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Can I get schooled in the prince of darkness electrical

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mikec4193 Avatar
mikec4193 Silver Member Mike C
Mechanicville, NY, USA   USA
Hi Morris Minor Folks

So I am wondering about the prince of darkness when it comes to English cars and that saying? I remember someone years ago someone telling me that English cars are noted for electrical woes. I was one website and they even were talking about Lucas electrical parts as the "Prince of Darkness"....

Are these cars that bad electrically??...I have yet to have worked on any older car that did not have electrical issues....Are these cars that much worse??

Any schooling here would be a wonderful thing.


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tappetTwo pete kd
hillview, nsw, Australia   AUS
I think that generally its a figment of peoples furtive imagination, usually blown bulbs, loose wires or poorly made none professional connections.
In my experiences, Lucas made and still makes robust, well designed electrical equipment, in fact some of the best in the world.
if you buy or use parts that are over 60 years old, they still function as designed, look amazing and are a joy to handle, baker-light carcasses, solid brass and copper fittings .
use with confidence Mike
spinning smiley sticking its tongue out

Hi MIke C.

The real problem with the prince of Darkness is the connections and the connectors when a wire is spliced or extended. The bullet connectors and the connections to devices with the bullet connectors are the real problem in my opinion. This leads to corrosion and loose connections which is the nemesis of electrical problems in any electrical circuit. .

What I have found is as Peter says, the device, be it a lamp socket or a dash switch they all work well and are of top quality manufacturing, it's how they connect to the wiring system that you have to deal with. The best thing to do is solder when possible all connections and use ring or spade connectors. Also use anti oxidant grease to protect the connections when possible in any wet location especially.

Safety Fast and may your night be bright!

Mr fixit
Chris smiling smiley

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emjay Jim English
Etters, PA, USA   USA
I don't think are simple harness lead to the legend. Also I think it's the "fixes" that the next owner has to deal with is the issue. Once the "fixes" are removed, it becomes quite reliable. There is a weakness in the insulation through bulkheads and with the lack of fuses there can be problems.

nudenut Avatar
nudenut Silver Member Reg K
Perth, Perth Western Australia, Australia   AUS
Remove bullet connections, place heat shrink on cable away from joint , join cable , solder cable together and place heat shrink over joint .

tappetTwo pete kd
hillview, nsw, Australia   AUS
In reply to # 34646 by nudenut Remove bullet connections, place heat shrink on cable away from joint , join cable , solder cable together and place heat shrink over joint .

I am a great user of heat shrink, and soldering where possible....
At electrical wholesalers, you can buy heat shrink by the meter, generally you use only one size, except for really large dia cables.
A good soldering iron with a fine point will last a lifetime, an additional heat gun will find many uses, other than on heat shrink,
I have seen heat shrink....... shrunk by using a cigarette lighter too!
may the shrunk be with you tongue sticking out smiley


johnnyw637 Avatar
johnnyw637 Silver Member John Warner
Norwich, Norfolk, UK   GBR
1960 Morris Minor Traveller "Boris 2"
1964 MG Midget MkI "Flying Midge"
1964 MG Midget MkI
Think the guys are right on the bullet connectors and general wiring connections.

However, also think a lot of the infamous legend comes from home conditions back in the day, my first cars were all BMC/Leyland and what myself and friends always struggled against was poor earths in damp and cold weather. Light not working, thump the wing near the light, if that didn't work woggle the wires at the back of the light. WD 40 for Dizzy cap, HT leads and plugs, plus anything else in the engine bay.
Battery's of the day and dynamos, probably didn't help either. Don't remember my friends with Ford Escorts having as much of an issue, but I am pretty sure it was the good old damp British weather that gave rise to the legend, certainly you expected the electrics on a BMC to be temperamental. Don't remember blaming Lucas, just remember saying what do you expect it's a Leyland.

All the best Johnny smileys with beer

ahaugland Avatar
ahaugland Silver Member Alex Haugland
Eugene, OR, USA   USA
Anyone who complains about British wiring has never worked on an Italian car. Generally I agree with the statements made here, though I'm reluctant to replace bullet connectors with solder as I like the ability to disconnect components again without cutting. For another more modern fix the metal sleeves in all the new bullet connectors I've bought recently are now stainless steel which helps prevent future issues when compared to the older plain steel ones that can rust. A little dielectric grease in the sleeve before inserting the bullets helps as well. Lucas components are reliable and solid Having rewired over a dozen cars back to standard Lucas design, In my case there are a couple of issues that tend to come up. Corroded terminals and connections are one thing that plagues every car over a certain age, but the other is poor previous-owner modifications Most British cars had what were considered adequate electrical systems for when they were designed, but the cars remained in production far longer than most American cars with little or no change. The electrical systems were also designed largely for the load of unmodified, properly working components. When owners modify the wiring and randomly pick places to splice in to power their stereos, cooling fans, fog lamps, etc., they overload the capacity of individual wires in the car and rather than blowing one of the two fuses, both of which are high amperage, they burn the insulation off the wire down the length of the harness. This then starts creating random shorts throughout the harness and only makes the problem worse. Cheap connectors, poorly crimped also adds to the issue. A properly done crimp connector is arguably as reliable if not more reliable than a solder joint, but that takes a proper purpose-built crimper rather than whatever pair of pliers comes to hand. In the United States the overloading is made worse by the fact that British fuses use a different rating than American fuses that physically fit in the same fusebox. The American fuses are rated at what current they can safely carry at maximum, while British fuses are rated at what voltage they fail at. As a result "equivalent" numbers allow the American fuse to let the harness burn rather than blow the fuse. The last issue which I'd bring up is a price for performance argument is that, probably in part to save on costs, most British electrical systems utilize very few relays which would help preserve the life of components such as lighting switches, power window switches, etc. which switch off and on high amperage circuits. These switches tend to spark internally as they engage and thus corrode the contacts causing them to increase resistance and and raise amperage requirements until they eventually fail over time. That said, this was common in many cars of the era, no matter the place of origin. Porsche 356s, for example, tend to burn out their headlight switches due to this problem, especially with the higher amperage of 6 volt electrics. None of these cars were intended to still be on the road when they were designed, so longevity of components was not very high on the priority lists. Sympathetic use of relays in parallel to original wiring can greatly improve the function of components such as headlamps, heater fans, etc.

That said, when cared for properly, and with clean connections everywhere, The electrics on our British cars work just fine.

--Alex Haugland
Eugene, Oregon

BooneMM Scott Porter
Boone, NC, USA   USA
Check out the Scions of Lucas site: It's good for all LBC owners.


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