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My Light Bar Project

Discussion in 'Australia & New Zealand' started by ZTrekus, Jul 29, 2016.

  1. ZTrekus

    ZTrekus Member

    Joined:
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    Sydney, NSW
    With the help of Dborn on this thread, I installed a light bar on my Model S:

    IMG_0672.JPG

    It is ultra cool and does the job for what it was installed for. Here it installed behind the grill above the radar. When it is off, it is practically invisible. Here is a picture of it turned off:

    IMG_0675.JPG

    The light bar is wired to the high beam. If anyone cares to look, when you take off the dustcover of the headlight (anyone, they are behind both) you will see the xenarc bulb slotted in. Floating around that bulb are two low voltage low amperage wires actually connected together by a plastic clip. Those wires send a small current when the high beam is activated. It obviously activates a small motor controlling the lens of the light to lift them up higher - hence the term "high beam". You can hear the relay click on and off when you turn your high beams on and off. Anyway, using POSITAPS recommended to me by my good fried Dborn (which I ordered from Ebay US) I tapped into these wires so that the high beam would drive a relay that I purchased from Jaycar. That relay would act as a switch for my lightbar. The wiring was easy - the installation did not go exactly as planned. That story below.

    But before I get to that story, here are some pictures of the final product:

    First a view as shown by my low beam:

    IMG_0662.JPG

    And here is a view shown by my high beam (light bar off):

    IMG_0664.JPG

    And here is a view shown by my high beam - light bar on:

    IMG_0663.JPG

    It must be said at the outset that these images do not do the light bar justice - so you have to imagine that it is actually better - because it actually is. You can get some idea by comparing the illumination on the brick wall. But suffice to say that it is so bright that you could actually read a newspaper on the road from the driver's seat about a block away... OK that bit is an exaggeration - but you get my drift. I would do it all again. Given that Tesla's light beams in Australia are so sh*t, it is highly recommended.

    I had a choice to either install this light bar now, or install a new front bumper from Unplugged made to look like the new front bumpers of the currently selling Teslas. Those new bumper covers look ultra cool and Dborn has elected to go that way. But I chose the light bar project and am glad of it.

    The theory behind the installation was simple. Remove the front bumper cover which is actually not that difficult. Summary is as follows:

    1. Remove plastic rivets under the car;
    2. Remove plastic coverings in the frunk;
    3. Unscrew each screw in the wheel arches;
    4. Unclip the bumper and let it come to rest on a carpet that you place in front of the vehicle.

    This leaves the bumper cover connected electrically to the car but if you put the suspension on low, there is easily enough cord to put it down and twist it out of the way for you to work on the car.

    We did that, and then I put Dborn to work on cutting away the ribbed plastic thing above the radar which acts as a funnel to funnel air into the radiator. I figured that was a little overkill considering that there is still sufficient air grill around the radar and the new bumper covers cover this area anyway. Dborn was 99% complete it cutting away the top of the funnel when tragedy struck. We nicked the front radiator and the car started leaking radiator fluid. God help us!

    Here is a picture of the radiator with the nicks in it (gulp):

    IMG_0665.JPG
    Same radiator zoomed out a little:

    IMG_0666.JPG


    At this point we were frantically ringing Radiator repair guys and Tesla. At first we had arranged for a radiator repair guy to come out that afternoon and repair the radiator on site. He was quoting something like $160 an hour plus call-out fee and also said that he needs to be able to get a naked flame to the site. Sounded reasonable enough - but on later discussion, it turned out that he was only coming out to quote the job and that if it needed repairing, would have to be later on that week if not the week after. Forget that!

    Meanwhile the conversations with Tesla were proving fruitful. Turns out there is a guy at St Leonards who knows everything about the car. His name is Gavin and I am told that he was flown to Fremont for education. He was a life saver. Here I was packing death, wondering how I would get a flat bed trailer to tow my car to them - and Gavin kept his cool saying things like, "Oh yeah, the radiator - that is actually a smash repair part so we have them in stock here. They are around $180 bucks plus GST". Yeah - like I was worried about the GST side of things. Anyway, we hightailed it down to Tesla and picked one up plus a couple of containers of radiator fluid.

    Here is a picture of my old radiator in the new radiator box:

    IMG_0677.JPG

    And here is a picture of the Tesla juice:
    IMG_0678.JPG

    Anyway the changeover was relatively easy. It involved clamping the hoses in and out of the radiator at the bottom and unscrewing the radar plastic over in front of it which holds it in place. But it meant we had to remove the front tub in the frunk in order to unclip the bumper cover. This is where we learnt alot. Firstly, it is incredibly easy to remove the front tub and when you do - you expose the entire heart of the car. Inside the tub is a carpet and inside the carpet is the front tub light and push switch to open the frunk. The light and switch can be pulled slightly and then unclipped from their wires. That then enables you to easily pull out the carpet. That exposes the steel tow bar (bet you didn't know there was one) but more importantly a few screws to remove. When you remove them, the tub comes straight out and you get complete access to basically everything.

    Apparently I can only upload 10 pictures... so continued in the next message:
     
  2. ZTrekus

    ZTrekus Member

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    Location:
    Sydney, NSW
    Here is a picture with the tub removed:

    IMG_0669.JPG

    You can see the red 12v battery. The white container next to it is the radiator fluid container. That needed topping up with the Tesla juice upon changing the radiator. But look at all the other yummy components that removing this tub gives access to.

    The irony is that if we had known how to do this before we started this project, then we would have unclipped the bumper in the first place and taken off the plastic thing that needed cutting. That would have avoided the problem of cutting it so close to the radiator in the first place. Here is a picture of that plastic thing (cut) with the radar connected:

    IMG_0670.JPG

    Now all those superfluous scratches was simply caused by cutting it in place with head near the ground. That could be done much neater on a bench if it had been unscrewed in the first place. Those plastic clips at the top simply plug into the plastic grill under the nose cone. You can look for them at the front of your car. Originally we were going to cut or remove the plastic grill to allow unimpeded light to come out of the light bar but after our nicking of the artery and heart transplant, we both decided that we had had enough of cutting. But I am happy for it because I do not notice any real diminishment from the driver's seat and the front aesthetics of the car in the day time are preserved. So I would not recommend cutting this grill if you wish to undertake this project.

    Now I have made it sound much more complicated than it actually was. It was actually a simple task of wiring it up and cutting a plastic bit to slot it in place. Having gone through hell and back, I would still do it again. Suffice to say that the light it emits is absolutely awesome.

    If anyone is interested it was a single row of 12 LEDs a little over 50cm in length. It claimed to be 10cm deep but I found was more like 8cm. It also claimed to be 8cm high but it was only that high if you factored in the cord plug beneath it. It was more like 6cm.

    My rudimentary understanding of the Aust road rules is that light bars are legal on cars so long as they are wired to the high beam switch in the car. That is precisely what I did. I have installed a master switch on off in the frunk so that it can be turned off. I leave this in the on position by default which means that it then comes on when the high beam comes on. The light bar came with its own 15amp fuse and so I left that in place when I tapped 12v out of the fuse box. I originally tried messing around with trying to insert a fuse double adapter but I just had no luck with that. In the end, I just tapped 12 volts out of the chassis under the fuse box but left the 15amp fuse in place that came with it.

    The car now has some serious grunt at night time - and flashing your high beam at someone is no laughing matter.
     

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  3. Dborn

    Dborn Confirmed

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    Now that all is well that ends well, I can say that this was an incredible learning experience. I like to think of myself as a mechanically minded handyman, and I will tackle most tasks. It was really unfortunate that I nicked the radiator. The multi tool I was using is a very safe cutting tool, and in my defence, it was a very tight access, and at that point we did not know how to remove the retaining plastic frame. Actually very easy when you know which bolts and clips to remove.
    What is really amazing is just how flimsy everything is in the front. Just how little is holding the bumper cover on and, for that matter, the radiator. I understand that this is industry standard, which explains why, after a minor bingle, you see so much debris strewn over the road!!!
     
  4. PtG62901

    PtG62901 Member

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    Great project, thanks for posting the picture. Aren't you concerned about blinding oncoming drivers, or is it tied to the high beams? I live in a rural area, the roads are dark at night.
     
  5. ZTrekus

    ZTrekus Member

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    Yes it is absolutely tied to the high beam. So it is off whenever the high beam is lowered... No oncoming car, or car in front ever gets to see it.

    Last night I took my daughter for a drive, as I often do just to listen to Spotify, I bought her a premium account, anyway... Even in city areas when you are alone in a backstreet the high beam/light bar looks awesome. It makes you want to drive down the dark streets.

    Reminds me of the deflector dish on the Enterprise with all that light pouring out of the centre of the car!
     
  6. PtG62901

    PtG62901 Member

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    I love it then. I don't know if I want one, but that is a very cool addition.
     
  7. Keiron

    Keiron Member

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    Congrats Ztrekus,

    I bought a light bar to do this exact same setup about a month after my beast arrived last year- Its still sitting in the box waiting patiently for to get time to attack the project. You have shamed me into action. Well Done.:)
     
  8. ZTrekus

    ZTrekus Member

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    That's great Keiron,

    Please keep us up to date with lots of photographs as you go. I highly recommend the project. The word that comes to mind is 'brilliant'. It is a brilliant project!

    It makes driving at night quite fun. I also think it is much safer too - on a dim dark road, you just can't see what is in the road as you progress over it - but the light bar throws the light exactly where you want it. It improves the comfort of the drive. Just like wearing running shoes on your feet, so too does the light bar take the strain out of night time seeing...
     
  9. Dborn

    Dborn Confirmed

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    #9 Dborn, Aug 5, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2016
    In Bowral for the weekend. Headlights have just had their first real workout on country roads.
    The high beams are amazing!! Got flashed at least twice!! ( on low beams). The low beams are nice and bright and one can see decently even on pitch dark driveways overgrown with trees. Happy to drive at speed in pitch darkness, since the reach of the beams projects far enough ahead.
    Definitely a worthwhile mod to the car!! Bulbs used were D1S with matching ballast at 5000k. This is daylight colour. The bulb collars needed notching to make them fit into the D8S slots provided with the car. Ztrekus' car we used D3S with matching ballasts.
    As to adding a light bar to my car, well, no. I plan on upgrading the nose with Unplugged performances unit when it is released later this year. Since it copies the OEM the area we installed the light bar disappears, just as it does on the refresh car.
     

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