By on February 15, 2010

In case you missed it, Paul Niedermeyer’s excellent overview of Lincolns greatest hits and misses is worth a second look, considering the “firsts” attributed to the Lincoln brand: halogen lights and clear coat paint (Versailles), gas charged shocks and auto dimming rear view mirrors (Fox Continental), composite headlamps (Mark VII) and the industry’s first use of High Intensity Discharge (HID) lights in the Lincoln Mark VIII. And while some innovations quickly spread elsewhere, Lincoln’s HID system was outdated and orphaned in less than a decade. If you are crazy enough to drive an HID-equipped Mark today, finding a new bulb for less than $600 is impossible. And a used bulb fetches $100 or more on eBay. Such is life when you live on the bleeding edge far beyond anyone’s expectation.

Welcome to my little slice of hell. But first, a bit more about my 1995 Mark VIII LSC: the LSC’s originally wore HID lights, but were removed at the factory due to (unknown?) problems. So FoMoCo sold the car with conventional lights, which I converted it back to HIDs using the sorted, implemented system from a 1996 Mark VIII LSC. It was a one-year only system, as the Mark VIII sported significant changes in it’s 1997 redesign. Last month I lost a headlight bulb, thankfully with plenty of advance notice. So grabbed one of my spares from the junkyard. Now with one spare left, I am looking for an alternative.

With nobody to blame for my predicament, my forthcoming solution is the fourth headlight system in my car since it rolled off the assembly line. But it’s the last, as the right move is to ditch the antiquated HIDs for (widely-adopted) modern componentry. I talked to noted automotive lighting guru Daniel Stern, finding my way to a Mark VIII fanboi who made an adapter to mount the modern “D2S” bulb into the original lense. Only problem? He made one set, for his car only. Fantastic.

After several failed attempts to contact the engineer behind these adapters, I mailed a check to purchase the rights to this part. So I am now like Microsoft, only poorer and with very little chance at turning a profit. Which is fine, because I am more interested in helping anyone with this car, lest they lose faith, jump ship and scrap their fully depreciated, wholly undesirable ride.

With blueprints in hand, I’m currently looking for a local shop to turn my blueprints into CAD drawings. Drawings that will feed a CNC machine the necessary information to spit out several adapters. So much for my hopes of an easy conversion! And the word is out: Lincoln nuts on the Internet know that somebody is updating this antiquated system. All three of them. No matter, it’s too late to turn back now.

If anyone has experience making limited production, limited interest components or has worked with machine shops in a cost effective manner, I’d appreciate your advice. Thanks for reading.

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43 Comments on “Piston Slap: Bleeding Edge Lincoln Technology Edition...”


  • avatar
    MBella

    Once you get a sketch, you can e-mail me for a quote to get it machined.

  • avatar

    There’s also http://www.emachineshop.com

    I’ve used them before and they were prompt and they do good work. Luckily the software they provide has gotten better since then and they’ve added new tools to the arsenal, making them a better solution for some of the projects people get involved in.

    Good luck!

  • avatar
    relton

    Sajeev,

    The company I work for, Griswold Engineering, does this kind of thing all the time. But it aint cheap. Send me some info and I will have them send you a quote for our part of the work. Send it to bob@griswoldengineering.com.

    I wrote a note about the Mark VIII and attqached it to the Mark VIII article over the weekend. But I suspect that no one read it, ’cause it was late. You might find it interesting.

    I resolved the crappy headlight problem in my 95 Mark VIII by adding aftermarket HID driving lamps behind the grill. They worked extremely well. Use units that are classified by SAE as auxiliary headlamps, and they will be legal everywhere in the US.

    Bob

  • avatar
    Anchorman33

    There’s an interesting article in the most recent Wired magazine about micro-run manufacturing like this. May be worth the couple bucks, or trip to B&N to get that. I’d be glad to share the info, but I borrowed it from a co-worker on a long layover and returned it at the end of the trip.

  • avatar
    Juniper

    Your local tech school or Jr. College may do it as a class project for less money than a machine shop.

  • avatar
    folkdancer

    Anchorman33 beat me to it. The article in Wired is fun to read if you want one part or are starting your own niche car company.

  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    What’s local to you, Sajeev? There may be a cooperative mech shop near you. For instance, in SE Michigan:

    http://www.a2mechshop.com/

  • avatar
    Unlimited Headroom

    Sajeev, I’m a Mechanical Designer and can whip up an AutoCAD drawing for you. I don’t know how much work it is until I see the sketch but will help you out if I can. E-mail me and we can then talk.
    John
    BTW, I use only the best crayons for my drawings!!

  • avatar
    tced2

    Thanks to fast moving “state-of-the-art” technology being used in automobiles, we can look forward to support issues like this – very expensive support costs if available at all.
    Auto manufacturers are adopting the consumer electronics approach to products – it’s not worth fixing.
    Think of how many years you could walk into any auto parts store and purchase a new headlight (sealed beam or halogen bulb). Those days are disappearing.

  • avatar
    baldheadeddork

    Not an engineer, but I’m pretty good with a cordless drill if you decide to mount a set of 7″ Ciebe’s to the bumper. Which would be a lot more awesome, wouldn’t it?

  • avatar
    MidLifeCelica

    Have you ever heard of http://www.emachineshop.com/ ? I keep trying to think of things for my car that I’d want made by them just because the concept is so cool (I like playing with their very intuitive CAD software too).For very small runs the price may be prohibitive though.

  • avatar
    Disaster

    I’m going to suggest going in a completely different direction. I’m an engineer who has been involved in very small prototype runs like this. It can be very expensive. I’ve seen people invest huge amounts of time, energy and money and never recoup their original investment. Usually, they don’t notice because it is a project close to their heart and even a “labor of love.” As neat as it can be to say you made something, you definitely need to do the marketing side first to see if it is something you really want to pour your time into.

    As an alternative there are many suppliers that are installing HID aftermarket projector systems into lights. They buy projectors from junked Mercedes and BMW’s and retrofit them into the existing light housings by heating them open, and cutting the back of the housing off. You can find how to videos on you tube. Here is one example.

  • avatar
    midelectric

    I can produce a model in Solidworks for you and I have built a relationship with a CNC shop that actually likes the fact that I send one-off and low production jobs their way and charge me a good price. If this is what you’re looking for I’d be happy to help.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    There was an article in the sports section this morning about the Nordic Combined event. I have no idea what the Nordic Combined is, and the article did not give me a clue. Perhaps it is a three legged ski race with one Swede and one Norwegian.

    Sajeev. I am just as clueless about this article.

  • avatar

    Thank you all. In the next week or so I will talk to local shops (Houston) because I’d prefer to have the product close by. I plan on test fitting all of them using my spare Mark VIII headlight, a junk D2S bulb and the correct O-ring as some sort of quality control measure. If my name is going on it…ya know.

    If things get “ugly” here, I’ll be dropping a line to you kind folks. Bob, you’re first on my list. :)

    • 0 avatar
      Geeky1

      Hi Sajeev,

      I’d like to add my own offer to help out in with the others you’ve received. I work for one of the largest family-owned machine shops on the west coast; we’re ISO certified and we deal with small production runs and prototyping every day. If you can’t find what you need locally, feel free to drop our quote guy a line at mike@rwinc.com.

      -Kevin

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      Interesting.. I assume the Mark has a very custom bulb type? Because there’s TONS of standard-bulb-size kits for HID that require a bit of dremelling of the stock lamp housing.. The big problem with this for retrofitting is the lamp reflector, and its (lack of) optimization for HID lighting, all legal issues aside.

      For example, my bike took 2 HID lamps (one for hi-beam, one for low) along with the waterproof, compact ballasts, and installation was mostly a snap except for finding good mounting positions for the ballasts. Presumably even if you rip out the Lincoln ballasts and go with a full refit, your lamps’ reflectors are already HID-optimized..

  • avatar
    roadracer

    “…the industry’s first use of High Intensity Discharge (HID) lights in the Lincoln Mark VIII.”

    I thought the 1991 BMW 7 series was the first car sold with xenon headlamps? In any event good luck to you Sajeev, sounds like a worthwhile effort.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    I’m with Disaster with this. (!!) The #1 donor part seems to be the Acura TL projector HID system. Why, I have no idea. There’s a company in NJ that specializes in this. The biggest issue seems to be the step up transformer to power these systems. Philips OEM parts seem to be the gold standard with Osram coming in second. Cheapass Chinese crap abounds and bites the unwary.

    Still none of this is cheap with a proper projection set running into the thousands. For a 10 year old car, even a well loved one?

    A Google mission seems well founded.

    • 0 avatar

      Though projectors are superior to this old-school HID design, I am not gonna even pretend to know how to mount it properly in the Mark lense for ideal optics. And do I trust someone else to make it happen? Not really.

      Especially since the adapter has already been made and keeps the purists happy. And it works on both 93-96 and 97-98 headlight designs, which might help offset the fiscal reaming I’m about to receive. Plus, the 95-96 Mark HID headlight has a pretty cool design, Ford obviously wanted to show off their technology…sort of like the new Taurus’ active cruise control thingie in the bumper.

  • avatar
    Power6

    Sajeev,

    Check out mfg.com. It is an online marketplace for manufacturers. A friend of mine has parts manufactured this way for his business. Any standard CAD files are generally acceptable. I think this is the best option compared to going with one particular machine shop because you don’t need to conform to non-standard software, and prices for machining vary *widely*. The CAD work can be easily offshored these days too, though my friend does his in house.

    If you don’t want to get all set up and involved I could put you in touch with him, he has done a couple side projects for me with great results. AShariczgmailcom

  • avatar
    rudiger

    Maybe I’m missing something but when I went googling for more info on the infamous Mark VIII HIDs, I came across a website called ‘Lincolns of Distinction’ with a thread on this very topic:

    http://www.lincolnsofdistinction.org/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=22428

    Granted, it’s dated from August, 2008, but it sure doesn’t seem like remedying the problem is anywhere near as expensive nor as involved as what is being discussed here.

    OTOH, maybe the solution described on the website is a Rube Goldberg set-up that isn’t nearly as good as the OEM headlamps, either. But it would seem to be worth checking out.

    • 0 avatar

      There are several things going on in that thread, but the biggest thing is a FoMoCo conversion to halogens for the ’97-98 models. Which I could do too, I have my original ’95 halogens in the attic. Not interested, as you can imagine. :)

  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    Damn Sajeev…You had me thinking a used Mark VIII would be a good beater, put some flowmasters on it…but now, I’m not so sure.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    lilpoindexter, the mark111 can be made into a blistering fast ride. It used the mustang GT powerplant, most of the lsc’s even used the GT’S foregd pistons!
    Anything made for the mustang can be bought from summit racing and used on the LSC.
    Back in the late 90’s I saw a few MRk111 LSC’S at norwalk that would run 12’s with the shortblocks being untouched.

    • 0 avatar

      Mark VIII’s had nothing in common with a Mustang GT, you’re thinking of the Cobra. And none of these cars had forged pistons, except for the 2003 Cobras. The Cobra had a forged crank, but not the Lincoln.

      Mark VIIs have the same forged 5.0HO as the Mustang 5.0s, I betcha that’s what you’re thinking about.

  • avatar
    NickR

    How about when the flourescent tail lights kick? What then?

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    “considering the “firsts” attributed to the Lincoln brand: halogen lights and clear coat paint (Versailles), gas charged shocks and auto dimming rear view mirrors (Fox Continental), composite headlamps (Mark VII) and the industry’s first use of High Intensity Discharge (HID) lights in the Lincoln Mark VIII.”

    Hate to rain on the rewriting of history parade, but the emporer ain’t wearing clothes…

    HID’s were first available on a mass production car in the 1991 7-Series BMW. Lincoln was about 5 years later.

    Also, Halogen bulbs were available (and in use) is the early 60’s in Europe. They weren’t even legal in the US until the late 70’s.

    While I’m letting facts get in the way of legend, please remember that the auto dimming mirror was first available on Chrysler product. In the late 50’s.

    “Gas charged shocks”? Define ‘gas charged’. As that one is likely just as wrong as the rest of those Lincoln “firsts”…

    Nice piece, but when attributing inventions, you really might want to fact check. There are some ‘firsts’ that can be argued, but those cited were just so obviously incorrect to any pistonhead…

    As to the HID system used on the Mark, IIRC, it was the only system that was straight DC, and, as such, failed quickly. Never deployed in another vehicle…

    Regardless, good luck on the project Sajeev. My personal recommendation would be different than the crowds’ though. I suggest you get a $400 vert mill from Harbor Freight or an old Bridgeport for about the same money. You’ll be amazed what you can make at home…

    • 0 avatar

      To reiterate my correction above, which you missed in the thread: these were firsts for cars either made or sold in the US. And I’m getting most this information from the vintage C/D magazines in my collection.

      The HIDs and plastic lenses were the first for all cars sold in the USA, no matter where the cars came from. Or so the magazines tell me.

    • 0 avatar

      Then again, don’t take my word for it:

      “The first U.S. built vehicle using twin-lube low-pressure gas shock absorbers was the 1982 Lincoln Continental. Those shocks and struts were designed and supplied by TOKICO. A long time leader in electronic shock absorbers and suspension products.”

      http://www.hitachi-hap-la.com/tokicogasshocks/company/

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    Look up “Finding performance parts in a junkyard-car craft magaine.”
    The LSC had the mustang GT engine.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    You are correct, Sjeev. The LSC used the mustang short block, forged pistons and double roller timing chain.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    A cheap and easy way to get around the airbag system is to do away with it and bolt on a set of struts from a thunderbird or cougar.

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    Sajeev,

    Sorry missed your addendum regarding shocks and HIDs. I would have thought the actual story would be edited, since, as written, the story still claims these as “Lincoln firsts”, not as “Lincoln was the first domestic, but years behind the innovators…”

    Leaving out clear coat (as I don’t feel like doing the research) every other one of those ‘firsts’ was done by someboody else. Generally somewhere else.

    Is this now “The Truthiness About Cars”?

  • avatar
    OMG_Shoes

    Yes, it’s correct the BMW E34-type 7er was first with HIDs, including in the USA. I remember the first time I saw one at night, in 1995. As for other firsts…should we really be celebrating that Ford successfully lobbied the US DOT to allow the plastic headlight lenses we are now cursed with whether we want them or not? They’re grossly inferior to real glass lenses in every way that counts (cheap production cost does not count). Should we celebrate that Ford got the DOT to rubberstamp their horrifically crap USA-only system of replaceable headlight bulbs instead of doing something sensible like advocating the adoption of a modified form of the European lighting code used everywhere else in the world? Clear coat paint, yes, I am pretty sure that was indeed an American-car first, on the Versailles. Thus ended effective inexpensive paint repairs. As another poster points out, there are lots of different types of gas shock, so the claim of a Lincoln first here is dubious. How about other Ford firsts…that fluoro (neon-tube?) taillight in the later Mark VII could win the title of First Hideously Expensive Unrepairable Taillight That Fails Early And Often. The notorious automatic transmissions of the 1970s (to early ’80s?) could win First Automatic Transmission that Jumps Randomly Out Of Park And Is “Fixed” By Applying A Decal To The Dashboard That Reminds The Driver to Use the Parking Brake. The Pinto…no, can’t do it, that’s too easy of a target.

    Back to the orphaned HID lights under discussion here: I am not sure I agree that “such is life when you live on the bleeding edge far beyond anyone’s expectation”. Somehow the Europeans managed to devise a standardized system of HID bulbs and ballasts that didn’t have the ridiculously high and quick failure rate of the Lincoln system. That European bulb-and-ballast system was available right on the shelf at the time the Mark VIII was being engineered and specified. Ford could have built their HID lights around that bulb, but I guess the pathetic system Ford came up with was one of their “better ideas”, right? Sometimes the reason why nobody’s ever before done a particular thing in a particular way is because it’s a stupid way to do it.

  • avatar

    HID light are designed to be more powerful than ordinary factory installed lights and are thus an ideal choice of all those automobile enthusiasts out there.


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