Lotus Elan

Head Light upgrade for 1968 plus 2 with dynamo

PostPost by: PedroLotusElanPlus2 » Mon Aug 30, 2021 5:49 pm

I don't intend to do much night driving but when I do I need to improve the original headlights I have on dipped beam! They don't light up the curbs enough both in town and country driving. They are correctly adjusted for a recent MOT check.
Main beam is actually acceptable, but obviously any improvement that comes with bulb upgrade for dipped beam will be welcome.
I do not want to fit Cibie spot/fogs to supplement the original lighting, as trying to keep the car as original as possible and retain the dynamo which is in good condition and hasn't let me down.
So question is what's the best upgrade I can do to the existing original bulbs and not have issues with the 264W output of the dynamo compared to 432W with an alternator conversion?
Appreciate your advise as always
Hope you had a good bank holiday
best regards
Pedro
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PostPost by: gherlt » Tue Aug 31, 2021 6:13 am

On one hand you could better your light output.
Installing LED would be technically the Best, but illegal in most countries.
Next best solution is renewing the lamps (or renew the reflection area) and install Osram Nightbreaker bulbs (or similar Philips).

On the other hand I bought a Dynamator, an alternator camouflaged as dynamo. Works good and visually very good fitting.
1964 S1 (engine ready, awainting body paint)
1967 S3 DHC (trying to recreate Alex Black's window cable clamp bolt)
1969 S4 FHC (engine worn ... )

Brian Bucklands 2nd edition available ! Look here: https://theelanman.com
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PostPost by: PedroLotusElanPlus2 » Tue Aug 31, 2021 7:33 am

Food for thought, so thanks. I like the idea of the disguised alternator as this sits well with my upgrade “policy” i.e. kenlowe fan and lumenition ignition.
Which model did you fit and where purchased? I have negative earth set up.
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PostPost by: 69S4 » Tue Aug 31, 2021 7:54 am

Did I not read somewhere that LED headlights are now acceptable (for MOT purposes) in the UK if your car is pre '86 or something? Which all our cars will be of course. That should solve both your lighting and dynamo issues in one hit.
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PostPost by: PedroLotusElanPlus2 » Tue Aug 31, 2021 8:05 am

I’ll check it out thanks
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PostPost by: 2tmike » Tue Aug 31, 2021 4:52 pm

I fitted LED's when the pre '86 issue was clarified and they make a huge improvement, way better than halogens and the better (more expensive !) ones have a good cut off pattern.
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PostPost by: PedroLotusElanPlus2 » Tue Aug 31, 2021 4:55 pm

Yes I’m sold on LED’s especially high quality ones (my last job). So what do you recommend?
Love this forum
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PostPost by: UAB807F » Wed Sep 01, 2021 6:11 am

I fitted Wipac Quadoptic units with H4 bulbs to my S3 and that's a big improvement over the old sealed beams. Then I tried LED bulbs which are amazing, frankly the best headlights I've ever had on a Lotus.

Then the government made them an MoT failure on the basis that the reflectors would dazzle other road users. I'll admit I don't understand this one, I checked the pattern against a line on the garage wall and the cut-off seems exactly the same as with the H4 bulbs, but sadly, them's the rules now.

You can still fit a complete LED unit so in your position I'd look at Ebay. The lamps don't look anything like original but on our cars you don't see them in daylight and when they're raised they will be on, so again no real detriment to looks.

There's a wide range in prices and some have heat sinks which don't fit the original headlamp bowl without modification. You can get new bowls to fit the LED units if you want a complete bolt on package.

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PostPost by: PedroLotusElanPlus2 » Wed Sep 01, 2021 6:16 am

Brian
Thanks for the detailed Information.
Really helpful
Regards
Pedro
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PostPost by: mbell » Wed Sep 01, 2021 5:51 pm

UAB807F wrote:Then the government made them an MoT failure on the basis that the reflectors would dazzle other road users. I'll admit I don't understand this one, I checked the pattern against a line on the garage wall and the cut-off seems exactly the same as with the H4 bulbs, but sadly, them's the rules now.


Haven''t re it for a while but this provides a lot of background on the issue:
https://www.danielsternlighting.com/tec ... sions.html
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PostPost by: ericbushby » Wed Sep 01, 2021 8:04 pm

You can use LED bulbs in headlamps now but I know little about them.
If you are interested talk to Classic Car Leds Ltd of Cheltenham or check their catalogue. They know the law and state that their bulbs comply with the rules.
I have found them reliable and friendly for smaller stuff.
I think that would be better than chancing it on ebay with an unknown source and quality. Other good suppliers may be available.
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PostPost by: UAB807F » Wed Sep 01, 2021 8:49 pm

ericbushby wrote:You can use LED bulbs in headlamps now but I know little about them.
If you are interested talk to Classic Car Leds Ltd of Cheltenham or check their catalogue. They know the law and state that their bulbs comply with the rules.


That's a very interesting link Eric, thanks for posting it. I'll quote a portion of their page here because it might be of interest to others

"The MOT rules have been clarified from 22.3.21 to allow the use of LED conversions that pass the beam pattern tests for headlights for Class 3, 4, 5 and 7 vehicles (car, private bus and light commercial vehicle) first used before 1 April 1986 and all class1 and 2 motorcycles of any age."

I hadn't heard that revision, just the "if it's a conversion, it's a fail" statement which definitely upset me because for the first time in years I thought I'd got a decent headlights. Incidentally, although mine were just H4 pattern bulb fitting units the box was marked as CE/ROHS certified.

I'd read about problems with HID conversions and the glare from some LEDs in older reflectors, so I marked the pattern on the garage wall with H4 bulbs and compared with these. Over the length of my workshop I honestly couldn't see any difference, in fact the original sealed beams seemed to throw a more random pattern than either of the replacements did.

So this revision makes sense to me although I still don't understand why it's restricted to pre 86. Surely if a vehicle meets the applicable beam pattern test then it should be ok regardless of bulb fitted ?

Or is the pre-86 pattern different from post 86 ?

Ah well, I don't suppose it matters for our cars but thanks for posting the details of that company Eric.

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PostPost by: mikealdren » Wed Sep 01, 2021 9:44 pm

Hi Brian,
more recent lights have complex reflector and lens arrangements that are designed for the exact position and power of bulb elements and LED (and HID) bulbs are often quite different in the element position and dispersion patterns. The complete unit designs are approved and stamped as such and changing elements of them effectively voids their compliance.

I don't know what happened in 1986 (probably a change in legislation) but older cars like ours tended to have standard 5" or 7" round lights that were less complex and probably handle aftermarket bulbs more easily. They also weren't subject to the same compliance tests and weren't kitemarked in the same way so there isn't an easy check for the MoT man. Having said that, when I worked at Vauxhall, we did a lot of testing of beam patterns, hot spots etc. in the 1970s.
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PostPost by: RedBarnMan » Sat Sep 04, 2021 7:48 pm

PNM do a complete new 7" headlamp unit for the Elan - unfortunately it does not look good but as the +2 headlamps are not visible during the day it may not matter and I for one would rather have decent headlamps at night. I have the Quadoptics - these look very standard - together with +150% halogen bulbs from Osram.

Another point is that you must make sure all electrical connections are good. On another classic (where the power for dip beam went via the dip switch on the steering wheel stalk) I took a thicker new wire from the ammeter via a fuse to a relay next to the lamps and put a thicker earth wire to the chassis from the lamps. The dip switch now justs powers the relay. That one change made as much difference as fitting the high output bulbs. The two combined made a huge difference.
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