Reproduction Tripod headlamps - a warning

Following reassembly of my 1955 Magnette after body repairs and a re-spray the car was taken for its MOT to a reliable local garage, which I have used over many years and who are sympathetic to and understanding of old cars. The garage owner generally carries out the test on older vehicles and if any problems or advisories arise they are explained accordingly as found.

During the rebuild of my car I allowed myself to be seduced into fitting a pair of reproduction Tripod P700 style headlamps, using the version with H4 halogen bulbs. The light units came from a well respected and long established supplier and looked good enough for what they cost.

 When the MOT reached the stage to check the headlamps, I had expected the need for some adjustment, given that everything had been dismantled, so the rims were left off accordingly. I sat in the car and switched the lights on as instructed, then operated the dipswitch, at which point the tester said that there was a problem. I was shown the image in the beam setter and the tester explained to me that the beam image was incorrect and failed to meet the required standard, making a drawing to show how the light spread was inadequate.


The Failure note said “Headlamp aim beam image obviously incorrect”, this applied to both nearside and offside lights.

I contacted the supplier and sent a scan of the MOT Failure note for their comments, they asked for a few days to follow it up with their supplier. When I phoned back I was offered a full refund and they went on to say that they had tested the other Tripod units in stock and that they all failed to comply, also that they were unable to get a satisfactory answer from their UK based supplier.

The car now has a new pair of Lucas TVS F700 headlamps, which passed without a problem, although made in India, these are made on the correct Lucas tooling and seem to be good quality.

It would be interesting to discover what experience other people have of fitting these repro Tripod lamps and of taking cars so fitted for an MOT. I remain a firm advocate of having pre-1960 cars tested, as the test will show up any safety related problems, such as incorrect headlamp beam image and one never knows when headlamp use may be required if caught out after dark, or when weather conditions change.

This all begs the question as to where these repro Tripod lights actually come from, it seems that the tripod is set differently to that on the original Lucas items, which also had a black backing to the bulb shield, as opposed to the plated one on the repro units. There is perhaps a need for suppliers to join forces to get the product brought up to a saleable standard, able to comply with the appropriate requirements.



#1 John Emery-Barker 2016-03-24 15:23
I too had considered fitting these repro tripods as one of my original units has a crack in the glass, but was put off by Stephen Tickells article, and have fitted relays in the first instance an got a good 2nd hand unit. However I have seen halogen bulbs for sale that will fit the original units. Has anyone any experience of using these bulbs?

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