1969 and 1970 Electric Headlight Cover Conversion - the final chapter? [Archive] - Classic Cougar Forums

: 1969 and 1970 Electric Headlight Cover Conversion - the final chapter?

October 31st, 2009, 05:29 PM
There's been a lot of threads and a lot of talk about the electric headlight cover conversion here over the years. A LOT of people would like to do away with the vacuum system issues, have their headlight covers stay closed until the headlights are turned on and de-clutter the engine bay.

Bruce Habel did some GREAT right-ups on how to do it yourself using a Probe motor on TCCN a few years back that is still being used to date. It takes a bit of time and some patience, but gives great results in the end. Many others have posted their success stories of converting their covers to electric. A lot of people are just intimidated by the whole process.

With that being said.......

I converted the covers on my 69 Vert to electic about 2 months ago just after I finished the rebuild. I drilled holes and bolted a headlight motor in my car. I wired in a relay, ran a wire to the battery, ran a wire to the headlights and ... ta-da, electric headlight covers!

It's a daily driver with the coming of winter and rain which means headlights on and off a LOT. Every morning, every evening, rain with wipers on = headlights on (state law, and good idea). They work great, stay closed, open every time I turn the lights on and made my engine run better. I thought I had my headlight vacuum issues solved, but after I disconnected the vacuum headlight system and drove it the idle jumped up 300 RPM.

Well, after 2 months of nightly R&D in the garage with the help of my son the electronics wizzard and some creative thinking/fabricating on my part, I now have a bolt in electric headlight cover system for 69 and 70 models.

It requires no holes to be drilled, no wires to be cut and only 1 fused power wire to be run to the solenoid. Covers fully open and close with no adjustment required, but adjustable stops are built into the bracket to stop excessive banging of the covers, if needed.

I am using 84-86 Pontiac Firebird motors that are available new, rebuilt and from salvage yards. Motor and base arm are required.

I am finalizing the design of the circuit board for the controller and preparing for production and packaging. I think in about a month I will have a marketable system available.

You will get everything you need to install the system, EXCEPT THE MOTOR.
Bracket, connecting arm, controller, bolts, nuts, wiring and instructions.

Initial estimates put the cost at $150.00 without the motor.

Anyone interested???

Copy Cat
November 1st, 2009, 12:02 AM
Sounds great, where was this two years ago? JK! I would use this if I hadn't gotten mine sorted out last summer.

November 1st, 2009, 09:11 AM
I would say yes if I had not just last year bought the "lifetime can" from WCCC now mine works perfectly but I would buy one if I buy another cougar to restore...I like the idea of all in one package since I dont weld some of the kits are beyond what i could accomplish....Please take pictures of the finished product installed....

November 1st, 2009, 09:21 AM
Personally, I very much enjoy the nostalgia of this system working as designed and don't quite understand the need for converting to electric. It is a very simple system that, in my opinion, is not difficult to diagnose and restore once you understand how it works. I have gone through mine and they now work flawlessly.

Not saying anyones desire for electric is unfounded...just saying why I vote no.

November 1st, 2009, 10:26 AM

I, too, like the old system. When it is working, is is great. No, it is not complicated, but it can get expensive to replace the parts.

$238 for a rebuilt vacuum motor alone, plus any hoses, valves and a switch if needed.

This is just an alternative. There seemed to be some interest in a bolt-in electric system. The system bolts in and out without modification to the original car parts. Remove it and you can't tell it was ever there.

With practice (I have had plenty) you can install/uninstall my electric system in about 20 minutes. Leave the vacuum hoses in place, reinstall the vacuum motor and you are back to the original vacuum system for shows.

I am a "if you change it, make sure it can go back to original" kid of guy. I don't like to drill holes, cut original wires or modify original metal.

November 1st, 2009, 10:32 AM
I think it is a great idea (even though I too will probably use an OEM system). If you truly can manufacture and sell it for what you are estimating that is. Good luck and I look forward to seeing what it is all about (you know what they say about some threads without pictures!).



November 1st, 2009, 10:38 AM
Can this be used on my 68 Cougar? If so more info please. :burnout:

November 1st, 2009, 10:48 AM

I don't have a 67/68 to "play" with. I would sure like to make this work for them, too. If the motor will fit in the space, the electronics should work. Just need a car to work with for bracket R&D geometry checks.

November 1st, 2009, 08:46 PM
Okay, some pics and a video, if I get them uploaded right.

The pictures do not show much of the mount, for obvious reasons.
The controller is version 2. It is using a mechanical relay and switch. Final will be solid state, the same size, but no electrical tape!
The car does not have the A/C evaporater in it, but the motor/mount clears it with room for fingers.

Electric cover motor from the passenger side

Cover arm amd motor in the center

Electric cover motor from the drivers side

Motor and controller as seen through the grill (drop light not included)

Close-up of motor and controller as seen through the grill

Finger room next to the A/C evaporator

The covers go up and down
http://vid674.photobucket.com/albums/vv101/70Cougarkid/covers/th_hlc1.jpg (http://s674.photobucket.com/albums/vv101/70Cougarkid/covers/?action=view&current=hlc1.flv)

November 2nd, 2009, 01:14 AM
I'd be interested too if you get a system for a '67... keep us posted

November 3rd, 2009, 02:10 PM
Looking into the 67/68 model capatabilty.
Electronics could stay the same, just a double-tailed connection.
Will have to modify half the bracket to make one that would fit the 67/68.
New connecting rod, too.

Looking into finding a POS shell with at least one cover in place to "play" with.

It's quite possible. I'll do my best!

November 3rd, 2009, 04:17 PM
If you are going to make one, I would go ahead and make it all-encompassing and include the motor. If you had a system right now for the 67, I would purchase it (as I'm looking at $300+, not to mention the headache of diagonosing, since the original owner tore through everything and re-ran hoses to god-knows-where).

But if I had to find a motor fro the system, I would just stick to trackign down the parts for the vacuum system.

But, also keep in mind, I am not 'restoring' this Cougar... only getting it in workable condition and am probably a rare-breed on this board, as I don't really care if it is OEM or not.

November 6th, 2009, 05:15 PM
Due to responses.........

With some internet searching and some dimensional help from Bruce Habels article in TCCN (bolt locations relative to the motor arm), I believe I have a bracket that will work in the 67's and 68's.

Still using my original side bracket with a different base. This will work for both sides and both motors. Adjustable stops included.

I still need a 67 or 68 to test it in to make sure it fits and measure for connecting arms.

Anyone in or near Columbia, Mo got one I can come see? It can be apart.
Better yet, want to drive over to my place for a day of resto-moding??

Still working on it.....

November 7th, 2009, 07:13 AM
In your video it apears your park lights go out when the headlights come on. My parks are on all the time(except in "off" of course). Is this a choice or over looked???

November 7th, 2009, 08:12 AM
I believe it is a 69 thing. I have seen other videos that show the 69 parking lights going off when the headlights com on.

Parking lights on my 70 stay on with the headlights.
Parking lights on my 69 go off when the headlights come on.

Would be nice if they stayed on.

November 7th, 2009, 09:50 PM
Looks like your on your way to a great product.

I'll probably buy one when it comes time to put my grill back together. While I don't mind sourcing the motor myself, it would be nice if you offered a complete kit with everything required.

On a separate note - what would it take to make 69 parking lights stay on like the 70? Different headlight switch?

November 8th, 2009, 08:52 PM
It is in the wiring.

Replaced the switch in my 69 with one from a 70 - still parking lights go off.

November 15th, 2009, 12:20 PM

While I believe I have a working setup for the 67/68 models, I still have not actually put it in one yet (no one has volunteered a Cat for use).

Finalization of the electronics continues. I tried to go to a smaller, more compact PCB mounted relay, but it just couldn't handle the loads. I am currently waiting on delivery of a larger rated realy for installation and trials. (man, I've learned a LOT about electronics lately)

The original mechanical relay I am using is still a viable option, I am just trying to get the size of the control box down to a minimum.

As far as including the motor(s) in the package........

If I include the motor(s), it would require me buying rebuilt motors (for warranty) without having cores to send in. These motors would cost about $150.00 each. That equates to an additional $150 for the 69/70 kit and an additional $300 for the 67/68 kit.

Cost = $300 for the 69/70 kit with motor
Cost = $450 for the 67/68 kit with 2 motors
Wow, got expensive in a hurry!

I could not, with a clear concience, sell the kit with used motors. I would not be able to warrenty the used motors. That is why I was planning to sell the kits without the motors - reduced cost by allowing the purchaser to get their own motors. You should be able to get a 30-90 warranty from the salvage yard.

With all that being said, I am continuing to move forward with the development of these kits.

January 5th, 2010, 10:20 AM
hey 70 cougarkid any update on when this motor will be complete already have my motor and waiting on the kit are you still making? do you have an release date yet?

January 5th, 2010, 10:25 AM
Kit has been on hold.

Spent the last month moving out of my house - the recession got me.

Just starting to get re-set in a rented place. Planning to get the kit finished up soon. Sorry for the delay!

January 5th, 2010, 10:39 AM
sorry to hear that hope things get better for the new year

June 20th, 2011, 11:43 PM
Did this ever get built or sold?

June 21st, 2011, 09:13 AM
Sorry to all for the delay. :uhoh:

Serious personal financial issues had put the kit on hold.
Things are turning around, finally, so I am back at it again. :smoke:

I wasn't comfortable making a kit and selling used motors as part of it.
Motors would be coming from everywhere and it is hard to warranty a used part.
The 69/70 setup was pretty good, but the 67/68 setup was pretty involved - lots of pieces.

So............., I changed directions on the motor setup.

I have turned my efforts to make a headlight cover motor that would look 99% stock and use all new parts. Self contained in a "can", like the original vacuum motor.

After digging up a 69/70 vacuum motor and a 67/68 vacuum motor from my parts collection, I got all the measurements I needed and drew the "cans" up in AutoCAD.

I have spent month and months searching for motors that were strong enough to open and close the covers and yet small enough to fit inside the "can". Then finding/designing the nessesary parts and pieces to get the movement needed. Finding controlers to get the 2-way adustable movement required. Each time I would get the technical drawings from the manufacturer and check to see if I could make it fit and operate inside the "can".

I have several 69/70 setups that "could" work, but would require mutiple parts to be tooled and manufactured, thus driving the cost up. Also, the complexity of the gearing design would be a concern for wear/failure over time. Plus, It seemed like everytime I found a motor that would work, it was discontinued by the manufacturer.

This is a slow process. I will find items that I think will work, draw them up and place them inside the can. Get them situated and figure out the mounting. Then I will let it sit wor a week or 2 and roll it around in my mind. Over that time, I usually have an idea on how to improve the design or simplify it. I then go back and tweak it to the new setup.

Yes, lots of "duh" moments. :confused:

I have multiple designs drawn up, all evolving to my latest design. Availablity of parts, manufacture of parts, wiring, assembly and cost allways figure in.

I have finally found a motor that I believe will work and is actually available. It is ordered, but won't ship until late August (go figure).
I have a motor controller with built in limit circuits in hand, along with the required switches.
I am tweaking the frame to hold it all together. Getting it auto-plasma cut, but there are limits to what the plasma cutter can do. These are small pieces I am working with.
The fiinal cover will be black plastic, formed to mimic the original vacuum motors.

It will be a plug-and-play setup:
Unbolt the vacuum motor and bolt the electric one in its place.
Plug the connector into the headlight wire cicuit.
Hook up the fused power wire to the soleniod.
Turn on the headlights and watch the covers open.
Up/down stop adjustments are on top and easily accessable - just a screwdriver needed.

I am currently constructing the prototype.
Using a basic 12vdc electric motor to test the controller.
Getting the frame and pieces plasma cut.
Finding someone to make the plastic "can".

Again, sorry for the long dealy. Still trying!

"If just anybody could make this, everyone would"


June 21st, 2011, 09:49 AM
you can keep your front parking lights on all the time by removing the ft parking light wire from the switch and hook it to the taillight side of the switch

June 21st, 2011, 12:42 PM

Welcome to my world... Best of luck!

June 21st, 2011, 01:08 PM
"If just anybody could make this, everyone would"

Don't I know it. I am on my 4th gen now. Making it for your car is one thing. Getting it producable, reliable and affordable is another story.

June 23rd, 2011, 09:46 PM
Kudos to you sir for coming up with a reliable system and having the gumption to display it. The criticism and sarcasm always follows but it is your personal mark on the Cougar end of the muscle car world, which is remarkable in itself. I have done a similar feat with the 67-68 Cougar and I understand it's not everyone's cup of tea but dare to be different and not ready to fork the money over for a setup that is guaranteed to need work of sorts within a couple years. And Rocketman, what part of the Cougar is affordable, reliable, and another story... if I wanted easy I would have bought a Chevelle or Camero lol. I own your mini tach and love it every time I rev my CJ. Thanks again.

June 23rd, 2011, 11:46 PM
Does anyone have a copy of the instructions for making the Probe headlight cover actuator brackets for 67-68 Cougars?

July 7th, 2011, 11:11 AM
Good luck Cougarkid! Looking forward to buying the finished product!

January 29th, 2012, 12:01 PM
Hey CougarKid - any progress update (as I am starting to tear apart my grille on my 68, looking for options to move to electric actuated headlight doors)...


February 10th, 2012, 07:56 PM
Still waiting for this!!!

February 11th, 2012, 01:06 PM
Go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BM3Owvk1Hjc and watch my video. Understand I took the whole headlight assembly off my car to do this. That means the bumper and front valance does to...which aint fun but it is a good time to fix the lights and clean up the grille and even paint if needed. I'm gonna make it a priority to take pictures of the brackets and get them up asap. Workin a lot of ot right now fellas, bare with me.

February 11th, 2012, 08:00 PM
Sorry guys (and gals), I have been side-tracked by my life on this project. I have not given up.
I still work on it sparaticly, as time permits and insparations hit me.

I had a system worked out. It would fit on 67, 68, 69 and 70 models (2 different versions), but used a "used" motor and had a LOT of moving parts. I had great dreams for it, but after carefull consideration, I decided the look, complexity and exposure to the elements was unaceptable.

I changed directions.

Building a new headlight cover motor that would act and look like a factory canister. All the way down to the bolt-in installation.

I did a lot of research and internet searching to find a new motor that was small enough, strong enough, reversable, controlable and reliable. Finding an afforable controller was quite a challenge, too. Minurature eletronic controllers are tuff to find for an application like this. I went as far to design a PC Board to control it - a first for me. It ultimately failed under testing (not the board, the relay), but the learning experience was great. BTW, I am NOT an electronics guy.

I finally found a manufactured controller that would work on my motor and fit my needs and I bought one. It does exactly what I need and ran the motor through initial testing.

I designed and drawn several mounting systems for the motor that would fit in the constraints of the original canister. I tried several different approaches, even having two cut from sheet steel using a plasma cutter. The mounts worked okay, but the motor ran too slow, giving the covers an unwanted lag.

Back to the drawing board, again.

I have a workable, I think, re-design for the mounting and drive system drawn up. I had to re-think the mounting of the motor and add in a system to multiply the speed of the cover pull rod. There have been many itterations of this latest design drawn on computer. Fabrication of the pieces I have designed is an issue. I have quite a few tools at my disposal, but not quite everything I need. I will mock-up in plastic first, then go to steel.

Then to find someone to make the canisters!

You can call all I have written here excuses, if you wish.
You can say I'm lazy, and be partially right.
You can say it's a pipe dream....maybe.

I DO intend to finish this project.....but a GOOD design take time.


February 11th, 2012, 09:13 PM
Thanks for the complete update Mike...in my mind it is better to produce a solid, well designed product then put something on the market that ends up being full of modifications after release - especially in this customer base who want the best for their Cats! Keep up the R&D and I look forward to seeing what eventually comes out (even if it is after I implement a different solution, I always enjoy seeing inventors be creative)

Good luck

February 13th, 2012, 11:20 AM
I just need a good bracket for my Probe headlight motor. Why can't someone fab up one of these and sell copies?

February 14th, 2012, 10:50 AM
I just need a good bracket for my Probe headlight motor. Why can't someone fab up one of these and sell copies?

Search the posts. Someone put up pictures of a probe bracket made from 2 pieces of pre-punched angles.


October 3rd, 2015, 08:10 PM
Hey Mike. I was searching for a conversion for my '67 Tbird, and came across your forum. Could you please contact me at your convenience. reylopez@mail.com Thanks in advance. Rey

October 5th, 2015, 09:22 PM
Rey - give him a try here: cathealights@hotmail.com

October 6th, 2015, 12:29 PM
Rey - give him a try here: cathealights@hotmail.com

Mike, I PM'ed Rey a couple of days ago with that info (and catheadlights@hotmail.com you mean!).