Register now to get rid of these ads!

How many of you guys do your own Hot Rod wiring?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Von Rigg Fink, Aug 19, 2010.

  1. Von Rigg Fink
    Joined: Jun 11, 2007
    Posts: 13,426

    Von Rigg Fink
    from Garage

    Good luck, let me know how it also contemplating Glenn's harness
  2. Pete1
    Joined: Aug 23, 2004
    Posts: 1,917

    from Wa.

    I do my own from scratch..I started wiring hot rods before there were any kits.
    I use a hot bus bar and a ground bus bar. All circuits have manual reset breakers and all circuits have their own dedicated grounds that are brought back to the ground bus bar.
    The breakers are mounted directly to the hot bus bar so everything is neatly in a row.
    I use teflon covered aircraft type wire for everything. It doesn't burn or melt and is extremely abrasion resistant...The insulation has a slippery feel and is very easy to pull through steel tubing such as used to pass wire by the clutch/bell housing area.(required for racing)
    Wiring with a common ground point has big advantages for reducing RFI (radio frequency interferance)...Individual circuit grounds help reduce high resistance connections that would normally go through the frame.
    I use crimp connectors for most of the wiring...I use an older hand type complete closing crimper...This requires going through the complete closing cycle before it will release.
    This type was used in the aircraft industry back in the old days...It actually causes metal migration from the heat of compression. (welding).You will never pull one of these connectors off...
    After all wiring is done I lace the bundles up with nomex cable lacing string per Western Electric cable lacing specs.
    My wire jobs don't have that "show car look" but if it works in a B52 it is ok for me.
  3. coolbreeze1340
    Joined: Aug 18, 2009
    Posts: 1,340

    from Indiana

    I used a painless lit on my current project and it was my first. Easy to install looks clean and should be easy to add to/ replace if I ever had to!
  4. mt shasta steve
    Joined: Mar 26, 2010
    Posts: 270

    mt shasta steve

    I just finished completley rewiring my '41. Started with a frayed wire to electric fuel pump, and ended up rewiring from bumper to bumper. Did it from scratch. I had the stop, turn , and tail lights done, and thought "Why not do the front too, as long as I've gone this far". At that poiunt I was too far into it to start over with a wiring kit. My suggestion would be go to Painless and buy a kit. It will save not just time, but probably money too. That's my advice. But always remember "Good advice costs nothing and is worth the price"
  5. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 27,881


    Aside for checking a gas tank with a match, wireing is the one sure way to burn up a project. Hire someone with LOTS of experiance.
  6. I am another who wires their own from scratch.

    I will agree that if you are fixing up a regular car such as a 57 Chev or Cadillac or something, you will find a premade harness to be a simple way to go, BUT if you are building a relatively simple straightforward rod, or something very different from a standard car, I recommend doing your own, one "section" at a time.

    I have installed replacement harnesses, and will admit they have some good points, but for me it's best to do it like post #16 above and then add more independent circuits for each added accessory.

    That way it is extremely simple and easy to troubleshoot, find, and replace any broken switch, relay or connection later on.

    Using the method in post #16 of keeping each "system" as an individual circuit that can stand on it's own, you will never be bumping into something weird like dash lights acting funny 6 years from now and finding out it was something odd like a bad ground connection far far away, sending the "grounding current" through a switch, a heater motor, then to ground the long way because of a rusty bolt at the nearby ground connection.

    It is so much nicer when you know that solving heater troubles have to do with "this group of wires over here", or horn troubles have to be "those few wires there..".

    Here's what I hate- Sorting through a diagram --- " fuse terminal 17, 23, 112, 87, and 113 are used for accessoryXXXX controls, and terminal 112, and 23 are shared with accessory zzzz relays, gray wire with green stripe feeds to a,b,c and d."

    I have sorted those out before, but I am so much happier when I have several simple connections to work with rather than a basement full of snakes to untangle.

    I solder everything. I do not trust crimp connectors at all. I have had to track down and cure so many problems for others that were caused by a good looking connector that wasn't reliable.
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2010
  7. Bob Dobolina
    Joined: Jul 27, 2006
    Posts: 332

    Bob Dobolina

    Painless. Done a bunch of 'em and it's what i'm used to. Some things i've learned along the way ...As stated several times in this thread, Grounds. Can't have enough. Clean metal & star washers are your friends here. Insulated adel style clamps to support the harness. I remove the insulation form any of the connectors/terminals i use, crimp the connection & cover/seal with quality heat shrink with the mastic inside. This allows you to actually see the crimp, and the mastic will effectively seal the connection.Sorry, but i will not solder anything in a vehicle. Most people do not know how to solder correctly, and end up with a cold joint, or get the wire way too hot & end up with a brittle connection that will fail at 2am, just outside of Resume Speed, Tx. Think before you route the harness. Once again, as stated in this thread, this is a time consuming part of the process, but the look, as well as the functionality of this can not be overstated. Most of the painless harness' come zip tied in certain sections, etc.Nothing in the rulebook says you can't clip zip ties, or reroute wires to suit your particular installation. You can set the harness in place in the vehicle, determine where the breakouts need to be, and start moving, rerouting as you see fit. Most of the time this takes me 2-3 hours to get the harness the way i want it, but, it makes the final install go that much more smoothly. Don't cheap out on the tools ou use. I know these cost $$, but you buy the proper tools once, take care of 'em & they should last you a lifetime. Last... take your time. The more time spent routing, supporting & making sure nothing rubs/chaffes/ or gets overly hot, the better the results.

    just my .02
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2010
  8. Carquest and NAPA sell it.
  9. xhotrodder
    Joined: Jul 2, 2009
    Posts: 1,609


    I have wired 2 cars. A 39 Chevy and a 40 Ford. On the 39 I used a Ron Francis kit. A buddy did it in a weekend. On the 40 I used a Painless kit and it was easy. Me and a buddy did it in a day. Just do yourself a favor and use one with wires that are different colors and have the name of what it goes to on it every few feet. It makes it so much easier.
  10. On the rod in my avatar my dad went to the local junk yard and retrieved the fuse block out of a random car. I'd have to say that I would NEVER EVER EVER recommend doing this to anyone! It all worked out in the end but it was a damned nightmare.
  11. I meant to add earlier that a nice multi wire connector that I have used is a Bosch unit avaliable from MSD, really clean and user friendly avaliable in different wire count connectors, great for a dash to facilitate "whole cluster" removal, etc. I always try to design in such a manner that the harness can be removed in a simple manner for a variety of reasons.
  12. -Brent-
    Joined: Nov 20, 2006
    Posts: 6,008


    I have on a couple. I ended up really enjoying it. My first wire job was at 16 or 17 and I made mistakes that burned up some wires. I then learned how to understand the diagrams I was reading on the next vehicle.

    My 20T is so simple compared to the others that I am really excited for that. It's not impossible it just takes time and patience.
  13. AJofHollywood
    Joined: Oct 3, 2008
    Posts: 640


  14. plym49
    Joined: Aug 9, 2008
    Posts: 2,797

    from Earth

    I always make my own harnesses because it is way less expensive, everything fits exactly, it is the way I want things routed, I get to choose the materials and methods, and there is better quality control on the connections.

    I have wired cars and motorcycles after they were completed and others as part of the build. It depends upon the circumstances as each situation is different.

    Yes, even for a fuel injected/computer controlled car I build by own harnesses.
  15. plym49
    Joined: Aug 9, 2008
    Posts: 2,797

    from Earth

    On soldering: yes and no. Like Bob Dobolina above, I remove the plastic insulator from conenctors and then carefully crimp, solder and shrink wrap. This is most of the circuits in a car, like ignition and lights.

    Splices are soldered and shrink-wrapped using the 'motorcycle' splice (see my Tech article) or the 'lineman's' splice, depending on the application, circuit and current-carrying requirement for that particular wire.

    For the class of connectors I would term fuel injection, I use the correct terminal ends with the purpose-made crimper. The same applies to ignition wires.
  16. need louvers ?
    Joined: Nov 20, 2008
    Posts: 12,906

    need louvers ?

    If it's a small simple car, I.E. no turn signals, radio stuff like that, I grab afuse box and go to town. If it's some thing more, I like Haywire kits myself. I've done a bunch of them, and the quality level is very high. More important than whether to go kit or not, Get your self a good high quality pair of crimping pliers, and learn how to properly use them. I also either buy all of my terminals with out the circus looking red, yellow, or blue insulating ends, or I remove them, and do every end with shrink tube. After 17 years of driving my avatar, the only thing that ever puts me by the side of the road is when those original stupid unsealed terminals have corroded and loosened up and stopped working. If they're shrink tubed, they don't get dusty or wet and expand and contract from corrosion.
  17. abonecoupe31
    Joined: Aug 11, 2005
    Posts: 696

    from Michigan

    I built my 28 Woodie back in 1999. As its pretty much a stock A I bought a new kit to wire the headlight switch and took over with homebrew after that. All to get it on da road...Id add fuses next...

    Never got to the fuse part. A's never had fuses. Since then Ive added cowl lights and an old Arrow turn signal switch that I rewired to use a modern flasher can. forget if mine has two or three lugs...whatever, altered wiring to make the new can work. But I do have a modern fuse block...will use that someday. I did replace a few suspect wires this summer when I got her back on the road after losing da oil pump.
    #2 son Dan, 17, and I made it to NSRA Nats in Loolville KY. Replaced the broke am/fm/cassette with SAT radio ready new Sony am/fm/cd. Dan plugged in his IPOD and we got to listen to his stuff...including Mustard Plug. Man its nice to be a geezer with a young family. BTW Im 56 now. Dan did research on how to put a 32 frame beneath a 31 A Tudor. His 283 Chevy powered rod will have fuses. somewhere I have a modern panel I got at a past NSRA Kazoo Nats North... now to find it.
  18. Frankie47
    Joined: Dec 20, 2008
    Posts: 1,846

    from omaha ne.

    I've wired it all, from houses to airplanes, but nothing seems to be as satisfying as a car, especially your own.
    Done homemade, pre-made, and other peoples messes..acck. They all seem to have their place.
    That being said my pet peeve on wiring is............drum roll, ratatatat
    people that spend 10 grand on a paint job or other items then use solderless crimp on connectors, nothing looks or works worse than a half ass job that can leave you stranded, or worse burn't down.
    Like someone said earlier learn to solder, and the use of heat shrink, those skills will improve your loom 100 %.
  19. Steves32
    Joined: Aug 28, 2007
    Posts: 1,280

    from So Cal

    The braid I use under the hood is nylon & you cut it with a hot knife to prevent fraying. I use an old putty knife in a vise & a torch & heat up the blade. Works great. It's available in several sizes. I buy it at G&J Aircraft but it's not hard to find. I shrink wrap the ends. You can pull several wires at once.

    Here's a pic off the internet to see what I'm talking about. Looks better than multi color wires.


    Now what I would do different is use smaller size sleeve on the individual wires & slip them all into the shrink. No blue ends- shrink wrap those too.
  20. carcrazyjohn
    Joined: Apr 16, 2008
    Posts: 4,844

    from trevose pa

    Couldnt find it .I tried
  21. Da Tinman
    Joined: Dec 29, 2005
    Posts: 4,226

    Da Tinman

    mcmaster has woven SPLIT loom in many sizes, and 3' or 25' lengths, thats what I use to cover the wires, cheaper than you can get it from "hotrod" places too.

  22. fab32
    Joined: May 14, 2002
    Posts: 13,985

    Member Emeritus

    I've used most of the currently available kits (starting with Ron Francis over 20 years ago) and currently use American Autowire. 40 years ago i used to go to the junk yard and remove a complete harness from a car equipted like the one I wanted to rewire, shorten the harness and used the stock fuse panel. A lot of work but it ensured the correct wire size was utilized and saved figuring out everything from scratch.

  23. metalman
    Joined: Dec 30, 2006
    Posts: 3,280


    Being a rod shop I wire old cars all the time. It's just more cost effective to use a kit IMHO, at least when your charging by the hour. Used Painless for a while, then EZ wire, never any issues. Used a customer suppied Ron Francis once, wasn't impressed. Doing one this week and decided to give Rebel Wire a try. For the money, I think it's the best out there. Plan on ordering 3 more for jobs I have next month.

    There are exceptions of course (some guys are good at it) but most home made harnesses I've seen are cobbled up messes that are a nightmare to work on. I had a Chevy coupe come in with wiring problems (lots of them), someone had wired the whole car with the same 16 gauge yellow wire :eek: (must of had a 1000' roll of the stuff!). Needless to say I talked the customer in a total rewire job.
  24. Von Rigg Fink
    Joined: Jun 11, 2007
    Posts: 13,426

    Von Rigg Fink
    from Garage

    let me know how that rebel wire harness turns out
  25. 1950ChevySuburban
    Joined: Dec 20, 2006
    Posts: 6,188

    Member Emeritus
    from Tucson AZ

    For the record, I've had reversed flasher wires in 2 ez-wire kits last year, and another ez-wire kit with incorrect headlight socket wiring.
    If the flasher wires get reversed, you'll never know it unless you use an electronic flasher. Then you'll pull your hair out!
  26. rustyford40
    Joined: Nov 20, 2007
    Posts: 2,168

    from Mass Bay

    When I first started wiring car no kits were avable. So it was up to you to wire your car. One thing I still do is use old garden hose as conduit. I cut it to lanth then spray paint,
  27. rustyford40. That sounds like a good idea. Inexpensive and works.
  28. jhogan
    Joined: Aug 16, 2009
    Posts: 37

    from Aptos CA

    I used a rebel harness with more circuits then I needed. It was cheap, easy to install. Making a hinged swing out plate for my fuse block made it easy to hide behind my dash. All the wires were labeled, color coded. When I added things up, turn signals, electric choke, fan, guages, etc it was nice to have the extra circuits. Seal off all the unused and ground evereything. I used a large bus bar behind the dash to ground multiple things.
  29. Morrisman
    Joined: Dec 9, 2003
    Posts: 1,600

    from England

    That is an idea, all black wiring, with the wires purpose written on in white, turn, stop, ignition etc.

    Very discreet and neat, but still makes it easy to trace the wires.

    Who's going to be the first to pop a kit out like that?
  30. Most of my own cars are wired from scratch. And it's very simple. One 10ga hot from the batt/starter sol to the ign sw. A 10ga jumper from there to the headlight sw. A 14ga jumper from there to the brake light sw and out from there. On my own cars, I wire the whole gauge cluster with a jumper ground to each gauge, and a jumper hot to each gauge AND each gauge light. Yes, the gauges are lit whenever the key's on. If it's daytime, when you don't need gauge lights, you won't see them. But it makes for a very very simple job. Another thing, and most guys are gonna hate fuses, except the one that's on the aftermarket headlite sw. I use. Before you go nuts, I just installed a complete harness from Y & Z in a 37 LaSalle. Believe me when I tell you, there's a lot of wiring for a 30's car in that stock harness.....and guess what? Only ONE fuse in the whole system. And it's for the clock. My customer's cars get fuse panels. Oh, I do my wiring before the interior goes in. Also, I use GM color codes from the 60's as that's what I'm most used to dealing with

Share This Page

Register now to get rid of these ads!


Copyright © 1995-2021 The Jalopy Journal: Steal our stuff, we'll kick your teeth in. Terms of Service. Privacy Policy.

Atomic Industry
Forum software by XenForo™ ©2010-2014 XenForo Ltd.