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Old 08-04-2005, 10:39 AM
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Dim Lights In 1969 Camaro

Hey Guys,

I have a 1969 camaro with a 327 that has been upgraded to about 380 HP nothing unusual the typical upgrades. Other than that it's all original. I have the typical dim light syndrome when you push the break pedal, etc. I have the stock alternator and a new battery. I realize this is normal in older cars but I thought I read at one time that there is a way to upgrade the electrical system. I don't remember what or where and was hoping you guys could help me. What are your thoughts on making my lights not dim? I appreciate your help.

Jim

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Old 08-04-2005, 10:50 AM
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Assuming you have good connections the only thing different about your "old" car and any late model vehicle is the alternator and the headlights. Copper wire is copper wire

If you are not worried about originality, then get a late model single wire alternator which has the regulator built in. You can even leave the original regulator in place and not use it. The alternators are self exciting so its a matter of installing it and just hooking up the hot wire. After that if you want, get some replacement halogen lights. Not sure what the "hot setup" is there.

With those two things, you have it covered.

Rich
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Old 08-04-2005, 12:12 PM
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Make sure all connections are up to par and there is no wiring problems. Check the ground connection for the headlamps on the radiator support. You must determine if the alternator and the rest of the electrical system is performing adequatly. If your alternator is on the fritz I would replace it with a hi-amp late model one. Personally I would not use a one wire alternator, they are not as good as people believe they are (see madelectrical.com website).

http://www.madelectrical.com/electri...hreewire.shtml

Halogen headlamps are going to do you no good as long as you still have the factory wiring which is not adequate for the higher amperage. If you go to halogen headlamps I would install relays and heavier wire to handle the higher amperage requirements of them. Again, the Madelectrical web site has an excellent article on how to do this.

http://www.madelectrical.com/electri...adlights.shtml

Vince
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Old 08-04-2005, 12:26 PM
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Vince,

I agree on some of the aspects. There is advantage to the 3 wire because of idiot light etc. Very true.

But regarding replacing the lights with Halogens I really think the 69 wiring if in good shape with decent connections it will be fine.

I have replaced dozens of headlights on first gen camaros and have not seen the kind of voltage drop they show in that article.

Thanks for the link. The idiot light is definitly worth Jims consideration.

Rich
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Old 08-04-2005, 01:02 PM
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Guys,

Thanks for the responses. I love the input. When I restored the car 3 years ago I installed a new wiring harness so that shouldn't be the problem. I have no problem upgrading to a newer alt for the car but I have know idea which one to get. I don't care about the dummy light if that's the only reason not to switch. I have the gauges in the console anyway.

By the way - how many amps does a stock alt have and when I get a new one how many should it have?

1. So if I were to switch to a newer GM unit which one do I buy?
2. If I go with a one wire which one do you recommend?

I guess the big question is do I go with a one wire or GM unit?

Thanks again
Jim

Last edited by JimKramer; 08-04-2005 at 01:09 PM.
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Old 08-04-2005, 01:19 PM
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Jim,

Vince's link was a good one. The one wire alternators are widely used in marine as well as street rod applications. I thought it was an easy way for you to swap one out without being an electrical rocket scientist.

Vinces link is pretty good and they have all the info you need. Looks like the sell a small adapter kit which should make it easy. The alternator will be available at any parts store. I dont know what your existing one is and could be as little as 35 amps. I am sure the late model one will be 75 or more which should run everything you need.

You mentioned console guages. That too could be a problem with the one wire if its factory. I dont remember what they did in 69.

The one wire will work and is easy to install if you go that route. The kit in the link will probably do a better job for you and looks like they have plenty of support for someone without electrical background. So Vince's choice would be my first one too.

Rich
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Old 08-04-2005, 01:25 PM
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The dim light syndrome is usually caused by bad grounds. Clean up all your connections.....should help.
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Old 08-04-2005, 02:01 PM
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dimm lites

believe it or not it just might be a old lite switch , or a bad ground on the headlights, or brake lights for that matter , loading the circuit causing a voltage drop. Does the lite switch get hot if running hi beams for awhile, indicates a bad switch. If you have a meter , hook the black lead of the meter directly to the neg (ground) side of the battery. Take the red lead and touch it to the place that your headlight gets it ground. You say you replaced the wiring so you should know where the headlights get to ground, thats the place you want. Set the meter to ohms the reading you are looking for is 000 , anything else is causing a drop. I saw something about halogen with the current problem you are having, if you go halogen IMHO you would might start blowing the fuse for that circuit. You can not add a lite to a circuit that is already telling you that it has all the load it almost can handle. Good wiring and that includes a good ground will give nice bright lites all day everyday.
I just though of a another way you could check the ground, Just take a wire hook it to the neg side of the battery and touch the ground side of the headlight with them on and if it is bad they will get brighter. Make sure it is the ground to the battery and the ground side of the lites or POP & sparks could accrue.
The more I write the more I think of, cameos have the sub frame thing going on and the body sits on rubber bushings, the batteries ground goes to the frame, so the body is isolated by the bushings . I would if I were there look for a ground problem , attach a wire from the frame to the fender ( clean the paint off ) that could show you something also............... good luck it is not a hard problem you have there and it sure looks like a ground thing..
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Old 08-04-2005, 02:27 PM
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test first

Before you just start changing parts, you need to determine the problem. With the engine running and the lights on, what is the voltage at the battery. is it at least 13.5 or so. If it is then the alternator is probably not the issue. If it is good check the voltage at the lights. Most times dim lights are caused buy a bad ground. If not at the headlights, check the on on the back of the head that goes to the firewall. It is very common for this not to get re-connected after engine work. It may just be hanging there. Its never a good idea to just replace parts without troubleshooting first. It can also be very expensive! A 69 Camaro has a relativly simple electrical system so diagnosis should be easy. A cheap voltmeter can be the best tool in your tool box.

One final note, single wire alternators work fine at higher rpm (over 1500). They do tend to be weak at idle. You allready have the wiring in place for a regular alternator so ther is really no reason to change over.
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Old 08-04-2005, 07:26 PM
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Maybe I misunderstood the original post, but I took it to be there is nothing really wrong with the car that it just suffers from typical 60s car dim lighting.

Am I wrong?

Rich
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Old 08-04-2005, 08:31 PM
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Dim lights can be cured by first checking/replacing the wires (I think you said you already rewired with a new harness) and then, using relays for your lights.

Go back to the Mad Electrical web site and read about his new system. By hooking up your light switch to relays which take a small amount of electric to switch on a direct connect from the battery to your headlights, your dim light problem will go away. You wont see your lights go dim when putting on the brakes either.

But first, you have to make sure your wiring and connectors are good. You don't want any loss due to bad headlight connectors either. Clean them up good.

The kit that Mad Electrical sells is tops and worth the money. You can go to your local autoparts store and get the relays, wires, etc., but his kit comes with everything and the documentation can't be beat. The only downside to it is you will loose the "stock" wiring because you need to install a battery junction block and 2 relays - one for high beams and one for low.
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Old 08-04-2005, 09:48 PM
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Dim lights...

Doc here,

STOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Your chasing your ***...and producing NO results...and will continue to do so until you DO ALL the basics FIRST.

Check BOTH battery cables for no corrosion , tight connections and non frayed cables.

Check your Fuse link at the starter Solenoid for a loose bolt or loose wire into the terminal.


Voltage check the battery under total load...It should read 14.4 at idle and no lower than 13.75 at any time. It will not swing with RPM..13.75, 14.4 13.75..If it does replace it..the regulator/diode pack is defective. After recoup of surface Charge,(such as start) a proper operating alternator will produce 14.4 volts out at any RPM over 300...period...

NEXT if that is good, run your ground cable to the nearest starter bolt you can ground it to. From there run a ground cable that you will get at the auto parts store for about 6 bucks with 3/8 ring terminals on them, ground one to the frame, one to the starter bolt with everything else, from there, run 2 10 gauge black wires , one to the firewall, the other to the Alternator ground lug, or mount bolt. Get some braided ground straps at the store, and install one each at the fender well to frame, door post to door, trunk to body, hood to body...this will insure that ALL grounds are at the SAME potential. BURNISH all paint and grease from ALL ground points, and use a proper star washer, and tighten the bolts/screws.

If your Alternator mount is powered white , remove it and the alternator, you have electrolysis going on...you need to pressure wash or sandblast them back to BARE metal again, along with the hardware. Acquire some aluminum wire bonding paste and apply it to ALL hardware and mating surfaces and re~install...also be advised you might suffer premature water pump failure from the electrolysis, so you might consider replacing it now while your in there.

Now test your lighting system...If it's still dim, you will need to follow it further..

Pull , clean and inspect the firewall plug for dirt malformed pins or loose wires...a plug full of mud will do the same as well as corrosion.

Check your fusebox for melted, or loose fuses and corroded blades.

Voltage check your light switch..if you have 14.4 going in and 10.2 out...what's that tell you about the switch?

If you have a proper working charging system made to support the Vehicle it is in now.. It makes no sense to replace it "Just Cuz..." The stock alternator (if v8) , Should be 63 to 67 amps with no frills. Higher for options, like windows , AC, Seats, Froggy Lamps.

Halogens (and I have had, and discarded them off of several of my VETTES which sit LOW to the ground)in my opinion, serve one major purpose...To piss off oncoming traffic..especially when (like 90% of them on the road today are) they are mis~aligned AND at improper Hight (4 x 4's and customs) I'm totally sure they have their place for illumination and safety, but I just don't deal with them..BESIDES I've found incandescence last about 5 times longer..Your call, but for what I drive, and how I drive, I have NO use for them...Oh..and they gobble current...like gangbusters.

Do the basics FIRST..you'll probably find you will cure the problem for about $20 bucks and whatever a weekend of your time is worth...a lot better than buying a shootload of parts to install that won't change a thing ... at least until you cure the first one, first.

Doc
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Old 08-05-2005, 08:19 AM
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Dim lights

Amen

It is amazing how many parts are purchased and replaced that dont need to be. Your view is very similar to mine. Find the problem and fix it. Most times by the times it would end up cheaper taking it to someone who knows how to trouble shoot a problem and pay them to fix it right. I have done hundreds of electrical repair probelms after the owner has spent 300- 400 on parts and it ends up being a no parts fix. Grounds are the biggest issue on older cars. I have seen more cars that had heads replaced or engines replaced and the firewall ground was not re-connected.

Good luck
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