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Old 03-10-08, 02:32 PM   #1
graywolf
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Cheap Generator light

I just got one of those cheap Taiwanese Generator Light kits from eBay. <$20 with shipping.



This one is a Tung Lin. It arrived today and looks OK, but is a bit flimsy looking. I bought it to use on my Denelt 3-speed, the German kits looked too high tech and the vintage stuff is out of my budget range.

Before I install it I will have to figure out how I am going to wire it as I do not want to use the frame as a ground. It will only be used occasionallyas it is mostly for looks.

Anyone had experience with these?
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Old 03-10-08, 03:33 PM   #2
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I haven't used one in years...

To use it without the frame as a ground, you will need to run 2 wires everywhere you would normally run 1. Then hook the second wire inside the case somewhere that would normally be grounded. If I were to do this, I would solder it in an appropriate place.

Is it that you don't want the one small screw penetrating the paint that has you avoiding the frame as a ground? I assume this is the case...

EDIT: I would use small gauge speaker wire... especially if you can find some that blends with the bike.
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Old 03-10-08, 05:12 PM   #3
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Some photos



The bottle generator mounted on the frame. This is supposedly a 12 volt 6 watt unit. You will notice that it mounts on the wrong side for us in the USA. However they do give you a separate clamp for the tail light so you can mount it on the other side of the frame. I have not decided what to do about that yet.



A view of the head light. I mounted the bracket upside down so the light would be lower and not cast a shadow of the cables.



Head on view. Shows the double bulb arrangement. The main bulb seems to be an automobile bulb, the top low beam bulb looks like a flash light bulb. I wonder why they did it that way?

If I had realized it mounted on the right side of the bicycle I would most likely not have bought it. My options for mounting the tail light are to enlarge the hole on its mount and mount it to the generator bracket like the old SA units, to mount it on the other side seat stay, or to leave it off and put on a LED tail light. I most likely will put it on the generator bracket (After all it is an English bike ).

As to avoiding gouging the paint, I would most likely use some black 24ga speaker zip cord. Another thing I might do in the future is add a battery pack to run the lights when not moving.

Last edited by graywolf; 12-27-08 at 10:39 AM.
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Old 03-10-08, 05:22 PM   #4
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I haven't used one in years...

To use it without the frame as a ground, you will need to run 2 wires everywhere you would normally run 1. Then hook the second wire inside the case somewhere that would normally be grounded. If I were to do this, I would solder it in an appropriate place.

Is it that you don't want the one small screw penetrating the paint that has you avoiding the frame as a ground? I assume this is the case...

EDIT: I would use small gauge speaker wire... especially if you can find some that blends with the bike.
Yes to everything. Except, I will most likely drill and tap the mounting brackets and run the ground wire between them that way, no use making the job harder than it has to be.
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Old 03-10-08, 07:53 PM   #5
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Something got me thinking lately, and it hit me when I saw this thread. There's a problem with some cars eating heater cores. The problem is a low voltage charge in the cooling system. It makes me wonder if
running a generator will have the same effect. My logic is probably flawed of course, it usually is.

That setup looks better than I thought it would. Actually fits the bike quite well. I'd keep a little LPS-3 or something on the hardware to keep rust down.,,,,BD
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Old 03-10-08, 08:11 PM   #6
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Is that bulb bright?

I wondered - is that main bulb bright? If not, I wonder if you could stick in a 12V halogen bulb.
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Old 03-10-08, 08:34 PM   #7
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I used one back in the 70's, don't know the brand.

It was adequate for me. Specifically, riding my bike down an unlit street with potholes. The light was adequate to let me see the potholes before I hit them. Probably was riding 10 mph or so. I wouldn't want to go too fast depending on one of those.
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Old 03-10-08, 09:00 PM   #8
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Better up the wire size for the halogen though. Many automotive aftermarket bulb makers had to come up with heavy duty harnesses because they were melting the factory headlight wiring. Just food for thought.,,,,BD
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Old 03-11-08, 02:26 PM   #9
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How strange? I do not need technical help. I would have posted in the Lighting Forum if I did. I posted it here because I thought it would be interesting to C&V types. I know I was not sure if it would look appropriate on an old bike or not.

I think the brackets look cheap as heck, and would recommend going with a vintage set to restorers. I would have done so if I could have afforded to. If one can not find, or afford, a working vintage generator set, I guess, I would recommend going with a battery powered version just on looks alone. Of course at $9.95 + shipping, I can not complain too much about this one.

As to light output, I can say without even trying it out that it is inadequate for commuting on heavily traveled country roads. Usable for well lighted city streets. And adequate for cruising the neighborhood or bike path at 10-15 mph. Just like all bottle generator type lights. I knew that before I even started looking for one.

BTW, in case anyone is needs such, this came without any instructions whatsoever.
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Old 03-13-08, 04:06 PM   #10
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A follow up on this. I decided to gouge the frame anyway as I could not find any light gauge black zip-cord locally. I also mounted the the tail light to the bracket. That required drilling out the hole on the tail light a bit.



The wire connections are finicky so if someone was wanting to use one of these for serious night cycling they may want to think about soldering the connections as somebody mentioned above.

The front light gets 18-20 VAC, and the rear 4.5VAC measured with a digital multimeter. Must be separate windings as the voltage does not change with one light not connected. The rear bulb is a 6v flashlight bulb, I guess they figure running it under voltage will make it more reliable.

A diode and 8 AA cells will most likely keep the voltage down a bit on the headlight, and keep it burning when going slow or stopped. Anytime the generator puts out more voltage than the batteries it would not draw from them, so I see no need for rechargables. That would not run the tail light, but I have a rear reflector.

These units normally go for $20-$30 + shipping, I guess they are worth that considering a hub generator would cost $100 or more. And they have a retro look that looks correct on the old 3-speed bicycle.

ADDED: The switch on the headlight is high beam when in the center position and low beam to either side. I would consider it more of a back up bulb switch, so you could get home if the main bulb died. As I said in a previous post the main bulb is a automobile type (most likely a tail light bulb) and the low beam is a flash light bulb.

Last edited by graywolf; 12-27-08 at 10:42 AM.
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Old 03-13-08, 04:14 PM   #11
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Better up the wire size for the halogen though. Many automotive aftermarket bulb makers had to come up with heavy duty harnesses because they were melting the factory headlight wiring. Just food for thought.,,,,BD
It ain't gonna put out more current than it is designed for without burning out the windings, so you are not going to use a high wattage halogen with it.
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Old 03-13-08, 05:48 PM   #12
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If you want retro and good, try Nordlicht. They do a chrome dynamo. Then add the Busch and Müller "retro" lights and bingo
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Old 03-13-08, 06:22 PM   #13
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If you want retro and good, try Nordlicht. They do a chrome dynamo. Then add the Busch and Müller "retro" lights and bingo
Let's see? How many of them can I get for $10? In fact can someone get a set up like that for $30? Noo...? I thought not.

In fact I would much rather have a SA Dynohub (32 hole) in excellent condition. And then I would like that to be on a mint old rod brake roadster with maybe an FW hub on the back. I am not a hot rodder when it comes to bicycles; I like my old bikes the way they came from the factory, or as close as I can reasonably get them.

But for someone wanting modern stuff there are several pricey options currently available, but they do not, in my opinion, belong in the C&V forum. I put this stuff up for those maybe looking for a inexpensive option for their vintage 3-speeder. I know I wondered about these cheap Taiwanese made lights, better than I expected, not as good as I hoped.

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Old 03-13-08, 09:07 PM   #14
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I have mixed feelings about this.
On the one hand, I understand what he's going for, and it isn't a bad thing. On the other hand, going to the trouble to put (non-period) lights on a bike that only work so-so is awfully confusing to me.

In a nutshell, If it's dark, who cares what it looks like and if it's daylight, does it matter if it works?

A little curious, I did the (dynamo, generator) search on the bay
Lights
Raleigh generator/light combo

But like I said, it doesn't look bad, so I guess I'll just keep scratching my head for a bit.
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Old 03-13-08, 09:18 PM   #15
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In this case, you get what you pay for.
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Old 12-25-08, 09:23 PM   #16
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Dynamo lighting set

I have one. But haven't installed it yet. Does this unit stay ingaged all the time? Mine didn't come with instructions. The model # is 34338. Do yo have the info you could email me?
Thx powerbikeman
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Old 12-27-08, 10:30 AM   #17
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I have one. But haven't installed it yet. Does this unit stay ingaged all the time? Mine didn't come with instructions. The model # is 34338. Do yo have the info you could email me?
Thx powerbikeman
Hum...? The photos seem to be missing from the post. I do not know if that happened on my end or BF's. I will see if I can not get them back up.

Here is a photo of the generator mounted, and engaged. To release it you just pull the top of the generator away from the tire. To engage it push down on the tab under the block and the generator springs against the tire. It should be mounted disengaged with about 1/4 inch of clearance. There is a clamp to mount the tail light on the other stay, or you can mount the generator on the other side of the bicycle with the generator behind the stay.



The ground is though the frame, you can see the screw between the clamp bolts in the photo. One wire goes to the head light, the other to the tail light.

The light works OK, you will find you notice the drag when accelerating, but not so much when just running at a steady speed.
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Old 12-27-08, 02:12 PM   #18
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I have mixed feelings about this.
On the one hand, I understand what he's going for, and it isn't a bad thing. On the other hand, going to the trouble to put (non-period) lights on a bike that only work so-so is awfully confusing to me.

In a nutshell, If it's dark, who cares what it looks like and if it's daylight, does it matter if it works?
Pre the new LED generator headlights virtually all have been more to be seen than to see with IMO. The amount of light they put out is/was minimal with a 3 watt maximum incandescent bulb. This includes the current Shimano hub generator headlight.

If not trying to restore the bike to true original, just look somewhat period, this is a cheap solution.

If tire wear turns out to be a problem then Schwalbe makes several tires with a generator track on the sidewall. Thicker rubber there for longer wear.
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Old 12-28-08, 12:55 PM   #19
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Pre the new LED generator headlights virtually all have been more to be seen than to see with IMO. The amount of light they put out is/was minimal with a 3 watt maximum incandescent bulb. This includes the current Shimano hub generator headlight.

If not trying to restore the bike to true original, just look somewhat period, this is a cheap solution.

If tire wear turns out to be a problem then Schwalbe makes several tires with a generator track on the sidewall. Thicker rubber there for longer wear.
You know, I am beginning to think that most of the folks saying things like this have never used a generator light. My 3-speed when I was a kid back in the early 1950's had a Miller setup. It was about as bright as the car lights of the period. The first time I came up behind a buddy's bike at night, he thought it was a motorcycle behind him.

A three watt dyno-light is adequate up to about 15mph, I can understand why some one riding a road bike at 25-30 mph would be unhappy with it. The 12 volt, 6 watt light this tread is about is twice as bright as that old Miller; you can see the light form a few hundred feet away in bright daylight, and at night it lights the road 100 feet in front of you well enough to avoid running over something. In fact it is almost as bright as my 3 D-cell Maglight, if it would take the same type bulb it would probably be brighter.

Next there are comments about the poor quality of the light. I do not see much difference in quality from the old Miller system. No the chrome is not as heavy, but these things have alway been built to a price point. If you are willing to pay $100+, you can get somewhat better quality but it is not 3x better. For my needs, once in a great while getting caught out after dark this light is more than adequate, it is fine.

Think of it as a emergency lighting system, not a commuter lighting system. It is there when you need it, no worries about dead batteries.

The system is far better than you would think it would be at the price I paid, and it looks appropriate on a vintage (pre-bike-boom) bicycle. If it came with a decent set of instructions for installation and use I would not hesitate recommending it. As it does not, I can not truely recommend it to someone who does not already understand those things.
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Old 04-23-11, 04:31 AM   #20
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I have the same set on my 1975 Schwinn Continental - mounted on the left...





I used the exact same light set and mounting arrangement on my 1975 Schwinn Varsity when it was new. (I was 13) and I rode the bike all over Beloit, WI and also Madison, WI for about two years with this setup on it, until the Varsity was stolen. The light worked fine and never gave me any trouble at all.

I also wanted it mounted back away from my legs from where I was pedaling, so that there'd be no chance of me banging a leg into it while under power.

I've soldered all the wiring connections and protected them with electrical tape. If you don't solder them, they tend to come loose and drive you crazy.

I've also been told by bicycle shops that if you install them on bikes with frames made of anything other than steel, they burn bulbs out and sometimes the dynamo, because they don't get a good enough ground.

I'm blogging the restoration of my '75 Connie at: http://1975continental.blogspot.com/

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Old 06-05-11, 02:30 PM   #21
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Here's an aesthetically pleasing mounting of the Tung Lin system using a Busch & Muller bracket. The attachment for the rear light was enlarged with a round file to fit the bolts which come with the B&M Bracket. The headlamp bracket was fashioned from an extra Velo-Orange L-fender bracket which had the bolt holes enlarged with a round file to fit the stem clamp bolt.

Right click - view image + zoom for larger, had to resize them to fit the forum.



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Old 06-06-11, 10:15 AM   #22
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I bought the same light from my local used/vintage bike shop about five years ago to use on my 1972 Raleigh Sports. The guy who owns the shop gave me all the info on how to make it work verbally so I wasn't out-in-the-dark, no pun intended, regarding it's hook-up and operation. For the money it's a good value and works well. About two years ago I gutted the light and installed my own version of LED lighting for the front lamp and the rear taillight. With the LEDs I have a nice stand-light function that wasn't really usefull with the incandesant bulbs. In both cases, I used 20awg zip cord for both the + and - voltages and isolated the mouting hardware from the frame. PG.
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