GL1800 Projector HID Project
GL1800 Bi-Xenon Projector HID Retrofit©
I am not the first to retrofit HID projectors into a Gold Wing GL1800, but after much research and lots of encouragement from Alan Hartzog (aka BigAl57 on the GL1800 Riders board), I decided to start my HID projector retrofit using a pair of 3 inch projectors from a 08 Nissan 350Z. I opted for the Bi-Xenon Nissan 350Z projectors for two reasons; 350Z projectors have 3 inch Fresnel lens and are Bi-Xenon (high & low beam). I found these on the bay for $100. I have learned that the Nissan Murano uses the exact same HID D2S 3 inch projector... also found on E-Bay.... I believe Alan and I are the only ones who have done the 3 inch Bi-Xenon projector GL1800 retrofit.
I then purchased the rest of the parts I needed for my retrofit kit from The Retrofit Source Inc. http://www.theretrofitsource.com/ I learned that the house brand that TRS offered was highly regarded and the prices were very reasonable. I purchased a pair of Morimoto 35 watt ballasts, a pair of Morimoto 35 watt D2S lamps, a pair of Sti-R clear lens to replace the Fresnel lens, and a pair of Apollo shrouds. The shrouds were a mistake, more on that later. From the hardware store, ¼ inch aluminum pop rivets and some brass straps. There are several sources for comparable HID products like http://www.lightwerkz.net/index.php & http://www.retro-solutions.com/ . Check the retrofit blogs and shop around, but beware of prices that seem to be too good. Another good source for HID retrofit information is the HID Planet Forum, http://www.hidplanet.com/forums/forum.php . For some general information covering the do’s and don’ts of HID conversions this document is very informative, it is dated but still accurate. http://www.intellexual.net/hid.html This is another excellent write up covering the myths and truths of HID kits. http://www.hidplanet.com/forums/showthread.php?18954-The-Reality-of-HID-Kits-Truths-and-Myths
The tools required to do this retrofit are not out of the ordinary, but may not be something you would find in every garage. There is the bench top drill press and the bench grinder. Off picture is my air compressor and a belt sander. Rather than list the hand tools I will let a photograph or two do the job. Where I used pneumatic tools you could easily use electric or battery powered tools instead. As you can see I used both.
There are two major components of this project, first just getting to the headlight assemblies and second getting to the reflector assemblies for the retrofit. Both of these tasks are daunting even if you’re comfortable with taking your bike apart. Just follow the factory manual to remove the front fairing. Since I was also going to do the front forks I also removed the front wheel.
Once you get to the reflector assembly and use the hole saw to punch a 3 inch opening you are committed to the finish. If you decide to throw in the towel after you have run the hole saw through the reflector, it will only cost you a new headlight assembly and the time to put it all back together.
Once you have pulled all the plastic off the bike in order to get the headlight fairing on the table it is a straight forward task to remove the headlight modules. Before doing that, STOP; you need to set up a support table or use the floor and map the low beam cutoff on a surface 25 feet away. A simple milk crate was perfect to support the headlamp fairing. There is no need to setup the headlight fairing exactly as it sits on the bike. You only need to capture the OEM cutoff settings with a jig setup that you can accurately return the fairing to each time to check your projector cutoff settings. Tiny changes to the alignment of the projector assembly at the headlamp can have rather large changes to the cutoff alignment 25 feet away. You need a way to make sure that when you get the headlamp assemblies back into the fairing so that the projectors alignment matches the OEM H7 lamps alignment cutoff as closely as possible. You can see from the photographs below how I did my setup. A spare motorcycle battery was positioned on top of the milk crate and I used simple jumper wires to power the lamps. Once these jig setup settings are done, you can go to the next step, cracking the eggs open.
I used green painters masking tape and a sharpie to mark the fairing position on the crate and table. In addition I marked the floor at each table leg. I also shimmed the table level.
You can just see the sharpie marks.
The battery is set and the jumpers ready. I used OEM H7 lamps to mark the cutoff.
You can see the cutoff marked with horizontal tape, the vertical tape marks the left and right hot spots.
The headlight assembly must be opened in order to remove the reflector assembly so the projector lamp can be mounted to the reflector. You can use a heat gun and work your way around the seam until the glue melts enough to pry the halves apart. The other method is to pop the assembly into the oven pre-heated to 300 degrees for 6 minutes. This is what I did. You need scrap wood, a large folded towel, flat blade screw driver and leather gloves. I used scraps of wood laid on the rack to set the headlight on.
After the timer dinged I pulled the headlight out, and set in on some towels on the counter and immediately started to pry the halves apart using the screw driver. Once I got one end opened about a half inch I just used my hands to pop it open. You may have to pry some of the latches as you get to them. My headlight assemblies just popped open with no damage.
First one is open and ready to move on to the next phase, hand fitting the projectors.
Once things have cooled you can then un-screw the reflector assembly from the back half of the headlight housing. There are three adjusting screws, turn each in succession just a few turns at a time. When you get to the end of the screw threads the assembly will easy come out. Don’t drop it. Once the reflector is free, you need to remove the hardware bits off the back of the reflector. A Phillips screw driver will get the screws holding the H7 bulb retaining hardware. A small pair of vise grips will remove the security screws holding the H7 hood and the reflector housing alignment bar. The alignment bar will be re-installed, so save the screws. Caution; anytime you handle the reflectors make sure you're wearing gloves. It is very difficult to remove skin oil and sweat from the chrome without damage or scratches.
Time to commit yourself
Now we start the no turning back part of this project. Several things need to be considered for the next step. Some HID projector housings have a symmetrical bowl which makes the fitting into a round hole pretty straight forward. Nissan 300Z projectors are more elliptical in shape using a free form type of design for the reflector bowl along with the high beam solenoid slung underneath.
You have to start somewhere and from my research most retrofitters start with a 3 inch hole saw and then use a Dremel tool to custom fit the reflector to the projector housing. I also have to notch the reflector to make room for the solenoid which actuates the high beam shutter. Care must be taken to drill each reflector so that both projectors are centered in the reflector housing. If they are off then fitting the projector shroud becomes a big issue. You really don’t want droopy eyed headlights. You also must mark a horizontal line on the back of the reflector. You will need this line to get you in the ballpark with lining up the projector.
Set up and ready.
There are a number of ways to keep the hole saw centered in the opening for the H7 lamp. Using bits of PVC tubing, one sleeved into the other is one way. I didn’t feel like poking around at the local hardware store so I used what I had on hand. A dead H7 lamp. I cut the tangs off the back, ground the remaining tabs off with a bench grinder. I used a center finder to mark the center and drilled a ¼ hole right down the middle of the lamp base. Watch the broken glass bits. I then set the H7 base into the headlamp opening and proceeded to set the stops on the drill press. I used bits of wood clamped to the base plate of the drill press with some carpet scrap under so the chrome face of the reflector wouldn’t get mucked up.
Back on the bench and ready for the next steps, hand fitting the projectors.
As is normal, set up takes far longer than the actual act of cutting the 3 inch hole in each reflector. I was done in a matter of minutes. Next step is to clean up the OEM Nissan 350Z projectors. The OEM mounting arms need to be removed.
Then they look like this when done.
I used a pneumatic cutoff wheel to carefully grind off the parts I did not need. I also used a pneumatic drum sander to clean up the rough edges from the cutoff wheel. When you’re done, make sure you clean out all the metal bits. I used compressed air.
Take note of the marks I made with a sharpie on the back of the reflector. This is a reference to the horizontal cutoff of the lamp. You need to make these marks before cutting the 3 inch hole. Preferably while you’re making the reference marks like I did on the garage door. You will see these black sharpie marks in several of the following reflector photographs.
The next part, hand fitting by notching and grinding the opening to allow the projector to fit back just the right amount takes the most time. Test fit, grind a bit, test fit, and grind a bit, over and over. The process of fitting the projector must be done with care. To test for the proper fit involves putting the shroud on the projector then sliding the projector and shroud assembly into the reflector. The goal is to have the base of the shroud resting evenly all around the reflector housing. Once you have the shroud resting against the reflector and you have made sure you can turn the projector a few degrees in each direction it is time to stop.
Take note again in the following photograph, see how I have the cutoff shield inside the projector HID lined up with the horizontal marks on the reflector. This will get you close to having each HID projector line up horizontally with each other. Tweaking will get it perfect.
Now you have to decide out how you’re going to secure the projector to the shroud. If you have read any of the retrofit how to articles, one method is to get the projector temporarily secured to the reflector with some duct tape, remount the reflector carefully into the reflector housing. Then mount the headlamp housing without the front lens back into the fairing. Setup the fairing in the alignment jig and carefully align the projectors. Once you have them set just perfect, tack them in place with some silicone glue and allow it to dry overnight. Check the alignment after the silicone glue has dried. If all is well, you can remove the reflector housings from the fairing, and then carefully remove the reflectors from the housing. Once the reflectors have been removed you can fully glue the projectors onto the reflectors. Instead, I will use the following method with one modification. I am going to add some metal finger straps to the reflectors to secure the projector to the reflector. Once the finger straps are on I can secure the projector to the reflector and then get the alignment set by binding the finger strap ends to the projector housing with a simple hose clamp. Once they are aligned I will use some epoxy to reinforce the straps where they are pop riveted to the reflector. The rear headlamp housing will also have to be notched out to make room for the projectors shutter solenoid. I used a Dremel with a small cutoff wheel. Before the headlamp assemblies go back on the bike, I will have to fabricate a cover for this cutout. This will help to keep the water, dust and other crud out of the headlamp assembly.
I mounted the projectors using this finger strap and hose clamp method. Then I set the reflector/projector back in the headlamp housing. Now it is time to do the cutoff alignment. First and most important is to get the projectors cutoff aligned to each other. You need to rotate one or both projectors to do this. Each projectors cutoff must be on the same horizontal plane. It took a few tries, but I finally got it.
Note; what is important is that each HID lamp cutoff line is perfectly horizontal with each other. You can see that one cutoff is slightly lower than the other which is easily fixed with the OEM adjustments screws. Horizontal adjustment can only be done by twisting each projector in its mount until the both match. Once they are perfect then proceed to carefully epoxy the projectors to the reflectors.
While I really liked the way the finger strap/hose clamp method turned out, I subscribe to the overkill method of engineering. I decided that the area around each aluminum pop rivet needed some re-enforcement. I choose JB Weld for the job.
Once these spots of JB Weld had cured, I added more along each of the brass fingers. I was done making adjustments, and didn’t want the projectors to shift. After all, it is a motorcycle.
This part of the project is where I hit my first snag. These 3 inch projectors are just enough larger that it became a challenge to get them fitted. I had ordered Apollo shrouds to fit over the projectors. However after fitting the Apollo shroud onto the lens I found out the OEM shroud attached to the lens would not clear the Apollo shrouds when I placed the OEM lens back onto the reflector hs. So after studying the dimensions for the different shroud designs I order a set of Gatling Gun II shrouds. Even these are a tight fit, but worked perfectly. I did have to shorten these shrouds on the belt sander because they are taller than the Apollo shrouds.
Once I had the shroud issue figured out, I glued them in using Goop. I let the assembly sit for several days to make sure the Goop was done gassing off the fumes. These fumes have been known to cloud the inside of the lens.
Now it was time to put the lens back on the reflector housing. I placed the lens on, then tightly wrapped the assembly with 4 rubber tie down straps. Back in the oven, 275 degrees for 7 minutes. After the timer went off the lens was securely in place. I just set it aside to cool.
With the headlight assemblies finished, it was time to figure out the ballast mounting location and build a HID lighting harness with a time delay relay. The perfect spot for the ballast is right between the headlight assemblies. Honda even provided mounting bosses for the plate.
I made a template, and then cut out some aluminum mounting plates. Mark each plate left and right. I also marked the mounting hole with an X to get the correct orientation.
A test fit of the ballast and mounting plates. It turned out to be a tighter fit then I thought. If the ballast had been any thicker, I would have had to have gone to plan B. Good thing I didn’t need plan B, because I didn’t have a plan B.
That’s what I call a snug fit.
I glued the ballast to the mounting plates with goop and set it aside to cure. Next up was fabricating the HID wiring harness. There is plenty of How To’s out there for building a HID harness so I will skip the blow by blow and just show a picture of my results. The HID ballast DC feeds run over the top of each headlight assembly. The relay, fuse holder are tucked up under the right fresh air duct. All connections are soldered and shrink wrapped. I also used AMP’s connectors for high beam pig tails. The harness is fully sheathed with the mesh sheathing.
The finishing touches
I trimmed the boots to fit over the D2S lamp connectors. If you recall I had to trim the lower portion under the boot to make room for the high beam solenoid and its pig tail. I sealed the lower part of the reflector with some rubber I cut from a bicycle inner tube. I used goop to glue it down. Again the whole assembly was bench tested. I decided to keep my HID kit H7’s and installed it into the high beam side of each reflector.
I re-assembled the headlamps into the fairing and made one more test. Now it was time to move the fairing back onto the bike. After mounting the fairing and testing, the HID projectors worked perfectly. However the H7 HID kit left lamp started re-striking over and over. Hmmm; a bad igniter possibly. I set up a test harness for the left H7 HID ballast and wired it directly to the battery. Worked perfectly, which makes sense if you remember how the GL1800 does the high beam wiring; one side powered through the switch and the other side from the high beam relay. Apparently there was enough of a voltage drop on the left side through the OEM wiring to cause a re-strike problem. I solved it by building one more HID harness, except this one just uses a plain Bosch relay, not a TDR. This HID harness works perfectly. This is exactly why you should always build a harness for HID ballast and use the OEM wiring only to trip the HID relay.
Shown below is the McCulloch HID H7 PNP kit that I have been using for at least a year. This is a highly regarded HID kit by LD riders of all marquees. Ballast is completely sealed and the ballast enclosure is metal. Since the output for all modern ballast is high voltage AC, care must be taken to not place the high voltage output leads near communications cable. Cheap ballast that are not shielded can cause interference to on board intercoms and communications systems.
Finally here are the results from this modification. This is the before picture I took with my bike using the HID H7 plug n play kit in the low beams. Notice the amount of light above the cut off. This light is also present with halogen lamps, but since they lumen output is much lower than HID lamps it does not cause a back scatter for the rider or glare for the oncoming traffic. Also notice how quickly the intensity rolls off on the outer edges of the main beam.
This is the after photo, daylight with the bike in the exact same position in the garage. Notice that there is still a hot spot, but the intensity does not roll off like the HID H7 kit mounted in a reflector. This shows how the HID projector creates a sharp cutoff, wide beam pattern that is nearly two lanes wide. There are little to no artifacts above the cutoff. One more thing to note is both HID lamps projector and H7 are 4300 degrees kelvin. The H7 HID lamps are over a year old, notice how the color has shifted more toward the blue spectrum, these would probably measure out at 6000 degrees kelvin.
One last issue was my lens, well actually two issues. I had to polish out all the pits and scratches on the outside of the lens. It was pretty sad. I used Mothers headlight restoration system. It works very well. Just follow the directions provided. You can see below some of the difference between the right and left headlight lens. On the right I was at this point about half done polishing out the scratches. Both lens required wet sanding, starting with 800 grit and finishing with 2000 grit. Then polish out all the sanding haze. Your headlight may not be as bad, but 170K miles really takes its toll. What I didn’t do and should have is buffed out the inside of the lens as well. That would have gotten them both totally crystal clear.
The last part of this project is a high beam selector switch. I want to be able to control when I use just the Bi-Xenon high beam, or the H7 HID kit high beam. I call it city mode / country mode. For city riding and droning up and down the interstate just using the bi-xenon mode is all that is necessary. However, once I get into open range country I want a lot more light and punch, so country mode is perfect.
I need to put some night miles on and maybe a couple of saddle sores before I decided what to do with the PIAA910’s. Currently they will stay 100+ watt halogen. If I decided to keep them I may convert them to HID as well. It should be pretty easy to convert since the PIAA910 uses a H3 lamp.
Why do this retrofit? I did this retrofit for several reasons. As my eyes have aged I noticed that I require better and more efficient lighting. This light must be at the optimum wave length or you do more harm than good. 4300 Kelvin is perfect. 5k Kelvin is ok, once you hit 6k Kelvin you’re wasting your time unless you only care for the bling factor. Another issue I needed to deal with is back scatter. When you nearly triple the lumen output from your head lights, back scatter becomes a serious problem. Those tiny droplets of water and vapor in the capture and reflect that output right back at you. This causes a visibility problem at the worst time, inclement dark raining riding. Having a razor sharp cutoff with no stray artifacts is essential. Stick with 35watt ballast, the boosted ballast claiming 55 or 100 watts output will render night riding in marginal weather nearly impossible. The issue with this amount of lumen output is the reflection off the fore ground back into the riders’ eyes. This makes riding even when the weather is nice a serious problem. That amount of light reflecting back constricts the pupils and kills your peripheral vision. This is the exact opposite of what a rider needs for night riding.
One thing to keep in mind with a project like this is the legality of headlight modifications. Unless you’re fitting your headlights with the lamps it was designed for, it is illegal. Re-based HID lamps used in the HID PNP kits are illegal. Projector retrofits are illegal.
Frequent Questions Asked and Answered.
I have been asked if it was necessary to swap out the Fresnel lens for a clear lens. I felt that the benefits and increased performance was well worth the extra cost. Swapping the lens was very simple. These before and after shots should clearly demonstrate the increased performance of a clear lens. The first photograph is a single Nissan 350Z projector with an OEM Fresnel lens.
The same single Nissan 350Z projector with the TRS Sti-R clear lens installed.
The increased output is very noticeable.
Outside comparison photographs have been requested.
The following photograph shows the output from my PNP McCulloch H7 HID kit when it was installed in my low beams. The wood fence is 85 feet away. At this distance notice that any semblance of a cutoff is gone. The hotspots nearly fill two sections of fence.
The next photograph is with the 3 inch projector HID’s installed. The sky was not quite as dark as the photograph above, however it is clear that the cutoff is still sharp at the same distance unlike the PNP HID kit. There is no glare above the cutoff, no stray artifacts. There is still the characteristic HID hotspot, but take notice of the width of the beam. Clearly twice the width and well lit for nearly the full width.
The following low beam shot showing the far side of the street, about 200 feet away. Even at this distance, the cutoff is still quite obvious.
High beams, both the Bi-xenon and the H7 HID.