headlight laws was re improving light output

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Daniel Stern Lighting

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Dec 1, 2003, 12:59:06 PM12/1/03
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On Mon, 1 Dec 2003, Ted Mittelstaedt wrote:

> http://www.ipinc.net/~tedm/lghtway1.gif
> http://www.ipinc.net/~tedm/lghtway2.gif
> http://www.ipinc.net/~tedm/lghtway3.gif
> http://www.ipinc.net/~tedm/lghtway4.gif

Gee, not bad...I didn't find much in the way of nits to pick. Of course,
as you mention, this brochure is very old, but their aiming instructions
are fairly good.

> > This, I believe, is the location of the bit of Oregon Legislative whimsy
> > that says "Low beam headlamps shall be deemed to comply with the
> > requirement not to produce glare, regardless of the loading of the
> > vehicle".
> >
>
> Heh. It probably was. But that statement is no longer in there.

I found it here:

http://www.leg.state.or.us/ors/811.html

811.515 (6) (a):

Whenever the driver of a vehicle approaches an oncoming vehicle within 500
feet, the driver must use a distribution of light or composite beam so
aimed that the glaring rays are not projected into the eyes of the
oncoming driver. >>>The use of the low beams of the vehicle headlight
system is in compliance with this paragraph at all times regardless of
road contour and loading of the vehicle.<<< [emphasis added]

> "...The Department of Transportation shall adopt and enforce rules
> establishing minimum standards and specifications for headlights. The
> rules shall conform, insofar as practicable, to safety standards and
> specifications for vehicle lighting issued by the federal government
> and, to the extent there are no such federal standards, to standards and
> recommendations promulgated by the Society of Automotive Engineers..."
>
> That "insofar as practicable" lets them off the hook. All ODOT has to
> say is that either FMVSS or SAE has an "unpracticable" rule, and they
> can make whatever rule they want to replace it.

...except that Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards preempt any State
standards that differ in any respect from the Federal standard. So, for
example, Oregon could pass a law requiring all vehicles to have amber (not
red) rear turn signals, but the Federal preemption would make the law moot
-- automakers would still be allowed to sell cars with red rear turn
signals in Oregon.

> ORS 816 does not refer to a standard for what they define as white
> light. Meaning that since they are allowing ODOT to supersede 816,
> legally all ODOT has to do is say that any bulb that has a color coating
> of any kind is not "white" It doesen't have to be christmas-tree color
> blue. In short, ODOT can define what "white" is, outside FMVSS 108

...but then along comes Sylvania (Wagner, GE, Philips, PIAA...) and says
"This bulb complies with all applicable requirements contained in FMVSS
108", and then an interesting legal battle ensues. I honestly can't say
how that would play out. Any bulb that's legal under the Federal standard
is, perforce, legal in every state. Nevertheless, it would not be the
first time Oregon has raised a middle finger to some aspect of the Federal
lighting laws. In the 1970s, they did so with respect to FMVSS prohibition
of European ECE headlamps. NHTSA (then under Joan Claybrook) went
ballistic:

http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/interps/gm/77/77-3.32.html

and reacted similarly to Washington's identical move:

http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/interps/aiam/aiam2629.html

Oregon (and Washington) told the Feds to go pound sand (or, to be more
exact, "We will not enforce against European headlamps. If you want to
send your own cops up here to enforce, be our guests.")

> The second interesting bit is in ODOT's "customize vehicle" FAQ. In the
> question titled "are colored (blue, green etc.) headlight BULBS
> permitted?" they say the following:
>
> all headlamps must be "white in color as defined by Society of
> Automotive Engineers" amd FMVS 108. FMVSS 108 disallows any color
> coating on headlights and/or headlight bulbs"

That's not quite true yet, though it looks as though we're moving in that
direction slowly (and finally!).

> It sounds like ODOT is being deliberately misleading in the FAQ. They
> must know that the blue-coated bulbs are legally white, but they are
> taking pains to write the FAQ to specifically refer to bulbs, not simply
> headlamp assemblies, and they are claiming FMVSS disallows any color
> coating. All that it would take is a simple administrative rule from
> ODOT defining all the blue-coated bulbs, "ie: cool-blue, silverstar,
> etc." as not being legally "white" regardless of FMVSS 108 - which ORS
> permits them to do - and instantly those bulbs become illegal in Oregon,
> despite whatever FMVSS or SAE's "white standard" is.

See above -- any item of motor vehicle equipment Federally legal is legal.

> This unit has apparently been considering this blue-headlight problem. See
> the following:
>
> http://www.odot.state.or.us/tddresearch/traffic_prob_stat/headlight_glare%20.pdf

> Knowing how vehicle laws seem to be enforced in Oregon my guess is what
> is going on is there's a bureaucrat buried in ODOT that wants to get rid
> of the blue lights, but isn't going to do anything to provoke a showdown
> with the likes of Sylvania, Phillips,

Looks more to me like they're trying to figure out a way for cops to tell
if headlamps are misaimed (too high), which is briefly described as a
growing problem especially given the "Blue-white very bright headlamps
that blind oncoming drivers" -- a common lay description of HID headlamps.

> administrative rules that are interpretable enough so that any police
> officer can write tickets.

I do like that Oregon says:

"Fog lights may be either white or amber (yellow). They may not be blue,
bluish or any other color than white or amber."

DS

Aardwolf

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Dec 1, 2003, 9:57:27 PM12/1/03
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Daniel Stern Lighting wrote:

> http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/interps/gm/77/77-3.32.html

Being an authority on lighting regulations, do you happen to know the prevailing legal
interpretation of the phrase "or importing into the United States through the State of
[x]...", i.e. just what is considered illegal importation? Does it have to be for
resale or commercial purposes?

--Aardwolf.

Daniel Stern Lighting

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Dec 2, 2003, 12:07:08 AM12/2/03
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On Mon, 1 Dec 2003, Aardwolf wrote:

> Being an authority on lighting regulations, do you happen to know the
> prevailing legal interpretation of the phrase "or importing into the
> United States through the State of [x]...", i.e. just what is considered
> illegal importation? Does it have to be for resale or commercial
> purposes?

nonconforming items of motor vehicle equipment subject to Federal Motor
Vehicle Safety Standards or other US regulations may be legally imported
only if:

-They are to be used for research and development, testing and/or display
-They are for export only (must be marked as such on items and packaging)
-They are not capable of being installed on any vehicle certified as
conforming to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

DS

Ted Mittelstaedt

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Dec 2, 2003, 4:54:32 AM12/2/03
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"Daniel Stern Lighting" <das...@vrx.headlamp.net> wrote in message
news:Pine.SOL.4.44.031201...@alumni.engin.umich.edu...

>
> ...except that Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards preempt any State
> standards that differ in any respect from the Federal standard.

Now, that is something I don't understand why this is. Take emissions
regulations,
it seems clear that *more restrictive* state regulations on vehicle
emissions are
allowed, for example California emissions cars. Why are lighting
regulations the
opposite?

>
> Looks more to me like they're trying to figure out a way for cops to tell
> if headlamps are misaimed (too high), which is briefly described as a
> growing problem especially given the "Blue-white very bright headlamps
> that blind oncoming drivers" -- a common lay description of HID headlamps.
>

Is there a quick and dirty way to tell this?

Ted


Richard

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Dec 2, 2003, 8:49:13 AM12/2/03
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"Ted Mittelstaedt" <te...@toybox.placo.com> wrote in message
news:newscache$x2i9ph$oq1$1...@news.ipinc.net...
New York State banned Chrysler's new technology "driving lights" about 25
years ago because they were "blue", and NYS had reserved blue for emergency
vehicles. Chrysler pulled this option since each state had a different view
on this issue. Later the feds preempted the states in this area of vehicle
lighting. This is good, but too bad the feds then dropped the ball on
adequately regulating lighting.

Richard.


Daniel Stern Lighting

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Dec 2, 2003, 11:35:16 AM12/2/03
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On Tue, 2 Dec 2003, Ted Mittelstaedt wrote:

> > ...except that Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards preempt any State
> > standards that differ in any respect from the Federal standard.

> Now, that is something I don't understand why this is.

Because it's the only way to make sure that automakers can produce a
vehicle legal for sale and use in every state.

> Take emissions regulations, it seems clear that *more restrictive* state
> regulations on vehicle emissions are allowed, for example California
> emissions cars.

California's special emission requirements are just that: Special. The
State of California argued -- successfully, though not necessarily
correctly -- that they had such unique environmental conditions that the
Federal standards could not possibly address them. They were therefore
specifically allowed by the EPA to set their own, different vehicular
emission standards.

> > Looks more to me like they're trying to figure out a way for cops to tell
> > if headlamps are misaimed (too high), which is briefly described as a
> > growing problem especially given the "Blue-white very bright headlamps
> > that blind oncoming drivers" -- a common lay description of HID headlamps.
>
> Is there a quick and dirty way to tell this?

With US headlamps? No, not really.

DS

Lloyd Parker

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Dec 2, 2003, 8:50:55 AM12/2/03
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In article <newscache$x2i9ph$oq1$1...@news.ipinc.net>,

"Ted Mittelstaedt" <te...@toybox.placo.com> wrote:
>
>"Daniel Stern Lighting" <das...@vrx.headlamp.net> wrote in message
>news:Pine.SOL.4.44.031201...@alumni.engin.umich.edu...
>>
>> ...except that Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards preempt any State
>> standards that differ in any respect from the Federal standard.
>
>Now, that is something I don't understand why this is. Take emissions
>regulations,
>it seems clear that *more restrictive* state regulations on vehicle
>emissions are
>allowed, for example California emissions cars. Why are lighting
>regulations the
>opposite?

The Clean Air Act specifically lets CA adopt more stringent standards (and
lets other states adopt CA's standards too). I'd guess the law(s) governing
lights make no such provision.

C.R. Krieger

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Dec 2, 2003, 4:38:50 PM12/2/03
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"Ted Mittelstaedt" <te...@toybox.placo.com> wrote in message news:<newscache$x2i9ph$oq1$1...@news.ipinc.net>...
> "Daniel Stern Lighting" <das...@vrx.headlamp.net> wrote in message
> news:Pine.SOL.4.44.031201...@alumni.engin.umich.edu...
> >
> > ...except that Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards preempt any State
> > standards that differ in any respect from the Federal standard.
>
> Now, that is something I don't understand why this is. Take emissions
> regulations,
> it seems clear that *more restrictive* state regulations on vehicle
> emissions are
> allowed, for example California emissions cars. Why are lighting
> regulations the opposite?

Emissions regulation was 'trendy' while lighting standards have never
been. The closest they ever got was the 1940 changeover to sealed
beams - or the 1975 beginnings of *rectangular* lights. Even then,
hardly anyone noticed or gave a shit (aside from those few lighting
anal retentives like my pal, Daniel).

Dragging the big pollution battles in front of the state and federal
courts involved lots of money and lots of strong opinions on both
sides. However, when it comes down to FMVSS for lighting, damn few
people, including even LEOs, care much about it. There's lots bigger
fish to fry than whether Oregon's legislatively-influenced standards
were better or worse than what the federal government will 'allow'.

I suspect the federal regulators would be shut down by Congress in
short order if they threatened to withhold federal highway funds for
such a petty reason. Even better would be the sudden appearance of a
horde of Federal Automotive Reflectance Trainees ('F.A.R.T.s', for
short) throughout the country stopping cars (like my E28 BMW's Euro
lights) for displaying 'illegal' lights.
--
C.R. Krieger
Been there; done that

DTJ

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Dec 2, 2003, 8:01:59 PM12/2/03
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On Tue, 2 Dec 2003 01:54:32 -0800, "Ted Mittelstaedt"
<te...@toybox.placo.com> wrote:

>
>"Daniel Stern Lighting" <das...@vrx.headlamp.net> wrote in message
>news:Pine.SOL.4.44.031201...@alumni.engin.umich.edu...
>>
>> ...except that Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards preempt any State
>> standards that differ in any respect from the Federal standard.
>
>Now, that is something I don't understand why this is. Take emissions
>regulations,

It isn't. He is wrong.

The law applies no matter whether it is state or federal. So, if a
state has a law that is more permissive, the federal applies, and vice
versa.


Richard

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Dec 2, 2003, 9:58:14 PM12/2/03
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"DTJ" <d...@comcast.net> wrote in message
news:oddqsvod8tg804lco...@4ax.com...

No. The Clean Air Act specifically authorized California to enact stricter
standards. The Federal Act authorizing DOT to enact national lighting
standards does not authorize states to enact stricter standards. Federal
funds can be withheld if states choose not to enforce the federal standards.

Richard.


Daniel Stern Lighting

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Dec 2, 2003, 9:48:24 PM12/2/03
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On Wed, 3 Dec 2003, DTJ wrote:

> >> ...except that Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards preempt any State
> >> standards that differ in any respect from the Federal standard.
> >
> >Now, that is something I don't understand why this is. Take emissions
> >regulations,
>
> It isn't. He is wrong.
>
> The law applies no matter whether it is state or federal. So, if a
> state has a law that is more permissive, the federal applies, and vice
> versa.

Sorry, no, DTJ.

Federal Code - Traffic and Vehicle Safety Act Title 15, chapter 1392

Supremacy of Federal Standards

[...]

(d) Whenever a Federal motor vehicle safety standard established under
this subchapter is in effect, no State or political subdivision of a State
shall have any authority either to establish, or to continue in effect,
with respect to any motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment any
safety standard applicable to the same aspect of performance of such
vehicle or item of equipment which is not identical to the Federal
standard.


DS

Daniel Stern Lighting

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Dec 2, 2003, 10:04:03 PM12/2/03
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On Wed, 3 Dec 2003, Richard wrote:

> The Clean Air Act specifically authorized California to enact stricter
> standards.

Yes.

> The Federal Act authorizing DOT to enact national lighting standards
> does not authorize states to enact stricter standards.

...or looser ones, or ones that differ in any respect.

> Federal funds can be withheld if states choose not to enforce the
> federal standards.

Well, no, this part isn't correct. There is no requirement for states to
adopt or enforce any Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard(s). The only
thing the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Act says on the matter is that *if*
a state has a technical standard that covers a device, system or aspect of
design of a motor vehicle that is covered by a Federal Motor Vehicle
Safety Standard, *then* the state standard must be identical to the
Federal standard. In practice, this is a one-way deal: There are many
state standards for lighting equipment that are less restrictive/more
permissive than the Federal standard, and nobody carps about it. The
problem would come if a state were to try to adopt a standard more
restrictive/less permissive than the Federal standard. It would mean
vehicles and equipment Federally legal for sale and use throughout the US
would be illegal for sale and use in that state, and a large mess would
ensue.

DS

Joe Pfeiffer

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Dec 2, 2003, 11:15:34 PM12/2/03
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"Richard" <rfei...@news-server.nycap.rr.com> writes:
> >
> > The law applies no matter whether it is state or federal. So, if a
> > state has a law that is more permissive, the federal applies, and vice
> > versa.
>
> No. The Clean Air Act specifically authorized California to enact stricter
> standards. The Federal Act authorizing DOT to enact national lighting
> standards does not authorize states to enact stricter standards. Federal
> funds can be withheld if states choose not to enforce the federal standards.

Which is a different statement. The federal highway funds are a way
to pressure the states into adopting federal standards -- if more
liberal federal laws simply took precedence in all circumstances, that
wouldn't be necessary. A federal statute can't, in general, forbid a
state from having a stricter one (there are exceptions to this rule
based on civil rights or necessity, but making a case like that is
much harder than just applying a little gentle extortion. Which is
why the tactic should be regarded as an unconstitutional expansion of
federal powers, but I digress).

Dan pointed out, correctly, that California successfully argued that
they had a need for more restrictive vehicle pollution standards.
AFAIK, no state tried to just implement tougher standards and let the
results play out in court. My guess is that they would have won --
except, of course, the highway funds would have been used as a club to
knock them into line long before it ever got to trial.
--
Joseph J. Pfeiffer, Jr., Ph.D. Phone -- (505) 646-1605
Department of Computer Science FAX -- (505) 646-1002
New Mexico State University http://www.cs.nmsu.edu/~pfeiffer
Southwestern NM Regional Science and Engr Fair: http://www.nmsu.edu/~scifair

Joe Pfeiffer

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Dec 2, 2003, 11:32:21 PM12/2/03
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Daniel Stern Lighting <das...@127.0.0.1> writes:
>
> Federal Code - Traffic and Vehicle Safety Act Title 15, chapter 1392
>
> Supremacy of Federal Standards
>
> [...]
>
> (d) Whenever a Federal motor vehicle safety standard established under
> this subchapter is in effect, no State or political subdivision of a State
> shall have any authority either to establish, or to continue in effect,
> with respect to any motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment any
> safety standard applicable to the same aspect of performance of such
> vehicle or item of equipment which is not identical to the Federal
> standard.

I've *really* got to wonder what would have happened if a state had
challenged that one in court. It strikes me as blatantly
unconstitutional (IANAL, of course).

Ted Mittelstaedt

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Dec 3, 2003, 12:45:18 AM12/3/03
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"Daniel Stern Lighting" <das...@127.0.0.1> wrote in message
news:Pine.SOL.4.44.03120...@alumni.engin.umich.edu...

>
> > The Federal Act authorizing DOT to enact national lighting standards
> > does not authorize states to enact stricter standards.
>
> ...or looser ones, or ones that differ in any respect.
>

Question, if a state department of transportation were to take a position
against "blue lights" would that be taken into consideration by the Feds?

Ted


Lloyd Parker

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Dec 3, 2003, 6:10:14 AM12/3/03
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In article <newscache$c71bph$2v2$1...@news.ipinc.net>,
Apparently some states or cities have tried ticketing people with HID lights
only to get slapped down.

C. E. White

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Dec 3, 2003, 6:25:11 PM12/3/03
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Joe Pfeiffer wrote:
>
> Daniel Stern Lighting <das...@127.0.0.1> writes:
> >
> > Federal Code - Traffic and Vehicle Safety Act Title 15, chapter 1392
> >
> > Supremacy of Federal Standards
> >
> > [...]
> >
> > (d) Whenever a Federal motor vehicle safety standard established under
> > this subchapter is in effect, no State or political subdivision of a State
> > shall have any authority either to establish, or to continue in effect,
> > with respect to any motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment any
> > safety standard applicable to the same aspect of performance of such
> > vehicle or item of equipment which is not identical to the Federal
> > standard.
>
> I've *really* got to wonder what would have happened if a state had
> challenged that one in court. It strikes me as blatantly
> unconstitutional (IANAL, of course).


Doesn't this fall under the right of the federal government to regulate
interstate commerce?

Ed

Arif Khokar

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Dec 3, 2003, 6:25:39 PM12/3/03
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Lloyd Parker wrote:

> Apparently some states or cities have tried ticketing people with HID lights
> only to get slapped down.

If the defendant had an illegal HID retrofit, then the judge was an idiot.

Daniel Stern Lighting

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Dec 3, 2003, 7:17:01 PM12/3/03
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The problem was that people with DOT-certified, factory-equipment HID
systems were getting tickets for "illegal blue headlights".

DS

Matthew Russotto

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Dec 4, 2003, 10:08:12 AM12/4/03
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In article <Thuzb.385$CU4...@news02.roc.ny>,

Reading the law literally, it doesn't matter -- if the state
code is not identical to the Federal code, it is unenforcable,
regardless of whether the particular violation would also violate the
Federal code.

--
Matthew T. Russotto mrus...@speakeasy.net
"Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in pursuit
of justice is no virtue." But extreme restriction of liberty in pursuit of
a modicum of security is a very expensive vice.

Aardwolf

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Dec 4, 2003, 4:25:20 PM12/4/03
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Daniel Stern Lighting wrote:

> nonconforming items of motor vehicle equipment subject to Federal Motor
> Vehicle Safety Standards or other US regulations may be legally imported
> only if:
>
> -They are to be used for research and development, testing and/or display
> -They are for export only (must be marked as such on items and packaging)
> -They are not capable of being installed on any vehicle certified as
> conforming to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

I take it that just one of those three categories has to be met?

(Such as, hmmm... Display?)


--Aardwolf.


Aardwolf

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Dec 4, 2003, 4:39:13 PM12/4/03
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Hey, sorry for the double-post, but reading on down the thread (and since this
is cross posted to r.a.m.chrysler,) there is a question I've been meaning to
ask for some time, in case I wind up with a '70 Polara: What exactly was
Chrysler's Super-Lite, and how did it stack up as driving lights go?

--Aardwolf.

Daniel Stern Lighting

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Dec 4, 2003, 4:53:00 PM12/4/03
to

Stand by; I'll try and find the time to scan in a period article about it.
The Super-Lite was a "mid beam" or "turnpike beam" lamp co-developed by
Chrysler and Sylvania and available as an option on the '69 and '70
fullsize (C-body) Dodges. It was of a polyellipsoidal ("projector beam")
design, the first use of such a design in a mass-produced car. It was
considerably larger, deeper, heavier and less efficient than today's
projector beams. Used an 85W quartz halogen bulb with a transverse
filament, and produced a short but wide bar-shaped beam with very sharp
cutoffs at all four sides, like this:
___________________________________________
| |
|___________________________________________|

It was designed to supplement the low beams in situations where the high
beams would cause too much glare but the low beams' reach was
insufficient. It did a very good job of this, and the sharp cutoffs
prevented glare, but the optical science behind polyellipsoidal vehicular
lighting was still brand new, and so the technical challenges were largely
unsolved. Chief among these was extreme chromatic aberration at each of
the four cutoffs. In English: Very pronounced blue and red color fringes
visible when observing the lamp from angles corresponding to the location
of each cutoff. This caused several states to ban the unit on the grounds
that it violated the restriction of red and blue light to emergency
vehicles.

I have three or four of the units here at my office. Very interesting
lamps indeed. The bulbs were not standard items, however, and I don't have
any working bulbs at the current time.

DS

Daniel Stern Lighting

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Dec 4, 2003, 4:53:28 PM12/4/03
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On Thu, 4 Dec 2003, Aardwolf wrote:

> > nonconforming items of motor vehicle equipment subject to Federal Motor
> > Vehicle Safety Standards or other US regulations may be legally imported
> > only if:
> >
> > -They are to be used for research and development, testing and/or display
> > -They are for export only (must be marked as such on items and packaging)
> > -They are not capable of being installed on any vehicle certified as
> > conforming to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
>
> I take it that just one of those three categories has to be met?

Correct.

> (Such as, hmmm... Display?)

...which has very specific definitions.

DS

Steve

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Dec 4, 2003, 5:29:36 PM12/4/03
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Aardwolf wrote:

Think VERY carefully about all 3 of those rules. Think about things that
would make a product meet one of those rules.... now think about things
that could make a product meet one of those rules when it comes off the
assembly line or is inserted into a package, but could be un-done by the
end-user within 10 seconds of opening the package.....

;-)


Aardwolf

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Dec 4, 2003, 11:28:21 PM12/4/03
to

Daniel Stern Lighting wrote:

> > (Such as, hmmm... Display?)
>
> ...which has very specific definitions.

All right, all right--just so my actually _buying_ ECE lighting equipmment
before I confirm my decision of what to do with it isn't the legal issue in
question...

--Aardwolf.


Aardwolf

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Dec 4, 2003, 11:23:46 PM12/4/03
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Daniel Stern Lighting wrote:

> Stand by; I'll try and find the time to scan in a period article about it.

I'll be very interested to see that. I've seen many restored '69/'70 C-bodies
so equipped--I imagine that the hardware is not ultra-rare?

What is the range of the lamp (would it be worthwhile if used with H4/H1 quad
round E-codes)?

--Aardwolf.

Daniel Stern Lighting

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Dec 5, 2003, 1:04:17 PM12/5/03
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On Thu, 4 Dec 2003, Aardwolf wrote:

[article on Super-Lite]

> I'll be very interested to see that. I've seen many restored '69/'70
> C-bodies so equipped--I imagine that the hardware is not ultra-rare?

It is not common. Also very difficult to mount properly in a vehicle other
than a '69-'70 C-body Dodge.

> What is the range of the lamp

Best illustrated by the article in question, which I may be able to scan
tonight.

> (would it be worthwhile if used with H4/H1 quad round E-codes)?

Pick your beam units carefully and you won't need an aux low beam:

http://lighting.mbzarticles.org/sealed/

DS

Lloyd Parker

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Dec 5, 2003, 10:07:31 AM12/5/03
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In article <Pine.SOL.4.44.031205...@alumni.engin.umich.edu>,

Daniel, I've noticed this and I've read about it too -- do you know why BMW's
HID lights seem so much worse as far as blinding other drivers than any other
make's?

Steve

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Dec 5, 2003, 3:42:13 PM12/5/03
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Lloyd Parker wrote:

Not speaking for Dan, who can surely be more specific, it seems to me to
just be a characteristic of the overall quality and level of design of
the headlamp optics. Remember that most car companies don't build
headlamp optics, its sub-contracted. Some BMWs have annoying beams,
others do not. In fact I find later and current BMWs far less blinding
than most others on the market, especially Honda/Acura and some
Toyota/Lexus installations. One of the best on the road, to my eye, is
the setup in the Cooper Mini (a BMW product). The color rendering of the
burner used and the lack of chromatic aberration (blue flashes) from the
optics is so good that they can easily be mistaken for non-HIDs at a glance.

My vote for the absolute WORST HID installation (as far as blinding
oncoming drivers and being annoyingly blue from a lot of angles) is
still the Honda S2000.

Lloyd Parker

unread,
Dec 5, 2003, 10:46:51 AM12/5/03
to
I passed a BMW 5-series with its low-beam HIDs on, and it was blinding.
Consumer Reports commented that their X5's HID lights blinded other drivers.

Daniel Stern Lighting

unread,
Dec 5, 2003, 3:55:26 PM12/5/03
to
On Fri, 5 Dec 2003, Lloyd Parker wrote:

> Daniel, I've noticed this and I've read about it too -- do you know why
> BMW's HID lights seem so much worse as far as blinding other drivers
> than any other make's?

H'm. I haven't noticed any such thing. Which specific models do you find
particularly offensive? All of BMW's current-production HID headlamps
(and, come to think of it, all the ones they've ever used in the US
market) have very good beam pattern control with a sharp cutoff. Some of
the headlamp units have styling elements that can worsen glare and upward
stray light, such as chrome masks, bezels or surrounds between the optic
lens and the aero front cover lens. And some (current 5-series) do have a
more intense visual signature than others (X5 SUV) due to the construction
details of the optic lens. Also, projector lamps, due to their smaller
illuminated surface, generally have more intense visual signatures than
reflector lamps with larger illuminated surfaces, given the same light
source. I think there's nothing special about BMWs, more likely what's at
work is the inherently ~50% more glaring nature of the light from
automotive HIDs and typical lack of headlamp aiming in North America.

I think the most glaring factory HIDs on the road (not counting the
illegal "retrofits") are from the new full-size Range Rover.

DS

Daniel Stern Lighting

unread,
Dec 5, 2003, 4:26:32 PM12/5/03
to
On Fri, 5 Dec 2003, Lloyd Parker wrote:

> Consumer Reports commented that their X5's HID lights blinded other
> drivers.

Yeah, well, Condemner Retards thinks the way to create a less-glaring low
beam is to eliminate the sharp cutoff, so...

DS

dodgeboy

unread,
Dec 5, 2003, 6:48:19 PM12/5/03
to
Well I sure as hell notice a lot of BMW's with blinding lights! If they
have anyone in the back seat your really blinded. I just give those A
Holes my high beams and leave them on least then we're even!!!!!
Dodgeboy

Aardwolf

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Dec 5, 2003, 7:37:30 PM12/5/03
to

Daniel Stern Lighting wrote:

> Pick your beam units carefully and you won't need an aux low beam:
>
> http://lighting.mbzarticles.org/sealed/

(Hmm, how come that doesn't appear to be linked to from your main lighting
site, or did I just never find said link?)

At any rate--I see that the complex-reflector Cibie units seem to have a hot
spot that's higher than the sealed beams--wouldn't this give _greater_
distance vision? (I assume that the Philips sealed beams represent about the
best of their class?)

I don't see any data for the non-complex reflector Cibie offerings--would
they, using maybe the "classic" look clear lenses, still be an upgrade over
DOT sealed beams?

With that, I'll save any other possible questions regarding the subject until
I read the Super-Lite article.

--Aardwolf.

Daniel Stern Lighting

unread,
Dec 5, 2003, 7:44:48 PM12/5/03
to
On Fri, 5 Dec 2003, Aardwolf wrote:

> > http://lighting.mbzarticles.org/sealed/
>
> (Hmm, how come that doesn't appear to be linked to from your main lighting
> site

Because it isn't, yet. Major site revisions and an ISP change are in
progress.

> At any rate--I see that the complex-reflector Cibie units seem to have a hot
> spot that's higher than the sealed beams--wouldn't this give _greater_
> distance vision?

Yes. The closer to the headlamp axis (straight ahead of the bulb) the hot
spot is placed, in both the horizontal and vertical directions, the longer
will be the beam reach, for a given aim angle.

> (I assume that the Philips sealed beams represent about the
> best of their class?)

Just about. Next time I'm in Ann Arbor I need to remember to stop in at
UMTRI and pick up a bunch of sealed beam scans, and I should have some
scans of selected halogen sealed beams within a few months.

> I don't see any data for the non-complex reflector Cibie offerings

I have it for 7" rounds, so far. 5.75" will come later. See below.

> --would they, using maybe the "classic" look clear lenses, still be an


> upgrade over DOT sealed beams?

While the answer depends on the specific situation, generally speaking,
in my opinion, and I'm certainly not alone, yes.

Here are photometric ("light tunnel") data for the Cibie 7" round and the
Hella 7" round H4 E-code headlamp in low beam mode. Same bulb, same power
supply, same light tunnel.

http://ns5.vrx.net/dsl/Photometry/Hella_7_Iso.jpg
http://ns5.vrx.net/dsl/Photometry/Cibie_7_Iso.jpg

If you're not familiar with isocandela diagrams, these will look like
random squiggles and lines. Think of it as a topographic or "contour" map
of the correctly-aimed beam pattern. Each differently-colored line
represents the threshold of a particular intensity level, with the color
legend located to the right of the isocandela diagram. The diagram is
plotted on a chart calibrated in degrees. Straight ahead is represented by
(0,0), that is, zero degrees up-down and zero degrees left-right.

To get a mental approximation of the units and amounts under discussion
here:

Parking lamp: About 60 to 100 candela
Front turn signal: About 500 candela
Glaring high-beam Daytime Running Lamps (e.g. Saturn): About 8000 cd.

Things to notice about these two diagrams:

(1) The Cibie produces a much wider beam pattern than the Hella. The 1000
candela line of the Cibie's beam pattern extends from 25 degrees Left to
25 degrees right, while the 1000 candela line of the Hella extends from 18
degrees Left to 20 degrees Right. At a distance of 50 feet from the car,
this means the 1000 candela-and-brighter portion of the Hella's beam is
10.5 feet narrower than that of the Cibie. The 300 cd contour of the
Cibie's pattern is *far* wider, extending from 43 degrees Left to 50
degrees Right, compared to 26 Left to 25 Right for the Hella. This means
the overall useful width of the beam pattern at 25 feet from the car, as
perceived by the driver, will be 40.7 feet for the Cibie and 22.3 feet for
the Hella.

2) The total luminous flux (overall amount of light) within the beam
pattern is 695 lumens for the Cibie, 463 lumens for the Hella - the Cibie
is 50.1% more efficient. (the TLF data is listed as "Luminous Flux" in the
readings up above the isocandela diagram)

The high beams for these two lamps (isocandela diagrams not yet scanned
in) are very similar in overall performance and amount of light -- the
critical difference is that the Cibie's high beam hot spot is located
closer to (0,0) and closer to its low beam hot spot. The Hella's high beam
and low beam hot spots are separated by a fairly large vertical amount,
such that setting the lows where they belong results in most of the high
beam light going up in the trees, but pulling the high beams down so they
send light straight ahead puts the low beams 10 feet in front of the car.

As always, I welcome whatever lighting questions anyone might have. I
answer 'em with facts and data, though, not with hype and pseudoscience,
so folks who are looking for reassurance that their new Hyper Zenon Arc
Xtreme Stupidwhite Bloo-Wite Silvermax Plazma Kewl Diamond 5000K MetalGlow
lights are really good...aren't gonna get it.

DS


Daniel Stern Lighting

unread,
Dec 6, 2003, 3:21:30 PM12/6/03
to

Factory info poster on the '69-'70 Dodge Super-Lite, which is better than
the article I was going to scan in, is here:

http://ns5.vrx.net/dsl/Photometry/superlite.html

DS

Aardwolf

unread,
Dec 6, 2003, 4:51:55 PM12/6/03
to

Daniel Stern Lighting wrote:

> Major site revisions and an ISP change are in progress.

Well that would explain things.


> > I don't see any data for the non-complex reflector Cibie offerings
>
> I have it for 7" rounds, so far. 5.75" will come later. See below.

> Here are photometric ("light tunnel") data for the Cibie 7" round and the


> Hella 7" round H4 E-code headlamp in low beam mode. Same bulb, same power
> supply, same light tunnel.

Jeez, well that shuts me up! Real, extensively detailed data. On newsgroups
even. (Sounds like one mother of a site overhaul.)


> If you're not familiar with isocandela diagrams

Thanks for the the explanation. I'm however not familiar with the difference
between isocandela, candela, candlepower, and lumens.


> Things to notice about these two diagrams:

I see now why you prefer the Cibie offerings and don't have that high an opinion
of the Hellas--it ain't just the sharpness of the cutoff. Chalk one up to the
French, I guess.


> The Hella's high beam
> and low beam hot spots are separated by a fairly large vertical amount,
> such that setting the lows where they belong results in most of the high
> beam light going up in the trees, but pulling the high beams down so they
> send light straight ahead puts the low beams 10 feet in front of the car.

That sounds quite subpar--and they must still meet the relevant codes. Don't
people, like, _notice_?

> As always, I welcome whatever lighting questions anyone might have. I
> answer 'em with facts and data, though, not with hype and pseudoscience,
> so folks who are looking for reassurance that their new Hyper Zenon Arc
> Xtreme Stupidwhite Bloo-Wite Silvermax Plazma Kewl Diamond 5000K MetalGlow
> lights are really good...aren't gonna get it.

Well as someone who is involved with the sciences myself, I quite appreciate that,
anywhere I find it. I've archived quite a few of your replies to various posts--I
know you've told people to ask a lot of questions, but at least I'll not be asking
the same ones more than once. I am curently juggling a few expenses and trying to
plan exactly what to do regarding lighting upgrades that I've mooted at some
length over this newsgroup, I should have it decided rather soon; I certainly find
your input on the matter helpful. And rational. Which is kind of the same thing
in my book.

Oh yeah--if you don't mind a couple other questions,

--What is an R2 bulb exactly? (They seem to have been used in old Hella and
Bosch/Eisman warning lights.)

--Are H1 low beams generally a better use for 5.75" rounds than H4 high/low, what
with reflector size?

--How come there don't seem to be any H2 low beams, are they somehow better suited
to driving light pencil/flood beams?

--What do the optics look like on Cibie's H4 combination fog/driving lights--is
the narrow center "slit" in the lens/reflector for the driving light or fog beam?

--What is the deal with Lucas Flamethrowers, performance/bulb wise--and do you
know offhand when they were introduced?

OKAY, that just about scrapes the bottom of the barrel for historical/esoteric
lighting questions that I have at this time.

As I said before, for anything else (if necessary) I'll wait for the article.


--Aardwolf.

Daniel Stern Lighting

unread,
Dec 6, 2003, 5:26:49 PM12/6/03
to
On Sat, 6 Dec 2003, Aardwolf wrote:

> Thanks for the the explanation. I'm however not familiar with the difference
> between isocandela, candela, candlepower, and lumens.

An iso<anything> diagram is just a plot of degree. A topo map of a
mountain is an isoelevation diagram; each isoline indicates a particular
elevation. In an isodepth diagram of the ocean, each isoline indicates a
particular depth. In an isocandela diagram of a headlamp beam, each
isoline indicates a particular level of intensity.

Steradian (sr): Solid angle subtending on the surface of a sphere an area
equal to the square of the sphere radius "r". The surface has total area
4(pi)r, or 12.57r, and the sphere contains 12.57 steradians.

Candela (cd): Non-metric unit of luminous intensity equal to one lumen per
steradian. In North America, headlamp beam performance is expressed in
candela.

Lux (lx): unit of illuminance. One lux is one lumen per square centimeter.
In Europe, headlamp beam performance is expressed in lux.

Lumen (lm): The luminous flux from a uniform point source in a solid angle
of one steradian. Used to express the output of light sources ("bulbs")
outside North America. To get lumens from MSCP, multiply MSCP by 12.57.

[Mean Spherical] Candlepower (mscp): The luminous flux from a uniform
point source emitted in all directions (spherically). To get MSCP from
lumens, divide lumens by 12.57. MSCP is used to express the output of
light sources ("bulbs") in North America.

Lumens Per Watt (lpw): The measure of light source efficacy. How much
light comes out (lumens) for each unit of electricity (watt) put in?

> I see now why you prefer the Cibie offerings and don't have that high an
> opinion of the Hellas--it ain't just the sharpness of the cutoff.
> Chalk one up to the French, I guess.

Cheese, wine and headlamps make strange bedfellows, but this is the
shortlist of things the French do well.

> > The Hella's high beam
> > and low beam hot spots are separated by a fairly large vertical amount,
> > such that setting the lows where they belong results in most of the high
> > beam light going up in the trees, but pulling the high beams down so they
> > send light straight ahead puts the low beams 10 feet in front of the car.
>
> That sounds quite subpar--and they must still meet the relevant codes.

They do.

> Don't people, like, _notice_?

Some people notice right away. Some people have to be told what the
problem is before they'll say "Oh yeah...I knew there was something wrong,
just couldn't quite place it".

This vertical separation actually has a use. Headlamps like this work well
in high-mount situations. ECE low beams' aim is mount height dependent;
the higher the headlamps are mounted the lower they're aimed.

> --What is an R2 bulb exactly?

It is a tungsten (non-halogen) dual-filament headlamp high/low beam bulb
having a 165-degree geometric arc's worth of shielding under the low beam
filament to create a cutoff as required by the European low beam pattern
spec, introduced in 1955. The bottom 40 percent of the reflector area is
not used on low beam, its "view" of the low beam filament being blocked by
this shield. The filament geometry and placement is identical to the
later, higher-output halogen H4 introduced in 1971, though the base is
different. Therefore, H4 burners on R2 bases work perfectly in any lamp
designed for an R2. Several of the major makers no longer make tungsten
R2s, having switched to a halogen 45/40W burner on the R2 base.

> --Are H1 low beams generally a better use for 5.75" rounds than H4
> high/low, what with reflector size?

It totally depends on the type of optic in use. There are many H1 low
beams that have a 165-degree arc's worth of mechanical filament shielding
built into the headlamp. In this case, the bottom 40% of the reflector is
still not used, just as with H4. H1 does produce more light than the H4
low beam filament (1500 lumens vs. 1000 lumens, nominal), but overall beam
robustness ("HOw much light is in the beam?") and formation ("...and
where's that light sent?") are more important factors than the bulb type
in what is "better". Then again, there are lamps like the Cibie CSR or the
Hella BiFocus that reduce (BiFocus) or eliminate (CSR) the occlusion-type
shielding and use more (BiFocus) or all (CSR) of the reflector area. These
are considerably more efficient. Given amount of light available from the
light source, greater active reflector area means more light collected,
therefore available for the beam. BiFocus and CSR beams are more efficient
*and* more effective than H4 or shielded-H1 designs, but more efficient
headlamps are not necessarily better ones. All DOT sealed beams use the
whole reflector area for low and high beam, for instance...

> --How come there don't seem to be any H2 low beams, are they somehow
> better suited to driving light pencil/flood beams?

H2 is a very high efficacy bulb. 55 Watts, 1820 lumens. However, it is a
tricky bulb to work with from a mechanical standpoint. You have to have a
special "bulb holder" to adapt the bulb to the optic unit, and these are
expensive to make and a nuisance to assemble and service. Also, its
lifespan is comparatively short. For that reason, it is no longer widely
used and has in fact been withdrawn from ECE R37 (i.e., no longer on the
list of approved light sources for new lamp designs). Other
similarly-performing bulbs with longer life and less bitchy mechanical
requirements are now preferred.

> What do the optics look like on Cibie's H4 combination fog/driving
> lights

Not sure what kind of answer you're looking for here. Buy a set and see
for yourself! ;^{)}

> --is the narrow center "slit" in the lens/reflector for the driving
> light or fog beam?

Doesn't make sense to me, show me a picture of what you're asking about.
Upper 60 percent of lens is for fog beam and is also used for drive beam,
lower 40 percent is exclusively for drive beam. This lamp is basically a
modified high/low beam H4 headlamp. Instead of producing a low beam with
a hot spot, upstep or upsweep to the right (Or left, for LH-traffic
countries), the "low beam" is a symmetrical, wide bar of light with a
straight-across cutoff. High beam = Drive beam.

> What is the deal with Lucas Flamethrowers, performance/bulb wise

It's very easy to make a driving beam (=high beam) or spot beam (=tight
high beam) or flood beam (=wide high beam), because no particular beam
control is necessary. Stick a filament at the focal point of a parabolic
reflector, and you're done. Therefore, even the Prince of Darkness could
do it with some success. Nowtimes, there are *much* better lamps, though
perhaps none with so cool a name.

> As I said before, for anything else (if necessary) I'll wait for the
> article.

Articles seldom get written until there's a demand for them, so pipe up.

DS

Daniel Stern Lighting

unread,
Dec 6, 2003, 5:27:12 PM12/6/03
to
Also, did you see I posted the page for the Super-Lite info?

On Sat, 6 Dec 2003, Aardwolf wrote:

Aardwolf

unread,
Dec 7, 2003, 5:13:52 PM12/7/03
to

Daniel Stern Lighting wrote:

> Also, did you see I posted the page for the Super-Lite info?

That's what I meant by "wait for the article". I hadn't looked for it yet but I will
now.

Re: Isocandela--that's what I get for reading stuff so late at night--of course it
refers to the diagram--as would isotherm, isochron, isobar, etc. Should have realized
that.

--Aardwolf.

Steve

unread,
Dec 8, 2003, 11:54:37 AM12/8/03
to
Aardwolf wrote:


>
> At any rate--I see that the complex-reflector Cibie units seem to have a hot
> spot that's higher than the sealed beams--wouldn't this give _greater_
> distance vision? (I assume that the Philips sealed beams represent about the
> best of their class?)

<un-paid, un-requested, non-affiliated, but heartfelt testamonial>

Cibie CSRs are the best headlamps I've ever used. Period.

</testamonial>


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