Installing Upgraded Headlights, Wiring and Relays - Luxury Coach Lifestyles
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Old 05-02-2008, 10:16 PM   #1
fulltiming
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Default Installing Upgraded Headlights, Wiring and Relays

In this post, Richard talked about his experience installing European headlights in his Newell. After many emails and conversations with Richard, I decided to just install the outer two Euro headlights and leave the stock headlights in the inner positions. Both Richard and I have the low mounted rectangular headlights that were originally used in Ford F-150 pickups.

The installation is not for the faint of heart, especially with the differences between individual Newells making the job somewhat unique to each coach.

The following is the process I went through to gain success:

First I had to find a way to get four 12 gauge wires from each side of the front to the DC power panel located in front of the passenger's feet. I was able to find cable penetrations to the outside of the steering column and to the front of the vehicle behind the DC power panel which required removing the screws that secure the power panel and carefully lifting the bottom of the panel until I could get my hand under it. I held the panel in that position with several blocks of wood. Remember that unless you kill DC power to the coach this panel has live 12 volt DC so be VERY CAREFUL. I would recommend, if you can, turn off all DC power to the coach by turning off both the chassis and house cut-off switches, typically located in the main power panel in the engine compartment on the passenger's side. Note that on Tom's Newell, this panel is accessed from the outside. Since we live in our coach, killing the power for several days was not an option. I was able to carefully push a dowel rod up from the bottom of the passenger's side carefully past the wires and heater vent hoses to the inside. I used two blue and two red wires, blue for high beam and red for low beam, the use of four colors of wire would make the job easier. I marked each end of one pair of blue/red wires with a black permanent marker. I then taped one of the four wires onto the rod (tape at least six inches if you don't want it to come off as you feed it through). I then taped the second wire to the first wire about 9" up, then I taped the third wire to the first and second wire about another 9" up, then taped the fourth wire to the first, second and third wires about another 9" up. Although you can do this by yourself, the next step is MUCH better with two people. Feed the rod and wires slowly and carefully down through the floor until you have access to all four wires under the coach. Pull enough wire that each wire touches the ground. This will allow enough wire to be soldered to the new connectors. The Euro headlights come with a different connector than the standard headlight unit. Put the bulb in the Euro headlights and install the rubber water protector at this point. Cut a fifth and sixth wire for grounds (I used white since I had it available). I found that using the existing ground behind one of the electric horns on the passengerís side was a good location so solder a ring connector on one end of each of the new 12 gauge ground wires. Run the marked red and blue wires and one of the ground wires through the rubber boot for the new ceramic connector then solder the included connectors to each wire. Looking at the ceramic connector from the rear the ground wire goes on the left, the low beam (red) wire on the top connector, and the high beam (blue) on the right. Then I slid the boot over the ceramic connector.

Now the fun begins. First measure the space from the rear of the headlight frame to the wall behind the headlights. If this is less than about 9-10" you are going to have to remove the entire headlight frame assembly. If you have more room you can avoid removing the parking lights and headlight frame. First, remove the outer headlight by backing out the headlight adjuster screws. This will take forever as the screws must each be rotated about 30 full turns. A 1/4" drive ratchet with a 4" socket is needed. Mine used a Phillips head screw on the outside adjusting screw with the square adjuster behind the headlight on the left upper side of the headlight. The right upper adjusting screw had the square adjuster on the outside. When you have backed these all the way out, there is a 1/2" head bolt on the lower corner of the headlight to hold it in place that must be removed. Tilt the headlight back enough to unscrew the plastic connector on the rear of the headlight and carefully work the bulb out of the headlight assembly. Be sure not to touch the bulb with your hand or the oil from you skill will cause a hot spot that will cause premature bulb failure. With the bulb out, rotate the headlight with the clear side down and remove it from the front of the coach. Now repeat this process with the inner headlight. For each headlight that you are going to replace with the Euro headlights, remove the adjuster assembly from the old headlight by carefully prying up the tabs on the inside of the bracket while rotating the unit 90 degrees counterclockwise from the rear. You can now slide the adjuster out to the rear of the headlight assembly. If you have adequate clearance, you can skip the next section, otherwise proceed.

For those with inadequate clearance, now remove the amber parking light/turn signal. There are three screws that hold it in place, as I recall they are 7/16" heads so a 1/4" drive socket with a 7/16" socket will work best. Rotate the bulb and pull it out of the turn signal, then remove the 3 screws and carefully remove the turn signal unit. Now the empty headlight frame must be removed. There are two bolts on each side of the headlight frame. Using a 1/2" socket, remove these four bolts and carefully lower the frame out the bottom of the coach. If rear clearance is a major issue on your coach (I had less than 6" clearance from the rear of the headlight frame to the metal panel for the chassis HVAC unit), you will also have to remove the two electric horns and the horn relay.

In either case, now you can put the Euro headlight in from the back (NO it will not go in through the front and donít ask how I know). If you had to remove the bracket, a second person is necessary at this point. Carefully slide the Euro headlight up into the opening closest to the generator, as this is likely the largest clearance point, and slide it to the outside. Now with one person holding the headlight in place, carefully lift the headlight frame back into place going behind the headlight. Reinstall the four screws that hold the headlight frame in place while the person helping you out wishes you would hurry since they are holding the headlight with one hand and steadying one end of the headlight frame with the other. When the frame is secure, reinstall the turn signal unit and reinsert its bulb. The reinstall any other items you had to remove, such as the electric horns and horn relays.

If you didn't have to remove the headlight frame you can maneuver the Euro headlight into the frame from the rear. In either case, now install the adjusters from the old headlight assembly to the new Euro headlight. It is easier to get the headlight into the frame without the adjusters in place by inserting them from the rear and rotating them 90 degrees to lock them in place.

Tighten the adjusters to the approximate position they were originally. Then put the lower headlight support adjuster in. There are two ways to connect the existing headlight to the new, larger wires: 1) you can cut the wires about 3 inches from the existing connector and use a butt connector to attach then to the new wires or 2) you can use a new female socket that Daniel Stern supplies and leave the old connector in place. I then put spray foam in around the opening where I ran the wires to seal up the area better than it was originally. Then, I reinstalled the original inner headlight and fastened it in the same way I had done the Euro headlight.
The driverís side is somewhat easier because you do not have to remove the frame or the parking light. Again, it is MUCH easier if you remove the inner headlight before trying to install the new outside Euro headlight. I found that running the four 12 gauge wires on the driverís side was easier from inside the coach rather than from underneath. It is just too difficult to reach way up there with all the air lines in the way under the coach. I used a coat hanger (straightened out) to find a way through the existing bundle of wires and air lines. BE CAREFUL, puncturing one of those air lines would make it a very bad day and require you to replace the damaged air line. I finally found a way through the bundle, taped one of the wires securely (well the second time I taped it securely since it pulled the wire off the top of the coat hanger the first time), then proceeded as with the passengerís side. On the driverís side, I found ground wires attached to one of the bolts on an air value. I connected the grounds for the two lights on the driverís side to that location.

I ran the four wires from the driverís side, wrapped with electrical tape every 12Ē to keep them together, behind the dash, center console and across the top of the DC power panel. I fished the wires from the passengerís side up behind the DC power panel then reinstalled the power panel. I made a wiring harness with two 12 gauge wires with inline 12 volt 30 amp fuses on them and connected them to the point where the 12 volt positive lead comes into the DC power panel. Those became the power feed to the inner high beam relay and the inner low beam relay. I then took two more 12 gauge wires connected to the same positive lead coming into the DC power panel and ran them to the left hand side of the existing low and high beam circuit breakers. I removed the wire that was on the left hand terminal of the circuit breakers and used that as the trigger for my low and high beam relays. I disconnected the existing headlight wires from the right hand side of the circuit breakers and ran new 12 gauge wires from the right hand side of the circuit breakers to power the outer headlight relays (low beam and high beam). The power-in contact on the relay is numbered 30. The ground wire on the relay is numbered 85 and you can use small gauge wire (I ran 18 gauge ground wires) to the DC power panel common ground pin to each of the relays. The headlight wires from the right and left side go to the appropriate relay on the two contacts numbered 87. If you wish to run only the outer side headlights on low beam, just run the trigger wire that you removed from the left side of the low beam circuit breaker to the trigger (contact numbered 86) position on the outer low beam relay and donít use the inner low beam trigger to the (86) position on the inner low beam. If you want to be able to turn on all four low beams at times, put an off-on switch between the trigger wire and the inner low beam relay. If you like light lots of light with the high beams run the wire that you removed from the left side of the high beam circuit breaker to the trigger position on BOTH the inner and the outer high beam relays. If you wish to be able to kill the inner high beam you can put an additional off-on switch between the trigger wire and the trigger position on the high beam headlight as Richard did.
My wiring got a little more complicated because I wanted to choose even more combinations of lights. I wanted to use just the inside low beams, just the outer low beams, or all four. I also wanted to use just the inner high beams, just the outer high beams or all four high beams. I could have done that with four toggle or rocker switches but being the glut for punishment I wired up a circuit using two single pole-triple throw on-on-on switches and four diodes. One switch is for low beams and the other is for high beams. The positions on the switches are outer lights, inner lights or both. I also tied in green LEDís for low beam outer, high beam outer, low beam inner, and high beam inner lights for visual confirmation which lights were on. The wiring diagram for that gets a little more complicated but if anyone is interested, let me know and I will post it.

The result of my work is more flexibility in which combination of lights I am running, increased brightness of the existing inner stock headlights due to lower voltage losses and significantly increased light from the new Euro headlights with reduced glare. I donít have the brightness that Richard does but I only have about 60% of the cost involved. Labor to change out both would be EXACTLY the same.

As always, any comments or clarifications are appreciated.



Edited to add information on removal and re-installation of electric horns.
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Old 05-03-2008, 01:05 AM   #2
Richard and Rhonda
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Nice work spelling out the details. Kudos to you for documenting your work.

Although I knew every Newell was slightly different, it did not occur to me that space would be an issue.

I am still very happy with the money and effort it took to do this upgrade. I did not feel comfortable driving at night because the stock lighting was so poor. Unfortunately with kids still in school, many of trips don't start until Friday evening, and I drive into the evening to get to our destination. Now, I can drive much longer without suffering from eye strain.
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Old 05-10-2008, 05:32 PM   #3
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I thought I would try out the new photo album that the administrators have added to this great site. These images are stored in the new photo album section.

Since I like maximum flexibility, when I added the relays and the new 12 gauge wiring to the headlights, I set up a pair of toggle switches on the dash over the center console with LED indicator lights.

Outer low beam headlights on:


Inner and outer high beam headlights on:


The switch on the left controls the low beam headlights and the switch on the right controls the high beam headlights. The top row of LEDs are high beam and the bottom row low beam. The LED's to the left indicate the outer headlights are on and the LED's to the right indicate the inner headlights are on.

With these switches I can pick outer, inner or both headlights for low beam or high beam independently. Switching between low and high beam remains a function of the stock dimmer switch on the steering column. I typically run only the outer headlights on low beam but run both the inner and outer headlights on high beam.

Here is the switch panel wiring diagram. I used single pole triple throw on-on-on toggle switches. I connected the trigger wire for the outer headlights to one pole, the trigger wire for the inner headlights to the opposite pole and used the center position to have both inner and outer headlights illuminated. I used 400 volt, 1 amp diodes to allow current to flow from the center pole to both other positions without electric current flowing the opposite direction.



At EncantoTom's suggestion, I plan on having a trophy shop engrave name plates to make it easy for anyone to identify the function of each switch and LED. Thanks Tom.
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Old 06-02-2008, 06:48 AM   #4
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There are three screws that hold it in place, as I recall they are 7/16" heads so a 1/4" drive socket with a 7/16" socket will work best. Rotate the bulb and pull it out of the turn signal, then remove the 3 screws and carefully remove the turn signal unit. Now the empty headlight frame must be removed. There are two bolts on each side of the headlight frame. Using a 1/2" socket, remove these four bolts and carefully lower the frame out the bottom of the coach. If rear clearance is a major issue on your coach (I had less than 6" clearance from the rear of the headlight frame to the metal panel for the chassis HVAC unit), you will also have to remove the two electric horns and the horn relay.

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