Slow Car Fast
August 18, 2009 - The parts car came with the older style taillights.
A number of people have commented how they like these better than the chunkier ones on our 1972. I may swap them out. It's an interesting option. The parts car is missing the upper section of one light, but Moss has those for $17.30.
entry 196 - tags: parts car, taillights
October 13, 2010 - I'm all excited about working on the car right now.
But I'm very easily side-tracked. For example, I need to build the brake system. I had my head in the front wheel wells trying to figure out the best way to route the lines - it's hard to keep them away from the header - when I spotted the wiring for the front lights dangling. They'd been damaged at some point in the past and repaired poorly with solder. Well, it would be easier to patch them before I assemble the suspension, so I quickly hooked them back up with good connections. Then, of course, I wanted to see if they'd work and that led me to the steering column combo switch, which came from a Miata. So I ended up poring over Miata wiring diagrams and MG diagrams and trying to figure out how they each work so I can splice them together.
At the end of the night, I had functioning headlights but I hadn't energized the turn indicator circuits yet, and I'd temporarily run a switch in place of the headlight relay as I puzzled out the logic of both systems. Naturally, I'd made no progress on the brakes.
But it was fun, and I've turned the MG into a giant V8-powered flashlight.
entry 407 - tags: wiring, lights
November 11, 2010 - Sometimes you just have to do little stuff that feels good.
The reverse light lenses on the back of the car looked awful. Back when the MG was still on the road (two years ago!) I ordered a new set. I put them on today and wow, they look good! Two minutes worth of work and I get a feeling of satisfaction.

Of course, this also meant I needed to make sure they were working. Naturally they were not. After a bit of digging around, I found that I'd misidentified the feed wire from the front of the car. I swapped that around, plugged in the lights and one worked! The other, not so much. The cracked lens had let in dirt and moisture, so it was all crusty inside and the contacts were corroded. I stuck it in the bead blaster, gave it a quick shot and it looks brand new! I never thought I'd use the blaster to rejuvenate electrical parts, but it really works nicely on bad contacts. And voila, bright lights in the rear.
Of course, while I was working on electrical stuff I decided to find out why the turn indicators weren't working. After a bit of digging around, I found out that the turn indicator wiring passes through the hazard light switch. Okay. I plugged that in and got...inconsistency. The flasher worked sometimes, but usually not. I checked voltages and found out there was a lot of resistance inside the switch. Basically, the contacts were all corroded. So I disassembled it, stuck it in the blaster and put it back together. Pretty interesting to do, actually. Now I know just how a Lucas hazard light switch works!
That got rid of my resistance, but the flashers are still have a bit of character. There's just enough unevenness in the tempo of the flashes to make you realize it's a mechanical relay working off heat instead of an electronic one!
Looking at the Moss catalog, it appears that hazard switch I fixed is a 1972-only part. It changed in 1973.
entry 443 - tags: wiring, reverse lights, electrical, turn indicators
December 5, 2010 - I had time for some relatively quick and easy jobs this weekend, and I'm still waiting for the new set of flares to arrive.
So I started messing around with little trim pieces. First up was the tail lights. A few people had commented on how the older lights looked better. From pictures, I'd felt that was true for the convertible but not so much for the GT. But the 1969 parts car came with a set of the older ones, and I'd really come to appreciate the shape. So I swapped them over. Here, you can see one new old design light on the left and one old new design on the right.
entry 501 - tags: lights
December 5, 2010 - The rear end with the new lights.
Sharp eyes will also notice that I "shaved" the side markers as well (okay, I removed them and stuck a piece of black duct tape over the holes) and swapped the overriders for the older design. The 1972 ones have a rubber insert. Here's the "before" picture.
I'm really happy with the result. Janel described the older lights are more streamlined, and I think she's right on. They look much better. With all the changes, the car just looks cleaner from the rear. I actually had a set of new lenses for the previous taillights, but this is much nicer.
Of course, this light work wasn't without a certain amount of troubleshooting. The taillights weren't very well grounded, so I added a ground strap to make sure they worked consistently and well. A couple of dodgy bullet connectors also caused me to spend some time cleaning things up. I'll keep an eye on the behavior of those rear lights.
Sometimes it's nice to do the little things that make a satisfying difference. These sort of changes will make the whole car just work better, even if most people can't identify what was done.
entry 502 - tags: lights, wiring
December 5, 2010 - The messing about wasn't restricted to the rear.
In the front, I swapped the orange one-piece front lights for a set of older two-piece ones with clear lenses. This makes the whole front of the car monochrome with the exception of that MG badge, and again it cleans things up. The lights came with a set of white bulbs, but I installed a set of orange ones in the turn indicators to make them more visible when lit. The overriders were also changed out for the older ones. Again, it's a cleaner look than before.
The grille has been discussed before, a couple of years ago before I started on the engine conversion. It's a 1974 grille with a 1960's MG emblem, chosen because the black opening looks more aggressive than the old design to my eyes and because the newer emblem just looked cheap. Here's what the car looked like when we got it, with the overriders removed.
Less obvious is a set of new headlights. They're a set of European Bosch lights that put out a really nice pattern and let me run H4 bulbs. It's what a European MG would have, and the lighting is much better.
Again, not big changes. But ones that make me smile when I look at the car and will make it look better.
entry 503 - tags: lights