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Old 11-02-2010, 09:43 PM   #1
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Headlight Alignment

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a thread on headlight alignment, so thought I’d share some excellent results I had today with a recently acquired Hopkins (Hoppy) B4A Headlight Aimer Set.

Back in the 50’s and 60’s just about every gas station/service station had equipment to aim headlights inexpensively, and promoted the alignment service similar to lube and oil jobs. This convenience pretty much went away in the 1970’s with the demise of service stations. I never wanted to spend a ton of money having a shop or dealership do the alignment so I’ve always done my own. I simply used a coffee can that fit the lugs on the lamp, a carpenter square, and a level with varying degrees of success.

With months of dark winter driving approaching again I really wanted to align the headlights as accurately as possible. Many months ago I did a study of the various commercial alignment tools available on eBay, made a decision on what I wanted then kept checking for a kit at an affordable price. Including shipping I paid less than $50 for the set shown below. I was a bit concerned about buying an obsolete “high tech” device like this, especially a used model since I knew nothing about them, and assumed the seller probably wouldn’t either. I also “assumed” there was some type of laser beam electronics that shot between the mirrors or something, but as it turns out there’s very little “tech” involved. I’m sure there was a lot of expensive engineering that went into designing the set, and the kit produces accurate results, but almost feels like a child’s toy. Everything is plastic, with a couple of hinged mirrors freely swinging on plastic flaps, and a few dials to adjust the aimers. There are no electronics in the aimers, everything is set optically, or to sound even less tech “visually”.

Using the device is a simple 4 step process, although step 2 took me a while to figure out.

1. Set all three dials to zero.
2. Calibrate the aimers to account for the slope of the floor.
3. Attach to aimers to the headlights and set the horizontal alignment by adjusting the headlight bulbs until a set of split mirror images in both tools line up.
4. Set the vertical alignment by use of a bubble level in each tool.

That’s it. Once the floor slope has been dialed in, all four headlights can be aligned in less than a minute each. Obviously the headlight rims need to come off to adjust the headlights, but I forgot to take pictures until after I finished, and didn’t feel like taking them back off for the photos. The following pictures tell most of the story:

This is the kit and packaging:

Here are the two aimers. The one on the right has the small headlight adapter installed. All the adapters snap in place and are detached easily. The calibration adapter is only used to set the tool to account for the slope of the floor.

Another shot showing the difference in adapters.

A better breakdown of the various components.

Aimer B suctioned onto passenger headlight. Aimer B always mounts on the passenger side. Once you get this far, it’s simply a matter of turning the headlight adjusting screws on the truck until the bubble is level and the picture in the window is aligned on the other aimer. (The bubble isn’t showing level because the truck has been moved since the lights were aligned).

Here we see both aimers mounted on the low beam bulbs. The same drill is performed on the high beams.

This was where I started getting frustrated. This is actually a shot through the alignment window. Earlier in the process every time I tried to calibrate the floor slope I kept coming up with a picture like this, which showed nothing of value and couldn’t be aligned. The instruction booklet isn’t very clear on what is desired. I finally figured out the correct image is of the yellow and black stripes on each aimer facing one another. The aligned image is upside down and backwards from each other. Once I figured this out, the rest was easy.

This is the area that is intended to align.

And here is another shot through the alignment window of what good alignment looks like. In real life the lines appear perfectly straight, but I couldn’t capture this with the camera. This sets the horizontal. The vertical aim is completed by leveling the bubble on top of the aimer.

For those of us that drive these vintage trucks all year, good headlight aim will certainly enhance night driving. What I originally thought was a delicate fragile electronic device, is actually rather primitive and mechanical, very simple to use achieving professional results, and would be a nice addition to the tool collection.
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Old 11-02-2010, 10:22 PM   #2
62 Bowtie
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Re: Headlight Alignment

Damm... I just line em up on the garage door
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Old 11-04-2010, 01:01 PM   #3
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Re: Headlight Alignment

I picked up a set of aimers just like that a few year back. Great tool to have.

BTW - Nice shop! That's the way to do it! Looks great!

'64 K20 327
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Old 11-04-2010, 02:31 PM   #4
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Re: Headlight Alignment

As always, great attention to detail and write up. Sweet garage too!
The price of cool aint cheap.
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Old 11-04-2010, 03:06 PM   #5
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Re: Headlight Alignment

Originally Posted by 62 Bowtie View Post
Damm... I just line em up on the garage door
precisely what I was thinking - but I do appreciate this detailed write up - nice one MarkeB!
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