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1992 Corolla DLX
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have been working on gathering parts for this project for over a year. For the past 2-3 years, I have been using bi-xenon 9004 HID 4300k bulbs (bulbs retract for high beam) in the stock housings, which only give good visibility in the low beam position. After installing them, I had to lower the headlamps to keep the aim similar to that of the halogen bulbs. While I had these bi-xenon 9004 HID bulbs installed, I was only flashed once (the week before I started the retrofit project), and that was when my car was aiming slightly uphill waiting to turn left and a car coming the other way flashed their lights at me. I would expect the person to be blinded with halogen lamps in this same scenario. Since high beam is just high with no low beam, they did a good job of illuminating the sides of the road and up, but straight ahead was not lit well. I wanted better, so I started to investigating other possibilities. There are other types of 9004 HID bulbs (twin capsules, 1 capsule and 1 halogen bulb), but knowing how the 9004 is designed with precisely positioned offset filaments, none of the alternatives would work properly in my opinion. So, I started researching the possibility of a bi-xenon projector retrofit.

My HID kit was homemade. I bought a relay harness, ballasts, and bulbs separately. I originally bought a complete kit (my first HID PNP kit) but had problems with the ballasts in cold weather so I returned the kit (they stopped selling that ballast after I asked their tech support to put the ballast in their freezer and they were able to reproduce the problem). I was able to find brand new Hella ballasts like the ones used in BMWs. They had KET connectors on them, so I bought some KET to AMP adapter harnesses. I needed an extension in either case due to the mounting location of the ballasts. I mounted the ballasts beneath the headlamps on top of the front bumper mounts. In order to get them to sit flat, I trimmed the excess sealer from the bumper mount horns, cleaned the area well with brake cleaner, then cut strips of double-sided tape and stacked them to achieve flat area for the ballast to stick to.

The relay fit neatly against the fender next to the fuse box. I ran the harness along the top front of the radiator; the conduit fit inside the radiator hold downs nicely. The relay harness had 2 separate short ground wires. I didn't trust any part of the painted body as a good ground, so I modified the harness. I already had a very long pigtail ground wire with terminal from an old wiring harness, so I used it to join the 2 existing ground wires and have a terminal that I could ground to the transmission next to the battery ground.

I bought some standard mini H1 retrofit projectors and a used headlight assembly. The projectors I bought are exactly like these that The Retrofit Source is selling (https://www.theretrofitsource.com/projector-kits/hid-led-projectors/bi-xenon-acme-super-h1.html). I discovered the projectors will fit into the OEM headlight housing behind the original glass lens, but since the glass lens is fluted to disperse the light into a specific pattern, it sort of defeats the feature of the projector. So, I set out to look for replacement housings with clear lenses and found a set. The replacement housings are plastic with clear glass lenses (no DOT markings). The adjusters move the reflector rather than the housing (there is a stationary part of the reflector nearer the glass lens). I had an option of black reflectors or chrome reflectors for a little more money. I chose the chrome reflectors hoping to retain some of the original look.

I had some bad luck with my 9004 bulbs that sometimes they would not light in cold weather. Once I got the Hella ballasts, I still had the problem, but the problem now was bulb-specific. After a few iterations, I finally had a pair of bulbs that would light the first time, most of the time.

For the new projectors, I wanted to ensure I bought a quality bulb, so I chose Morimoto XB35 4500k H1 bulbs from The Retrofit Source. These bulbs have been able to light the first time at 6 degrees Fahrenheit. My 9004 bulbs never worked that well. These H1 bulbs also warm up noticeably faster than any 9004 HID bulb that I have had.

The projectors are designed to be an easy update to an H4 or H7 headlamp housing with no modification. They came with specially shaped metal washers that were shaped like an H4 or H7 bulb. The special washers have a tab on the inside diameter to fit into a slot in the projector to align the projectors with the housings, so no need to worry about rotational alignment. My replacement headlights were designed to use H4 bulbs so I was expecting an easy retrofit. However, the joke was on me...

The notches in the back of the reflector are not in the correct position, so the projector is rotated about 15 degrees. The first thing I had to do was to file off the tang on the adapter washer that aligned the projector, so I could rotate the projector.

While installing and removing the projectors from the car, one of the high-beam leads pulled out of the socket, so the next chore was to remove each pin and solder it to the wire. I guess part of the cheap price was due to not validating each of the crimped connections. I thought the high-beam wire was a bit short and it was wound around the high-beam solenoid (likely to ensure there was no stress directly at the solenoid), so I unwound it from around the solenoid to give me some more wire in the engine bay. I also taped the wire to the outside of the projector housing using some reflecting tape, so the wire would not be visible against the reflector.

Since I was not using the locating tang on the adapter washer, I ran the wires inside the slot in the rear of the projector. The wires are small enough not to be damaged by the nut.

I was able to fit the projector into the new housing and it seemed to fit great. I still had not yet bought any shrouds. Since the projector sits at the bottom of the housing, rather than centered in the housing, I looked for shrouds that already had a flat spot in them, but they were all too big to fit inside the housing, so I bought the mini Gatling Gun shrouds from The Retrofit Source (https://www.theretrofitsource.com/mini-gatling-gun-54343.html). These shrouds needed to be trimmed at the bottom. Because these shrouds screw into the projector from behind the shroud, I had to remove/replace the projector a few times until I was satisfied with the fitment of the modified projector. I have included a picture of the bottom view of the installed shroud and a picture of the piece that was cut out. I put some extra reflecting tape against the bottom of the solenoid to reduce the amount of light that may escape from the cut shroud.

After putting the projector and shroud assembly back into the housing, I discovered that the stationary chrome piece would not fit. I could cut the shroud some more, cut the stationary chrome piece, or leave it out. If I chose to cut the stationary piece, the cut would have to be large as it would need to accommodate a lot of movement by the reflector (I still hadn't aligned the headlamps). I chose to leave the stationary bits out. The look is not bad without it.

Once I had the projectors installed, with the glass lenses removed, I could rotate the projectors to where they needed to be, and adjust the height as best as I could in a confined space. After the patterns were satisfactory, I put silicone in the groove of the housing and reinstalled the lenses. Then, I took the car out for a drive in the dark and discovered the projectors aimed too high (I could clearly see the beam was aiming upward, rather than horizontal or slightly downward). I came home and made some adjustments and went back out again. I did this a few times until I found out that the driver's side reflector could not be adjusted low enough, but the passenger side had lots of adjustment left.

After studying the assemblies, I discovered that the adjuster screw had penetrated the reflector on the passenger side (plastic must have been very thin at that spot). I really didn't want to disassemble the housings again, so I modified the adapter washer at the back of the reflector hoping to gain some height at the rear, lowering the aim of the beam. I was not able to achieve enough adjustment, so I decided to bite the bullet and disassemble the housing to cut a relief in the projector for the adjustment screw. Cutting the plastic made quite a mess, so I had to remove the housing, disassemble it and the projector, and thoroughly clean everything. After reassembly, I had more than enough adjustment. If I had known the adjuster screw was too long, I would have shortened the screws while I had the housings completely disassembled on the bench.

The beam pattern of the projectors is nice, but I still need to get used to the fact that I see either darkness or light, the cut off is dramatic, requiring me to flip back/forth between low and high beams, frequently. They are still adjusted just a little bit high, which I don't mind, but I know it is not friendly to the other drivers and I need to lower them a bit.

The lenses were originally installed with some sort of grey hard rubber, like a silicone. I chose to use clear silicone to reinstall the glass lenses rather than butyl because I thought it would be less messy. I did not count on opening them up again. When I opened the driver's side housing after 1 week, the silicone had not completely cured so disassembly was quite messy. The lack of cure was likely for 2 reasons: it was very very cold for that week and the areas that weren't cured were the deepest parts of the groove in the housing.

Because the HID relay harness only takes its signal from 1 side of the car, the high beam indicator on the dash doesn't work. In order for the high beam indicator to work, there must be resistance in the low beam circuit. I found several DIY suggestions from different forums, specifying a particular resistor, but none of them worked for me, satisfactorily. Each of the suggestions resulted in a resistor that would burn your hands, within a short period of running the low beams, so I had to find another solution. I decided to try one of the mystery bi-xenon error warning cancellers found on eBay. I bought the least expensive one, even though it had the wrong connector. Upon opening the device, it appears to contain 2 ceramic resistors epoxied in place; 1 for the low beam circuit and 1 for the high beam circuit. I tucked 1 of the leads inside the device and used the 2 remaining leads so only used 1 resistor. If that resistor fails, I can rewire the device and use the other resistor. After cutting off the original H4 spade connectors and adding extension leads with the correct spade connector (left over from an old HID kit), I tested out the bi-xenon error warning canceller. To my surprise and delight, the high beam indicator works and the device doesn't even get warm. Having a high beam indicator was the last part of my puzzle to complete. Bi-xenon error warning cancellers are available with the correct 9004 connector, but you may have to rewire it since it may be wired for a 9007. I also recommend removing the high beam wire since it plays no role in enabling the high beam indicator; there should only be 2 wires connected to the car's headlamp harness.

















Back of reflector shows the wrong orientation of the bulb locator notches.


Circled is where the tab was removed.


High beam wire taped to projector and guided through notch in threaded end.


Projector test fit, but no shroud.


Comparison of diffuser glare from HID bulb in OEM headlamp (passenger side) vs. projector (driver's side).


Underside of modified shroud.


Part of shroud that was cut out.


Projector and shroud installed. Stationary chrome reflector not reinstalled.






Aligning the projectors before reinstalling the glass lenses.


Adjusting projectors. They are still not rotated quite right in this picture. I rotated them a bit more after taking this picture.


Adapter washer marked where material would be removed to raise the rear of the projector in order to lower the beam.


The passenger side vertical adjuster poked through the bucket (casting must have already been thin, allowing full adjustment. I had to cut a hole in the driver's side to allow full adjustment.

Passenger side


Driver's side


eBay picture of the bi-xenon error warning canceller device I bought.


eBay picture of the bi-xenon error warning canceller device you can buy with the proper connector, but will need to be repinned since it is wired for a 9007 bulb.


Inside the bi-xenon error warning canceller. I tucked 1 lead away, not to be used. The crimp on the center 2 leads wasn't soldered and was loose, so I soldered it.


Testing the modified bi-xenon error warning canceller before putting the female connector on.


Completed modified bi-xenon error warning canceller, using only 2 leads and the correct connector.


The high beam indicator works! :grin: (Pardon the dust)


Light pattern of projectors against fence about 45 feet away. The left/right aim needs some adjustment. You can see the projected beams are converging, rather than parallel
Sorry for being blurry; my cell phone does not have image stabilization. I will see about a better picture with a proper camera, later.


Short video of night driving with low beams, only. The video ends at the same place as the picture, above.


Update: July 2018
I had been having trouble with the bulbs not lighting every time I turned them on. Sometimes 1 light would go on, sometimes no lights would go on; it became very frustrating switching the lights on/off until both lights would go on. The situation finally came to a head when neither bulb would light. I took the assemblies out of the car and sat them on the core support and plugged the bulbs back in and both lamps turned on. It took me a bit to figure out that I hadn't plugged in the high beam solenoid. When I plugged in the high beam solenoid, the bulbs did not light.

I had this issue once before and it turned out the bulbs were bad; the insulator on the return wire was cracked and an arc was leaking from the return wire when trying to fire the bulbs. I had the bulbs replaced under warranty and all was good until recently when I had the same symptoms. I checked the bulbs and the return wire insulators were not broken.

I decided to get new projectors. The projectors I had been using were purchased directly from China with no name associated with them. They worked wonderfully, but now I am suspecting something may be wrong. I bought new Acme Standard projectors from TRS. I tested the projectors before putting them into the housings by resting them on the core support and then turned on the headlight switch and the bulbs lit...then I noticed I hadn't connected the high beam solenoid. After connecting the high beam solenoid, the bulbs lit sometimes and not other times. I started hearing a spark when turning on the switch, then I saw the spark jumping from the high beam solenoid to the core support. I held the projector in my hand, reached for the headlight switch, and the bulb always lit. After resting the projector on the radiator overflow tank, no more sparks occurred and the bulb always lit. One more time, I held the projector in my hand, and I got shocked because my other arm was touching the A pillar. Something was still not right. I finally figured the high beam solenoid is acting as a ground, but it shouldn't, or the bulb will never light; the arc from the return wire will jump to the solenoid and prevent the bulb from lighting.

I had always wondered if my ballasts were faulty since the bulbs fired only some of the time, so I bought new Morimoto XB35 ballasts and a Morimoto BiXenon relay harness. On the TRS website, I read that their relay harnesses had a diode to prevent back feed, so I would give it a try. I had been using the same no-name relay harness that I bought when I installed the first plug-n-play kit using bi-xenon bulbs, where the capsule pulled back for the high beam, but you lost the low beam.

I mocked up the harness on the car with jumper leads to the battery and both bulbs lit without hesitation. It appears my problem all along was a faulty relay harness, allowing a ground circuit through the high beam solenoid.

A point that I didn't like about the projectors was how the bulb was retained using a spring wire that is difficult to work with in the car and easy to drop. The bulb would also easily move when retained by the spring wire. Morimoto came out with a new design of bulb holder they call MotoHo1der. The new holder is a 3-piece design that uses a threaded nut to apply compression to the bulb so it can be positioned and then tightened; the bulb cannot move after tightening the nut.

The high beam solenoid wires on the old projectors were thin enough that I could run them through the groove in the threaded end of the projector. The high beam solenoid wires on the new Acme Standard projectors were thicker, so I had to cut a notch in the silicone washer for the wires to pass.

The wires on the new MotoControl relay harness are a little longer than on my original harness, so I didn't need to use the extensions that I needed with the original harness. I installed the MoriMoto XB35 ballasts in the same location as the Hella ballasts, but faced the MoriMoto ballasts opposite to how I mounted the Hella ballasts, which allowed me to avoid the extensions. The Hella ballasts were mounted with 3M double-sided foam tape. The MoriMoto ballasts are installed with exterior adhesive Velcro.

The MoriMoto relay has a weather pack connector to keep moisture out, unlike my old relay.

I mounted the MoriMoto relay in the same location as my old relay, but this time ran the harness between the inner fender and the air intake duct to keep the wiring more hidden than before.

As with my old harness, I modified the MoriMoto harness to include a single ground connection to the engine block. The harness includes two 20 AWG ground wires that I joined and continued to a single loop using 14 AWG wire (twice the diameter and twice the ampacity of 20 AWG).

I ran the MoriMoto harness along the same path as the old harness. Because I was unable to run the new ground wire inside the original braided sheathing, I used 3/8 split conduit where the harness runs between the radiator and the core support.

Aligning the lights is a little tricky. I don't have a shop where I can have 25 feet of space between the car and a vertical surface. I pushed the car back as far as I could and then measured the distance between the projector and the garage door, which was 7 feet 4 inches (88 inches). I confirmed it was as square to the door as I could measure. Then I put my Milwaukee flashlight on the floor against the side of a rear tire and looked at the shadow cast on the door. I found a reference point and marked it on the door. I did the same with the other side. Since I had recently had a 4-wheel alignment, I felt confident in this approach. Using the 2 reference marks, I found the centerpoint of the car and made another mark. Then I measured the distance between the center of each projector, to the best of my ability (40.25 inches) and marked the door accordingly. I then measured the height of the center of each projector and marked the door accordingly. Now I knew where the center of each beam would be if the beams were straight. Unfortunately, my FSM makes no reference on how to adjust the headlamps, probably because it is done according to the Hoppe tool procedure. My Haynes book gave a general description; in summary: At 25 feet, the beam should be 2 inches below and 2 inches to the right of the mark if the beam was adjusted perfectly straight. Since I only had 88 inches and not 300 inches to work with, I needed to use the rule of similar triangles to determine how far below and to the right my lights should be adjusted from their centerline. The distance I calculate is 0.583 inches, which is close enough to 0.5 inches (especially when using a Sharpie to make the marks).

I am including pictures of the latest rendition of my HID retrofit. The adjustment pretty close, but not perfect; the adjusters are very cheap making fine adjustments difficult.

In the winter I should be able to post some night time driving video.


New Acme Standard H1 projector with old Mini Gatling shroud.


Notched silicone washer and metallic tape that I used to cover the high beam solenoid wires, so they wouldn't appear in the housing reflector


View from rear of housing, with projector installed and high beam solenoid poking through notch in silicone washer


Close up view of high beam wires poking through silicone washer


View of the MotoHo1der


Rear view of housing with bulb installed


MoriMoto MotoControl relay harness installed


Driver's side headlamp housing cavity, showing how the harness is now routed between the inner fender and the air intake duct.


Battery ground and relay harness ground.


MoriMoto XB35 ballasts and ignitors


The Velcro that I used to mount the ballasts. I trimed about 3/4 inch from the 4-inch length. No other trimming necessary.


Ballast and wiring installed on driver's side.


Path of relay harness on driver's side. You can see the additional ground wire that I added.


Path of relay harness on passenger's side.


Relay harness is routed beneath the radiator mounts. Between the radiator mounts, I covered the harness in 3/8" split conduit to hide the extra ground wire.


Low beam adjusted as close as I could


High beam view


Marks used for alignment


Closeup of mark
 

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1992 Corolla DLX
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Discussion Starter #4
Wow, that's pretty darn cool!!! Wouldn't happen to have any "before" beamshots?
No, sorry. The before beam patterns with HID bulbs were really 2 distinct ovals with a little dispersement around the edges. There is a T-intersection that I approach on my way home from work that has a solid wooden fence on the opposite side of the road, and I could see the 2 bright ovals of light against the fence. Now I see a broad white sheet of light.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I added a new picture showing the light pattern against a fence on the way home. Some more left/right adjustment is required; you can see the beams are converging.

Sorry that the image is a bit blurry; my cell phone camera does not have any image stabilization.:frown:
 

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Awesome work!! Super clean too!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
You need a new radiator very very very soon, that top tank is ready to blow!

Good work on the retrofit though!
Why do you think the top tank of the radiator will blow so soon? What are you seeing in the pictures?
 

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The discoloration of the plastic like that is one of the first signs of the plastic deteriorating. The end tanks are made of a plastic and fiber mix, what you're seeing is the layers of plastic coming unbonded from one another and coolant/air pushing into the voids creating the lighter colored plastic in areas. It gets very soft and crumbly in those places until it just splits or pops. It's really common on the plastic necks of radiators too, and other plastic parts in hot coolant.



That's usually where they pop if the tank doesn't just split.
http://forum.miata.net/vb/showthread.php?t=548310

In fact I can see a stress crack forming on the right side of this image you posted here, see it now?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
The weather finally is more to my liking. I added close-ups of where the vertical adjusters poked through the reflectors.

If I had known the vertical adjuster screws were too long, I would have cut them while I had the housings completely disassembled on the bench.
 

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This is exactly what I have been researching for months! I posted a thread just today asking about the same thing. My only main concern is the quality of the materials in the aftermarket headlamps and their ability to withstand the hear from HID systems. Have you noticed anything such?

Ifound similar aftermarket headlamps on jdmauotlights.com and on Ebay. The ones on Ebay are all shipped from Hong Kong, which to many people suggest mediocrity and poor durability. From where did you source your aftermarket lamps?

Great work, by the way!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thank you for the kudos.

I got my housings from China. I have seen some prices that astound me. Mine were about $60 plus shipping, without the side markers. I had a lot of trouble with the seller. Both housings were broken (both L/R adjusters were punched into the housing due to poor packaging), but I was able to repair them with some glue made for difficult plastics. Surprisingly, it worked great.

The lamps on jdmautolights look exactly the same as mine (except for some additional markings at the bottom of the lens, where I have no markings) and claim to be DOT approved, but I don't see any DOT marking on the lens, so I call BS. Since the side marker is included, perhaps the side marker has a DOT mark?
http://jdmautolights.com/headlights-corolla-8892-c-250_251_276.html?osCsid=6cb6ef6040ef7a00123e767a3e4df008

The lenses are glass, but the housing is some sort of soft flexible plastic. I had to relocate the small holes on the lower outer ends of the housing for the small screws that go into plastic grommets, and the holes for the grill mounts need to be reworked; perhaps the grill mounts work better with a Japanese grill? The 2 studs on the outside edge are positioned correctly. The stud that goes into the engine bay is positioned correctly, but replaced with a bolt; there is a fixed nut in the plastic housing. The nut is not held in very well, so I used some RTV to mount the nut where it belonged, assembled onto the car, and let cure...problem solved.

On the backside of the reflector in the outside upper corner is a hole where a pivot clips in. When adjusting up/down or left/right, the reflector pivots from this point. The plastic pivot snaps onto a metal stud on the inside of the housing. There is nothing wrong with the clips, but the reflectors are not made accurately, so the hole that the clip snaps into is too large on one of the reflectors. The reflector came off the pivot and the beam dropped. I had to disassemble the housing just this past weekend and used JB Quick to put it back together. It is now quite sturdy and the other side is sloppy, but the clip won't fall out. If I feel energetic, I will take the other side apart and do the same JB Quick trick to firm it up.

Disassembly/reassembly is a pain since I used clear silicone to seal the glass to the housing. It is hard to get most of the silicone off of the glass (none stuck to the housing) and then ensure the lens is spotless on the inside before putting it back together (lots of compressed air). It is not an airtight seal since the back of the housing is open to the atmosphere, so there won't be any risk of trapping condensation that you can't get rid of.

When I had the housing apart this weekend, I noticed the chrome on the top surface of the reflector had deteriorated where it is close to the projector reflector, but it really isn't noticeable unless you look for it and it is hard to see. There is no affect on functionality since the reflector isn't being used as a reflector.

If you do this same swap, get quality bulbs and ballasts. I have had some bulbs that won't light when it gets cold. I haven't had any trouble with my Morimoto XB bulbs.

There are no DOT markings on the lenses, so I don't know whether they will pass inspection or not. I still have the original housings and they can be swapped in an hour or less, if I have to swap them to pass inspection.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I added some more to the original post.

After the projector swap, the high beam indicator didn't work. I solved this issue some time ago, but never updated this post with the solution.

I also added a short video of a recent nighttime drive, with just the low beams; the video ends at the same location where the still picture was taken against a fence. You can see that I never got round to adjusting the beams from converging, because I am satisfied with the result as it is.
 

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Thank you for the kudos.

I got my housings from China. I have seen some prices that astound me. Mine were about $60 plus shipping, without the side markers. I had a lot of trouble with the seller. Both housings were broken (both L/R adjusters were punched into the housing due to poor packaging), but I was able to repair them with some glue made for difficult plastics. Surprisingly, it worked great.

The lamps on jdmautolights look exactly the same as mine (except for some additional markings at the bottom of the lens, where I have no markings) and claim to be DOT approved, but I don't see any DOT marking on the lens, so I call BS. Since the side marker is included, perhaps the side marker has a DOT mark?
http://jdmautolights.com/headlights-corolla-8892-c-250_251_276.html?osCsid=6cb6ef6040ef7a00123e767a3e4df008
Registered to find more info on some Clear/Non-fluted lenses for my Girlfriend's 92 corolla. Her lights are shit, and wanted to upgrade them with a Projector retrofit but can't find any clear lenses.

I know i can buy some on Rockauto for my 4runner and they ship with plastic clear lenses... i'd like more info on where you got yours, cause all the ones i see are $250+ on ebay, etc. A little more than i'm looking to spend for a new set of lights, rather spend my money on the projector parts!
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Hey itskmill06, welcome! I hope my documentary was of value to you.

I got the headlamps from this company, when they were selling via AliExpress in 2014.

CNMY Auto Parts Manufacturing Co., Ltd.
Add: No.28 Happy Road, Danyang City
Jiangsu Province, China 212300
Tel: 0086-132-3636-9280
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: www.aliexpress.com/store/435306


They came by slow boat and took about 3 months to arrive.

Their store no longer exists on AliExpress, but you can buy the same parts in bulk on Alibaba. You could write to their CNMY email address and see if they still exist and still sell the crystal headlamp housings.

I had difficulty with this seller; the housings were not packed properly and the plastic was broken around the adjusters, rendering the housings useless. I did finally manage to find some glue for difficult plastics to repair the housings (thank you Loctite Corporation!). Before I repaired the housings, the seller offered to replace the housings, but wanted me to pay shipping, then he offered to pay 1/2 the shipping; I didn't take him up on the offer because I already paid $49 USD shipping and didn't want to pay additional shipping to get what I had already paid for.

I have also seen the same housings at ridiculous prices on eBay as well. It is clear to me that they are buying them very cheap from Alibaba. If they sell 1 set, they likely have recouped the money they paid for the lot they bought.
 
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