Wipers and Stuff

By Geoff Kremer


When you start to think about and indeed start building your Rod, most low down on the “wants list” are things like wiper motors and drives, switches and things. I know what it’s like...lets get stuck into V8’s and suspensions. Trouble is that you will have to deal with these little things as you do the big ones. I will try to guide you to a simple and effective way to select the everyday items you are going to have to use and live with when driving your pride and joy.

Steering column switches.
A very emotive subject. Personally I don’t like switches, wiring or anything that spoils clean lines. But reality takes hold here so we need to chose carefully.

  • 1 Austin Metro, Montego, Maestro switch cluster. Two quite neat stalks gives you. Left Stalk....Sides, Heads, Dip, Flash, Horn, Indicator. The right stalk gives you: Wiper (two speed), washer & single wipe.

  • 2 Renault 5, 21& 25 Left stalk only (which is particularly easy to mount) Sides, Heads, Dip, Horn, indicator and Flash. Get the plug with it!

The thing is: the above switch clusters are particularly easy to install.

If you want a nice complete steering column, switch and ignition assembly that ‘s easy to use, chose:
Triumph Dolomite or Stag. This will give you; Lights, Indicators, Horns, Flasher, Wiper, Washer & Full Ignition switch functions, including steering lock all in one pod. Also you get an adjustable steering column (up/down and fore/aft) and a neat cowl moulding. These switches don’t have plug assemblies so are much much easier to adapt.

The Ford Cortina, Escort range gives you all the above and a hazard switch but they are complicated to adapt and the cowl moulding probably won’t look right. Again, you will need the plugs!

I’d steer clear (is that a joke?) of Jaguar, they do have everything you’d want but may be difficult to adapt, also they are rather large for a small interior.

Other switches you may need can be found from many of the older cars. The old Jag ones are brilliant although a bit large and you can still get the starter button, new....very cool! If you do happen upon these switches please be aware that they have some very unusual contact arrangements also you’ll need to soak them in WD40 over night to clean said contacts.

If you are going to use the original switch gear lighting, ignition etc that came with the your car . First make sure they are in good order, and I would suggest you run them through relays. More on that in later articles.

A terrific source of very neat and well made switches can be found in electronics stores such as Maplins, RS, Tandy. Don’t be put off by the miniature ones, most of these little fellas can handle a deceptively large amount of current.

Don’t use the after market accessories switches like the ones from Halfords and the like, I think they look horrid, have a nasty action and fall apart.

Brake or stop light switches. Personally I’d steer clear of the hydraulic ones, they do leak and are a pain to replace when they do. Use a Micro switch with a “lever arm” on the brake pedal itself and you won’t go wrong.


Whatever dials and gauges you are using, if they’ve come from a donor car, will most likely have most of the warning lights built in, ignition, indicator, main beam etc, however you might consider using LED’s Light Emitting Diodes. These little things are absolutely great especially with a billet ally dash. They come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colours although I’ve not seen a white one yet. They are cheap, easy to use and almost never burn out. I’ll be covering their uses later.


Do not touch Jaguar XJ6 and XJS wiper motors because they require a very special relay switching circuitry and have a weird parking arrangement.

The easiest to use is perhaps the Austin Rover RACK & PINION, as use on MINI’S, 1100/13 00 and most Austin products. This “rack system” allows you to route your wiper drives very easily. Please make sure you get a wiper system with a “round bodied motor”, not the earlier square ones! Also make sure you get the little plug with it as well.

Often you may need to alter the sweep of the wiper arms here’s how to do it. Make sure the wiper motor is in it’s parked position first.

Take the aluminium cover off and remove the connecting arm from the drive pin. Position or measure where you need to relocate the drive pin. Remove the “circlip” on the back and remove the main gear wheel. Drill out the rivets holding the plate to the nylon gear. Now you can grind off the peening holding the pin and reposition it by drilling a now hole and Mig welding it in place then pop rivet or nut and bolt the plate and gear back together and Bob’s your uncle. You’ll notice on the back of the nylon gear is a small ramp, this operates the parking switch and is removable, make sure you know where it comes from in case it falls out because it fits in many places. The rack outer tube can be cut and re-flared or indeed replaced with 3/8” tube.

The alternative to the Rack and Pinion is the good old levers and arms as found on Ford, Triumph and Vauxhall. These can be difficult to set up and are not as flexible as the rack one, on the other hand they are quieter and more precise in their operation.


I could do a whole series of articles about alternators but I'm not.
Thing is that you need a nice reliable, cheap and above all easy to use unit. I just would not even bother thinking about using an alternator with a separate control box. Keep it simple use: Lucas nothing less than an 18 or 21ACR . Motorola, AC Delco these all make two wire units. One wire is the battery charging feed and the other is the ignition light......that’s it!
Tip on LUCAS alternators. You can change the “hand” on them by turning the front plate around, (take out the 3 long bolts), and drill out the threaded hole.


There are two basic types of electrical fuel, temperature and pressure gauge.

1 Air cored. With these the needle bounces around all over the place when you shake the gauge.

  • 2 Hot wire. These are the ones that seen to take forever to register and are the easiest to use.
I would suggest sticking to the hot wire type and whatever you do make sure you get the matching senders with the gauges, especially oil pressure gauges.

Rev counters or tachometers.
  • 1 Current sense. These are wired in series with the ignition coil and fitted to cars made up to about the 70’s. They have on the back either a little coil of wire with flying terminals or a male and female bullet connector. These are difficult to use with electronic ignition and you may have to order the tacho adaptor for it.
  • 2 Pulse sense. These take the impulses directly from the coil, usually from the breaker side, again you might have to get an adaptor if you're using electronic ignition.

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