Category Archives: Electrical system

May 2017 – Nylon turn signal clip 3D printed and installed

Pretty much, the Youtube video does the trick.

I do think that the process of 3D printing will become increasingly important for parts distribution and replacement. There’s no wonder that UPS has taken big steps to integrate 3D printing into their business, since, after all, they’re into logistics. And logistics can benefit from the speed of digital distribution, so long as the products get made at the endpoint. And the ability to craft parts that are no longer available for old cars will be a boon to the amateur restorer. Right now, only plastic parts are do-able, though the 3D printing field is advancing very quickly, so other media may become more affordable to use in the near future. It’d be great to be able to do metal objects as easily as plastic objects.

I expect that I’ll be doing other 3D printing projects, perhaps to create molds for my little modest aluminum castings. Plastic parts, like the one I did for this fix, are relatively easy. And, for the next guy, it’s really just a matter of downloading a 3D model, and finding a place to print it. (Maybe that’s as close as your local library!)

By the way, my 3D model of the turn signal clip is freely available from Thingiverse:

The video:

Sketchup is a free download (, and if you’re serious about 3D modeling, you can purchase the professional version. For my part, I just used the regular old free version, and it worked great. A very useful Sketchup plugin was “Solid Inspector” that allows you to identify and even automatically fix (sometimes) extraneous lines and surfaces in your model. Those extra things get in the way of having a clean and uninterrupted surface. And if you don’t have a clean surface, you can’t create a model of a solid object. That sounds a bit difficult to understand, but Sketchup just allows you to create surfaces, and in order to have a solid, you have to use the surfaces to enclose an area completely. Sketchup then can calculate a volume. You can then use the tools for your printer to convert the model into something that the 3D printer can use.

For printing, I used 3DPrinterOS (, which has partnered with Duke University. It’s amazingly simple to use. I had no instruction on how to use the tools, and yet I was able to printer my part in PLA (polylactic acid) with only one failed attempt. (See links below for more information on where you might be able to get access to 3D printing services. They might be as close as your local library.)

The nylon part that I printed fit in perfectly, though the little arms were a bit too loose to hold the turn signal post firmly in place. I think I might try reprinting the piece in ABS if the thing becomes too annoying (unlikely, since it’s working all right, if not optimally, and nylon is pretty durable).

If anyone else ventures into 3D printing for parts, I’d like to hear about it.

Some links relating to 3D printing:

Thingiverse ( where you can find 3D models of all kinds to explore and print. (My turn signal clip is there, too.)

UPS’s involvement, and maybe there’s a place near you:

Five Best 3D Printing Services” ( A surprise: your local library might let you do 3D printing

Duke is leading the way among universities in the democratization of 3D printing: “Duke University Churns Out Thousands of 3D Prints per Month with Help from 3DPrinterOS” ( I’m very much indebted to the good and talented staff that support the really impressive 3D printing setup that Duke has pulled together.

February 2010 – Driven

Look! No leaks! And it moves!

The alteration of the timing chain cover water inlet seems to have done the trick. The old thing has retained coolant where it should, and we’ve run the car many times without the horrible froth of contamination surfacing beneath the valve covers. Finally, we have a moving and well running car! Aaron took it out on a maiden voyage in the middle of a cold day, so the earmuffs felt good, I’m sure. This has been a cold and wet winter, and I’m afraid the yard has taken a beating (not to mention that there’s all sorts of crap out back by the garage and shed, now preserved for posterity on YouTube).

We have fastidiously checked and rechecked the oil to see if any wiff of water is leaking through, but so far there’s not been any coolant. We’ve run the car fairly frequently since, and I have been incrementally working up the electrics and getting it to the point where a car safety inspector could smile and hand me a sticker. Since the car predates emissions inspections — and perhaps any North Carolina inspection at all — I don’t expect trouble.

Home-made solid state 10-volt regulator

The water temperature, fuel level and (perhaps?) oil pressure gauges use 10 volts, not 12-or-so volts. Smiths did this in order to keep the gauges fairly accurate — or at least try. My regulator was shot, and it was interesting to do the research on the device. In effect, the old fashioned regulator was an electro-mechanical device. It basically created a quick oscillation of 12-volt power to approximate 10 volt steady power. I didn’t bother to do a post mortem on my old Smiths regulator, but I would guess that it was hopelessly corroded or seized.

I could have bought a solid-state replacement from CoolCat (here). However, Doug Lawson put together some instructions on making your own replacement of the Smiths voltage regulator, now no longer available on the web. The parts are easily acquired, and I figured it was worth doing something ingenious. I got the resistors and the LM317T chip from Parts Express, and I think shipping ended up costing more than the components. For the case, I used a housing from a discarded horn relay. It was actually too big, but I had it on hand, and I wasn’t planning on putting it where the original Smiths unit went so it wasn’t going to get in the way. Twenty minutes of soldering and a little fuddling around was all it took.

I ended up fitting the revised regulator behind the glove box. It works quite nicely, it seems. Lord knows if the gauges are actually true (I think not), but they are probably close enough. I have not yet hooked up the oil pressure gauge for the interior, since I have a mechanical gauge in the engine compartment that is easy to see when working under the hood. I haven’t yet decided to fit an electric sender unit, either. From what I can tell, they are not at all accurate. I can probably pick up a mechanical Smiths unit from somewhere, and just watch for leaks.

At any rate, I have working gauges.

The tachometer and speedometer need attention. I will be retrofitting and upgrading the tach, and I have yet to look at the speedometer. Those seem to be details for later.

Aluminum center console

I had only a few parts of the original aluminum center console with the original “dot pattern.” They were not in great shape, and the run of the original part was so brief — I think only in the 1963 model year — that replacements are pretty darned rare. (Raw aluminum with the correct press pattern is available for a dear price from Aston Martin Heritage. See the “Crosshatch aluminum” section on a previous entry.) I considered machining my own raw stock, but I figured it wasn’t worth it, especially after I had played around with some aluminum just to see what it was like to work with. Aluminum has this rich and deep shine to it, once it’s been polished, and the metal can have a lot of interesting characteristics. I made a couple of pieces of the console using a “brushed” aluminum finish, and it, too, would be good. I eventually figured that a somewhat polished finish would be really nice.

The plywood for the original center console was totally rotten, and so I had to make another one, and I used the original aluminum part to create a “buck” out of a hefty piece of plywood to make the new replacement part. Since the plywood serves as the means of attaching the aluminum to the metal/vinyl console frame, I went ahead and inserted machine screws in holes run through the plywood and countersunk. Number 6-32 machine screws went into the holes, and those went through the metal console frame. It’s sturdy, and removable, too. I did run into a problem with the console fitting onto the tranny tunnel, though, and so I had to grind off the screws that I had placed down the middle of the console. Those screws met the highest part of the tranny tunnel, making it impossible for the console to go down entirely.

I used “Goop” to glue the aluminum to the plywood, and of course the tabs folded over to make everything stable. Clothespins have been useful, though also they’ve been a bit of a problem with holding vinyl in place. As Bill McKenna noted, clothespins can leave dimples. I found that the way around this is to buffer the pins with short pieces of cardboard laid along the surface that’s being held in place. Of course, aluminum is less pliable and impressionable than vinyl, so the clothespins just fit onto this piece. A bag of a hundred pins has served me well over the years.

The aluminum was regular old flat sheet 0.032″ “5052” grade. I got a 24″ x 48″ sheet for under $20 USD, and I didn’t bother shopping around. I tried out some thicker stock, but it gave me trouble on the curves, such as where the parking brake lever goes through the console. The thin sheet worked fine with a little (gentle) convincing and pinching. Polishing took just a little elbow grease and rubbing compound. I found that Wright’s Brass Cleaner was good for the final polish, followed by a little wax to hold off oxidation.

There it is, all well fingered and smudged! I think this center piece will take a little attention now and then to keep in decent shape. I will be redoing the radio section of the console, since it doesn’t fit the shifter cover part. I have plenty of aluminum sheet left so that’s no problem. And, of course, the voltmeter is completely non-standard, since it replaced an ammeter. I figured I’d much prefer a voltmeter after the alternator replacement I did, and ammeters seem to be a bit hazardous in a cockpit to me. At least what I have does the measuring, even though it looks a little odd with the rest of the instruments.

July 2008 – Miscellaneous since February

What we’ve done since February (!) 2008

This one is for Dan.

Just under a year ago, I said I was looking for a double-groove crankshaft pulley. I published a humorous email exchange at the time, and I had resolved to get a new pulley from Classic Jaguar. Funny how time flies — I had no idea it’s been a year since that time until I fished around on my website for that link. People ask me how the car is coming, and I think how leisurely the pace has been, punctuated by flurries of great activity. I have taken Mike Moore’s advice, given a few years ago on the Jag-Lover’s forum, to do something every day, even if it only amounts to cleaning tools. Sometimes, I’ll have to admit, I have been content to gaze upon the car — as if looking constituted work.

At any rate, I did get my pulley from Classic Jaguar, but I got a used part — my preference actually. And Dan Mooney was gracious, since I didn’t need the accessory pulley and bolts that he offered on his used parts listings. Dan has always been gracious and supportive through the course of this restoration, and I have used the Classic Jaguar website a lot over the years to watch the pros at work. I like to think I’ve been able to take cues, at least, from what happens in the CJ workshops, but I don’t think my toolsets quite match. Neither does my talent, alas.

I went ahead a few weeks later to pick up a used low brake fluid level switch from CJ’s used parts collection. One of the two that came with the car broken too badly to repair; the other seems workable until I get around to replacing it or can figure out how to mend it. That is a challenge since the things were put together in a way that defies taking apart, and I ended up breaking both of them utterly when I was struggling to get the aluminum canister off. See the used replacement’s innards in the picture below.

Aaron has been involved with this restoration over all of the years, and he leaves to NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, North Carolina, at the end of August. He told me that he wanted to get the engine running before he left, but it looks as though that’s probably not going to happen. We have gotten the major pieces in place, and in fact we have turned the engine over for a period to see the oil pressure pop up. (It went to 60 pounds in very little time, I’m happy to report.) Getting the ignition system straight has been a little bit of a challenge, mainly because I didn’t take the time to actually look at the distributor insides. I was expecting to hook the thing up like the original 3.8 liter engine, but the new engine has an electronic ignition, so the setup is significantly different at least at the distributor. (See the pictures below for comparisons of the original distributor and the newer one.)

The fuel pump is in place, but I haven’t connected the run of wire from the “rear” harness to the cockpit harness yet. (Remember, I modularized the wiring harnesses a bit more than they already were.) The fuel tank filler hose is in place, too. I had to buy one of those little pieces of rubber from a Jaguar vendor, because I couldn’t find a hose with the right inner dimension. Not even McMaster-Carr had something suitable. But I did some searching after I got the hose and could use the printed numbers on the rubber. Goodyear offers “Fuel Fill Hose SAE 30R6” in various inner dimensions. I believe an inner dimension of 2 1/4 inches would do the trick.

Various pictures collected over the months

The fuel level sensor. Essentially, it’s a rheostat. (Er, maybe a potentiometer, but I think not. The thing has two, not three, leads.) The whole thing is quite delicate, so if you go the route of cleaning it, be very careful. The brass float that dangles into the fuel drives the blade. There are two “switches” so to speak — one that signals the variable level (the rheostat) and the other that is on-off that signals low fuel. The lid that’s removed in this photograph plays a role in completing the circuits, too. When I opened this little box up, it was quite encrusted. Cleaned up pretty well, though.

Looking down the XJ6 exhaust manifolds. I used the XJ6 manifolds that came with the engine I got from David Boger. Rather than heading straight down, the lower pipe slants backwards just slightly, and the manifold include a bolt-like bung hole plug. That plug makes it much too tight a fit against the left subframe, so I cut off the plug. The picture shows the front exhaust with plug and the rear exhaust with the plug cut off.I like the XJ6 manifolds for another reason: they include a heat shield setup that would seem to reflect heat downward. With all of the work on the paint, I really don’t want to have heat damage around the left louvres as I’ve heard some people have seen. Of course, the change in design means that the exhaust will have to be specially crafted, at least from the base of the manifolds to the front of the muffler section. I don’t think that will be too much of a challenge, though.

The engine compartment. Yes, please don’t pay attention to the mess. One of the thing I could do (but, apparently don’t) is take time to clean up the garage. It is shared, for the time being, with son Aaron, who also leaves his junk around. Working on my car includes quite frequently asking Aaron where tools are. But, aside from that, the engine compartment is coming together nicely, creating a sight that offsets some of the garbage in the background. Notably absent are the brake and clutch hydraulic fluid reservoirs and much else on that side of the engine. Since the time this photograph was taken (early July 2008), there has been some additional progress. A battery has been fitted, the heater fan assembly has been more firmly put in place, and a new starter solenoid (which still hasn’t worked right) is set up.You can see the oil cooler setup quite plainly, of course.

The rusty brake rotors need calipers fitted — and to be used — to get them clear of the red iron oxide. That, too, will come.

Lucas 22D distributor with condenser and points. This is the inside of the distributor that came with the 3.8 liter engine. It’s a Lucas 22D (note the marks) and it’s what I’m familiar with — mechanical and old fashioned with points and a condenser. I suppose I could use this one, as Glen Jarboe has on his 4.2 after he went through his engine rebuild. I’ll put this one aside, though, in favor of the distributor that came with the 4.2 replacement engine (below). If that one needs replacement, I might go with a Pertronix.

Lucas AB14 distributor with sensor. This distributor came with the engine I got from David Boger. People on the Jag-Lovers XJ6 forum seemed to think that this distributor is the Lucas AB14. It’s got a “CEI” (Something Electronic Ignition, probably) that has a sensor instead of the more mechanical approach that I’m familiar with. Peter Crespin, who knows a lot more than I do about these things, explained that the star-shaped center portion is a “normal six-point reluctor for the Hall effect pick-up coil at the side of the base plate.” This setup requires an amplifier, and David will be sending one to me. If the old electronic parts don’t pan out, I could install the mechanical 22D or put in a new Pertronix. My thanks go to Frank Anderson, Al McLean, Peter Crespin, David Boger and the Jag Lovers’ XJ6 forum.

A handy mechanical oil pressure gauge under the bonnet. I’m not terribly impressed with the track record of the electronic oil pressure gauge. People seem to think that they’re maybe accurate to within 25% (and I believe that might be half in jest). With the two oil pressure sensor possibilities on the 4.2 liter engine I got, I went ahead and installed a mechanical gauge next to the windshield washer bottle and above the fuel filter bowl. The copper tubing goes to where the on/off pressure sensor used to be. I believe that the XJ6 had an oil pressure sensor there that was attached to an engine cutoff. The electronic sensor for the gauge was broken on this engine, and so I might attach the sensor from the 3.8 liter engine. It’s old, but it might work.Then, again, I might just stick a non-standard mechanical gauge in the cockpit. Lucas ones are available, I believe, though they display a different range of oil pressure than the electronic gauges do. Having an oil pressure gauge in the engine area is really nice. I’m considering installing a tachometer nearby, too. I believe they come in the two-inch form factor

Insides of the brake fluid level switch. Both of my brake fluid level switches ended up being less than desirable. Both of them cracked when I tried to remove the aluminum canister that protects the cork float. One of them is more-or-less intact and still sits atop a fluid bottle, waiting until I replace it. The other broke into small pieces, and so I replaced it with a used part from Classic Jaguar. The replacement was really nice, and when I removed the aluminum canister, the top part came off. I took advantage of the inadvertent disassembly to clean and photograph it.The thing is dead simple. Simple enough that you’d think replacements would be cheaper. I just wish there was a way to replace the top cover and the canister without having to replace the whole part. The inset photo shows where the two contacts are hit by the metal disk that’s attached to the rod and float. One thing that might help others trying to replace a besotted cork: There is a hole near the top of the canister that is slightly pressed into the plastic of the assembly. If you take a knife and remove part of the aluminum that’s pressed into the hole, you might find removing the canister easier. It worked for me.

February 2008 – Alternator bracket

Alternator bracket and alternator installation

This one is for Glen.

The XJ6 engine I got of course didn’t have the exact same places to mount the alternator and other engine-driven parts (like an air conditioning compressor). This meant that I was pretty stuck when it came to mounting the alternator, since the original 3.8 liter engine had a very different mount for its generator, and even the mounting holes on the 3.8 differed from those on the XJ6 4.2 liter engine. I had to get a later mounting bracket and fit an alternator.

I could buy a mounting bracket, and indeed I searched around for one. The only one I could find came with extras for hanging an air conditioning compressor. I wasn’t really interested in paying the premium for a new part (which may or may not be quality). So, it was time to fabricate.

I knew that Glen Jarboe was putting his 1969 4.2 liter E-type restoration to rights in Texas, and I suspected he might even have his alternator bracket accessible. He and I had exchanged emails on a couple of occasions, most recently to discuss the way that the E-type oil dipstick fit. So, I decided to ask him a few questions about the bracket.

Glen’s Real Bracket. This photo was taken by Glen Jarboe to help me out with the fabricating project. (He graciously let me use it!)

After a couple of emails, I had a scanned template in hand and good pictures of what the 4.2 liter E-type alternator bracket looked like. (Two of Glen’s emailed photos appear here.) He scrupulously described the original bracket in his car this way: “The bracket is constructed of three pieces … a front plate that attaches to the water pump and timing housing. A large plate that is bent at a 90 degree angle to form a large flat base and a vertical face that attaches to the block. A strengthener plate, oriented vertically, 3 3/8″ back from the front plate and welded to the base plate. This should correspond the distance between the alternator mounting arms.”

Glen’s Real Bracket. A second look from a different perspective. Glen’s help with this fabrication was essential, and I am grateful to him.

Of course, I didn’t have a means of bending the plate very easily, so I’d piece it, just as Glen also suggested. I could get the fabricated bracket pretty close to the original, but whatever deviation from the original wouldn’t be devastating. This was a job that could do well enough if it was executed close enough. The placement of the holes was the least forgiving of the entire fabrication job.

I used metal from an unused XJ6 bracket — just cut it up to get the flat pieces. I had the front part of another XJ6 bracket (one that I believe was originally used for the XJ6 alternator, as a matter of fact), and that one I pressed into service as well. The metal sometimes needed a little filling or extension here and there, but overall did the job. The vertical “strengthening plate” was made of metal I salvaged from a cast off angle iron. (I keep most cast-off metal, since it seems to come in handy sometimes, though it’s easy to have the shop descend into even greater messiness.)

The actual fabrication was pretty straightforward. I spent more time arranging to get time to do the job than actually to do it. Aaron did the best welding. I managed to blob welds pretty nicely, but they won’t move, I can tell you. The pieces of metal I cut generously, meaning that I eventually had to grind out a fair amount of metal to get it to looking more like Glen’s original. One thing I did not do was worry about the threaded fitting at the front plate of Glen’s bracket. I used a nut instead, and I didn’t weld it to the bracket.

The actual alternator instructions come from Ray Livingston, who documented his installation of a Hitachi alternator for E-type Lovers ( His PDF is available through that website. I haven’t gone through the entire process of altering the Lucas regulator yet, but Ray’s instructions were pretty much on target. I got my alternator online, so I wasn’t able to double-check the fit of the original fan and pulley, but they were exact fits in any case. The PDF explains the alterations with care. Now, Ray was interested in upfitting a 3.8 to an alternator set up, so his mounting bracket was a special one he got from XKS Unlimited. It used the 3.8 liter generator mountiing holes to fit the bracket, and those holes were utterly lacking on my “new” 4.2 liter engine block. The choice of a new Hitachi alternator worked nicely, though — at least as far as fit goes.

I’ll do the electrical alterations at a later date.

Other stuff

I have been collecting parts with a focus on getting the engine running this spring. Since Arlene reported today that the daffodils are beginning to come up, I’d better get going.

Facet fuel pump 40105. Just a little thing, this pump. The entire thing fits into the palm of my hand, and it will have plenty of room to go into the lower trunk compartment without getting in the way of the spare tire. I need to get some fittings for the input and output.

I decided to go with an external fuel pump. I have two of the originals, one hopelessly corroded and the other a bit gunked up. These are submerged pumps, and for some reason I can’t get myself used to the idea of putting a forty-some year-old Lucas fuel pump into a tank of gasoline. So, I took the pump off the mounting plate, and redid the fuel intake arrangement. I’m going to use a Facet pump that I got from Aircraft Spruce and Specialty Supply ( The Facet pump is model number 40105.

Of course, there are new submersible fuel pumps available, but the size and simplicity of the Facet pump was quite appealing to me. Yes, the whole pump fits into the palm of my hand, as shown in the picture, and it delivers about the right pressure, so I shouldn’t need to install a pressure regulator upstream from the pump. I’ve seen discussions of this pump in various car forums, and it seems to get good reviews. For me, the size is a real benefit. It will easily fit in the lower trunk/boot compartment, though I’ve not yet mounted it. Besides that, it will easily fit into a tool box, and it wasn’t expensive, so having a spare on hand makes sense. I think I spent maybe around $40 USD on it.

I also set up an oil cooler, since the oil filter mount on the XJ6 engine I used needed some rethinking of circulation to the sump in any case. I don’t have any pictures, but I will get some and post them sometime. I do wonder about the airflow restriction that might come about by having a small and narrow oil cooler radiator in front of the engine cooling radiator. It could be that the additional cooling of the oil will be offset by lesser cooling of the block, but I think it’ll be all right. Something to watch, I guess, and if it’s not working out, I’ll simply remove the oil cooler.

From an XJ6 mount to an E-type mount, step-by-step

This is some bracket from the XJ6 engine I used. It may (probably not) actually be for the alternator on the XJ6, but it’s used at a much lower mounting point — the one used for engine mounts on the E-type. This piece provided most of the raw metal for my alternator bracket.

Glen Jarboe was working on his 4.2 liter engine at the time, and he had an original mounting bracket for the 4.2 liter engine. With a quick email exchange, he provided me an outline of the piece, templated from his part. A couple of pictures gave me a pretty good grasp of what the finished product would look like. He scanned his template with some measurements. He sent the scan as an email attachment. Hooray for the Internet!

I did have a piece of another XJ6 bracket that mostly conformed with the front flat that I needed. I traced Glen’s template of the piece, and then cut the outline as best I could. The picture shows the partially cut piece. The missing metal and the misplaced hole required some deft welding.

The template an the metal outline is complete. This piece is virtually finished. All I had to do was drill the hole for the bolt that attaches the part to the front of the engine. My bracket did not have the large hole of the original piece (see the large black circle on the template), because my plan didn’t require using that kind of hardware or adjustment plan.

Tacked together, the bracket is mostly in shape. The front piece is tacked on very loosely in this picture. I attached the front piece to the from the other engine (two bolts that go through the water pump housing), and then I clamped the angled piece into place after sliding it against the side of the engine where it would attach. After checking the tack welds against the place where the piece would go, I let Aaron do the final welds. (I was good with blobs of metal, but he’s got MIG welding down better than I do.)

I loosely set the rear part of the bracket after setting the alternator onto the mount. It turned out that I should have put this piece forward about a quarter- or half- inch forward (10-15 mm), so that I would have more forward adjustment possibility. Bolt spacers are easy to use, but you need to have some room to play with. You can also see the holes for the bolts that attach the bracket to the side of the engine block. I located these holes by covering the bracket with masking tape and then circling the bolt holes with lipstick. Then I set the bracket in the right place, removed it, and then put the holes where the lipstick markings indicated. The lipstick marked the “kiss” of the engine block against the masking tape. Romantic, I guess. Lipstick is a useful tool in my shop!

The Duralast rebuilt alternator for a 1980 Nissan/Datsum 720 2-wheel-drive pickup. It cost about $55 USD at Auto Parts Warehouse ( There are lots of choices for this alternator. I chose to use the web, because it was easier.

The Hitachi alternator comes with a fan and pulley that won’t work (they’re on the left). I took the pulley and fan off the original generator. The new alternator accepts the fan and the pulley exactly, though there is some fettling required. I had a devil of a time getting the pulley and fan off the alternator. I had to use my air impact wrench to remove the nut, which probably had some sort of LocTite on it.

Between the alternator body and the fan sits a spacer. This is about twice as thick as it needs to be for the Jaguar fan, so I cut it in half. Adjustments in the line-up of the pulley can be done by shifting the alternator on the bracket either fore or aft. I found that the place I put the rear part of the bracket holder was a bit too far to the rear. I didn’t have much room to adjust the alternator forward.

There it is! The curved alternator adjustment bracket was a regular old off-the-shelf bracket from AutoZone, and it was designed (I think) for GM engines. I cut off just a little more than half of the length of the piece, and drilled a hole. It’s chrome plated — I’d prefer regular old Jaguar drippy black, but this will do. It’s worth noting that the Hitachi alternator uses metric threads. The adjustment bracket used a 8.8 metric bolt (though I have to admit I don’t know what the 8.8 stamp on the bolt head meant).

October 2006 – Electrical

This section is for Ove in Norway.

It’s about time to put the electrical decisions onto paper in a more presentable form. More methodical men than I would have rendered schematics first, traced everything to glassines in layers, and then passed the signed drawings to the next person for enactment … and, of course, improvization. The web pages that follow might even become my car’s electrical schematic. There’s always discussion about Joseph Lucas’s electrical setup for British cars, and I have dug up a quote that may or may not be accurately ascribed to Lucas. “Gentlemen do not drive after dark,” he is supposed to have said. If so, he can hardly have really been the Prince of Darkness, since he would never have been out in darkness, being a gentleman. And yet, I recall a warm night in or near the “scenic Flint Hills” of Kansas when the Lucas electrics in my MG failed and lights became weaker and weaker. I was just lucky enough to pull into an oasis on I-35 to let my battery recharge a while. That MG ate alternators.

I was too young to have been a gentleman, but I learned something about Lucas electrics.

When we removed the harnesses from the Jaguar, they all came out intact. The forward harnesses inside the bonnet and forward of the front bulkhead/firewall has been altered in part to resolve what must have been some starter alterations and to “improve” cooling. Otherwise, the wires were unmolested by owners or repairmen. Time had taken its toll on the cloth looming and cotton and plastic coatings had suffered from some exposure.

I’ve wanted to bring the car back to near what it was in 1963, except for a change of exterior color. But in part because of my old experience with Lucas electrics, I was willing to depart from the original electrical system — especially where the changes would be obscured from sight. I’ve not made all of the electrical decisions even yet, at least in the final connections. I have followed a few principles in this redesign:

  • Add fused circuits
  • Use relays to separate high and low loads
  • Minimize length of wire runs, if possible
  • Minimize use of connectors
  • Localize connectors to blocks
  • Upgrade wire gauge to runs with higher load
  • Use LEDS where it makes sense

At this point, I have a total of 14 fused circuits, twelve of them emanating from the position where the fuse blocks are supposed to be, behind the center dash panel. The other two are for headlights and horns and are situated near the battery and next to the place where the relays for the horns and the headlight beams are located. These relays sit behind the left front wheel splash guard, directly in front of the battery tray. Those two inline fuses couldn’t be placed elsewhere without lengthening the wire runs from the relays forward. I figured it was worth the inconvenience of having the fuses in unusual places to fuse the headlights and horns separately and shorten the wire runs.

I’ve not mapped the locations of the original “bullet” connectors and connection blocks, but I know that in dismantling the harnesses the connections seemed to be everywhere. The wisdom of electrical troubleshooting on the E-Type seems to amount to checking connections and cleaning connectors. Connectors do deteriorate. I wanted to make sure that I could make as few of them as possible from terminus to terminus. I also wanted to concentrate the connections into specific locations.

The architecture of the car and its harnesses determined where the connection blocks should sit, and in fact a couple of them are originally in place. The “bonnet plug” and the internal connection block inside the bonnet are already in place. In essense, the bonnet plug connects one harness to another in a central location. That was the principle that I used in locating connection blocks. I installed two connection blocks — one underneath the left dash panel, near where the flasher is located. This connection block serves to connect the “fore harness” to the “mid harness” (see the illustration), though it also is often connected through the switches and such on the dash panels. The second connection block is inside the trunk and connects the mid harness to the aft harness. I departed from the locatiion of the mid harness by running it entirely along the car’s left side. Because there might be a need at some time to run wires aft through the passenger compartment, I added four wires along the right side. These terminate inside the trunk area and forward of the glove box. If I’m overcome by wanting to add an electrical whatever to someplace after, I figured I’d have a place to grab power or signal.

I’ve used spade-type connectors quite frequently, though bullet connectors still are to be found, usually to make the final connections to, say, a taillight or fan motor. And the complicated wiper motor connector block with its conflagration of bullet connectors is still there (though as yet, I’ve not connected them all up).

Purists might object to the departures. As much as I respect the gentleman, I’m not intending to make the car a monument to Mr. Lucas. I’m hoping that my little changes might keep the lights brighter.

This is part one. More details later.

June 2005 – Data plate, door, headlights

Data plate, final episode

I might as well get this done right now. I finished the truer-to-the-original data plate with the able help of Eric MaLossi, and I’m quite pleased with the results. The plate is a little thicker than the original, so it resists a bit more under the mallet and die, but it should be easier to handle at installation. I have placed mine aside until I can be sure that the numbers that I’ll have on the car are what I expect. I know the body number will remain the same, but I haven’t had the engine block or the gearbox thoroughly evaluated. I’m not expecting any problems with either, but things have been known to happen unexpectedly in restorations.

The data plate could be improved with the adoption of a more original technique. The originals were probably done with etching and subsequent anodize. My plate uses a technology that might not have been in existence in the early 1960s. It’s called “photoetching.” It is quite durable and scratch resistant, but the black print is flush with the aluminum surface — no ridge at all at the edges of the letters and borders. Since the plate’s contents are true to the original, it is nonetheless superior to many, if not all, of the data plates currently available.

I believe I’ll never look at a plate in quite the same way again. Last night I was going through a book that displayed a plate of a “very fine” restoration, and I picked it out easily as an aftermarket “almost” reproduction.

Left door back together

Putting the doors back together is just slightly easier than taking them apart, probably because you can remember some of the pain of the initial door disassembly. The process is basically the reverse of the disassembly, and the trick is getting the bolts for the door latching mechanism and the window crank in the correct places. You need to think about the ways that the bits weave around one another. First the door latching mechanism, then the window assemblies.

I cleaned off the mechanisms with a steel brush and wire wheel, and they came quite clean. The door shell needed to be fitted with the drainage hose (don’t miss the clam that holds it in place) before any of the mechanicals could go in. The last items to be placed were the black skirts that close off the lower access holes. These seem often to be removed and never replaced, as far as I can tell. Pictures I’ve seen of reconstructed doors lack these little steel features, perhaps because they serve no practical purpose except for noise control, maybe. They’re pop-riveted on, and I used strips of neoprene padding to control vibration. Along the edge where the rivets are placed, the pieces were originally caked with a rubbery sealant-adhesive that may have served the purpose of dampening vibration.

Getting the left door set up took an entire afternoon. I’ve put off doing the right door because it is a bit tedious to do the job.

In order to fit the door, the weatherstripping and seals needed to go in. I got a very complete rubber kit from Classic Jaguar, and it has so far been extraoridinarily complete. I used 3M Weatherstripping and Gasket Adhesive. It’s basically a contact cement, and the tube I got was unfortunately full of a yellow-brown cement. The stuff shows up very brightly on Opalescent Dark Green, I can tell you! I did not follow Dan Mooney’s advice to fit seals with masking tape before cementing them in place, so I couldn’t adjust fit. I just cemented the pieces on, using a healthy amount of blue masking tape and some paper towel to hold the seals in place.

I did have to trim pieces of the seals, of course, but that was easily done without doing the taping to fit. Other sections of the car might need more careful treatment.

Fiat lux! Let there be light!

The bonnet having been prepped and clearcoated for a second time, we set about making the bonnet harness and installing the lights and horns. Of course this entailed redoing the bonnet harness that extends from the male bonnet plug receiver to the lights and horns. I used the same approach here as I did with the rear harness. That is, I used the original wiring on the bonnet plug receiver to connect to a new spade-connector connection block, and from there the hand-made harness reaches to the end points. The bonnet harness deviates a bit from the original in that I did not use exactly conforming color coding, though the wire gauge meets or exceeds the originals. The wiring colors were similar (a reddish/pinkish replaced the original red, for example). I was also uncomfortable with the grounding scheme.

The schematic diagram shows that wires go from the light housings and such to ground, probably on the bonnet somewhere. It’s a mystery to me exactly where the wires originally grounded on the bonnet, though my documentation shows that some grounds ended up on the mounts for the horns. Instead of grounding to the bonnet, I decided to run ground wires to a grounding point near the bonnet plug that can be connected by another ground wire to the car body itself. It seems to me that the bonnet connections to the car body are simply too insulated with new paint and lack unambiguous metal-to-metal contact.Of course, the original grounds worked, but I want the grounds to be unambiguous, just like the other wiring.

I ran individual ground wires to the electrical parts, since simultaneous loads at night with the horns blaring might make up a fair bit of current, and I’d hate to heat up a too thin wire. The horns use a pretty fair amount of current, and so they need to find their way to ground in a safe manner, too.

The headlight housings were caked in tar-like rustproofing, and they needed a thorough scraping, scrubbing, and sanding before being painted. The internal areas of the housings were in good shape, including the chrome light retaining rings. These just needed some buffing to bring back to life. The original rubber fittings on the housings served well, though they were quite tight, since the new wiring I inserted was slightly heftier than the original wires. The original wiring was pretty badly decayed, particularly the cotton loomed insulation on the two “hot” wires going to each headlight bulb. I used plastic coated wires, not cotton loomed wires.

The lights work, and it seems as though adding them returns a little bit of the car’s soul. Sure is nice to see them in place!

January-May 2005 – Trunk floor, wiring harness (redesigned)

New trunk (“boot”) floor

The old trunk floor was totally exhausted, with the laminate of the plywood virtually falling apart in thin wooden sheets. The pieces were good enough to stack together like so many playing cards and trace onto a new sheet of plywood. I used 15/32 thickness plywood that was left over from roofing repair on an outbuilding. The original was probably one-half inch plywood, and I will eventually get around to counting the laminate sheets. The only piece of hardware I have reused is the prong that fits forward of the finger hole “handle” for the right side sheet. The snaps are readily available. The original plywood was painted in one coat with what must have been a flat black, or perhaps a black that was thinned enough to soak in and dull. I used Rustoleum flat black that I had left over from another project. The piece matched perfectly and fit very well.

Custom wiring harness

At least in some measure, the data plate was a dalliance — something fit between more mechanical work that could be accomplished either when winter cold was tolerable or spring warmth chased cold away. During those better moments in the garage, we focused on the rear end of the car. As it now sits, the car is pretty much ready for final upholstery, polish, and chrome from the rear bulkhead back. That includes the wiring from behind the rear bulkhead, in spite of the fact that the wiring harness is completely absent forward from that point.

The harness bothered me when we removed it (intact, believe it or not), because it seemed an unwieldy beast. Since wires can extend from the fuse boxes to the rear lights, I imagined the difficulties of troubleshooting and reinstalling a new harness modelled after the old one. In order to get rid of part of the awkwardness of managing the loomed wire, I decided to modularize the harness. The first one is designed to fit the rear section of the car, and it delivers power to the rear lights, the fuel level sender and the fuel pump. The connections forward of the rear harness are through two connection blocks, one an eight connection block and the other a four connection block modified to handle three connections. Both of the blocks have been modified to reflect the actual circuitry. The large block covers the lighting, and the small one is devoted to fuel sensing and pumping. The ground for everything is to the body, either by wire connection or by direct contact. I have all wiring coming to the rear through the harness hole on the left side of the car. I believe this is not standard, since I believe wiring was routed on both sides of the car to the rear.

Aside from the modularizing and perhaps some routing, the harness follows the original. Wires are color coded to the original specification, and they are wrapped in tape. I did depart from the original somewhat by not inserting the little “LUCAS” labels inside the harness, and I used heat shrink tube to seal the ends of the tape in order to discourage unwinding and give the piece a bit of a finished feel. Figuring out where the harness splits off is really just a matter of cutting the wires, laying them out to figure out where they go, and temporarily clamping or taping the general shape.

I’m using “bullet” connectors on the ends for the lighting, but spade connectors are used at the custom blocks. They’re just easier to manage. After crimping, those connectors also get the heat shrink tube treatment.

A very good source for wire is Rhode Island Wiring Service ( They also carry connectors. They will put together a wiring harness for you, and they apparently have done E-type harnesses before. I’ll probably salvage wire from the original harness, too.

I have looked over the original fuse blocks, and I am increasingly tending toward replacing the old blocks with some newer fuse block setup, using the newer plug-in type fuses.