Oct 14, 2015 update to the Ford F-350 Ramp Truck project car

The Ramp Truck Journey: Day 4

Our headlight situation turned out to be a pretty big issue.
Most of day 4 looked like this as we drove through some of the most rain South Carolina had seen in a long time.
Our new Falken tires handled the weather well.

We started day 4 by fixing a few things on the ramp truck. Our rear brakes were new, and needed further adjustment once bedded in. This simple adjustment made the brakes great again and got us our e-brake back.

With everything else in order, we thought this might turn into a pretty relaxing trip. Then the rain appeared on the horizon. We didn’t know what to expect. Would the truck leak? Would the wipers be effective? Would the whole mess be treacherous to drive in the rain.

Actually, none of the above turned out to be a problem. We Rain-Xed the windshield and installed new wiper blades, and the truck ran through the rain with no problems. Even the heater and defrost worked fine. Our new Falken tires easily dealt with the sporadic torrential rain admirably.

It is truly amazing how modern vehicles had gotten by the seventies. This truck goes down the highway at 65-70 mph pretty comfortably.

After a lovely visit with readers Chuck and Jane Anne Chadwick—who helped fill our now truly overloaded truck with more parts for our upcoming Lotus project—we were barreling past Richmond, Virginia, with no further issues.

With about 750 miles to go and seemingly all of our mechanical problems behind us, we decided to go for broke and finish the entire trip to get home to Daytona Beach, Florida, that day.

Because of the storm damage in South Carolina, we steered clear of I-95—which was closed—and took to the back roads. We were able to snake our way through the Carolinas with only one short detour.

As we reached the Georgia border it began to get dark. The night before we had noticed our low beams had gone out. But operating on the assumption that the dimmer switch had just gone bad—and the fact that we had very little night driving left—we decided to forgo a repair and just run our high beams. The old lights were so dim, it didn’t bother anyone on the road anyway.

However, once it was dark we realized that tonight we had no headlights at all. Assuming again that the malfunction was in either the headlight switch or dimmer switch, we started running through the headlight wiring harness.

We found no problems. Finally we just removed one of the headlights and realized that we had bad bulbs. Really? Could we possibly have two bad headlight bulbs at once? Yes, yes we could.

Of course, at this point it was totally dark and we were 12 miles from the nearest auto parts store. We stopped at a pretty sketchy convenience store and started asking the quite scary patrons if they would take us to and from the auto parts store for $40.

We found no takers and decided that this simple problem could not end the trip. Then it dawned on us that the Spitfire we were carrying takes the same type of headlights as our truck!

Of course, a rainy night is not the easiest time to take Spitfire headlight surrounds off, especially when they had been previously fixed with the wrong bolts which were now rusty. But we soldiered on with our cheap, crappy tools and managed to get one headlight bulb off the Spitfire and onto the truck. We skipped the second bulb, figuring the time would be better spent driving to the auto parts store and buying a new set.

With one headlight pointed in the general direction of the road before us, we were finally safe at our auto parts oasis. But would you believe an AutoZone no longer carries 7-inch round headlight bulbs? With five minutes to spare, we dashed into the O’Reilly Auto Parts store next door and bought both of the bulbs they had in stock. We also picked up a voltage regulator, assuming that both bulbs going out at once might not have been a coincidence. With new lights installed, we rolled off once again into the night.

By the time we made it back on the road, it was nearly 10:00 pm. We were still about four hours from home, but we didn’t want to stop for the night. We soldiered on with no further problems and high-fived each other well after midnight as we passed the “Welcome to Florida” sign. We had made it… or so we thought.

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Comments

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TRoglodyte
TRoglodyte SuperDork
10/14/15 2:18 p.m.

As I sit here chuckling , it occurs to me this has turned into a "yuk fest". Soldier on indeed.

JohnRW1621
JohnRW1621 MegaDork
10/14/15 2:26 p.m.

Up until 1975 there were only two kinds of headlights in the US.
Large round and small round.

rcutclif
rcutclif Dork
10/14/15 2:30 p.m.
JohnRW1621 wrote: Up until 1975 there were only two kinds of headlights in the US. Large round and small round.

That's actually one of the few pieces of predictability about whether I think a car is cool or not. If it has round headlights, 99.8% chance I think it is cool.

noddaz
noddaz Dork
10/14/15 8:33 p.m.

"We soldiered on with no further problems and high-fived each other well after midnight as we passed the “Welcome to Florida” sign. We had made it… or so we thought."

Well now... Just go ahead and leave us hanging...

wlkelley3
wlkelley3 SuperDork
10/14/15 8:54 p.m.

I've had that same headlight issue on my Opel GT when finishing the restoration. I re-wired most of the car and beefed up the headlight wiring (known issue with old GT's) and couldn't understand why they wouldn't work. Went through everything over and over again, even used a multi-meter. Have power, why don't they work. Looked over at my project Midget and noticed some bulbs so I "borrowed" one and it worked in both sides. Both bulbs were burnt out. Re-enforcing the check simple things first philosophy.

Knurled
Knurled UltimaDork
10/14/15 9:00 p.m.
Tim Suddard wrote: we decided to forgo a repair and just run our high beams. The old lights were so dim, it didn't bother anyone on the road anyway.

Sure it does. We're just too polite, or too browbeaten by all the other happy people who are literally shiny, to inform/remind you that your behavior is quite rude.

However, once it was dark we realized that tonight we had no headlights at all.

Karma.

No ill will, Knurled

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
10/14/15 9:42 p.m.

I love standardized lights. They make so much sense. I've got at least seven cars with 7" round lights. Two of them are running modern LED units with fantastic light output, and retrofitting those was as difficult as replacing a blown sealed beam. I'm not usually the curmudgeon, but changing the headlight and taillight housings every year to entice new buyers on to the lots is a terrible idea from a maintenance standpoint.

And it's not like standard lights mean ugly cars. All the most gorgeous 60's cars basically just used lights out of the Lucas catalog.

Glad to hear it came to your rescue here. I'll bet there was some head slapping when you realized you could use the Spitfire lights. And I'll bet a set of 70's era sealed beams on high are less problematic for oncoming traffic than those incredibly ill-designed low beams on F150s and Explorers.

Knurled
Knurled UltimaDork
10/15/15 5:43 a.m.
Keith Tanner wrote: And I'll bet a set of 70's era sealed beams on high are less problematic for oncoming traffic than those incredibly ill-designed low beams on F150s and Explorers.

This is definitely true in the case of the new Chevy pickups with the LEDs. They have a combination of brightness and absolutely atrocious beam "shape". They throw light down, up, everywhere.

Over in the VW thread it was opined that life would be easier in many cases if the US would adopt Euro standards. I'd be happy if we just adopted Euro lighting standards, which have stipulations for where light CAN'T be.

Furious_E
Furious_E Reader
10/15/15 7:56 a.m.
Knurled wrote:
Keith Tanner wrote: And I'll bet a set of 70's era sealed beams on high are less problematic for oncoming traffic than those incredibly ill-designed low beams on F150s and Explorers.

This is definitely true in the case of the new Chevy pickups with the LEDs. They have a combination of brightness and absolutely atrocious beam "shape". They throw light down, up, everywhere.

Over in the VW thread it was opined that life would be easier in many cases if the US would adopt Euro standards. I'd be happy if we just adopted Euro lighting standards, which have stipulations for where light CAN'T be.

The thing that really bugs me is that they seem to be at just the perfect height to be aimed STRAIGHT AT the rear view mirror of any normal-height car...

alfadriver
alfadriver UltimaDork
10/15/15 11:29 a.m.

I'm just trying to wrap my head around the concept that a British car with Lucas electronics donated some electrical parts to save the day. Or night, as it may be.

Does not compute.

Wall-e
Wall-e MegaDork
10/15/15 12:13 p.m.

In reply to alfadriver: That's got to be like getting Ted Kennedy's liver.

Knurled
Knurled UltimaDork
10/15/15 12:21 p.m.

In reply to Wall-e:

Torture tested!

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
10/15/15 12:51 p.m.
alfadriver wrote: I'm just trying to wrap my head around the concept that a British car with Lucas electronics donated some electrical parts to save the day. Or night, as it may be. Does not compute.

To be fair, it donated the sealed beam headlights. Which are so bad as to be illegal in Europe. And probably came from a US manufacturer.

car39
car39 HalfDork
10/15/15 1:09 p.m.

I had to drive 30 miles and go to 5 different "parts" stores to get 2 6014 headlights. Could have had all the air fresheners and license plate frames I wanted, but no lights.

alfadriver
alfadriver UltimaDork
10/15/15 2:23 p.m.
Keith Tanner wrote:
alfadriver wrote: I'm just trying to wrap my head around the concept that a British car with Lucas electronics donated some electrical parts to save the day. Or night, as it may be. Does not compute.

To be fair, it donated the sealed beam headlights. Which are so bad as to be illegal in Europe. And probably came from a US manufacturer.

But Lucas is like cancer, isn't it? It's badness could spread into perfectly good electronics.

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