Saturday, April 18, 2009

Progress on the Adjustable Headlight Mount

The headlight which came in my Gizmo was mounted in a specially shaped hole in the nose of the vehicle. The method was both inexpensive and made for a clean looking finish. There are three problems I had with the setup as it came. One was that water would collect under the headlight so I had to remember to swish it out before opening the hatch. The hole needed a slight down hill slope to it to drain water. The second issue was that the headlight was hard to aim. It was mounted with velcro at the back of the hole. I was able to get it close most of the time. Fortunately the beam was wide enough that when the aim was off it wasn't too bad to drive. The third thing had nothing to do with the design of the vehicle. It was the fact that the headlight was designed for a 4-headlight system. There is nothing wrong with this except that the wattage of the high beam element was lower than that of the low beam element. Turning on high beam meant that the road got harder to see even though the aim was higher. Initially I looked for a replacement sealedbeam headlight which was for a two headlight system and found that my '97 S-10 pickup had the right headlight. I was going to buy one and the plug that matched it (it has one angled pin like this |_\ whereas the existing headligh had a pin pattern like |_|) but I decided to see if I could come up with a way to have the standard aiming mechanism that a car has. I wanted to do as little body work on the Gizmo as possible. I gave up on making a standard size headlight mount and went with a smaller headlight. I found a Hella Headlamp upgrade in the 150mm rectangular size which included the mounting frame. I purchased it from Susquehanna MotorSports at They were most helpful and were willing to go measure the size of the headlight for me to see if it would fit. The only modification I had to make was file off the tip of the upper adjusting screw slot.

Below is a photo of the headlight hole. The velcro is visible in the hole. The dust is because the Gizmo has been sitting waiting for the replacement Gizmo Interface board.

Here is the back of the headlight. The piece of velcro on the bottom of the headlight came off because it was in water so much.
Once I had the replacement headlight I had to figure out how to mount it. I tried a wax mold of the hole as a pattern but that was a little difficult. I also carved a 1 inch thick piece of wax to try since I could get some UHMW plastic in that thickness but I was concerned about the heat generated by the headlight. At least the wax setup gave me a proof of concept item so I knew the headlight would fit. Finally, one of the members of our EV club, said that he did fiberglass work and could make a mold for a cup which would fit the hole. I could then mount the headlight mount to that and slip the whole unit into the hole. So, that is what we are doing. Below is the first step, building a plug the shape of the original hole.
Unfortunately there was a weak spot at the top of the hole in the Gizmo which cracked when removing the plug so I still will have to do some repair work on it. After the plug was made, a mold was made and then the cup which is going into the Gizmo. Below is the inside of the nearly finished cup and the aluminum plate I had available for the headlight mount.
Here is the back side of the cup and the aluminum plate. I'm planning on epoxying the four eyebolts into the cup. I mounted them to the aluminum plate to keep them square with the plate. I don't have any room to bolt from the outside of the cup so I hope the epoxy will hold the stainless steel eyebolts. I'm trying to decide between using some Plastic Steel Epoly and some Permatex Epoxy Metal Filler. I may go with the metal filler since it is supposed to handle a 2 inch gap without support. Only the tips of the eyebolts will be close to the fiberglass cup.

The two pieces as they will go together.Here are the two pieces as they will look when assembled.The two square holes hold the nylon "nuts" for the adjusting screws and the two holes in the lower left corner are for the tension spring. I went to a recking yard and got the screws and spring out of about a 1990 GM pickup. There is a whole list of vehicles from 1986 through 2002 which used the 150mm rectangular headlamp.

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