H4 HALOGEN UPGRADE / CONVERSION

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Auteroche (original factory fitted type)

Auteroche (later after market replacement)

Cibie  (also later after market replacement)

Over the years I have seen several different types of headlamp unit fitted as standard to the M201. All are designed to dip to right but the effect in the case of the original type is marginal and rarely picked up during an MOT. The dipping effect by the lenses in the later types are more pronounced and may be picked up on an MOT in which case part of the lens will need to be taped out for it to pass.

The yellow effect is due to the amber glass envelope of the original tungsten bulbs used in France at the time, the metal collars of which had a slot machined out of them to allow the side light bulb to shine through. It would appear that this lamp became obsolete during the operational lifetime of the M201 resulting in maintenance workshops having to make the slot or sometimes not bother with the slot at all (the side light arrangement was always pretty ineffective. (US jeeps didn't have side lights so I've never had a problem with lack of sidelights on an MOT)

The light output from the yellow bulbs is very low and can become an issue if you do a lot of driving in the dark. Fitting clear glass tungsten bulbs is a simple improvement and they are easy to obtain from dealers specialising in truck parts. A better alternative is to upgrade to halogen and there are two ways of doing this.

If the reflector surface is in good condition a simple upgrade is possible using 24v H4 halogen conversion bulbs (base type P45T). These will directly replace the tungsten bulbs in original headlight units. With a bit of care it is possible to add a slot for the sidelight taking care not to touch the quartz glass of the halogen bulb. In reality it is hardly worth attempting as the pilot lights are only visible when the headlamps are 'killed' using the big button switch on the dashboard and even then they are hardly visible. Bearing in mind that I have come across several examples where the army replaced the yellow bulb with a standard one with no cut out for the pilot lamp, I guess the feature was rarely if ever used in later years.

If the reflector is in poor condition then the unit will either need to be re-chromed or must be replaced. First a word of caution. The headlamp units are a standard size fitted to many MVs it is therefore often possible to pick up a pair of units that will take a hologen bulb at an MV or militaria show. However, be aware that you need to know your lens patterns and be able to distinguish left and right dipping units! Most that I have come across have been suitable for Europe therefore not the UK! That's why someone's getting rid of them.

A suitable new replacement can be obtained from Valeo (part number for LHD in the UK is Valeo 082379) This is a Cibie unit specifically designed for standard H4 halogen bulbs (base type P43T) and has a much more effective lens arrangement in the glass. The lens has a flat profile rather than the slightly convex profile of the original but does not look out of place when fitted.

It is possible to machine out a slot in the base of a P43T halogen lamp for the pilot bulb to shine through but more tricky due to the profile of the base. Again unless you are a perfectionist then it is hardly worth the effort. Differences between the original Auteroche and replacement Cibie units can be seen below.

The Valeo headlamp units can be ordered through most motor factors in the UK. I got mine from Camberly Autofactors and they were available for next day delivery. They are pricey (a pair cost me 60 including delivery and VAT a few years back) and do not include 24v H4 P43T bulbs but then so is re-chroming if you decide to go that route. If the original units are in good condition and you want to retain the original appearance then fitting 24v H4 P45T bulbs is a cheaper alternative but you don't get the better optics of the Cibie unit and the beam will continue to dip the wrong way. My thanks go to Dave Allaway (M201 No. 12513) for discovering the Valeo product and letting me know.

UPDATE

Some additional information and photos have been passed to me by Roger Holness (M201 no. 18088) who encountered a small problem when fitting a set of Valeo headlights to his M201. The reason for the issue is down to the slightly different profile of the Valeo/Cibe units and the type of metal headlamp rim that is fitted to his jeep. I had not come across this and nobody has ever reported back on it until now.

Most headlamp shells that I have worked with on M201s have a split front rim which clamps round the glass and secures it to the main body of the shell. In the case of Roger's jeep it had a different arrangement where the glass is retained in a solid front rim by spring clips. A screw then secures the rim and glass to the main body.

The problem created by this type of fitting is that is that, not being the spit rim type, it just can't quite accommodate the new unit by a millimetre or so (see below)

Roger wrote: "The nose of the new lamp is slightly larger than the hole in the rim into which it should fit. I opened up the hole using a carbide burr which only took a few minutes to remove about 1mm all round. I then used the same burr to make the slot in the bulb flange. (More difficult than expected as the material is a quite hard steel as opposed to brass on the old one)


hole cut for side light to shine through

Having got the reflector assembly to fit into the rim and put a slot for the side lights in both halogen bulbs I found that when trying to fit the 3 pin socket onto the bulb prongs the side light bulb fouled. The slot and the bulb were not on the same centres. I cut away the the flange as per attached photo (below) and the assembly goes together perfectly. A word of warning, the first one I did using a carbide burr ended up with a broken filament. I did a "soft" mod by using a pair of side cutters and cutting//twisting the material away. It sounds complicated but took just a couple of minutes each. The improvement in the lights is huge and even the side lights are better."


flange cut away to allow socket assembly to fit properly

Congratulations to Roger for doing such a thorough job and providing the photos. ( I always promised myself that I would cut some holes for the side lights one day but that day has yet to come.)

FURTHER DISCUSSION ON THE TOPIC

Horst Pratsch (M201 no. 16690) offered the following:

"I have since the beginning converted the headlights to Bosch lights with H4 halogen bulbs. But what I have is yellow H4 bulbs. So you can have the effect of yellow lights and have a reasonable light output. Of course a white halogen bulb still provides much better lighting. I got these bulbs many many years ago in France, not sure if they are still available."

Thanks for that Horst but I suspect that the time when it was possible to buy these in France has now long since passed. White headlights became the norm in France as a result of EU law passed in 1995 and these days only very old vehicles tend to be seen in France with their original yellow lights.

Yellow light from white halogen bulbs is still possible!

Not one to be deterred, Scott Potter (m201 no.13542) in the US. has achieved the original yellow look. He wrote:

"I searched the web for bulbs and got in touch with a fellow named Ken from Candlepower Inc. here in the US. He set me up with two Narva #48892 75/70w P43t base 24v bulbs. He also had these yellow balloons, #H4-HB2-9003, that fit over the bulbs, and into the Valeos just fine. I had to cut three slots for the tabs on the Valeos in the buckets, then the slots in the bulbs for the running lights, but that was no problem."

Great work Scott. The Candlepower website can be found at http://candlepowerinc.com/

The issue of yellow headlamps got me thinking about the legality of having them on M201s here in the UK so I did a bit of research.

The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989
SCHEDULE 2 (Regulations 18 and 20)
PART I
REQUIREMENTS RELATING TO OBLIGATORY FRONT POSITION LAMPS AND TO OPTIONAL FRONT POSITION LAMPS TO THE EXTENT SPECIFIED IN PART II

7. Colour: White or, if incorporated in a headlamp which is capable of emitting only a yellow light, yellow.

In the case of my Delahaye VLR, which still has its yellow headlamps, it isn't possible to get white bulbs of any description and the yellow ones which are a 24 volt Marchal three pin bayonet lamp are also now like hen's teeth to find even in France.

In the case of Hotchkiss M201s, technically it is impossible to get direct replacement bulbs. It is possible to get 24 volt white bulbs in either tungsten or halogen but not with the slot for the sidelight. So it would appear that in terms of UK law it is perfectly legal to retain the original yellow bulbs.

So there it is, unless you know different (as they say).