2012-07-05 04.27.53

And By GOLLY, there WAS!

My goodness, how time flies! Has it really been six weeks since I did a blog! Unforgivable! Lots has been going on, I must admit, so I sort of forgive myself, even if you don’t!

One of my preoccupations has been with lighting. I managed to find someone willing to make a 25W, 4300°K HID for me that doesn’t have the ‘normal’ push/pull dip mechanism, but instead just up/down: This is much closer to the way the old bulbs were focussed, one filament being over the other, by about a16th of an inch. The up/down is a lot cheaper, more compact and less likely to have mechanical problems.

Mechanical problems, you ask? Yes: unlike a filament wot glows incandescent-ly, the HID is actually a continuous spark, which needs a few seconds to ’warm up’ and give off its best light. The High/Low bulbs are, in fact, just one light element, otherwise when you switch from one to the other, you would be plunged into darkness for a few seconds. Believe me, I tried it… not good! So, this tube in which the spark is maintained, tips high to dip (coz it then reflects more of the light off the top of the reflector, deflecting most of the light down) and then centres to show high beam.

The picture above, for example, is the low-beam pattern shown through the prewar flat, fluted glass of an 8 inch reflector, with the new 25W (yes, really!) HID. The camera picks up strong colour aberrations, which the naked eye does not see so starkly, though the light closer is ‘warmer’ than that further than 10 Metres or so away.

On the garage door, the light is amazing!

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Low beam, 25W, 4300˚K

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On the street

Good, bright spread of light close to the bike, where you need it at ‘townie’ speeds. The main thing is to be SEEN in town traffic, should you be caught out after dark. 99% of us will be riding on dip, anyway, and probably in daylight…and there is the biggest advantage: Even with a meagre generator, at only 25W (but has to be 12 V, not been able to find any 6-Volt versions…I was told it was nigh on impossible, due to heat and other considerations), these put out enough light to be actually seen during daylight, too (did you ever notice if the old lights were on during the day? Come on now, really?!) and can even be kept on all day, too, just like the other riders! Worth thinking about, for safety’s sake.

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High beam, 25W, 4300˚K

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You may notice that the spread of light may not seem that amazing when on high beam on the road… The high beam concentrates light horizontally around the mid-mark (sort of waist-height)…look at the spread of light along the fence and on the bushes on the right. The car is a lot brighter, too. Depends on how you tilt the shell, of course, and both of these are with the shell at the same angle! Have yet to test for real on roads when moving, but that time will come!

The next two shots showing the colour/brightness difference to the (in the USA, at any rate), illegal 50W and 5000˚K!

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50W, 5000˚K high beam

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50W, 5000˚K low beam

I’m not entirely happy with the colour of the light, which at 3400˚K should be a lot warmer, tending to straw yellow (it does seem to tend more in the direction ‘green’ in the photos, doesn’t it!), but there are a couple of advantages: The first is the price. I reckon to be able to supply a kit – bulb, ballast and wiring – for around $40 or £30. The kit will fit in any headlamp housing, too (that is the second advantage. : Look at the difference in the size! The 50W system is almost impossible to fit in a standard ‘shell’ headlamp. The later Nacelle-types pose no problem, of course. The other advantage they offer is the standard use of 7″ headlamps, which are available with Q/Halogen fittings and proper Dip/Mainbeam patterns in the front lens! No tinkering required there!

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Two different 50W bulbs

The difference is what sticks out of the back…

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25W HID bulb (in protective cover)

I have spoken to the manufacturers and the length of the wires to the plugs and sockets will have to be about a foot longer (so that it can all be tucked away under the petrol tank), but is otherwise all OK.

I am still looking for someone to spin the 8 inch reflector bowls for me, and then I can supply the correct units complete for prewar with flat and either fluted or ‘frosted’ glass, and the postwar ‘cat’s-eye’, convex lenses.

Speaking of which, here is the light-pattern, when distributed through a ‘cats’-eye ‘ lens, with an identical bulb and setup on my Virtual Velocette ‘Renegade’ (new model) – more of that later! Looks great projected on the garage door,

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Cat’s-eye main

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Cat’s-eye dip

BUT on the street…

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Cat’s-eye dip

Dip (somewhat disappointing when compared to the flat lens!)

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Cat’s-eye main-beam

…and a very miserable main-beam, for my money! Very ‘central’ concentration and hardly any spread on dip. Not actually that much difference in the pattern, if I’m honest.

All photos done in the same lighting, with the same bulbs at the same time (04:30h on an overcast morning, 100 meters from one another using the same ‘camera’ – actually my iPhone…) Just goes to show what a difference a lens makes! Tomorrow (it’s now getting too light to do the test) I’ll test the old setup (50W) next to one another, like today, and then we can make real comparisons, assuming I can get the 50-watters to fit in the shell with the flat glass – I’ll work it out somehow!

I tend to think that the 25W up/down system will better suit the old, flat glass and the 50W in/out will perform better with the convex glass (and, by the way, much shallower reflector, more like the halogen-type reflectors, which the 50W system mimicks more closely anyway).

Another problem that came about was with the shell itself. Well, not so much the shell, as the space within it, when filled with either an original Miller or Lucas 8” reflector:

There is not enough space in there to fit one of the ‘replacement’ ammeters available everywhere! They are half an inch deeper than the originals and there is no way that they will fit an original setup! The PATTERN 8” reflectors with the cat’s eye fit (only after half the length of the mounting- and connection- screws etc have been sawn off the ammeter!), but the original reflectors do NOT. They were originally 5/8” deep, the ‘new’ ones are 13/16 + about 3/8” to 1/2” for the screws!.

The only place I could find the shallow ones was on the Vincent Owner’s Club spares site (for £40-odd against £24 for the cheap patterns). At least someone can see further than the edge of their plate! So don’t even bother wasting the £24 on the cheap one and THEN have to spend £40 on one that fits…get the right one first!

The Virtual Velocette from the front on dip (top) and main beam in the garage…

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Virtual Velocette dip

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Virtual Velocette main

and without the light on to blind you with… ahem, sorry…

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The test ‘objects’ (or was that ‘subjects’?) 🙂

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© peter gouws 2012

Made on a mac