Super Bright LEDs Blog


1967 Austin Healey LED Retrofit



Posted on August 19, 2011

 

LED Lighting on my 1967 Austin Healey

by superbrightled's customer Glenn Abello

 

You are headed back from a local car show with your perfectly restored Austin Healey and the sun is sinking below the horizon. You flip your headlamps and panel lights on and...the dash instruments are still dark!

 

This is due neither to your aging eyes nor the switch being faulty. If you have ever removed one of your vintage Smiths gauges and examined it, you'd quickly discover the source of the problem. Once you extract the antiquated screw-in bulb, you'll discover it to be a blinding 2.2 watts! Even an owl could not see anything using this anemic light source.

 

Well, Upgrade Alley fans, we have a solution. The LED (Light Emitting Diode) was invented in 1962 by Nick Holonyak, a consulting electrical engineer while at General Electric in Syracuse, NY. Over the ensuing 50 years, LED lighting has developed into an excellent illumination source for automobiles that has many advantages over both incandescent and halogen bulbs.

 

  • Longer lasting (up to 10K hours of continuous lighting vs 500-1200 hours for OE bulbs)

  • Brighter per watt of output

  • More energy efficient (minimal current draw, measured in milli-amperes)

  • Cooler when operating (about 80°F)

  • Safer within the existing electrical system (reduced fire hazard)

 

It's really simple to convert your Healey to LED lighting, both for the instrumentation/interior and the exterior. Here's what you'll need and the approximate cost. NOTE: all product numbers and pricing are from Super Bright LEDs, Inc of St. Louis, MO (www.superbrightleds.com).

 

 

DASH PANEL

 

Gauge Lighting: The original 2.2 watt bulbs and their sockets pull out from the backside of the Smiths Gauges. You will need to convert the original screw-in sockets to wedge-type receptacles. This can be accomplished by cutting the original socket wires and splicing in the replacements. Once in place, you will need four WLED-WHP Cool White High Power LEDs with a beam angle of 120°. These cost about $5 each, are polarized (that is, you must insert them into the socket according to polarity, which is marked on the body of the bulb), last up to 10K hours and draw 25-milliamps (ma) of current (thus, reducing the risk of fire with your 45+ year-old toggle switch). Photo 2 shows the original and replacement bulbs and receptacles and Photo 3 shows the dash gauges illuminated with the Super Bright LEDs.

 

Other Dash Lighting: Now that you can see your instruments at night, let's convert the remainder of the interior lighting!

  • High Beam Indicator Lamp (located in the Speedometer): change the receptacle as described above and insert one WLED-B90 Blue wedge-type bulb. This bulb is non-polarized, draws 18-ma and costs about $1.39.

  • Turn Signals: You will need to replace the receptacle and insert a WLED-G90 Green wedge-type bulb (NOTE: Two each for the BJ8). These have the same cost and specs as the High Beam Indicator, except it is Green rather than Blue (you will note that the bulb color should match the indicator color for maximum light penetration).

  • Generator Warning Light: this red indicator is located in the Tachometer and CANNOT be replaced with an LED, as there are certain circuit requirements for the charging system that preclude use of a low current LED.

 

Interior Lighting: This is where you will be grateful for Dr. Holonyak's genius. An LED light strip is available in varying lengths for use as lighting in the cockpit foot-wells, engine bay, boot (trunk) and glove box. This self-adhesive, weather-proof strip may be cut into any size segment (3-LED minimum), wired and switched via a “live” toggle for use when entering or leaving the car or when looking in the engine bay or boot after dark. An entire meter-long strip (about 39-inches, consisting of 60 LEDs, Product Number WFLS-NW60) costs under $27 and draws 290-ma of power. Photos 4 through 6 show how these areas of the car may be illuminated.

 

 

 

 

EXTERIOR LIGHTING

 

 

 

Parking Lamps (BJ8 Phase 2 only): These are the two clear plastic Lucas lamps located at the front of the car below the headlamps (and, by now you thought I was going to leave poor Mr. Lucas alone...not a chance!). These were originally lit by 5-watt, single element, #1156 bayonet-base bulbs. The LED replacements are Super Bright Product Number 1156-W24, which have the same bayonet-style base as the originals, draw 75-ma and cost about $13 each. These Cool White illuminated lamps contain 24 LEDs, 18 of which point forward and 6 that ring the perimeter. Photo 8 shows the LED-equipped Parking Lights on at night.

 

 

Turn Signal Lamps (BJ8, Phase 2 only): The Phase 2 BJ8 was created in 1965 to conform to U.S. Safety Standards. Earlier models, including the Phase 1 BJ8s, had the turn signals combined with the parking and brake lights. The turn signals for the BJ8 Phase 2 were made into separate, plastic amber-lensed units for both the front and rear of the car. The unit utilized a 21-watt, single element, #1156 bayonet-base bulb. This is replaced by a Super Bright Product Number 1156-A24 LED. This Amber illuminated unit is similar in design to the Cool White LEDs utilized for the BJ8 Parking Lights above. NOTE: in order to successfully use LED turn signals, an F3 Flasher Relay must be installed. This relay senses the low current draw output of LED lamps, thus allowing them to flash on-off, and costs about $13.

 

 

Turn Signal Lamps (BN1 through BJ8 Phase 1): The Parking/Turn Signals were contained in a single, clear-glassed unit (plastic for the BJ8) located at the front of the car below the headlamps. The original bulb was a two-element (5/21 watt), #1157 bayonet based unit. This bulb is replaced by Super Bright Product Number 1157-WLX3, which costs about $13 each. The next photo shows the brightness of an LED turn signal. Again, in order for operation of LED flashers, you must replace the Lucas “mini-beer can” Relay with a Super Bright F3 Flasher Relay. 

 

 

Brake Lights (all models): The original bulb for this application was the 5/21watt dual filament, bayonet based #1157. The Super Bright replacement is the very bright 1157-RLX3. When you apply the brakes, the output of this lamp comes close to causing retinal flash burns! You will definitely be seen. This LED requires a current of 240-ma (2.1 amps for the OE bulb!) during the braking function (65-ma as a tail light) and costs about $13 each. Photo 11 shows the rear illumination. The right side of the car has the OE incandescent bulbs installed and the left side is utilizing LED units. The next photo shows the car with the brakes applied (both lights LED).

 

 

License Plate Lamp: The ubiquitous English car license plate lamp unit contained one or two bayonet based incandescent bulbs. These are replaced by Super Bright BA9SF-W-12V LEDs at $2 each (See the next photo for a comparison of LED and OE illumination). Now, the local police will be able to read your plate!

 

 

SUMMARY

 

The conversion from the original incandescent lamps to their LED equivalents is quick, relatively inexpensive and very efficient, both in lighting quality and minimizing current demands on the electrical system. It is recommended for the daily driver and the occasional British show car. Exterior LEDs may run against the Concours Crowd as being “non-original”, but LED illumination of the gauges should be within bounds. After all, it is a matter of safety to be able to read your instrumentation after dark!

 

 

APPLICATION

ORIGINAL BULB

LED REPLACEMENT

COST (EACH)

Gauge Lighting (all models)

2.2-watt screw base

WLED-WHP (requires wedge-type receptacle)

$4.95

Interior Turn Signals (all)

2.2 watt screw base

WLED-G90 (requires wedge-type receptacle)

$1.39

High Beam Indicator

2.2 watt screw base

WLED-B90 (requires wedge-type receptacle)

$1.39

Parking Lamps (BJ8 Phase2)

1156 Single Filament Bayonet Base, 5 watt

1156-W24 Cool White, 24 LED, Bayonet Base

$12.99

Turn Signals (BJ8 Phase2)

1156 Single Filament Bayonet Base, 21 watt

1156-A24 Amber, 24 LED, Bayonet Base (requires F3 Flasher Relay @$13.00)

$12.99

Turn Signals (BN1-BJ8 Ph1)

1157 Dual Filament Bayonet Base, 5/21 watt

1157-WLX3 White Luxeon 3 watt LED, Bayonet Base

$12.99

Brake Lights (all models)

1157 Dual Filament Bayonet Base, 5/21 watt

1157-RLX3 Red Luxeon 3 watt LED, Bayonet Base

$12.99

License Plate Lamp (all models)

#57 Single Filament BA9S Base, 3.4 watt

BA9SF-W-12V Cool White LED, Bayonet Base

$1.99

 


Posted In Tutorials | Tagged Car, LED, Replacement,, Austin, Healey

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