Lotus Elan

Instrument Illumination

PostPost by: Frank Howard » Mon Oct 09, 2006 5:44 pm

Elans come from the factory with Smiths instruments that are illuminated with 2.2 watt screw-in style bulbs. As far as I can tell (using a magnifying glass) the bulb number is:

ORY8 12V 2.2W

The instruments are practically impossible to read at night. I have searched through the archives and found that owners have replaced the 2.2W bulbs with 5W bulbs, but no source for these bulbs has been provided.

I recently purchased a new matching Smiths ammeter. Upon installation, I noticed that it had far better illumination than the rest of the gauges. Upon inspection, I discovered that it had a 4 watt bulb. The bulb number is:

OSRAM 12V T4W 37R E1 0007-n9J

Rather than being a screw-in type bulb, the OSRAM bulb is a push-in type with two posts in the metal base. What I want is a 4 watt bulb that is a screw-in type. Does anyone know where these can be obtained. Before suggesting that I contact the "usual suspects", please confirm who indeed has these, that is if they actually exist. Thank you.

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PostPost by: Sarah Ryan » Tue Oct 10, 2006 7:36 am

Hi don't waste the expense of 4 watt globes that will eventually go dull with time, if you really want modern car instrument lights put in LEDS, except for the ignition light. The rest is fine.
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PostPost by: GrUmPyBoDgEr » Tue Oct 10, 2006 3:09 pm

Sarah,

LED's sound a great idea.
I fitted bayonet type lamp holders to my car in order to be able to fit more modern (reliable? easily obtainable) lamps; a bit tricky because the holders are a bit sloppy in the retaining sleeves on the back of the instruments.
Please tell us what parts we should use to get our cars running on LED's

John
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PostPost by: Galwaylotus » Tue Oct 10, 2006 6:08 pm

Make sure to get "superbright" LEDs and you need an in-line (series) resistor sized to the LED characteristics. I've done all indicators for my Mini as well as the illumination for the speedometer. I probably should have gone for a brighter LED for the illumination but it is readable and whiter than the normal bulbs. For my low oil pressure idiot light I bought a 10 mm flashing red LED which works well. The flashing LEDs have built in circuitry which obviates the need for a separate resistor. Good luck.
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PostPost by: Sarah Ryan » Tue Oct 10, 2006 10:36 pm

Hi like Galwaylotus said super bright ones. I use Osram brand leds in Australia. You only need the inline resister for the ignition or just use a 4 watt. You then may need to change some or all of the polarity around as I had to on one of my instruments as leds are polarity sensitive.
I changed the parking lights & indicator lights to leds. They draw so little wattage the indicators work while the lights & heater blower are on. They are available in Festoon ones as well so the interior rear number plate & the wing indicator lights can be changed with dramatic results. They are available in screw in type as well. You can get them for brake & park light but they are not as bright as the original combination light.
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PostPost by: bcmc33 » Wed Oct 11, 2006 12:38 pm

I am changing the facia on my baby Elan this winter, and will be following the advice from the Carl Pederson's article in the July issue of Club Lotus News by switching to LED?s where possible for better illumination. The article recommends Ultra LEDs Ltd. (www.ultraleds.co.uk).
I looked on the website and found it very confusing, but contact with Robert Bennett (Director) will resolve any confusion.

Regards

Brian
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PostPost by: gjz30075 » Wed Oct 11, 2006 6:01 pm

You folks with the LED dash lights really like them? Although I haven't made any changes to mine but I like Frank's idea of 4w bulbs, I find LED light very 'pin pointed', ie, the light doesn't spread out. My son fitted a set to his MR2 dash and the procedure to really make them work well is very convoluted to cut down the bright spots where the LED bulb sits. Can anyone with the LEDs post pics?
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PostPost by: archigator » Mon Oct 16, 2006 4:13 pm

The Little British Car Company (LBC) has 5w and 10w screw-in halogen bulbs for Smiths instruments, but they're about $13.00 each. I haven't installed them, but they look interesting. You may have to highlight the entire link below if it doesn't work outright.

http://www.lbcarco.com/cgi-bin/gen5?run ... en.html&o=

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PostPost by: Frank Howard » Mon Oct 16, 2006 7:39 pm

Sarah,

I appreciate your suggestion of installing LEDs, but I have no idea where sockets that are compatable with Smiths gauges and LEDs can be found. Also, I could not locate any screw-in LEDs.

Gary,

Thanks for the reference to the LBC site. Interesting, however I think I may have found a less expensive solution.

For the small gauges, purchase a 2-bulb pack of 4W bayonet style push-in bulbs from your local auto parts store. The bulb number is 3893 (T4W). Cost is $3 for the pair. Now how do you install a push-in style bulb into a screw-in style socket? This is where it gets a little tricky. The screw-in socket is not a full depth socket like a conventional light bulb socket. It is basically a can with only the very top edge forming a socket thread. The inside diameter of this part of the socket is slightly smaller than the outside diameter of the push-in base on the 4W bulb. It also has a gap where the thread has made it's one and only revolution. Take a Dremel with a small grinding wheel and a little at a time, open up the thread, frequently checking if the push-in bulb will press in. You can hook one of the posts on the base of the bulb under the thread and lever the other post through the gap as described above, or you can grind one or two of the posts off completely. If you go too far (as I did), wrap the lamp base with aluminum foil to increase it's diameter so the bulb fits tightly.

Now for the large gauges, the speedometer and the tachometer. Since these gauges are larger, they require even brighter bulbs to achieve the same improvement. I found a pair of 6W screw-in bulbs at my local building supply store, Menards. They are made by North Tech. Their model number is 353-4997 and they are $1 for the pair. The package reads, "Replacement Bulbs for Optical Fiber Light (352-1007 & 352-1010)" They screw right into the sockets however, the glass globes are substantially larger than those of the original 2.2W bulbs. The first time I installed one of these, as I pushed the socket into the back of the speedometer, the 6 fingers that hold the socket in place were squeezed together crushing the bulb. I had to remove the speedometer and shake out the broken glass. After a couple of days of "reflection", I decided that the best way to overcome this problem was to nip off the last 1/16" of these 6 fingers. I used the Dremel and a small cut off wheel. The sockets went right in without damaging the bulbs.

Last night, I took the car for a test drive and for the first time, much to my amazement, I could clearly read all of the instruments. I will say that despite the fact that the combo and fuel gauges now use the same 4W bulb that the new ammeter came with, they are not as easy to read as the ammeter is, but they are much improved. I highly recommend this $4 upgrade to anyone who is interested in reading his/her instruments at night.
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PostPost by: gjz30075 » Tue Oct 17, 2006 11:45 am

Great write up Frank! Thanks.
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PostPost by: holywood3645 » Sat May 26, 2012 12:40 am

This is an old post but it addresses the issue I?m having with my car. I?m wondering if any of you have more recent insight into this problem with illumination of the dash instruments. There has been a lot of progress made in the use of LED since 2006. I?m hoping someone with recent experience can share their experience and the solution they came up with.

Thanks

James
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PostPost by: UAB807F » Sat May 26, 2012 7:03 am

Galwaylotus wrote:Make sure to get "superbright" LEDs and you need an in-line (series) resistor sized to the LED characteristics. I've done all indicators for my Mini as well as the illumination for the speedometer. I probably should have gone for a brighter LED for the illumination but it is readable and whiter than the normal bulbs. For my low oil pressure idiot light I bought a 10 mm flashing red LED which works well. The flashing LEDs have built in circuitry which obviates the need for a separate resistor. Good luck.


Hi there,

Any chance of posting a diagram and/or shopping list for us non-electrical numpties ? (being selfish it would be even better if it was a Maplin shopping list :wink: ) I'm quite happy soldering things together but know nothing about working out a circuit for LEDs and I quite like the idea of lower power consumption & presumably less heat generation.

Brian
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PostPost by: Higs » Sat May 26, 2012 8:23 am

I did a quick search and this link looks interesting:

http://bettercarlighting.co.uk/index.php?act=viewCat&catId=42

They seem to offer straight replacements. Any thoughts?

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PostPost by: bcmc33 » Sat May 26, 2012 10:39 am

Higs wrote:I did a quick search and this link looks interesting:

http://bettercarlighting.co.uk/index.php?act=viewCat&catId=42

They seem to offer straight replacements. Any thoughts?

Well spotted, Richard.

I know this shop as I bought some bits from them some time ago. When I was there I did comment that the then standard LED replacement for the instrument bulbs were useless as they only directed light forward and not sideways. They said that they would look into such a development and let me know - they never did.
However, on the next rainy day I will take a bus ride over to get some as they must be an improvement.
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PostPost by: elansprint » Sat May 26, 2012 11:19 am

Brian looking at the LEDs fitted into std lamp configuration they have LEDs mounted around the edge as well as facing forward this should help as LEDs tend to have narrow veiwing angles in comparison to incandescent lamps
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