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2001 VDC Wagon
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202 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
My wife and I really love our new (read: 172k miles) VDC Outback. The biggest issue I had with it was the lighting. Others on this forum and elsewhere on the web had mentioned that the stock lights were awful and I would tend to agree. Spending big bucks on better halogen bulbs wasn't really going to do it for me, so I ordered the Stage III FX-R kit from The Retrofit Source.

I went with the 2.5" lens, 4300K bulbs, 55W ballasts and E46-R shrouds.



This is my second retrofit, though this one is more involved as I needed to cut up the reflector in order to fit the massive projector. While the FX-R is a BiXenon projector (has high and low beam function), I wanted to maintain the halogen high beam feature of the stock headlights. This meant cramming the large projector into an even smaller space.

We're going from this:


To this:
 

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2001 VDC Wagon
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202 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
Let's get started! The OEM headlights "bake" open easily. The outer lens is sealed to the body of the light using butyl rubber, which gets soft with heat. Pre-heat the oven 300 F (I had to wait until my wife had left).


In the mean time, you need remove all of the screws, etc on the exterior of the housing. There are five philips screws that secure the lens to the body of the headlight.


While you're at it, remove the white plastic clip on the bottom near the turn signal and the rear cap.


This is also a good time to remove the plastic cap over the lateral adjuster on the headlight. I'm not sure why Subaru installed this. Did they think that nobody would ever need to adjust the lateral aim of their headlights? Anyway, here it is ready to go in the oven.


Bake for about 5 min.


When time is up, you'll want to have your trusty flat-head screwdriver handy with some gloves. I threw a towel down on the counter just for good measure. Gently lift the clips on the perimeter of the lens and pry the lens away from the housing, working your way around. I like to start on the bottom, but that's up to you. The most difficult region is the edge that meets the fender where the turn signal is.




Wait for the housing to cool a bit so that you can get to work on removing the reflector.
 

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2001 VDC Wagon
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202 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Holding the reflector to the housing are three 8mm bolts (I found an open end wrench to be the best for these) and the lateral aim adjuster. Two bolts anchor the top right of the reflector as a pivot.



The other other bolt is best accessed through the hole in the back ad attaches the vertical aim adjustment to the reflector.


The final piece holding the reflector to the housing should be the lateral aim adjustment. The only way to remove this is to unscrew it all of the way. To be able to get the aim close again, I marked the screw and counted the rotations to unscrew it.


The reflector should now be separate from the housing.




You'll also want to remove the bulb shield from the reflector along with the bulbs and mounting hardware.

Here is a side-by-side comparison of the FX-R and the reflector for size.


On the backside, I marked out the approximate cutting lines and a center reference line.


My cutting tool of choice is the handheld rotary tool (Dremel). I got this guy at Harbor Freight for $20. They have two different types one that is 12v and another that is 120v. Don't get the 12v one. The cutting discs that came with the tool are more than enough to finish this project. I'm still on my first disc.


Here we are after the first cuts.


This is a cut-and-fit process. Just take your time.
 

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Gallery Ninja, ,
2004 Outback "Bluebaru" & 2005 Outback XT
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5,195 Posts
Awesome! Do you have any installed - lighted road photos yet?
 

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'11 outback 2.5i premium '12 impreza sport limited
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thumbs up. love seeing other outback owners who aren't afraid to do things like this. that being even I'm too much of a ***** to open my headlights, but if i had older ones maybe itd be different.
 

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2001 VDC Wagon
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202 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
To mount the projectors, I used 8-32 machine screws. I found some 1" long threaded nylon inserts at the local hardware store. I attached them to the projector and then test fitted and trimmed until I had good locations for each insert.





Once I got it all fitting well, I used hot glue to temporarily attach the nylon inserts to the reflector. The reason I say this is temporary, is that the light will need to be installed on the car and fired up to check the horizontal, vertical and rotational alignment.





Some tips on trying to minimize the number of times you have to mount and remove from the car:

There are horizontal lines on the inside of the reflector. These are great for getting the rotational alignment.

Use the bulb hole for the high beam reflector to help on the horizontal alignment.

You do need to install the reflector back into the housing in order to mount on the car. I usually only attach it via the lateral aiming screw and one of the upper pivot bolts.

If you are using most any aftermarket ballast, the plug from the high beam can be plugged in for testing. Obviously you will want to use the low beam wiring and a fused relay for a permanent solution.




Once you have confirmed the aiming, replace the hot glue with a good two-part epoxy. I use some quick-set epoxy on the mounts with the projector installed, and then remove the projector and hot glue before applying a stronger, longer setting epoxy. Note, you need to clean and scuff the surfaces to prepare them for the epoxy.




I used some blue painter's tape to prevent any of the epoxy from dripping onto the reflector .
 

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2001 VDC Wagon
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202 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the encouragement guys. Sorry, no output shots yet as I'm still working on the driver's side. I'll certainly get some good output pics once everything is all finished up.
 

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2001 VDC Wagon
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Discussion Starter #8
Time passes, and once the epoxy has hardened. Should probably wait 24 hours, but I'm impatient. I cleaned up the reflector from dust/fingerprints and mounted up the projector.


Now it's time to fit the shroud to cover the projector body. I covered the places where I would need to trim the shroud with blue painter's tape to avoid damaging the chrome surface.


The shroud comes from TRS with clips to attach it. Unfortunately, these would not cooperate with my design. They were easy enough to remove with a pair of pliers.



Here we are after some trimming.




Here we are all put together and the oven is preheating once again.



Slowly work the lens back into the butyl sealant. Once all of the clips have been installed, replace the five screws around the perimeter of the lens. These will be much easier to install while the butyl is still warm.





I nicked the shroud with the black liner inside the lens when installing the lens. We'll see how bad it is once I get the lens polished up. Bummer!

I should also note that before installing the reflector in the housing, I mounted the ballast inside the housing.
 

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2001 VDC Wagon
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202 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Who's ready for more? In that last pic you can see how rough and pitted the outer lens is. The car has 172k miles on it and I would imagine that they are original. That's a lot of debris. I can't have that pitted lens ruining my nice cutoff line, so I set to polishing them.

I don't really care for the kit's that places offer as the lights will soon return to being hazy. The sanding and polishing removes the UV film on the outside of the plastic and the exposed, freshly polished plastic will oxidize quickly once again. Here's what I do:

Start with a bucket of hot soapy water and 300 grit sand paper. This is pretty course, but makes removing the scratches and craters easier. Make sure to keep the lens wet and constantly rinse the paper. Here she is after the 300.




Next with 400...




Then with 600...




I then did 1000, but got carried away and forgot to take pics.

On to 1500. Getting better...




Lastly I used 2000.




Still looking pretty hazy, but here's the secret weapon.


It's a 1:1 mix of Exterior Polyurethane (think UV protection) and mineral spirits. Prep the lens by rinsing it with clean water and allowing it to dry. Then, wipe the surface with a paper towel soaked in mineral spirits. Before the mineral spirits dries on the lens, dip another piece of paper towel into the polyurethane mix and wipe onto the surface of the lens. It will be difficult to tell where you have been, so you will want to work systematically across the surface.

Here is the result:






As with any paint, be sure to let it dry thoroughly before exposing it to the elements. Using this method, I have cars going on 2-3 years and they are still as clear as the day I did this.
 

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2003 Baja, N/A, auto
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58 Posts
Sweet... I'll be curious to see if that bottom bit of the projector interferes with the high beam light output at all....
 

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2001 VDC Wagon
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202 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Sweet... I'll be curious to see if that bottom bit of the projector interferes with the high beam light output at all....
I wouldn't imagine that it will interfere with the high beam output much, and remember that the projectors themselves have a high beam too. The halogen high beam was maintained for aesthetic and flash to pass purposes.
 

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2001 VDC Wagon
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202 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
I went out to do some fine tuning of the aim and noticed that one side was dimmer than the other. I figured it was a bulb seating issue, but found this: :(
 

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2001 VDC Wagon
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Discussion Starter #16
The polyurethane was just the gloss Minwax stuff. You can get it at Home Depot, etc.


Got both headlights installed and took a couple of quick pics. Sorry for the cell pics, but it's raining. I'll try to get some output shots tonight if it quits.



 

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2001 VDC Wagon
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202 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Slightly bent? That's the only thing I can see.
It's more bent than the picture appears. Hard to photograph. The placement of the capsule is critical to the performance of the lights. Of course both still light up, but the one with the bad bulb appears dimmer and the cutoff is less defined.
 
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