Page created: 13-May-05
|Technical: Discovery I|
Additional or upgraded lighting can have many practical uses on a vehicle already as functional as a Land Rover. Iíve made full use of the roof rack to fit a variety of additional lights and have also upgraded some of the existing lights.
Although 300 series Discovery headlights are much better than the DAF van based units of the preceding 200 series, there is still plenty of scope for improvement. Following a discussion on the membersí forum of the Discovery Owners Club, I decided to try a simple upgrade and fitted a pair of Philips Vision Plus halogen bulbs from Powerbulbs.com. These bulbs are direct replacements for the standard items, are fully road legal with the same power ratings, and require no modifications to the existing wiring or switchgear.
I am extremely pleased with the result, as the light they produce is much whiter and crisper than the standard bulbs.
I've fitted a pair of Ring Sportsline spot lights to the front of my Discovery, wired so that they come on with the main beam via a relay. I chose these particular lights as they came out well in a survey carried out by one of the Land Rover magazines a couple of years ago, in terms of price, robustness and beam quality. They use standard 55w halogen bulbs and so are road legal.
When it came to mounting the lights I was faced with something of a dilemma. Because there is a gap between the plastic moulding that supports the number plate and the top of the bumper. the easiest solution would have been to cut slots in the top of this moulding so that the light brackets could be bolted straight to the steel bumper. However, the casings of the Sportsline lights are quite compact and they didn't look right mounted this low down. I discounted a bull bar or A-bar because of both the additional weight and the fact that the fixings for these types of bar generally rely on the existing bumper mountings and this can interfere with the steering guard and towing/jacking points. Then I discovered this low profile light bar made by Innovation 4x4. This has been designed to span over the number plate moulding and bolts straight to the top of the bumper. Its raises the lights to just the right level and was just what I was looking for.
High-level lights, usually mounted on the front of a roof rack, have become a popular accessory since the earliest days of the Camel Trophy. Lights at roof level do offer some distinct advantages when driving over rough terrain at night as they shine down to reveal holes that would otherwise appear only as shadow. However, if Iím brutally honest, I admit that I think they look good too! My Safety Devices Highlander roof rack also came with light brackets built in and it seemed a shame not to use them.
On the front of the roof rack Iíve fitted a pair of spotlights in the center for distance, and a pair of fog lights on the outside corners to give a wide spread of light to each side. Each pair is individually controlled via relays in the auxiliary fuse box and dash-mounted switches. The lights are Hella Comet 500 spots and Ring Microline fogs. The latter were chosen specifically because they are inexpensive and easy to replace, as they are the most vulnerable to damage from overhanging trees.
The switches are standard Discovery front fog light units, part no. AMR 4138. They are mounted in existing blanked off positions beneath the clock, although it's necessary to file off a guide notch to fit this switch in the right hand position.
The spot lights are aimed slightly downwards at a point about 10 metres in front of the end of bonnet to light up obstacles directly in front whilst the fog lights are aimed off to either side to show the ground to each side of the front wheels.
There is a slight issue with glare on the bonnet and windscreen, particularly from the spotlights, and I intend to solve this by fitting a horizontal deflector below these lights to cut off the beam to the front edge of the bonnet. Iíve yet to work out exactly how far out such a deflector needs to project so watch this space!
Iíve always thought high level brake lights to be a good idea, particularly when the lower lights can be obscured by mud or dust, and Iíve duplicated the stop, tail and indicator lights high up on the body work of my last two Land Rovers. The rear bodywork of the Discovery doesnít really lend itself to this sort of modification, and the twin indicator and sidelight set-up of my í95 model means itís not really necessary. However, high-level brake lights are still a useful addition so I looked for a way of fitting just those.
I came across these neat little Hella fog lights in the Vehicle Wiring Products catalogue and mounted them on the back of the roof rack with a couple of ĎPí clips. They may not, strictly speaking, actually be legal to use as brake lights. Whilst they have the same size 21w bulbs, the different reflector shape means they are significantly brighter than the standard lights. However, they are so high off the ground that itís never been a problem.
A more recent modification has been to convert the bumper mounted tail lights to be stop and tail to match the ones in the body sides. This is quite a simple operation involving standard Land Rover parts. The bulb holders, which are easily removed by giving them a quarter turn, are swapped for dual filament bulb holders as used in the bumper of the Freelander, and the accompanying sections of Freelander wiring loom are spliced in to provide the appropriate 3-pin plugs.
The wiring loom sections comprise the 3-pin plug and three wires - red, green and black - that each terminate in a bullet connector. To fit these to the vehicle loom it's necessary to cut off the existing two pin plug, which has a red and a black wire, and connect the corresponding colours of the new loom section. To keep it simple I crimped a female bullet connector on each wire and merely plugged in the new loom. The green wire to the new plug is the feed for the brake light and this needs to be connected to the brake light supply to each light cluster in the vehicle body. Behind each light cluster is a six-way connector and the Green/Purple wire feeds the brake light. I spliced a new piece of wire to this on each side of the vehicle and fed them down through the grommets in the body floor. The wiring to the bumper lights is encased in split flexible conduit held closed with tape. I split the tape and tucked my new wires inside this conduit then re-sealed it all with black duct tape to keep it neat and tidy. I then crimped female bullet connectors on the ends of my new wires and again plugged in the feeds to the new plugs.
The bulb holders, part no XBP100190, are quite cheap and under £2.00 each but the wiring loom sections, part no. STC 4637, are about £15.00 each. However, since carrying out this modification I've discovered that it's also possible to buy the connectors individually from Vehicle Wiring Products, part no. 01253.
Rear Work Light
A rear work light is one of those genuinely useful add-ons that no Land Rover should be without. Mine is a Hella unit and itís mounted on a bracket that's integral to the roof rack, although Iíve added an extra joint that allows the light to be swiveled from side to side as well as up and down.
This light makes an excellent additional reversing light and, because it can be pointed almost straight down, also illuminates the rear load area with the door open.
Iíve modified my light slightly by removing the on-off switch from the casing and using instead a remote switch on the dashboard to prevent tampering. The 55w light is controlled by a relay. The switch is one of several that fit in a frame to the left of the heater controls (shown right). The work light is controlled by the switch in the top right hand corner, whilst the those in the top left and center positions control two remote external sockets mounted in the junction box to the left hand side of the work light on the roof rack.
The switch in the bottom right position and the LEDs in the bottom center relate to the split charge system.
The switches, and the frame that carries them, are from the parts list of the late model Range Rover Classic, which trialed the dash board architecture that would be used in the 300 series Discovery from late '94 onwards. They occupy the space usually taken by a coin tray. The switch frame part no. is AWR1159LNF and there are various switches depending on what you want them to do e.g. interior light, rear heated windscreen, etc. The ones I used were:
AMR3597 - front fog lights (x3)
AMR3600 - interior light
AMR3605 - blanking plates (x2)
For their original intended application these switches, and the ones above for the roof lights, would be connected into the factory produced wiring loom with purpose designed plugs. Unfortunately, at the time of installation I wasn't able to source any of the appropriate plugs without also buying large and expensive sections of loom. Instead I've used some 2mm female spade connectors insulated with heat shrink, which has worked faultlessly. However, I've recently been told by a contributor to the site companion forum that the same type of plug was used for the switchgear in Maestro and Montego cars, so it would be relatively easy to salvage some of these from a breakers yard.
WiringThe wiring for all of these lights is cable tied along various sections of the roof rack where it runs to the top of a length of rigid plastic conduit that is, in turn, fixed to the side of the snorkel. From the bottom of the conduit the cables pass through a pair of small holes drilled in the plastic scuttle trim panel and are then routed around the engine bay to the auxiliary fuse box.
I've replaced the front indicator lenses with clear versions that use coloured bulbs, as these have recently become available from a company called 4x4 Parts Master. I've also replaced the side repeaters with similar clear lenses, although these are a standard Land Rover part intended for use on the new Range Rover. I'm the first to admit that, unlike the other modifications I've made to the vehicle, changing these lenses serves no practical purpose but I do like the look, as it updates the front end to a style employed on more modern cars.
The front lenses are very straightforward to fit, as they are merely held in by a large spring clip that's easily accessible through a hole in the slam panel beside the headlight. They came already fitted with the correct orange coloured bulbs and new bulb holders so it was a simple matter of unplugging the old and plugging in the new. Easy.
The side repeaters need a bit more thought as the method of fixing is concealed. Essentially, they are held in by a plastic 'spring' that's moulded into the back of the lens body. By pushing the lens sideways, the spring is compressed and the whole thing can be gently levered out. There is a locating lug on the lens body that fits into a slot in the wing that will be at the top of the aperture. By comparing the new replacement lenses to establish the orientation of the spring, it is then possible to see which way the lens needs to be pushed.
Finally, it's important to salvage the small foam rubber gaskets from the existing lenses as these are not supplied with the new ones.