How Many British Car Owners Does it Take to Change a Light Bulb?
I decided to demonstrate some foresight for once and check the weather Friday night before tomorrow’s club drive. The forecast was for heavy drizzle all along the coast. Hmm... Since I’d talked Elaine into coming along, drizzle meant that taking the GT would be the best choice. No problem, it’s already in the garage, so I’ll just go down and check it over.
Everything was fine. The places that were supposed to have fluids were full, the places that weren’t supposed to have fluids were dry, and none of the fluids had staged a sleep-over and swapped places. Automobile fluids are one of the few things where segregation is a good policy. The only item out of order was the right front turn signal.
It would flash, but it wasn’t very bright. Then I discovered that if the lights were on, instead of flashing, it would blink. Taking a closer look revealed that the turn signal filament wasn’t being used, and the parking light filament was doing the flashing. OK, thinks I, the ground must be poor. Furthermore, since the right side marker light and the headlight work fine, it must be the ground at the light housing, not at the chassis, that’s causing the trouble.
Pleased with my diagnostic acumen, I set to work to remove the combined parking and turn signal light from the depths of the rubber bumper. The first sign of trouble was that the screws holding it in were oval-head wood screws. While Abingdon did use that type of screw, they didn’t use them to secure light assemblies, so this was an indication of another modification by the Dreaded Previous Owner. Previous DPO “fixes” I’d discovered and rectified over the years include a fuel pump mount that incorporated newspaper filler, different keys for different doors, and a clevis pin wrapped with wire to take up slack, so I was worried about what I’d find once I got the light out.
The light actually came out easily, but not the bulb. That was wedged in there pretty tightly, due to the light housing being more than a bit distorted. It looked like the light was a victim of crash damage, but not so badly damaged that it couldn’t go back into the bumper. Before I got the bulb out, I discovered that if I wiggled it around, it did work properly, so the original “bad ground” theory was correct. But due to the bent light housing, improving the ground lead wasn’t going to help with this problem.
I ended up installing a straight light assembly I’d salvaged from a junkyard years ago, and adding an additional ground to the wiring harness in the right front corner of the car just on general principles. I also replaced the wood screws with the correct ones – I didn’t want the next owner to think of me as his DPO.
And the answer to the question at the start of this tale? First, before you change the bulb, check the ground. You might discover that you don’t have to change the bulb at all. But if you do, only one British car owner is required to change a light bulb. However, it can take him three hours – that’s how long it took me. Oh, and don’t trust the weather report – there was no drizzle the next day anywhere along the coast.