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#844642 03/30/21 10:36 pm
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So I’m still trouble shooting this headlight. When the bike was handed down to me there was a three way ignition switch. I bought a new two way switch to go back original because nearly every switch had something to do with the headlight coming on. I tried looking at a schematic but just as confused as someone pulled the z. diode off and has somewhat rewired I believe. I’m trying to figure out what the switch coming out the horn does and the three way toggle switch on top the headlight does. That is just the start.

I don’t know how to hook up the two way ignition switch and have the headlight work or even the ignition to happen at the same time. I can only get the ignition to work. When I hook up the other wire on either side of the two way terminal the ignition nothing works, ignition nor headlight. 🤷🏻‍♂️


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The Manual has a wiring schematic which is easy to follow.
If you are returning it to original, just follow that.
The action of fitting electronic ignition or regulator/rectifier will mean changes
to wiring but they are no drama.

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splash Offline OP
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None of the schematics show what the switches should do. They only show color of wire and switch. I’m not going back to original with the z. Diode.


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Originally Posted by splash
None of the schematics show what the switches should do. They only show color of wire and switch. I’m not going back to original with the z. Diode.
your not looking very hard
the, pin positions for the 3 way switch
are on the,right side of the diagram
it may take some time and patience before it make sense
And if that doesn't work it may take some more time and patience .
i think this is for 1970 ...,dont know if 1969 is the same
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splash Offline OP
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Yeah, there are a few “I think this is for a 1970” also.

Still don’t understand the figures all the way on the left or the two way toggle switch on the horn is ....where?

I guess three way toggle switch on headlamp goes... all the way right is everything off, middle instrument and tail on, all the way left is everything on including headlamp?

So is the horn toggle switch low/high beam and they calling it a “dip” beam?

Last edited by splash; 03/31/21 2:05 am.

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Be glad you’re working on a ‘70!! Talk about headlight switches!!


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Originally Posted by splash
So is the horn toggle switch low/high beam and they calling it a “dip” beam?
Here, let me translate for you.
The "dipper switch" is the dimmer switch.
The "dip beam" is your low beam.
And please, no jokes about calling someone a "dipswitch".

The horn push is near the top right of the schematic.

The "lighting Switch" is your 3 position toggle switch. Look closely at the back of it to see the numbers shown on the schematic. Use that to know where to connect your wires.

A good plan is to verify each circuit as you connect it up. Do this safely by hooking your battery to the harness through a 10 amp circuit breaker or a fuse. you may blow a fuse or ten but will avoid frying your wiring.

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splash Offline OP
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What does the toggle switch on the horn push suppose do? Not the push button that blows the horn.


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Dip = low beam
Main = high beam
that's the 2 position switch on the horn button.

The figures on the left show the 3 way switch internal connection when in the selected position.

If you are using a reg/rec then the two alternator leads connect to the two yellow wires
and the red goes to ground + the black connects to brown/white -. Remove or disconnect the zener.

Last edited by NickL; 03/31/21 6:50 am.
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Remember, these books were written 50 years ago. In England. They don't speak the same language. There should be an appendix in the back to interpret the words into American. I read an annotated edition of a Shakespeare play once. Some pages had more words of explanation on them than words of play.


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My top tips are, as Nick L says get a wiring schematic (diagram) for your year of bike; Keep as much as possible to the standard wiring and colours; don't try changing the earth (ground) for the bike. I did and got very confused with the colour codes, so changed back; if you're abandoning the zener diode then leave the wiring is as is for the moment, and if using a solid state rectifier/regulator follow Nick's instructions.

At least on the later bikes they broke out all the switches and made them a bit more accessible. If you get stuck for a source of switches they're not dissimilar to those being used by Lucas for cars in the '60s, so MG dealer/breaker (wrecker?) might be able to help. My '65 6 volt TR6 has them all hard wired into two switches in a side panel. I've now converted to 12 volt so that I could use solid state rectifier/regulator and easier available bulbs. A Tiger Cub I had had the PRS8 switch which this 17 year old found an absolute nightmare to understand, where circuits get switched in and out.

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I may rewire the top of bike soon. New color codes and everything. There’s no reason to have a different color just because it hits a switch. I’m gonna keep it as simple as possible. Not sure if I wanna keep the positive earth or not but probably not unless the alternator has something to do with the way it is hooked up.

How did you come out of this experience, Don?

Last edited by splash; 03/31/21 12:28 pm.

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Your asking for trouble. Color coded wires are the easiest way to keep track of things. Negative earth? Why?


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When you say "hits a switch", presumably you mean the wire the wire from the opposite contact? The reason for that is so you know that is the switched wire and not the feed wire. From the same terminal there would be no need for a different colour and would be confusing.
When old machines were first automated the manufacturers typically used the same colour wire for everything (not being electrical engineers) and put numbered bands on the ends of each wire so they could differentiate the wires. A friends automated chop saw has a switch and indicator box with six multiposition switches and indicator lights all wired in black. A real mess trying to trace problems.
The generator puts out AC so it does not care what the DC side is wired. The regulator, if the case is connected to one of the output poles, will make a difference. Some, like the Tympanium, have an isolated case so can be wired either way.
If you plan on using LED lights, although they make positive common versions, negative chassis would be cheaper.

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Originally Posted by DMadigan
When you say "hits a switch", presumably you mean the wire the wire from the opposite contact? The reason for that is so you know that is the switched wire and not the feed wire. From the same terminal there would be no need for a different colour and would be confusing.
When old machines were first automated the manufacturers typically used the same colour wire for everything (not being electrical engineers) and put numbered bands on the ends of each wire so they could differentiate the wires. A friends automated chop saw has a switch and indicator box with six multiposition switches and indicator lights all wired in black. A real mess trying to trace problems
I got news for you, I did a lot of electrical wiring on machines and stuff like conveyors...When I retired 15 years ago it was mostly one color wire identified by tags or or numbers stamped on pre made wire bundles.Same goes for complex control wiring in power generating plants.
Rewire all my bikes over the years with at most three colors..wiring on old bikes is very simple....Hobbyists need to take the time to sit down and study the wiring instead of going into a state of chaos...


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Hi Splash,
What has prompted this idea of re-wiring the bike so suddenly?
I thought you were riding it around for some time now, and that you were just recently concerned about plug colours?
Is there something wrong with the loom (eg melted lengths)?

You can’t get much simpler than a britbike loom, so how do you expect to simplify it?

The switches on a 12V system are easy to understand if you take some time to trace the electrical paths in each of the switch positions.

If “someone pulled the z. diode off” is there a reg/rec installed? To find out, see where the alternator wires go to (hopefully a finned box with 2 yellow wires, and a red and a black).

I’m not belttling you, but I do think you need to look at the bike and the wiring diagrams more closely before you start re-inventing the wheel.

Best of.

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splash Offline OP
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What prompted the idea? Just the amount of trouble shooting problems trouble shooting.

1. Not 100% sure what schematic I should use.
2. The bike has been worked on before by a couple mechanics my dad knew over the years. For example, the positive ground that goes to the engine case is black rather than red as supposed to be. I have two solid white wires on one connector, a black wire, and a white/brown wire that once went to the three way key switch...🤷🏻‍♂️
3. The gauge of wire could be higher
4. Like the three way key switch I’m eliminating but now that I think about it, it could be better to leave on and have that one key switch turn on the headlights. I don’t know but some of the switches can be eliminated. It seems overkill.
5. There are many wires by the headlight or in the headlight which are just capped off like all the wires that went to the ammeter I disconnected. Some are just taped up and hanging. It’s slop.

The headlight still flickers and works when it wants to is the main reason and I can’t trace the problem. I was thinking it may be in the three way key switch. I order a two way and can’t figure out what or where the headlight leads are now to go but when hooked up to either side of the key switch nothing (ignition and headlight) works. I can only, thankfully, get the ignition to work with new two way key switch.

Last edited by splash; 03/31/21 6:34 pm.

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Your best bet would be to buy a new loom, it costs about £18 to make a loom from scratch. And that’s if you bulk buy the parts like I do. If you buy just enough to make what your doing it’ll cost more. Far easier and cheaper to buy a new one.

Stick with the original colours, there’s no reason not to. I would also use a minimum of 17amp wiring for the harness, some
Colours like brown/blue are only available in 25amp. Coincidently these are also the higher load wires. 17amp should be ample for everything though and be ample for Britbike use with little chance of failure. I use thin wall cable on mine which has its advantages but is also a little too thin at 16.5 amp capacity.

I’m sorry to say I don’t know what the AWG comparison numbers are against the amp rating.

If you are wiring from scratch. Consider the Japanese 3.9mm bullets. They have good insulation and are small enough to not take up masses of space when on the bike. Also get the correct tool for fitting any type of bullet if you don’t already have one. There are different types so get the one to suit what your fitting.


Now let’s all have a beer beerchug

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Also replace any suspect switches but make sure you get ones rated for at least 25amp for ignition and at least 10 amps for light switch. There’s some cheapies on the market which look the part but will give no end of bother. The new Lucas stuff is sadly now Wassel and not LAP, but I have had no problems yet. I am also not sure why some parts are in green boxes and some in red..... I try and keep to the green box ones.


Now let’s all have a beer beerchug

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Hi Splash,

1. Not 100% sure what schematic I should use.
[any of the 68-70 diagrams, even later ones, will provide the schematics. Though switch locations may change, their schematic function doesn’t change].

2. The bike has been worked on before by a couple mechanics my dad knew over the years. For example, the positive ground that goes to the engine case is black rather than red as supposed to be. I have two solid white wires on one connector, a black wire, and a white/brown wire that once went to the three way key switch
[you have been riding the bike, so the black wire from the engine case presumably goes to battery +ve? If so its just the colour of the wire is wrong/confusing you].

3. The gauge of wire could be higher
[well you could use solid copper bars instead of wires! There’s only a couple of places where higher gauge wires would possibly be sensible, neither should be concerning you at this stage].

4. Like the three way key switch I’m eliminating but now that I think about it, it could be better to leave on and have that one key switch turn on the headlights. I don’t know but some of the switches can be eliminated. It seems overkill.
[the 3-position ignition switch allowed for a parking light provision, with the pilot and tail lamps on, that’s why so many wires went to it. If you’re going to use a 2-postion ignition switch, it only needs an input from the battery (usually bown/blue or brown/white) and an output to ignition and light switch].


5. There are many wires by the headlight or in the headlight which are just capped off like all the wires that went to the ammeter I disconnected. Some are just taped up and hanging. It’s slop.
[hopefully when you took the ammeter out, all the wires from both terminals were joined together?].

Best of.

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I don’t know, for now I’m gonna try stealing from another source somewhere in the headlamp housing for the headlight if enough amperage is around. Maybe the ammeter that’s all taped up together??? 🤷🏻‍♂️ It’s a halogen lightbulb so I’m not sure if that makes a difference or not on the amperage. Beginner electrician here. Koan made me think of this idea when he wrote about having the ammeter bundled all together now that it has been disconnected for a few months.

Last edited by splash; 03/31/21 8:54 pm.

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The light switch should already be supplied by a brown/white wire to terminal 4. That is the power supply to the light switch. The rest follows.
If you test the brown/white wires with your meter you will find battery voltage when ign sw is on. You don't need any other source mate.

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Thanks Koan. The lightning switch was connected different with the three way key switch and headlight was flicker working or whatever whenever. The brown and white was on the #1 terminal. 🤷🏻‍♂️


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SOB, everything works as should now! Fingers crossed with the vibrations.

Thanks for all the input.


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What does sob mean?

Glad to hear it Splash!

If everything does work correctly when the bike is static and not running, but the headlamp is variable in brightness when riding, then that’s more to do with the headlamp bulb connections.
The old setup was BPF, which has 3 small protrusions on the back of the bulb (a poor system).
Better setups were used in later years, also in foreign bikes, using H4 connections.
I only mention this in case you still find a wavering headlamp after all this.

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