Headlight Upgrade - with a little something extra.....angelic?

This area is for those who need help modernizing their Lincoln for purposes other than strict restoration. Such questions can be about adding an electric fuel pump, adding fuel injection, boosting horsepower or gas mileage, or tightening or lowering the suspension. Body customizing and chopping can also be here (although this practice is not encouraged by the LCOC).

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denizen44
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Headlight Upgrade - with a little something extra.....angelic?

Post by denizen44 »

Last year, I was watching this interesting video where a classic Chevrolet Impala was ambitiously converted to electric.
In the same video one could also get a glimpse of the car's nice halo headlights (AKA "angel eyes") ... Made by Dapper.
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They do look nice.
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And then, ahem.... I saw the price.

But I really wanted to try this on my car!
This led me to search for alternatives, which included the popular brand Octane headlights.
They make a lot of "more affordable" products, in several combinations.

Some of them look quite good. This is the 5.75 "projector SMD" model, shown on yet another Impala(1964).
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Haloes inside headlights are neither capable replacements(nore are they legal ones) for ordinary headlights.
My project aim was foremost not to overdo the bling, and try to keep things looking somewhat close to stock, at least when the haloes are not in use.
So I chose to distance myself from the typical "xenon white" halogen bulbs, and the typical 7500 kelvin haloes.
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But I did want the haloes to look as "pure white" as possible, so around 5000K which is neither warm nore cold.
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My first strategy, somewhat based on the '64 Impala photo above, was to get a set of Octane projector headlights with SMD haloes.
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...but at the last minute, I found these inexpensive generic housings which opened the door for me to try a custom build.
Plus, they have this nice OEM style!
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These will accept any H4 standard bulb.
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There were no haloes inside of course, so I would have to modify these, but this path allowed a huge number of ring choices, especially on AliExpress.
From that point, the Octane kit became my "plan B".
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Spec on the 1970LC headlights were the typical 5.75" sealed beams, which use 37.5w and 50w of power per filament.
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Most halogen bulbs on the market today use 55w/60w, which is a bit more.
Just to be sure I don't run into heat issues(more on that later), I opted for the Hella 45w/45w halogen bulbs, available for a mere 2.99 each.
Halogens are about 50% brighter than OEM anyways so they would surely be bright enough.
In order to preserve a stock headlight color, I chose the "warmer" 3200K bulbs instead of 4300K or more.
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Currently, standalone haloes mostly come in these three technologies.
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There is however a way to make SMDs render a perfect ring: put them behind a milky cover!
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I ordered a few different rings from AliExpress for testing and comparison.
It's quite hard for the camera to properly render relative brightnesses, so I'm adding this extra description:
Top ring (COB): color= ~7500K; brightness= 10
Middle ring (SMD#2835 w/cotton cover): color= ~5000K; brightness= 9
Bottom left (SMD#3020 w/cotton cover): color= ~6500K; brightness= 6
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Each of those rings pulls about 1/3 amp.
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Some rings are measured with their plastic cover and others without.
This(below) is a 130mm COB (with no cover available), laid above a bare reflector.
Measurements indicate that 120mm rings are a bit small-ish, so they take away reflector space for the center bulbs, 125mm(including cover) is definitely the goldielocks size, 130mm is pretty much the absolute size limit for 5.75" headlights, as these would light up extremely close to the edge of the glass.
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Voltage spikes or inconsistencies shorten LED lifespans, which is why most halo rings feature some kind of current/voltage regulation. On the left: resistors around the ring; on the right: small regulator on wire. I chose the model on the left.
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But just to be extra sure, I added a separate voltage regulator.
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In order to install haloes inside the generic housings, I would have to separate the glass from the metal frame.
To do this, I would need a very thin, strong and flexible blade, kinda like a feeler gauge.
I found this ideal tool along with 2 sets 0.06mm and 0.1mm blades.
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These blades are so thin, if you stack 30 of them you're still under 1/8 inch.
This is what it took to cut through the thin layer of silicone.
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I also had some success with this phone/screen spudger.
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Once the glass was off, its edges cleaned up beautifully with a small rotating brush.
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Same for the metal frame.
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In order to mount the haloes, I got all prepared to lay a nice masked silicone bead on the reflector, but at the last moment I realized it would be much simpler to stick the halo directly to the glass!
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So that's what I did.
I also added some thin amount of silicone on the back of the ring, to somewhat protect the plastic cover against the heat of the halogen bulb.
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One small problem I ran into was headlight notch alignment.
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The generic kit came with four "hi/lo" beam headlight frames, which means some of the notches were misaligned on the bucket.
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Easy fix: chiseled out the weak welds on this spacer, then used small rivets to secure it back on at the correct spot.
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The halo's wire has to traverse the metal housing.
To protect the wire, I ordered some rubber grommets of several small sizes.
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I put the wire grommet as close to the edge as possible, so it remains concealed behind the ring.
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To seal the glass back on the housings, I used clear RTV silicone.
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This is the assembled result. The clear silicone is nearly invisible.
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I put snap-on connectors on each wire, for easier removal if needed.
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For the electricals, this is the test setup. I used two separate power sources.
Worked on the first trial! But the bigger part is, making it reliable on-car.
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Before putting on the new lights.
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Every one of the 4 buckets is different, with its own part number.
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Installed!
Yes, one can see the rings a bit.. But overall this still looks pretty close to stock.
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Now, why not go for a nice stainless steel switch?
Of course I had to choose a.........white ring!!
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I chose the 22mm model, and made this custom bracket.
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The switch does seem very close to the parking brake on this picture, but it doesn't impede its usage!
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I mounted the controls plate on the passenger's fender, right in front of the splash guard where there's plenty of room and where it will remain relatively shielded from the elements.
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Each ring has a nearby ground connection just outside the headlight assembly.
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This system was designed so the haloe's required current gets tapped directly from the battery through a relay.
And to activate that relay, I needed to tap an extra tiny amount of current at the switch.
But which source to tap?
Conveniently, the switch is already near the fuse box...
Some of these free ports (red) can be used to have the system only work when the ignition is at "ON".
Other ports allow the switch to work even with the keys out of the car, but then there's a risk of forgetting the haloes on.
Finally, some ports (such as the "accy relay") can be tapped to have the haloes work on the "accy" position as well as "ON".
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Here are the finished shots.
The haloes look way cooler in person.
Once again, the camera had a lot of trouble rendering relative brightnesses.
The following are the best few shots I managed to take.

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With parking lights also on:
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The rings seem much brighter in person and look thin, more like below:
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4 shots @ 1600x1200:

https://i.imgur.com/iBYp21j.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/rIQhHFY.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/PGgaZij.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/SsSvr2c.jpg

And now, the low beam halogen headlights. Looks pretty near stock to me!
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High beams:
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So far, lots of thumbs up, and overwhelmingly positive public reactions! :smt033

Last edited by denizen44 on Tue Mar 05, 2024 9:06 pm, edited 32 times in total.
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TonyC
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Re: Halogen Upgrade - with a little something extra.....angelic?

Post by TonyC »

Seems like a lot of overwork to me; on the other hand, I did do a lot of extra thinking when I installed the upgrade wiring harness to eradicate the flickering of the high lights (which, by the way, has worked like a charm!). I think I prefer the more-stock look; since the "parking" lights have apparently been rewired by '70 to stay on with the main floods, they already provide the degree of safety that halo advocates most likely claim with that conversion.

But, you mention "Octane"...as in, the brand of halogen-core sealed beams I recently bought off E-Bay to replenish my exhausted stock? Makes me wonder how different those halogen cores will be from the ones used by Sylvania and GE (what I'm currently running). They ran a bit pricey, about $13 apiece, but if they're good quality then it will be worth it.

---Tony
"Don't believe everything you read on the Internet, just because there is a picture with a quote next to it." (Abraham Lincoln, 1866)
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Re: Halogen Upgrade - with a little something extra.....angelic?

Post by Dan Szwarc »

This forum does not have an upvote option, but I approve of this post.
I just hope you picture hosting is robust because if not hosted on the forum the links will go dead in the future.
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denizen44
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Re: Halogen Upgrade - with a little something extra.....angelic?

Post by denizen44 »

Dan Szwarc wrote: Mon Jun 05, 2023 6:14 am I just hope you picture hosting is robust because if not hosted on the forum the links will go dead in the future.
Thanks Dan, I fixed that broken link and added 2 pictures.

This image host has been stable for the last 10 years at least.
If it ever goes down, I have saved everything: I'll fix every single one of my posts! :D
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Re: Halogen Upgrade - with a little something extra.....angelic?

Post by 1Bad55Chevy »

I like the look of this. I didn't think the Dapper lights were that expensive especially since they are completely customizable. The Holley Resto Bright LEDs are right at $200 each and that's just the light! This all sounds crazy until you remember HID bulbs on modern cars are also $200 each..
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Re: Headlight Upgrade - with a little something extra.....angelic?

Post by jtheye »

Damnit, I'm a DapperDan lighting man! I don't want no Fop lighting. :grin: Nice work. Over work for a lighting project? Heck no. Everything on these cars is overwork. So who cares. Nice job and thanks for sharing! :clap: :clap: :clap: Great pics, well described and easy to follow. Again, very good posting. :clap: :clap: :clap:
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Re: Headlight Upgrade - with a little something extra.....angelic?

Post by bd94s10 »

Nice job on the write-up.
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Re: Headlight Upgrade - with a little something extra.....angelic?

Post by Solid »

Yeah I really like the look. I bought Octane Lighting ones way back that have visible LED elements, and they are cool, but the continuous look you got is cooler.
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Re: Headlight Upgrade - with a little something extra.....angelic?

Post by Galaxie65s »

So how are these holding up now that some time has passed? Has that RTV let go yet?
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denizen44
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Re: Headlight Upgrade - with a little something extra.....angelic?

Post by denizen44 »

Why even ask, O ye of little RTV faith? 😇

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Re: Headlight Upgrade - with a little something extra.....angelic?

Post by Jimbeaux »

This post is of outstanding quality. Thanks for taking the time to *enlighten* us.
How much did this project cost you if I may ask?
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denizen44
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Re: Headlight Upgrade - with a little something extra.....angelic?

Post by denizen44 »

Here's the cost breakdown of only the things that were used.
Almost everything came from aliexpress.
All prices(usd) include shipping:

4x 125mm 5000K 12V halo rings: $40.12
4x hella halogen bulbs: $20.00
4x generic headlight housings(from ebay): $82.00
4x rubber grommets: $3.00
4x male-female wire connectors: $2.73
1x voltage regulator: $11.72
1x 22mm stainless steel white ring switch: 2.50
1x 22mm switch socket: $2.50
1x thin blades 0.06mm + blade handle: $9.57
1x thin blades 0.10mm: $8.11
1x screen spudger: $3.27
1x 4 to 1 connection hub: $1.53
1x 12V relay + socket: $3.50
1x RTV silicone: $10.00
white wire: $1.50

total $202.05
worth it! :D

will make project update soon, switched to LED bulbs for even LESS heat!
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Re: Headlight Upgrade - with a little something extra.....angelic?

Post by Jimbeaux »

I'm not exactly an econ major, but I'd say you pocketed the value of the labor on putting those lights together yourself. Nicely done! Considering Dapper halo's are $115/each, that's a difference of $257.95 in today's dollars.
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Re: Headlight Upgrade - with a little something extra.....angelic?

Post by denizen44 »

Thanks but last time I checked, Dapper 575s ranged more like ~250-450$ each... So at least 1 grand for this car!
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