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Opeler
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3,670 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I was always happy how the headlights on my GT could rotate with just light pressure on the headlight lever, far from that cartoon where the GT driver is shown with Popeye like right arm. When I replaced the cable due to cracked and frayed plastic sleeve that became an eyesore, the situation has changed. Despite lubricating aftermarket cable and carefully lining it up, opening or closing the headlights required huge effort. There were occasions that I had to try several times before managing to completely open or close the headlights. There was probably something wrong with the aftermarket cable.
That was when I decided to get rid of the cable and try to motorize the headlights. After some research, I choose linear actuator from Progressive Automation, model PA-14. That actuator can be ordered with 1-40” stroke and 35-150 lbs load. I measured the stroke of headlights tie-rod to be slightly over 3.5” from fully closed to fully open position; therefore I ordered actuator with 4” stroke. I also specified 35 lbs load (the lowest available). Mini Linear Actuator
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Headlights locking mechanism (2 in each light) are similar to the car door locks and require substantial inertia to create locking force. I was concerned if the actuator could provide adequate speed as the actuator specs shows 2 sec from fully retracted to fully extended position but in reality it was 3 seconds. That was too slow to provide locking of headlights. After analyzing intricate rotators mechanism, I replaced very hard original springs with softer ones. That enabled normal locking even at the slow speed that actuator could provide. Springs are available from McMaster-Carr. McMaster-Carr . Other than that, I cleaned and lubricated rotators.
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I used existing cable bracket to anchor the actuator. I drilled and tap the end of the actuator for 8 mm bolt to fix the actuator in the cable bracket. I used large washers and rubber on both sides of the anchor bracket. That setup prevents rattling but it is also taking some of the extra stroke of the actuator (actuator stroke is 4” and the headlights require little bit less).
I chopped off the pin where the original cable was hooked onto a headlights tie-rod and made new one using 10 mm split collar. I could have re-welded the pin in new location on the tie rod but split collar allowed installation at any place alongside the tie-rod. That turned to be a good idea as it took several tries to find optimal location of the pin.
At the other end of actuator, I drilled and tapped the actuator piston to add 8 mm heim joint at its end. As the actuator is not moving parallel to the headlights tie rod, heim joint prevents possible binding.

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Electrical part consisted of installing polarity reversing switch. My initial idea was to insert SPAL switch instead of unused middle switch in the Opel switch cluster. This is the same type switch as used for electrical windows. Unfortunately, SPAL switch is a bit too wide to fit between Opel light switch and dimmer, so I had to grind its sides to fit. It looked almost as the car came with it, especially when I glued on it the skin from broken Opel switch. Unfortunately, I had to change the plan as modified SPAL switches were failing one after another, three all together. They are simply too flimsy to mess with. If I find suitable narrower switch, I might try again. In a meantime, I installed polarity reversing momentary toggle switch in the hole where hood release cable used to be. I do not use the hood cable as I have Aerocatch pin locks. The actuator pulls only 1A (5A max) so I did not add any relay. I should mention that original headlights electrical system remained unchanged.
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Pictures and video show details. Beside the coolness and comfort factor, motorized headlights have the advantage of decreased risk of rotator mechanism breakage. As some have experienced, mandatory in and out slamming of headlights can cause breakage of three 5 mm bolts and other components in the rotating mechanism. Removing those broken bolts is extremely difficult as they are very hard. Electrical actuator is opening and closing headlights in much softer manner, protecting rotators.
So, am I going to miss the sound of headlights crashing in and out? Not me.
 

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Opeler
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859 Posts
Great work PJ. Just a heads up, the video doesn’t play. Is it set to private? See the attached screenshot...
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Looking forward to seeing your work in action.

Eric
 

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492 Posts
Looks great. The manual headlight lever is my favorite thing about the GT, but, I suppose after the novelty wears off, it's just a pain to have the cable there instead of something more modern of a console, and a button is just as good functionally.
 

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Opel Key Master
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5,000 Posts
I think this is the best job I’ve seen in motorized lights. I like the actuator is small and fits with good hinge clearance. Looks easy to install. I do think a better switch could be made, maybe even with the original lever??? Where is GORDON with the seal of approval??? I think I may do this mod, and once you have the location mapped out, you could make them with a welded bar instead of the adjustable if you wanted to make it a little more permanent.
 

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Opeler
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3,670 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
I was initially planning to insert the flip switch in the original light cluster. I was experimenting with the old spare Opel switch by removing unused middle switch. Tried to insert SPAL switch (the narrowest I could find) but it was still too wide, so I massaged its sides but it made it unreliable and three switches failed before I gave up. It looked good but it didn't work well for me.
Here are some pictures of the process.
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Opel Key Master
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5,000 Posts
I wonder about the actuator listed at the faster speed of 1.5 seconds. If you are counting longer on that one, it might be just a little faster. I like it! A switch will be the main part, but one question...the Spal switches, was it because you were modifying them that they failed, or they are just cheap junk?
 

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Opeler
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3,670 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Cheap junk and than I sanded down the sides making them too thin. It would be nice to find some smaller polarity reversing switch.
 

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RunOpel
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1,228 Posts
That is incredible :) I love it. As much as I enjoy turning my headlights on with the hand lever, I could easily see myself switching to your way of turning on the headlights. Very smooth 😄 Nice work😃
Did you get your after market cable from OGTS?
 

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Just Some Dude in Jersey
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14,246 Posts
The Scifi Guy Seal of Approval


I think there are flip-flop relays or wiring of a relay that would allow you to use a momentary switch rather than a a 2-pole switch. You might be able to figure out how to make the oem hi/lo beam flip-flop relay work on a momentary switch.
 

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Vendor
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2,565 Posts
Nice work (as always!) PJ.
A long time ago, I purchased a GT that had an aftermarket system for flipping the headlights that was pneumatic. Does anyone here remember those? I think it may have been sold by one of the Opel vendors back in the 1980's?
Unfortunately, I could never get it to work properly and ended up going back to the manual flipper.
Cheers,
Ron in FL
MVC-581S.JPG
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Why not convert the old lever to a switch? You could have an adjustable tension on it so that if you really wanted to work out your arm, you could set it on high resistance but you wouldn't break anything or set it on light tension and be able to use one finger. Great work PJ.
 

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Opel Key Master
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5,000 Posts
PJ, are you using just a 3 prong switch, or is it a 4 prong? Like a DPDT? A little info on the wiring would be nice, just do the actuators have two wires going to them? If so I guess you need a 4 prong switch to reverse the polarity. I believe Gordo is correct on doing this with a relay, I think a 5 prong relay with 87a and 87b could do the same, but if you can do it all in a switch, why not? Lets get a switch figured out that utilizes either the factory handle, or the middle switch. I see benefits with both.
 

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Super Moderator
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3,118 Posts
Excellent job PJ. You could make up a kit and sell to Opel owners who want to install this mechanism. I would be interested for sure... Again, great job!
 

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Opeler
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755 Posts
No doubt, I would be in for one! Great product! Now that I have seen the excellent quality of Keith's A/C kit, if PJ and he put their heads together... That could be an international seller.
 

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Like a DPDT? If so I guess you need a 4 prong switch to reverse the polarity.
Yep, a "polarity reversing switch" is just a DPDT with some jumpers to cross the diagnoals.



Honestly, any switches that draw any amount of power, I'd just run a relay for. Big fan of separating control electronics from power electronics, but, it'll work either way.
 

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Opel Key Master
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5,000 Posts
Headlight control in hand...just trying to find something economical. Need waterproof switches, but want something easy that maybe only requires drilling mounting holes. The handle may have to stay in the center, or maybe have some springs to hold it center? I’m brainstorming for a solution that requires the least amount of fabrication
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