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1959 Headlight Upgrade Recommendations?

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  • 1959 Headlight Upgrade Recommendations?

    Hey guys, original headlights are a bit dim for night driving. I'd appreciate any suggested products and advice to upgrade to brighter headlights including any recommended relays or plug connectors. I have already upgraded to 130 amps. Thanks. Tbird New Garage Floor (1).jpeg

  • #2
    Led headlights are much brighter. You can also get them with different colored halos.


    • #3
      Thanks for the advice Derbird. Definitely looking into LED headlight replacements now. And thanks for the sharing the nice shots of your car. Looks great. I'm also going to replace the brake lights with LEDs so if anyone has a recommended vendor that's accurate on fitment appreciate any suggestions. Thanks.


      • #4
        I got something I am working on for led taillights. Possibly even a sequential turn for the 58 and 59.


        • #5
          I got a sequencer from the vendor we have listed, works slick, I tried LED bulbs, but unless you're willing to spend big bucks on the good ones don't bother. I've still got the original generator, upgraded my headlights to the Sylvania expensive ones and they're really bright.
          South Delta, BC, Canada
          1960 White T-Bird, PS, PB that's it
          Red Leather Interior!

          Thunderbird Registry #61266


          • #6
            And who might that sequential tail light vender be?


            • #7
              Originally posted by JimGold59 View Post
              Hey guys, original headlights are a bit dim for night driving. I'd appreciate any suggested products and advice to upgrade to brighter headlights including any recommended relays or plug connectors. I have already upgraded to 130 amps.
              I hope you upgraded the alternator wiring to handle that juice. How does it not squeal?


              • #8
                Originally posted by Derbird View Post
                Led headlights are much brighter. You can also get them with different colored halos.
                What brand? I installed LEDs a while back and had to do major surgery on the buckets and sheet metal. I should have just used Hella H4 ECE conversions. I've done that on two other cars now and am delighted with them.


                • #9
                  I will try to find the receipt for them. I believe I got them on eBay.


                  • #10
                    After talking with my fellow Tbird Club member regarding him converting his 1966 Flairbird to Round, colored LED headlights, I found out that it is not a cheap process to do so. It is not just a matter of buying the LED lights you like, but there are also other components that he had to buy to make a conversion to them possible. So it is NOT just a simple matter of replacing your OEM round headlights with a set of LED round headlights, hooking them up and away you go. As I recall, he said he had to have a mechanic with a good understanding of how classic headlights work do the conversion for him and add the additional components needed to make them work properly. In reading up on the Hella H4 ECE Conversion that Dark Soul mentions, the first thing I read was that Hella H4 ECE headlights are NOT approved for US car usage... Motorcycles, yes, unless there is a change in the law I have not found... It IS possible to use the HELLA HB2/9003 Vision Plus headlamps are SAE/DOT legal for all vehicles in the USA while the H4 conversion headlamps are ECE approved only and are legal only for motorcycles in the USA. Be sure to check your local laws for any additional requirements. This is right off this website... So instead of going the LED route, you may want to check out the Hella headlights...

                    My Hella Lights :: Sealed Beam Conversion Headlamps

                    Ray Clark - Squarebirds Administrator
                    The Terminator..... VTCI #11178
                    Contact me via Private Message for my email address, or Call (Cell) 210-875-1411



                    • #11
                      The name of the game here is, 'current draw'. What's at stake? Your headlight switch. It was designed to carry enough current to control headlights, tail lights, parking lights, license plate and trunk lights. Modern lights are certainly better and brighter but they weren't known back in the day. So, your car's electrical scheme is a system starting with the demand and ending with the generating power source. The car's electrical system must be considered in its entirety and as the electrical code states, the supply MUST meet the demand (or your storage battery will be perpetually dead).

                      One 'thing' leads to another. Squarebirds' generators only supply 30-amps and only when the engine speed is over 1,500-RPM. When you see that GEN light flicker your system is draining, not charging. So the OEM generator has a hard time keeping up in winter when the headlights are on (because days are shorter), the heater is on (because it's cold) and the radio is on (to hear weather and traffic reports) AND the battery is low from hard starting and from being cold.

                      The bottom line is, install an alternator large enough for upgrades, present and future. How large? What do modern cars use? Get one of those. They normally hover around 130-amps so that they charge (25-amps) at idle speeds for the electric fan.

                      NOW, we can talk about bright headlights, electric cooling fans, stereo systems and any additional electric accessory. There are electric water pumps on the market too, for cars that idle for extended periods. The pump speed is never too slow or too fast. Like electric fans, engine RPMs are not a consideration. When the engine gets up to temp, the water pump speeds up. When the radiator gets hot the electric fan kicks in. These devices save gas and pay for themselves.

                      Back to the headlight switch and your turn signal switch. They have a rated capacity. People load them up and they both can burn out so we use relays to carry the current load. The control switches are already there. For example, when the headlight switch delivers power to the HI/LO beam switch, that can be used to turn on two relay coils. The contacts from those relays close the circuit for whatever headlights you like. The same holds true for trailer loads. Three relays are used. Relay coils are energized from each turn signal/stop and tail light wires. The contacts from those relays power whatever load you add (including a rear window stop light). This saves your turn signal switch from burning out inside the steering column and the flasher is not affected at all. Remember, your turn signal switch interrupts the stop light so that current does go through the turn signal switch. Ford sold an awful lot of replacement turn signal switch plates.

                      Where does power come from to power the relay contacts? You must run a power wire from a fuse (or circuit breaker) at the battery and end it in the trunk. #10AWG copper stranded wire from the box stores works well. So, match the fuse (30-amp) with the wire size (#10) AND the relay contacts ratings (I use 40-amp 'ice cube relays'). (I also have a power inverter in my trunk for 115-volt power to run a drill motor and a light in remote locations. I'm an Electrician).

                      When you run a power wire also include a ground wire. It can be bare. Mine attaches to the floor along the way with ring terminals, from the battery to the trunk. The ring terminals allow me to 'tap off' branches; one to the dashboard, electric windows, power seat, convertible top motor, fuel tank, stop lamp housings, trailer plug, etc. I simply slide a half-dozen crimp terminals on the wire and crimp them where needed along the way.

                      Modern cars use a relay to control the electric fuel pump instead of adding more load to the key switch. There's been recent discussion here about this as well. My friend (another Electrician) mounted a small switch to his sliding ashtray as a fuel cut-off burglar deterrent. When the ash tray is pushed all the way shut, the switch contacts open the fuel pump relay and the fuel pump won't run. When the ashtray is slightly open, here comes gas. The cigarette lighter works for this purpose as well especially for those who don't allow smoking in their ride. So, it's easy to understand why an alternator and 'extra' power and ground wires are very useful in a classic Ford. Your imagination is the limit. - Dave
                      My latest project:
                      CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

                      "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
                      --Lee Iacocca

                      From: Royal Oak, Michigan