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 79-93 Fox Map Light Restoration

Map Lights RULE!

Its the one thing in the car that is so alluring that no young maiden can resist fondling... Of course when she sees that it doesn't light up, she always asks "how do you turn it on?" and you have to explain in a limp voice that it's broken, emasculated.  Well, it's time to get some spunk back into that map light!  (Isn't it cool that Ford put a phallus in nearly every Fox Mustang/Capri?)

The Problem(s)

Well, let's make a bulleted list of problems and solutions:

Round 'em up!

First thing to do is to gather a few map lights together.  The idea is to take the best parts of each and use them to make one really nice one.  In my case, I had 3:

1.  One had a perfect base but needed the wire going to the end of the light.  A break had occurred right where the light pivots on the outside.
2.  Another had a good base too but the chrome neck was pitted badly.
3.  The last one had the tabs broken off (VERY COMMON!  You see LOSERS on ebay selling map lights and not mentioning this OBVIOUS DEFECT.  Beware of map lights that lay FLAT!).  The chrome was great and the braided ground wire and positive wire were not broken.

So obviously, I scavenged parts from map light #3 to fix up #1 and #2.

Tools and Materials!

Let's Solve Problem #1!  Bad Contacts.

Let's cut to the chase and work on the contacts which are the #1 problem.  If you're lucky you can fix this and be done.

PLEASE NOTE!  From this point forward we are working with TEENY TINY parts.  Work in a CLEAN AREA and GO SLOW and THINK AHEAD at what will pop out after you remove a piece of the map light!

Above is the under side (or actually topside since this goes on the roof) of a typical map light (except for the tabs that were cut off).

FIRST!  Check with your continuity tester and see whether you have continuity between the large copper contact on the left and the brown wire on the right.  IF YOU DO, then STOP.  There is no need to disassemble the contacts.  Check for a blown bulb and check for continuity from the left brown wire to the CENTER of the light bulb socket.  No continuity?  Then you have a busted wire and you need to skip ahead to the section that deals with complete disassembly and fixing the brown wire.

The trick to getting the black contact cover off is to take your soldering iron and remove the heat welds.  My soldering iron has a very pointy pencil tip on it.  I would not suggest anything else.  Get the iron nice and hot and poke its tip into the heat welds while prying up from under the black contact cover with a small screw driver.  Go slow, hit each weld a few times.  Eventually, it WILL come free.  Oh yeah, CATCH THAT SPRING!


You will see two flat contacts and a round copper "dish" with the black plastic button in it.  There is a spring that holds the round contact against the two flat ones (thus completing the circuit) when the button is not pressed.  I got a little ahead of myself before I took the above picture as I had already resurfaced the flat contacts.

The contacts simply pop out.  Just carefully remove the black button and save it with the spring.  Use some flux (important) on the contacts and with the soldering iron and solder, re-tin them as shown above.  This SHOULD fix this problem.  I have done 3 of these lights and all are working again perfectly using this method.  BTW, this method was mentioned on www.FourEyedPride.com by "futurexdesign" and it was a perfect suggestion.  I have also tried "scuffing" them up...and it didn't do the trick.

If you want, before proceeding with final disassembly, take and reassemble the contacts back into the light.  Hold the black contact cover over them and apply 12v to the two screw holes in the map light (I have a handy 12v power supply from a PC bolted to my garage wall...they output 12v).  It SHOULD light up.  It doesn't?  CRAP!  Take the continuity tester and test from the left contact to the brown wire.  It should be connected.  Then test from the brown wire on the right to the center of the light bulb socket in the chrome neck.  No continuity?  Time to fully disassemble this bad boy.

Full Disassembly!

Snip the braided and brown wire somewhere in the middle on the underside.  Now you can gently pull the wires out of the plastic base.  The other ends with the round screw connectors, should just fall out.  You should be left with the underside looking like the following picture.

If you need to swap your pitted chrome neck for a better one then you will want to get a correctly sized punch and tap out the lower pin to the map light neck.  You will be left with the base and two chrome pieces.  If your chrome is in good shape, but you have a broken wire, then I would not remove the chrome neck....skip  ahead a bit.


ALERT!!!  DANGER!!!  There is a SPRING in the neck and two of the TINIEST plastic balls you will ever see!!

 I suggest tapping out the pin while the unit is on the FLOOR so that when one of the plastic balls drops out, it doesn't have far to drop.  And you WILL drop one.  With needle nose pliers, firmly pull on the bulb socket and it should slide out of the chrome neck fairly easily.  Remove the socket and wires from the chrome neck completely.  In the picture below, you can see all the parts to the chrome light (minus the bulb socket and wires).  The little plastic balls are in the paint cap.  There is a third one from another map light.  You can also remove the other pin if you need to.  Then replace all the chrome parts you don't want with better ones.

Fixing the Brown Wire!

Now that the bulb socket and wiring is out of the map light we can find that break in the wiring.  Of course for me, I scavenged the good socket/wiring from my "parts" map light.  But I played around with the broken one and here's the best way to repair it:

If you did it right, the connection should sit hidden in the chrome head of the map light.


You may as well do it.  Its apart and I know its badly faded.  They all are.  Tape off the chrome snap holder and tape off only the POST of the chrome mount.  I found that the flat part (where the rivets are) is a total pain to tape up and you get a noticeable ring around the chrome anyways because the tape prevents the paint from getting in the crack around it.  After you paint it using my other write up, simply use a small screw driver to remove the overspray.  The paint will not stick to the chrome and will roll right off. 

Before you paint you may want to test fit sliding the mesh and brown wire from the light into the little plastic base.  If the hole needs a bit of opening up, do it from the underside with an awl.  You shouldn't need too much larger of an opening.


This can be tricky but it isn't too bad.  I reassembled the chrome head and neck together first.  Remember, you need a plastic ball in there with the spring.  Then I re-pinned it to the base keeping the spring and second plastic ball in place.  It's a good idea to get some cloth or some painter's tape (blue tape which won't pull up paint) to protect your new paint job while you do this.  Finally I threaded the wires back through the base.  Of course if your chrome was in good shape, you shouldn't have removed it in the first place and don't need to do this.  The top should now look like the following:

Once the top was complete, I started work on the bottom.  First thing was to reassemble the contacts and contact cover.  Simply put everything back together the way it came out.  Flat contacts first, dish contact with button next and finally the spring and cover.  While pressing FIRMLY on the black contact cover, use your soldering iron to heat up the plastic welds again.  Remember, I recommend using an iron with a pointy pencil tip.  By pushing on the cover, it will force it down to where it needs to be as the plastic softens.  Then if needed, make more heat welds where there are holes in the contact cover.  Ford typically used 3 so there are several extras.  Finally, re-solder and insulate the braided wire and the brown wire back to their proper ends.  The bottom will look like the picture below.

Last thing to do is to test it.  I usually take my ohm meter and check to see if I have a complete connection from the positive contact all the way to the center of the light bulb socket.  If so, then I apply 12v to where the screws mount.  It should light.  Here are a few pictures of my finished map light.  This one got a better chrome neck, paint and the contacts were re-soldered.


Oh my Aching Plastic Balls

If you do lose your plastic balls, I have a "possible" solution.  Try finding a child's bead necklace.  The beads are slightly larger....but can be tediously sanded down....


Size matters after all!

I also have a black early map light with the extra dome light in it.  Upon closer inspection, I noticed a few things.  The contacts seem to be setup about the same so, that shouldn't be a problem.  But the plastic base hides one roll pin in the neck, making it impossible to remove.  However, on the one I have, the rivets are missing.  In the place of one, there is a sheet metal screw. 
Maybe on the early ones, that chrome base can be unbolted from the plastic base.  I don't know enough about the early ones to say.

2003-2005 Michael Negus All Rights Reserved..
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asc McLaren and Fox Bodied Mercury Capri Cars