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Lightbars. They are not all created equal. In this case, the Code3 MX7000 is at the top of the list. For Project Responder, it's kind of like a homecoming of sorts. The very first lightbar on this truck back in '87 was a Code3 Force4 XL. It was a great lightbar, with four standard rotators and the awesome stingrays in place of the mirrors. It even had front and rear take down lights along with the standard alley lights. It was a great lightbar for it's time. Then in '90, the truck was decked out with one of the very first 58" all light MX7000 lightbars. This lightbar was a radical new design with two levels of lights in one lightbar. For the next ten years, that MX bar saw a lot of use. From running code to fire calls, to plowing snow in the winter, the 'max bar' as it was nicknamed at the factory, racked up a lot of hours. It was finally retired in 2000 when the truck was disassembled for this project. The old MX bar did get a new set of lenses and was going to be re-used, but it was finally decided that it needed a rest and that a new lightbar would be installed.
At this point, we had wanted to install another MX bar but it did not appear that we were going to be able to make that happen. Code3 had been sold to a British firm and there were a lot of changes going on at the company. We made several inquiries about sponsoring our truck but they never got off the ground. So we decided to look elsewhere. Unfortunately there were not a lot of choices out there. We ended up talking with Ecco and we finally got and installed an Ecco brand lightbar on the truck. This was a completely custom made lightbar since many of the components actually came from their European manufacturing facilities. We then made some of our own modifications to enhance the light output and to include LED's. Up until this point, we were very happy with the Ecco lightbar. However, once we got the truck on the road, we had some problems that took several weeks to get resolved. Ecco did finally resolve the issues but it made us reconsider the notion of having a completely custom lightbar on our truck. Should anything else happen to the bar while we're on the road, we would have no means of easily securing replacement parts.
So we decided to give Code3 another try. By this time now, Code3 had gone through some changes and growing pains and was now sailing on an even keel. We contacted the new Vice President in charge of sales, Kelly Kyriakos, and we received a warm welcome. Kelly was more than happy to help us out by supplying us with a brand new MX7000 lighbar that was fully decked out. The only option the bar was missing that we really wanted was LED lighting in the lower deck. Code3 did not have anything available at the time but they offered us a set of LED's at a very low cost and we took them up on their offer. So we ended up with a new 58" MX7000 with front and rear intersection lights, six regular speed rotators, diamond mirrors, red/blue alternating LED's, amber alternating LED's, front take downs and rear work lights. It was the most perfect lightbar we could ask for.
In just comparing the original MX bar to the new MX7000, the changes under the lenses were like night and day. The lightbar has evolved significantly. The older lightbar, while it was built like a tank, it was hard to get to any of the internal components and even harder to get to the wiring if you ever needed to. In the new bar, everything is only a few screws away and very easy to access. Needless to say, we were incredibly impressed with the thought that went into the new design. The new injection molded reflectors are one of great improvements. Unlike the original rotators that were made out stamped aluminum, these are perfectly formed and shaped. There is no longer a concern about a reflector getting bent, even slightly, and affecting the light output. They also run much quieter and put out a perfect beam of light. You could really tell the difference in weight. The new MX lightbar is probably only about half the weight of it's predecessor. The engineers over at Code3 should really be proud of themselves. This is an amazing product.
Now it was time to swap the lightbars. We spent a couple of days removing the Ecco lightbar and installing the new MX7000 lightbar. Thankfully, because of the way we had configured the power distribution system (PDS), wiring the lightbar to the truck was actually the easiest part of the process. We started by pulling the RKO skid unit out about two feet so we could work without being hunched over on the water tank. Then we took the inner panels off of the headache rack and then removed the Tomar arrow bar. From there, we disconnected the wiring at the PDS, and unbolted the Ecco bar from the rack. We did have to drill a new hole in the rack for the power cable to run through, but we ended up getting very lucky in that the distance between the bolt holes were the same on both lightbars. So we drilled the hole for the cable and then set the new MX7000 on the rack and bolted it down. Now it was just a matter of putting the headache rack back together along with the Tomar arrow bar, cleaning up and putting the skid unit back in place. From there, we slid under the truck and ran the cable into the PDS. In a matter of minutes, we had all of the wiring connections hooked up and ready for configuring in the cab.
Most of the connections were the same on MX bar as they were on the Ecco bar. But because the MX bar has several more lighting options, we had to add a few more switches to the circuit to make everything work. Once everything was hooked up, were ready to try it out. "Holy Cow!" This lightbar is blinding. The new injection molded rotators have made a world of difference in light output. Our first MX bar was bright. The Ecco bar, with the European rotators was brighter but this new MX bar was brilliant! Between the center rotators and the intersection lights, you need a pair of sunglasses to keep from going blind. Of course, this is a slight exaggeration, but you get the idea.
The lower level LED's are not the high end LED-X modules because we could not afford the cost of these. We ended up with the LC LED's and they were actually very visible. Eventually, we'll upgrade to the LED-X modules but for now, we are very, very happy with the light output and visible signal these LED's generate.
Overall, we could not be happier with the lightbar than we are. Code3 was very generous to help us out and the great thing is that they are located right here in Missouri. We would like to thank Code3 and Mr. Kyriakos for their support.