Register now to get rid of these ads!

Technical Original headlights VS sealed beam

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by 1oldtimer, Sep 25, 2020.

  1. 1oldtimer
    Joined: Aug 21, 2003
    Posts: 7,607

    1oldtimer
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    After reading a bunch of threads about what LOOKS best, I have to ask what WORKS best. Now I'm not talking about brighter, I mean better. This might be common knowledge but the lines on the glass (even the curvature of the lens) of the sealed beams focus the light into a usable beam. I've seen lots of model A halogen conversions that at night emits a large, bright flood beam.....NOT a focused beam (on low beam) and older kits that need to be used on high beam because the flood pattern is so wide it defuses the light.

    I like the look of big original lights, but I also drive a lot at night. So I have a few questions.

    The sealed beam conversion and all 7" aftermarket headlights are lumped together because the output is the same, the only difference is ascetics. With only one to ask a question about.

    -What about the sealed beam conversion BEHIND the stock glass, anyone used one?. I would assume that it would suffer the same or similar issues because it still has to shine through the stock glass.

    I also have a question about the stock lights with halogen (or led) conversions.

    -I see that the later headlights ('32 and up) have a decent setup of lines on a curved glass. How do these compare to sealed beams (again light beam vs flood) and that includes '34 commercials.


    Basically I want to know if there's a stock light that can be as good (beam wise) as a sealed beam or do I suck it up and use the Guide lights I have on my '28.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2020
    marshs likes this.
  2. flatford39
    Joined: Dec 3, 2006
    Posts: 2,675

    flatford39
    Member

    I've only used the sealed beams in Model A lights that were a kit where you discarded the original lens.
    They worked really good compared to the original reflector and bulb.
     
  3. rusty valley
    Joined: Oct 25, 2014
    Posts: 1,776

    rusty valley
    Member

    sealed beams are a huge improvement. if your original reflectors are mint, some say the halogen bulbs are good. i have not used them. aftermarket reflectors are not shaped right, and are not silver, but chrome, which does not work. i have one A with the hidden sealed beams, better than stock, but perhaps do suffer from the extra lens. still better. next problem is you need adequate amps to power them
     
  4. The conversion I eluded too in the most recent post about updating headlights I talked about the new Bob Drake conversion using the chrome plated plastic reflectors.

    Believe me I have used king bee's, guides, BLC's and original big headlights, this newest type of reflector along with the halogen bulbs makes the lights just as bright as any sealed beams and there are no shadows.

    I drive a lot at night and I don't mind using new technology, if you don't like the big original lights then stick to seal beams, there is noting wrong with them if that's what you want.

    I have also used sealed beams inside the original lights, they work but I personally thing they look bad. HRP
     
    squirrel likes this.

  5. 1oldtimer
    Joined: Aug 21, 2003
    Posts: 7,607

    1oldtimer
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I don't mind newer tech when I comes to headlights within reason here (no truly funky led pods or lenses). But I do want a true or good beam and not a flood so I can see more then 10-15 feet down the road. I'm just trying to get a consensus on performance and not just brightness.

    BTW the '32 and up look to have a better glass design for beam pattern so the Drake kit should work great.......but the '28/'29 have crappy glass patterns.

    For the record I do have a nice pair of '28 headlight I want to run. I do have an older (early 2000's) halogen kit and a old sealed beam kit (which to me look bad) and just found some 682 J's.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2020
  6. Drake never has the 33-34 upgraded kit in stock. The ones with the optimum reflector.
     
  7. 1oldtimer
    Joined: Aug 21, 2003
    Posts: 7,607

    1oldtimer
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Here's the headlights with one led bulb on the drivers side on what looks to be a stock 1931.

    Less crappy, but still a flood with little to no far out beam.
    headlight pattern-1.jpg
     
  8. 1oldtimer
    Joined: Aug 21, 2003
    Posts: 7,607

    1oldtimer
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    An ot car with regular sealed beams (that are miss-adjusted), nice beams further out.
    sealed beam-1.jpg
     
    dana barlow likes this.
  9. scrap metal 48
    Joined: Sep 6, 2009
    Posts: 6,072

    scrap metal 48
    Member

    I've used sealed beams behind stock lenses a lot and they work fine...**clic pic** 100_3965_LI.jpg 100_3573.JPG July sedan 015.JPG
     
  10. There's more considerations than most people think... Great questions by the way.

    Automotive headlights were/are designed in an attempt to get the most light without blinding oncoming drivers. Some designs are better than others, and there has been a lot of knowledge gained over the years in how to do this. But compromises are made, for both cost and styling considerations.

    Fluted lenses are supposed to help focus the light, and if done right will maximize the output of the lamp they're designed for. This is a key point; each lamp will have it's own 'signature' output, and swapping in a brighter lamp may or may not improve that. The material the lens is made of can have a big effect; there's different light transmission rates through different materials. Optical-quality glass (only found in higher-end aftermarket lights) can transmit 98%, 'standard' glass comes in at the mid 90s (and it should be noted that this can degrade over time from UV exposure), plastic is typically low 90s, and degrades much quicker than glass. The preciseness of the manufacture of the lens will affect this also, something the 'vintage' lenses generally don't do well.

    Reflector design enters into this also. While shape is important, reflectivity and precision of the shape will affect output and beam pattern. Precision metal reflectors are usually best (assuming a top-quality silvering), followed by glass and plastic.

    The trouble with 'conversions' is you're using a newer lamp with a different 'signature' through a lens design that's not designed for it, even with a reflector change. I'll note that most (if not all) of these are NOT DOT approved for this reason. Some are advertised as using 'DOT approved components' but that's not the same thing.

    One problem with many of these is while they give a perceived improvement, the distance/high beam performance is actually less. I saw a report a number of years ago that went into this in detail. Basically, this has to do with how the human eye works. As Danny notes, he's got very good light on the ground close-in, and most would see this as 'better' lighting. When average speeds were well under 40 mph, this was good. And if you rarely drive at night at higher speeds, this may be adequate for you. But on high beam and/or at distances, your eye 'sees' this close-in light and your pupil contracts; this reduces your ability to 'see' at distances beyond this close light. A modern, properly designed low/high headlight will start the low beam pattern about 30' away from the car, on high beam it moves even further out, reduces the 'close-in' light and allowing your pupils to open up more. More open pupils, more light-gathering ability and you see more. I'll also note here that incandescent (including halogen) lamps put out the most 'natural' light spectrum which improves detail. LEDs and HID are narrower spectrum with poorer color rendition, making recognizing things a bit difficult at times.

    I noticed that Consumer reports has started rating headlight performance. With their styling-driven designs and plastic housings, headlight performance has fell off from the 'glass era'. The HID headlights in my DD are good, but not up to the performance I've gotten in the past with quality aftermarket units and I still don't like the color rendition.

    And don't lump all 7" lights together. If you really want top-drawer performance, step up to a pair of CIBIEs. Not cheap ($75 each a few years ago), but precision optical-quality glass lenses and precision reflectors aren't. I put a pair in my avatar (replacing parts-house halogen sealed beams) and the difference was huge. I'll note that virtually no one has noticed them; while they don't quite look like the usual, they also don't look 'modern' either. If you want the ultimate, switch to quads and use four 5.25" CIBIEs. With the high beams now specialized, these would light road signs out to nearly a mile... The best headlights I've ever had.
     
    hfh and 1oldtimer like this.
  11. I had sealed beam adapters in my original headlights and never did like the looks of them I converted to new reflectors with halogen bulbs ($ 85) and love the clear, clean new look. I have driven in the dark and didn't think to compare but didn't notice any difference. 20200729_140004.jpg 036.JPG
     
  12. 1oldtimer
    Joined: Aug 21, 2003
    Posts: 7,607

    1oldtimer
    ALLIANCE MEMBER


    Those do look odd, not old......not new........kinda look Euro. I did see a comparison on youtube and they really look good. My '56 is good with Silverstar 7" seal beams, a headlight relay and alternator. I might think about those if I run the Guide lights or maybe the sealed beam behind the lens (flute '28 lens). I just like the idea that I can see ahead of me enough time to try to avoid crap on the road......btw headlights need to be adjusted so they are 25 ft out by law (not sure if it's state or federal).
     
  13. hotrodjack33
    Joined: Aug 19, 2019
    Posts: 1,127

    hotrodjack33
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I used '34 Dodge 2-1/2 ton big truck lights on my old Sedan Deliv. The reflectors were in nice shape (chrome plated steel) so I took out the bulb sockets and converted them to Halogen bulbs. The problem was, the old reflectors angles were designed to maximize a rather dull bulb...with the Halogens, they would blind oncoming drivers. I ended up having to adjust the headlights pointing down which sort of defeated the purpose...only had about 30 feet of light. 100_1684.JPG
     
    lothiandon1940 likes this.
  14. Like I said, mine have been in now for several years and no one has noticed them that I'm aware of. And that white 'ring' isn't seen once they're installed.

    Headlight laws are all state, the Feds only regulate vehicle manufacturers.
     
  15. Elcohaulic
    Joined: Dec 27, 2017
    Posts: 1,285

    Elcohaulic
    Member

    Installing relays and feeding the lights all the current they need makes a huge improvement..

    HIDs have too much blue in them and there for blind on-coming cars.. HIDs and some LEDs are on there way out, there finding they cause retina damage.. Just like back in the fifties when they came out with Florescent and made a study that children showed more behavior issues due to the rapid blinking of the fluorescents but big money won.. You eyes and mind see the rapid blinking of these lights.
    In my home I have nothing but incandescent, they burn at a steady rate much like a candle, which is what my ancestors used and what my body has grown accustom to...
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2020
  16. goldmountain
    Joined: Jun 12, 2016
    Posts: 2,230

    goldmountain

    After reading this thread, I am starting to wonder about the fractured optics I have put into my headlights. I don't have those big old ones, just 7" not quite seal beams. Started with seal beams with a metal reflector with 1951 date stamped on the back side. The lens has a bullseye prism in the center. I gently pried the lens off and siliconed them to Bosch quartz halogen lights that I broke out the lens. The optics have been altered in that the halogen bulb has a metal shield directly in front of the bulb to reflect the light onto the reflector. I have no idea how the original 1951 light worked through the bullseye prism and with this metal shield, it wouldn't work anyhow. The car has never made it out of the garage during the night time for me to see if it works. The things we end up doing to get an old looking car that no one will ever notice. IMG_0997.JPG
     
    rusty valley likes this.
  17. rusty valley
    Joined: Oct 25, 2014
    Posts: 1,776

    rusty valley
    Member

    i have some of those "bulls eye" sealed beam light bulbs like you show. i have always cherished them for some future project. sealed beams came out in 1940, and near as i can find is those type where the glass is glued to a steel back are very early, perhaps only 40/41 ish. they had the same shape reflector as later sealed beams, so i dont think you have changed the intended projection of the light. i saw it here years ago, perhaps you, and always intended to do the same. one of my bulls eye bulbs even tests good on both beams, so i cant have the heart to rip it apart. usually, the seal on the lens leaks out the vacuum, and when you test the bulb you get a moment of light, then smoke inside, then she's done...oxygen in the bulb. i like em, drive it !!
     
  18. flat 39
    Joined: Dec 31, 2007
    Posts: 232

    flat 39
    Member

    upload_2020-9-26_9-10-59.png
    Yes they are ugly but they are period correct and I can see at night. Also the parking lights work good for turn signals.
     
  19. Cosmo49
    Joined: Jan 15, 2007
    Posts: 1,186

    Cosmo49
    Member

    I'm a Chevy truck owner, that car, those lights, everything about it, beautiful.
     
  20. Shadow Creek
    Joined: May 14, 2014
    Posts: 217

    Shadow Creek
    Member
    from Summit, TX

    So...this isn’t exactly what you’re asking about but it has to do with 7” sealed beams. On my OT c10 I installed OEM Jeep JK headlights. All you have to do is remove the plastic ring and they fit right in place of a standard 7” sealed beam. I love them, the light output is better and it was an easy install. Just had to switch the light pigtails at the bulb. I like them because they have a nice dome to the lens and the light is not a weird blue or white, it still illuminates the same color as the old lights. One thing to note about the Jeep lights, the lines to direct the beam are all in the reflector and the lens is smooth so it may look too modern for some. Here’s some pics of the light and a pic showing the dome on the bulb. And just to make sure this post isn’t all about an OT vehicle, I have another set of these lights that I intend to put on my 39 Chevy.

    upload_2020-9-26_11-18-10.jpeg

    upload_2020-9-26_11-18-26.jpeg

    4C2E5E9B-386E-4396-89B2-C29CF0AFD54E.jpeg

    Note to the mods - if this is OT feel free to delete it
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2020
    goldmountain and scrap metal 48 like this.
  21. 59Apachegail
    Joined: Apr 30, 2011
    Posts: 1,364

    59Apachegail
    Member
    from New York

    Oldtimer,

    Not sure if this is what you are after but...

    I found a set of autopal (Look like
    The Hella ones) sealed beam headlight converter lights and I busted the glass out of them. Took burnt originals and cut out the front glass to keep the “T3 Guides”. Then I glued them onto the new converter lights. I needed to add relays like previously mentioned. End result was modern halogens that look like T3s when they are turned off.

    I went off a tech article from Hotrod? I posted it somewhere on the forum a while ago. I will try to find it.
     
  22. 59Apachegail
    Joined: Apr 30, 2011
    Posts: 1,364

    59Apachegail
    Member
    from New York

  23. Elcohaulic
    Joined: Dec 27, 2017
    Posts: 1,285

    Elcohaulic
    Member

    If you have sealed beams and want more.

    -Install a relay switch with a #10 stranded wire from the battery..
    -Make sure voltage regulator is at optimum voltage for your car..
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2020
  24. G-son
    Joined: Dec 19, 2012
    Posts: 664

    G-son
    Member
    from Sweden

    Might want to think about that increased voltage decreases lamp life A LOT. While it is a simple way to get more light, you don't want to overdo it, and you may want to hook it up so the lamps only get higher voltage when you need extra light, i.e. at night.
     
    Elcohaulic likes this.
  25. Elcohaulic
    Joined: Dec 27, 2017
    Posts: 1,285

    Elcohaulic
    Member

    Hows that.. You are right too much voltage car really make a mess out of things.. I have to remember a lot of people on here are new to wrenching..
     
    G-son likes this.
  26. 1oldtimer
    Joined: Aug 21, 2003
    Posts: 7,607

    1oldtimer
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I already have my panel truck with great lights, of course it's a '56 so it has 7" sealed beams. It has a 3 wire alternator (from a 70's car 63A), new harness and a NORS Standard Ignition headlight relay. The post is really to find out which of the non sealed beam headlights work like a sealed beam (good light projection 25 feet out beam).

    Here's what I've learned so far, Model A's just suck, no quality kits made, other then a bright flood light. If I'm hell bent on keeping the A lights the only option is a sealed beam conversion (either behind the stock glass or not).

    1932 + are good IF you get the latest reflector from Bob Drake (which they're always out of stock).

    Aftermarket headlights the take a sealed beam light and then there's a bunch of different ways to get that going (stock halogen sealed beam or H4 housings and a halogen bulb).

    I really need to look at it when the car gets more complete, but is looks like I'll be going with the 682- J I have.....we'll see.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2020
  27. I have a pair of Drake 33-34 stainless commercial halogen headlights (new style reflector) with turn signal in reflector. Like new.
    PM me if interested.
     
  28. 1oldtimer
    Joined: Aug 21, 2003
    Posts: 7,607

    1oldtimer
    ALLIANCE MEMBER


    Thanks for the link. How do the perform at night, pattern wise. Do they still have a nice long beam?. I would assume the beam would still be there since it's using the same glass but the reflector and distance to the glass have changed.
     
  29. 59Apachegail
    Joined: Apr 30, 2011
    Posts: 1,364

    59Apachegail
    Member
    from New York

    Ok let’s put it like this, before the conversion I was staying under 25mph to keep behind the lights. Once I upgraded I haven’t had to do that. They are almost as bright as the stock lights on my 2006 daily. (My daily headlights are the plastic ones but they are not all yellowed out. I polish them out regularly to keep them looking clear.)
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2020

Share This Page

Register now to get rid of these ads!

Archive

Copyright © 1995-2020 The Jalopy Journal: Steal our stuff, we'll kick your teeth in. Terms of Service. Privacy Policy.

Atomic Industry
Forum software by XenForo™ ©2010-2014 XenForo Ltd.