Project Ford E350 Tow Rig: Part 3 – Step into the light…
close up of shiny new headlamp and projectors reflecting the scenery
Here’s the new JW Speaker 8900 Evolution LED headlamp installed.

Holy hell that is a sexy headlamp. It’s nicer than most of the rest of the van. The upper half of the lamp assembly is the low beams, and the lower projectors are the high beams. I opted for the black interior housing, but JW Speaker does make a chrome version, too. And, no matter which side of the road you drive on, they have you covered. There are versions for right- or left-side traffic, which means you don’t have to worry about blinding other drivers because your lights are naturally pointed the “wrong” way.

view out of windshield of super bright beam pattern on driveway
Here’s the picture of the low beams.

Some things to note here. I used the same aperture and shutter speed on the camera for the picture of the original lighting and this picture — both F2.8 and 1/40s. So, technically, the sensor of my digital camera received the same duration and quantity of exposure. But in this picture the ISO (sensitivity) setting of the camera was less than HALF of what it was for the other photo (16,000ISO vs 6400ISO).

There’s no fancy parlor tricks here. The 8900 Evolution LED headlamp really is massively brighter than the crappy halogen sealed beam. And the cutoff is quite stark. The total amount of light put down on the road is amazing.

The high beams are another story all together. They essentially make it seem like it is daylight out. And they throw light so far down the road you have to be much more conscious of oncoming traffic. It’s nuts. I didn’t think these lights would be THAT different, but they are worth every penny.

looking at headlights and corner lamps in the pitch dark seeing just their light
Here’s an exterior shot of just the headlights. They really are amazing looking.

JW Speaker put some quality time into making sure they dotted all the is and crossed all the ts. They are DOT and ECE certified which means they can basically be used in any country worldwide. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the US has proposed guidelines for headlights (FMVSS 108) and these headlights exceed the standard in light output, beam pattern quality, and light placement. The lenses are polycarbonate and resistant to fogging and cracking as well as UV or chemical damage.

They are awesome.

But I wanted more. Who doesn’t? So we went back to (the) Edge.

cardboard boxes on a granite countertop
Here are some Edge Lit LED light pods and an LED light bar.

Edge Products decided that they wanted to take their same attention to detail and apply it to light bars and light pods. I decided to check them out.

light bar with blue film on lens held by styrofoam at edges and various wiring and other bits on countertop
Here’s what’s in the LED light bar kit.


  1. Spray Boeshield in all freshly drilled holes for rust protection. It will save you a lot of frustration down the road.

    1. @DocWalt we had looked at that option. The bottom of the E350 bumper is not flat and also is not wide. It actually steps down to a lip which reduces the mounting area. If you look at the picture where the light bar is installed, you can just make out the nuts on the bottom side of the bumper. When it’s just the nuts under there, it’s not a problem. In order to install the entire light bar below the bumper and still have sufficient adjustability, we would’ve needed a more complex mount. Then you have the difficulty of dealing with the wiring having to get around the lip and so on and so forth.

      We also considered on top of the bumper where the old lights were. But, again, the lack of a flat surface would’ve made constructing the mounts more difficult.

      I agree that there is a definite airflow sacrifice here. In towing performance thus far we have not seen any issues with the transmission temps, and the light bar is more blocking airflow to the extra trans cooler than the radiator. The vans are not intercooled. Once the summer comes on and we make longer tows we’ll get a better idea as to whether or not it’s a problem. Fortunately it’s just four bolts to undo and one wiring connection and the light bar is removed if it turns out to be a problem.

      There’s also the roof 🙂

    2. Isn’t this a diesel? Can’t see how you would need that much cooling unless you were running it during the day in the middle of the desert.

      1. It is a diesel, but it’s used primarily for towing, so the transmission cooling is somewhat important. It does routinely get into the 90F range here in the South East, and there are a couple of decent mountain climbs depending on which direction you head (for example, Monteagle between Chattanooga and Nashville). That being said, I’d think that this is not going to make a meaningful difference in cooling. Fortunately I have the Edge CTS2 Insight display to tell me if something is wrong!

  2. Wow, the light output from the headlights looks great! Hopefully you got em aimed right 😉 Give that red wire +12v im guessing and you got yourself some cool DRL!

    1. @3phase_power – I actually didn’t hook up the DRL. I am not a huge fan of them and I would’ve had to hack up some wiring to get something to work. The van has enough of a hackjob of wiring going on, I don’t need to add to it 😉

  3. Oh wow! Eric, I think you’ve given me my next project for my E450 tow vehicle. Have you tried the 5 star tuning upgrade on your E350 that I did four years back (mine is gas). Long term analysis – I really like it! The mini LED project that I did was to change all of the E450 RV’s interior lights to LED – literally a night and day difference on brightness plus a huge saving on the duration of charge held by the RV cabin batteries. Plus I replaced my outside ‘porch’ light with two LEDs. I put one at the front and one at the back. Now if I need to do some night work on the car, I’ve got superb lighting.

      1. @Frank Ewald Which 5Star upgrade are you referring to? The Van is a weird 7.3 Powerstroke in that the ECU is different than the Ford trucks of the same years and some of the PIDs are different. This is why the Edge programmer (Evolution) version of the Insight wasn’t used — Edge claimed they couldn’t program the van. I do have a much older Edge tuner that came with the Van and I have supposedly programmed it for “towing” (Level 1) mode. I’m not entirely sure how much difference it made because I never really compared it back-to-back.

        As for the interior lights, I am definitely considering upgrading everything to LED. It is quite dark in there.

        As for back-up, well, you’ll have to wait and see! (pun intended)

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