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Old 16-02-2020, 03:04 PM   #1
Jasonscrimshaw
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Default Beetle headlight diffuser removal

Hi, Anyone know if removing the inner headlight diffuser will make the headlights brighter, and would it now fail the mot if I did this?
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Old 16-02-2020, 07:46 PM   #2
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If you have the original (round globe style) bulbs then the metal "diffuser" is required to be in place to get the correct beam pattern and it would fail the MOT without it. If you have halogen "tube style" bulbs which have a painted cap on the top of the bulb then you can remove the "diffuser" if you like, but it won't make a huge difference.

For nice bright headlights you need -

A bright, shiny, clear reflector bowl. You should be able to see your reflection in it as bright and sharp as in a mirror. If it's got a dull, cloudy or foggy reflection then your headlights are going to be s#1te no matter how bright a bulb you put in them. I can't stress this enough - I wasted so much time faffing around trying to get decent modern car spec lights with fancy bulbs, rewired electrics, extra earths etc whilst I still had foggy reflector bowls. New bowls made a huge difference. (Genuine Hella bowls IIRC)

Your photo of the bowl up there does not look good, but it might just be the photo.

12 volts minimum at the bulb itself under load (i.e. when switched on, engine running) - so old high resistance wiring, poor earths, high resistance fuse connections etc. can all add up to drop the voltage. So carefully going through the wiring making sure all connections are tight, bright & shiny with no straggly wires will help if you have some voltage drop. Again, you will never get good lights if the reflectors are dull.

You can fit higher wattage or higher output bulbs, though some of them may not be legal. However, if you have any shortcomings in your wiring whatsoever then higher wattage bulbs will end up dimmer than standard and may risk a wiring fire if you do not upgrade the electrics first (separate relays for each headlight).

Regarding the reflectors, it is not usually worthwhile getting them re-silvered (no, it's not chrome) - as this is usually more expensive than buying new reflectors.

Dave.
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Old 17-02-2020, 10:23 AM   #3
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Thanks Dave, sound advice, I will get some new reflectors and new halogen bulbs and see how they go!
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Old 17-02-2020, 11:42 AM   #4
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I'd agree with dave. If you don't have the voltage at the bulb you won't get much light out of them. It only takes a drop of 1.5v for the lights to go from superb to barely able to light up the road. Swapping to modern +150% bulbs won't bring you back to factory light levels if you've got a big voltage drop. (To find where any voltage drop is you need to measure voltage from battery+ to lamp+ (loss through the switches), and from lamp- to battery- (loss through earthing))

The headlights are designed to shine light backwards, and it's focused by the reflective bowl - anything less than mirror finish and the light isn't going to find its way out the front of the car. A few years ago I had some success with a can of chrome spray paint in the reflectors. The lights went from MOT fail to 'has a beam pattern', but they were still useless!
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Old 17-02-2020, 09:51 PM   #5
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Compare the cost of new reflector bowls and halogen bulbs to the cost of a pair of H4 semi-sealed (reflector and lens) inserts, the type which are mounted on a frame with built-in adjusters, which bolts into the wing, and have a separate chrome rim (single fixing screw), like the late Beetle headlamps. These will give a superior H4 beam pattern, and make the most of the standard halogen bulbs. More powerful H4 bulbs are readily available, (even if they are not necessarily Road legal).
A few years ago, I fitted a pair of Golf H4 headlamps with 100W (offroad) bulbs to my T2A panel van, and they completely transformed night driving.
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Old 25-02-2020, 09:28 PM   #6
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Temporary bodge. Tin foil and glue is cheap
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Old 28-02-2020, 04:34 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jasonscrimshaw View Post
Thanks Dave, sound advice, I will get some new reflectors and new halogen bulbs and see how they go!
You won't need the shield with halogen bulbs.

Typical halogen bulb voltage vs lumens:
11V - 600
12V - 800
13V - 1050
13,5V - 1200
14V - 1400
14.5V - 1500 (typical alternator output voltage)

A workable solution is to run a heavy wire directly from the battery - 6mm2 minimum - to a pair of relays in each headlight shell, then use the existing wiring simply to operate the relays. I've done this with the spots on my Bay and the difference is startling.
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Old 29-02-2020, 12:50 AM   #8
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Yup, I've got custom wiring loom and uses relays for most circuits. Getting full voltage and current to the lights will make a huge difference but those reflectors are stuffed.

Look around for platers as they're in good condition so a good candidate for re-plating. It may be cheaper then new reflectors of dubious chinese/brazilian/mexican quality.
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