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Old 02-18-2010, 12:26 PM   #1
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Question Flickering Headlights!!

this has happened twice. 96 AS LY Clipper Bus. Headlights flickering, both times after a rain event. We found a resert switch under the dash but the questions is: Why does there have to be a reset switch? Is there an overload on this circuit from a design flaw? How do we stop this from occuring. We are not electrically saavy but can certainly check connections if we have a direction to go or if anyone has heard of or experienced something similar.
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Old 02-18-2010, 01:46 PM   #2
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I would assume the reset switch you found is for the fuel system in case of an accident and not related to the head lights.

Are both sides flickering? If only one side I would look at the ground connection for the head lights on that side. If both are flickering I would look for the head light relay and make sure it and it's mounting connection are good.
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Old 02-18-2010, 01:53 PM   #3
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Does the reset switch immediately correct the problem? In other words, are the headlights flickering, and when you press the reset switch without touching anything else, does the flickering stop? If yes, then maybe the reset switch is bad. Other things to look for are under the hood. Locate the wiring harness on the back of each headlight, and trace it as far as you can. Look for loose or cracked connectors. With the headlights on, move the wiring harness around to see if moving it causes the headlights to flicker or even go out completely. Other poential problem areas: the headlight switch and the high-beam switch. There is probably also a relay somewhere in the circuit. The relay is powered by the headlight switch. When you turn on the switch, the relay closes and provides power to the headlights. In general, it sounds like water is getting into the circuit somewhere and causing an intermittent short or break in the circuit. Lastly, don't forget to check the fuse box. The owner's manual will tell you what fuse controls the headlights. Or it might be a fusible link in addition to a regular fuse in the fuse box. I know this sounds like a lot to check, and it might be intimidating. But, unfortunately, it's not a simple easy to follow connection from the battery to the headlight switch to the headlights. The good thing is you can do a physical inspection with the headlights on without the engine running.

Good luck!
Chris
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Old 04-27-2010, 09:33 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frankandsue View Post
this has happened twice. 96 AS LY Clipper Bus. Headlights flickering, both times after a rain event. We found a resert switch under the dash but the questions is: Why does there have to be a reset switch? Is there an overload on this circuit from a design flaw? How do we stop this from occuring. We are not electrically saavy but can certainly check connections if we have a direction to go or if anyone has heard of or experienced something similar.
I replaced my HEADLIGHT switch and solved the problem. The AS factory OEM headlight switch is a common FORD switch used in the pickups and vans in 70's and 80's. # DS188 Ford 1979 F250 will do the trick.
I also converted all running lights to LED to reduce the load.

We think the CLIPPER is a great unit, but some things will deteriorate whether you use them or not. The Cliipper is no exception. Carry your tools at all times and enjoy.

Dave
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Old 09-18-2010, 11:42 AM   #5
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Flickering Headlights

Just to update the Headlight problems. The Switch is just not heavy enough for the load. Solution is to install relays on the marker lights and take the load off the switch. I have also installed a relay on the HIGHBEAM circuit, so the actual switch powers only the low beam circuit. This has solved the problem. Be sure to fuse all relays!!!
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Old 09-18-2010, 12:14 PM   #6
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Indeed - in this era of Ford switching, the switch directly switched the headlights, so the full current is drawn through the switch, often causing dim headlights as the switch aged.

There is a well known "Ford F-250/F-350 headlight relay mod" to have the switch operate a relay while keeping the leads to the headlights very short.
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Old 12-28-2011, 08:06 PM   #7
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Thanks again Dave! I too discovered that my headlight switch was bad and, with your information here, I was able to go to the parts store and get a '79 F-250 headlight switch and was back in business. Trying to head out for a little trip to LA this week so I'm taking care of all kinds of tiny problems with the Airstream. Will convert to relays when I get back.
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Old 12-28-2011, 09:11 PM   #8
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Indeed - in this era of Ford switching, the switch directly switched the headlights, so the full current is drawn through the switch, often causing dim headlights as the switch aged.

There is a well known "Ford F-250/F-350 headlight relay mod" to have the switch operate a relay while keeping the leads to the headlights very short.
Is the Ford F-250/F-350 headlight relay mod on this forum? Just searched it, and nothing so far.
Thanks, Derek
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Old 12-28-2011, 11:11 PM   #9
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Hey Derek, I was going to try Daniel Stern Lighting when I get back from my trip to get the relay mod working. Sounds like you tell him your situation, then he makes a recommendation for your specific needs. I'm just glad to have all my lights working again for now... everywhere I look, I find oxidation and corrosion.
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Old 03-08-2014, 02:28 PM   #10
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You don't know what your missing til it's gone!

After reviewing this old thread, I thought it time to update with some additional information.


My first experience with the "disappearing HEADLAMP" problem on our CLIPPER was back in 2008 when we got stunk out of a LOVE's Truck Stop in Tennessee about midnight. Thanks to a "HOG HAULER" we opted to continue motoring on west into the moonlight of that early spring morning.


After a couple hours on the road we experienced a short interruption of headlamp power that did not cause too much concern at the time and was dismissed as "one of those things?". However, when it happened again in a spring storm in the mountains of Montana, I immediately took actions to litigate this dangerous situation. Not fully understanding the real problem at that time, I started by rewiring the driving lamps from the main buss, so that they could be operated separately in an emergency situation. (OEM Airstream had the drive lamps activated on the low beam circuit only)


After experiencing this again on our YUKON trip in 2008, and again after replacing the headlamp switch, I made the modifications detailed in this thread and others that I have posted about this problem.


We generally don't plan on driving after daylight hours, but on these long trips in the shoulder seasons, there are going to be many occasions that your day ends in the dark.


The mods with the relays worked well for the best part of 5 years but the problem reappeared on our 2013 CLIPPER TOUR while returning to Gananoque, ON. after a long Saturday at North Norwich, NY. The switch was extremely hot so I stopped in Evans Mills, NY, and installed my spare headlamp switch and carried on.


As things sometimes happen, our continued 2013 CLIPPER TOUR was abruptly terminated, and we had to make tracks back to the west coast ASAP. This involved repeated night driving so I had plenty of opportunity to monitor the headlamp switch operation.


Airstream OEM headlamp circuit on the CLIPPER not only ran the head/fog and marker lamps, but also 24 illuminated rocker swatches, indirect floor lighting, and the illuminated gauges. This dash panel lighting control is accomplished through the rheostat within the OEM switch.


If the rheostat is used, the draw creates excessive heat within the switch that will eventually shut it down. LED's are not really a solution to this circuit, so I find that running the dash panel lamps full on, or full off, is the solution. After closely monitoring this on our first night out, I have not had any problems since. On return to home base I considered separating this dash circuit completely from the switch, but thought that would probably lead to the circuit being left on at some time and creating more unexpected problems.


I, once again feel I have the problem solved.
You might say "I have finally seen the light"?

Dave

Quote:
Originally Posted by masseyfarm View Post
Just to update the Headlight problems. The Switch is just not heavy enough for the load. Solution is to install relays on the marker lights and take the load off the switch. I have also installed a relay on the HIGHBEAM circuit, so the actual switch powers only the low beam circuit. This has solved the problem. Be sure to fuse all relays!!!
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Old 03-08-2014, 06:30 PM   #11
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We generally don't plan on driving after daylight hours, but on these long trips in the shoulder seasons, there are going to be many occasions that your day ends in the dark.
Headlights aren't just for darkness. Many states have a "wipers on/lights on" law, meaning that if you have to turn on your wipers for rain, fog, or whatever, even at the crack of noon, you have to turn on your headlights as well so others can see you better in the reduced visibility conditions.
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