SwedeSpeed - Volvo Performance Forum banner

121 - 140 of 361 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,096 Posts
Installed and working. Ill get some nightshots and fine tuning tonight hopefully. Writeup soon to follow......hopefully. I did take pics and document. The only thing left to do is figuring how to splice in the shield actuator for bi-xenon. Thank you for delivering this to the community.
Dang son ... from your first post to this one it was 2 hours, nice work!

I've been lurking these retrofit posts for 2+ years now, and now that the S40 is my DD I'm thinking about it more seriously. The thing is I hardly ever drive at night. I know that sounds odd, but if we're cruising out after dusk it was either in my old DD (the '04 S80) or now the newer S80 (the wife's whip). I guess I need to pull the trigger though, especially with shadow's new invention :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,166 Posts
Discussion Starter #122
Nice! So fired up the first try?

The last one from batch 1 just sold so thanks everyone who supported me in this. I will be building batch 2 when the caps get in and hopefully that will keep SS stocked for the next few years.

:beer:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
95 Posts
Yeah, fired right up. I just went with kensun because I have Amazon prime and it had 1 day shipping. I will eventually switch out to morimoto. I just wanted to get it in. It only took less than n hour.....and that was with taking pics.

Sent from my VS995 using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,166 Posts
Discussion Starter #124
So I can confirm that not all BMW E46 cars came with "E46" projectors...

This one was advertised as "1999-2001 BMW E46 323i 325i 330i":







It has a 3" projector, but no bi-xenon flapper! Waste of $60...


Nick - We really need to get a guide together...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,218 Posts
Bummer... :/
From what I know, only later versions of E46 (after FL) had bi-xenons. Earlier ones only had standard ones. Both version use THE SAME Bosch projector (technically Bosch AL "E46") but with fixed or movable flapper. Like an upgraded version. At least thats what was happening in EU markets. I guess the safest choice is to ask for pic of projector from the lamps maybe...
As for price-wise, not sure how much parts for beemers are in US, but in here it was much cheaper for me to get brand new aftermarket projectors (already with clear lenses) than trying to source used OEM ones and replacing the lenses. Maybe worth considering?

BTW on Kensun kits - Have been using their ballasts for 2 years now on 2 cars - had an issue on 1 ballast that died month after purchase and was replaced FOC no problem, all other still work as new. For the price you can get them, I think its a very good product comparing to other nonames sold for similar money on Ebay.
Sadly, sourcing Morimoto or anythng decent in EU is almost impossible :/
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,166 Posts
Discussion Starter #126
Bummer... :/
Seriously. I'm trying to do a detailed writeup on the projector swap option, guess I'll have to try again...

From what I know, only later versions of E46 (after FL) had bi-xenons. Earlier ones only had standard ones. Both version use THE SAME Bosch projector (technically Bosch AL "E46") but with fixed or movable flapper. Like an upgraded version. At least thats what was happening in EU markets. I guess the safest choice is to ask for pic of projector from the lamps maybe...
Interesting and good to know. Yeah it looks like the 2006 coupes have bi-xenons, but others do not.

The one pictured above does not have ignitor-on-bulb, there is a separate ignitor unit just like the aftermarket ones (well, much larger) - basically the equivalent of an AMP ballast + D2S converter.

This is convincing me more and more that the OEM projector is fine w/rebased except for the lens. It is just so unlikely that the ellipsoidal reflectors have different profiles. Maybe I'll take this one apart and replace the lens with a screen to see how well it's actually focused, and do the same with the OEM projector + rebased bulb.

As for price-wise, not sure how much parts for beemers are in US, but in here it was much cheaper for me to get brand new aftermarket projectors (already with clear lenses) than trying to source used OEM ones and replacing the lenses. Maybe worth considering?
Nick looked at the replica vs OEM projectors (not sure if he posted here, but pics at https://imgur.com/a/0oJMa) and the replicas are inferior quality. Here if you wait on eBay you can find the (apparently wrong) older headlights for < $100, but it looks like the new ones are vastly more. Every now and then there is a loose projector but they are getting increasingly rare.

BTW on Kensun kits - Have been using their ballasts for 2 years now on 2 cars - had an issue on 1 ballast that died month after purchase and was replaced FOC no problem, all other still work as new. For the price you can get them, I think its a very good product comparing to other nonames sold for similar money on Ebay.
The nice thing about the SKBOWE is you can run any ballast you want - and when the ballast dies the car tells you that a bulb has failed! If Kensun is the new DDM Slim but with 1-day shipping, I say go for it.

Sadly, sourcing Morimoto or anythng decent in EU is almost impossible :/
Have you had a look at HID50? They primarily sell for motorcycles (which have a much harder life than cars) but do sell car kits too. The owner (Les) commissions his own production runs and (like me) uses only top-notch components. They were one of the first 50W kits on the market, and they still have some of the best products out there. Pretty expensive and inconvenient to ship to the US, but if you are in the UK or IE it's worth checking out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
95 Posts
The acme reps I got on clearance from TRS are actually pretty good quality so far(time will tell) and came with pre-installed clear lenses.

Sent from my VS995 using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,218 Posts
Interesting and good to know. Yeah it looks like the 2006 coupes have bi-xenons, but others do not.
Well, just to add to confusion - E46 coupes in xenon version here only bixenons (as to my knowledge). The defining feature of those lamps were all-projector lenses (both for low beam and halogen-high beam). E46 4door from later production years had free form long beams reflector in either case (xenon or bixenon) so it was pretty hard to distinguish them.
Again - its from my observations from EU markets, cant speak for US.

theshadow27 said:
Nick looked at the replica vs OEM projectors (not sure if he posted here, but pics at https://imgur.com/a/0oJMa) and the replicas are inferior quality. Here if you wait on eBay you can find the (apparently wrong) older headlights for < $100, but it looks like the new ones are vastly more. Every now and then there is a loose projector but they are getting increasingly rare.
ohh, cool, havent seen this before. Interesting.
Never doubted that OEM Bosh will be higher quality, however as I said its much harder to find a set in good shape here, plus its more expensive if found. PLUS heard some stories on problems with rivetting out the originals and problems with fitment. I wonder if there are better and worse aftermarket kits, or all of them are from one chineese factory anyway :) Sadly didnt have anything to compare my aftermatket ones to...

theshadow27 said:
Have you had a look at HID50? They primarily sell for motorcycles (which have a much harder life than cars) but do sell car kits too. The owner (Les) commissions his own production runs and (like me) uses only top-notch components. They were one of the first 50W kits on the market, and they still have some of the best products out there. Pretty expensive and inconvenient to ship to the US, but if you are in the UK or IE it's worth checking out.
Hmm, I actually come across this website once (I bet , reading one of the archives of you trying various ballasts :p) but was scared by the price of 40GBP per 1 ballast + shipment... :/ I ended up getting Kensun for 20Eur for TWO including delivery (Amazon rox! ) using cheeky trick of ordering a cheapest kit with most retarded Kelvin output and bulbs not fitting my car (IIRC 8000K H9 bulbs :D) as it was cheaper than ordering just 2 ballasts alone! :)
Ballasts would come the same and I had bulbs already anyway so hell yea! :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,166 Posts
Discussion Starter #129
I wonder if there are better and worse aftermarket kits, or all of them are from one chineese factory anyway :) Sadly didnt have anything to compare my aftermatket ones to...
I am curious about that as well. I suspect they are all from the same factory (or at least tooling maker), but only way to know for sure is lots of high quality pics.

Looking through eBay I think I found the list of comparable mounting projectors:

BMW 3 series E46 1998-2005 (only AL Bi-xenon)
BMW 3 series E46 2002-2007 coupe convertible
BMW X5 E70 2007-2013 2005-2011
Mercedes B class W245
Mercedes C class W204 2007-2012
Mercedes SL Class R230 2001-2005
smart ForFour 2004-2006
VW Golf GTI MKV 2003-2008
VW Touran (w/bi-xenon headlight) 2003-2006

Fits:

Volvo S40/ V50/ C30/ C70
But would be nice to have this independently verified


The acme reps I got on clearance from TRS are actually pretty good quality so far(time will tell) and came with pre-installed clear lenses.
I'm staying out of the optical performance discussion (or trying to :p) - my comment was purely from a material quality standpoint. From what I understand the TRS replicas are plastic reflectors where the OEMs are aluminum. The aluminized PVD reflective coating will burn through much faster on a plastic reflector than a metal one (and faster still 50W ballasts). Plastic reflectors can not be cleaned without scratching, metal ones can be cleaned with optical tissue and reagent-grade acetone or isopropyl. While there is no limit to the number of times a metal projector can be disassembled, the threads in a plastic reflector can only be used so many time before they break down.

Also the TRS replicas are currently out of stock, and I don't think they are planning to get more...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
138 Posts
Sorry I haven't been able to reply - I can spare weekends but my weekdays are a solid 8-6 workday. This weekend I'm planning on replacing my LCAs, and since nothing seems to go right for me the first time, I'm sure it'll take me time. I summarized the E46 situation before, but the bulk of the story is pretty dense.

In short - "E46" projectors don't really exist...it's what we call Bosch Automotive Lighting's projector mounting and bowl dimension standards first introduced on - you guessed it - the E46 3 series. That means they have lots and lots of versions over the 2 decades they've been using those standards. AL's consistent dimensioning is a big reason why our stock halogens (also an "E46" variety) are so easy to swap out. Pretty much every headlight with an AL logo on it is using the "E46" standard in one form or another.

There are some designed for D1S, D2S, and D3S - some with twist-on plastic clamps, some with split twist-ons, a bunch with integrated clamps (look for the octagon!), the varieties go on...

---- There will be lots of links and images below here! ----

Gen 1 (as I call it) is aluminum with a vapor deposited aluminum finish, comes in single and bi-xenon flavors, and was mostly found in D2S form, but also came in two D1S flavors: Split-ring (1) and metal holster (1) (2) Lots of early models had single-xenons, which are easy to distinguish due to their lack of a shield solenoid and associated PCB (1) (2)

The single xenons we don't give a crap about, but they are on Late D2 Audi A8, Late E38 BMW 7 series, and maybe W220 Mercedes S-class.

The glorious, all-powerful bi-xenons can be found on quite a few things. The D2S ring versions are on:
This list is not exhaustive, but the ring ones seem to predominantly be on the actual E46 3 series.

The D1S metal holster versions may not be more common, but were found on (from what I can tell) not only more models, but more recent ones, too:
  • E70 BMW X5 (1)
  • W221 S-class (1) (2) (3)
  • 06-11 Cadillac DTS (1)
  • E90 3 series (1)
  • W204 C-class, B6 & B7 Audi A4 (1)
  • Mid-late L322 07-12 Range Rovers
There are a few one-off varieties that use the "E46" dimensioning and guidance, but are otherwise custom designs. The Ford Explorer bi-halogens and Fiat 500 projectors are the best examples I can think of. Some other random GM cars use E46 dimensions, as well.

Gen 2 is what is still in use on cars you can find on dealer lots today. The Germans have also expanded their territory, as this design is on many more American cars than the early models. Since AL decided to make a one-piece bulb holder and integrate it with the projector, they come in all kinds of tasty xenon flavors, from D1S and D2S to mercury-free D3S and D4S. All that changes among them is a small notch on the bulb holder to accept a particular base. The big change with this gen is the bowl geometry and construction - the bowl is a bit fatter and made of SiAl - Silumin. The vapor deposited coating is also thicker and localized to the reflector bowl, giving the exterior a distinct, raw cast finish.

The better bowl geometry, thicker layer of aluminum, and sheer age factor mean these ones are likely to be the best and most durable of the bunch. Luckily, these also seem to be the most common on Ebay. They're just never labeled "E46" if you look to buy them. Try and search for the cars listed below with "projector" in your search term:
  • KL Jeep Cherokees (1)
  • Most? Lincoln MKXs (it even comes engraved!)
  • R56/F56 Mini Coopers and probably other Minis since 2007 (1)
  • Cadillac XTS (1)
  • W205 C-class 2014+
  • B8 Audi A4/S4 (1) (2) (3)
  • W166 M-class possibly also W164?
  • X166 GL-class
  • PF Dodge Dart
  • 6G Camaro, 16-18 (1)

In fact, even Volvo has their own one-off version of the gen 2 E46 (1), which you can find on all 08+ S40/V50s with xenons. It has a shorter lens cradle with a much more convex lens. Shame they dropped these so quickly, as these projectors are really, really nice - widest beam pattern and sharpest cutoff of all stock E46 designs I've seen.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
138 Posts
+3exp. top my lighting knowledge factor :)
Thanks for above, interesting stuff :thumbup:

(btw - call me lazy but reading this I have even less guilt after going with hassle-free, plug&play option :)
Thanks! Took a while to put the links together since half of my bookmarks were broken...

I dumped the TRS replicas within a few months of buying them. They may be hassle free but the Chinese clones are almost all garbage. Bad beam pattern, poorly aligned hotspot, and bad bowl geometry and reflector quality. All they had going for them was "clear lens!!1!" My experience with OEM projectors has been worth the digging, and I'm buying a few sets to hold onto and resell to make this a little easier for others.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,218 Posts
Thanks! Took a while to put the links together since half of my bookmarks were broken...

I dumped the TRS replicas within a few months of buying them. They may be hassle free but the Chinese clones are almost all garbage. Bad beam pattern, poorly aligned hotspot, and bad bowl geometry and reflector quality. All they had going for them was "clear lens!!1!" My experience with OEM projectors has been worth the digging, and I'm buying a few sets to hold onto and resell to make this a little easier for others.
Yep, I hear you! Cant say I am dissapointed in my clones (200% improvement over stock OEM), but on the other hand there is a lot of room to improve, I am aware of this. Was never able to fully eliminate the rainbow effect,



...plus I have feeling that beam pattern is not as wide as it may be on Bosch ones, but back then I only had a choice of driving on OEM with fresnel lenses or on those clones.

I am actually tempted now to obtain OEM AL projector in good shape and compare the beam pattern with my clones. May actually do that just for the sake of trying, when I come across one.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,096 Posts
Man, I think my brain is starting to melt :D All I can say is WOW Nick, thanks for all your knowledge. I'm getting more interested in doing a retrofit but have a few reservations. One being the oem real-deal e46 projectors versus the knock-offs from a plug-n-play perspective (I don't have time for a protracted hobby/project). Second being my existing housings ... plastic lenses are somewhat crummy (probably can be fixed, know how to do that), but more worrisome is the brittle wiring inside my housings. When I bought the car 2+ years ago I pulled the projectors to clean the lenses and tossed in a set of Silverstar Ultra's (yeah I know, yada,yada, yada) and the insulation on just about every wire I touched just crumbled in my fingers. I'm guessing this is due to the heat in FL, but probably more due to the heat generated by the DRL function that I can't turn off like I can in my other cars without greasing the dealer's palms :mad: . It's almost like I should pick up another set of lights, but then there's just more expense ... sigh.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,591 Posts
wow nick's like the wikipedia of e46 projectors. very cool.

i bought my bixenon e46 from forcefed here...not sure if it was a replica or oem. would like to think it's oem since he added aftermarket zkr clear lenses (the replica trs sells come with generic clear lenses) and performance (cut off, etc) has been great.

nick would be doing the community a great service if he could source oem bixenon e46. the oem halogens are terrible


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,166 Posts
Discussion Starter #137
Yep, I hear you! Cant say I am dissapointed in my clones (200% improvement over stock OEM)
And this is why I decided to do the SKBOWE project - anything is an improvement over the OEM halogen. With all of this talk of E46 it's easy to get hung up on the perfect optics etc but in reality *something* has to be done, and you shouldn't let perfect be the enemy of good enough.

The way I see it is that waiting for the perfect OEM E46 + ZKW setup to do a retrofit is like waiting for a catback + downpipe + intake + IC before doing a tune. Are there people that do it all at once? Sure. But most people start at stage 1 and add parts and pieces as they go. Actually, that gives me an idea for the guide page - I should break it down into stages to make it easier to understand :D

Man, I think my brain is starting to melt :D All I can say is WOW Nick, thanks for all your knowledge. I'm getting more interested in doing a retrofit but have a few reservations. One being the oem real-deal e46 projectors versus the knock-offs from a plug-n-play perspective (I don't have time for a protracted hobby/project). Second being my existing housings ... plastic lenses are somewhat crummy (probably can be fixed, know how to do that), but more worrisome is the brittle wiring inside my housings. When I bought the car 2+ years ago I pulled the projectors to clean the lenses and tossed in a set of Silverstar Ultra's (yeah I know, yada,yada, yada) and the insulation on just about every wire I touched just crumbled in my fingers. I'm guessing this is due to the heat in FL, but probably more due to the heat generated by the DRL function that I can't turn off like I can in my other cars without greasing the dealer's palms :mad: . It's almost like I should pick up another set of lights, but then there's just more expense ... sigh.
1) Protracted hobby: See above. Improvement from H11 -> HID is significant even without touching the projectors.

2) Crummy plastic: There were a couple of posts on C30Crew a few days ago about this, not sure I'd try that particular method myself but I guess it is possible. As long as they are not super hazy a light pitting is normal for polycarbonate lenses and won't affect the optics because they are not at the focus of the projector (look at engraved lenses for an extreme example)

3) Crumbling Insulation: Yeah, I've noticed this too, though on mine it's only on wires near the high beam. I bought a spare set of lights and they have the same issue, so unless you find them newish that probably won't help. Run some high temperature electrical tape around the positives and call it a day.

BTW I don't think it has to do with the DRLs - they run at low power (~8.5V = 35W on a 55W bulb). It has more to do with running the high beams for extended periods, which dumps 100+ watts into the housing. The best way to cut down on that is with 35W HIDs and HIR1 bulbs but these are getting harder to find.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,166 Posts
Discussion Starter #138 (Edited)

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,166 Posts
Discussion Starter #139
I've updated https://www.skbowe.com/a/guide/ to include info the from Nick (hopefully I did it justice) and on the wiring. As always, open to comments & suggestions
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,166 Posts
Discussion Starter #140 (Edited)
For those of you looking for projectors, I put together a nice reference sheet to help you identify compatible Bosch AL 3-inch "E46" projectors in auctions or at salvage yards:





See the full resolution PDF here: https://www.skbowe.com/b/al_projector_guide_v1_web.pdf

You want to look for "Gen 2" projectors, they have the best optics and the wiring is simple. Gen 1 requires a solenoid controller for bi-xenon functionality.

The ones with octagon-shaped bulb holders might need a simple modification to allow them to take D2S bulbs. All of them with black plastic rings will fit D2S. Pics comparing beam patterns and cutoffs to come...
 
121 - 140 of 361 Posts
Top