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Old 02-02-2015, 10:03 PM   #1
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Headlight upgrade....

..we've got a 2010 Damon Astoria that has headlamps that do a very poor job of illuminating the road ahead. It's like they took these things out of an obsolete parts bin.

Have any of you seen any upgrade kits that would allow the use of HID (zenon) or LED lighting without any major modifications.
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Old 02-02-2015, 11:14 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobguigley View Post
..we've got a 2010 Damon Astoria that has headlamps that do a very poor job of illuminating the road ahead. It's like they took these things out of an obsolete parts bin.

Have any of you seen any upgrade kits that would allow the use of HID (zenon) or LED lighting without any major modifications.
There are no legal and safe options to using existing headlight assemblies with upgraded bulbs of a different type. I'm not referring to use of higher quality lights such as a brighter H9 bulb than stock. There are lots of illegal (not street legal anyway) kits out there to replace a halogen bulb with a ballast and HID bulb and every one of them is ILLEGAL.

Why? Because they can not be aligned properly with your existing reflector in your current light assembly.

Your only legal option is to find SAE/DOT approves light assemblies. When upgrading from a stock system there are LOTS of issues that have to be solved. You just can't simply toss in a ballast and headlights. In many cases you have to work around daytime running lights because the ballasts can be trashed by them. The ballasts to run them can also fool your electronics making it appear you have defective headlights.

I went through this process last year and the cost to properly do it can run, as it did for me, nearly $1K but my lights were so bad, I am glad I did it.

You should first investigate whether or not you are getting proper voltage to your light bulbs. If your wires are too small of a gauge and/or the voltage drop is significant, it has a non-linear impact on your light output.

Visit the Daniel Stern website for a whole host of things to do to check your system and how to upgrade it properly. He is considered the GO TO guy for automotive light upgrades. The dude nows his stuff and it is not unusual for threads dealing with headlight upgrades to have him referenced. He is also a great person to work with.

This is a thread where I posted a lot of info on how I upgraded my headlights.

unfortunately, unless you have similar lights by Hella like I did or you have sealed beam headlights, finding legal upgrades can be very difficult. Your only other option would then be to do some heavy duty modifications of your front end to custom build a legal headlight set up using modular systems like Hela makes.

Good Luck!
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Old 02-02-2015, 11:20 PM   #3
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BTW...inevitably someone comes into this discussion saying things like, "Who is gonna know?" and "I did the kits and see so much better." The other thing you will hear is something like, "Why drive at night?"

The folks in the first group don't know how their headlights affect oncoming drivers. I guarantee that because these illegal headlights CAN NOT be aligned properly. They are either blinding oncoming traffic or reducing the output by aiming too low.

The second group asking about night time driving...well that is philosophical but I can only say, "If you need them, you need them."
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Old 02-03-2015, 12:12 AM   #4
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sky boss I am not sure I agree with your posts. Almost all MH headlights are units from a car. Mine I believe are from a Ford Taurus. There are companies that make direct replacement units with HID lights for most makes of cars. These are complete units. Unbolt the whole light assembly and replace it with the replacement unit. These are manufactured for that particular brand of car and are fully adjustable just like the stock headlights.
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Old 02-03-2015, 12:21 AM   #5
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One day soon I hope we get European style lights here in North America. My Merc in Ireland has absolutely excellent lighting, best I've ever had.
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Old 02-03-2015, 12:00 PM   #6
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sky boss I am not sure I agree with your posts. Almost all MH headlights are units from a car. Mine I believe are from a Ford Taurus. There are companies that make direct replacement units with HID lights for most makes of cars. These are complete units. Unbolt the whole light assembly and replace it with the replacement unit. These are manufactured for that particular brand of car and are fully adjustable just like the stock headlights.
I'm not sure what you disagree with. LOL

As I said, unless the whole assembly is replaced to work specifically with HID lights, it is illegal and unsafe to just replace halogen lights with new bulbs of a different kind.

Perhaps you only disagree with my statement that it might be very difficult to find these replacements. If that is the case than perhaps there are more of these available than I thought.

Just for clarification...this link is to a kit that is NOT legal. It includes some kind of adjustment device but heck if I can tell you how they think it properly shapes the light in the reflector. A search for more kits shows the same illegal stuff. I did find a thread that alludes to OEM HID headlight replacement in a Taurus SHO and the person said the going cost was about $2200.

The problem with slamming in HID lights into a halogen assembly is that the hot spot for the HID is not in the same location as the halogen thus it is impossible to properly aim and shape the beam pattern. There have been reports that companies marketing these kits are being sued over importing these products. Europe takes a very hard line stance on these also.

This is a link to a Taurus headlight assembly that MIGHT be legal. I say MIGHT because they make a statement that they are SAE "compliant" but I'm a little suspicious about that statement. I'm also VERY suspicious of their price and suspect they include cheap ballasts even when optioned out to the highest price. Again, these "appear" legal. I just don't trust this because it just looks too good to be true but I can't say positively that it isn't a good reflector design either.

The only way to find out is to have side by side testing to show these are truly SAE compliant. Given the state of this particular segment of the auto upgrade industry and the shady, shoddy and illegal nature of the vast majority of these products...forgive me if I am skeptical.
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Old 02-03-2015, 04:06 PM   #7
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Anyone have a phone number for stern
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Old 02-03-2015, 06:22 PM   #8
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Anyone have a phone number for stern
He works almost exclusively via Email. Because of some supply issues we ran into last year he and I did have a couple phone calls back and forth. I don't think it is my place to give his phone number out.

He is based out of the Pacific time zone but does travel. Daniel is AWESOME to work with and is pretty darn good at it.

If you didn't find it, his email is dastern@torque.net

I have an alternate email that might also be of use tech@danielsternlighting.com
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Old 02-03-2015, 06:34 PM   #9
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Headlights

So you think I shouldn't use Aircraft Landing lights for driving lamps?
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Old 02-03-2015, 06:35 PM   #10
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On my previous coach I did a rework of my headlights to get better lighting. First, reading through the Daniel Stern website is a must. He points out that nearly every headlight assembly used in RV's is from a car such as a Ford Explorer, etc. Even though these are used, the ones the RV manufacturers buy are aftermarket and don't meet Federal Standards for correct alignment and reflective ability.

I replaced my Monaco lenses (Buick) with OEM ones from GM. This is very pricey and is not for everyone. I ordered new ceramic bulb holders from Daniel Stern along with the relays to upgrade my wire size to get a full 12 volts. My Monaco had a high and low beam. On high beam, only the high bean lights came on. After installing the relays with better wiring, both the high and low came on with the high beams, a nice improvement when using high beams.

Most coaches have some type of fog/driving lights. I replaced the cheap OEM lights with Hella 55 driving lights. They come in round and oval. They worked great without blinding oncoming traffic.

When everything was completed, I was able to drive 65mph at night without overdriving my headlights.

Lastly, I found a cheap fix that will help some. Most headlights use the new style plug. They use 55 watt for low beam and 65 watt for high beam. The difference between the two is how they're "clocked" fit into the plug. You can easy cut a tab away on the high beam bulbs and they will fit in the low beam socket. This gives you 10 additional watts per side and won't affect oncoming drivers.
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Old 02-03-2015, 09:01 PM   #11
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...

Lastly, I found a cheap fix that will help some. Most headlights use the new style plug. They use 55 watt for low beam and 65 watt for high beam. The difference between the two is how they're "clocked" fit into the plug. You can easy cut a tab away on the high beam bulbs and they will fit in the low beam socket. This gives you 10 additional watts per side and won't affect oncoming drivers.
UM...that is also very problematic. Changing the orientation of a filament is the unintended consequence when this is done in most cases.

Even the modification of an H9 bulb to fit into a H11 socket is problematic when used in a reflector light fixture but is less so with projector type headlights.

Keep in mind that the caveat when using higher power light bulbs is that they will:

1. Burn hotter and could cause damage to the socket.
2. Have a shorter life span.

The first and most important step is to verify voltage at the bulb as outlined in Stern's information. After that, then consider the next step.
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Old 02-03-2015, 09:05 PM   #12
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So you think I shouldn't use Aircraft Landing lights for driving lamps?
Ya think?

Most folks don't know the difference between and ohm and mho let alone the proper wire gauge needed for efficient headlight operations. Toss them a pair of those babies and the fun can really begin. Just have a fire extinguisher ready to go.

I know you were being tongue-in-cheek and my response is meant to be received in the same manner.
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Old 02-03-2015, 09:58 PM   #13
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I did the exact same upgrades as Don on my 99 Executive, also used Daniel. I Had a hell of a time aiming the lights correctly as Monaco did a less than stellar job of mounting and aligning in the first place. But it is like going from candles to real headlights.
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