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Hella H4 Headlight Upgrade - 911 SC

Padiddle finally prompted me to swap out my headlights for H4's. No idea how long the light was out - the original headlights are so poor, I think I could loose both and drive off of the running lights without knowing.

Ordered the Hella H4's headlights ("E" code) and JWest Engr relays from Pelican. I won't go through the install - its essentially covered in detail here (same process as the Bosch H4, except with the Hella, you retain the "sugar scoop" retainer ring).

Pelican Technical Article: Installing H4 Headlamps

I can't do a project without it leading into another "while I'm at it" - the headlight carrier assembly was in need of some love:



Off to the bead blaster (I'm military - our Auto Hobby has a sweet Snap On blast cabinet with excess air) and sprayed with Rust-O satin black:



"E" code headlight vs. OEM sealed beam:



The "E" code H4 lens has a different cut/pattern than the sealed beam headlight. Also the "E" code has a flat face while the sealed beam is convex.

Installed and ready to to head out in the dark to adjust:



Great gouge describing how to adjust the headlights here:
Daniel Stern Lighting Consultancy and Supply

A very nice, noticeable improvement with just the H4's installed (no relay).

After adjusting, I brought it home and installed the JWest relay - not really expecting to notice much difference - I was happily surprised! The addition of the relay significantly improved the output of the headlights.

Finally, I'm no longer dreading driving in the dark.

Great upgrade - Thanks to Pelican for the parts and the great BBS & tech article - only regret is not having done this upgrade sooner.

Gordo
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Last edited by Gordo2; 10-26-2010 at 06:37 PM.. Reason: Typo/Accuracy
Old 10-24-2010, 08:23 PM
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Funny

I did exactly the same project today. I haven't installed the relay yet, and forgot to order new gaskets. I don't have a bead blaster, so the headlight frame sat in a bucket of vinegar overnight. Then I sprayed it with flat black. Not nearly as nice looking as yours, but it did the job.

Thanks for the aiming link.
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Old 10-24-2010, 08:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gordo2 View Post
After adjusting, I brought it home and installed the Sucro/JWest relay - not really expecting to notice much difference - I was happily surprised! The addition of the relay significantly improved the output of the headlights.
Gordo, I've always heard (from many sources) that there is no change in brightness, assuming that you are using the same lamp wattage.

Are you using higher wattage lamps?

Placebo effect?

Just wondering.
Old 10-24-2010, 09:21 PM
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I'm not Gordo, but...

In my case, the sealed beams had leaked and had condensation on the inside, plus the reflector was dulled. The H4's made a noticeable difference.
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Old 10-24-2010, 09:24 PM
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The Euro (E-code) H-4 have a different pattern than the US DOT lamp (sealed or H-4).

If you look at the DOT Pattern, it is a "blob of light" in the front of the car. The E-4 lamp have a very sharp cut off in the upper half of the low beam. This, IMHO, results in more light being "pushed" in front of the car and hence illuminating the road better. Mr Stern has a nice graphic on his Web Site here: Daniel Stern Lighting Consultancy and Supply.

I was told that the reason for the US Blob of light vs the Euro light is due to the fact that in the USA our overhead signs are not typically illuminated while they are in Europe. Since we need to see them, the DOT decided that the car headlamp would provide the illumination.
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Old 10-24-2010, 09:49 PM
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i use Osram 85/80w
pn 64206

real good for me and i like big light. I was running 130/100w Narva
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Old 10-25-2010, 05:40 AM
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OK, two questions...

Sorry, but I'm pretty new to the 911 maintenance world, and am trying to do everything right.

1) My car had a rubber drain tube in the right side hole in the light bucket, but not in the left. The part number is 911-631-259-00. PP shows this for '87-89 cars, but mine is an '86. Should I install these or leave an open hole?


2) PP also shows a rubber seal to go around the H1/H4 lights, but I don't see this in 101 Projects or other online refs. Do I need these? Part
911-631-967-00.

Thanks!
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Old 10-25-2010, 08:18 AM
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Coupla things.....

Saying Sucro/JWest..is like saying Ford/Chevy....seems poor old Marcus Sucro got bumped as a supplier with the new units thru Pelican by West. Two different companies.

RE: rubber drain tube....I'm conflicted by these. Having them is "Stock" and therefore good...right?...becuase it directs the drainage to a certain spot under the car. But...having them also creates a small rubber lip or "dam" where water can collect inside the headlight bucket. I prefer to rake them out to allow fuller-degree of drainage. Make sure hole edge is painted or corrosion-protected.

Rubber seal for the sugar scoop or even Bosch ( aero style) H4's migh make for difficult installation , as the new units are fatter and weren't compressed over time in an installed condition. Takes a lot of force usually to compress. I try to re-use the old ones if they're in good shape.
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Old 10-25-2010, 09:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wil Ferch View Post
Coupla things.....

RE: rubber drain tube....I'm conflicted by these. Having them is "Stock" and therefore good...right?...becuase it directs the drainage to a certain spot under the car.
Actually, I'm not sure the tubes are stock on an '86. PP shows them as an application on the '87-89.



Regarding the rubber bands around the headlights, mine didn't have them on the old sealed beams, and I haven't found any install directions that say to use them. Therefore the only seal would be around the sugar scoop, but I imagine water could get in between the glass H4 lens and the metal ring, so shouldn't a rubber band go there? They're 22 bucks a pop, so I want to be sure before I order.
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Old 10-25-2010, 09:45 AM
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Maybe I misunderstood... I thought you meant the rubber bands that fit between the body-proper...and the sugar scoop "rings". Same idea with compressible foam seals between the body-proper and Bosch aero H4's....I was speaking of those.

All I know is that I altogether went with the aero Bosch...as the sugar scoops did indeed "scoop" a lot of water into/thru the bucket, additional seals around the lenses, or not.
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Old 10-25-2010, 09:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loomis View Post
(1) My car had a rubber drain tube in the right side hole in the light bucket, but not in the left... Should I install these or leave an open hole?

2) PP also shows a rubber seal to go around the H1/H4 lights, but I don't see this in 101 Projects or other online refs. Do I need these? Part
911-631-967-00.
1. Your car should have had two of these, one on each side. They have been used for years; they didn't start in 1987. If you use them, there is a little water that can't easily drain out. Very little. If you don't use them, there may be a little water thrown in by the turbulence in the front wheel wells while driving. Very little.

Bottom line? I'd wax the inside of the buckets real well and use the tubes. Check them every 5 or 10 years, if you are concerned.

2. That seal is for a different type of light (euro style H1 or H4) and has no application for your lights.

JR
Old 10-25-2010, 11:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gordo
I was happily surprised! The addition of the relay significantly improved the output of the headlights.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tcar View Post
Gordo, I've always heard (from many sources) that there is no change in brightness, assuming that you are using the same lamp wattage.

Are you using higher wattage lamps?

Placebo effect?

Just wondering.
On my '68 generator 912, adding a relay with a new power circuit for the H4's dramatically increased the brightness of the lights. In fact it cured all my electrical woes: dim headlights, dim dash lights; slow blinkers, and generator light on at idle and low RPM's.
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Old 10-25-2010, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by djdsc View Post
On my '68 generator 912, adding a relay with a new power circuit for the H4's dramatically increased the brightness of the lights. In fact it cured all my electrical woes: dim headlights, dim dash lights; slow blinkers, and generator light on at idle and low RPM's.
That would be typical with a GENERATOR.

Not with an Alternator, though.
Old 10-25-2010, 12:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djdsc View Post
On my '68 generator 912, adding a relay with a new power circuit for the H4's dramatically increased the brightness of the lights. In fact it cured all my electrical woes: dim headlights, dim dash lights; slow blinkers, and generator light on at idle and low RPM's.
That makes no sense. Adding a relay to supply more/"better" current flow to the headlamps would result in a heavier current load on the overall system. My guess is you did something else(***) during the relay install that resulted in the effect you describe.

*** "Reflash" the generator field, clean/tighten battery posts/terminals, new battery, etc....

Last edited by wwest; 10-25-2010 at 02:45 PM..
Old 10-25-2010, 02:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tcar View Post
That would be typical with a GENERATOR.

Not with an Alternator, though.
Why so...??

The major difference between the two is that the alternator can generate more power at lower engine RPMs or idling.

Last edited by wwest; 10-25-2010 at 02:44 PM..
Old 10-25-2010, 02:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tcar View Post
Gordo, I've always heard (from many sources) that there is no change in brightness, assuming that you are using the same lamp wattage. Are you using higher wattage lamps?

Placebo effect? Just wondering.
I think the sealed beams were 55/60w. The Hellas came with 55/60w H4 bulbs, so no difference there.

I don't think I've been placebated - I did the same upgrade on my '87 Toyota Land Cruiser quite a few years ago and recall having similar results. I think the improvement can be attributed to the E-code light pattern, and connecting the lights to the relay, which reduces voltage drop/provides a more direct path from the battery to the lights. Daniel Stern's page provides some good gouge on both of these topics - great stuff.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wil Ferch View Post
....seems poor old Marcus Sucro got bumped as a supplier with the new units thru Pelican by West. Two different companies.
Whoop - bummer, my bust.

A few tries at some before and after photo's. Of note, I didn't write down my camera settings/use the same settings for each picture. Also, the before picture has only one working headlight. Bottom line, you can't really compare the brightness. Oddly enough, Daniel Stern also discusses how actual photos (like below) don't really do a good job of representing light quality (too many factors - camera, ambient conditions etc) - but the photo's should give you a good idea of the difference in beam patterns.

Before:



After:



Placebo effect or not, the car definitely drives faster at night now - worth about a 40HP gain

Gordo
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Old 10-25-2010, 06:49 PM
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Hella H4

Nice job Gordo. I did same mod to a VW when I was stationed at Nellis in the mid-80s. Headlight pattern was exactly same as yours. Without the adjuster nubs on the lens, I had to TLAR the pattern. I agree that road illumination seemed to be improved out on the highway. Relay is great because in addition to increasing current to lights, it also prevents the smoking light switch which can be costly particularly in an early car.

Off topic but what base auto hobby shop are you using? I was at Langley a few years ago and they had a nice shop. I retired near Shaw and sadly they cut back hours, fired all the instructors save one and sold the entirety of their machine shop at a NAF auction. Heard the local Napa Auto Shop bought the whole lot for about 2K. We need to keep supporting the local auto hobby shops and keep the pressure on base leadership not to cut funding.

Bryan
Old 10-25-2010, 07:24 PM
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Quote:
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Why so...??

The major difference between the two is that the alternator can generate more power at lower engine RPMs or idling.
An alternator can charge at idle.

Once a generator drops below a certain rpm, the headlights are pulling at least some of the voltage directly from the battery.

I remember my Dad telling me that when Chrysler started using alternators (in '64 I think), what a great thing it was. The next year, everyone had them. Well, not everyone... took VW awhile.
Old 10-25-2010, 08:41 PM
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Quote:
That makes no sense. Adding a relay to supply more/"better" current flow to the headlamps would result in a heavier current load on the overall system. My guess is you did something else(***) during the relay install that resulted in the effect you describe.
Just my five cents worth. Well it does make sense, because fitting of relays will alter the current flow, hence the difference in instrumentation and fasher performance.
Originally the high current for the headlights would be supplied from the cabin supply, fitting an additional relay near the headlights ( this were the relay should be fitted), will reduce the overall current supplied from the cabin ( through the switch). This will raise the cabin supply voltage by 2 volts, because of the reduced internal current draw.
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Originally Posted by stefan_sara View Post
Just my five cents worth. Well it does make sense, because fitting of relays will alter the current flow, hence the difference in instrumentation and fasher performance.
Originally the high current for the headlights would be supplied from the cabin supply, fitting an additional relay near the headlights ( this were the relay should be fitted), will reduce the overall current supplied from the cabin ( through the switch). This will raise the cabin supply voltage by 2 volts, because of the reduced internal current draw.
Actually it is quite simple: Yes, the relays usually do deliver higher voltage and therefore more current to the headlights. The higher voltage also makes the light bulbs brighter and more whitish. The reason is the without the relays the lamp current has to run through so many contacts on the way from the battery to the lamp sockets that voltage is lost along the way. Any time the lamp current has to run through a marginal switch or other contact power is lost in the contact area, causes heat there, and more contact erosion. The relays eliminate a lot of current obstacles along the current route.
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