Timm's BMW E31 FTP
The E31 has two pairs of main beams, one set is in the pop-up pods, the other pair are on the light-strips which are known as FTP's (flash-to-pass). The name comes from the fact that USA models only use the lower 55W lights when the light stalk is pulled - usually when signalling someone to pass (well, that's the folk-law anyway)! In the picture below, this UK E31 has all the forward lights on, main beams, dipped beams and fog lights.
The FTP main beams on UK
models are illuminated when main beam is selected on the light stalk, these
provide excellent illumination in conjunction with those in the pop-up light
pods. Also shown next to the FTP main beams are the side lights (also known as
parking lights or corner markers). The following routine shows how to increase
the brightness of both the FTP side lights and main beams.
Removing the FTP strip is pretty straight-forward, if they haven't moved for a while the fixing screws will probably need some penetrating-oil as the fixings are open to the elements. Start by pulling off the slatted grille inboard of the FTP
The next pictures show what the grille attaches to and the grille securing tabs
With the grille removed, unscrew the two securing screws as shown below
With the securing screws removed, the FTP can be pulled forward, and slightly outwards:
the back corner of the FTP has prongs to secure it to the wing and simply slide out. The FTP is connected to the car loom with a large circular connector, disconnect this and the FTP light strip is free to be fully removed.
Increasing the sidelight brightness
The sidelights in the
FTP's use 'brake and sidelight' bulbs with two filaments. Only the 5W filament
is used, more folk-law says that the 21W filament is only used in Sweden for
daylight-running lights. The trick is to just solder the two terminals together,
so I soldered up a couple of new bulbs:
I found this the most simple method, there are alternative methods (that I have not tried), one is to file one of the bulbs prongs so that it can be rotated 180 degrees which will allow the 21W filament to be used instead of the 5W filament. Another method is to dig out the potting in the bulb-holder and join the two terminals. As I have a soldering iron always available, I am happy to solder the bulb terminals together. Here are the results:
Increasing the Main-Beam brightness
After a few years of operation the main-beam glass often acquires a film of grime that makes the lens look misty and diffuses the light. Removing the film of grime makes quite a difference to the brightness. The following process shows how to disassemble the FTP to clean the inner surface of the glass.
Start by removing the main-beam cover (use a flat-bladed screwdriver to lift the tabs), and then disconnect the wiring to the bulb and ground-point. The reflector is fixed to the housing by the two adjusting screws and a rubber tube which provides a flexible mounting so that the reflector can move in two axis:
As the adjusting screws
have to be fully undone it is best to measure their positions before removal.
Unscrew both screws a few turns at a time (a single screw cannot be removed without damaging the reflector or plastic arms) and then pull the reflector upwards and then outwards disconnecting the rubber tube at the other end:
Unless the reflector is covered in grime, leave it well alone. The silvering is vacuum-deposited and extremely fragile
To remove the grime on the inside of the glass I used this stuff (although any glass-cleaner will work just as well)
and a microfibre cloth:
With excellent results:
Lubricate the end of the rubber tube with silicone grease and push it vertically back in position. Although the tube can slide horizontally out of the fixing, it will not slide back in:
Refit the adjusting screws back to the original settings. Take this opportunity to replace the bulbs with Osram Night Breaker Plus H3, these are the brightest bulbs in the market. The results are a huge increase in performance:
Refit the FTP's to the car using the two securing screws. Do not refit the grilles until you have re-aimed the main-beams using the two central screws as shown below:
Time for a cup of tea