How To Make Your Healey Think Negative


Reversing Polarity or Make your Healey think Negative


Article submitted by Dale Beal - reprinted from Dec. '83 Sports - GT Market

Somehow when the British started making automobiles, they managed to install the wiring harness upside down or backwards. In doing this they invented positive ground electrics. This novel approach to wiring has obvious drawbacks in the modem world of cassette radios, CB, and other automotive accessories powered by 12 volt negative ground batteries.

You can enter the world of modem motoring by converting to negative ground using the following step entire process should take about 1 hour.



    Disconnect your battery and rotate it 180o. You will probably have to change the terminals on the ends of your cables. now reconnect your battery (the negative post of the battery should now be connected to ground).


    Remove the lighter gauge wire (usually brown w/green or yellow w/green on early models) from the "F" (field) terminal on the back of the generator. Now, with a length of wire, flash between the "F" terminal and a hot lead. The hot lead can be the positive post of the battery, the hot lead on a fuse box, or an "A" or "B" terminal at the regulator. Flash just long enough to see a spark. DO NOT LEAVE THIS CONNECTED, even for a few seconds Just flash it a couple of times.

    ( editors note, before starting car, reverse polarity on fuel pump so you do not distroy the diode.)

    Now start the car and check to make sure the ignition light is working correctly. It should act just like it did before you started this project. The light should go off at about 1000 RPM. If the ignition light stays on when the car is turned off . IMMEDIATELY remove a battery clamp or the large wire on the generator. ("D" dynamo). Should you fail to do this, you will burn up your wiring harness or generator or both

    Some words of caution; the voltage regulator has a limited lifetome, and sometimes, if the unit is about ready to fail, the change in polarity will push it over the edge.


    If the coil is original, it will be marked "CB" (Contact Breaker) and "SW" (Switch). The "SW" should now be connected to the distributor. If your coil is marked + / - , the negative terminal should be connected to the distributor.

    At this point, you may want to test the other electrical items on your car. They include:The heater motor, The wiper motor, Ammeter/Voltmeter (if you have one, the connections must be reversed), The fuel pump. (Most are insensitive to polarity but some newer models and replacement pumps may require the connections to be reversed.)If you have installed a voltage inverter for radios and such, it can be removed and the radio wired for negative ground. (Your inverter can now be sold, put on a shelf to gather dust, or thrown away.)

  4. The tachometer.

    If your auto has a mechanical tachometer, you are finished with the conversion-congratulations If, however, you have an electronic tachometer, read on. Two changes are necessary to make the tachometer work. a). the wires must be reversed at the white wire loop (the tachometer horseshoe); and b) the power and ground connections must be reversed on the inside of the unit.

    The white wire loop comes from the key switch and travels to the hot side of the coil. Select one side of the wire and tag it with-two pieces of tape spaced about I " apart. Then cut the wire between the pieces of tape and also cut the other side of the loop. Reverse the connections so there is one piece of tape on each side and solder them. Tape the bare sections of wire. (Remember this is the power lead from the coil and is unfused.) To reverse the power wire and earth wire on the inside of the unit, it is necessary to remove the chrome ring, the glass face and the glare shroud. Then remove the two screws on the back of the unit that hold the internals to the case and allow the internals to drop carefully into your hand. DO NOT BEND THE NEEDLE The spade terminal which carried the green or white wire is the power lead. Next to it is the ground connection. One of these leads is a resistor (looks like a cigarette filter with wires on each end). Disconnect resistor from the lead it is hooked to and resolder it to the other lead.  Likewise, disconnect the wire from that lead and connect it where the resistor was connected. In short, reverse the connections. Reassemble the unit (clean the glass). You have converted your Healey to negative ground.

NOTE: ltem 3, 4A and 4B, I did not have to do on my 100-4, or BJ-8, but check these steps for safety precautions. I did this procedure on my 100-4 and BJ-8 that I drive daily, and have had no problems.

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