Running & Brake Lights

HeadLights – Oct. 2015

Over the years, I’ve noticed every once in awhile that one or more of my headlights would be full of moisture. WTH? It’s weird. So, I’d buy a new one or a set. I’d always grab headlights that were convenient so they’d be either GE or Sylvania. I need 2 each 1A1 and 2 each 2A1 bulbs. They are called ‘Sealed Beam’ but it’s my experience that the sealing SUCKS. One time, after I became aware of this issue, I searched until I found Philips brand. Hoping that it would last longer. No such luck.

So I spend time trying to discover the cause of this mysterious ‘fills with moisture’ issue. Nobody seems to know! No one on the or the forum knew, no one I know who’s a mechanic knows, and none of the Automotive parts stores like NAPA know. Not even random guys in bars know.

The damn bulbs are $8 to $15 each and I was getting a little tired of replacing them repeatedly. BTW, so you know, the lights inside the bulbs still came on, it’s just the silvering on the interior of the glass would slough off with the moisture and end up in a small puddle at the bottom of the bulb. Without that silvering, the bulbs appear as dim yellow instead of bright white like they’re suppose too. Now, I don’t drive in the dark very often, in fact, I only use my headlights during dark and dismal cloudy days or when there’s ‘headlight area’ signs along a highway.

Here’s a shot. Note that only one of the four looks crystal clear. The 2 on the right are really wet inside. The inner bulb on the left is just starting to show too much moisture.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Gah. Way too wet inside those.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA These aren’t too bad off yet.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Well, this time, I decided to do something about it. I took them in the RV and popped off the little bit of dried goo on the backs of the globes that ‘sealed’ them. One had a little ball bearing in an indentation there and the other didn’t. I shook out all the water, maybe a tablespoon or so from each globe. Then I used my heat gun to evaporate what was left of the moisture. After that was done, and I’d noticed there wasn’t any more reflective silvering on the inside of the glass,  grabbed my aluminum foil and surrounded the outside of the globe with it. Shiny side in. Then I taped over the hole on one bulb and left the other open…as a test to see which one stayed the driest over time.

Here’s how they looked a few days, and a couple rain showers (just sitting, not driving) later. The foil does help brighten  up the beam. It’s more like hot yellow compared to the white of a good bulb, but it seems good enough for the road.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As it turned out, on my journey down to my brothers house a few days later, after daylight savings time changed, I did have to use them in the dark. Not all that bright I’m afraid. Enough to drive by if you’re careful and aren’t speeding. Well, like I say, I hardly ever travel in the dark anyway and though these are not all that bright, they’ll do in a pinch.


Brake lights – Mar. 2013 in Mazatlan, Mexico

After I’d arrived in Mazatlan, one of the things I checked were the running lights. It was about dusk so I also turned on my headlights and checked the brake lights in the backup camera. Well, that’s strange, I’ve got no brake lights! Tried to remember when I had checked them the last time, must have been over 1,000 miles ago. I only can check them in or near dark since I travel alone and there isn’t always someone handy to look at them for me. The next day, I start working on the circuit. Checking fuses and bulbs and such. Couldn’t find a problem until I opened the hood. There is a 12V distribution stud right under there in the front of the RV and while searching around I found a wire hanging loose. Checking closer, I find the relay where the terminal had rotted off. Off to the auto parts place and back in an hour riding the bus. I’d gotten on the wrong bus and when it reached the end of the line, somewhere, the driver pointed to another bus I could catch to get back to the park. Fun.

Anyway, the relay bottom center in this picture is the one that needed replacement. One of the terminals was just corroded away and the wire was hanging loose nearby. I’ve put some miles on the rig since I replaced it with a better make and I see a little rust now.


Installed new relay, and I’ve got brake lights. Funny no one pointed out the lack of brake lights in all those miles. Of course I don’t know exactly when they went out either. Sure glad no one rear ended me. I mostly travel during daylight though.

These are like the relay I bought one of in Mexico…several months later I bought a package of them for $8. The Mexican relay just seemed too chintzy for my tastes and I replaced it with one of these: Relays