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Thread: The Seven Cities of Gold, the Fountain of Youth, and Headlamp Lens Restoration

  1. #31

    Default Re: The Seven Cities of Gold, the Fountain of Youth, and Headlamp Lens Restoration

    Quote Originally Posted by fyrstormer View Post
    I'm just saying they ARE safety equipment and the SHOULD be required to last
    I agree.

    The overarching problem with automotive design nowadays is the expectation that people will trade their cars instead of running them into the ground
    That's not new ("nowadays"). In general, today's vehicles give much longer, much less troublesome service than yesterday's did. Some parts don't hold up as well as they used to, and headlamps are an example. Yesterday's headlights were much more durable than today's because yesterday the choice was either massively over-engineered headlamps or no headlamps at all. Glass and metal were the only materials available. Mass was of zero concern, and neither was packaging space, which was a moot point anyhow because headlamp size, shape, and fitment was standardized by law.

    It's just a scam to get people to buy cars more often
    Are you old enough to remember what real planned obsolescence looked like? Now that was an ugly, greedy scam to get people to buy cars more often. Today's version looks like child's play by comparison to how bad it used to be. We all have fond memories of the old 1965 Whatevercar that ran forever...sure, with trips to the service station (remember those?) every 3,000 miles, and with a new look every dang model year nothing was ever put together properly. Remember those long lists of "sample defects" Consumer Reports used to list on the cars they tested? They don't have those any more because today's cars generally aren't defective like yesterday's were, right off the showroom floor.

    I don't disagree with you that headlamp durability standards aren't sufficient, but that right there is the reason why headlamps don't hold up. Not because automakers think someone's going to trade in the car because of clouded headlamps, and not because automakers think the owner's going to install aftermarket headlamps.

    Unfortunately, we live in a throwaway society. Heavy-duty cars that didn't change with every model year have been tried (Checker) and mostly they were a sales disaster. The Volvo 240 comes to mind, too; it is much prized for its durability, but it never sold in anything like the volumes of the more "conventional" cars with their frequent model changes and so on -- and the 240's durability makes it particularly ironic that 1986 and later models were equipped with very quick-to-degrade plastic headlamps!

  2. #32
    Flashaholic* Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Seven Cities of Gold, the Fountain of Youth, and Headlamp Lens Restoration

    Quote Originally Posted by Scheinwerfermann View Post
    That's not new ("nowadays").
    Every year there's a new crop of people saying "today's kids blah-blah, but when I was a kid I yaddy-yaddy-yah". Same with cars.


    In general, today's vehicles give much longer, much less troublesome service than yesterday's did. Some parts don't hold up as well as they used to, and headlamps are an example.
    That's for sure. My '01 Corolla has been pretty much trouble-free. ('Cept for the headlamps)

    Yesterday's headlights were much more durable than today's because yesterday the choice was either massively over-engineered headlamps or no headlamps at all. Glass and metal were the only materials available. Mass was of zero concern, and neither was packaging space, which was a moot point anyhow because headlamp size, shape, and fitment was standardized by law.
    Are you old enough to remember what real planned obsolescence looked like? Now that was an ugly, greedy scam to get people to buy cars more often. Today's version looks like child's play by comparison to how bad it used to be. We all have fond memories of the old 1965 Whatevercar that ran forever...sure, with trips to the service station (remember those?) every 3,000 miles, and with a new look every dang model year nothing was ever put together properly. Remember those long lists of "sample defects" Consumer Reports used to list on the cars they tested? They don't have those any more because today's cars generally aren't defective like yesterday's were, right off the showroom floor.
    Like my '65 Dart. But it was carbureted, and I had to rebuild the carburetor a time or two, and adjust screws to get the idle and mixture right (single barrel, whew). The heat riser valve was stuck shut. Points sometimes had to be filed or the point/condensor set just needed to be replaced. Distributor caps cracked, wires would absorb moisture. (But the car ran FOREVER, doncha know, and they don't build 'em like they used to!)

    Granted, those user-replaceable and/or repairable systems aren't nearly as forboding as a failed fuel-injection return system (nor as expensive).

    I don't disagree with you that headlamp durability standards aren't sufficient, but that right there is the reason why headlamps don't hold up. Not because automakers think someone's going to trade in the car because of clouded headlamps, and not because automakers think the owner's going to install aftermarket headlamps.
    Essentially, as much as Honda and others talk about how their used cars are reliable, and X% of their cars sold are still on the road after Y years, the main goal is to sell the NEW car to someone. Keep selling new cars and hope that used car sales don't cut into them.

    Unfortunately, we live in a throwaway society. Heavy-duty cars that didn't change with every model year have been tried (Checker) and mostly they were a sales disaster. The Volvo 240 comes to mind, too; it is much prized for its durability, but it never sold in anything like the volumes of the more "conventional" cars with their frequent model changes and so on -- and the 240's durability makes it particularly ironic that 1986 and later models were equipped with very quick-to-degrade plastic headlamps!
    Even the F150 goes through changes and changes. And yes, the 240 with its plastic headlamp lenses is kindof an oddball (well, other than many Mazda B2000 and Ford Ranger pickups have the same problem with their headlamps...)
    Last edited by Alaric Darconville; 06-29-2012 at 02:53 PM. Reason: *distributor -- also fixed a quote tag

  3. #33
    *Flashaholic* fyrstormer's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Seven Cities of Gold, the Fountain of Youth, and Headlamp Lens Restoration

    Let's not get into an argument about How Things Were Back In My Day, okay? I guarantee there are perfectly valid examples of "real planned obsolescence" nowadays. (ever owned a cellphone, or any portable device with a custom-size battery?)

    You might not think people would trade in a car because of fogged headlamps, and you're probably right, just the headlamps alone probably aren't enough, but I know quite a few people who trade their cars as soon as they start to notice bits here and there are starting to demand attention. The more superficial those bits are, the lower the cost is for the dealer to refurb the car and re-sell it for twice the trade-in value. With that in mind, it's much better for car manufacturers to overbuild the expensive, hidden parts and cut corners on the inexpensive, superficial parts, because then they can safely sell the car new at a barely-profitable or unprofitable price, then make their real profit when the car is traded and re-sold as "Certified Pre-Owned".
    Last edited by fyrstormer; 06-28-2012 at 09:45 AM.

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    Default Re: The Seven Cities of Gold, the Fountain of Youth, and Headlamp Lens Restoration

    And on that note: I think I'd better see about laying in genuine Toyota headlamps for my Corolla very soon - since I plan on keeping it for some time, and genuine OEM parts will not get cheaper; lenses beginning to "frost" now, mean it will only get worse with time. Not to mention that I made the mistake of buying an inexpensive "OEM quality" fog lamp kit, only to shine them on a wall and discover they were NOT. I've since acquired one factory fog (left) and need to hunt up another.

    Yep, I appreciate that the older cars could be maintained with simple tools and a modicum of know-how. But they required much more frequent maintenance than today's cars. Living in the 1970's and maintaining 50's and 60's cars, one could never imagine spark plugs going over 100,000 miles, much less a car like my 2007 Corolla that has run past 175,000 miles with NO maintenance other than regular oil and filter changes and tires replacement. But when it breaks, I probably will not be able to fix it with the tools I have a home.

    It's all a trade-off. Do I drive one I can work on, or one I don't have to? There are advantages to both, and I own both.

    If they ever come up with an optically acceptable clear coating for plastic lenses that is both glass hard and a barrier to UV, I'll be tickled pink. But I'm not going to hold my breath until it happens.
    Last edited by Hamilton Felix; 06-29-2012 at 11:11 AM.
    There are two kinds of light - the glow that illumines, and the glare that obscures. ~James Thurber

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    Default Re: The Seven Cities of Gold, the Fountain of Youth, and Headlamp Lens Restoration

    Quote Originally Posted by fyrstormer View Post
    Let's not get into an argument about How Things Were Back In My Day, okay? I guarantee there are perfectly valid examples of "real planned obsolescence" nowadays. (ever owned a cellphone, or any portable device with a custom-size battery?)

    You might not think people would trade in a car because of fogged headlamps, and you're probably right, just the headlamps alone probably aren't enough, but I know quite a few people who trade their cars as soon as they start to notice bits here and there are starting to demand attention. The more superficial those bits are, the lower the cost is for the dealer to refurb the car and re-sell it for twice the trade-in value. With that in mind, it's much better for car manufacturers to overbuild the expensive, hidden parts and cut corners on the inexpensive, superficial parts, because then they can safely sell the car new at a barely-profitable or unprofitable price, then make their real profit when the car is traded and re-sold as "Certified Pre-Owned".
    Agree completely on your planned obsolescence point.

    There is much more to the marketing of cars than appears. Your points are quite true. In addition though are things like reputation and reliability. When Hyundai started selling their cars here they were seen as "Korean crap" and it's true that paint faded, dashboards cracked and bits fell off, regularly. However, they just kept going and forged a reputation for reliability that threatens to knock Toyota off it's "unbreakable" perch.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hamilton Felix View Post
    And on that note: I think I'd better see about laying in genuine Toyota headlamps for my Corolla very soon - since I plan on keeping it for some time, and genuine OEM parts will not get cheaper; lenses beginning to "frost" now, mean it will only get worse with time. Not to mention that I made the mistake of buying an inexpensive "OEM quality" fog lamp kit, only to shine them on a wall and discover they were NOT. I've since acquired one factory fog (left) and need to hunt up another.
    lol. I'm not sure that "OEM quality" is much of a benchmark to aspire to, particularly as far as fog lights are concerned.


    But I'm going going to hold my breath until it happens.
    I hope not.



    I don't know if any of you read right through that link on the polyurethane but at about 2 years he started another thread where he started to test the Opti-Coat against the polyurethane which was starting to degrade. I haven't tried the Opti-Coat 2 (the distributor here doesn't want to sell it, just apply it as a paint protectant) but I suspect it may be better than the polyurethane.

  6. #36
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    Default Re: The Seven Cities of Gold, the Fountain of Youth, and Headlamp Lens Restoration

    lol. I'm not sure that "OEM quality" is much of a benchmark to aspire to, particularly as far as fog lights are concerned.
    Right you are. I've learned to be careful of the fine print. Phrases like "OEM quality" and "same as OEM" or "built to OEM standards" should be red flags in general. And I agree that a lot of OEM fogs aren't really decent fog lights.

    In general, I've learned there are applications where "same as" does not work. Certain GM cars need the GM fuel pump because the one from O'Reilly's will die quickly; certain Honda cars must have the Honda thermostat because the one from NAPA won't work, etc. It certainly appears that lights and body parts constitute an area where a great many cheap copies exist, and a lot of shops buy the cheaper parts.

    NFT5, thanks for spotting my typo: I'll definitely NOT hold my breath.

    That Autogeek test with all pictures is certainly interesting. The part showing failed auto paint clear coat sure is familiar. Right now, Dad has a 1995 Town Car that looks bad on trunk and roof, where the sun hits it directly.

    As initially stated, the example of the 1999 minivan with $500 headlights is food for thought. If expected remaining life of the vehicle is within expected life of a headlight refurb job, then refurbishing the lights for perhaps $300 makes sense. But the decision hinges on how much longer the vehicle will last and how long the refurb will last. Even if you can refurb the lights more than once, that cost quickly begins to argue in favor of new lights, especially if cost of the new lights drops to $400, $300 or less. I'm really interested in this pursuit of better clear coatings. So far in this forum, we've seen a number of refinishing products that will work with enough patient polishing, but none would last very long. While a product requiring the controlled environment of a professional spray booth still rules out cheap home jobs, it does offer some of us a viable alternative.

    Oh: Scheinwerfermann, I like the concept of steel doors protecting solidly mounted headlights. It's better than pop-up lights that can move around and won't stay aimed. But I agree that reliability of the extra gadgetry to do it is an issue. My mother and her first husband had a 1937 Cord 812 (Dad was her second husband). I wish I could have seen it. I've often wondered about those hand cranked pop-up headlights. On the whole, I still favor a moving door over a moving light, but manual operation would probably be more reliable than the vacuum arrangement seen on the 67-9 Thunderbirds.

    I suppose all modern cars undergo extensive wind tunnel testing. But I think there are still some cars where the headlights take more of a beating than on others. I recall a friend who bought one of the early Chevy Monzas, and he had trouble replacing headlights as quickly as he broke them.

    I'm a bit sorry that protective covers aren't legal, but I understand why. Too bad there's not a feasible way to refinish something like a Cibie 175 fog after years of highway running on winter sanded roads has degraded the lens surface. (I didn't have the heart to get rid of them, so I put them on my old IH 4x4 as offroad cornering lights.) I doubt we'll ever see cost-effective refinishing of glass lenses.

    This is a good thread. We're learning.

    An off-topic but cheerful note on a manufacturer that stands behind its products: I've used an Al Mar SERE 2000 folder for about a decade, and used it hard. It's done a few things not recommended for knives. Not long ago, I contacted Al Mar Knives and arranged to send it back because of an issue with the tiny screws holding the pocket clip and the steel block they thread into. I had a couple of pleasant phone conversations with "Gary," during the last of which he asked if I had any sentimental attachment to that particular knife. I told him "No, only the work it can do." I am right now looking at an invoice that says "1 S2K loose, worn and well used throughout. Per Gary - exchange for a new one. N/C." And there is a brand new Al Mar SERE 2000 clipped into my pocket. I wish there were more companies like that.
    Last edited by Hamilton Felix; 06-29-2012 at 01:11 PM.
    There are two kinds of light - the glow that illumines, and the glare that obscures. ~James Thurber

  7. #37
    *Flashaholic* fyrstormer's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Seven Cities of Gold, the Fountain of Youth, and Headlamp Lens Restoration

    Quote Originally Posted by Hamilton Felix View Post
    Yep, I appreciate that the older cars could be maintained with simple tools and a modicum of know-how. But they required much more frequent maintenance than today's cars. Living in the 1970's and maintaining 50's and 60's cars, one could never imagine spark plugs going over 100,000 miles, much less a car like my 2007 Corolla that has run past 175,000 miles with NO maintenance other than regular oil and filter changes and tires replacement. But when it breaks, I probably will not be able to fix it with the tools I have a home.

    It's all a trade-off. Do I drive one I can work on, or one I don't have to? There are advantages to both, and I own both.
    In my infinite wisdom, I came up with a slogan for this phenomenon: "if you make it hard to break, you make it hard to fix." Things can be easy to break and hard to fix (glass dishes, for example), but almost nothing with any mechanical or electrical complexity can be hard to break and easy to fix. That's just how the world works. So I present that choice to my project managers when designing software -- I can make it hard for the user to break, but if it ever needs to be used in a non-standard way, it will probably be impossible, or I can make it easy for the user to break, and give them instructions for how to use it right in all kinds of different scenarios. Their choice, I can do it either way.

  8. #38

    Default Re: The Seven Cities of Gold, the Fountain of Youth, and Headlamp Lens Restoration

    Yes, that's pretty much it exactly -- the attention required by today's cars is (much) less frequent but also more expensive. I think consumers prefer it this way, which makes sense, and I suspect the overall real cost of maintenance and repair of reasonably comparable cars from, say, 1952, 1962, 1972, 1982, 1992, 2002, and 2012 probably trends downward or at least stays reasonably flat.

  9. #39

    Default Re: The Seven Cities of Gold, the Fountain of Youth, and Headlamp Lens Restoration

    Can someone give feedback on the headlights found on this site: http://www.1aauto.com/1A/HeadLights/Toyota/Corolla

    They have other OEM compatible parts that are equal or better quality than OEM, just wondering if the same applied to the lighting category.

  10. #40

    Default Re: The Seven Cities of Gold, the Fountain of Youth, and Headlamp Lens Restoration

    1AAuto is not a manufacturer, they're an importer. All of the aftermarket headlamps such as the ones they sell (and you link) are junk. Their performance and durability are poor. Most of them don't even minimally meet the applicable regulations and standards; the "DOT" and "SAE" markings are fraudulent -- here is a compliance test of original vs. aftermarket headlamps. Technically basic, simple, relatively easy to make headlamps for high-volume vehicles were compared. Even though TYC is widely regarded as the "least bad" of the bunch, their lamps still completely fail as do the Depo units (skip directly to pages 21 and 30 if you don't read the whole report). The other off-brand headlights are markedly worse than TYC and Depo. "OEM quality" is just as much of a lie as "DOT compliant". I have looked at a lot of the parts 1AAuto and the many other vendors like them supply, and have yet to see one that is genuinely "better quality than OEM"; the best their parts do is come close enough to acceptable quality for a cut-price repair job.

    The low price of an off-brand aftermarket headlamp is tempting, but you (don't) get what you (don't) pay for.

  11. #41
    *Flashaholic* fyrstormer's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Seven Cities of Gold, the Fountain of Youth, and Headlamp Lens Restoration

    Another engineering axiom from yours truly: "Nothing that plugs in and turns on ever goes on sale unless it's obsolete or defective." Headlights plug in and turn on, so this rule applies to headlights just as well as laptops and cellphones. Since headlights don't become obsolete until the car they're intended for has reached "antique" status, the conclusion regarding discount headlights is both obvious and accurate.

  12. #42
    Flashaholic* bshanahan14rulz's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Seven Cities of Gold, the Fountain of Youth, and Headlamp Lens Restoration

    fyrstormer is our philosopher trapped in an engineer's mind ;-)

  13. #43

    Default Re: The Seven Cities of Gold, the Fountain of Youth, and Headlamp Lens Restoration

    Quote Originally Posted by fyrstormer View Post
    Another engineering axiom from yours truly: "Nothing that plugs in and turns on ever goes on sale unless it's obsolete or defective." Headlights plug in and turn on, so this rule applies to headlights just as well as laptops and cellphones. Since headlights don't become obsolete until the car they're intended for has reached "antique" status, the conclusion regarding discount headlights is both obvious and accurate.
    Actually, have you seen what happens to prices for headlamps that are no longer made? Sure, demand goes down as the population of the vehicle declines, but prices go way up. Some of the half-Italian/half-American cars come to mind (Cadillac Allanté, Chrysler/Maserati TC) and I'm sure there are plenty of others. I would be drawn and quartered by the styling department of every automaker in the world if they heard me, but I think there's a lot to be said for standard sizes and shapes for headlamps, so no matter what the technology of the day is, you can still get headlamps for your vehicle no matter when it was made, or where.

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    Default Re: The Seven Cities of Gold, the Fountain of Youth, and Headlamp Lens Restoration

    I've always thought that companies with good projectors should just use those in all their cars. I guess the savings in the higher quantities doesn't quite balance it out enough to keep their product lineup pricing where they want it. Always thought Koito did good work, but their best designs are limited to one model of car per model of projector. Just saw Kia is making a car with LED headlamps. Hmm, I should stop rambling.
    Last edited by bshanahan14rulz; 07-12-2012 at 12:02 PM.

  15. #45

    Default Re: The Seven Cities of Gold, the Fountain of Youth, and Headlamp Lens Restoration

    "Good projectors"...what do we mean by "good"? Whose definition of "good" are we using? Yours, mine, Consumer Reports'? If I'm an automaker and I'm trying to pick a projector, I will probably factor in price, Consumer Reports' test protocol, warranty matters (bulb type longevity), mounting height, benchmark vehicles, feedback from focus groups and existing customers, personal preferences of whoever is in charge of my lighting department, price, price, and price. And also warranty matters; one US automaker tried European-type low beams in their US-market cars for a short time and then reverted to American-type lamps because buyers were taking their cars back to the dealer for "wrong headlight aim" because they thought the lower/left side of the low beam cutoff was the left headlamp and the upper/right side of the cutoff was the right headlamp and the two of them weren't aligned. So now that automaker uses a straight-line cutoff with no step-up or ramp-up and the customers don't complain about "wrong headlight aim" any more.

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    Default Re: The Seven Cities of Gold, the Fountain of Youth, and Headlamp Lens Restoration

    Yep, I guess my last line said it all. I didn't take into account how much more work it would be to ensure that the lamps were always at the same height regardless of vehicle, and of course the big ol' bottom line. A projector with a compliant pattern at one height might be at a lower height on a different car and the pattern projected onto the road would have a skewed distribution with way too much lux up close and not enough out far, not to even mention the test points being out of bounds. I guess that's why we leave headlamp engineering to the headlamp engineers

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    Flashaholic* Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Seven Cities of Gold, the Fountain of Youth, and Headlamp Lens Restoration

    Quote Originally Posted by Scheinwerfermann View Post
    "Good projectors"...what do we mean by "good"? Whose definition of "good" are we using?
    My definition of "good" would include "no plastic lenses"; even if the photometrics otherwise completely *ROCKED*, they'd not rock for long depending on the plastic.

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    *Flashaholic* fyrstormer's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Seven Cities of Gold, the Fountain of Youth, and Headlamp Lens Restoration

    Quote Originally Posted by bshanahan14rulz View Post
    fyrstormer is our philosopher trapped in an engineer's mind ;-)
    Yep. I even aced philosophy in college. Some professors like it when you debate them constantly.

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    Default Re: The Seven Cities of Gold, the Fountain of Youth, and Headlamp Lens Restoration

    Quote Originally Posted by Scheinwerfermann View Post
    Actually, have you seen what happens to prices for headlamps that are no longer made? Sure, demand goes down as the population of the vehicle declines, but prices go way up. Some of the half-Italian/half-American cars come to mind (Cadillac Allanté, Chrysler/Maserati TC) and I'm sure there are plenty of others. I would be drawn and quartered by the styling department of every automaker in the world if they heard me, but I think there's a lot to be said for standard sizes and shapes for headlamps, so no matter what the technology of the day is, you can still get headlamps for your vehicle no matter when it was made, or where.
    Hey, I never said prices on obsolete equipment were required to decrease.

    Generally speaking I agree about the benefits of standards, but as a compromise to keep cars looking sleek like they do now, I'd settle for at least using headlight assemblies that never wear out under normal circumstances. Of course, that would require switching back to glass.
    Last edited by fyrstormer; 07-13-2012 at 05:20 PM.

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    Default Re: The Seven Cities of Gold, the Fountain of Youth, and Headlamp Lens Restoration

    Quote Originally Posted by bshanahan14rulz View Post
    I've always thought that companies with good projectors should just use those in all their cars.
    Ignoring for a moment the subjectiveness of "good", I have to say my new car has HID projector lowbeams and they're so good I almost never use the highbeams. The beam pattern is flawless and the brightness is so good I can see well in any weather. The only time I ever use my highbeams anymore is when I'm driving in the woods and I need to see the path the road is taking through the trees.

  21. #51

    Default Re: The Seven Cities of Gold, the Fountain of Youth, and Headlamp Lens Restoration

    my new car has HID projector lowbeams and they're so good I almost never use the highbeams.
    That is an unfortunate and dangerous (and common) error. Use your high beams whenever there is no vehicle in front of you; no matter how good you feel your low beams are, they are still geometrically limited in their distance range.

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    *Flashaholic* fyrstormer's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Seven Cities of Gold, the Fountain of Youth, and Headlamp Lens Restoration

    Quote Originally Posted by Scheinwerfermann View Post
    That is an unfortunate and dangerous (and common) error. Use your high beams whenever there is no vehicle in front of you; no matter how good you feel your low beams are, they are still geometrically limited in their distance range.
    I can't agree with that rule.

    I know perfectly well that the lowbeams are limited in range; that's the point of their existence. They are nice and bright, and they have a sharp cutoff so I know exactly how far in front of me I can see. That means there is no guessing about whether I'm overdriving my headlights. If I'm uncomfortable with how far I can see with only my lowbeams, I turn my highbeams on. However, the highbeams on my car are ONLY good for distance, and barely touch the road at all, so unless I NEED to see far in front of me, there is no benefit to using the highbeams.

    Where I live the highways are largely lit by overhead lights, and the back roads often don't have long-enough straightaways for the highbeams to be of any use. On an overhead-lit highway, I can already see as far as I want, and on a twisty back road, turning on my highbeams does nothing except ruin my night vision and instantly blind other drivers coming around corners.
    Last edited by fyrstormer; 07-14-2012 at 07:09 PM.

  23. #53
    Flashaholic* Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Seven Cities of Gold, the Fountain of Youth, and Headlamp Lens Restoration

    Quote Originally Posted by Scheinwerfermann View Post
    That is an unfortunate and dangerous (and common) error. Use your high beams whenever there is no vehicle in front of you; no matter how good you feel your low beams are, they are still geometrically limited in their distance range.
    Quote Originally Posted by fyrstormer View Post
    I can't agree with that rule.

    I know perfectly well that the lowbeams are limited in range; that's the point of their existence. They are nice and bright, and they have a sharp cutoff so I know exactly how far in front of me I can see. That means there is no guessing about whether I'm overdriving my headlights. If I'm uncomfortable with how far I can see with only my lowbeams, I turn my highbeams on.
    You might be 'feeling comfortable' with how far you can see with only your low beams long after you've overdriven them. Low beams are good for 45mph, maybe a bit faster, but not much faster. You're tricking yourself with how good your low beams seem to be to you (even if they are objectively excellent).

    However, the highbeams on my car are ONLY good for distance, and barely touch the road at all, so unless I NEED to see far in front of me, there is no benefit to using the highbeams.
    But there is. At 60mph, you're going 88fps, and you need more than two seconds' seeing distance in front of you. The low beams aren't going to do that for you.

    on a twisty back road, turning on my highbeams does nothing except ruin my night vision and instantly blind other drivers coming around corners.
    They won't ruin your night vision, because they're not saturating the foreground with light. Also: You can see other drivers' headlamp beams before you see their cars; dim your lights before you see their cars. (Another trick I use is to dim my lights when I see the clearance lights of a semi appear over the hill, as those appear just before the windshield does. Passenger cars aren't so lucky.)

  24. #54
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    Default Re: The Seven Cities of Gold, the Fountain of Youth, and Headlamp Lens Restoration

    Quote Originally Posted by Alaric Darconville View Post
    You might be 'feeling comfortable' with how far you can see with only your low beams long after you've overdriven them. Low beams are good for 45mph, maybe a bit faster, but not much faster. You're tricking yourself with how good your low beams seem to be to you (even if they are objectively excellent).


    But there is. At 60mph, you're going 88fps, and you need more than two seconds' seeing distance in front of you. The low beams aren't going to do that for you.
    My headlights are 1.08m from ground to centre of light. They're declined at the factory specified setting of 1.2% giving me about 83m to the point where the horizontal part of the cutoff touches the ground on level road. 88fps is about 27m/s so, in theory I have a shade over 3 seconds light on the road at around 100km/h. In fact, there's more than this because they're ECE spec lights and the slope on the left (passenger) side extends visibility further (at least to the left of the centre of the road). The lights do produce some output above the cutoff line so it's not completely black, and there is some reflection as well.

    This vehicle is a 4 wheel drive but on other vehicles I've had I've always set the aim for about the same distance.

    I would have thought that if your lights are only giving 2 seconds distance then they're probably set a little too low.

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    Default Re: The Seven Cities of Gold, the Fountain of Youth, and Headlamp Lens Restoration

    Quote Originally Posted by Alaric Darconville View Post
    You might be 'feeling comfortable' with how far you can see with only your low beams long after you've overdriven them. Low beams are good for 45mph, maybe a bit faster, but not much faster. You're tricking yourself with how good your low beams seem to be to you (even if they are objectively excellent).
    You assume I'm tricking myself with how good my low beams are. I take driving very seriously; when I drive, there are no distractions -- I don't even turn on the radio unless I'm on an Interstate. When passengers talk to me, my responses are slow and halting, because I'm "distracted" from the conversation by my focus on driving. Where I live, deer (and immigrant workers) casually walk across the road at their convenience; I know quite well that I need to see them before I can avoid them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alaric Darconville View Post
    They won't ruin your night vision, because they're not saturating the foreground with light. Also: You can see other drivers' headlamp beams before you see their cars; dim your lights before you see their cars. (Another trick I use is to dim my lights when I see the clearance lights of a semi appear over the hill, as those appear just before the windshield does. Passenger cars aren't so lucky.)
    I wasn't referring to coming over a hill and encountering oncoming traffic, I was referring to coming around a blind curve and encountering oncoming traffic. I would never see the other car's headlights in that scenario because the forward-scatter from their headlights would be washed out by my highbeams. I know this from experience.

    I live on the east coast, where the back roads are twisty and the suburbs are often heavily wooded. (even in densely-populated areas there are main roads that cut through the woods between developed areas.) Yes, there are plenty of times when I have to turn off my highbeams because the backscatter off the trees is hurting my eyes and making it harder to see far away.

    Fun fact: several optometrists have confirmed that they didn't need to dilate my pupils to examine my retinas properly, because my pupils are naturally larger than normal.
    Last edited by fyrstormer; 07-16-2012 at 12:41 PM.

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    Default Re: The Seven Cities of Gold, the Fountain of Youth, and Headlamp Lens Restoration

    Quote Originally Posted by NFT5 View Post
    My headlights are 1.08m from ground to centre of light. They're declined at the factory specified setting of 1.2%
    What kind of vehicle is this, and where are you finding that 1.2% spec? That's a pretty high headlamp height.

    giving me about 83m to the point where the horizontal part of the cutoff touches the ground on level road
    My math comes up with just shy of 90m. That's a very long low beam distance, relatively speaking, for an ECE type low beam. However, low beams -- however good they are -- do not substitute for high beams.

    You assume I'm tricking myself with how good my low beams are.
    It's not really a matter of tricking or fooling yourself. It's that the human seeing system isn't a very accurate judge of its real performance. You feel you can see adequately, but in fact you really can't under the driving conditions you describe.

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    Default Re: The Seven Cities of Gold, the Fountain of Youth, and Headlamp Lens Restoration

    Quote Originally Posted by Scheinwerfermann View Post
    What kind of vehicle is this, and where are you finding that 1.2% spec? That's a pretty high headlamp height.


    My math comes up with just shy of 90m. That's a very long low beam distance, relatively speaking, for an ECE type low beam. However, low beams -- however good they are -- do not substitute for high beams.
    This:


    Mitsubishi Triton, seen here with the little wheels and tyres.

    There is a low beam symbol and "1.2%" moulded into one of the attachment arms on the top of the headlight.

    No, I wasn't suggesting that low beams substitute for highs. I use highs, and more, whenever conditions/traffic allow. When approaching vehicles can be seen at 5km it's courteous to drop to low beam and that means a long time before passing. Having good low beams is critical, as is having them aimed as high as is permitted. Generally I find that I can comfortably see out to the limit of the lit area but 90m is no substitute for 900m and being able to light up both sides of the road.

    In a standard sedan/wagon I still like to have the low beams out to a similar distance. It's not easy to aim them at that distance but I have a headlight aimer in the shop so no problem to get them accurate. The ECE standard does allow 1.0-1.5% declination in initial aiming and a limit as low as 0.5% with the horizontal part of the beam on the road between 50m and 100m so I'm towards the outer limit but still within the standard. A nice, comfortable place to be, IMO.

    I'd be very concerned driving a vehicle which had, as Alaric suggested, lights which gave only 2 seconds range and an effective speed limit of around 70km/h. Is there not room within the DOT/SAE aiming standards to wind them up a little more?

    Oh, and your maths is correct. It was 1.30am when I typed that last post.

  28. #58
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    Default Re: The Seven Cities of Gold, the Fountain of Youth, and Headlamp Lens Restoration

    Quote Originally Posted by NFT5 View Post
    No, I wasn't suggesting that low beams substitute for highs. I use highs, and more, whenever conditions/traffic allow. When approaching vehicles can be seen at 5km it's courteous to drop to low beam and that means a long time before passing.
    You dip your beams when oncoming traffic is 5 kilometers away? That's about 25x sooner than you really need to by law; but I can certainly grant dipping them a little sooner.

    Having good low beams is critical, as is having them aimed as high as is permitted. Generally I find that I can comfortably see out to the limit of the lit area but 90m is no substitute for 900m and being able to light up both sides of the road.
    Having enough light to see that well nearly a kilometer away possibly means too much foreground light. Yes, we all like to see farther at night, but nighttime driving calls for different tactics from just having flamethrowers on the front. As you undoubtably know, many animals travel at night as in desert areas it's much cooler. I know that on my car there can never be enough light after a certain speed, because of the braking performance of the vehicle, reaction time, and such.

    I'm not sure how accurate website "Car Stopping Distance Calculators" are, but I found one that was interesting.

    From 80km/h (50mph):
    Thinking distance: 15 meters (49 feet). Braking distance: 38 meters (123 feet). Total stopping distance: 53 meters (172 feet).
    From 90km/h: 17, 48, 64. (56mph: 55, 156, 211)
    From 100km/h: 19, 59, 77. (62mph: 61, 193, 254)
    From 110km/h: 21, 71, 92. (68mph: 67, 233, 301)
    From 120km/h: 22, 85, 107 (75mph: 73, 278, 351)

    The reaction time is linear; the actual braking distance is proportional to the square of the speed.

    In a standard sedan/wagon I still like to have the low beams out to a similar distance. It's not easy to aim them at that distance but I have a headlight aimer in the shop so no problem to get them accurate. The ECE standard does allow 1.0-1.5% declination in initial aiming and a limit as low as 0.5% with the horizontal part of the beam on the road between 50m and 100m so I'm towards the outer limit but still within the standard. A nice, comfortable place to be, IMO.
    The range of declination below the optical axis is based on the headlamp height, under ADR (if I'm reading this correctly. Yes, I know that's for the Northern Territory; I've been looking for a similar thing in the ACT, but haven't, yet).


    I'd be very concerned driving a vehicle which had, as Alaric suggested, lights which gave only 2 seconds range and an effective speed limit of around 70km/h. Is there not room within the DOT/SAE aiming standards to wind them up a little more?
    One can only aim them up so high until glare becomes a problem for other traffic.

    Pretty sharp-looking vehicle. I see you've got an intake snorkel-- did you also snorkel the exhaust? My brother told me about a guy showing off his Suburban's new snorkel by driving in deep water, and the water pressure plugged the exhaust. Oops

    Also, not to pick on you about your Lightfarce lamps, but you do plan on replacing them with something better eventually, right?
    Last edited by Alaric Darconville; 07-17-2012 at 07:31 AM.

  29. #59

    Default Re: The Seven Cities of Gold, the Fountain of Youth, and Headlamp Lens Restoration

    Whoah...it's not correct to drop from high to low beam as soon as you can see an oncoming car 5km away. Laws vary by jurisdiction (state, province, territory, etc.); here is the situation in North America:

    The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (Federal DOT) and its Canadian equivalent Transport Canada, can alter headlamp technical specifications but cannot alter state/provincial use-of-lights regulations, nor can those national agencies compell state/provincial lawmakers to change the rules regarding dimming distances. Every US state and every Canadian province has its own laws regarding when you must dim to low beams in terms of distance to a leading or oncoming vehicle. These were set before the maximum allowable high beam intensity (regulated at the Federal/national level) was doubled in 1978. When that happened, the dimming distances to prevent dazzling oncoming and leading motorists should have been increased. Most states have 500 foot/152m (oncoming car), 200 foot/61m (leading car) dimming distances specified in their laws. Because the illumination at the eye is proportional to the lamp's intensity and inversely proportional to the square of the distance, a solid estimate can be made for how dimming laws should have been changed. If 500/200 feet were deemed to be acceptable for the pre-1978 headlamps, then for the strongest 1978-up headlamps the dimming distances should have been changed to 700/280 feet (213/85m), and for today's highest-intensity ECE high beams the dipping distances should be 970/390 feet (296/119m).

    So by all means look up your local dimming law, but it's a fairly safe bet the Australian state requirements are roughly comparable to the US and Canadian regional requirements, so even if you take a super-cautious approach and dim at 300m for an oncoming vehicle or 120m for a leading vehicle, you will be well within the law and much, much safer than your current practice.

  30. #60
    Flashaholic* Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Seven Cities of Gold, the Fountain of Youth, and Headlamp Lens Restoration

    Quote Originally Posted by Scheinwerfermann View Post
    Whoah...it's not correct to drop from high to low beam as soon as you can see an oncoming car 5km away. Laws vary by jurisdiction (state, province, territory, etc.)

    So by all means look up your local dimming law, but it's a fairly safe bet the Australian state requirements are roughly comparable to the US and Canadian regional requirements, so even if you take a super-cautious approach and dim at 300m for an oncoming vehicle or 120m for a leading vehicle, you will be well within the law and much, much safer than your current practice.
    From ACT Road Rules Handbook:
    Points for night driving:
    • You can use high beam on any road or street, however, when using high beam you must dip your lights for oncoming
    vehicles as soon as possible and at least 200 metres away.
    Of course, 5Km is *at least* 200m away, but that's not within the (from a legal standpoint, fictitious) "Spirit of the Law". 200m? Fine. 250m or 300m? Probably still fine. 600m? Most likely waaaay too soon, endangering yourself.

    And, yes, the "inverse square law" comes into play when determining beam dimming distances- but it also comes to play in terms of how much excessive foreground light you'll get from a low beam that is able to hit the road surface as far out as you want it to with the intensity you want.
    Last edited by Alaric Darconville; 07-17-2012 at 03:18 PM.

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