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Unread 02-19-2011, 10:36 PM
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Default PIAA Light Repair - 1st Gen

PIAA driving and fog lights were the first really good auxiliary lights that you could buy to add on to the front of your car or truck. They were really expensive and definitely a high quality product. I had been around the import racing scene since the very beginning in the early 90's so I had seen them marketed in that whole scene so I had to have some. For how small they are they put off a seriously strong beam that easily out performs the regular automotive headlights of that period. The pattern they put out floods the area which makes them light up the whole road but other than that modern car headlights of today are nearly as bright but properly project the light pattern down out of oncoming drivers eyes.

I cut holes in the front of my truck grill just to the inside of each headlight and used them for quite sometime before one of them stopped working. I figured that the bulb had burned out and I eventually removed them and put them to the side. Well I eventually called PIAA and even talked to a couple reps at event and I wasn't able to buy a replacement bulb at all. The first generation of PIAA product had the bulb epoxied into the reflector housing and it wasn't made to be serviceable at all. For such an expensive item it was a real shame to get this news from PIAA. I was really bummed that I only had one good working PIAA lamp and by that time they were a discontinued model. They made a newer model of driving light but it used a different arrangement of reflector and bulb that wasn't interchangeable. So my lights sat for an even longer time while I waited to find another one on Ebay. The problem was that they only can be found for sale in pairs and the price for even used ones runs really high. Not good.

Last edited by Smithers; 02-19-2011 at 10:40 PM.
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Unread 02-19-2011, 10:43 PM
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So they had always just sat to the side in my garage until recently. I just couldn't stand to see them sit there unused. I dusted them off and took them to the bench for inspection. Another reason I didn't even get around to messing with them is that they are held together with phillips screws that have a really small head on them and the pattern is easily stripped out of the little screw heads. This made them just a nightmare. So finally I grabbed a cordless drill and a new shiny drill bit to drill the heads right off the screws so I could pull the housings apart.




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Unread 02-19-2011, 10:51 PM
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So inside of them I found a steel retaining ring that held the reflector in place and it had a couple of rusty impossible to remove screws as well. But the good news is that the bulb wasn't burnt out. The 2 prongs that attach the bulbs to the wires that supply power through the ceramic heat sink were broken. Theoretically if I could just connect the remaining prongs from the back of the light bulb to the power wires then the light should be fixed.



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Unread 02-19-2011, 10:58 PM
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Now for the tricky part. The light bulb contacts were embedded in the epoxy that holds it into position because the whole unit was pressed together during the assembly process. Each wire that powers the light bulb leads is soldered to a spring clip that is then pushed onto the light bulb reflector when originally assembled. It's hard to explain but the light bulb contacts aren't able to accept solder so I would have to figure out some other way of connecting the wires directly to the bulb.

Here you can see the ceramic piece that is responsible for keeping the main wire section at a relatively manageable temperature as the bulbs put off a lot of heat themselves.


Last edited by Smithers; 02-20-2011 at 09:35 AM.
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Unread 02-19-2011, 11:05 PM
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I didn't realize I would be able to fix it for quite some time so I didn't take pictures while I was playing with all the different pieces I had to experiment with. I finally found a small wire coupler that I could roll tight in order to make clamp onto the small bulb prongs and then would work well enough. I assembled everything as best as I could then mixed up some JB Weld that I applied to hold everything into place. Once that stuff hardens there is no going back and this was the last time I was going to fix these lights. If it breaks again or burns out this light is going into the trash.




Last edited by Smithers; 02-20-2011 at 09:38 AM.
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Unread 02-19-2011, 11:08 PM
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Here you can see a little bit of how I applied the JB Weld. I chipped away the insulating epoxy from the back of the bulb enough to attach the tiny connectors I made then dabbed some JB all over it to enclose it permanently.



Then I grabbed a 12v Makita power tool battery pack and powered up the bulb just fine.


Last edited by Smithers; 02-20-2011 at 09:41 AM.
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Unread 02-20-2011, 09:43 AM
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And there you have it. The broken wires were all fixed up and ready for assembly. It's been years since I have used these lights on my truck so having them back on will be really nice. It took me a couple hours of work and it might have made sense to just buy some new ones but it's satisfying to fix something yourself that is perfectly useful.

If you are reading this PIAA repair thread chances are you have perfectly good PIAA's and you probably just need to replace the bulb or some broken wires. These are the first generation PIAA 1000 models which use a bulb that is not designed to be replaceable.



Last edited by Smithers; 02-20-2011 at 09:45 AM.
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