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bare bones hot rod wiring

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by fitntrim4u65, Jul 17, 2013.

  1. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,265

    Rusty O'Toole
    Member

    If you are really on a budget go to the Pik A Part and strip the wiring harness out of a late model car. You will get enough stuff to wire about 5 hot rods (slight exaggeration) and you will not have the problems you run into when you wire a car off 1 roll of wire all one color (impossible to troubleshoot).

    I have done this and reused the connectors, fuse panel etc. It helps to get the stuff off the same make of car, Ford for Ford, VW for VW, GM for GM etc.

    Before you are done you will wish you bought the kit but, if done properly, your electrical system will be up to the same standards as a brand new car.
     
  2. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 21,682

    Bruce Lancaster
    Member Emeritus

    Recipe for an early rod look: Find light switch and dimmer, circuit breakers, starter button,
    etc. from some '40-48 Ford. Extra points for column lock switch assembly! Get 12 V 1956 Ford gen and reg, or earlier 6 v as desired.
    A repro '41 Ford engine harness is cheap and gives you a flying start if you want visible under hood wires to be cloth covered, if not all these circuits are dirt simple and easy to wire from scratch in either plastic or cloth wrapped. Almost no actual knowledge is required if you break down your thinking to one wire at a time...
    Add in anything like different resistor, radio, clock that you might want so it will be part of the main harnesses and not later patchwork. Run a couple of extra unterminated wires full length in each group to take care of your future aberrations.
    You gotta group the wires as you work, and arrive at a usable length...for dash and firewall, just lay every component out in order properly spaced on workbench and connect the dots.
    For the outliers, lights, engine, etc., you can establish length for one wire and cut all the others to match, or just leave everything long and snip/terminate once partially installed in car.
    Terminals are a big deal...nothing says "Wired in the K-Mart parking lot" like those red-yellow-blue terminals. Find some in black or use bare terminals and heat shrink or other sleeving.
    You will find everything falling into several bundles...switches to lights, dash stuff to engine, etc. Once these bundles have started to coalesce you need to think about the final branchings (like left headlight to right headlight, generator and coil) and how to cover.
    One possible fussy route is woven harness cover tubing, available in many diameters at olde Ford parts places...this resembles 1930's-40's OEM, though actual OEM harnesses actually had this stuff woven in place. Repro OEM harness stuff (aside from a few things like the '41 harness I mentioned) is rarely directly directly adaptable because you generally building a mix of '30's-'40's-'50's hardware, and not putting everything in the original location. Putting on the woven tubular stuff of course requires an extra layer of planning.
    Next choice is OEM type wrapping tape, more like post-cloth 1950's practice. If visuals are important, on most rigs only engine wiring is really visually important.
    I pretty much follow '47 Ford circuitry and routings, and I like 6V wiring gauge no matter what. A bit of extra capacity does no harm and is cheap. I have been known to even go up a bit for main charging path, headlights, and ignition to 10 gauge...
    Ground-ground-ground! Extra body and engine cables, direct ground wires for head and tail, generator case and distributor body hard wired all the way back to bat cable. Old cars are a grounding nightmare, as either original rust and dirt or your nice new paint, rubber, and gaskets offer far more resistance than the new, thin paint the car once had.
     
  3. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 21,682

    Bruce Lancaster
    Member Emeritus

  4. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 21,682

    Bruce Lancaster
    Member Emeritus

    Old braided wire was actually rubber covered, with the braid over the rubber, then generally a custom woven sleeve to cover entire harnesses. The rubber petrified with age and crumbled...
    The modern old-look wire is actually covered with modern plastic replacing the rubber layer.
     
  5. oldsman41
    Joined: Jun 25, 2010
    Posts: 1,254

    oldsman41
    Member

    buy an 8 terminal fuse box from napa and some wire do one circuit at a time really easy on an a. dont forget to ground your body to frame and engine to frame.
     
  6. 2935ford
    Joined: Jan 6, 2006
    Posts: 3,388

    2935ford
    Member


    From the "How to Build a Traditional Hot Rod" book.

    Pretty simple.
     
  7. davedriveschevy
    Joined: Mar 16, 2011
    Posts: 37

    davedriveschevy
    Member

    If your running a GM column, Get a harness out of a jeep cj from the late seventies to early eighties. Its a very basic harness and it plugs into the gm column, plus you get a through, firewall connector.

    Schematics can be easily found online to weed out circuits you dont need.
     
  8. TRUCKRODDER
    Joined: May 29, 2005
    Posts: 329

    TRUCKRODDER
    Member

    I used a couple 6 fuse panels from O'Reilly auto parts to rewire an old sedan. Wired it up lights first and just replaced a few circuits at a time. Had a Hot rod wiring book I picked up any swap meet to help me along.
     
  9. iroc409
    Joined: May 24, 2012
    Posts: 93

    iroc409
    Member

    I personally would probably go with something a little higher than the $5 6-circuit block you can buy at an auto store, but there are a lot of good alternatives out there.

    Blue Sea Systems sells a very nice unit made really for boats, that a lot of people use for add-on circuits for modern vehicles (offroad stuff usually). It has the push-on type connectors if you like those, and can also have bussed ground. They come in something like 6 to 20 circuits, depending on your needs (and available on Amazon).

    Bussman makes some very nice waterproof stuff, I bought one to add fuses and relays to an OT car.

    RallyLights.com has Hella's fuse and relay holders, along with a really nice 16-circuit waterproof unit.

    None of the above are particularly traditional, but wiring isn't really something to mess around with and you can hide the block easily enough (and still use traditional looking wire).

    Also, I'd recommend checking specs on the wire you're using. Generic stuff you get at a parts store is not necessarily rated for underhood temperatures. Cross-linked plastic insulator generally is, and I think what most OEMs use now (it looks the same as the regular stuff).

    Del City and Waytek wire both have a lot of good stuff you can use to wire your cars. If you buy enough quantity, you can even get the wires individually labeled! :) (Like barrels of the stuff).
     
  10. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 27,252

    The37Kid
    Member

    Can some of the "EXPERTS" please point out the flaws in this plan? It looks far too simple, and I almoust understand it. Bob
    [​IMG]
     
  11. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 21,682

    Bruce Lancaster
    Member Emeritus

    There are a few points that some might have to figgerout...for instance, the ground connection shown for instruments would be the senders (except volt), NOT a bolt into sheetmetal, correct but possibly confusing there...and if gauges are mechanical, the speedo and left gauges would be light circuits only....Hmmm...now I see all are light circuits, not indicators of possible electric feed.
    Most light switches for traditional uses get two battery feeds...and most OEM light switches are not fed from a fuse but have their own circuit breaker, internal or ex...
    I think this is in general a good, workable circuit, but requiring you to research your gauge needs if any are electric and to verify connections for your particular charging and regulator circuits.
    I don't smell any smoke yet...
     
  12. harpo1313
    Joined: Jan 4, 2008
    Posts: 1,924

    harpo1313
    Member
    from wareham,ma

    Ive used the harness from a 67 to 70 chevy pickup on three cars so far with no problems.simple to extract and install.
     
  13. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 27,252

    The37Kid
    Member

    Same harnes, or THREE different ones? :confused: Bob
     
  14. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 27,252

    The37Kid
    Member

    Thanks Bruce, I'll redraw that with color pencils, can I use the same gauge wire through out? Were should the fire stops go? Bob
     
  15. Shaun1162
    Joined: Feb 22, 2010
    Posts: 809

    Shaun1162
    Member

    There has certainly been some good advice given... Both for DIY wiring, or an aftermarket harness.

    I guess I'll throw my 2 cents in...

    A couple months ago I started to wire my '33 Ford, that was once a dirt track race car, and that I converted into a road legal hot rod.

    It really doesn't get more "bare bones" then my car: lights, windshield wiper, horn, starter/igntion, and one wire to run my speedometer (runs from GPS). No radio, gauge lights, electric gauge senders, etc. etc.

    When I first shopped around, all I saw was the usual 6 or 9 circuit, or gigantic 20 something circuit wiring harnesses that had enough wires for a cruise ship... Until I found out Rebel makes a 4 circuit wiring harness. Perfect. The bare essentials and thats it (although they give you PLENTY of extra wires for accessories- I just didn't need them). I beleive they were originally intended for VW dune buggy's, but obviously pretty universal...

    I bought it through a HAMB'er on the classifieds: http://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=730018

    I beleive it was $120 shipped to my door. Pretty reasonable if you ask me... Yes, I probably could have saved a little by buying an old fuse panel, assorted gauges and colors of wires, etc. - but this kit has the wires labeled about every 12" (or less, I forget) which REALLY helped a novice like me... And when I got done, it was a nice neat wiring job. They give you alot of extra wire so I doubt you'll run short and have to splice an extra piece on- like I probably would have done MULTIPLE times if I had to measure, cut, and splice every single wire to the fuse panel :rolleyes:
     
  16. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 21,682

    Bruce Lancaster
    Member Emeritus

    Use a fuse panel with integral chimney to your cowl vent...
    Best fire stop is a set of asbestos undies.
    For gauges, as I said I like using 6V values straight from any old Ford manual. At least I would bump the things I consider important up one gauge, 14 to 12 for instance, just for reserve and overkill rather than actual necessity.
    To clarify drawing, try splitting it up...light circuit, gen circuit, dash, perhaps, with a big colorful mark where a connector runs back to dash area...
    I would add in a 7 wire turn switch, I can explain changes if you do that, and use an OEM light switch with a circuit breaker so any visits from the Prince of Darkness are less than permanent and total...
    You seem like a mechanical gauge sort of guy, which eliminates some ridiculous crap...
     
  17. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 27,252

    The37Kid
    Member

    Thanks Bruce, I plan to buy the wire from Rebel since it is labled, but have no idea what the supplied switches and gizmos look like, so most likely I'll replace them with good looking items. The plan is to wire EVERYTHING to a 4x8 plywood test panel in the back yard, turn it on and see what the 4th of July looks like. If it lasts I'll know were the run things in the Roadster. Bob
     
  18. RICK R 44
    Joined: Dec 13, 2009
    Posts: 455

    RICK R 44
    Member

    Strip a fuse panel and lots of wire out of a suitable vehicle at the bone yard. Rework the panel to suit. A few packs of various size heat shrink and and lots of uninsulated but connectors or a solder gun. Have done all three of my rides that way.
     
  19. iroc409
    Joined: May 24, 2012
    Posts: 93

    iroc409
    Member

    It's a pretty good schematic. My personal preference would be to add a relay in for the headlights, and leave the headlight switch to only switch the relays.

    Headlight switches work OK, but you get better performance adding the relay and better life out of everything. Most headlight switches aren't necessarily build to withstand higher current and low resistance. Depends on what your requirements are for the headlights, and how much you drive at night, though.
     
  20. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 27,252

    The37Kid
    Member

    Thanks IROC409, sooner or later all the questions will get answered as to how I can wire my Roadster without a fire. Sad thing is I'll be dead when that info is finally known, but my Grandson will put it to use I hope. Bob
     
  21. alchemy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2002
    Posts: 15,758

    alchemy
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Please do.
     
  22. alchemy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2002
    Posts: 15,758

    alchemy
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I hope your plywood has a good ground, or your test won't work very well.
     
  23. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 21,682

    Bruce Lancaster
    Member Emeritus

    7-wire signal uses the brakelight filaments for both braking and signaling. Wire from brakelight switch goes to TS switch instead of to lights...switch has 4 leads individually run to the 4 signal filaments. With switch on straight, the wire from brake switch is fed to both rear lights. When you turn switch to L or R, it disconnects brake circuit from that side only, allowing it to flash while other side shows when you step on brake, like most older USA cars. Without this setup stepping on brake overrides your turn signal.
    Usually the wires to bulbs are at ends of the actual switch, wires at middle are power in and brake in. Decoding is done (at tremendous cost in brain damage) with a circuit tester and lots of smoke and cursing...
     
  24. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 27,252

    The37Kid
    Member

    There will be a steel bed frame on top of the plywood, once that starts to glow the plywood should light. Bob :D
     
  25. brady1929
    Joined: Sep 30, 2006
    Posts: 8,332

    brady1929
    Member

    Lots of good info here.
     
  26. wizard29oz
    Joined: Apr 28, 2009
    Posts: 30

    wizard29oz
    Member Emeritus
    from new york

    Good advice about needing a QUALITY CRIMPER. Also might ask for proper crimping procedures because it really gets ugly fast once the smoke starts getting out..........
    some prefer soldering but it is technique sensitive for a good job...........some terminals are designed for a particular crimp and you need to use the correct tool to achieve a lasting, strong, tight connection. When deciding what gauge wire to use, if you aren't sure ask, because again, wires get hot when asked to carry more than they were designed for. Electricity will let you know if it isn't happy!
     

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