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Project Marina, Wiring Woes

One thing I love about buying old and neglected cars is getting all the electrics working again. The Marina is no different.

Much like the Mini and the TVR there were a few things that weren’t working. None of the lights work, the wiper motor is disconnected, the washer motor doesn’t work and the horn is silent. Basically, anything that is electric, didn’t work.

Before jumping into the wiring I had to fix one thing thats been bugging me. The boot latch and lock.

When the car arrived the boot was tied down with string because the boot lock had been removed and was missing. As it turned out, the boot lock was there, in bits, scattered throughout the boot.

I found all the bits and using the workshop manual figured out how it all went together and damn, even the existing key works. I did a couple of test fits to make sure the lock was complete and would work, hoping I wouldn’t permanently lock the boot closed.

The actual latch assembly was completely seized and would not latch. Soaking it for a bit in CRC seems to have done the trick and it latches and unlatches nicely now.

Digging through the icecream containers of stuff that came with the car turned up two of the three bolts that secure the latch, so I refitted it.

And BAM, the boot lid shuts, and even opens again with the key. Flash. You only get that kinda luxury with the Deluxe.

The lock action is simplicity in its self. The key barrel turns the plastic cam and the cam acts directly on the release tab on the latch, pushing it across and popping the lid. The cam is sprung to return the key to center when released. There is no internal release, so as the car came with a spare key for the locks, I’ve taken that off the keyring and located it somewhere safe, just in case.

Now, back to the task at hand. Wiring. My first port of call was to look at the headlights and see if we had power going to them. I removed the grille surround and sealed beam headlight. Well yes, there was power there, but something wasn’t right.

There should be about 12.8V there…. Little bit of a voltage drop.

Moving back inside, whilst checking the indicator/dip switch, I noticed this purple wire hanging down, connected to nothing.

It turns out this is for the horn. Well that will explain why it doesn’t work. This is the same issue Tess had with her washer jets. The wire just flexes every time the stalk is moved and eventually snaps.

After removing the steering wheel, disconnecting the wiring and removing the switch assembly I carefully disassembled it. Once you remove the metal plate, this is all the gubbins inside it. Be careful though, there are a couple of ping-fuckkits in here. The three arrows indicate the three items of interest. These are little plastic mushrooms resting on top of springs. Under the one on the right is a small metal bar. Don’t loose these.

Once you know where everything came from, gut it.

This is where the wire should join to; that little scrappy bit of bare wire above the purple/black wire.

To fix this you strip the broken wire back, knock the indicator stalk out of the white block, and refit the block back onto the spline of the stalk with the wire jammed in between the block and stalk. It’s dumb.

Some creativity (and abuse of cheap tools) was employed to knock the stalk out without damaging the block. DO NOT STRESS THE CIRCULAR EARS.

I used a very fine punch to knock the stalk through

Jam the wire in, line it up (the correct way around) and hammer the block carefully back into place.

It all sounds too easy, doesn’t it? Well yes, I just touched one of the ears after knocking it into place and the ear fell off, rendering the whole stalk useless.

Not to worry, a broken stalk assembly from a Princess came with the car. The high beam wouldn’t latch, so I couldn’t use the whole assembly, but I could strip it and harvest it for parts to make one good from the two.

It turns out despite being the same part number the two stalks are slightly different. They probably work the same, but the difference was enough for me to use the original Marina as the base for the repair. One of the changes though was to the exact issue the original stalk failed for; the wire now loops from the other side of the block and is supported when in place. BL obviously knew it was a problem.

This is why this stalk wouldn’t latch. The center part on this is where the latching is done, it was broken off this stalk.

This is the Marina one for comparison

After some more bashing with hammers I finally had a good stalk, now all I needed to do was to join the wires again

I soldered the wires back together and fed it all through the base again. The base got a good clean and the contacts cleaned up with a fibreglass brush.

To aid reassembly I rigged a box to support the assembly and keep it steady whilst I put the bits into the base

Lots of dielectric grease was used during assembly, both to lubricate the movement and to keep everything in place. Don’t forget to polish the bar that bridges the indicator terminals. I spun this up in a drill and used the fibreglass brush to polish it.

Once reassembled, making sure everything stays in place, the high/low beam contacts got a clean and grease. These were really oxidised.

Now I suddenly had front park lights, and a horn! What a solid toot it makes too.

No headlights, tail lights or dash lights through. I noticed when the headlight switch was moved from park to the main beam the park lights would turn off. Something wasn’t happy.

I pulled the headlight switch out and disassembled it.

This was very dirty. Lots of corrosion, old grease and even some serious pitting on the sliding plate.

The contacts and sliding plate were thoroughly cleaned and polished with the fibreglass brush.

You can see the pitting at the top of the sliding plate. I refitted the plate upside down with that wear at the bottom, meaning the contact points are on nice fresh solid metal now.

Reconnecting the switch and now the headlights work. One of the sealed beam bulbs has a blown low beam so a temporary H4 was used to test.

High beam worked too

The action on the refurbished switches is lovely. A nice firm click. A+ would refurbish again.

The taillights were a bit more of a pain. First I wanted to remove the trailer plug that had been screwed into the rear panel (ugh), so had to strip back a whole bunch of old insulation tape, which revealed to me that old mate Twist-N-Tape had been here.

So many twisted wires and so much old sticky tape.

Glad to see the plug gone though. It was an eyesore. I’ll weld the holes up and refit the MORRIS badge in the center where it belongs.

With that mess tidied up and a ground reconnected we had tail lights.

Once I cleaned up the bulb holder, which was very rusty, I even had a number plate light. It amuses me that it’s just a single, unprotected little bare bulb. Seems to do an OK job though.

Unfortunately no real improvement on the indicators though. They still flash sporadically and the rear ones are very dim. I find it strange there are dual filament bulb holders fitted for the indicators in the rear though; standard fitment or a bodge?

I think the flasher relay might be poked, so will replace that and see how we go from there.

The interior light didn’t miss out on the fun, I replaced the non-functioning bulb with a warm white LED. The light is literally crumbling away from age, but it still works when set to ON, but not on the DOOR setting. I’ll look into that if I can find a good replacement light. In the meantime, the warm white LED looks nice and should reduce load.

I reconditioned the dash light switch too. This was full of old crusty grease and corrosion.

The sliding plate cleaned up well

And then there was light. I even gave the dials a quick clean to make them pop. Both levels of dimness work.

The high beam indicator works, but I may have to change to an LED bulb so I can actually see it.

They look pretty good in the dark. I love the simplicity of a 70s British dashboard. None of the light pollution current cars have. Takes me back to driving the original Marina.

The wipers and washer still don’t work. I’m not sure if the wiper motor is good or not as even connecting it does nothing, so I’ll try feeding some power into it and see if it comes to life or not. The washer motor is completely dead and feeding power into it does nothing. I suspect it probably rusted internally.

The last job for the day was to fit the new ignition leads that arrived. These leads were bought as a kit that also suits Allegros, Maxis, MGBs, Minis and Land Rovers among other things. Almost anything British and 4 pot it seems. It fit perfectly.

Crusty old leads

Nice new leads

Red is sporty. Makes the engine faster.

Speaking of, I had to check that the leads were doing their job, so started and ran the car up for a bit. I connected the throttle cable again, so now I have control over revs from inside the car, but sadly the cable is stuffed and binds so will need a new one.

The first cold start of the day wasn’t bad either. Start on full choke, a few turns and it kicks into life. Easy.

I ran the car long enough to see the temp gauge start to climb. This indicates that the gauge and sender are both working, which is good. I also noticed looking at the photos that the fuel level changes between ignition on and off, so it seems like the fuel sender might be working too. I’ll need more fuel to test that.

The engine keeps on running happily. I’m really pleased with it. After the initial issues trying to start up, it seems to be freeing up and starts easier now.

Progress is going to slow for a bit now. I’ve come to a point where either lots of time, money or both will be needed, so will wait until the TVR is moved on before I get stuck in proper.

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