Restoration of rear lights, plus upgrade options

Discussion in 'E9 Projects and Restorations' started by Mo Brighta, Sep 27, 2012.

  1. Peter Coomaraswamy

    Peter Coomaraswamy Well-Known Member Site Donor $

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    Anyone try these

    I'm thinking of giving them a shot but if anyone else has tried with good/bad results please let me know.

    Thanks
     

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  2. ablank135

    ablank135 Member

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    "Corrects all known problems"

    Obstructed bowels, religious intolerance, debt crisis...this is an awesome product.

    In all seriousness, I installed LED's in the taillight of my old Triumph Bonneville, and although it produced more visible light (good idea for an MC), the instant-on nature of the LED cluster somewhat detracted from the vintage look. Then again, I never really had to look at it when I was on the road.

    Also, IIRC, the superbrightleds.com site, where I bought mine for the bike, recommends red LED clusters within a red lens--something about better transmission of light than the white-bulb cluster, believe it or not.
     
  3. rsporsche

    rsporsche Well-Known Member Site Donor $$

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    if you look closely, he has LED for red, amber and white (look at the top of the boxes). one of the things to think about though is that these lights look like they just push light out of the top of them ... which if so, the light won't hit the reflector. Peter, try doing one of the lights and compare it to the standards on the other side and post the results.
     
  4. deQuincey

    deQuincey Well-Known Member

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    i might be seduced by intolerance, ....mmmm, leds are not my preferred toy, lets keep it original....:grin:
     
  5. Stevehose

    Stevehose Well-Known Member Site Donor

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    Check the output brightness vs. ones available online and get the brightest ones because like deQ says the reflector is not used as much. Then check vs. existing bulb to see if you're satisfied.

     
  6. Mo Brighta

    Mo Brighta Member

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    LED opinions

    OK, here is my observation regarding LED cluster lamps shown above by Peter, and other thoughts.

    I have seen what I believe are these LED cluster lamps on several occasions in Denver, and they're a bit odd in appearance. They show a smallish dot of light in an otherwise dark lens. When viewed straight on, they are about as bright as you might expect per element of area, but they're entirely too small, so from a distance it appears quite dim. In the interest of economy and safety, I don't consider my lights a 'fashion accessory', I want the biggest, brightest, most reliable lights that science can provide!

    LED lamps are designed with a lens over each diode element to boost output and so appear 'bright', all the light is focused into a beam of light that doesn't care one whit about a reflector that may or may not be present. They don't use the reflector poorly, they ignore it completely.

    The Coupe's tail light reflector for the rear running light (the dim one) is about 2.12 x 2.75 inches, an area of 5.84 square inches. LED cluster lamps have a 1 inch circle (rough size of the LED cluster), about 0.79 square inches. The stock lighted area is nearly 8 times larger but, in most cases, dimmer per element of area. Therein lies the rub... You may want brighter tail lights, but it's no good if it's one eighth the size, and dimmer because of that small size. And as sexy as you may think LED lights are, if they are ineffective, you are risking alot.

    I am relying on 40 years of experience with poor light design, and have been doing what I can to improve them. It started with my 1962 VW beetle, then my 1972 2002 (which was totaled five times), then my 1985 K100 RS (BMW motorcycle), totaled by a truck, and now my 1986 535i. After increasing the number of bulbs and area of lens that lights up, rear end collisions stopped!

    It's not the LED's fault, it's the design of the reflector and the lamp together that makes it less effective. So, here is a suggestion. Let's do a comparison of all the options to see what is the best way to prevents rear end collisions ... Meeting new people is nice, but not so much if it's over the caved-in trunk of your coupe, right?

    So here is the comparison I am eager to do, and in fact in the middle of creating the opportunity for right now.

    (0) Baseline- stock lights, old darkened bulbs, dirty lens, rusty dull reflectors.

    (A) Clean lenses, restore silvering on reflectors, new standard bulbs;

    (B) Clean lenses, restore silvering, High Output bulbs;

    (C) Cleaned, resilvered, dual tail / dual brake light modification with HO bulbs;

    (D) Clean lenses, LED Cluster Lamps in place of regular (tungsten filament) bulbs.

    Now, at $35 a pair, I am not able to afford to go out and buy a handful of these LED jobs. However, if there is someone (ideally local) with a set that installed and didn't like them, I ask for the loan of same to do a test in the nearest coupe, meaning Wayne's.

    You reading this, Wayne? I am about done with the restoration of those lights you gave me, expect a call soon.

    I will post pics, of course, and now I'm off to the laboratory to finish those tail lights!
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2013
  7. Peter Coomaraswamy

    Peter Coomaraswamy Well-Known Member Site Donor $

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    I will do my best

    To try these out in a reasonable time frame and let you know what comes of it. I will also post some shots. Since the lights will be out of the car when I test them it won't be indicative of how they'll look when installed but hopefully it will give everyone some idea.
     
  8. Mo Brighta

    Mo Brighta Member

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    testing, testing ...

    Good work, I look forward to the results.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2013
  9. Mo Brighta

    Mo Brighta Member

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    Results - FINALLY

    OK, spent yesterday in the lab, finishing up the second light with V2.0 upgrades. I now have V1.0 in the left side, V2.0 in the right, and am now going to test them in the car with lenses in place.

    Will post pics, hope they show up in the thread!
     
  10. deQuincey

    deQuincey Well-Known Member

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    no pics, no interest in this discussion
    please hurry up:lol:
     
  11. HB Chris

    HB Chris Well-Known Member Site Donor $

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    Mo,

    If pics don't appear they are too large. In Manage Attachments they will appear as a file if successful, then click Upload.
     
  12. Arde

    Arde Well-Known Member

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    How about a Laser rear tail light pointed at the forehead of the driver that tailgates me?

    That would force her to keep a safe distance.
     
  13. Mo Brighta

    Mo Brighta Member

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    Pics on the bench, naked (no lens)

    OK, OK! Here are a few pics, with all reflectors restored... Right side, V2.0, on the bench. I'll put them in the car later to show what it looks like through the lens.

    One is dark, for reference only.

    Two is a single (stock) tail, stock bulb.

    Three is dual tails: stock, plus one in the brake light section.

    Four is the brake light: high output bulb installed.

    Five is the tail light in the as-received condition: dim bulbs, dirty reflectors and all, nothing restored, and taken on a different date. Exposure is different, but you get the idea.

    Lenses not yet in my possession. I'll post those pics later, but these give you the general idea of the upgrade: Bigger, Brighter, More Reliable.
     

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  14. Mo Brighta

    Mo Brighta Member

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    Interesting Pics ...

    Sorry, I guess we're kinda busy here in the mountains. I found a set of really funky lights on my sidewalk, left there just this morning ... Thanks, Wayne!

    So now I have some really good 'before' and 'after' pictures. You can see the difference easily in person, with your actual eyeballs; the camera may be doing some compression. I'll let Wayne comment. Wayne, call me- we'll pick a time for you to get over here and comment! Maybe Saturday morning?

    I uploaded five pics, the max. If there is something specific you'd like to see, ask and I'll upload more next post.

    BTW, I used a manual setting on the camera, same for all pics, hoping to make the relative brighness apparent.

    Andy
     

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    Last edited: Apr 14, 2013
  15. Mo Brighta

    Mo Brighta Member

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    Laser optics?

    Gender reference notwithstanding, I feel your pain. I do what I can...

    My tail light improvement work started with my 1972 2002, then on to an E28. Basically the only two cars I have owned in 34 years. The rest came later, I'm still adding models and variations to my book.

    To put myself on the radar, I offered to design a rear-facing directed-energy EMP device, which really got the conversation started! Lasers came up, as did a 007-esque, rear-facing, hinged tail light-hidden, heat-seeking, rear-firing missile; radar absorbing paint; headlight based red tinted eye level auxiliary brake lights; you name it, someone's thought of it.

    You'd think that in a society so wedded to the automobile, someone would think of actually teaching folks how to drive, right?
    If I were king ...
     
  16. readie

    readie Member

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    e28 and e 9 lights

    Mo Brita, you have PM
     
  17. aearch

    aearch Well-Known Member Site Donor

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    final

    so what lights are the best to use to get the brighter light?
     
  18. Mo Brighta

    Mo Brighta Member

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    Which lights are brighter?

    Well, there are two parts to this answer-

    1, The lights that came in your car, restored, and
    2, Those lights upgraded with the 'Mo Brighta, Mo Betta' dual tail light conversion, using high output bulbs in all sockets.

    Up until quite recently, rear lights generally used 'bayonet' style lamps, a round base with two pins on the side to engage the socket and provide electrical contacts to allow them to light up as needed. These old lamps use tungsten filaments that were far brighter than the Ni-Chrome wires developed by Sir Thomas Edison.

    New filament designs with Krypton gas in the envelope allow higher lumen output. These lamps are Nickel base, as required by BMW. I have high output replacements for most all the important lights on your car - front and rear, and some side markers as well, plus more modern headlights.

    My design for the E9 and other classic cars involves re-designing the brake light socket to accept a dual filament bulb for both tail and brake light service, more than doubling the size and tripling the output of the tail light, increasing brake and other light output, and increasing reliability of the rear lights by presenting a larger visual profile that makes the car easier to see, staying out of close calls and avoiding collisions more easily. And, with about any older car, there is room for improvement. BMW used four single filament lamps; adding more filaments for more light means 'bigger, brighter, more reliable' rear lights, period. More filaments means better communication and a safer car.

    You cannot drive the car or truck behind you, but with better rear lights you make it easier for them to see and understand your actions, and thus make it less likely you will need to exchange information and file a claim.

    The name says it all: 'Mo Brighta, Mo Betta.'

    My reasons for creating this design were two-fold, and very personal -- one, to avoid being rear ended again and again, and two, to help you in the same way. I have driven two cars for the last 35 years, both still running. Both BMW, of course - a 1972 2002 that was my college graduation present, and in 2004 I bought a 1986 535i.

    I hope this answers your question. I look forward to helping you 'Be Seen, and Not Hurt,' and keeping that old classic on the road and out of the body shop.

    Andy
     
  19. Mo Brighta

    Mo Brighta Member

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    Third answer - maybe not what you want to hear

    I reviewed my answer from yesterday, and I seem to have gone into a long rant about the benefits of my designs, maybe you were looking for a simpler answer.

    Here it is- assuming you mean "What LAMPS are the best to use ...".

    Originally, the bulb design was specified by Honda back in the 1990s, and was manufactured by Stanley, a Japanese provider of lighting equipment similar to Hella in Germany, only Stanley made lights and lamps for Toyota, Honda, and so forth. A stroll through the parts yards will make this obvious if you pull lights from any of these older Japanese cars.

    Recently, Stanley stopped making these lamps available to anyone other than Honda dealers, so if you want the Stanley version of the lamps, you need to know which year and model Honda they were specified for, and buy the bulbs for that car.

    I found a commercial source for Nickel base Krypton filled lamps with the BA15S and BA15D base, bulb numbers P3496 and P3497. The version available to me is a Chinese lamp made to the same specs, and sold under the same bulb number. These are not widely available, though I am told that some retailers sell cheap imitations that do NOT make the same light level as the ones I found and sell.

    Sorry, that's all I know at this time. It may not be what you wanted to hear...

    If you find a commercially available bulb with the same numbers, same output, and same nickel base, please let us know about it here. I am always looking for a good lamp, at the lowest cost.
     
  20. teahead

    teahead aka "Rob" Site Donor

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