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Project Lucas, Prince of Darkness

The first step in getting Lucas back on the road was to address the one issue I knew of when buying the car; the lack of a working indicator stalk.

The previous owner told me it was broken but didn’t say how or why, so until the car arrived it was a bit of a mystery. I could see in the pre-purchase photos that the column shrouds and stalks were missing, but knew no more than that.

Upon arrival, the car came with the stalks missing and the shrouds on the passengers seat. There was an icecream container in the back seat with the remnants of one switch, and what appeared to be quite a new, albeit incorrect side, indicator stalk assembly

Assessing the stalks, the disassembled one was very likely the original broken one, so that’s where I started. If you have been following my posts for a while you will know that I’m a big fan of fixing what I have, instead of just throwing new parts at a problem. This was no different.

I could tell immediately that the high beam detent on the switch was broken, which would cause the high beam to fail to latch and stay on. The plastic piece that causes it to latch should be sticking up in the gap the arrow is pointing to.

Now, I can’t find it, so I may not have written about it, but I have done this job before. Not for the detent, but to fix a broken horn wire. 99.1% of the job is exactly the same, so I had an idea of what I was doing.

The donor was the mint condition mirrored stalk. This is either from a different car that uses a similar switch but has the indicator on the RH side of the column, or is from a LHD. You can see that the stalk is upside when on the correct LH side and bent upwards.

There were a couple of other differences too; the connector was the later “church window” style, which the car didn’t use, and there was that random blue wire coming off it, which had no place to connect to.

The first step is to VERY carefully remove the metal plate from the front of the switch. There are two small machine screws, and then it hooks in under two plastic tabs near the stalk. Once the plate is off you can see the gubbins that makes it all works. Be careful though, at the top and bottom are detent springs and plungers that can and will make a break for freedom. The top one should have a ball bearing under the spring, and the bottom one a plastic wedge.

The white collar for cancelling the indicators just lifts out, and then so does the central mechanism that the stalk moves (the big black piece with the white arms on it). Be careful here as there is a copper roller, spring and plastic plunger in this section that will drop out.

With all that removed, you are left with the rear housing and the stalk.

It’s interesting to note that the three long contacts for the indicators are mirrored on the opposite-handed stalk. The top holes are populated on one, and the bottom on the other.

The detent needs to be released from the back casing, by carefully pulling back the piece of black plastic on the back that is holding it in place. It can take quite a bit of force to pull it out. Here it is removed and flipped upside down to show the notches it locks into fr high beam. That’s the part missing from the broken one.

Now its time to get serious and cut the two wires that run through the switch and into the stalk (one had purple and black, the other was purple and purple with a black trace, but it’s obvious which two run to the middle of the stalk) and then the stalk can be removed.

Now, I couldn’t just swap the stalk over, since it was upside down and bent in the wrong direction, so I had to remove the detent piece and swap it to the existing stalk. To do this I needed to remove the little plastic block on the end. Be VERY careful with this as it is super easy to break those little round ears off and render it useless; DO NOT use those ears to support it when you drift out the shaft.

I lightly held the stalk in some pliers on top of the vice, and used a punch to drift the stalk out through the block. Oh, and it helps to mark the position of the block beforehand, so you can have the stalk rotated the same (or it may not face quite forward).

With the block removed, the detent piece just slides off and over the wires.

Do the same to the good stalk, and swap the detent piece to the original stalk. Now line up the block with the marks you made, making sure the horn ground wire is tucked under the block and wraps over the top, and then gently tap it into place again. I gently held the stalk in the pliers, clamped in the vice and used a small hammer to tap it back into place.

Congrats, you now have a good stalk, that isn’t attached to anything. Give it a good clean, and let’s reassemble.

Reassembly is quite simply the reverse of disassembly. The only thing I had to change was to move the wiper contact over from the top hole down to the bottom hole in the central mechanism. I did give the contacts a quick clean, and lubricated everything with dielectric grease.

The front plate can now be gently reinstalled, making sure it sits flush and the plungers haven’t fallen out. Now flip it over, and solder the two wires back onto the harness.

With the switch reassembled I could plug it in and test it. I got a bit cocky and reinstalled it first.

And we have dash lights! Gosh, I love the green illumination in these cars. I was well chuffed.

Until I wasn’t. We had dash lights, park lights front and rear, and flash to pass, but no dip or high beams. Damn.

I connected a known good bulb. No change.

Tried a different headlight switch. No change.

Located the dip beam relay and swapped it over with another. No change.

So it was time to grab the test light and start probing around. I had traced the wiring diagram back and had an idea of where to start looking; starting with the headlight switch

Lots of probing later

I was led to this mess under the passengers side of the dash. Ugh.

That bracket with all the relays on it should be bolted firmly to the firewall, not ziptied to a bracket. Not a good start.

I traced a few wires back and ended up at that weird white relay in the foreground. Turns out it isn’t a relay, it’s a “diode pack” that all the power for the dip and high beams go through. And nothing was going through it.

I could see some traces of corrosion on the casing, so pulled it out and removed the casing.

Well shoot, that’ll do it. It looks like it’s been under the sea. You cant even identify the diodes on the board, it’s just a mess of corrosion.

I got out the can of contact cleaner, and the trusty old toothbrush and got to work, cleaning away as much of the muck as I could. I then used my multimeter to check I had continuity where needed. A couple of contacts were a bit iffy, so I have them a quick re-solder.

I plugged it in, initially without the housing on it, for testing.

I turned the ignition on and flicked the light switch. No change. Damn. I flicked it off and on again, and suddenly I was blinded, the test bulb was glowing brightly.

I had headlights. A quick check also showed that I had high beams too. Everything was working. Headlights, park lights, tail lights, brake lights, plate lights and fog lights.

I refit the housing and bolted the relays to the firewall as they should be. One of the two bolts on that bracket I swear is the worst bolt on an SD1 to get at. Cant fit a socket on it, and it’s one flat at a time with an open ended spanner.

Some quick jiggling of wires to refit all the column stalks, and refitting the steering wheel came next. It’s starting to look more like a car now. Heck, I might finally be able to take it around the block tomorrow after work. Hype!

I still need to refit the column shrouds, but that will come in due course.

One other thing I noticed when I was messing around in the car, was that this sweet old Clarion radio still works perfectly, auto electric aerial and all. Awesome retro design. Shame the plastic surround was broken and someone has bodged it with bits of interlocking foam floor mat…

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