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While I've made great progress on updating my Dad's daily driver to being a more modern hot rod, there has been one area that is lacking. Lighting. The factory headlights make this truck difficult to drive at night time. When Bright Earth introduced their 7" LED headlights, I knew this would be a great opportunity for an upgrade!
To catch you up to speed, this 1969 Chevrolet C-10 has been my Dad's personal driver for over 25 years. It now sports a stock 5.3L Gen III LS engine, with a Holley Hi-Ram intake manifold, Hooker turbo manifolds and an STS 60mm turbo. Backing that up is a GM 4L80e transmission from an 05' Express van with a HAYS 97-1J28F stall converter. All of this is controlled by Holley's Dominator EFI system with integrated transmission control that will eventually handle boost control and flex-fuel duties.
1. Originally intended for 1997-2018 Jeep Wranglers, Bright Earth includes these handy CANBUS decoders. In later model vehicles using CAN based systems, certain LED bulbs can trigger MIL codes due to low amperage load. These decoders can prevent those lights from appearing. In our older application, we will set these aside as the headlight has the H4 connector and does not require a CAN based system.
2. Here we see the main differences in bulb housings between the older glass bulb and newer LED sealed bulb. Bright Earth's bulb is roughly .75" deeper and will require a deeper headlight bucket (or trimming of stock one) to fit correctly.
3. Here we see the Bright Earth H4 connector is the same as the factory unit. If we did not intend on using the integrated light bar, no wiring modifications would be needed (note the loose red and green wires).
4. A cut-off wheel and some pie cuts on the stock bucket allowed us to "open" the back of the housing and free up the extra .75" needed for the new lights. The trim ring and grille shell still holds the light, so there is no fear of rattling or loose fitment.
5. Here we see the light mounted into the bucket and the grille shell reassembled. If you are not using the light bar, then congratulations as you've finished your install. However, we have decided to tie the amber turn signal and halo light bar into our truck.
6. Here we see the halo light bar powered, in photo 3 we mention two loose wires. When you connect the RED loose wire to 12v power, the WHITE light bar turns on. While we chose not to use this in our final installation, this would be perfect for Daytime Running Lights (DRL) on your older vehicle.
7. The AMBER light bar powers on when connecting the GREEN loose wire to 12v. We tapped into the existing turn signal wiring to run the light bar in series. Using a volt meter will make this easy if a wiring diagram for your vehicle cannot be sourced.
8. We did not need an aftermarket flasher for these as the factory turn signals still pulled enough load to work correctly. We like the added safety at night time, as the LED bar is much brighter than the stock incandescent turn signal bulb.
9. A few tweaks made sure the light was rotated correctly and that the light bar was positioned straight (horizontal). We like the heatshrinked pigtail off of the Bright Earth headlights making it easier to connect and disconnect the lights if needed.
10. Some final adjustment setting our beam height meant we were ready to go! Now it's time to test drive our hot rod and see how much of an improvement was made.
Before: Incandescent Headlight Bulbs
After: LED Headlight
Installation could have been completed in less than an hour, however we struggled to remove the rusty headlight bezel screws. The overall light output has increased drastically compared to factory lighting and while we do run a larger aftermarket alternator, the amperage draw difference was considerable.