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MG Magnette V8

After nine long, expensive, frustrating years, this project was supposedly at the final stages of getting it on the road, though not necessarily finished, as there would still be a fairly long list of jobs to be done, such as finishing the interior trimming, carpets etc.  It was important for me to actually drive and test the car before doing the finishing jobs as it was quite likely that with such an extensive project, that issues would present themselves quite quickly and as they often require a degree of dismantling, then it needed to be as easy as possible. Anyway, I was itching to drive it more than the 50m up and down our quiet street!

MAY 2013

Paul had a couple of additional jobs to deal with and one was to weld 'spuds' into the roll cage as to use the seat belt shoulder mounts that were already in the car, we didn't believe would be acceptable.

Cars of this age never had manufacturer's seat belt mounts of course, though the previous owner had fitted inertia belts before the car came off the road in 1985.

The location of these 'spuds' was dictated by the LVVTA manual so that is where they were put in. From my perspective, not really ideal, given the location of the fixed seat, but they were installed anyway.

The ideal would have been harness belts of course, but as they are not legal in NZ, that decision was out of our hands.

At this point, we believed that the other mountings were OK.  I fitted a set of good inertia reel belts that I already had and moved on to getting the car as road legal as possible. 

JUNE 2013

The urgent job list was just to get the car road legal, for the Warrant Of Fitness, so that meant working lights (of course!) and wipers, sun visors (a NZ requirement), horn etc., but the mechanical side was deemed OK with all new brakes, tyres, steering joints, wheel bearings, shock absorbers and exhaust and of course, not a trace of rust.  

The totally redesigned and home built wiring system was probably the area that now needed a full check as with no less than 5 fuse blocks and some items previously untested, this needed a steady approach just concentrating on essentials.  (Stereo and rear parking sensors are not essential.)  Several circuits and items had not been tested at all so expecting everything to work first time was a tall order.  As it happened, this particular component (the block) caused me a fair bit of trouble.  My wiring was fine, but for some reason, at least one fuse holder wasn't working reliably, as once the wires had been swapped to another fuse, things worked fine.

We are used to reading disparaging comments about "Lucas, Prince of Darkness", or as in one US tuner's manual.  "Lift the hood/bonnet and if anything has Lucas written on it, discard and replace immediately".  More than a touch unfair as this item is certainly not manufactured by or for Lucas.

The first fuse block to be checked was to the left of the centre dash, mounted inside the glove-box. This was a common feed, 10 way spade terminal block, mainly feeding the centre dash switches.

54.00 Fuse Block D - ignition live - GLOVEBOX    
54.01 Fuse D01 - switch 01 - heater fan GYyb G Y b   IN FUSE 15a OK 28/05/13
54.02 Fuse D02 - switch 02 - screen heater GYY G Y y        
54.03 Fuse D03 - Warning light 03+ amber  fan GYyu G Y u   IN FUSE 25a OK 28/05/13
54.03 Fuse D03 - Relay 01 Terminal 85 Rad fan GYu G Y u   IN FUSE 25a OK 28/05/13
54.04 Fuse D04 - Voltmeter GYg G Y g   IN FUSE 05a OK 28/05/13
54.05 Fuse D05 - Voltage Stabiliser 10v GYw G Y w IN FUSE 05a OK 28/05/13
54.06 Fuse D06 - switch - trafficator GRw G R w IN FUSE 15a ? 28/05/13
54.07 Fuse D07 - switch 05 - spring switch to starter solenoid Gywb G Y w b IN FUSE 15a OK 28/05/13
54.08 Fuse D08 - switch 06 - Fuel pump 2 GYrg G Y r g      
54.09 Fuse D09 - low fuel warning light Nr N   r   IN FUSE 05a OK 28/05/13
54.10 Fuse D10 - switch 04 fuel pump 1 GYr G Y r   IN FUSE 20a OK 28/05/13

This extract from my overall wiring spreadsheet is my fairly easy to see and understand check-sheet. (There is another column to the right that has the destination of the wire using the same number convention, so each wire appears twice.  In and out..)

The first column (A!) you'll note a number. The 54.00 relates to the item - in this case, the fuse-block.

54.01 therefore represents terminal 1, clockwise from the common input, 54.02 the second terminal etc.

The second is the description and destination of the wire.

Column 3 is the colour code for not only the wire and its tracer colour but also the colour of the heat shrink over the terminal or as an additional identification for the wire. The next 4 columns are no more than  a coloured representation of column 3.  What this means is of course that

each wire has a unique colour code at the terminal.

The next column is a quick check.  The Fuse column has a colour code for the fuse (with its rating) and the OK means it has been tested and all is working, followed by the test date.  There are a couple of hidden columns but they will be covered later.


Before we went away, electrical testing continued and whilst most of it was successful, one problem had me retracing steps for quite a while.

Although I'd had the right hand headlamp unit connected and the side light working well, whilst fluffing around one day, when connecting the left hand light unit, whilst sorting out the fuses, I heard the unmistakable sound of a fuse blowing. 

It was on the front side light circuit so somewhere there was a fault. I had left it for a time with just one headlamp in place, but I had to resolve this issue.  Sure enough, the fuse went again so I spent a fair bit of time checking the circuits and even the rear lights. Eventually after a lot of head scratching I found the problem.  It was the brand new Mini light unit, more specifically, the sidelight lamp holder was faulty.  Not a very sturdy item at all.

Another item without Joe Lucas' name on it too.

So, with the LED number plate lamp unit connected we eventually managed a full set of side lights.

The big fingers crossed moment then was putting in the fuses for left and right, dipped and head lights.  As modern headlamps are powerful, they are also very expensive.  Fortunately all was well here though the chrome rims have been left off until the beam heights have been set properly.


From the pic, you'll notice that the oil pressure needle decided to stick showing a very healthy pressure. It then dropped off altogether!  Another job that would have to wait, though I did manage to get the oil pressure warning light working,  having popped a wire out of the connecting plug so it just needed a bit of resoldering. 

One of the issues that had not been resolved was that the (brand new) speedometer cable wasn't turning.  Even though I'd acquired what I thought was the correct assembly, I suspect that the ex race Toyota W55 gearbox has a component missing inside and I did not fancy stripping the gearbox out at this stage.  I had fitted a matching set of MGB dials and had the Rev counter converted to 8 cylinder as the original Magnette had no rev counter.  A bit of an oversight for a sporting saloon I would have thought.  I'm not a great fan of additional gauges stuck all over the place so with the tachometer, plus oil temperature gauge to be added to the original Magnette line up, right from day one, a new dashboard was deemed essential. 

Although expensive, I opted to fit a modern electronic speedo which is driven by a sensor (also expensive!) that picks up a pulse as a rotating component passes by.  It is still a Smiths unit so it matched the rev counter/tachometer.   

Calibrating it is a different story and would have to wait until I could run it over a measured distance.

Fitting the sensor kept me occupied for a while and I eventually opted to attach it to the new (again) steering arm and pick up the pulse from the wheel stud shown in the pic. It seemed easier than mounting it close to the prop shaft for example, but it may prove to be a bit vulnerable. 

Bracketry or indeed, anything to do with metal) is not really my forte but it seems to work OK.

The picture of the suspension shows the new set up as one of the major issues was getting the bumpsteer figures down, though at the time this was taken, we still hadn't got it down to a level acceptable to LVVTA, so there may have been another packer added somewhere. 

Although the wheel alignment hadn't been correctly set up, the jobs list was such that it was time to call in the certifier again, so that he could hopefully sign off the whole project.

So it was arranged that he would call in (again) and with the car back at home, he'd also have to drive it of course, to check out that it steered and stopped.

At this point I was quite buoyant that all issues had been addressed and that the prized modifications plate was only days away.  With the plate, I could then get the car complianced and on the road at long last.

Guess what?...