Wiring part one, do check out the video above because it makes more sense of it than the words and pictures do. This is a very three dimensional sort of a job. We'd already identified that the only inoperative items on the car were the interior light and the horns. The interior light was probably dirty contacts, the horns were because they were dead so replacements were acquired that work. The decision had already been made to get a new harness which is available off the shelf from www.autosparks.co.uk to factory specification. More on that later. The trouble Pat and I were facing with the Lanchester is that the various electrical items on the car were becoming temperamental and, in some cases, totally inoperative. We knew the wiring was bad and we now had a new wiring loom to go in. What we didn't know for definite was the physical wiring route. Much of this is a one-person job, unfortunately, by its nature. I'd had more time free than Pat so I got the lion's share of all the grubby work getting the old wiring out. To give you some idea of what we're working with, here's a look at the state of play. The big knob to the left is the cowl fresh air vent, the round thing behind with the white handles is the heater box, and to the right is the steering column, this is all underneath the dashboard.
A lot of the wiring uses bullet connectors for the various sections. Some are in reasonable health, many aren't, and some of the new wiring goes into old bullet connectors to join up to the old wiring. The new stuff is the plain colour, the old is the one with the neat zigzag patterning.
It's not pretty. What's worse, there's been a lot of confusion for Pat and I due to a previous owner's modification to the wiring and with very little in the way of photographs to compare with what's on our car it has taken a while to figure out what's going on. When the video was recorded we had a rough idea, now that we're a lot further on in this job we have a much better idea of what's going on. What we can't make sense of is why it was done this way when there was a far simpler solution. I digress. The little white choc-bloc thing isn't original and what the wires are doing going in and out of it isn't original either. That also means that up at the voltage regulator where the two fuses for the wiring live, connections there aren't exactly as they ought to be either. This is in the engine bay on the driver's side, just above the steering column.
That mass of wiring goes through the bulkhead to join up with the spaghetti in the cabin. Here you can see it draped over the steering column. Pat and I suspect this is an unfinished job and it may be that whoever started it planned to remove all of the wiring and were working through a section at a time. We'll likely never actually know.
Luckily, much of our guess work is taken out by the new harness. Unluckily quite a lot of new guess work is put in because the new harness doesn't come with labelling or instructions, diagrams, or any indication of what section is for what beyond a wire colour decoder on Autosparks' website. We're told this is normal because it's OEM replacement and since this is our first venture into this sort of thing we have no experience to tell us otherwise. If we were replacing an original harness this likely would have been less of a problem, as it is it created quite a headache.
We have opted to have wiring added for flasher relays and a power outlet, our only concessions to modernity. The front sidelights will become combination sidelight-indicators since there are magic bulbs that do that now, and we'll have some hidden brake and indicator lights at the back, probably in the rear window so it's at eye height for the modern driver. We'll be retaining the functionality of the semaphores and the car will look exactly as it does now, it will just be that little bit safer in modern traffic. These additions are the only labelled items on the new harness, but at least that removes a little confusion for us.
After an embarrassingly long time of laying out the new harness and trying to figure out what went where I had to admit defeat. I couldn't figure out what exactly was supposed to go where physically on the car and, not knowing the actual route of the wiring, the lengths of the new harness weren't really giving me any clues. Best bet, I decided, was to just start removing the old harness and go from there, it would be easier with both harnesses side by side and if I labelled as I went confusion should be minimised.
In the engine bay again, the other area of the bulkhead where the wiring pops out is on the passenger side. The lower wiring nips out alongside the washer bottle a previous owner fitted to our car, it didn't have one of those when new. Nor did it have the fuel filter. This wire I'm pointing at feeds the oil pressure sender and the coil.
I had to clip off the connectors on the wires to get it through the P-clip that holds the wire and pull it through into the cabin.
This is because the P-clip bolt is obscured by the fuel filter and the fuel filter is a two-person job to remove unless you've got longer arms than I have. When the filter was fitted, the fitter didn't make the nuts captive in any way and I don't have a long enough spanner or ratchet combo in the relevant size to wedge and use as a second pair of hands. Also, Pat wasn't available and I don't need the connectors on the old harness anyway since we're replacing it all. Work smarter, not harder. Next then was to figure out how to safely and carefully remove the wiring. I don't know how to draw proper wiring diagrams (yet) so I just drew what I saw as reference. This actually worked out really well for me later when making more accurate diagrams. I used what colours I saw and labelled as I went, removing one wire at a time.
This then left the voltage regulator connector thingy looking a lot more empty.
After pulling the wires through into the cabin that needed to go that way, and leaving the others in the engine bay, I had a colourful selection of tagged wires. I then bundled the wires together that had been together previously to keep some semblance of order to the harness to hopefully help in decyphering later. This is what you might call painstaking and I'm sure some folks would have just happily pulled everything out and thrown it away. Because Pat and I are doing this basically for the first time, we thought more caution was better, especially since we haven't a deadline to meet. "VR" for Voltage Regulator and the number to indicate which location it is on the block, 1 being at the top. The wiring diagram labels it differently to this, I did it this way so I could understand it and kept the same labelling throughout all my diagrams, at least that way my diagrams wouldn't confuse me.
Back inside the cabin again (there was a lot of getting in and out of the car to do this job) I could now look for more of the wiring and see how it should be routed better. Some of the original wiring was still in place and I could see it should be secured tidily under the dashboard in more P-clips. I do show the route a bit more clearly in the video, it's difficult to capture here in static photos. I am also building a physical layout diagram for the wiring which will be freely available to help other Lanchester owners decypher the job on their cars since it was pretty much impossible to find that information when trying to do it on ours.
That bit of the harness I'm pointing at above is behind the passenger glovebox, it branches off and exits the bulkhead into the engine bay again for the wiper motor. What I didn't know is that you can disconnect these wires without removing the wiper motor, but it looks like someone has had the motor off before and when it was reinstalled the wires were tucked in such a way that it wasn't clear whether or not the motor had to be removed. The motor comes out by undoing just two nuts inside the car, or in our case one nut because one was missing and looks to have been missing for quite some time.
I then basically had the whole of the dashboard wiring disconnected as well as any of the wiring that went from the dashboard to the outside of the car. It was looking considerably tidier. Having the wiring out of the car highlighted how bad some of the connections really were. The old wiring is very brittle and the insulation quite fragile in a lot of places.
The heater box was also removed, on our car that meant disconnecting the two water pipes in the engine bay, and undoing the three nuts. We could then disconnect the two wires and remove the whole unit. The core of the heater has failed so it needs repairing which we'll get done when we finally get the radiator done, probably at Bryans since they're local-ish and highly recommended.
The interior was looking considerably tidier now. I should mention at this point I had removed the front seats which made access a lot easier and I was incredibly glad of the carpetting I'd installed, my back thanked me very much for not being jabbed by random bits of floor during some of the fiddlier bits of wire extraction.
With the front of the cabin basically dealt with, I turned my attention back to the engine bay. The horn wiring was already removed, this runs up the sides of the radiator support normally to where the horns live on either side. I wanted to remove the wiring for the lights since they were the furthest items from the bulkhead and would allow me to work my way back. First of all, I had to figure out the route. Starting from the bulkhead, the wiring runs down the outside of the steering column and is usually held on with some pear shaped clamps which are long gone on our car and replaced by plastic cable ties instead. It then snakes around the steering box and into a box section that forms part of the front wing support. You can just see it looking like a brake flexi hose above the lever arm damper with the shiny bolt here. That shiny bolt is an incongruous thing too, the car came to us with that in there so we don't know if just the bolt or something else was replaced.
Some of the wiring goes another route. For the headlights on the driver's side, a spur should branch off and go up into the wing support bracket and to the headlight. Another spur goes above the support bracket, through a clip, and to the sidelight unit.
For the passenger side, the wiring loom runs under the radiator support bracket and repeats the wing support bracket route. However, on our car there's been some chicanery and the route is a little more complicated for the headlight wiring which goes in and out of the original harness, and alongside it, and has a weird meeting of spade connectors and a switchback. It's a mess. The route is fundamentally original, while also being overcomplicated for no good reason.
The side light wiring goes up through the base of the stalk and into the bowl on the top of the wing. To access it, unscrew the screw, pop off the lens, and then twist-release the bulb holder. Once the bulb is out you can see the phenolic disc that the wiring is soldered to. In our case, new wiring has been crimp-connected to old wiring and enough solder has been used that the phenolic disc can't be removed without desoldering it. The little copper wire ring is an improvised earth which works when it feels like it, originally there's a copper or brass tang inside the base of the sidelight that does the same job, it's long since fatigued and snapped off on our car on both sides.
For the headlight, pull the sprung tab on the bottom of the bezel and then prise the bezel off. We don't have a tab on the driver's side, only the passenger side, and both bezels are so tight you probably don't need the extra security of the tab anyway.
This then gives you access to the wiring, in this case three bullet connectors. Two go from the harness to the bulb holder, a third serves as a ground from the bulb holder to the inside of the headlight bowl. The wiring goes through the threaded stem of the headlight and exits into the inner wing.
That was as far as we got in the video, so that's where I'll end this wiring update. It's one of those jobs that takes a lot of time and leaves you with very little to show for it. As you can see from the condition of what we're starting with, the rewire is absolutely essential on this car to make it safe and, as much as possible, reliable.