HID projector retrofit completed–helpful tips inside - Forums at Modded Mustangs
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post #1 of 17 Old August 22nd, 2017, 01:29 AM Thread Starter
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HID projector retrofit completed–helpful tips inside

I completed my projector retrofit a few weeks ago. I have been fine tuning the aim since then, and nearly have it where I want it. I figured I would make a thread logging my experience, and include helpful tips and pointers for people to reference in the future. This won't be a step-by-step tutorial, but there are a lot of guides on the internet if you are interested in doing a retrofit yourself.

First, a little background information. It's no secret that the stock headlights on 99-04 Mustangs are pretty terrible at illuminating the road. Even after installing Philips X-treme Vision bulbs–pretty much the brightest halogen bulbs available–I was still unsatisfied with the output at night. For years, New Edge owners have had little option for improving the performance of their lighting system. Recently, however, aftermarket plug-and-play HID and LED kits have emerged as such technology becomes standard on modern cars. These kits are appealing due to their low cost, ease of installation, and increased light output. For many, this is an adequate "upgrade" to stock Halogen bulbs. But don't be fooled. Installing a plug-and-play HID kit in a reflector housing not only produces blinding glare for oncoming traffic, but actually diminishes your ability to see long distances at night. That's right. These HID kits with their increased Lux and pure white light actually perform worse than the Halogen bulbs they replace. Here's a good read on HID kits and why they don't work well in a reflector housing:

Daniel Stern Lighting Consultancy and Supply

Now, on to the good stuff. Here's the breakdown of parts I used:

OEM Ford headlights
Morimoto Mini D2S 4.0 projectors
Osram CBI bulbs
E46-R shrouds
Morimoto relay harness
Matsushita Gen IV ballasts

I chose the MD2S over the Mini H1 projector because they have a larger and more intense hotspot, put out more width, have an incredibly bright high beam, and can use OEM grade D2S bulbs. In terms of physical dimensions, the MD2S is longer and taller than the MH1. Since the headlights for these cars are rather slim, there's not much room to work with (I'll talk more on that later). A MH1 would have been easier to install, but I wanted the increased performance of the MD2S. Here's what the projectors look like:



The first step to any retrofit is opening the stock headlight housings. Most aftermarket lights are sealed with Butyl, which softens and almost liquefies with heat. Lights sealed with Butyl are a cinch to open. In stark contrast, OEM Ford lights are sealed with permaseal. This stuff more closely resembles plastic when cured, and only becomes slightly pliable when heated. I read countless horror stories about opening permasealed lights, but in my experience, they aren't all that bad to work on. Heating the lights in an oven at 240˚F for 20-minutes softens the permaseal enough to work with. Remember to wear oven mitts or appropriate gloves when handling hot lights. Whether you use OEM or aftermarket lights, here's the best advice I can give you when cracking them open: get yourself a pair of expanding pliers. These are the pair I bought:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

These pliers were absolutely invaluable for opening the lights. I found the best spot to start with is the outside edge (see photo below). There is less sealant there, and there's a nice lip for the pliers to pry against. After the front lens began to separate from the back housing, I used a flathead screwdriver and worked it along the channel to help sever the seal. I continued using the screwdriver and pliers along the outside of the headlight until the lens was fully separated. The first light took a couple hours to open, but I had the second one apart in less than 30-minutes. Several more rounds of heating were then needed to remove all the permaseal from the channels.



Once everything was opened up, I began the actual retrofit process. Most of the modifications are done to the reflector bowl, since that is what the projector is mounted to. There are several methods when mounting projectors, and each depends on what projector is used, and what car they are going on. OEM projectors are usually mounted using bolts, while some aftermarket projectors–like the Morimoto MD2S and MH1–use a threaded shaft that inserts through the stock bulb opening. Generally speaking, the threaded shaft method is far easier. For a more detailed look at the various mounting methods, check out this video:


The next steps were fairly straight forward, so I'll try and keep this brief. The stock headlights use a 9007 Halogen bulb. The back of the reflector is designed to mount this style bulb, which means some cutting and sanding is necessary in order for the threaded shaft of the projector to fit. A Dremel with a cutoff wheel was perfect for cutting down the base of the bulb holder. Then I used an orbital sander with a 80-grit disc to sand down the base until it was smooth. It's important to ensure the base is sanded perfectly level, as the threaded shaft will eventually be secured with a lock ring. If the base is sanded at an angle the projector will sit crooked, and light won't shine where you want it–straight ahead! The threaded shaft has an outside diameter of 35mm, and it becomes obvious that the stock bulb opening is far too small and needs to be enlarged. I slowly opened up the hole with a Dremel and sanding drums until the threaded shaft could fit without rubbing. After cutting and sanding, this is what I got:



The following would probably not have been needed had I used a MH1 projector because of its smaller size. The MD2S 4.0 has two "legs" that extend downward from the rest of the projector. These legs hit the bottom of the reflector bowl, causing the projector to sit upward at an angle. In order for the projector to sit properly, the bottom of the reflector had to be cut. You can see the hole I cut in the photo below. Another reason to cut the reflector is to allow the projector to rotate freely. Because HID projectors have such a sharp cutoff, they are very sensitive to improper rotation. The last thing you want after sealing the lights back up is to see the cutoff angled to one side. Since I cut the reflector bowl, I can freely rotate the projector to make sure the cutoff is always level.



Once the projectors were mounted in the reflectors, I needed to trim and mount the shrouds. There are over two-dozen different shrouds to choose from, coming in different designs and sizes. I personally prefer either the E46-R or Iris style shroud since they have the cleanest look. For this retrofit, I opted for the E46-R shrouds, but nearly every shroud requires some degree of trimming to fit in 99-04 Mustang headlights. In my case, the top part of the shrouds required a good amount of trimming and sanding to fit. Since the reflector moves up and down when the lights are adjusted vertically, I had to make sure the shrouds did not rub or bind on the black inner bezel.

I want to add a quick word on mounting the shrouds. The most common methods are either using centric rings (can only be used on projectors with 2.5" lens), or using some sort high-heat adhesive such as JB Weld. Neither method seemed particularly reliable to me, so I improvised my own technique. I drilled holes through the bottom of the reflector bowls and shrouds, fed bolts through the holes, and secured them with nylon lock nuts. This ensures a far more durable mount for the shroud. You can see the bottom of the bolts in the following photo:



After ensuring everything fit and looked correctly, I sealed the lights back up using Morimoto Retrorubber. This is a Butyl sealant, which means the lights will be easier to re-open in the future if any alterations or repairs are needed.

Here's the final result:









Crappy cellphone photos of the cutoff at night. The light appears slightly yellow, but in reality it's pure white. These projectors have a 3" clear lens that produce a really sharp and colorful cutoff.







High beam shot from the driver seat. INSANELY BRIGHT!



After driving with the new lights for a few weeks, I am thrilled with their performance. There really is no comparison between the stock Halogen lights and these. Long distance visibility is greatly improved, and the DOT cutoff means I won't blind oncoming traffic.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask.
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post #2 of 17 Old August 22nd, 2017, 04:53 AM
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Awesome writeup

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post #3 of 17 Old August 22nd, 2017, 11:04 AM
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Nice job! I installed the Mini H1's in mine and I love them! I can't drive any other car at night anymore - projectors with HIDs has spoiled night driving for me.

Are those motorcycle lights in your fog lights? What kind did you get? I have been wanting to do that for awhile but am not sure the dimensions.



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post #4 of 17 Old August 22nd, 2017, 09:10 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by MineralGreyGT View Post
Awesome writeup
Thanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by dexdiman View Post
Nice job! I installed the Mini H1's in mine and I love them! I can't drive any other car at night anymore - projectors with HIDs has spoiled night driving for me.

Are those motorcycle lights in your fog lights? What kind did you get? I have been wanting to do that for awhile but am not sure the dimensions.
They're LED fog lights from a 2015 Mustang. They're round, so you would need a Cobra bumper to use them.
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post #5 of 17 Old August 27th, 2017, 11:30 AM
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Man that looks clean as hell!!!

Did you retrofit stock headlights or did you go aftermarket? Also, did those shrouds need any cutting?

I have morimoto H1 minis 7.0's but purchased mini gattling gun shrouds. These shrouds look like they would require trimming and cutting. I painted them flat black with high temp grill paint (matte black) to create a matte look.

I still need to purchase headlights to do the retrofit but I am debating on using the OEM headlights. I wanted a headlight that have both horizontal and vertical adjustment as I've done a retrofit in the past on my explorer and needed both. I found that a company called Eagle Eye makes a headlight assembly that does just this. Thoughts?

In the past I used E46 (I believe?) projectors for the retrofit. This was before the retrofitting game was big so it was pulled from a wrecked BMW. This was 2005. I remember those D2s bulbs and they are much beefier then these H1's I have.

Thoughts on shrouds and retrofit housings? I might just rip into my OEM's if you're saying it's that easy. My issue would be horizontal adjustment needs.

http://imageshack.com/a/img832/3492/odessadone.jpg

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post #6 of 17 Old August 27th, 2017, 02:34 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheOdessa View Post
Man that looks clean as hell!!!

Did you retrofit stock headlights or did you go aftermarket? Also, did those shrouds need any cutting?

I have morimoto H1 minis 7.0's but purchased mini gattling gun shrouds. These shrouds look like they would require trimming and cutting. I painted them flat black with high temp grill paint (matte black) to create a matte look.

I still need to purchase headlights to do the retrofit but I am debating on using the OEM headlights. I wanted a headlight that have both horizontal and vertical adjustment as I've done a retrofit in the past on my explorer and needed both. I found that a company called Eagle Eye makes a headlight assembly that does just this. Thoughts?

In the past I used E46 (I believe?) projectors for the retrofit. This was before the retrofitting game was big so it was pulled from a wrecked BMW. This was 2005. I remember those D2s bulbs and they are much beefier then these H1's I have.

Thoughts on shrouds and retrofit housings? I might just rip into my OEM's if you're saying it's that easy. My issue would be horizontal adjustment needs.
I retrofited Ford headlights, since I wanted OEM fitment and quality. Opening permasealed lights really isn't difficult, it can just be frustrating and time consuming. Definitely get a pair of expanding pliers like I mentioned, they really do help.

I've heard mostly good things about Eagle Eyes lights. From all acounts I've read, they are comparable to Depo brand. Horizontal adjustment is nice to have, but it's not a requirement. If you are precise when trimming and sanding the back of the reflector, the projector will be mounted correctly and shouldn't need horizontal adjustment.

As for the shrouds, they required quite a bit of work. The tops had to be trimmed, the bottoms had to be sanded, and I had to expand the openings so I could sink them farther back on the projector. The Mini Gatling Guns are small enough to mount with little to no cutting.
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post #7 of 17 Old August 28th, 2017, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by TheOdessa View Post
I still need to purchase headlights to do the retrofit but I am debating on using the OEM headlights. I wanted a headlight that have both horizontal and vertical adjustment as I've done a retrofit in the past on my explorer and needed both. I found that a company called Eagle Eye makes a headlight assembly that does just this. Thoughts?
I personally bought Eagle Eye and I like the quality. I thought I would use the horizontal adjustment but I never needed too, plus you can't adjust the headlight horizontally while it's mounted to the car. There isn't a way to insert a screwdriver to make adjustments so it all has to be done with the headlight off the car. Kind of a pain... but do able.



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post #8 of 17 Old August 28th, 2017, 11:12 PM
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Thanks guys! OEM fitment is hard to beat so now I am debating on that route instead. I'll see what the garage this labor day calls me for. Looks awesome!

I'll be using Morimoto H1 minis 7.0 with Opt7 6k H1 bulb and Opt7 mini ballasts at 35 watts. Patience is something I lack so expanding pliers sound like a must. I bought pry tools and resealing stuff from TRS already. I'll get the expanding pliers as a tool as well.

---------- Post added at 11:12 PM ---------- Previous post was at 11:10 PM ----------

How exactly did you reseal the headlights? Not sure how to activate the sealant to make it go back in again....

Also, did you remove all the stock sealant with a dremel or what did you do?

http://imageshack.com/a/img832/3492/odessadone.jpg

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post #9 of 17 Old August 29th, 2017, 12:50 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheOdessa View Post
Thanks guys! OEM fitment is hard to beat so now I am debating on that route instead. I'll see what the garage this labor day calls me for. Looks awesome!

I'll be using Morimoto H1 minis 7.0 with Opt7 6k H1 bulb and Opt7 mini ballasts at 35 watts. Patience is something I lack so expanding pliers sound like a must. I bought pry tools and resealing stuff from TRS already. I'll get the expanding pliers as a tool as well.

---------- Post added at 11:12 PM ---------- Previous post was at 11:10 PM ----------

How exactly did you reseal the headlights? Not sure how to activate the sealant to make it go back in again....

Also, did you remove all the stock sealant with a dremel or what did you do?
I removed the old permaseal by heating the housing at 220°F then scraping it out with a flathead screwdriver. It took several heating cycles to get it all out. The one nice thing about permaseal is that it comes out in chunks, unlike butyl which tends to ooze and stick to everything.

This is the process I followed to seal the lights (watch the last 5-minutes or so). This video shows you how to open them as well, so it's worth watching the entire thing.

https://youtu.be/7Hbv4BovDVA
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post #10 of 17 Old August 30th, 2017, 01:17 AM
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Happy to see this thread as I have a set of md2s's that I bought to retro into my Raptor, but decided I wanted to put them in my Mach 1 instead. Glad to see it is very do-able!
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post #11 of 17 Old August 31st, 2017, 12:41 PM Thread Starter
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It's definitely do-able. I took my time since I had never done a retrofit before, and I was trying to be as perfect as possible.
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post #12 of 17 Old September 4th, 2017, 01:00 PM
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it look amazing
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post #13 of 17 Old September 7th, 2017, 02:56 AM
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Quick question, did you remount the lights in the car to make sure the cutoff was straight before you reinstalled the lens?
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post #14 of 17 Old September 7th, 2017, 11:55 AM Thread Starter
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Yes. But even if they weren't completely level before I resealed them, I can rotate the projectors by grabbing onto the threaded shaft with pliers and lightly turning. I recommend setting them as level as possible beforehand, however, especially if you have no way of adjusting rotation with the lights sealed up.
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post #15 of 17 Old September 7th, 2017, 03:21 PM
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Good to know there is still some wiggle room after they are sealed back up. One of these days I will get around to doing this, and will post some pics as my plan is to paint the reflector DSG to match the car.
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post #16 of 17 Old October 17th, 2018, 09:03 AM
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I found this thread while looking for some ways to improve my lighting, and it inspired me to do the same thing on my 01 Cobra.

I am pretty much doing exactly the same (why reinvent the wheel) with two deviations. First, I am using the smoked aftermarket headlights from American Muscle, and I am using a different shroud.

I have already bought all the parts, and will also be installing HID Bulbs in my fog lights as well. I have a long list of winter projects, so not sure when this will get done, but I am very excited about how it will turn out.
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post #17 of 17 Old August 21st, 2019, 10:53 PM
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Interested to see the rear of the setup. Did you end up using jb weld to make it permanent set?

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