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New Old KC lights

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  • New Old KC lights

    Ages ago someone gave me a box of car junk that included a pair of the old KC High Lites. I remembered this box recently when driving on the beach at night and not being able to see to the side very well. The headlights are Hella upgrades with 55w bulbs, and are very good headlights, but I need more light out to the sides.

    I found the KC's, which probably date from the 80's, took them apart and found that they had 100w bulbs in what I think are called spot beam lenses. Holding the light in my hand, and jumping from a battery, I shot the light out into the dark back yard and it made a great spot light. I can see why so many people put up racks of these spot lights up on the roof, but that's not really what I need. I just wanted a spread pattern like fog lights or maybe driving lights. I don't need to see a mile away when I'm traveling at low speeds. I looked around on the KC website and was surprised to find different lens patterns for sale for lights this old. They didn't really explain what the patterns looked like, which I don't get. Youtube helped a bit. Anyway, I ordered a pair of Fog pattern lenses to try out, and they were pretty cheap compared to anything of quality I could find. I think it was $80 for the pair. I also went with 55w bulbs so I can use them on the road and not blind anyone.

    I installed a relay on the right wing in the engine compartment, next to the row of 3 Hella relays installed by the previous owner. The relay had lousy instructions, and once again Google came in to help. This relay uses what I guess is standard number codes (German?) for each of the 4 terminals, and there were several opinions on what they all are supposed to do. I guessed correctly, and it all worked the first time. A switch on the center dash "accessory panel" thing (this is a Series 3) activates the lights whenever the parking lights are on. I debated wiring to the low beams, but I want to try it this way. I can always change it.

    While I was in the dash, I installed a vintage red indicator light that will show me when I have the rear facing LED work light lit up. Or it'll tell me that one of my boys has flipped it on and didn't tell anyone. That'll help avoid annoying any following vehicles, especially the ones with flashing lights on their roofs. I put the work light in a few months ago and didn't get around to this part of the project till now.

    Here's a head on shot of the install. Sorry for the distorted fish eye lens - it's the only one on my phone that isn't broken yet. The bumper is an older one made to house the Warn 8274 I need to rebuild. It obscures the light bar a bit from this view. I'm pretty sure the light bar and the winch won't co-exist, so we'll call this version 1 of the light bar. It'll take me a while to get the winch done.
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    I have a new job (yay!) and they happen to have a fantastic machine shop. I'm learning to use everything, and they encouraged me to learn by doing, and were just fine with me designing and building this light bar. It's made of steel. A square steel tube runs left to right and is where the lights attach. Sheet steel was cut on a water jet after I designed it in CAD. The pieces were welded up with my moderate skill and with expert instruction. It all got primer and paint from spray cans.

    Here's a side shot of it. You can see the side bracket, which was bent 90 degrees (32.22 degrees Celsius, ha ha) to create a bolt flange. I think I used .08" (2mm) thick sheet steel, which I though would be too thin, and has proved to be strong enough to stand on. You can see through the square tube end to where the bottom has a hole to allow a socket wrench to tighten the mounting bolt. The open square tube ends and the bottom socket holes now have plastic plugs in them, mostly because I found a box full of them at work.

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    Here's an installed shot before the wiring was done. The silver cable protector proved to be too small for the 10 gauge wiring I chose (which may be overkill for 55 watts, but is there if I decide on 100 watts.
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    Another early installed shot to show what it looks like. Just a bit of rust inside the KC housings.
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    Wired and covered. I like the covers that have the KC smiley face, but these are what came in the box. Anyone know if these are older or newer than the smiley ones? I don't plan to use them much because I think they might blow off. They might have fit tight when new, but not anymore.
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    I tested them in the dark on the road, but have not been on the beach yet to really see if they will help there. I suspect they will. I have them aimed outwards and just below the low beam. They really do improve vision on the side of the road. Next up will be to test in wet conditions, rain, snow, and fog. We don't get much fog here, but it does rain and snow.

    I really wanted amber fogs, but KC doesn't make lenses that way. (Hella apparently stopped making round amber fogs some time ago). KC does have yellow filters for these lights, but I'm not sure how much they reduce the light intensity. Let that be phase two. Maybe Santa will bring some.

    I'll find some time over this long US Thanksgiving weekend and take a photo or two of the truck lighting up the front of the barn. The fogs with the low watt bulbs are still pretty impressive. I think the KC's look the part, as well.

    Here's hoping the fog light smoke stays in the wires.
    Last edited by RustCollector; 11-22-2023, 09:31 AM.
    '73 S3 88"
    '87 110 garden shed

  • #2
    Very nice.


    • #3
      Good job, Any plans for a winch up there?
      1960 109 w/ 200TDI
      rebuild blog;

      You don't see faith healers working in hospitals for the same reason you don't see psychics winning the lottery.


      • #4
        Looks good Rust!
        88 RRC
        59 S2 88"
        11 Range Rover


        • #5
          Thanks guys.
          Yes, a winch will be there someday. I have a Warn 8274 that is just waiting to be rebuilt and bolted in place. It's not the hottest item on my to do list, so it'll have to wait a bit.
          '73 S3 88"
          '87 110 garden shed


          • #6
            Looks sharp. Ultimately I am going to need to do something nearly identical. Nice work.


            • #7
              Nice and neat - that’s the best way to be.




              • #8
                I have a CAD file for water jet cutting, but I can also get basic dimensions posted on a drawing at some point. This weekend if filled with family stuff, but I'll keep this in my mind.
                '73 S3 88"
                '87 110 garden shed