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E46 (1999 - 2006)
The fourth generation 3 Series (E46 chassis) was introduced in 1999 and set the standard for engineering and performance during it's years of production including being named to Car & Driver's 10 best list every one of those years! ! -- View the E46 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 12-14-2009, 07:52 AM
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MicahO MicahO is offline
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Lightwerkz TFX - Let there be LIGHT -

I got my Lightwerkz TFX converted headlights back Friday, and installed them Friday night. The way the weekend laid out I was unable to even drive the car until this morning, though it was worth the wait. My lights are again very illuminating!

It turns out that my projector bowls were 'not that bad,' at least when compared to some of the other pictures that you see here on the forum. In addition, their wear-state was very different, with the right-side projector being MUCH more burnt than the left. So there is some great variance in how quickly one ZKW projector bowl will toast when compared to another, even on the same car.

As a very raw estimate, I'm guessing I've got about 3000 hours on my Xenons (10-15 hours per week in the winter, less in the summer, over 5.75 years so far). The right side looked like hell, a big brown burn across the top of the bowl, all the way back and down to the bulb insertion point. In this picture, note that the chrome is hazed on the entire bowl surface, and that the areas that may look shiny along that brown burn are actually sort of see-through.



The left side looked better in that there was much less burning on the surface. Even so, the inner bowl surface is hazed and the original chrome, shiny surface is basically burned off in the same shape as the right-side bowl. It has not yet gone brown except where the bulb inserts, but it is a very compromised reflector surface.



The result of these burnt bowls is really crappy light output. The right side is weak, spotty, multi-colored, with a very fuzzy low-beam-cut-off line. One shot on the outside of the garage, and another inside. While the pictures are tough to focus on, they tell a story.





Monday night last week, I parked the car in the garage and leaned a white door up against the back wall. With the original headlights turned on, I marked the cutoff lines for the lowbeams, including the step-up in the pattern. I then removed the headlights and shipped them to Caesar at Lightwerkz on Tuesday, hitting an open spot in his schedule. He was able to complete them and get them back to UPS on Thursday (we are close enough that UPS ground is next-day delivery), and I got them at the house on Friday.

The results are great. After re-aiming to the lines I marked on the white door, I've got light in front of the car again. A big, broad, strong band of light. The FX projectors are a 2.5" projector, somewhat smaller than the 3" ZKW's that come on the car. The glass lens fits the projector shroud perfectly, and it is slightly rounder than the ZKW lens, so it protrudes from the shroud a bit more. I've got some pictures of the headlights inside and out on a better camera, need to download them..... I'll get them together if anyone is interested. The projector does take up a LOT less space inside the headlight housing, and Caesar appears to have done a nice tidy job on the wiring. The step in the low-beam-cut-off is the more vertical style, not the ramp that the original headlights have. All self-leveling and aiming works fine.



Once again, as I crest a hill and catch someone in the elevated lights, I feel bad for the oncoming traffic. Well, not too bad.
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--Micah O'C
CCA 193374
'88 M5, Bilstein Sports/ST Springs, staggered BBS RS, Euro conversion
'04 330i ZHP, Jet Black 6spd, hot seats, LightWerkz TFX-Xenon, Bilstein PSS10
UUC Strut/SwayBarbarians, PowerFlex CAB/TAB, Performance Gearing 3.38 LSD

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  #2  
Old 12-14-2009, 08:13 AM
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Solidjake Solidjake is offline
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!!!

any shots outside at night?
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  #3  
Old 12-14-2009, 08:24 AM
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mawana mawana is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MicahO View Post
The result of these burnt bowls is really crappy light output. The right side is weak, spotty, multi-colored, with a very fuzzy low-beam-cut-off line. One shot on the outside of the garage, and another inside. While the pictures are tough to focus on, they tell a story.





Monday night last week, I parked the car in the garage and leaned a white door up against the back wall. With the original headlights turned on, I marked the cutoff lines for the lowbeams, including the step-up in the pattern. I then removed the headlights and shipped them to Caesar at Lightwerkz on Tuesday, hitting an open spot in his schedule. He was able to complete them and get them back to UPS on Thursday (we are close enough that UPS ground is next-day delivery), and I got them at the house on Friday.

The results are great. After re-aiming to the lines I marked on the white door, I've got light in front of the car again. A big, broad, strong band of light. The FX projectors are a 2.5" projector, somewhat smaller than the 3" ZKW's that come on the car. The glass lens fits the projector shroud perfectly, and it is slightly rounder than the ZKW lens, so it protrudes from the shroud a bit more. I've got some pictures of the headlights inside and out on a better camera, need to download them..... I'll get them together if anyone is interested. The projector does take up a LOT less space inside the headlight housing, and Caesar appears to have done a nice tidy job on the wiring. The step in the low-beam-cut-off is the more vertical style, not the ramp that the original headlights have. All self-leveling and aiming works fine.



Once again, as I crest a hill and catch someone in the elevated lights, I feel bad for the oncoming traffic. Well, not too bad.
Holly smokes - that a lot of light! What's the turnaround after you send-in your lights?
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  #4  
Old 12-14-2009, 08:33 AM
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MicahO MicahO is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Solidjake View Post
!!!

any shots outside at night?
I'll get some tonight. Too many holiday/birthday/kid events this weekend to even look at the car at night

Quote:
Originally Posted by mawana View Post
Holly smokes - that a lot of light! What's the turnaround after you send-in your lights?
I'm close to Caesar (he's in Clifton NJ), within the UPS one-day area for Ground shipping. His turnaround is about a day on a set of e46 lights, but the shipping will vary based on where you live. For me I shipped Tuesday, got them back Friday. Almost as good as Netflix!
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--Micah O'C
CCA 193374
'88 M5, Bilstein Sports/ST Springs, staggered BBS RS, Euro conversion
'04 330i ZHP, Jet Black 6spd, hot seats, LightWerkz TFX-Xenon, Bilstein PSS10
UUC Strut/SwayBarbarians, PowerFlex CAB/TAB, Performance Gearing 3.38 LSD

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  #5  
Old 12-14-2009, 08:38 AM
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mawana mawana is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MicahO View Post
I'll get some tonight. Too many holiday/birthday/kid events this weekend to even look at the car at night



I'm close to Caesar (he's in Clifton NJ), within the UPS one-day area for Ground shipping. His turnaround is about a day on a set of e46 lights, but the shipping will vary based on where you live. For me I shipped Tuesday, got them back Friday. Almost as good as Netflix!
That's not bad - I wish I hadn't moved from PA - could have just driven over! This is so much nice than I expected..!
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  #6  
Old 12-14-2009, 09:42 AM
jcourcoul jcourcoul is offline
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Originally Posted by mawana View Post
Holly smokes - that a lot of light! What's the turnaround after you send-in your lights?
One thing that must definitely help with the turnaround time is that the car is a sedan and not a coupe, thereby sparing the whole bake and shake routine.
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  #7  
Old 12-14-2009, 09:56 AM
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MMME30W MMME30W is offline
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Very nice...very nice.

Those "before" shots look fairly famliar.

Few questions if you don't mind?

1) Yes, I would like to see a shot of the retrofitted headlight in daylight - I'm trying to confirm the "look" of the unit appears close enough to OEM not to notice.
2) You mentioned "wiring", can you confirm the retrofitted headlight is plug and play, i.e. the four connections are still present, correct?
3) Did you get your old projector bowls back?
4) The total cost of the conversion was how much, approximately?
5) What made you pick the FX-R projectors over say the Infinity FX35 projectors with FX-R clear lenses?
6) What was your aiming process?
7) Do you still retain both the "high" beam of the HID uncovering via the solenoid, as well as the "flash to pass" for the Haloen inner lights?

Sorry for the 20 questions! Those look very good...
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Last edited by MMME30W; 12-14-2009 at 11:17 AM. Reason: spelling error
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  #8  
Old 12-14-2009, 10:12 AM
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MicahO MicahO is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wingspan View Post
Very nice...very nice.

Those "before" shots look fairly famliar.

Few questions if you don't mind?

1) Yes, I would like to see a shot of the retrotitted headlight in daylight - I'm trying to confirm the "look" of the unit appears close enough to OEM not to notice.
2) You mentioned "wiring", can you confirm the retrofitted headlight is plug and play, i.e. the four connections are still present, correct?
3) Did you get your old projector bowls back?
4) The total cost of the conversion was how much, approximately?
5) What made you pick the FX-R projectors over say the Infinity FX35 projectors with FX-R clear lenses?
6) What was your aiming process?
7) Do you still retain both the "high" beam of the HID uncovering via the solenoid, as well as the "flash to pass" for the Haloen inner lights?

Sorry for the 20 questions! Those look very good...
1) I'll get those shots off the other camera. You've got to know what you are looking for to see the difference. The TFX projector lens is more rounded than the stock, but you only see it in profile. It looks stock from anything over 3 feet and anything other than profile view.
2) The only place you can see the new wiring is if you take off the projector's back cover, inside the headlight housing. Without taking off the projector cover, you'd never know there was a difference. The housing and all connections are completely unchanged.
3) Yes, I asked Caesar to send them back.
4) $575 plus shipping, about $25 each way to UPS?
5) The standard Lightwerkz biXenon e46 package is an FX projector with the clear TSX-R lens - that sounded best, so that's what I got.
6) Reinstall headlights, turn screws. Neither the car nor the door panel I was aiming against moved while the lights were out. With the old headlights installed, I ran a tape-line across the door to indicate where the old cut-off hit. With the new headlights reinstalled, I turned the aim screws until the new beams matched.
7) Operationally, everything is as stock - biXenon low and high-beam, flash-to-pass with the inner halogen bulb, level test, self-levelling, fogs with low-beam, etc. There is no difference from the original lights in terms of operation, just light output and the different cut-off line are changed.

It's just a different projector inside the housing, and you'd have to look very hard to see the difference.

By the way - thanks VERY MUCH for your DIY's on the removal. Those were the threads I turned to when it came time to gouge the eyes out. Even my Bentley is not updated for the facelifted lights.
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--Micah O'C
CCA 193374
'88 M5, Bilstein Sports/ST Springs, staggered BBS RS, Euro conversion
'04 330i ZHP, Jet Black 6spd, hot seats, LightWerkz TFX-Xenon, Bilstein PSS10
UUC Strut/SwayBarbarians, PowerFlex CAB/TAB, Performance Gearing 3.38 LSD

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  #9  
Old 12-14-2009, 11:09 AM
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Solidjake Solidjake is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mawana View Post
Holly smokes - that a lot of light! What's the turnaround after you send-in your lights?
Did you have to quote his post?
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  #10  
Old 12-14-2009, 11:12 AM
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Coconutpete Coconutpete is offline
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Light output looks fantastic!!!! I'm attempting my own version of this in a few weeks.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Solidjake View Post
Did you have to quote his post?
Yah, did you really have to quote 3 feet worth of pictures for that?
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  #11  
Old 12-14-2009, 11:16 AM
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MMME30W MMME30W is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MicahO View Post
1) I'll get those shots off the other camera. You've got to know what you are looking for to see the difference. The TFX projector lens is more rounded than the stock, but you only see it in profile. It looks stock from anything over 3 feet and anything other than profile view.
2) The only place you can see the new wiring is if you take off the projector's back cover, inside the headlight housing. Without taking off the projector cover, you'd never know there was a difference. The housing and all connections are completely unchanged.
3) Yes, I asked Caesar to send them back.
4) $575 plus shipping, about $25 each way to UPS?
5) The standard Lightwerkz biXenon e46 package is an FX projector with the clear TSX-R lens - that sounded best, so that's what I got.
6) Reinstall headlights, turn screws. Neither the car nor the door panel I was aiming against moved while the lights were out. With the old headlights installed, I ran a tape-line across the door to indicate where the old cut-off hit. With the new headlights reinstalled, I turned the aim screws until the new beams matched.
7) Operationally, everything is as stock - biXenon low and high-beam, flash-to-pass with the inner halogen bulb, level test, self-levelling, fogs with low-beam, etc. There is no difference from the original lights in terms of operation, just light output and the different cut-off line are changed.

It's just a different projector inside the housing, and you'd have to look very hard to see the difference.
TY sir, much appreciated.
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  #12  
Old 12-14-2009, 12:38 PM
Starless Starless is offline
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Great post, very useful info!
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  #13  
Old 12-14-2009, 06:15 PM
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mawana mawana is offline
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Originally Posted by Solidjake View Post
Did you have to quote his post?
Maybe not but how is it affecting you?
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  #14  
Old 12-21-2009, 02:43 AM
TangoRed TangoRed is offline
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This is a bit belated, but your lights look good OP! I just sent mine off to lightwerkz a couple of days ago.
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  #15  
Old 11-20-2010, 02:35 PM
andynation andynation is offline
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Hi MicahO,
Any updates on how the Lightwerkz retrofit is holding up after almost a year of use? I am seriously considering doing this as my OEM ZKW is only getting weaker.

Would like to hear from those who did this what their experience is.

thanks in advance
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  #16  
Old 11-20-2010, 02:58 PM
TerraPhantm TerraPhantm is offline
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how much did it cost you? My projectors are fine, but it'd be sweet to get a quad projector set up
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  #17  
Old 11-20-2010, 04:23 PM
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Solidjake Solidjake is offline
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Never got my night shots!
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Old 11-22-2010, 05:34 AM
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MicahO MicahO is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andynation View Post
Hi MicahO,
Any updates on how the Lightwerkz retrofit is holding up after almost a year of use? I am seriously considering doing this as my OEM ZKW is only getting weaker.

Would like to hear from those who did this what their experience is.

thanks in advance
Lights are still great - I see zero degradation in the output from a year ago when they went in. The cutoff is sharp, the light is BRIGHT.

Frankly, if it hadn't been done as a repair, it would be a fabulous upgrade.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Solidjake View Post
Never got my night shots!
Eeps - I've got some up here - http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/album.php?albumid=2535 - taken last year just after the install. You want others? In what setting? (Don't say Brooklyn!)
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CCA 193374
'88 M5, Bilstein Sports/ST Springs, staggered BBS RS, Euro conversion
'04 330i ZHP, Jet Black 6spd, hot seats, LightWerkz TFX-Xenon, Bilstein PSS10
UUC Strut/SwayBarbarians, PowerFlex CAB/TAB, Performance Gearing 3.38 LSD

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Old 11-22-2010, 09:36 AM
TerraPhantm TerraPhantm is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MicahO View Post
Lights are still great - I see zero degradation in the output from a year ago when they went in. The cutoff is sharp, the light is BRIGHT.

Frankly, if it hadn't been done as a repair, it would be a fabulous upgrade.




Eeps - I've got some up here - http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/album.php?albumid=2535 - taken last year just after the install. You want others? In what setting? (Don't say Brooklyn!)
Man those look great... I think I'll try retrofitting FX-Rs into my housings when I get some time... I can't justify $600 for something that I could do for around $150

I wonder how your highbeams will compare to mine (I've set it up so that the halogens and the bixenons open up for the high beams... Considerably brighter than bixenons alone with my projectors, dunno about the TFX)
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Old 11-22-2010, 11:36 AM
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I'm jealous...
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  #21  
Old 11-22-2010, 12:38 PM
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MicahO MicahO is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TerraPhantm View Post
Man those look great... I think I'll try retrofitting FX-Rs into my housings when I get some time... I can't justify $600 for something that I could do for around $150

I wonder how your highbeams will compare to mine (I've set it up so that the halogens and the bixenons open up for the high beams... Considerably brighter than bixenons alone with my projectors, dunno about the TFX)
The TFX highbeams are bright - though I could only compare them to the seriously degraded, burnt-bowl ZKW's. In that comparison they really shine (pun intended). Adding the Halogen high's would add some more light, and look cool as hell out front!

I also lined up orders and worked out the $150 in price to DIY this. Others have done it, it's a definite cost-saver. For the most part, I didn't want to muff an $1100 headlight assembly in learning what needed to be done. Caesar's got the experience, and was great to work with. I always like supporting a small business like that
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CCA 193374
'88 M5, Bilstein Sports/ST Springs, staggered BBS RS, Euro conversion
'04 330i ZHP, Jet Black 6spd, hot seats, LightWerkz TFX-Xenon, Bilstein PSS10
UUC Strut/SwayBarbarians, PowerFlex CAB/TAB, Performance Gearing 3.38 LSD

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  #22  
Old 11-22-2010, 04:54 PM
TerraPhantm TerraPhantm is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MicahO View Post
The TFX highbeams are bright - though I could only compare them to the seriously degraded, burnt-bowl ZKW's. In that comparison they really shine (pun intended). Adding the Halogen high's would add some more light, and look cool as hell out front!

I also lined up orders and worked out the $150 in price to DIY this. Others have done it, it's a definite cost-saver. For the most part, I didn't want to muff an $1100 headlight assembly in learning what needed to be done. Caesar's got the experience, and was great to work with. I always like supporting a small business like that
Oh definitely, I agree that I'd be taking a risk by modding the assemblies myself - and if I end up screwing them up, I'll be out more money than the TFX conversion. I actually emailed Caesar just to see how much it'd cost go with a quad xenon setup. Basically if I wanted TFX for the low beams, and my original projectors where the high beams are, I'm looking at $480. Assuming Quad TFX projectors would simply just add the cost of the parts to that quote (I doubt labor would be any more than moving my existing projector) then I'm looking at a little over $600 for quad TFX projectors... Definitely tempting, though I'm not prepared to spend that coin just yet (just bought a ton of crap for my car, so I gotta hold off for a bit). Now that setup would probably be overkill, but... well there's barely any street lighting out here - I'll take whatever precautions I can to avoid hitting deer.

I've got a neighbor who has burnt ZKWs but doesn't want to spend the coin on the TFX - maybe I'll sell him my AL assemblies, and take his ZKWs and send those in for the quad TFX....
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