X88 expeditions - Documenting and sharing overland travels, adventures, and expeditions

December 4, 2007

Lighting - Headlamps + Auxiliary Lamps II

For night-time on road (with no oncoming traffic) and offroad driving, I decided to stick with KCHilites. The only issue was where to mount them. I decided to go with an N-Fab universal light bar, part # C995LB from Rocky Mountain Suspension Products.
I already had 3 Titanium Daylighters with 130 Watt bulbs, so I purchased an extra one for mounting on the light bar.
The picture on the right shows the KCHilite acrylic rock shield. I prefer this type of shield vs. the standard kind as it gives 100% protection against flying rocks, branches, etc. You can see how they look on the vehicle in the blue Trailblazer pictures. Of course I will also have solid white plastic covers when driving during the day so as to stay "street legal".

The only decision left to make is how to mount the light bar. Here are a couple of Photoshop'd images. I prefer them higher, but I just don't know if mounting the light bar to the plastic grille will be strong enough. The other option is mounting it to the offroad bumper, I don't know if I like them that low and hiding the Winch.

You may have noticed some smaller lights Photoshop'd into the front of the Surco Safari bar. For there, I have decided to go with 2 different sets of PIAA lights. On the outside, the Series 510 fog lights I have left over. And on the inside, 4 Series 510 long range lamps.
The long range lamps will augment the 130 Watt KCHilite lamps, while the fog lamps will work together with the H7 bulbs in the offroad bumper. Why the PIAA smaller (4 inch) lamps you may ask? I like the way they tuck underneath the top of the Surco Safari rack. I didn't want a massive set of full-size lights on the roof.

The wiring is definitely going to be a challenge particularly on the roof as there is no other way to permanently get power there without drilling some holes. I also want to make the fuses and relays very clean in the engine bay, perhaps some kind of extra wiring harness/box to keep everything nice and neat. More research on that is needed.

And finally the switches for all these lights. I still like wiring them into the factory switch logic, so the fog lamps (upper and lower) will be on the stock fog lamp switch and the long range lamps (upper and lower) will be on the high-beam switch. But there will be a twist:

I have bought some covered safety switches from Purple Cranium, this picture represents how I will be configuring them. When the switches are in the off position, the corresponding lights will not turn on even when they are activated with the factory switches. I.e. the safety switches must be on for the lights to work.

The left blue switch is for the lower long range set (KCHilites). The right blue switch is for the upper long range set (PIAA). And the yellow switch is for the upper fog set (PIAA). The H7 bulbs in the offroad bumper will always be available by just turning on the factory fog light switch.

Well, thats it for now. I will be posting later on the progress of this build. The next step is to mount the PIAA lamps on the Surco Safari rack. This I can do over the winter. The KCHilite mounting and all the wiring will have to wait for the Spring.

Lighting - Headlamps + Auxiliary Lamps

If you've seen pictures of my Trailblazer over the past year or two, you've probably noticed that I am somewhat of a lighting freak. I love to add auxiliary lamps if they are for actual real-world use and a benefit while driving.

This all started about 10 years ago with my Grand Prix GTP. At that time, I had a contract in Ottawa and would drive there from Toronto (4-6 hours depending on route and weather) at least twice per month. After the 10th boring trip down the 401 (you southern Ontario people know what I'm talking about) I decided to start exploring the more scenic routes to the north.

Trouble was that I would regularly go past sunset, particularly in the winter. And I didn't feel comfortable with the stock 9007 low/high beam bulbs, they just did not light up the road enough. The solution was to wedge a set of PIAA 120 Watt long range lamps into the stock fog light locations and have them activate only with the high beams. It was a big success, and after that I was hooked.

So here are some pictures of the old blue Trailblazer in 2 configurations. First a pair of PIAA P-1000XT driving lights, a pair of KCHilite 130 Watt long range lamps and a pair of PIAA 510 Series fog lamps. After installing the Mile Marker grille guard / winch carrier, I decided to add 1 more KCHilite and to temporarily jettison the fog lamps.

This set up was working very well. I wired the driving lamps to come on with the stock fog light switch, and the long range lamps to come on with the high beams.

So now with the offroad bumper, I have had to rethink the lighting a little bit.

First step was to upgrade the stock lighting. I did not want to jump into HIDs just yet so I decided on Hoen Lighting. Here is a comparison of the low-beam stock vs Hoen Titanium 9006 bulbs.
This compares the high-beam stock vs Hoen Xenonmatch Plus 9005 bulbs.
And finally, a picture of the all the Hoen bulbs installed, and the H7 bulbs in the offroad bumper replaced by Hoen Endurance Fog Lamps.