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angelfj

Bloody Ignition Light

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Hello mates! It's been a while, I'll admit, but life is busy when your retired!

 

I'm planning a trip to our annual Triumph Register of America meet and leaving early Wednesday morning. This year the trip is a short , about 160 miles, since the meet is on the Chesapeake Bay.

 

It never fails, but once again something crops up just whenI need the car to be most reliable. Last week, she started right up for the first time since last October and she ran very well. I proceeded with all of my annual maintenance, oil and filter change, lube, adjust rear brakes, check idle, mixture and timing and adjusted the valves. When I finished, I started the engine and noticed that the ignition warning light stayed on bright. But, I just assumed the battery was low and put it on charge, at low rate, over night. The next morning, the battery charger indicated full charge, so I started the engine. She started right up, but the ignition light did go out. In fact, if I increased the engine speed, the light got even brighter!!! I have never seen this before.

 

Well it's Sunday morning and I really need to sort this out. I will be driving some remote roads near the coast in order to avoid heavy traffic to and from Washington DC. So,I can't afford to have an electrical system failure enroute.

 

Any advice on how to diagnose/fix this problem will be most appreciated.

 

Best regards, Frank

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Frank!

 

Nice to read something from you on the forum again! We had some PM exchange, but I always like your forum contributions.

 

About the red light. Before braking out the tools, I would star with retracing your steps. Try to figure out what might have gone wrong when you accidentally touched the wiring with your sleeve etc. When all looks good, THEN start looking for an internal fault!

 

Menno

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If you still have a dynamo it might be worth cleaning up the regulator contacts especially the cutout.

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All other things being ok.......like wires connected, I would see if the generator is ok first. A simple test is to disconnect both of the wires to it....big one and small one, get a piece of wire and join both together. Using a test meter on volts from the joined wire to earth, start the engine and see if you get a reading, as you increase the engine speed so should the voltage rise....if you have not got a meter use a 12v bulb, but don't let the revs go to high as it will blow....if it's working.

 

If no reading, bulb light then it is most likely to be the brushes.....may be one has stuck in the holder during the period of non use.

 

If the generator is ok the next stage is to look at the regulator....see if the contacts are clean and that there are no breaks in the wires going to it.

 

It should be a 30min job to identify the faulty component.......my bet would be generator brushes.....either stuck or worn out.

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Just read my post again..for clarity......join the actual generator terminals together.......not the wires you have just disconnected.

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The ignition lamp staying on does not indicate a low battery - in fact it shows just the opposite. The light should go out when the generator voltage is higher than the battery voltage, so if it stays on it shows the generator isn't working. What does the ammeter show when you run the engine?

 

What the fault could be depends on whether you have an alternator or a dynamo. The test Dick suggests above will not work if you have an alternator - without a good excitation current from the ignition lamp the alternator will not start to generate (as people have found out when they try to replace the bulb with an LED)

 

Rob

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Frank do you still have that electronic regulator fitted, I remember you had trouble with it before could this be the same problem.

Stuart.

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Frank - On the first day in April that I drove my 1958 TR3A, I had the same problem. The car had been stored during the winter in my warm dry garage. After this recurred about 3 times while driving and stopping, I left the red dash light lit and motored on. Later, I turned off the engine and when I restarted - ALL WAS NORMAL ! It has not happened again in over 300 miles this summer.

 

Cheers

 

Don

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Hi Frank

 

I have no clue whatsoever about your electrical issue, but glad to see your post and hear about your usage of the grey lady. Send pics of your drive if you can!

 

Dan

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On the assumption that it is a dynamo, I have also seen the insulating sleeves where the terminals go through the endplate break down and leak to earth

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I once drove 6 miles with the red light on. I assumed that the dynamo had failed and that I could just get home on the battery. However it was the cut out and the extra voltage, allowed to enter the circuit, heated up the loom and burnt the cable behind the dash so that a small hot wire fell on to the carpet and burned a hole.

 

After a long winter rest the contacts can be flicked with a hand and will start working again. It is certainly best not to drive with the light on.

 

Good luck Richard :)

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Frank!

 

Nice to read something from you on the forum again! We had some PM exchange, but I always like your forum contributions.

 

About the red light. Before braking out the tools, I would star with retracing your steps. Try to figure out what might have gone wrong when you accidentally touched the wiring with your sleeve etc. When all looks good, THEN start looking for an internal fault!

 

Menno

 

Menno, you may have a point there. I may have disturbed some wires like you say. Tomorrow will be the test. I'll keep you posted.

 

Cheers, Frank

 

 

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If you still have a dynamo it might be worth cleaning up the regulator contacts especially the cutout.

 

 

Hello, PJ and thanks for the suggestion, and yes I still have a dynamo. This certainly on the list of things to do.

 

All the best, Frank

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Just read my post again..for clarity......join the actual generator terminals together.......not the wires you have just disconnected.

 

Dick, yes I realized what you had intended to say. This will be part of the diagnosis for sure.

 

Frank

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The ignition lamp staying on does not indicate a low battery - in fact it shows just the opposite. The light should go out when the generator voltage is higher than the battery voltage, so if it stays on it shows the generator isn't working. What does the ammeter show when you run the engine?

 

What the fault could be depends on whether you have an alternator or a dynamo. The test Dick suggests above will not work if you have an alternator - without a good excitation current from the ignition lamp the alternator will not start to generate (as people have found out when they try to replace the bulb with an LED)

 

Rob

You know Rob, I can never remember that fact. I do realize that the voltage across the bulb is a "difference" potential, but I had it bass ackwards. I do indeed have a dynamo, and I'll be making those checks.

 

Thanks,

 

Frank

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Frank do you still have that electronic regulator fitted, I remember you had trouble with it before could this be the same problem.

Stuart.

Hello Stu! No, I have the conventional Lucas control box now. The solid state one worked a treat for over a year and then crapped out. I tried to send it back for repair but learned that the poor guy had passed on. So, I've been running with the Lucas kit for over a year with no trouble. But, yes it needs to be checked.

 

Cheers, Frank

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Frank - On the first day in April that I drove my 1958 TR3A, I had the same problem. The car had been stored during the winter in my warm dry garage. After this recurred about 3 times while driving and stopping, I left the red dash light lit and motored on. Later, I turned off the engine and when I restarted - ALL WAS NORMAL ! It has not happened again in over 300 miles this summer.

 

Cheers

 

Don

Hello Don! I swear you lead a charmed life. You know if I continued driving the car would self-destruct! Sounds like maybe oxidized control box contacts, but of course you'll never know. But, why should you care?

 

Regards,

 

Frank

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On the assumption that it is a dynamo, I have also seen the insulating sleeves where the terminals go through the endplate break down and leak to earth

Dick, that sounds more serious but the checks suggested here should reveal if that;s the cause.

 

Thanks, Frank

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I once drove 6 miles with the red light on. I assumed that the dynamo had failed and that I could just get home on the battery. However it was the cut out and the extra voltage, allowed to enter the circuit, heated up the loom and burnt the cable behind the dash so that a small hot wire fell on to the carpet and burned a hole.

 

After a long winter rest the contacts can be flicked with a hand and will start working again. It is certainly best not to drive with the light on.

 

Good luck Richard :)

 

Hello Richard! Good to hear from you. Gee, I have no desire to allow things to get that serious. Hopefully those contacts can be sorted!

 

Regards, Frank

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Frank, have had a friend have this problem on a datsun.

A bulb change fixed it.

Hi Jim. I hope things down there are in good stead. I should be so lucky that a new bulb would solve this problem, but I have an open mind.

 

All the best,

 

Frank

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I would say the same, regulator contact, dont use emery paper to clean contacts, use fine flour paper.

Stuart.

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Frank - As Stuart advises, don't clean the contacts with emery cloth or sandpaper. If a loose grit of sand becomes embedded onto the contact - well sand can't conduct electricity.

 

I have a tiny steel file about 1/4" wide by 1/16" thick and about 6" long that I use to clean the contacts in the control box.

 

Happy motoring and say hello from me to everyone we both know at TRA.

 

Cheers

 

Don

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