Headlamp Adjustment

Tim McCormack and the Heart of Florida Model A club

I drive my Model A at night. I know that that involves some risks, but I don't like the idea of having to plan all my trips so that I get Tess in the garage by dark. 

Don't get me wrong, I try to avoid driving distances when it's dark, but I wanted to drive the safest way possible so I have the following advice taken from the web and  books.

Modern headlamps have several protrusions on the surface of the glass that are used to align the lamps with an aiming device, but no such luck on the Model A. We just have to do it the old fashioned way,

Two Degrees Down, 0 Left or Right

I took out my 4' level (you can also use a straight 2x4) and a weighted protractor. Basically, this is a protractor that has a weighted needle in it and will indicate the angle of whatever object it is placed against. You can make a crude one by taking a plastic protractor and tying a string to the hole on the unit and place a weight ion the string.

First slightly loosen up the bolts holding the headlights to where you can move them with a little tension.

Next, hold the straight edge against the lamps and adjusted them to the point that the lamps were touching them at two places for each lamp. This indicates that the lamps are zero degreed left or right, since they are parallel with the straight edge and the other reference point is the headlamp bar.

Now, here's where it can get a little tricky. You next have to hold the angle finder against the face of the headlight lens and adjust it to where it would read two degrees down all the while maintaining the zero left or right.

I took bungie ties and ran it around the level and the lights. you can also ask the spouse to lend a hand.

Next was the focusing operation. Take the car out into a dark parking lot and turned the lights on low beam (first click to the right) and covered one lamp with a towel. Leave the car running at a high idle so the generator is cut in. Take a screwdriver and adjusted the focusing screw (on the  back of the lamp) to make the sharpest, most focused light pattern. 

I then covered that lamp and did the same with the other side.

Before finding this method on the web, there was little difference between high and low beams,

Just as the original author thought, I thought that they were more of a  backup system in case one of the bulb filaments burned out.

I feel more secure driving at night now. 

I've read the Henry approved method of adjusting headlamps by carefully marking out the space and alignments on the wall, checking the distance from the wall but for me, this simple trick was just the ticket.