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Roderick Keeler
New User
Username: cal_turbo_r

Post Number: 3
Registered: 8-2012
Posted on Tuesday, 04 September, 2012 - 02:06 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

In the last few days, I've had a disquieting experience with my 1990 Turbo R (X31104). On Friday, I got in the car as usual and put the key in the ignition. I turned it from "Lock" to "Run" and instantly lost all electrical power. Absolutely nothing was on. After about a minute, all power was restored. I tried to replicate it, but everything ran perfectly.

I suspected that a loss of this sort had to be early in the system, so on Saturday, I removed the cables from the battery and began tracing those main lines. I removed, cleaned, and reattached the main ground. I removed the main cut-off switch and ensured all those connections were good. I reattached them using dialectical grease. I then connected up the battery, and all seemed well...

Until tonight.

The car was running in my driveway. I turned on the lights. As soon as I made the switch from marker lights to main beams, I again lost every bit of power. The car stopped running of course and sat there in total darkness again for a minute or so when all power returned.

It would be quite an experience to have this happen at dusk out on the highway. I'm hoping one of you who is more experienced with these cars than I will point me in the right direction.

Thanks so much,

Rod
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Laurie Fox
Frequent User
Username: laurie_fox

Post Number: 97
Registered: 6-2004
Posted on Tuesday, 04 September, 2012 - 02:25 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

I suspect a faulty cell in the battery.

Laurie
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James Feller
Prolific User
Username: james_feller

Post Number: 225
Registered: 5-2008
Posted on Tuesday, 04 September, 2012 - 02:46 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

or even a bad or corroded main connection from the alternator 3 pin plug. Check that the plug on the top of the alternator is ok and the main power connnection at the back of the alternator unit is tight and secure to the alternator, it will be under a rubber protector its at the back next to the PAS fluid reservoir. Be careful as this carries high current, turn the battery master switch off before checking its tightness with a spanner less you want a rude shock! Or indeed as Laurie suggests baterry is done. Yes not something you want to happen on the freeway....

hope all goes well mate.

J
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Omar M. Shams
Prolific User
Username: omar

Post Number: 278
Registered: 4-2009
Posted on Tuesday, 04 September, 2012 - 04:35 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

If it was a bad cell in the battery then the alternator would have taken over.
I suspect the ignition switch itself.
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David Gore
Moderator
Username: david_gore

Post Number: 1136
Registered: 4-2003
Posted on Tuesday, 04 September, 2012 - 08:14 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

Hi Omar, my experience with dead battery cells has been one of complete inability to proceed. No amount of jump starting has resulted in the engine running on alternator output alone.

I suspect this has been the result of the plates shorting out in the cell due to loss of integrity. The plates in modern batteries seem to be a lot thinner than they were in the batteries of old and are prone to flexing as they thin due to loss of lead over time during use. The deletion of Antimony from the lead alloys used in batteries presumably to reduce electrolyte loss to allow batteries to be designated low maintenance also hasn't helped as this alloying element had the side effect of increasing the strength of the battery plates thus reducing their buckling in service.
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Roderick Keeler
New User
Username: cal_turbo_r

Post Number: 4
Registered: 8-2012
Posted on Wednesday, 05 September, 2012 - 09:41 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

Thanks for all the input. I was able to induce the car to do it once more. I suspected the battery as well (in spite of the fact that it cranks strongly). While everything remained dark, I checked the voltage at the battery, and it was 12+. I also rattled the main shut-off switch with no effect. Again, a minute or so later, power was restored. I need to study the wiring diagram more closely. Would a failure in the ignition switch kill everything?
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Dave Puttock
Experienced User
Username: ariel

Post Number: 34
Registered: 5-2010
Posted on Wednesday, 05 September, 2012 - 10:01 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

If it cranks ok then I dont think it can be the battery, even a nearly dead battery will light the panel lamps. It sounds like a hot (loose) connection maybe at the ammeter shunt, or those big bulkhead terminals, or even the back of the ignition switch.
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Roderick Waite
Frequent User
Username: rodwaite

Post Number: 73
Registered: 1-2012
Posted on Thursday, 06 September, 2012 - 05:38 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

Hello Rod (I'm another Roderick). I don't think it's your battery as it cranks the engine strongly, and you've cleaned all the contacts. From what you say the fault does not occur when cranking anyway, nothing blows, nothing shorts, and it reminds me of a fault I had on my '84 Spirit in that the main headlights seemed to trigger loss of power, and that turned out to be a faulty dipswitch. I do hope your scary problem is as simple as that ...


Stay well

Rod Waite
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Hubert Kelly
Experienced User
Username: h_kelly

Post Number: 28
Registered: 3-2012
Posted on Thursday, 06 September, 2012 - 08:26 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

Hi Roderick, if memory serves me correctly, someone had a similar problem with a shadow on this site recently and if im correct the main ignition key barrel switch many have been the problem with heavy set of keys. Im might be totally wrong???????
hk
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Roderick Keeler
New User
Username: cal_turbo_r

Post Number: 5
Registered: 8-2012
Posted on Thursday, 06 September, 2012 - 12:56 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

I think when the weekend comes I will crawl around and look at the connections to the starter, alternator, etc. The ammeter is a good thought. I had a car years ago that would do this sort of thing if the connections at the ammeter were loose. I'll also look into the ignition. Curiously, I had just been poking around the ignition trying to change the bulb that illuminates the headlamp switch before this all began. Coincidence??

Thanks again to all for the input.

How nice to meet another Roderick. I've come across very few in my life... many Rodneys and the occasional Rodrick. Glad to see we have similar taste in cars.
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Brian Crump
Prolific User
Username: brian_crump

Post Number: 115
Registered: 2-2007
Posted on Thursday, 06 September, 2012 - 05:09 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

I had a similar experience in a Spirit - except it was intermittent and then shortly afterwards resulted in total failure in the fast lane of the freeway. Now that is interesting!
It turned out to be two issues.
1. The battery cable goes under the body to a terminal from which another cable runs under the body to the engine compartment. That cable was corroded and burnt out at the first terminal under the rear of the body.
2. The main feed wire to the alternator also burnt out - and I replaced it with a heavier gauge wire.
Even if this turns out not to be the problem it would be prudent to check the first terminal after the battery cable as it is out of sight and out of mind until there is a problem.
Regards,
Brian
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Roderick Keeler
New User
Username: cal_turbo_r

Post Number: 6
Registered: 8-2012
Posted on Friday, 07 September, 2012 - 11:17 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

Thanks Brian,
It does sound like you had the same issue. I will add that to my list of items to check.
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Roderick Keeler
New User
Username: cal_turbo_r

Post Number: 7
Registered: 8-2012
Posted on Friday, 07 September, 2012 - 01:10 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

Well, the problem has now gone from intermittent to constant. This actually may be a blessing in disguise, as now I can determine where exactly the flow of electricity ends. I was able to check the main power cable that runs under the car, and it is getting power all the way to the engine compartment. I really need to see what's happening at the connection to the starter, but I have discovered that the starter is pretty hard to get to. Admittedly I wasn't able to spend too much time poking around, but I was never able to even see the connection point with the power cable. I'm hopeful that this is the source of the problem (and that I can get to it).
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Roderick Keeler
New User
Username: cal_turbo_r

Post Number: 8
Registered: 8-2012
Posted on Sunday, 09 September, 2012 - 07:05 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

ISSUE RESOLVED: I was able to track down the source of my electrical failure. This morning I discovered that power had again been restored. I ran the engine with the bonnet up to see if I could again replicate the failure. As I walked around, I smelled something acrid. Not seeing anything, I opened the compartment just forward of the right side HVAC fan. In this compartment there is a brown heavy gauge wire that connects to two smaller brown wires. The connection was smoking. I shut down the engine and then the battery cut off. After it had cooled I examined the connection. It was hanging on by only a few strands of wire which broke when I touched them. It was highly corroded so I cleaned everything up and trimmed the wire back to where it was healthy and fitted a new connector. Reconnected, all seems to be well. I ran the engine for some time, and the connection remained cool. It seems I can drive the car again.

Thank you again to all of you who offered your thoughts. It's wonderful to have access to such a group of helpful enthusiasts.

Rod
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Graham Burn
Experienced User
Username: graham

Post Number: 46
Registered: 6-2013
Posted on Wednesday, 05 February, 2014 - 08:02 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

Hi Rod, I know this post goes back a bit but I recently had a very similar experience with my '87 Turbo R, see my post "Puzzling electrical problem"
The symptoms were very similar and what you found was just the kind of fault I expected to find but so far I've drawn a blank.
Was your dodgy connection a splice or a plug in connector?
The really weird thing with my fault was that it went away when the alternator plug was disconnected and then there was what seems to be an earth fault on the interior light circuit but it doesn't blow the 10A fuse so I still suspect there is a weak electrical connection somewhere.
Where exactly was your bad connection so I can check it on my car, if the wiring is the same on my earlier car.
At the moment with the interior light fuse removed it seems OK but I can't be sure and I don't want to be stranded somewhere!
Thanks
Graham
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Graham Burn
Experienced User
Username: graham

Post Number: 49
Registered: 6-2013
Posted on Tuesday, 04 March, 2014 - 07:51 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

The gremlins are upping their game now!! My car is now stranded on my drive with total electrical failure.
Prime suspect is now the connection where the main lead from the battery connects to the starter motor. My reasoning for this is that at the time when I still had some electrical power, when it failed power was absent from all the main power connections under the bonnet and in the footwells and the only common denominator is the connection to the starter motor.
I powered up the electrics via the cigar lighter and everything else seems to be in order except the starter.
Looking at pictures of the starter motor it looks as if the connection is on the back of the starter next to the block?
Does the cable from the battery isolator to the starter pass through the car or under the floor? just wondering as if I need to pull it back for repair it would be handy to know.
Thanks in advance
Graham
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Paul Yorke
Grand Master
Username: paul_yorke

Post Number: 1166
Registered: 6-2006
Posted on Tuesday, 04 March, 2014 - 08:57 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

Hi, is the alternator big terminal dead as well?

The main lead drops from the cut off switch and then runs under the car.

Bridge the switch as well as checking the starter terminals.

Put a test light between the battery positive and the boot catch on the floor to check your earth.
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Graham Burn
Experienced User
Username: graham

Post Number: 50
Registered: 6-2013
Posted on Tuesday, 04 March, 2014 - 06:03 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

Hi Paul yes the whole car is dead except the circuits fed by the memory fuse, I've had the isolator switch out and checked it, works good minimal resistance across it when closed, also the earth is sound.
I've managed to get the car a bit higher on jacks and stands so hope to be able to get to the terminal on the starter today, is it worth taking off the section of exhaust to improve access?
Thanks
Graham
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Paul Yorke
Grand Master
Username: paul_yorke

Post Number: 1167
Registered: 6-2006
Posted on Tuesday, 04 March, 2014 - 06:23 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

no, exhaust removal is a rpith.

so today you have feed to both sides if the boot cut off switch but none to the large alternator terminal

there are spring washers under the starter motor large nuts, these rust and break and you can loose your connection there.
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Graham Burn
Frequent User
Username: graham

Post Number: 51
Registered: 6-2013
Posted on Tuesday, 04 March, 2014 - 07:54 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

Cheers Paul, yes I have power after the switch but nothing anywhere else except from the memory fuse circuits.
Your theory of the spring washers sounds very feasible as the problem was intermittent but now I have nothing :-(
Going to dive under now so I'll let you know what I find.
Graham
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Graham Burn
Frequent User
Username: graham

Post Number: 52
Registered: 6-2013
Posted on Tuesday, 04 March, 2014 - 09:05 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

Update, I think I've found the problem, my diagnosis would appear to be good as after working the terminal to and fro a couple of times power has been restored so the car is now on my ramps so I've at least got a bit more room underneath.
There seem to be a number of jobs on these cars where it might be easier to drop out the engine to fix them, fine if you've got a 2 post lift but not so good if you're crawling around on your drive like me!
As I can't see what I'm doing and only working by feel I think it might be a case of nut off, remove broken spring washer, fit a new one and tighten up again.
As far as I can tell the end of the cable appears to be OK, still attached to the terminal eye and no bits of wire poking out!
Just waiting for things to cool down before I go under again, just going out now to switch off the isolator before I forget!
Regards
Graham
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Graham Burn
Frequent User
Username: graham

Post Number: 53
Registered: 6-2013
Posted on Wednesday, 05 March, 2014 - 07:37 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

OK when I got under again I found the terminal nut loose, a little touch with the spanner and it was finger tight, no sign of a spring washer but it was one of those nuts with the fixed washer common on Japanese electrical connections. While it was off I gave the terminal a spray with electrical cleaner then refitted the nut this time tightening it securely, so far all is good but time will tell!
Thanks to everyone for your help and suggestions, hopefully this will be of help to others.
Graham
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richard george yeaman
Prolific User
Username: richyrich

Post Number: 217
Registered: 4-2012
Posted on Wednesday, 08 October, 2014 - 10:20 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

Last evening I was speaking on the phone to my friend Stephen he was driving his 1991 turbo R the next thing I heard him say this car has just cut out at the traffic lights this was about 22.30 the breakdown man checked and there was power up to the back of the alternator. it was put on the back of a recovery vehicle and my friend arrived home at 03.30am what could be wrong.

Richard.
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Bob Reynolds
Prolific User
Username: bobreynolds

Post Number: 172
Registered: 8-2012
Posted on Wednesday, 08 October, 2014 - 10:55 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

Ignition fuse blown? I suppose the breakdown man checked for the obvious?
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Paul Yorke
Grand Master
Username: paul_yorke

Post Number: 1280
Registered: 6-2006
Posted on Wednesday, 08 October, 2014 - 11:26 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

from the large alternator terminal there should be a smaller wire. This one often has a fusible link within the first six inches.

not a fuse, just the cable is an thinner single strand.

Make sure that this is good . check for power at the large brown wire behind the mineral oil reservoirs.
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richard george yeaman
Prolific User
Username: richyrich

Post Number: 218
Registered: 4-2012
Posted on Thursday, 09 October, 2014 - 12:44 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

Bob, Paul,
My friend Stephen rang word from the garage that was fixing it thin wire back of the alternator was cooked good call Paul.

Richard.
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Bob uk
Unregistered guest
Posted From: 94.197.122.79
Posted on Thursday, 09 October, 2014 - 04:57 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

A lot of cars have a large cable from battery to starter and then a wire from the starter to the alternator. Then a second wire to supply the rest of the electrics. The wires will be Brown if it's a Lucas circuit.

Rover cars used a big insulated brass stud instead of the starter motor terminal for a distribution point.

On race stuff the alternator would be hard wired to the starter and the spur for the rest of the electrics would have a fuseable link to the fuse box.

A useful tool is a hand held temp gauge with the red dot that is aimed at the suspected electrical felon.

Now you know why Lucas was called Dracula the Prince of darkness. Lucas made night riding on brit motorbikes an adventure.
An e type owner called the positions on his light switch as off dim and flicker.

Insulting Lucas is only allowed if one is British and other nationalities are only allowed to praise Lucas.

(Message approved by david_gore)
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David Gore
Moderator
Username: david_gore

Post Number: 1476
Registered: 4-2003
Posted on Thursday, 09 October, 2014 - 02:13 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

"Insulting Lucas is only allowed if one is British and other nationalities are only allowed to praise Lucas."


Bob.........priceless .
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Bob uk
Unregistered guest
Posted From: 94.197.122.91
Posted on Friday, 10 October, 2014 - 06:55 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

Australians and New Zealanders are honorary British because they still have the Union Jack.
So feel free to insult Lucas.

The real problem with Lucas and car electrics in general is the mechanics who fix the cars.

I have worked with lots of mechanics who don't know what an amp or a volt is, and do everything by substitution and then fit a new generator, regulator and battery.

(Message approved by david_gore)
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ijf
Unregistered guest
Posted on Thursday, 23 November, 2017 - 06:13 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

So just had the lucas alternator and regulator in the boot checked and allegedly they are both ok

alternator not charging

new regulator fitted
still not charging
any advice?
my mechanic is stumped.....

(Message approved by david_gore)
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michael vass
Grand Master
Username: mikebentleyturbo2

Post Number: 404
Registered: 7-2015
Posted on Thursday, 23 November, 2017 - 08:50 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

Hi All
A mate of mine had an electrical failure , there is a main connector by the rh strut top ,sometimes under the rh cover, thick brown (about 100A) cable on a spade connector!
Worth checking
Mike
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Martin Taylor
Prolific User
Username: martin_taylor

Post Number: 115
Registered: 7-2013
Posted on Thursday, 23 November, 2017 - 08:59 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

The warning light must function to excite the alternator, check the bulb, if not that then wiring
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Patrick Lockyer.
Grand Master
Username: pat_lockyer

Post Number: 1640
Registered: 9-2004
Posted on Thursday, 23 November, 2017 - 09:59 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

As Paul has stated the fusible link, the warning light will not work if the link is shot.
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Colin Salmon
New User
Username: spurfatherfigure

Post Number: 5
Registered: 3-2018
Posted on Wednesday, 18 April, 2018 - 01:27 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

Lucas. Left Us Cold And Stranded.

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