Preparing the E-Type for the 60th Anniversary celebration

I was obviously very keen to attend the JDCA 60th Anniversary of the E-Type celebration.    My only problem was a few minor electrical issues with my car.   My rear tail lights were not working (but the brake lights did work), and my right headlight intermittently didn’t work on low beam.   For a day trip this wasn’t fatal, but I could have easily found myself driving at night on the way home.

I started to investigate the problem myself.   I noticed that the number plate lights were also not working, and that they shared a fuse with the tail lights.   That fuse was not blown.   When I removed the fuse to inspect it, the holder was very loose.    I figured this could be my problem.   If the fuse was not making good contact with the fuse box – no current would get through.   Additionally, when using a multi-meter on both sides of the fuse box, it seemed to confirm my problem.   The photo below illustrates although it is a little hard to see.  You can see where the fuse should go and one of the prongs is slack.

Fuse Box

Based on that investigation, I ordered a reproduction fuse box from SNG Barratt.   Reproduction parts are a minefield when it comes to quality, but these looked ok.  It was actually a pretty simple operation to replace the fuse box.   It is held in by a single flat-head screw.   I screwed in the new fuse box and then lined up the old one next to it.   From there, I transferred the wires one by one to make sure they all went into the right places.

Fuse BoxI felt pretty confident that this would fix the problem.   My confidence was misplaced.   Before installing the new fuse box, I had loaded it with new fuses of the correct rating.    As soon as I powered up the lights, my new fuse blew.    In case the fuse was defective, I replaced it with the one from the old fuse box.   This resulted in smoke from under the dash!    I also noticed that the tail light on the left hand side was working (dimly) as was the number plate light.   Nothing on the right hand side.

It was pretty obvious I had a short, so at this point with the 60th anniversary coming up and smoke from the dash, I figured it was time for the professionals.   I had a hunch it may have something to do with the left hand tail light, but that was all.  I dropped the car off at All Classic Car Restorations, who do all the work on the E-Type that I don’t attempt.

They were able to trace the short to that right hand tail light.   What they found was perplexing.   The ground wasn’t plugged in at all, and the live was plugged in where the ground should go.  From what I understand the light can work without the dedicated ground line (through the housing), but it is odd it even worked at all.    The new fuel pump was installed in this area a few months back, but I’m not aware of any of the light wiring being disturbed.

Next was to look at the intermittent front right headlight.    This was traced to the wiring in the bonnet which was old and frayed.   As my bonnet was originally from a 3.8, the original 3.8 horns were still in place, but stone guarded and painted silver blue!

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