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Grubb240Z

Quickest headlight upgrade?

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The headlights on our "new" '72 240Z are all but useless (especially in the rain as we're learning this week). I need the quickest route to better lighting.

I have received some great advice on the subject from my original thread (http://www.classiczcars.com/forums/topic/59179-brand-new-owner-need-help-w-christmas-gift-ideas-for-my-kid/) and I DO plan to take it. I will upgrade the alternator to a modern unit and buy the headlight wiring harness (http://www.thezstore.com/page/TZS/PROD/classic10l/12-4651) that y'all recommended. But at the moment, I HAVE to address our exhaust system (setting off neighbors' alarms, etc) and I can't tackle everything at once. The car is an everyday driver for my son.

 

Assuming that I'm running stock-type lights, is there anything I can do to get more volume of light with a quick fix to get me through the next couple of months until I can address the electrical system in a more holistic way?

If the upgraded alternator (moving up to 60W?) IS the best next move, I'll do it. The car really isn't safe to drive (at night) as it is now.

Thanks!

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In the front corners of the engine compartment,  there is a 3 prong harness connector on each side heading into the headlight bucket area to feed the headlights.

Unplug those and check for corrosion which will cut the voltage down at the lamps.   Unplug & plug them back in a few times to clean the contacts or use contact cleaner if you have it.

If the headlights are dim,  this may fix it.

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The best move is to get the headlight relay harness. Period. End. Light output is very dependent upon voltage. See https://www.dapperlighting.com/pages/wiring-harnesses-and-adapters

Before I installed relays in my 73, I had 9 VDC at the headlight plug (car off), and it went to 12 VDC with the relays. That meant I was getting about twice as much light from the headlights (maybe more).

If your alternator is struggling to keep up with the loads in the car, it's probably because of 1 of 2 things.

1. Your alternator is about to die.

2. You have too much non-stock crap wired into your car, like a huge stereo amp, etc. 

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My lights on my 72 were really dim as well. I bought Dave Irwin's plug-n-play relay kit and now it's like driving a modern car. That's the quickest/easiest fix.

Chuck

 

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What Steve said!!!! ^^^^ Check your voltage with a meter at the headlight plugs. If you get them 12v's they will be much brighter. Corrosion at the connections is the enemy.

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I was about to say; the headlights worked just fine when the car was new.  There's little need for an upgrade to define what was perfectly adequate in 1972.  Make certain that your system is operating as it was originally intended.  Save you a lot of needless cost and effort.  You may want to change the bulbs.

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4 hours ago, SteveJ said:

The best move is to get the headlight relay harness. Period. End. Light output is very dependent upon voltage. See https://www.dapperlighting.com/pages/wiring-harnesses-and-adapters

Before I installed relays in my 73, I had 9 VDC at the headlight plug (car off), and it went to 12 VDC with the relays. That meant I was getting about twice as much light from the headlights (maybe more).

If your alternator is struggling to keep up with the loads in the car, it's probably because of 1 of 2 things.

1. Your alternator is about to die.

2. You have too much non-stock crap wired into your car, like a huge stereo amp, etc. 

Don't forget that output also diminishes with age.  New headlights can make a big difference.  

Seems like a person could run jumpers to the headlights for a quick test of what to expect from a set of relays.  If they're on the fence about them.  Of course, the other advantage of the relays is that it takes the load off of the switch on the steering column.  Which gets pitted and heats up and tends to fail.

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As ZH mentioned, old sealed beams get weak with age.

 

In addition to the above Mods, ditch the OEM sealed beams and get a modern set of High Output H6024 Halogen Headlights. Sylvania and Wagner make Halogen replacements. You can order these from any Napa, AutoZone etc. Better yet, for a long term solution, Get in touch with Daniel Stern Lighting Consultants and order some Cibie 7" headlights with Marva bulbs. Cibie is still one of the top headlight manufacturers in the world.

https://www.danielsternlighting.com/

https://www.danielsternlighting.com/products/products.html

 

Regarding the alternator, I'd skip the 60 amp Internal regulator alternator and go straight to an 80 Amp 300ZX alternator . These come with a single pulley and will bolt on to the stock mounts. Of course you will have to remove the external Voltage Regulator and perform the appropriate wiring mods. 

The reason I recommend the later style 80 amp models is because they a a modern " small frame " alternator. Usually Mitsubishi. These have a more modern design than the old " Large frame " Hitachi style and the idle amperage output is much higher. on my 280Z I can idle with my headlights, wipers , stereo and AC on at the same time... and it still puts out 14 volts. Makes a HUGE difference in lighting.  Rocka Auto carries various brands. I've had good luck with AC Delco reman alternators. I believe they have a 3 to 5 year warranty 

With Cibie halogen lights, 80 amp 300ZX Alternator, Dave Irwin Parking light mod, and connections all cleaned with De-Oxit, I now have amazing headlights that rival modern LED lights . And the Cibies look period correct with nice Convex lens that match the sexy curves of the Z car. 

I can't stand some of those new LED 7" round retrofit lights. They look like some bug eyed insect.

Cibie 7" E-code:

178HCR.jpg

 

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You guys are awesome! Thank you for such great advice. I bought some electrical connection cleaner yesterday and worked on the headlight connectors, which did gamy some brightness – possibly enough to drive at night.
I just read the Daniel Stern article, which was excellent - even for a non-pro like me.
I have a document where I am saving links to the things I want to add to our Z. Those Cibie lights are on there. Also, I’m talking to Dave Irwin about his harnesses and also to help me fix the high/low beam switch on the steering column. So glad you guys hooked me up with him!


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As mentioned elsewhere, clean the ground contact areas as well because this is half the equation and is frequently overlooked. Corrosion and oxidation add resistance, and that’s not a good thing when trying to optimize current flow.

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1 hour ago, NVZEE said:

As mentioned elsewhere, clean the ground contact areas as well because this is half the equation and is frequently overlooked. Corrosion and oxidation add resistance, and that’s not a good thing when trying to optimize current flow.

I'll look for those connections. I wonder if there's anything I can apply to the connections to help keep them in good shape after I've cleaned them? Something that can be sprayed/painted on. I'll add shrink tubing where applicable on any new connections I make.

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There are contact cleaners, etc. out there but a little scuffing with a wire brush works as well — so long as it doesn’t go through paint or surface coatings. Exposing and cleaning contact areas gives the best surface-to-surface results, then a shot or dab of an electron-friendly protectant can help the cause. Just check what you’re using as some products work as an insulator to reduce conductivity.

 

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The ground path is in the dimmer switch at the base of the turn signal stalk.  You can take it apart or just spray cleaner in to the internals.  Pretty common for the lights to not work at all because the dimmer switch is gummed up.

There are ground wire connections from the dimmer switch that can be pulled apart and cleaned.  

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The ground path is in the dimmer switch at the base of the turn signal stalk.  You can take it apart or just spray cleaner in to the internals.  Pretty common for the lights to not work at all because the dimmer switch is gummed up.
There are ground wire connections from the dimmer switch that can be pulled apart and cleaned.  

On a 240Z? I am not sure what you mean by “dimmer switch”. You must not mean it in the normal sense I am used to (As in a rheostat for dimming the lights on the dashboard or over the dinner table). Are you referring to a high-low beam switch?
I have not looked inside the column at the switches. Maybe I should do that.


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It's always been a dimmer switch to me.  Nissan too...  1972...  How do you do...  My name is Sue...

image.png

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I have a classic 69 MGC although it is not a Z the original bulbs were not the best. Here is what I have found and will not turn back. Extremely pleased with the original look and superior lighting.

HD.jpg

Edited by 123ignitionusa

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It's always been a dimmer switch to me.  Nissan too...  1972...  How do you do...  My name is Sue...
image.thumb.png.ab2beed5969e54b13fd77cabf6f66fca.png

Dear Sue,

So just to be clear, when I say high/low beam switch and you say “dimmer“. We are talking about the same thing, right?
I took the cover off the switches on the steering column last night and cleaned things up a bit. It did seem to brighten headlights some. I will do some cleaning up of connectors here and there, but I do plan to upgrade the harnesses and have the column levers/switches reconditioned.
Then I’ll have to deal with the fact that the previous owner, who obviously gave up on fixing the “dimmer” switch, added a 3-position toggle switch under the dash to control high/off/low settings. Probably not difficult to undo, but I don’t have a background in these things.


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I have a classic 69 MGC although it is not a Z the original bulbs were not the best. Here is what I have found and will not turn back. Extremely pleased with the original look and superior lighting.
HD.thumb.jpg.157d70c9147d791c87e07a0eaa2fb056.jpg

Do you look nice. Looking online, I see they are around $35 each – half of what some other options I have seen cost. Can these be simply added to the car with all the stock equipment still there?


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10 minutes ago, Grubb240Z said:


Do you look nice. Looking online, I see they are around $35 each – half of what some other options I have seen cost. Can these be simply added to the car with all the stock equipment still there?


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Yes, they can. However, the light output will still be below optimum if you are not getting enough voltage to them.

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3 hours ago, SteveJ said:

Yes, they can. However, the light output will still be below optimum if you are not getting enough voltage to them.

There is no short cut to good lighting if grounds are failing and connections are dirty as Steve said. However these will outshine the originals and have a very nice pattern to them. You won't be sorry you tried them. And best of all they are glass not plastic.

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9 hours ago, 123ignitionusa said:

I have a classic 69 MGC although it is not a Z the original bulbs were not the best. Here is what I have found and will not turn back. Extremely pleased with the original look and superior lighting.

HD.jpg

 Thanks. My son just ordered these for his 81 RX7.

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