After thoroughly going through this car, I decided that it will not be restored factory original. There are a few reasons. First is the rust, which in my opinion is beyond the point where it can be repaired to a factory look for a reasonable cost. If this were a rare car, I would make the effort. Since there are a million of these cars out there, I'll make it solid and look nice but not "concours" original. This car will NEVER see the lawns at Pebble Beach.
There is not one nut, bolt, wire, body panel or part of this car that has not been tampered with by a previous owner. The wiring is a nightmare (most recent story below) with most of the Lucas connectors replaced with generic crimp on connectors. These are almost all loose and corroded and a new wiring harness is very expensive. So, I will be fixing them all the right way with soldier and new connectors for reliability.
I will make every reasonable attempt to keep the car original, so long as it is not prohibitively expensive or will sacrifice reliability.
I have been leaning this way for a while but tonight's adventure solidified my position:
I have noticed since I bought the car that the courtesy light that comes on when you open the door works intermittantly, along with the other lights on the same circuit like the trunk light. I was able to trace the problem down to "dodgy" connections at the fuse panel, where a wire was loose and near broken off. I soldiered a new connector onto the end of the wire, hooked it up and VOILA! Nice, steady, bright, consistently working courtesy lights. Progress.
Then, I'm not sure why, but I turned on the headlight switch. It was like the Apollo 13 movie when they flipped the switch and the side of the spacecraft blew off. LUCKILY, the car was in neutral because when I turned on the headlight switch, the engine began to crank. The key was off, and somehow the power of the headlight circuit was sending power to the starter solenoid. I began tracing wires, trying different circuits, to see what is triggering the short. It was the headlights, high beam pass circuit and the right turn signals. I could not find any melted or shorted wires, and I had not touched and wires related to headlights or the such. I opened the steering column where the wires for the starter and the high beam wires come close to each other to see if anything shorted there. It looked perfectly untouched (I may have found one piece that has not been messed with). For hours, I was tracing wires, looking for a short circuit or loose connection, eliminating all extraneous wiring added by previous owners as I moved throughout the car.
Out of desperation, I hooked a test light to the starter solenoid wire, and turned the headlights on. The test light lit up and the starter relay clicked. I went to the engine bay where I had made the courtesy light repair and just started shaking the wires. Sure enough, the light blinked on and off, the starter relay clicked and the headlights lit up. After some strategic wiggling, I traced the issue to a ground wire, shared between the started relay and the headlights, which was grounded to the rusty wheel well with a loose rusty screw which held the starter relay to the fender well. When the connection to ground was broken, 12 volt positive was sent up the ground wire to the starter relay, energizing it and cranking the engine.
When I re-wire the engine, I will separate these two grounds to completely eliminate any chance of this happening again. Nothing good can come from combining these two ground wires.
So, what should have been a quick little project to fix a courtesy light became a four hour expedition throughout the dash and engine compartment wiring. This experience, seeing how many poor connections and how much creative wiring has been done convinced me to really go through the wiring, replace all of the crimped connectors with soldiered ones, replace tape with shrink wrap and probably replace the corroded old fuse box (which is not an original) with a newer weatherproof type. I will also be removing all of the unused wires which have been cut or disconnected and are no longer needed.
I received the brake safety switch and will be installing in a day or two.
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