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TOWING&RECOVERY August 2010 Reaching thousands of industry professionals monthly TOW GAMES Virtual Recovery Train on-screen for work on-scene Page 14 AMBER ON? Safe Or Unsafe? Tow lights can distract drivers Page 5 BANDIT BUST Scalper Stopper CA towers team with legislators Page 8 CHASSIS CHAT Happy InHinos Why this brand has tow appeal Page 23 WATCHING! Advertise Here! Call David Abraham 877-219-7734, Ext 1 BUYERS ARE Volume 21, Number 4 ❘ $3.95 © 2010 Dominion Enterprises. All Rights Reserved. Towing&Recovery Footnotes® 10 Bokum Rd. Essex, CT 06426 by John Crossen Automotive electric lighting systems have quickly evolved from the early days of the 20th century, from single filament bulbs to double filament to seal beams to halogen to light-emit-ting diode (LED) to today’s somewhat-controversial high-intensity discharge (HID), or Xenon lights, the ones with the unusual glow you see emanating “ “An HID system will generate from 2,600 to 3,200 lumens” FOOTNOTES ® www.trfootnotes.com ” from the grills of many high-end luxu-ry vehicles. Like them or not, these modern systems produce superior illumination. HID headlights would take a few minutes to get bright if Xenon was not added to the gas sealed inside the headlights. That's how the lights have come to be known, albeit incorrectly, as Xenon headlights, even though Xenon isn't what produces the charac-teristic blue-white color. Xenon, which ignites easier and faster than other HID gases, acts as a starter. It accelerates the start-up proc-ess for the HID lights, making the tech-PRST STD U.S.POSTAGE PAID PEORIA, IL PERMIT NO. 315 nology suitable for cars and trucks, for which waiting a few minutes for light-ing is impractical. So what makes HID that much bet-ter than conventional halogen head-light systems? HID lighting offers near-ly three times the illumination power at 65 percent of the energy used to power halogen bulbs. The HID system also offers a whiter light for improved down-the-road and peripheral vision. Why? Because an HID bulb gener-ates light by creating an electrical dis-charge between two electrodes within an arc tube. The arc tube is sealed in a glass jacket to filter ultraviolet emis-sions, and the system uses a state-of-the-art electronic ballast to ignite and sustain the arc. In comparison, most halogen bulbs output an average of 700 to 1,000 lu-mens (light output), while an HID sys-tem will generate anywhere from 2,600 to 3,200 lumens. And while a typical halogen bulb lasts anywhere from 320 to 1,000 hours, an HID bulb typically last as long as 3,000 hours. Blinded By Light The market has several conversion kits available for your vehicle. For example, Sylvania makes a kit for GM trucks that has the ballast built into the light housing and is basically plug-and-play installation. While the con-version is not cheap, it does give your ride state-of-the-art illumination and puts you in a league with those posh luxury vehicles. The controversy mentioned above is a result of the glare HID lights produce. Some claim it is painful and distracting when an oncoming vehicle equipped with super-bright HID lights approach. See BRIGHT IDEAS page 3 TOWBLOG! Tow News? www.thetowblog.com John Crossen

Bright Ideas

John Crossen

Automotive electric lighting systems have quickly evolved from the early days of the 20th century, from single filament bulbs to double filament to seal beams to halogen to light-emitting diode (LED) to today’s somewhatcontroversial high-intensity discharge (HID), or Xenon lights, the ones with the unusual glow you see emanating from the grills of many high-end luxury vehicles. Like them or not, these modern systems produce superior illumination.<br /> <br /> HID headlights would take a few minutes to get bright if Xenon was not added to the gas sealed inside the headlights. That's how the lights have come to be known, albeit incorrectly, as Xenon headlights, even though Xenon isn't what produces the characteristic blue-white color.<br /> <br /> Xenon, which ignites easier and faster than other HID gases, acts as a starter. It accelerates the start-up process for the HID lights, making the technology suitable for cars and trucks, for which waiting a few minutes for lighting is impractical.<br /> <br /> So what makes HID that much better than conventional halogen headlight systems? HID lighting offers nearly three times the illumination power at 65 percent of the energy used to power halogen bulbs. The HID system also offers a whiter light for improved down-the-road and peripheral vision.<br /> <br /> Why? Because an HID bulb generates light by creating an electrical discharge between two electrodes within an arc tube. The arc tube is sealed in a glass jacket to filter ultraviolet emissions, and the system uses a state-ofthe- art electronic ballast to ignite and sustain the arc.<br /> <br /> In comparison, most halogen bulbs output an average of 700 to 1,000 lumens (light output), while an HID system will generate anywhere from 2,600 to 3,200 lumens. And while a typical halogen bulb lasts anywhere from 320 to 1,000 hours, an HID bulb typically last as long as 3,000 hours.<br /> <br /> Blinded By Light<br /> <br /> The market has several conversion kits available for your vehicle. For example, Sylvania makes a kit for GM trucks that has the ballast built into the light housing and is basically plugand- play installation. While the conversion is not cheap, it does give your ride state-of-the-art illumination and puts you in a league with those posh luxury vehicles.<br /> <br /> The controversy mentioned above is a result of the glare HID lights produce.<br /> <br /> Some claim it is painful and distracting when an oncoming vehicle equipped with super-bright HID lights approach.<br /> <br /> Despite this, HID lights, properly mounted, are DOT-compliant.<br /> <br /> The following quote adequately sums up the whole debate. A paper written by engineer Alden L. McMurtry and issued by the Society of Automotive Engineers (ASE) tackled headlight glare and its side issues, warning that, “Agitation over the effect of glare caused by powerful headlamps has gradually increased until we are threatened with drastic legislation.” That was published in 1917! It addressed the transition to electric headlights from acetylene-arc lamps.<br /> <br /> It is worth noting that people were upset over the introduction of halogen lights back in the 1980s as well, but soon got over it.<br /> <br /> “ ” “Rotator beacons use a halogen bulb and a spinning mirror”<br /> <br /> Beyond Headlights<br /> <br /> There are, of course, countless other lights required for tow trucks, and even more lighting accessories that are not required but available to the towing industry. Here’s an overview of these products: Stop/turn/tail lights, incandescent and LED. The market is really switching to the LED versions of these lights.<br /> <br /> Both incandescent and LED are available from many suppliers and neither is very expensive. The LED lights use way less voltage, can be much brighter, and above all, provide more visibility and safety on the road.<br /> <br /> There are several multi-input flasher units available that can get your lights blinking and flashing with the touch of a button: Halogen, strobe, and LED beacons.<br /> <br /> Beacons are imperative for warning lighting on tow trucks, big rigs, work trucks, and pickup trucks. Rotator beacons use a halogen bulb and a spinning mirror to send a warning signal in a 360-degree pattern. Strobe and LED beacons flash with intense warning lights in an unlimited variety of patterns and colors. The cost ranges widely, from as low as $20 (maybe good for a golf cart) to around $700 or so for the ultra-slim, high-intensity, multi-programmable, top-of-the-line units.<br /> <br /> Fog lamps. Fog lights use a very wide and short beam pattern. The optimum location for fog lights is as low as possible, such as under the bumper, since a fog light's beam is designed to penetrate under fog.<br /> <br /> Cab lights. Though it may be all well and good to have your rig lit up like Disneyland on the outside, you really need some bright illumination on the inside to see what you are doing while in the cab. There is a vast selection of LED light fixtures to choose from.<br /> <br /> Some drivers even like to have some flashing lights in the cab to place on the dash. These units plug into the lighter with a long cord and provide a more flexible warning light.<br /> <br /> Light bars are the crowning glory on a tow truck! This is the light system that really sets your truck apart. These bars can get pricey but you get what you pay for, not only in styling but functionality.<br /> <br /> Some of the best and more expensive units can go as high as the $2000 range. The lower-end full-size models start at around $400. If you are fine with a mini-bar (short warninglight bar), there are some very good designs with a range of functions that start at about $150. These can be magnetically mounted or bolted on.<br /> <br /> Marker lights, clearance lights, strip lights. If you think your truck needs a little more illuminated bling, consider LED strip lights, which can be easily mounted all over the perimeter of your Truck. They come in a variety of lengths, each housing many LED lights in sealed watertight casings. Marker and clearance lights are available as well in all manner of shapes and sizes, most of them LED<br /> <br /> Shine On<br /> <br /> We’ve covered most of the lights you could possibly put on your rig, so now let’s shed a little light on the task at the scene. It's important, of course, to have a good lighting source to assist you in carrying out your job safely, and there is no shortage of work lighting to choose from.<br /> <br /> Flood beams, spot beams, and trapezoidal- beam LED and halogen units are available everywhere. Hard-wired to your vehicle, these can be as simple as the $15 incandescent work light, or as diverse as a multi-directional, remote-controlled, super-bright LED for around $300.<br /> <br /> Tow lights. In order to keep the back of your load properly marked, you have to have these lights. They are usually magnetic- or suction-cupped, with a long four- or seven-wire cable hooked to your tail light system. The new lights are all LED, some containing long-charge batteries and operated via a transmitter/receiver. Low-end, old-style units range from $60 and up.<br /> <br /> State-of-the-art systems can be more than $800.<br /> <br /> Flashlights. One light essential to your rig is the good old hand-held flashlight. These come in an endless variety of models, and though an incandescent light can be useful, the new LED flashlights are far superior.<br /> <br /> An especially useful unit, made by Coast, is the only LED light we’ve found with ultraviolet fluid detection built right in. You can use the white, ultrabright LED to illuminate your work area, or switch to UV mode for fluid detection. The unit can detect leaking vehicle liquids, including blood and other bodily fluids that may be inside the vehicle. It’s not expensive, it enhances your safety, and no rig is complete without It!<br /> <br />

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