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Old 08-14-2014, 10:59 PM   #15
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Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Monterey Bay, CA
Posts: 168
Hi Tony,

Good photo of the headlight adjusting nut and the clips. I'm not sure how much patience I'll have with the disassembly..... will probably damage the old assembly to get it out and not worry about it. The new light assembly (hopefully) comes with new clips and I can take my time with the install. My passenger light doesn't sit level in the bucket, but cocked at a slight angle. I'll probably have to change the mounting holes a bit.

This will have to wait though....we're on a six week trip through Canada, just leaving Victoria for Port Angeles tomorrow. I expect it will be a few weeks before I get to my project. Good luck and keep me updated .... it's always nice to have someone pave the way. Take care.

Karlos and Dawn
2007 Dolphin 5342 Workhorse
2013 Fiat 500C Toad
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Old 10-26-2014, 05:50 PM   #16
Tony H's Avatar
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Monroe WA USA
Posts: 88
They're in!

My replacement headlights are now installed and I thought my experience might help someone else with a similar installation.

The pictures below show the before, during and afterward views – I like the last one best!

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What follows is a very detailed account of replacing the headlights on my 2001 SurfSide. It should apply to any installation that uses the same headlights.

Briefly, it’s doable.

Very small vice grip pliers and an external snap ring pliers with 0.020” angled tips


The clear side marker lights outboard of the headlights need to be removed first.

Removing the headlight assemblies will be much easier if you can position yourself so you can see all three clips clearly from the backside. To do this you’ll want to be sitting upright on the ground facing forward. (My SurfSide has a fender brace on each side that when removed gave more room.) This is important because the snap ring holes for two of the three clips may otherwise be hidden and I can assure you this makes getting the snap ring pliers into the holes very difficult.

I was able to clamp the vice grips onto the top lip of the clips, spread the tangs of the clip clear of the plastic nuts with the snap ring pliers and then use the vice grips to slide the clip free. For two of them I had to rotate the clip to have room to slide the clip clear.

Once the headlight assemblies were out, I carefully measured the position of each adjusting nut on the old units and transferred the dimensions to the new lights using a digital caliper. This was to transfer the headlight alignment to the new units. More about that later.

Then it’s just a matter of reversing the procedure to install the new units.

The driver’s side is the hardest to get at due to limited space – I’d do it first the next time.

My new headlights came with new bulbs. They didn’t come with replacement clips so I bought extras … the Ford part no. is 13N129 and they are available from various sources including eBay. I used one of the extras.

In my opinion, the National overall installation was minimal at best. For example, the mounting bucket behind the headlight is 0.060” thick thermoplastic. The plastic adjusting / mounting nuts need almost 3/8” total thickness behind the bucket holes to insure they will be snug in the holes with the clips installed. Someone increased the thickness behind each hole with crude pieces of plastic. Two of mine fell off in pieces.

Don’t push too hard on the mounts in the front clip from the front – they’re attached with plastic spot welds. I broke one of my welds loose and had to repair it.

The clips are not restrained from rotating when the adjustment screw is turned like they are in the Ford truck applications. So the nuts will have to be held to make aiming adjustments or they will likely rotate with the screws.

Forget about making aiming adjustments from the front. The nuts are too tight on the screws to be able to turn them with a Phillips screw driver. And because the nuts aren’t locked against rotating, they would just turn along with the adjusting shaft anyway which defeats the purpose. Aiming has to be done from the backside using the hex ends on the two adjusting screws while holding the nuts to keep them from turning.

The lower outside corner adjustment screw – the one with the gear box and extended adjustment screw - is a carry-over from the Ford truck installations and in my case the extensions were angled straight up. That put the hex end up just under the seam between the upper and lower body clips – a long reach at best. So I took the other hex adjusting screw out of the old lights and put them in place of the remote on the new. (The plastic ball socket that attaches the screw to the light can be removed and reinstalled by turning it a quarter turn with an adjustable wrench snugged over tangs that lock it onto the rear face of the standoff on the light. Using the wrench looks screwy but it works.) Now access to the hex end of that screw is easy to get to.

I hadn’t driven our motorhome after dark since we bought it so I had no idea how well the lights were aligned to begin with. Despite my care in transferring the spacing of the alignment nuts, testing the new lights in the dark in my admittedly uneven driveway suggested both new lights were angled way too low. On a subsequent trip we went thru a tunnel and I turned the headlights on. I could see they are aligned about right horizontally, but the hot spot for both is hitting the pavement about 25’ in front.

The old headlight bulbs were dated 1999 which is probably about right for headlight assemblies that were factory installed on our 2001 motorhome, suggesting they were the original units. Were they ever adjusted properly?

These lights have 3 bumps on their face and are the old style designed to be mechanically aimed. Aiming equipment is available used or as old new stock but seems expensive for a one time job. I’m probably going to make a simple jig and use my digital cube level to adjust the angle per the specifications. The adjustment angle is a straight forward trig equation.

It’s interesting what is underneath the RV down where ‘the sun don’t shine’. In the bundle of driving lighting wiring looms on each side there is one loom that ends in mid- air with three wires in it. Two of the wires have bare ends that are twisted together. The third wire’s end is also bare. All three are just hanging there. They appear to be part of the Ford supplied wiring. I’ll look into that when I have time.

The wrap around parking light housing is made for two bulbs, the second serving to warn anyone alongside that the flashers are on. A bulb holder is installed in the side portion with a pigtail, but neither side was ever hooked up. Another thing to look into.

Sorry about the long post but maybe it will help someone with a similar installation. If it does, then I’ve made a small ‘pay it forward’ deposit for all the help I’ve gotten here.
Tony & Margaret Howard
2001 Surf Side 3311 DSO
Monroe WA
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Old 10-27-2014, 10:37 AM   #17
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Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Monterey Bay, CA
Posts: 168

Great post. Thanks for all the details. I'm about to undertake the same project and I appreciate a trail-blazer that keeps good notes!

You mentioned the side lamps needed to be removed first. How are they held in place? Screws from the back, or more clips?

Tried to order angled snap ring pliers and had a difficult time finding one with 0.020" tips .... 0.038" and 0.070" tips seemed common, but no 0.020" on Amazon. Any tips (no pun intended) on where to procure them?

The National headlight bucket attachment looks crude, which explains why my passenger headlight doesn't sit correctly. From your bucket photo, it appears the three mounting holes in my bucket were not located correctly. I'll need to shift the holes sideways and rotate them to center the headlight. Any ideas about doing a modification to simplify things?

I was planning to aim the headlights using a vertical wall target like in this link. Need to find a good vertical wall and prepare to work at night. Let me know how your leveling cube technique works.

Karlos and Dawn
2007 Dolphin 5342 Workhorse
2013 Fiat 500C Toad
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Old 10-27-2014, 11:44 AM   #18
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Join Date: May 2000
Location: Monroe WA USA
Posts: 88
Karl, the snap ring plier tip size should have read 0.120". That's about the largest tip that will work, slightly smaller should be OK.


The marker lights are fastened by 2 sheet metal screws and come out very easily.

Since the headlight buckets are spot welded onto the front clip it's possible yours is misaligned. I found the ball-and-socket end of the screws gave some latitude in positioning the headlights in the opening. In fact, I had to use that flexibility just to get the headlights in the opening and then move them around to square up the nuts in the bucket so I could get the clips in the nut slots. You might want to do a trial fit before you modify the holes and see if you have enough wiggle room.

However you modify the holes, the total thickness needs to be such that the clips will hold the nuts as snugly as possible.

I saw somewhere that the optical alignment method should not be used for the earlier lights like these. Maybe it has something to do with them not having as sharp a cut-off point as the later lights. Still, it's got to be better than leaving mine the way they are now. My problem is that I don't have a place to do it. I'll give the digital method a try first and see how it seems to work.

Let us know how you make out.
Tony & Margaret Howard
2001 Surf Side 3311 DSO
Monroe WA
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Old 10-30-2014, 10:08 PM   #19
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Location: LaGrange, Georgia
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Originally Posted by Rook View Post
I have replaced mine, quite a story, but I had 4 headlights with bulbs inside each one, not sure it is the same as yours. Can you post photos? Rook

Attachment 66841
Rook, where did you find parts on replacing you headlights ? I have an issue with mine.
Thanks, Greg
2000 National Tradewinds 7373 DP
2013 Jeep Wrangler - toad
Harley Davidson Ultra Classic (optional toad)
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replace, replacement

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