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HID kit I installed in Pirate Jenny shortly after I bought her has been
working well, but my goal was always to have projector (ellipsoidal)
HID headlights, preferably of the bi-xenon variety, because their
sharp cut-off keeps them from blinding other drivers while still allowing for
very bright and effective headlights. Using HID technology seems
to be the best way at this point, as LEDs are not yet bright enough for
automotive headlight use -- but I'm sure that will change.
I had to decide how to approach this project. One way was to
mount the projectors directly to the body metal of the car and make up
a shroud to fill in the difference between the 2.5" to 3" diameter of
the projectors and the 5.75" diameter of the headlight openings.
Of course this mount would have to allow some adjustment for
aiming the lights. This could have been done, but would have
entailed quite a bit of custom fabrication and it would also change the
look of the front-end of the car more than I wanted to. Yes, in spite
of all the modifications I have done to Pirate Jenny, I still wish to
maintain the basic look of the car.
second way presented itself when I found some 5.75" round reflector
housings with clear lenses for sale on eBay. These mount to the
original "buckets" the same way as the original equipment headlamps do,
be they the American "sealed-beam" units or the European and British
separate reflector housings with Halogen bulbs as were originally
installed on Jenny. Using these housings allows the use of the
original adjusting hardware. If I could mount the new projectors
centered and straight in the clear-lens reflector housings it ought to
work. These particular reflectors (I keep calling them
'reflectors' as that was their designed purpose, even though they will
do no reflecting with the projectors installed) are made from a rather
sturdy black plastic with glass lenses and are designed to take the H4
bulb. The bulb style didn't really matter as I was going to cut
off the rear of the units anyway to allow for mounting the
projectors. The only physical change to the car would then
opening up the rear of the "buckets" (yep, had to do that) and the
matching part of the body
metal (nope, didn't need to do that) to allow for the rearward
projection of the projectors.
Obviously shorter projectors are better for fitment issues!
with this second plan in mind I ordered 4 of the clear-lens 5.75"
diameter reflector housings. When they arrived they looked like
I then had to choose a projector, and there are many from which to choose! The folks at The Retrofit Source
were very helpful and there is a lot of good information on their
website. Initially, I wanted to use a 3" diameter projector but I
finally settled on the 2.5" Morimoto Mini D2S bi-xenon unit and I
ordered four of them.
As I am in the USA, I ordered the projectors with the LHD cut-off
pattern; they are also available with the RHD cut-off pattern at the
The new Morimoto projectors look like this:
As I would not be using the supplied mounting hardware, I removed it:
time to prepare the housings to accept the projectors. I cut off
the rear part of the plastic housings with a common hacksaw, being
careful to keep the cut parallel to the front of the unit. The
resulting opening was a bit smaller than the black plastic part of the
projector that would have to go into the reflector housing, so I used a
Dremel tool with a sanding drum to slowly open up each of the new holes
until they would just accept the projector. I also cut two slots
at the bottom of the opening to match the two reinforcing struts on the
projector. These slots also position the projector so that the
shutter that creates the cut-off at the top of the light pattern is
horizontal, so be careful to get them in the right place so that the
top of the projector and the top of the housing are both in the same
place! Now the housings looked like this (looking from the bottom):
I cannot emphacise enough how important it is to get the projectors
rotated in the housings so that the beam cut-off line is perfectly
horizontal when the units are installed and powered on. I would suggest
installing and wiring the ballasts, installing the modified "buckets"
back in the car, placing the projectors (with bulbs installed) into the
new housings BEFORE cutting the slots (note that the projectors will not go all
the way into the housings but they will go far ehough for this test
procedure), connecting the wiring, and
placing the housings and projectors as a unit into the "buckets" when
you can power them up and view the beam pattern against a wall, garage
door, or another car -- whatever is handy. Just hold the new unit
against the modified bucket so that it is not tilted. If the
cut-off line is NOT
horizontal, note which way it needs to be rotated and shut off the
power. Make the appropriate rotation and re-check. Repeat as needed. If
the cut-off line IS horizontal, carefully remove the
projector/housing unit WITHOUT moving anything and mark where the cuts
need to be made. Believe me, if the cut-off line is not horizontal it
WILL annoy you immensely, even if it is within the allowable limits of
the laws of your country.
With the projector in place the whole thing looks like this:
And from the front:
everything fitting, I glued the projectors to the reflector
housings. Make sure that the projector does NOT tilt in the
housing before the glue sets. I used two-part clear epoxy on
three of them and plastic model cement on the fourth. Both seem
to work well, but the plastic model cement seems to be easier and
neater. Be careful not to get any glue on the moving parts
of the shutter. It's probably a good idea to check it for free
movement after gluing.
I also purchased four of the 35-watt Morimoto HID ballasts from The Retrofit Source.
I chose 35 watts as that is what most makers of new cars use for
their HID headlights and it provides plenty of light as well as keeping
the electrical load on the car's system as low as practically possible.
Each ballast draws about 3 amps when running and I will have four
of them running whenever the headlights are on. The original
headlights in Pirate Jenny used four H1 lamps which are rated at 55
watts each which is about 4.8 amps at 12 volts. So, when the main
beam was on, the original lights drew a total of 19.2 amps, or 220
watts. For the dip beam, it was half of that, or 9.6 amps and 110
watts. The new system will draw 12 amps for 140 watts whenever
the headlights are on, either dip or main beam. The original
wiring ought to be able to handle this load easily.
Going to the car, we see the right-front corner looks like this before modification:
The reddish highlights are due to sunlight being reflected off a red car behind the camera.
step here is to remove the trim panel around the headlights.
Automakers call this the headlight "door." This is what you
see after removing it and removing the inboard headlight unit.
After removing the headlamp from the "bucket" it looks like this:
You can see why they call this a "bucket."
rear of the "bucket" needed to be cut off to make room for the rearward
part of the projector. After cutting, the "bucket" is more of a
ring. The two black Phillips-head screws that are to the right
and left in this photo are the adjustment screws for aiming the
headlights. See the mark on the light-coloured metal ring, just
to the right of the notch? I'll get to that in the next photo.
three notches in the light-coloured metal ring are the locators for the
headlamp units. There are matching bumps on the back of the
reflector housings and they only fit one way.
This is a close-up of the top of the headlight mounting ring:
are actually two different patterns for these mounting rings and which
is which depends on whether is is meant for a dip beam lamp unit or for
a main beam unit. The position of the notch nearest the top of
the unit is shifted one way or the other. The pattern on the
new reflector housings is a dip beam pattern and this is a main beam
mounting ring, so I had to cut
out a new upper notch; I did so by removing the metal in the area
indicated by the X as far as the line. Now this headlight
ring will accept either pattern, main beam or dip beam.
This is the projector unit and the reflector housing installed in the headlight mounting ring. Front view:
that I cut a few slots into the mounting ring to allow bending the
metal away from the projector unit. You have to allow some
clearance for movement when aiming the headlights. On the last unit I
did, I trimmed off more of the "bucket" metal -- practically down to
the bottom of the slots that show in this photo. That left just a
ring and it worked very well; this mounting ring is screwed solidly to
the car body, so it will be plenty strong to hold the headlights
steady. Note also that
the main beam solenoid wires (red and black) have been looped around
the projector housing and tied off. This is to keep them away
from the sharp edges on the cut off parts of the mounting ring.
If the projector runs too hot for the insulation on the wires
I'll have to change that.
is a shot looking into the inside of the car body through the outboard
right-hand (starboard, offside) headlamp
opening. You can see where I have attached the two ballasts for
the right-hand (starboard, offside) HID units. The two ballasts
are connected in parallel -- the red wires from the ballasts are
connected together and likewise the black wires from the ballasts; the
small black wires from the projector solenoids also need to be earthed
and can be connected here as well. These four black wires can be
earthed anywhere convenient -- I used a handy black earth wire that was
originally connected to the earth side of the dip beam headlight. The
two red wires (from the ballasts) are then connected to the dip beam
wire that was originally connected to the old dip beam headlights. The
two small red wires from the projector solenoids are connected together
and then to the wire that was originally connected to the main beam
headlight. The left-hand (portside, nearside) headlights are
wired the same way.
addition I decided to incorporate is applying some
high-temperature aluminium tape to cover the open areas of the
projectors as a defense against dust getting in.
Everything in place just waiting for the new headlamps to be installed.
Now to fire them up, adjust the aiming, and replace the trim.
All that's left is to do the whole process again on the other side.
After doing that, here's what the finished project looks like:
With headlights on.
And with headlights off.
And from a lower angle.
Yes, I can hear you asking: "What do they look like on the road at night?" Well, these photos show that fairly well:
Residential street on dip-beam. Note that there is enough "spill" to illuminate the reflective street sign on the left.
As above, on main-beam.
And two more that show the beam coverage better. The aim can be improved a bit, but good enough for now.
Dip-beam against a wall.
Main-beam against the same wall.
next thing was to modify my dip-switch operation due to the dip switch
being awkward to operate sitting under the clutch pedal as it does.
This won't be necessary unless you have converted to a manual gearbox
as I have.
I purchased a DEI model 611-T electronic relay from
an eBay vendor and configured it to operate in latched mode with
negative keying (that's in the instructions that come with the 611-T).
I then perused the Jensen wiring diagramme and came up with a plan. I
located the wires that come directly from the "headlight flash" switch
that is part of the turn signal stalk -- that was the hard part. I had
to remove the tachometer (LHD car) and search through the tach opening
to find these wires. They were the only two that had cloth-wrapped
rubber insulation; all the rest in the bundle that comes out of the
turn signal switch area are of the more modern plastic-insulated
variety. For reference, these were a Purple wire and a Blue with White
stripe wire. I removed both wires from their connectors and connected
the Purple wire (from the flasher switch) to an earth wire. The
Blue/White wire (from the flasher switch) I connected to the keying
wire (green) from the 611-T. The black wire from the 611-T was earthed
to the same point where the Purple wire from the switch was earthed.
Still with me? OK, the red and brown wires from the 611-T
both were connected to the Purple wire that goes into the wiring loom
and ends up in the fuse box. This Purple wire is normally connected to
+12 volts all the time, but I moved it to a neighbouring terminal that
only has +12 volts applied when the ignition switch is ON. This
way there is no drain on the battery when the ignition is OFF. Finally
I connected the yellow wire from the 611-T to the Blue/White wire that
goes into the wiring loom (and thence to the main-beam light circuit).
The wires that went to the original dip switch were removed. Now when I
pull once on the flasher stalk the main-beams are activated and stay on
until I pull again on the stalk, whence they revert to dip-beam
operation. The only drawback is that I now have no headlight flash
function when the headlights are off -- not really much of a drawback
unless your local vehicle code requires this, and the law here in
Nevada does not. By the way, I searched the relevant Nevada laws
and there is nothing precluding having four dip-beam headlights
operating at the same time.
Actually, I bought two of the 611-T
units and configured the second one to be a time-delay relay with
positive keying. Again, the black wire was earthed; the red and
brown wires were connected to +12 volts (always hot -- necessary for
the time-delay feature to work and the current draw in the resting
state is very small); the green keying wire was connected to the +12
volt ignition circuit; the yellow wire was connected to the +12 volt
accessory circuit. I had previously reconnected my window motors
to the accessory circuit from their original connexion to the ignition
circuit. This allowed my passenger to lower (or raise) the window(s)
when stopping for petrol. Now when I shut off the ignition I still have
power to the accessory circuit for whatever time the 611-T is set to
give (I have it set to 30 seconds right now). This gives me 30 seconds
after I shut off the ignition in which to roll up (or down) the windows
and retract (or extend) the aerial. This "maintained power"
arrangement is used in quite a few new cars and I find it very
convenient as I never (Never? No, never. Not ever?... Well, hardly ever) remember to position the
windows and aerial before shutting off the ignition.
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