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Lowlight Rear Lights – Being Seen
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John Moxon Premium Member
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 08, 2009 5:41 am    Post subject: Lowlight Rear Lights – Being Seen Reply with quote

Anyone who owns a Lowlight will identify with this post as most will have experienced the wrath of other road users who have no damn idea where you want to go...left, right, stop, go??

Owners of Split and Oval Beetles have the same problem…poor rear lights. Couple with that 6 volt electrics and sooner or later you’re going to get into trouble.

On our trip to the Hessisch Oldendorf Show in Germany this summer I had a minor tiff with a motorist approaching a motorway junction. Long story short, I wanted to pull across right, he wanted to go left and sat on my offside ¾. I signalled but the sun was shining and he couldn’t see what I wanted to do…after much tooting and waving of fists we continued our separate journeys.

At the next stop my mates in our 4-car convoy told me my lights weren’t working…I showed them they were.

So what are we to do?

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Here we have the offending lights…the ones here, like my own are US spec, all red. There is a European version, which is amber top, red bottom. Both spec lenses have the same shape, double and single bulbs.

My lights are set up as, Top: Side light and Brake Light – Bottom: Direction Indicator.

From a U.K. point of view this compounds the problem, in that everyone on U.K. roads would expect to see them around the other way i.e. Top: Direction Indicator – Bottom: Side light and Brake Light.

Why do I have them like that? Because in the UK the sidelight and brake lights are a twin filament bulb and the only place you can fit a twin filament bulb on a Lowlight is under the top convex lens.

That leaves the Direction Indicators under the Bottom flat lens. This lens is thick, lets less light through and with 6 volt is less than useless for an Indicator.

That’s my problem and it must be the same for other U.K. Lowlight owners.

The obvious solution for the Indicators is to fit extra lights on or under the bumpers…which is what I intend to do…see the mock-up picture below:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


These are EMPI Micros…they’re cheap, inconspicuous when not in use and of a reasonable quality.

So why the post if I already have a solution?

I’d like to see some options, I’d like to see how this affects other countries and I’d like to think we could come up with some modern LED solution as they have for Split and Oval Beetles.

I'm not too worried about additional Brake Lights as they have had quite a bit of forum space in the past...just do a search. Otherwise all contributions welcome.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 08, 2009 6:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

would an array of LED bulbs fit in there? Could pack a bunch of bright LEDs tightly together, could be bright enough under the stock lens.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 08, 2009 6:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

InSaNeBoY wrote:
would an array of LED bulbs fit in there? Could pack a bunch of bright LEDs tightly together, could be bright enough under the stock lens.
LED's don't have to be packed. There are many websites out there where equivalent LED replacements can be found that will plug into the socket.

Also (and John should know this), when 6V terminals are cleaned, the lights do shine bright. Some dielectric grease applied to the terminals, after having been polished, should help reduce future corrosion.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 08, 2009 6:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah I think these are well known: http://www.highspeedmotors.com/Webled.html

These would probably fit under the top convex lens but the space under the bottom lens is very restricted.

I agree with cleaning the 6 volt terminals...nearly all 6v electrical problems can be solved with a piece of sandpaper. The main trouble is that thick bottom lens.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 08, 2009 6:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I added these ugly lights (they were much bigger than the website photo made them look) for the trip to Hessich. I was nearly hit several times changing lane in the rain soaked Autobahn on the way to Bad Camberg the year before so decided to ruin the look of the back of the car (it's especially bad as the car is the same colour as the road). They are clamped with number plate clamps and rubber pads onto the bumper. The plan was to find some original hella reversing lamps under the bumper and fit orange bulbs but I didn't get round to it. I've had to use my arms sometimes if when I really thought someone hadn't seen me.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 08, 2009 6:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What about an LED strip behind the engine cooling slots? They would be unseen until you stepped on the brakes and they would be higher than any of the stock or bumper mounted lights.
If you have trouble with LED's because they are for 12 volts, I will mock up a strip here and pass on the resistor values and diagram for you to make your own.
Custom made strips are actually better because you can configure it in any shape you want and add as many as you like.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 08, 2009 6:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

1960bus wrote:
I added these ugly lights (they were much bigger than the website photo made them look) for the trip to Hessich. I was nearly hit several times changing lane in the rain soaked Autobahn on the way to Bad Camberg the year before so decided to ruin the look of the back of the car (it's especially bad as the car is the same colour as the road). They are clamped with number plate clamps and rubber pads onto the bumper. The plan was to find some original hella reversing lamps under the bumper and fit orange bulbs but I didn't get round to it. I've had to use my arms sometimes if when I really thought someone hadn't seen me.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Because of the shape of the Lowlight Lens I didn't want to go with the circular type...hence the EMPI ones which are 1/34"x1"x13/4" which I think is more complimentary. Flog those to a Beetle owner and find some Hellas or the EMPIs. The EMPIs were a tenner each from KK.

This is the size restriction behind the lower lens for a LED :
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 08, 2009 8:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ghia4mea wrote:
What about an LED strip behind the engine cooling slots? They would be unseen until you stepped on the brakes and they would be higher than any of the stock or bumper mounted lights.
If you have trouble with LED's because they are for 12 volts, I will mock up a strip here and pass on the resistor values and diagram for you to make your own.
Custom made strips are actually better because you can configure it in any shape you want and add as many as you like.


Yes I've seen these here in a previous topic about LED Brake lights. I'm not sure how easy it would be to access behind the cooling slots on a Lowlight. Maybe a string of red LEDs across the rear parcel shelf...inconspicuous when unlit but effective in action?
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 08, 2009 11:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

John Moxon wrote:
Yeah I think these are well known: http://www.highspeedmotors.com/Webled.html

These would probably fit under the top convex lens but the space under the bottom lens is very restricted..


No, I was thinking something more like this:

http://culayer.com/Porsche_356.htm
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 08, 2009 11:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

John Moxon wrote:
Yeah I think these are well known: http://www.highspeedmotors.com/Webled.html

These would probably fit under the top convex lens but the space under the bottom lens is very restricted.

I agree with cleaning the 6 volt terminals...nearly all 6v electrical problems can be solved with a piece of sandpaper. The main trouble is that thick bottom lens.
Sandpaper?!?! I recently cleaned up some terminal on my Super using a mild abrasive wheel on my Dremel. It works great.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 08, 2009 11:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

InSaNeBoY wrote:
John Moxon wrote:
Yeah I think these are well known: http://www.highspeedmotors.com/Webled.html

These would probably fit under the top convex lens but the space under the bottom lens is very restricted..


No, I was thinking something more like this:

http://culayer.com/Porsche_356.htm


Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Yes if these were tailored to fit the Lowlight lighting assembly then they would be ideal...but these are for the Porsche 356. Getting them to make them for the KG would be $$$
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 08, 2009 11:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

that's just the general idea... There are generic arrays that could work maybe. heck I bet you could take one of those bulbs you posted and take it apart and make it fit Smile

I don't have a low light and have never seen behind the lens so I'm at a bit of a disadvantage here... just throwing out some ideas. But if I did have one I'd prefer to have the lamps stock looking as possible and not have to tack on more of them. Cool

oh and the 356 ones are $200 smackers, not cheap... same guy makes custom boards maybe ask him? maybe there's a market to make a whole batch of them?
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 08, 2009 11:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, John. Since your primary job description is, "Walking the dog", I'm certain you could fab something similar to what is being made for the 356 crowd. Razz
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 08, 2009 12:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Icy wrote:
Yeah, John. Since your primary job description is, "Walking the dog", I'm certain you could fab something similar to what is being made for the 356 crowd. Razz


Last time I got the soldering iron out I burned two fingers and put a hole in the table cloth.

That's why I'm only allowed to walk the dog!
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 08, 2009 12:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

John Moxon wrote:
InSaNeBoY wrote:
John Moxon wrote:
Yeah I think these are well known: http://www.highspeedmotors.com/Webled.html

These would probably fit under the top convex lens but the space under the bottom lens is very restricted..


No, I was thinking something more like this:

http://culayer.com/Porsche_356.htm


Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Yes if these were tailored to fit the Lowlight lighting assembly then they would be ideal...but these are for the Porsche 356. Getting them to make them for the KG would be $$$


There is a guy that show's up to some of the UK shows who makes this kind of thing for early beetles and I believe he custom makes them- I think I have a business card for him somewhere as when I chatted to him he said he was prepared to do something for the Ghia too-

I will see if I can find it for you John- it was my plan! Although I do fancy having a go myself- it can't be that hard??? Wink
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 09, 2009 3:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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If you turn that 356 cluster 90 degrees it's a lot like the Lowlight.

If we could have two sections, (top and bottom) with two separate concentric circles of LEDs they could act as a universal fitting for UK, US and European spec lighting.

UK: Incators - top...Side and Brake - bottom
US: Indicators and Brake - top...Side - bottom
Europe: Not sure what configuration they use?

It would just be a simple task of which two wires you connect for each cluster.

I'm sure they could be made to fit all Ghias, not just Lowlights.
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 09, 2009 5:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Guys , I use a rust remover gel to clean those corroded terminals. I just put a little in the cap off the bottle & dip the offending part in for a few, then rinse with water. They look brand new afterwards......JP Idea
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 09, 2009 5:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have been thinking along the lines of an LED bar right at the top of the rear window. Single row with the LEDs separated to allow for turn signal operation. If I was putting time and money into the project this is what I would do. I have followed a couple of fellow VWs that had similar treatment and could not believe the difference in awareness and alert. Our cars sit very low and I don't think most people look down any more if ever especially over here. I always signal with my arm as well just to try and get the other drivers attention.
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 09, 2009 6:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shorrock wrote:
I have been thinking along the lines of an LED bar right at the top of the rear window. Single row with the LEDs separated to allow for turn signal operation. If I was putting time and money into the project this is what I would do. I have followed a couple of fellow VWs that had similar treatment and could not believe the difference in awareness and alert. Our cars sit very low and I don't think most people look down any more if ever especially over here. I always signal with my arm as well just to try and get the other drivers attention.

John Moxon wrote:
Maybe a string of red LEDs across the rear parcel shelf...inconspicuous when unlit but effective in action?


I was thinking AND rather than instead of Howard. Owners running period correct cars might not like the idea of the striplights and a non-starter for 'vert owners. Personally whilst running with a rear window strip I would still like replacement LEDs for the rear clusters.

The idea of two concentric circles of LEDs on a circular base, fastened through the vacant bulb holders with a bolt and wing nut would be appropriate for all models. 6 volt and a 12 volt versions would satisfy everyone.

Incidentally cleaning the terminals is good advice but I think if you're running vintage lights something more radical is required.
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 09, 2009 6:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

John Moxon wrote:
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I have these for my 57 356 and they are phenominal.

If you can get him to make a set for lowlights, I'm in.
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