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J Charlton Tue Feb 05, 2008 9:09 am

I was just looking at my '85 westy and came to the conclusion that the rear lights, no matter how bright they might be, are far too low by today's standards for visibility. Has anyone added an LED light at the top middle of the rear window for brake and night driving :?:
How about a LED strip on each side of the rear window for turn signals :?:
Ideas, comments, sources :?:
Thanks
JC

mightyart Tue Feb 05, 2008 9:21 am

I put in an LED third brake light in the middle of the back window at the top.

If people can't see my turn signals or tail lights they are driving to close.

larrytrk Tue Feb 05, 2008 9:26 am

My 87 Westy has a 3rd brake light, wired outside hatch gasket down to the brake lights. I assume this was factory.
Looks like an easy add on!

Terry Kay Tue Feb 05, 2008 9:34 am

I've found the easiest thing to do for better rear end visibility is remove all the firefly 5 watt light bulbs and add some bulbs with some candlepower.

The higher mounted brake lamp is a good idea too---just a bit more work--

Have ya ever noticed that the back up lamps don't do much for you when your going backward's?

Big amp bulbs help out a bunch here too---

tencentlife Tue Feb 05, 2008 9:41 am

Hey, TK, I've been wanting to go this route, but haven't put in any research time. Can you point to a source for higher-wattage 1156's and 1157's?

Terry Kay Tue Feb 05, 2008 10:01 am

I did all of the research 8 years ago.

I have the correct set up available for "I Can See You In The Dark" rear lamps.

Works well during daylight hours too.

I for the life of me had a heck of a time figuring out why VW short changed the rear tail light department.

After getting wacked at night, or flipped off from folks coming up from behind me--it was time for a change.

Alan Brase Tue Feb 05, 2008 10:37 am

Terry Kay wrote: I did all of the research 8 years ago.

I have the correct set up available for "I Can See You In The Dark" rear lamps.

Works well during daylight hours too.


I hate those bulbs TK sells. I bought a set from Terry a while back. Only put them in one side. Now, every time I drive it, I'm afraid the cops will stop me because something is wrong with the other side's bulbs. :<)
Actually, an incredible improvement.
Al

rockfish Tue Feb 05, 2008 11:45 am

TK or anyone else: Do you have to worry about frying your wires if you go to higher amp tail light bulbs?

Terry Kay Tue Feb 05, 2008 11:53 am

What me worry?

Where's the Alfred E. Neuman Emocticon?

No problem.
The wiring is all good to handle a couple more amps.

8 years of running the bigger amp bulbs I think is a pretty good parrameter to use as a non neuclear wiring meltdown guide---

The first thing I did to all of my Vanagon's, & Type 2 Bus, on the first day I had them was to get some brighter lamps in the tail lamps.
( The SMB has them in it too)
Make's a big difference.

erdonline Tue Feb 05, 2008 1:19 pm

Somewhere I'm pretty sure that I have a list of the part numbers for several different incremental brightness bulbs that will fit in the taillight housing. I'll post them when I can find them.

In the mean time, if anyone else has them and wants to make it easy for us to go the auto parts store or WalMart to buy them, please post.

Ed

zippyslug31 Tue Feb 05, 2008 4:08 pm

Be careful with what LEDs you buy. Had a friend stick a few in his trunk for extra lighting and he said he blew some pretty quickly (likely over loaded them) but even the others that remained working frankly sucked.
He said they don't produce much light at all.

Terry Kay Tue Feb 05, 2008 8:32 pm

LED's won't work at all.

The tail lamps have a reflective backing and depend on the incadescent lamps to reflect off of them for any kind of brightness outa the lens.
LED's are focused to the rear only and won't use that reflection to gain any kinda bright beam outa the lenses.

It's a waste of time and money even to try that caper---

Been there, tried it, and tossed them as a loss.

If your thinking about making the back end of your wasserleaker a light show, I have what you need.

Heir Thomas Alva Edison

1621 Tue Feb 05, 2008 9:28 pm

Terry Kay wrote: LED's won't work at all.

The tail pamps have a reflective backing and depend on the incadescent lamps to reflect off of them for any kind of brightness.
LED's are focused to the rear only and won't use that reflection to gain any kinda bright beam outa the lenses.

It's a waste of time and money even to try that caper---

Been there, tried it, and tossed them as a loss.

If your thinking about making the back end of your wasserleaker a light show, I have what you need.

Heir Thomas Alva Edison


Not entirely true about the LEDs. It does depend on the type of LED you buy, and they can get very expensive depending on how far you're willing to go.

I started with a couple of the 3-watt LEDs from here: http://superbrightleds.com/tail-brake-turn.html and was satisfied for a while. But like TK points out, the reflectors are not being fully utilized and thus the light output, while much better than stock, was not what I was hoping for.

Then I discovered the 50w bulbs and bought six from our very own TK to use in the brake light and reverse light positions. Yes, a most definite improvement, but the damn bulbs kept burning out. This is not a slam against the bulb or TK, it's just they only lasted a couple months or so in the BRAKE LIGHT position. Of the six, only three remain and the original two in the reverse light position seem fine and are still in use.

Later, I noticed the above listed site had added the 5-watt Luxeon brake lights for $30.00 a piece (ouch!). Curiosity got the better of me and I bought them for the brake light position only. Due to their broader beam pattern, red color, and ultra high intensity, they are significantly brighter and far more noticeable than any other bulb I've had there... including the 50w bulbs.

I know the old saying about opinions, and I'm not into defending one over another. This is merely what I run to good effect, and I enjoy being MUCH more visible during both day and night.

Brake light - 5w luxeon
Running light - 3w luxeon
Reverse light - 50w bulb
LED third brake light from ebay

Terry Kay Tue Feb 05, 2008 10:38 pm

As with any bigger wattage bulb,if after they were installed they had been wiped down with a rag with some alcohol on it, to get the grease from your finger's off of them it would have given the bulbs an extended lifespan.
( Same thing you would normally do with a Halogen headlamp bulb)

In retrospect, I've had plain old 1157's cook in a couple of days.

Bulbs just aren't like they used to be ever since they have been jobbed out to third world mud holes.

Seeems like a bunch of automotive parts & accessories are being short lived by sub standard manufacturing.

I looked at a Wagner bulb box the other day and it sez--plain and clear--"Made in China"

Wiper blades is a real good picture to be drawing in comparison.

They sure don't seem to last as long as they used to.

If it isn't made in Taiwan--it's made in Mexico or China.

msinabottle Tue Feb 05, 2008 10:46 pm

Terry's bulbs were brighter than stock, a fair price for a good idea and his research and testing, but...

Have a look here:

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=161963

Great results, great longevity. If you want to go LED, the way I went is working great.

Best!

Terry Kay Wed Feb 06, 2008 7:29 am

The LED"s look plenty bright--wonder how they manage to get any of the candle power to bounce off of the reflector's??

How much are each one of the LED bulbs?

Just curious.

hiram6 Wed Feb 06, 2008 8:00 am

msinabottle wrote: Terry's bulbs were brighter than stock, a fair price for a good idea and his research and testing, but...

Have a look here:

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=161963

Great results, great longevity. If you want to go LED, the way I went is working great.

Best!

Hey Rob, do you happen to have the part numbers you ordered from superbrightleds.com??

I'm thinking about doing this upgrade, but their website has SO MANY options, really too many to muddle through. If your set-up is working, I would just as soon learn from your experiences as make my own mistakes! :D :D

mightyart Wed Feb 06, 2008 8:44 am


Are your tail lights as bright as your brake lights?

msinabottle Wed Feb 06, 2008 1:44 pm



They're pretty bright!

All right, it's been a long time since I did this, and I've not had to go back, but let's see...

They're all on this page:

http://www.superbrightleds.com/tail-brake-turn.html

I got the red 30 LED arrays in the tail lights, and the white 19's were in the reverse lights. I might have put the 24's in the brake lights. I can't remember which of those were 1156 or 1157, I pulled the bulbs and worked from those.

Note what I said about the front turn signal/running lights-- IMHO, you're stuck with incandescent there, even a modern electronic flasher couldn't cope with the drop in load when I replaced those with LED's. Believe Superbrite or whomever when they tell you to match the color of your LED's to the plastic over them. I used yellow LED arrays behind the yellow part of the lense covers.

The 30's are $9 each, plus shipping.

Best!

bucko Wed Feb 06, 2008 2:10 pm

Go and visit your local BMW dealership, and head over to the parts department. Then ask for their heavy duty single filiment bulbs.

BMW has been installing them in their cars for years. Nice and bright.



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