote Originally Posted by chmsam View Post
    Try taking a look at rallylights.com (Susquehanna Motorsports). They're a great source of info if nothing else but they do carry Hella H4 conversions which are DOT legal and also some other brands. I've got almost 30 years experience in amateur rallying in all sorts of weather and that much experience in working pro events. I can't think of too many better places to start than those guys.

    As for the rest of the thread, I don't know of any teams that would use a kit or jerry-rigged lighting setup. Rallying is tougher than almost any other motorsport I can think of and to me that says a lot about what to use and what not to use in the sport or just driving on the road. I know I what I would do at any rate.
    I have talked to rallylight that how i found out about sealbeam to H4 conversions. all the carry is Hella, but then i saw you guy talking about Daniel Stern Lighting and then started to read about Bosch and Cibie. Cibie seemed to best the best of them at least what i have read about.
    Is there anything i need to watch out for buy have E-codes? I live in Wa state no inspections her yet.
    Dumping almost $200 in to headlights is a lot of money, so i wanted to get some input before i go out and spend a lot of money on that might or might not work out so well.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Sealed-beam Conversions headlights

    As I recall, the Amplilux has an elevation adjustment screw for the high beam reflector, so you can adjust the elevation difference between it and the low beam.

    I still have a new pair of 7" Amplilux that I bought around 1980.
    There are two kinds of light - the glow that illumines, and the glare that obscures. ~James Thurber

  19. #19

    Default Re: Sealed-beam Conversions headlights

    I have seen many (I'm even confident enough to say "most") of the aftermarket "replica" projectors, and I have yet to see one that has been tested and certified or type-approved as compliant with any prevailing technical standard or regulation. Most of them do not meet the photometric, physical, and/or durabilty requirements. Homemade headlamps are already technically -- and also usually practically -- illegal even if they incorporate original-equipment projectors out of another vehicle's headlamps; when we (by which I mean you, scott011422) are talking about knockoff projectors never tested to comply with any technical standard, the lighting modifications/products you're recommending are illegal. Rule 11 of this board prohibits advocating illegal activity, so you'll need to please stop now.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Sealed-beam Conversions headlights

    No shared beam illuminary can or will ever perform better than seperate dedicated ones.
    I think by "shared beam illuminary" you are probably trying to refer to a combination high/low beam headlamp. If that is in fact what you mean, then your assertion is not correct. There are plenty of combination high/low beam lamps that are objectively better than plenty of single-beam (high only or low only) lamps.

    Reflectors simply cannot come even close to projectors.
    Also not true. There are plenty of reflector headlamps that are objectively better than plenty of projector headlamps.

  21. #21

    Default Re: Sealed-beam Conversions headlights

    Thanks for the info, I sent a email to Daniel Stern Lighting and see what he recommends.
    The city light function that Cibie has looks cool, any down side to having that?
    I guess if i need more light after that i'll look into some driving lights to help out in the rain and snow.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Sealed-beam Conversions headlights

    The "city light" is a parking light function built into the headlamp, provided by a separate low-wattage bulb socketed into the reflector a distance away from the main bulb. I can't think of a downside to having it; on the other hand, since your vehicle already has parking lamps of one sort or another, there's no pressing need to add it. I do like that this "city light" style of parking lamp keeps the headlamp lit up even if the H4 bulb burns out; seems to me that presents a particularly accurate impression of your vehicle's width and position on the road to an oncoming viewer.

    "Driving lights" are supplemental high beams, not legal or safe for use with low beams or in bad weather.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Sealed-beam Conversions headlights

    Quote Originally Posted by Scheinwerfermann View Post
    The "city light" is a parking light function built into the headlamp, provided by a separate low-wattage bulb socketed into the reflector a distance away from the main bulb. I can't think of a downside to having it; on the other hand, since your vehicle already has parking lamps of one sort or another, there's no pressing need to add it. I do like that this "city light" style of parking lamp keeps the headlamp lit up even if the H4 bulb burns out; seems to me that presents a particularly accurate impression of your vehicle's width and position on the road to an oncoming viewer.

    "Driving lights" are supplemental high beams, not legal or safe for use with low beams or in bad weather.
    Oh I did now know that since I read you could have up to 4 filments on I assumed driving lights were ok.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Sealed-beam Conversions headlights

    I have seen many (I'm even confident enough to say "most") of the aftermarket "replica" projectors, and I have yet to see one that has been tested and certified or type-approved as compliant with any prevailing technical standard or regulation. Most of them do not meet the photometric, physical, and/or durabilty requirements. Homemade headlamps are already technically -- and also usually practically -- illegal even if they incorporate original-equipment projectors out of another vehicle's headlamps...
    Uhh, let me be sure I understand: If, for example, I take a set of legal and compliant projector headlights out of a late model Accord, then do the necessary body work to install them in one of my old trucks, they still won't be legal?

    I certainly agree that good quality vs bad quality makes a lot more difference than dual filament vs single filament. Funny, I still remember reading Tom McCahill's Mechanix Illustrated test of the 409 powered 1962 Impala Sport Coupe. Although, with a few notable exceptions, 5.75" quad headlights had taken over the American automotive scene in 1958, Tom griped "...I still say that two good headlights are better than four lousy ones." I rather suspect he was discovering that with virtually the same total reflector area spread over four headlamps instead of two, the similar wattage 5.75" low beams did not perform terribly well.

    Somewhere I have a set of Bosch headlamps from a Rabbit that received an aftermarket European grill with driving lights back in the day. I got a "deal" on them, not realizing they are about 7.125" rather than 7" lamps. They have city lights. That always seemed like a nice feature. Do some well lit European cities actually let cars drive at night with city lights alone?

    Over quite a few years, none of my American purchased Cibie lights had city lights. Just that one set of European Bosch Rabbit headlamps.

    This is all history, but in general I've been very happy with Cibie conversions of 5.75" and 7" American sealed beam headlamps.
    Last edited by Hamilton Felix; 01-07-2012 at 08:21 PM.
    There are two kinds of light - the glow that illumines, and the glare that obscures. ~James Thurber

  25. #25

    Default Re: Sealed-beam Conversions headlights

    If you install complete compliant headlamp assemblies other than the original kind (modular self-contained compliant optics such as the Hella units, or headlamp assemblies from a different kind of vehicle, etc.), and the vehicle winds up with all required lighting and reflective functions, and they're installed such that they can be aimed correctly, you're legal. If you open up your headlamps and install optics and components (drill, cut, glue, screw, etc.) that weren't originally there, then (attempt to) reseal the headlamp, you're not. Even if the optics you install produce compliant beam patterns, by opening up your headlamp you've undone all the work to make the assembly vibrationproof, resistant to water and dirt entry, etc. And internal bezels and lenses often exert influence over the total light distribution via internal reflections, so if anything inside the headlamp changes, so does that, and you can easily get a noncompliance. Of course if you send your homemade headlamps for compliance testing and they pass, then you're legal.

    I rather suspect he was discovering that with virtually the same total reflector area spread over four headlamps instead of two, the similar wattage 5.75" low beams did not perform terribly well.
    But the wattage wasn't similar. The low beam of the original tungsten 5.75" high/low sealed beam headlamp #4002 was 50w, and the low beam filament was on the focal point of the reflector. Compare that to the 40w low beam filament, located above and to the left of the focal point, in the 7" high/low sealed beam headlamp #6012 -- though GE "Suburban" 7-inch sealed beams had the low beam filament on the focal point. When the 6012 was replaced by the 6014, low beam wattage went to 50 (and around the same time, #4002 was replaced by the #4000, with low beam wattage of 60).

    Do some well lit European cities actually let cars drive at night with city lights alone?
    "City lights" is a colloquial term. The official English term is "position lamps" (or "side lights" in England, because English cars long ago had one lamp on each side of the vehicle with a small bulb sandwiched by a colorless lens facing front and a red lens facing rear).
    This was a very old practice in places like London, Paris, Moscow, Mexico City, and probably many others: headlamps were used only out in the open. In built-up areas, the "city lights" were used. It worked OK as long as streets were well lit, but the problem is obvious: the driver making their way through town will encounter lit and unlit streets, and will probably be too lazy to mess with the light switch back and forth and back and forth, so will probably just leave the "city lights" on. Woe unto any pedestrians! And I have to imagine intersections could be particularly dangerous because cars outside North America don't have side marker lights or retroreflectors. The Brits tried out a solution where if the driver switched on the "city lights" and the parking brake was released the low beams came on at half intensity -- sort of a forerunner of how some daytime running light modules are configured. They had good success with it, but the European Commission frowned on members trying to exert unique lighting requirements. Do a Google search on "town beam" "dim-dip" and you'll come up with more info.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Sealed-beam Conversions headlights

    Thanks.
    There are two kinds of light - the glow that illumines, and the glare that obscures. ~James Thurber

  27. #27

    Default Re: Sealed-beam Conversions headlights

    I talk to Daniel Stern, its sounds like ill be going the Cibie option. Man did the guy give a lot of other ways to upgrade my lights too.

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