For all the gear heads…


Positive ground depends on proper circuit functioning, which is the transmission of negative ions by retention of visible spectral manifestation known as “smoke”.

Smoke is the thing that makes electrical circuits work. We know this to be true because every time one lets the smoke out of an electrical circuit, it stops working. This can be verified repeatedly through empirical testing.

For example, if one places a copper bar across the terminals of a battery, prodigious quantities of smoke are liberated and the battery shortly ceases to function. In addition, if one observes smoke escaping from an electrical component such as a Lucas voltage regulator, it will also be observed that the component no longer functions. The logic is elementary and inescapable!

The function of the wiring harness is to conduct the smoke from one device to another. When the wiring springs a leak and lets all the smoke out of the system, nothing works afterward.

Starter motors were considered unsuitable for British motorcycles for some time largely because they consumed large quantities of smoke, requiring very unsightly large wires.

It has been reported that Lucas electrical components are possibly more prone to electrical leakage than their Bosch, Japanese or American counterparts. Experts point out that this is because Lucas is British, and all things British leak. British engines leak oil, British shock absorbers, hydraulic forks and disk brake systems leak fluid, British tires leak air and British Intelligence leaks national defense secrets.

Therefore, it follows that British electrical systems must leak smoke. Once again, the logic is clear and inescapable.

In conclusion, the basic concept of transmission of electrical energy in the form of smoke provides a logical explanation of the mysteries of electrical components especially British units manufactured by Joseph Lucas, Ltd.

And remember: “A gentleman does not motor about after dark.”

Joseph Lucas “The Prince of Darkness” 1842-1903

A few Lucas quips:

The Lucas motto: “Get home before dark.”

Lucas is the patent holder for the short circuit.

Lucas – Inventor of the first intermittent wiper.

Lucas – Inventor of the self-dimming headlamp.

The three-position Lucas switch–DIM, FLICKER and OFF. The other three
switch settings–SMOKE, SMOLDER and IGNITE.

The Original Anti-Theft Device – Lucas Electrics.

If Lucas made guns, wars would not start

Back in the ‘70s, Lucas decided to diversify its product line and began manufacturing vacuum cleaners. It was the only product they offered which did not suck.

Q: Why do the British drink warm beer? A: Because Lucas makes their refrigerators.

This has been referred to as the smoke theory when the smoke comes out its finished, cooked or done for.


For all the gear heads… — 31 Comments

  1. I once owned a ’69 Norton. You have no idea how hard I laughed at this.

    • I owned a ’65 Triumph and I didn’t laugh at all, remembering the sheer TERROR of having a diode pop on a dark two-lane road sometime around midnight and EVERYTHING suddenly going black. At speed. There was good reason to believe that “The Lucas motto: ‘Get home before dark.'” thing.

      I’m lucky to have survived that bike. That said, it was a marvelous machine when everything was working properly, which happened on Wednesdays, every other month or so.

  2. As a long time owner of a ’54 Jaguar, I am quite familiar with Joseph Lucas and “smoke”.
    There is, however, a new facet of Lucas Electric. They have been making aerospace equipment. Yes! Lucas Aerospace.
    Imagine the look upon an astronauts face when he opens the panel & sees “Lucas Electric” on the components.

  3. My co-worker suggested that you are not a fan of Lucas.
    He then said, you couldn’t be.
    You’re not unemployed.
    Lucas fans don’t work.

  4. Poor Lucas. Forever having his name associated with lousy electrical parts.
    Not to mention Sir Thomas Crapper…

  5. “If Lucas made guns, wars would not start”

    Correction: Wars would start, but the guns wouldn’t work.

  6. Gosh, that’s so funny & so true! When I was an electronic technician working on B-52’s we reasoned that if we could keep the “BUFF’s flying we could surely keep British cars & motorcycles running. Well, not so easy!!!

  7. You are too kind. Lucas is an obscure Druid word for the devil. If you conduct the proper Druid ritual, everything works perfectly. Alas, the proper ritual has been lost since the Iron Age.

  8. Craig- 70 BSA Lightning… Yes I can… 🙂

    Roger- Oh damn… 😀

    Ed- GOOOOOD one!

    Frank- Good point!

    Tim- Funny… and true!

    CP- Yep!

    Rev- Yeah…

    Woody- ROTF, THAT is a true statement!

    WSF- Yeah, and I think mead was involved…

    Keads- 🙂

  9. At one time, I used to re-build starters and alternators for a living. It’s all true.

  10. My head is now going to explode with knowledge! Can I still call someone to fix all that stuff for me? I do like to drive muscle cars really fast. Does that qualify me as a partial gear head?

  11. Dad and I have some sort of tenuous joint ownership of a Triumph Stag.

    Pop considers the thing the ultimate in style, often stating that James Bond wish he could have drive.

    I look at as an anemic powered metric coup with the steering wheel on the wrong side.

  12. I have a friend who owns an Austin Healy. He would agree with you.

  13. Buck- Ouch!!! Yeah, home before dark… sigh

    Murph- That it is!

    RHT- But you made a LOT of money off them… maybe???

    Momma- If you can afford it… sigh

    SPEMack- Just remember, the parts falling off the car are of the finest British manufacture… 🙂

    PH- AND they burn the hell out of your leg…

  14. True Story. When I left the Navy in the 80s, I ended up back home in Northern Ohio, working in my Dad’s Machine Shop. It was a small Job Shop, but we specialized in High Quality, Limited Gov’t work. NASA LOVED Us, FWIW. There was a Lucas Aerospace plant in Cleveland. They used to have a Policy that said “Pay will be 30 days AFTER Inspection.” Then it went to 60 days. Then it went to 90 days. But some of the Jobs we were sending up were well past 90 days, and still no checks. Finally, I told Dad as I was making the next delivery, that, if I find our Products still on the shelf in Receiving, that I was bringing it ALL back. I mean, we had to pay Our Suppliers and Payroll, Taxes, etc., right? So I go up to make the delivery, go to the shelves, and I see that they hadn’t touched stuff I put there SIX MONTHS earlier! I grabbed a Cart, and started to unload it. The Receiving Clerk tried to Stop me, but I told him that they will get their Orders when we get our Money. Loaded up the Stuff, and brought it back.

    Couple hours later, we get a call from the DOD Purchasing Rep, who wanted to know why HE wasn’t going to get his Parts. Dad explained, and said “if you want them, YOU come to MY Shop with YOUR Inspector, and if HE approves them, you can have it after YOU pay us.”

    They came down the next day with a couple of Lucas’s Suits, we inspected EVERYTHING, they went over the Billing, and EVERYTHING had passed with Flying Colors, except for the Fact that Lucas had done ZERO Inspections to move them along. The DOD Rep turned to the Lucas’s Suits, and said “I’m Bypassing you, you will NOT be Paid the Amount YOU charged us for these Parts, I’m taking the parts with Me, we will be paying Mr.—– what YOU charged us, and I’m going to do my best to make sure your Contract is Cancelled”. He turned to Dad, and said, “You’ll have a check from the Treasury Dept delivered in a couple of days. If you don’t get it, call me. And I’ll be back next week to set up a DIRECT Account with you for these parts, because we need them BADLY.” Lucas Sputtered and Whined while they were leaving, and 48 hours later, there was Check for the Full Amount.

    And for the next couple of years, we made a nice chunk of change making parts for the Tomahawk Cruise Missiles. With ZERO Failures of our stuff.

    As for Lucas? Turns out that CORPORATE Headquarters in England was “Bean Counting” because they were robbing Peter to pay Paul, and they decided that it was better to make sure that their BRITISH Customers and UNION NON-WORKERS got paid first, no matter how much they owed their Foreign Workers. Or how Important a Job was.

  15. Bubblehead Les;
    DAMN! I am glad I re-wired my elderly Jaguar with US made wires, installed a US made ignition system and rebuilt the switches with US made epoxy and copper.


  16. BTDT!

    When my buddy and I ran our little sports car repair place, he’d always tack on another 10% to repairs made on British cars, as he knew they were coming back due to the Lucas electrical stuff on them.

  17. Les- NOT the first time I’ve heard a similar story…

    Roger- LOL, and a 327 too???

    drjim- Hehehe… smart move!

  18. Rode Turnips, Nortons, Beezers and was owned by a MGBGT and an E-Type.
    All so very true!

  19. Ah yes, Lucas Electrics.

    Also (in)famous here in Aussie.. 😛

  20. My buddy Bill Gibbs and I were tooling west on the Colonial Parkway in his MGB (yes, it was tight but I DID fit).
    Just cleared the last of the street lights in Yorktown when all the car’s lights died.
    Bill switched on a flashlight he had taped to the steering column. That lit the instrument panel.
    I grabbed two MagLites from the door pocket. One I held out the side window to illuminate the road and the other I aimed out the rear window.
    A US Park Police cruiser pulled a U-turn, pulled up behind us, and called over the PA system: “Is that you Gibbs?”
    The USPP officer followed us to Bill’s house a block or two off the Parkway. “For God’s sake Gibbs, get an American car before I have to scrape you off a tree.”
    I’ll tell you ’bout the Norton some other time.

  21. Morris- LOL, even worse down there… Not enough rain to keep the smoke in…

    Stretch- What, your knees were up around your ears??? And it’s obvious he was ‘known’ as they say… LOL

  22. I had a ’72 BSA Shooting Star. I wound up owning at least two of electrical item for that bike. Trust me here, get home before dusk.

  23. Mine was a 1959 Triumph Bonneville 650cc. Bought at the factory and rode it back to Naples. Camped beside the road on the first night before ever getting out of England. Burned out headlight. Bought another one the next day then took the ferry to Calais. Only traveled by day the rest of the way back. Went through 6 lights before I left for the states. Left the bike with a sixty-five year old local who was our bike repair guy, and who I lived with, he and his wife for the last 6months of my tour. He was probably the only guy in Naples with a 650cc bike. The State police only had 350cc Gelera’s! Ah the good old days!

  24. Blackhorse- I can believe it! 🙂

    Ev- LOL, one wonders if HE ever tried to ride it at night…