Decided to tackle the trim rings and bulbs tonight, since they needed to be done before the woodwork anyway. As usual, the part I figured would be difficult was the easy part, and the part that should have been easy… well, you know…
Pulled the steering wheel and cowl off, and undid the screws that hold the top of the cluster in place. Of course, that didn’t allow me to remove the cluster. After looking at it under the dash for a bit and contemplating different ways of prying the rusty center pin loose, I decided to take a chance. Reached up behind and undid the speedometer retention nuts, and pushed it out through the cluster. Popped the bulb out and disconnected the cable, allowing me to remove the speedometer completely. Now I had a place to grab the center of the cluster… reached in through the vacant speedometer hole, got a good grip on the center of the cluster, and gave it a yank… and it popped right out. Whew. I wasn’t looking forward to fighting with that rusty spike from underneath.
Disconnected the oil line and the two harness plugs, and out came the cluster to the kitchen counter (the missus is getting used to seeing JH parts in the kitchen). From there, it was pretty simple to remove the gauges and replace the black trim rings with the chrome ones, cleaning the glass inside and out in the process. Reassembled everything, and the cluster was ready to go back in. At this point, I had spent maybe 45 minutes on the job. Moving along nicely.
So, after supper, I went back out and laid the cluster on the steering column stub, reconnected what needed reconnecting, and decided that before I put it all back together I should probably make sure everything was working right. Tried the dash lights and the new bulbs are a HUGE improvement. So far so good! So, I turned the ignition key to “run”…. and nothing. No movement on anything. Hmmm. OK, must have a bad connection somewhere, right?
So, I checked all the connections… they all seem good. Still nothing when I tried it again. So, just to make sure there wasn’t more mischief afoot, I started her up. She started right up, but still nothing on the gauges (other than the oil gauge of course which is purely mechanical). Well, this isn’t good…
About this time I notice that the radio didn’t come on either. A HA! Must be a fuse!!! So, up went the bonnet and sure enough the #2 fuse was blown. I’m guessing that maybe the cluster wiring touched something it shouldn’t have when I had it loosely lying there. So, I pulled the blown fuse and put in a new one. Turned the key back to “run” again, and this time the voltmeter moved up and the radio lit up. OK, progress.
So, I start her up again. This time, the voltmeter and tachometer behaved as they should have. Feeling a little better about things, but I’m still wondering why the temp and fuel gauges aren’t moving. While I am pondering this, checking connections AGAIN, she starts to misfire. This CAN’T be good!
So, I shut her off, think about things, check connections under the bonnet (maybe I damaged the coil somehow? Who knows) and then start her up again. Harder to start, and she was not running right at all. After about 10 seconds, despite my efforts to keep her running, she died and I could not get her restarted. By this time I am seriously freaking out, wondering what I could possibly have damaged. I’m already paranoid after changing her timing belt, and I went to the trouble to get her at TDC and check the cam marks just to be sure the belt didn’t slip. Fortunately, that’s all good. Whew.
So, I get back behind where the wheel would be if it wasn’t lying on the floor, and I tried to start her again. Still nothing, just turning over but not catching. As I’m doing this, a little bulb goes off in my brain… “you know, I am not hearing that lovely noisy fuel pump clicking away…” OK, now I have something else to troubleshoot! So, up goes the boot lid, and a quick test with my Fluke meter reveals that I am only getting about 2V at the pump. OK… so, after consulting the wiring diagram in the owners manual, I go back under the bonnet and idly wiggle and spin the fuse I replaced in the fusebox. Then, back to the boot, and now I am getting 12V at the pump. Much better. Reconnected the pump wiring, got back behind the missing wheel, and she started right up. Huge sigh of relief. Apparently the fuse wasn’t properly seated in the fusebox. I guess I should go in there and clean things up.
So, the mystery of the misfire now solved (basically, she ran out of gas) I could go back to pondering the nonfunctioning fuel and temp gauges. After doing more testing with my Fluke, I established that there was no voltage on the “I” side of the voltage stabilizer. That would explain why those gauges aren’t working. To confirm, I moved the wires on the stabilizer so that they were basically just a jumper (both wires on the “B” terminal) and the gauges moved right up, though obviously not accurately since they were now getting much more than the 10V that the stabilizer provides. Apparently, whatever caused the fuse to blow also took the stabilizer with it.
So, after Googling around a bit (the club store doesn’t have them that I could find) I found a replacement solid state voltage stabilizer at Moss Motors (which means I get to look forward to getting all kinds of catalogs and email offers for the MG that I don’t own). Since I was ordering one, I ordered two (I like having spares of hard to find items). Good thing I wasn’t planning on driving her for the next week… they should arrive before I get back from vacation.
The fun continues… and maybe my Madera Concepts woodwork will arrive about that same time…