View Full Version : Snowcats: How much lighting? Brands? Light type?
05-11-2006, 01:54 PM
I was looking at the attached photo of Lyndon's Snow Master because I want to add some rear facing lights on my Snow Trac.
So here are my quesitons:
Does brand make a difference in light output? (I have a $300 set of PIAAlights, but do they produce a real and measurable difference in focused light output compared to a $40 set of Eagle Eye or other cheap brand lights?)
For rear facing lights, my thought is to illuminate the widest area possible behind Snow Trac, so does it make sense to use "fog lamps" instead of driving lights. . . or is it smarter to illuminate a long distance behind the Snow Trac and why? See the second photo showing the light patterns.
Everyone seems to mount auxilary lights on the roof, but in a heavy snowfall, it seems like the upper lights would simply illuminate the snow directly in front of the windshield effectively rendering them useless. Would aux lights be better if the were mounted LOWER on the Snow Trac, perhaps adjacent to the front of the wing windows? Obviously when it is not snowing, a higher mounted light would work best, but is it the best overall location?
05-11-2006, 02:22 PM
#1) Yes pirce usually makes a huge diffrence in light output and type of beam. I have had several type of lighting of the years and found that el chepoes really ernt that cheap compared to say hella. I bought a pair of driving lights which were $35 bucks each. I then bought all of the wiring and compnents to install them I saved maybe $50 bucks compared to a set of eaual output Hellas that came with a beautiful pre made wiring harness and all the switches and relays ect ect. So if you add my time to build my own little wiring harness I would have been better off with the Hellas. Then after about a year of using them the so called black powder coating started to show rust coming through it! Yah cheap crap. When compared side by side at night the more expensive Hellas were about 30% better if not more.
#2) The lighting on Lyndons roof is what I believe for just lighting up the general area around the Track Master. These lights need not be top dollar since the beam and pattern is just for a relativley small work area. You can get Hellas I believe for about $40 bucks a set. Maybe more for a harness. I have several of these that came with no harness and were freebees from my brother. We used these to place on or 4x4s for working on them or help getting them or someone else unstuck. I use to have a set under my jeep to help spotters at night to help in seeing objects under the rig. They work great and those are cheap by design anyway. Lyndon really needs to state what he used them for though.
AND YES you want a wide diffused beam for the rear.
#3) In my opinion (and you know I always have one) is that a higher mounted fog style light is just fine. You are correct about a light on the roof line illuminating snow. Its the same with dust and that is why on my vehicles you will never see a driving light above the level of my eyes while seated in the vehicle. BUT if you are trying to load or unload a light above you is best. It wont be in your eyes and also wont be in your load area. For a reversing light I would suggest lights mounted on the rear hand rail next to the brake lights on each side pointed straight back with a slightly downward angle. This would be used to back up with (your PIAAs would be great or this). Two roof mounted lights pointed down at about a 45 degree angle would be best to assist people loading and unloading from your snow trac.
05-11-2006, 02:40 PM
Back, side and front, you want it all. I recomend the 4" cop spotlight size, in a moulded rubber enclosure. they are cheap, durable and they won't leave rust stains on your vehicle. The 4" sealed beam is available in 30,40,100, & 250 Watt. I don't recomend the 250 Watt Aircraft landing lights as they have short life and require a huge alternator and #12 wire to every fixture. The 100 watt, available from truck stops and parts dealers, is nice for the front, but for the sides and rear the lower wattage, 30's or 40's in a flood light are fine. It's nice to know where the edge is when your on steep roads, and it helps in not backing over people to have the ones in back. They are also helpful in loading and unloading the machine at night, or when you stop to pull the other guy who's stuck, truck out of the ditch. I mount the lights to the rain gutter and always run the wiring below and always penitrate the cab under the rain gutter to cut down on leakage into the cab. For owners with ex military rigs that are 24 volt, lamps for the same moulded housing are available. Check the WW Graingers catallog.
05-11-2006, 03:06 PM
So is it fair to say that quality lights up front, cheap lights all the way around seems to be the consensus?
I was going to use PIAA 510 series fog lights for the rear facing units, but even purchased at a discount price they run about $165 plus shipping for a kit that includes the wiring/relay/switch. The only reason to go with the PIAA 510 lights is they are a smaller version of the front lights I have, are the same shape, and made of high quality materials so they will last for a very long time.
I had not considered SIDE lights. Then again, I don't drive on mountain passes here in the midwest so it might be nice for looking into the woods?
05-11-2006, 03:18 PM
Sounds good to me.
05-11-2006, 05:06 PM
After you experience the differences with side lights you will want them. The rubber moulded lights I favor cost about 10$ from automotive supply places. Actually I shopped around my area and found them for 9$. they come with lamps. In the rear I point one way out, and the other down on the ground. After my first snow cat I did this with every machine. Night runs are fun, but there's always the danger of colliding with a fast moving snowmobile. Lot's of lights, a strobe and flags off dunebuggies are a good safety feature. Remember, your speed is around 10 to 20 MPH, snowmobiles go significantly faster. If you're in some low spot that half drunk snowmobiler on his 110+ MPH machine may not be able to stop in time. You could easily end up with a dead snowmobiler and a wrecked snow cat. Either case is undesireable. Oh yeah, I favor the rubber moulded lights after trying all the stuff you are talking about. They don't corrode and leave rust marks on your nice shiny new paint job. Front and side light take a beating and you will soon learn why Snow Trac put those beefy brush gards around all the front and side lights. they work! the moulded rubber 10 $ fixture holds up pretty well to snow and ice covered branches.
05-11-2006, 05:43 PM
Lyndon, I went to Ebay and punched in a search for "cheap-ass rubber fog lights" :whistle: and came up with this auction. I think they look like the same ones you use. Can you tell me if you just set the screw into one of the roof gutter bolt holes? I'm presuming the base acts as a ground?
Here is a link to the ebay auction. (http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/5-128mm-Round-H3-Halogen-Rubber-Body-Fog-Work-Light_W0QQcmdZViewItemQQcategoryZ33709QQitemZ80619 90388QQrdZ1QQsspagenameZWD1V#ebayphotohosting)
05-11-2006, 07:04 PM
I'm using those on my RTV for the rear and side lights. They work well.
BTW - With shipping, that one on e-bay is more expenseive then getting at a local auto parts store. A tractor dealer should have them also.
PS, if you don't torque them down super tight, you can set them up to swivel, which is what I do. I then twist them into the "stow" position when I don't need them.
05-11-2006, 07:29 PM
Bob: that's them. On the front I enlarge one of the exsisting holes, same on the sides, in the rear I center them up and they get their own hole. It's a area that can use strengthening up anyway. the guy ahead of me is right, cheaper at the auto parts store. Unless the E bay seller gets less than 10$ including shipping. anyway you can't go wrong with them. And yes they ground thru the mounting bolt. The writer above also has the right idea about leaving them so you can adjust them in the field.
05-11-2006, 07:52 PM
Yup same ones I was given. Mine are maked Hella but suspect that hella just bought them from another company. Cheap and no worries about breaking them.
05-11-2006, 08:07 PM
Rubber Housing Work Lamps
Proven Hella performance and rugged design in our new line of economic work lamps. Hella offers the rubber housing work lamp in three sizes to suit a variety of applications. Encased in durable rubber weatherproof housing, these lamps are a perfect solution for utility, fifth-wheel, back-up, or work lamp applications.
All lamps feature:
Glass lens, flood light pattern
Swivel mount, prewired
Replaceable H3 bulb
90609 4.75" Rubber Housing Work Lamp
3" Depth 90610 4.75" Rubber Housing Work Lamp
2.75" Depth 90611 6" Rubber Housing Work Lamp
4" Depth Also available Part No.
05-11-2006, 08:10 PM
Ultra Beam FF
Awesome illumination: Free Form (FF) reflector technology makes for excellent visibility in the toughest conditions. The Ultra Beam FF provides twice the light output of conventional work lamps with a more compact design. Both surface and flush mounting options available to fit most work situations.
The Ultra Beam FF features a shock-proof housing of fiberglass-reinforced plastic. FF reflector of die-cast aluminium. Recessed lens for added protection.
Standard model surface mounts, tilts, pivots; includes AMP connector with pigtail. Heavy-duty model features rubber bushing for vibration dampening and pivoting Omega bracket for upright or pendant attachment; includes AMP connector. All versions 12V 55W except 90756, which is 24V 70W.
Additional versions available include model with surface mount (Omega bracket) and handle; model with rotatable base suitable for lateral attachment to vertical surfaces; model for cable entry to bush or with external connection (suitable for 2-pole AMP plug or DEUTSCH plug). Ask your Hella sales representative for details.
http://www.hella.com/produktion/HellaPortal/WebSite/Internet_usa/ProductsServices/Heavy_Duty/Images/UltrBmFF.jpg Ultra Beam FF Work Lamp
90656 Ultra Beam FF Work Lamp, standard, boxed 90656B Ultra Beam FF Work Lamp, standard, bulk 90756 Ultra Beam FF Work Lamp, standard, boxed
(24V 70W) Also available Part No.
05-11-2006, 08:28 PM
Maybe they are manufactured by Hella then. Anyway I will be using these on the sides.
05-11-2006, 08:40 PM
I will be using these on the sides.
Mike, I'm unclear, which version are you using? The $8.00/each round rubber lights that Lyndon and Brian use? The round Hella at $?.?? each? Or the square Hella Ultra Beam FF lights at $40 each?
05-11-2006, 08:43 PM
My brother gave me some Hella round lights. The reciept said $15 something each. He had bought them years ago and never used them. I was just posting what other options were available to you. I kinda like the square ones myself.
05-12-2006, 01:32 AM
Hella is very approiate as all of the original elelctrical system right down to the horn and button were produced by Hella and standard issue on a Snow Trac. The 2 upside down tear drop side lights were made by hella, but never used on a VW, making them impossible to find.
05-12-2006, 09:34 AM
I just ordered 4 of the Hella rubber work lights. They cost a few bucks more (but not much) than the cheap-o units, but I'm hoping they might not be made in China? I'm not fond of a lot of the low priced goods from China, and that seems to be where the least expensive goods are coming from now.
At least with a brand name like Hella I know who to yell at if they turn out to be junk. But I suspect that with a brand name like Hella, they will actually be made to a slightly higher standard? At least that is my hope!
I've also purchased some new marine grade fuse blocks, a marine switch panel with battery monitor from a marina. I placed a bid on a Cole Hersee dual battery selector over at Ebay. I still can't find a source for nickle plated wire . . . actually I did find a source for it, but they would only sell it to me in 1000' long rolls!
05-12-2006, 11:24 AM
I I still can't find a source for nickle plated wire . . . actually I did find a source for it, but they would only sell it to me in 1000' long rolls!
Bob, have you tried a google search for "ship chandler" None in Indiana but several in the Chicago area.
05-12-2006, 11:29 AM
Jim, thanks for the tip.
I didn't try that but I do have a few marine sources I use for tractor switches and I tried all those. They seem to have tin plated copper but I am hoping for nickle plated copper. I may have to 'settle' but I won't do it without a good long search.
07-29-2006, 01:30 AM
How much lighting do you need. I went out and bought some cheeeeep head lamps at our canadian tire store, they work just fine, On the odd occasion in a hard snow and in fog we found them to be a little to bright. The lights are the same a what B Skurka has shown.
Then again you are only going about 15 to 20 mph,
All lights will burn out . I have found you end up braking them before they burn out.
07-29-2006, 07:21 AM
How much lighting do you need Damn good question. Ultimately I will have 1 light facing the sideways away from each side of the Snow Trac, 2 facing the rear, 4 facing forward. I'm not looking for long distance, but am looking for "area" lighting. They project was started, but sidetracked due to foot surgery that I had about a month ago that has left me knocked on my butt with my foot elevated. The side lights are just for looking at things. The rear lights are to aid when backing up, and when unloading skis or other items at night. The front lights are for driving. I found the original lights to be pitiful so I fixed that problem by swapping out the rusty reflectors with modern reflectors with H4 Halogen lights. But I'm adding a set of high quality front facing lights too, largely to view the night scenery while driving, but also because in my area we get the occasional storm off Lake Michigan that will allow me to drive on the country roads around my property before the snowplows can clear the roads.
You may want to look at this thread, it is a simple upgrade that was very inexpensive: HEADLAMP UPGRADE (http://www.forumsforums.com/3_9/showthread.php?t=2423)
01-21-2007, 10:47 PM
I installed a set of 525 series PIAA hi/low bean headlamps on the roofline for forward facing lighting. They are high quality automotive lamps suitable for on/off road use. http://www.piaa.com/Lamps/Lamp-pages/525.html
I also have one rubber armored Hella light on each side for some added side visibility at night. Facing the rear are 2 more rubber armored Hella lights. The PIAA lights were expensive, their light output is impressive and while I still need to adjust them a bit, they easily double the forward visibility distance, but I believe they will actually triple the visible range when set to the proper elevation. They also have a nice wide beam so they increase the field of view in addition to increasing the range.
The Hella lights cost under $10 each and provide some general lighting. They are not well focused, but really do not need to be for their intended use.
-- these photos were also posted in my Snow Trac restoration thread, but figured they also made a good follow up to this discussion.
vBulletin® v3.8.2, Copyright ©2000-2013, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.