Bad Bulb Holder leads to Revelation

Hamilton Felix

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Jan 2, 2010
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Marblemount, WA, USA
One of my almost new (late 70's or early 80's) Cibie Booster Beams went out. I suspected bulb, but grabbed the Fluke 117 out of the drawer at work and checked for voltage at the lamp. It was significantly less than expected, but it was there and the lamp was open circuit, so I proceeded.

Opening up the lamp, I saw it was not the bulb. The nearly new ceramic based Cibie H2 bulb holder had failed. One of the tiny rivets holding the front metal parts to the connection tab on the back had let go, and the other one was loose. Given the very low hours on the lamp, that really surprised me. I've seen those bulb holders affected by heat and oxidation, but I wouldn't expect a new one to fall apart.

OK, wait until I get home and scrounge through my pieces to find another Cibie bulb holder (if the Marchal 900 and 950 lamp holders are more rare, why did I keep finding those? It's never what you're looking for).

This morning, I put the lamp together and pursued the voltage issue. I was losing a good 1.65 volts through my ground. I mounted to a piece of angle iron running across between the two push bars on my old cop car, never questioned that it would be grounded. Eye opener!

Grab a couple of terminals and a crimper, quickly run about a yard of #10 stranded copper from the mounting bolt of one lamp to the negative battery terminal, then fire up the car and try it out. Voila! With car running and lights on, 13.5 volts at the back of the lamp furthest from the ground wire connection.

Lesson: Check and confirm a good ground, don't assume. I should know better. I'm a proponent of running grounds, on my car hauler trailer, my motorcycle, etc. But this time I just assumed all that metal would be a good ground. :fail:
 
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N8N

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Apr 26, 2013
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ah yes, the ground...

when I was in high school my dad's daily driver was my grandfather's old Chevy pickup (well, it actually still is, which is awesome.) It was getting a little shabby after almost 20 years in western PA; I convinced my dad to let me play with it rather than send it to the Big Parking Lot in the Sky. So I bought some pine boards, some spar varnish, five quarts of dark metallic green, and LOTS of high-build primer, body filler, roofing tar, and spray undercoat and commenced to blow it apart and weld/grind/fill/sand, lather, rinse, repeat for a whole winter.

When we put it back together, apparently I'd done such a good job of painting and undercoating all the bed floor related stuff that the taillights were showing classic signs of a bad ground... when I remembered that there *was* no separate ground for the taillights! A wire from the bed side to the frame solved that problem.

I also developed a reputation for helping people out at car shows with parking-lot electrical repairs; a running joke with a few people stemming from one of those repairs was no matter what the problem was "check the ground" :) But in reality, especially with cars that have been blown apart and given thick, show-quality paint jobs and/or undercoat expected to be sufficient to survive year 'round driving in a hostile climate, that often *IS* the problem.

Now a fiberglass bodied car does not have these problems as you have to include a ground wire in the wiring harness... but then that introduces other problems, as it may not be beefy enough to handle the current of good lights.

Edit: you just made me figure out what I'm getting Dad for Christmas - a pair of Cibies and a Susquehenna Motorsports wiring harness. Unless the LED headlights come down in price.
 

Alaric Darconville

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Sep 2, 2001
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Stillwater, America
I was losing a good 1.65 volts through my ground. I mounted to a piece of angle iron running across between the two push bars on my old cop car, never questioned that it would be grounded. Eye opener!
...

Lesson: Check and confirm a good ground, don't assume. I should know better. I'm a proponent of running grounds, on my car hauler trailer, my motorcycle, etc. But this time I just assumed all that metal would be a good ground. :fail:

Don't Scheinwerfermann and I both say that body grounds aren't a good idea? Especially Scheinwerfermann?
 

JohnnyB

Newly Enlightened
Joined
Oct 21, 2002
Messages
154
Location
Virginia
Great story, thanks for sharing.


The nearly new ceramic based Cibie H2 bulb holder had failed. :

On a side note, I ran Cibie fogs and driving lights on my cars for many, many years. Those H2 bulb holders drove me absolutely insane. It seemed like for every 10 hours of running time, I spent 1 hour of maintenance time. There must have been some secret I didn't know :)
 

Hamilton Felix

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Jan 2, 2010
Messages
934
Location
Marblemount, WA, USA
Yes, I have fought those H2 bulb holders, too. The heat gets to them. This one falling apart is a first for me. Just a manufacturing defect in the tiny rivets, not enough flare on the ends.

We swapped cars yesterday, I had the Corolla and got home first. It was interesting seeing my wife pull in with the Crown Vic; I know that now the voltage problem is whipped, those Booster Beams are nice and "white," but the 4,200K Starr HID headlights just above them made them seem almost yellow by comparison.
 

Alaric Darconville

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Sep 2, 2001
Messages
5,377
Location
Stillwater, America
Seriously? (Or is this a joke I didn't get)

Actually, depending on the quality of the images, using OCR *just might work*!
The "disrespectful to dirt" and the "for lucky best drive" are references to the Simpsons episode "In Marge We Trust", in which Homer finds a product named "Mr Sparkle" whose logo looks just like him.

There's your answer, Fishbulb! (A reference that YOU should surely get!)

I might be able to find someone who COULD read the ads and tell us what they mean, though... Might take some digging around...
 
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