Let there be light...

It is in the nature of low-volume makers like TVR that they tend to use off-the-shelf items from mainstream manufacturers' deleted models. In the case of the TVR Wedges prior to the 400SE, the front indicator/ sidelights were initially sourced fom Lucas, then later from Renault.

Even by the time TVR started using bits off it, the R12 was seriously old-hat. Renault had passed on the tooling to Romanian company Dacia, who produced the R12 as the 'Denem' up to 1984 and for a few years afterwards it had been possible to get replacement lights at a reasonable price. Nowadays it means a trip to Renault themselves,  several weeks waiting and about 40 each unit (NOTE: see addendum further down page!). I know; I had to do that with the Tasmin after the replacement front bumper I got turned out to be the later ribbed type that needed the smaller indicators. On the 390SE these light units look like this (dead bugs were a factory option!):


The light units on my car weren't in the best of health when the offside one was smashed by a flying stone. Unwilling to pay Renault again, not wanting to wait for a new lens (at almost 20) and reasoning that even new units would corrode eventually, I decided to fabricate my own.

I laid-up a few layers of mat and resin in the recess of the front bumper. Lampholders were obtained for a couple of pounds from Vehicle Wiring Products and the new 'base' drilled to accept them. Further resin bonded the lampholders and some 3mm nuts in, a partition was added from an offcut of plastic... which left the lens. I played with a couple of ideas before settling on the solution you see: a lens cut from the diffuser of an industrial light fitting ( I guess a domestic fluorescent would do as well!), an 'inner' diffuser in white plastic which I later opted to leave out for increased brightness, and to get the requisite amber colour I used those bulbs with orange coating that modern cars have. Ironically, they were the most expensive part of the job.The new bases were screwed into the bumper, stainless domed-head hex screws and a bead of silicon sealant used to fix the lenses and keep the rain out respectively. In true TVR fashion, I had to cut two different shaped lenses as the bumper recesses are slightly different!

Home-made front indicator parts! Isn't GRP wonderful... ;)


...and the finished item prior to drilling for screws (ignore the spoiler damage!)

ADDENDUM: Whilst browsing on Ebay, I accidentally (honest!) found myself looking at some side/ indicator units for, of all things, the Reliant Rialto (you know, the revamped Robin!). They looked to be identical to the Renault units BUT have a polycarbonate backplate, so no rust! I've since checked out a few Rialtos and some, but not all, do have this lamp which to me looks to be a dead ringer for the Renault unit. The Ebay seller wanted 8 as a start bid: even if you can't find them on there it may be worth trying Reliant breakers, former local dealers, or anyone else likely to have bits of Plastic Pig lying around :)

The rear lamp clusters changed over the life of the TVR wedges: initially from the Ford Capri, they were superceded (or superseded if you're younger than the age where we learned to speak proper English) by those from the Rover SD1 (well, they robbed plenty of other bits from it as well, so why not) and then, in a blaze of modernisation, the rear lamps from the Renault Fuego were fitted, which required a bit of GRP work to make them a flush fit (and the better the car looked as a result). The Fuego units are actually installed upside down, so the nearside becomes the offside and vice versa (which is Latin, or as near as damn). At the time, electronics were just starting to become important in mainstream cars (previously, the AM radio or the bimetallic flasher unit for the indicators were about as techno as it got) and the Fuego lamp units, along with other Renault installations at the time, were designed for easy maintenance (or so they thought). The lamps are bayonetted into sockets formed as part of a detachable back plate which unclips from the lens housing. Each lamp socket has copper contacts which are pressed-in to the backplate and retained by barbs. The 'fingers' of each contact then press against a flexible 'circuit board' arrangement which has the necessary copper tracks printed on it. Each of the tracks is led to one edge of the 'circuit board', onto which slides the car's wiring loom connector. So to change a bulb, you access the interior of the lamp unit, unclip the backplate, lift it away from the lens unit and there are your lightbulbs. Unfortunately the design has a couple of flaws - well, one main flaw really: as both the lamp socket terminals and the loom connector rely on a combination of 'spring' and friction to keep them in good contact with the 'circuit board', as time goes by both the contacts and the circuit tracks oxidise and this leads to poor connections. You can detach the loom connector by simply sliding it off the backplate, when both the tracks and the contact 'fingers' of the loom connector can be brightened-up by suitable means... I prefer a fibreglass pencil, beloved of electronics techies the world over. It removes cack without removing appreciable amounts of copper, which can't be said of emery boards, sandpaper or files. The contact 'fingers' of the actual lamp sockets are a bit trickier; you can, with care, extract their barbs from the backplate and then clean up the contacts as well as the exposed area of circuit track. It should also be possible to slip a bit of fine wet'n'dry paper between the finger and the track and clean up both, but proceed carefully so as not to unduly bend the 'finger'. Here's the backplate fom the Fuego lamp showing the lamp sockets:

...and the other side with the copper tracks and socket spring 'fingers' (the letter 'D' is for 'droite', this being the right-hand unit from the Fuego, but fitted upside-down on the left of the TVR. The other unit obviously has a G...):

Close-up of the fingers inside one of the lamp sockets:

...and the contacts in the loom connector:

This is the rear view of the lamp unit with the backplate removed (the silver mesh at right is the radio aerial's groundplane, glued to the inner wing):

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