Lotus Elan

Electric Operated Headlights

PostPost by: bengalcharlie » Tue Mar 30, 2004 10:03 am

Hi everyone,

Has someone experience with electric operated headlights instead of the standard vacium operated system?
I am trying to install an headlight motor out of an MX5 but it is not as easy as i hoped.
May be i should stick to the old set up
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PostPost by: steveww » Tue Mar 30, 2004 3:56 pm

The standard vacuum system is very good as long as everything is in good shape. Check out the cylinder thingies (don't know the real name) that actually lift the pods up and down. I found a good way to do this - Lift up the pods by hand and prop them up with a bit of wood or what ever. Then plug the hole where the pod(s) connect to the rest of the vacuum system. Remove the bits of wood and the pods should sag slightly then stay there for a very long time. If they sink down then you have a leak. If the lifters are OK it is usually the vacuum switch thingy (there that word again) that leaks. AFAIK these are impossible to get. What I have been considering is using an electrically operated valve to replace the leaking switch.
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PostPost by: CABOCHON » Tue Mar 30, 2004 4:06 pm

Hi,
So you are considering electrics for the front lights. Seems like a good plan.
I am in the process of restoring a 1968 +2 Elan, doing away with the old vacume system and installing an electric system. I have checked out several types of cars with the light closure units. ie:, Honda Accord (86 to 89 ) Nissan (85 to 89 )(several types), Toyota and Ford. I ended up selecting the Datsun/Nissan units , afte testing several units, since the electric motor is a single pulse ( easy to wire, just up and down )and appears to be easier to mount the controller and lifting arm. The others had the lifting arm on the wrong side and difficult wiring (double pulse problems). In order to make the transition you are going to require a seperate electric switch, mounting brackets and somesome fiberglass work .
All in all much better than the original.
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PostPost by: kevin » Tue Mar 30, 2004 4:20 pm

I know that this doesn't answer bengalcharlie's question, but it may help steveww.

I recently converted the lights on my plus 2 from no-failsafe to failsafe. I didn't trust the vacuum switch thingy, so I decided to install an electric solenoid valve. A pull switch was obtained from a local supplier and I drew up an inhibitor circuit, so that the lights wouldn't turn on unless they were up.

The whole thing works very well and my lights stay down for over 24 hours after the engine has been turned off.

I'm now awaiting a new switch, which should take the original pull knob. This will finish the job off to a tee.

If anyone requires further information, let me know. I've got pictures of the installation and the circuit diagram knocking around somewhere.

Regards

Kevin
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PostPost by: steveww » Tue Mar 30, 2004 8:19 pm

Where did you get the solenoid valve from?
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PostPost by: TomR » Wed Mar 31, 2004 7:39 pm

I got a 12 vdc 3-way solenoid valve from BC Valve in Kansas, part number 1102P-0G3SN, for $28. Haven't tried it yet, but I'm pretty sure it'll do the job. Closed connects lift cannisters to vacuum, open vents cannisters to atmosphere, closed side appears to hold vacuum just fine.

I'd very much like to go to electrics, but I've got a lot of other pieces to fix up first. The solenoid part looks easy and gets rid of lots of vacuum line.

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PostPost by: 1964 S1 » Thu Apr 01, 2004 12:54 am

What about mechanical operation, Opel GT type but without all the weight of the headlight buckets. Maybe cables could do it. Or, if one could live with it, reaching into the front air intake to set up a headlight prop bar, then snap it back down in daytime.
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PostPost by: kevin » Thu Apr 01, 2004 11:44 am

I got my solenoid valve from Christopher Neil in the UK. However it may be worth shopping around as I saw them cheaper elsewhere after the event. I'll try and find the manufacturers part number over the weekend and post it here.

Spyder Cars sell the arm to lift the headlamp buckets from the single vacuum pod.

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PostPost by: steveww » Thu Apr 01, 2004 2:02 pm

I have a look around for a solendoid valve here in the UK but could not find any with a 12v coil. The normal industrial solution appears to be a 24v coil. Would be interested if you do find a good source for these in the UK.

I have seen a valve that is used for dual fuel tanks. These are of course designed to old in positive pressure from the fuel pump not vacuum..... Might just do the job though?
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PostPost by: rickf » Thu Apr 01, 2004 2:08 pm

If I were to change to electric operation, I'd consider a linear actuator like one of these:

<a href='http://www.mcmaster.com/' target='_blank'>http://www.mcmaster.com/</a> page 890. I don't think you'd need failsafe operation, because it only runs when you are changing the position of the lights.
Cheers,<br>Rick<br>1972 Elan +2
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PostPost by: bengalcharlie » Fri Apr 02, 2004 5:27 am

thank you guys for all the replies.
It made me think and I came up with the following: my plus 2 is original a federal car although I got rid of all that stuff.
It means though that I have had the light operated with 1 vaciumcylinder and two springs attached to the cylinder. the headlight pods are linked with a steel rod.
I glassed a bracket in the nose to support one spring(the stronger one of the two) which will keep the headlights open(failsafe).
I will install an MX5 headlight motor probably besides the radiator linked with a cable to the rod that links the headlights in order to either open or close the headlights.
I made a pulley to fit the MX5 motor.
I will let you know how it works as soon as I have finished it.
I just glasses the bracket in today.

bengalcharlie :)
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PostPost by: marcfuller » Tue May 25, 2004 3:36 pm

Charlie,

I am considering a similar conversion and was wondering how yours was progressing.

Thanks in advance, -Marc 36/5598
-Marc '66 Elan DHC (36/6025)
http://www.lotuselan.us
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PostPost by: 1964 S1 » Wed May 26, 2004 4:57 am

WHAT HAPPENED?
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PostPost by: bengalcharlie » Tue Sep 07, 2004 9:54 am

After having spent many hours wondering how to proceed, I have almost finished the headlights.
Like I mentioned before, I glassed a piece of wood in the left hand front of the car, just on the left of the radiator.
the motor was mounted to this piece of wood, now fully incapsulated in fibreglass and painted black like the rest of the inside so it looks original.
my headlights are linked with a bar and it has a little lever in front of it where the springs did attach in the standard setup.
I extende this lever, reinforced it and only used the stronger spring of the two used on my federal car.
for the actual opreation of the lights I experimented with a wheel on the motor and a cable attached to the bar.
Did not like it much and ended up with connecting the lever and the motor by means of a adjustable rod ( piece of stainless steel pipe in which I tapped some thread in order to screw a rose-joint in either end of the pipe for fine adjustment.
I took quite some time to adjust it in order to make sure the pods open and close perfectly but so far so good.
the next step will be the electrical part but I have not done that yet.
Wil keep you informed

Robin
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PostPost by: worzel » Tue Sep 07, 2004 11:31 am

`Hi

Just a point about the electrics- I also run a 89 Excel- the wiring for the motors on the headlights looks amazingly complkex with one relay to control the up and a so-called retract relay to drop the bowls. Apparently this complexity is necessary due to the fact that the one switch controls both movements. I imagine that if two separate switches were used the wiring would be a lot more simple.

John
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