Category: Wiring

’32 Update: headlight wiring (article 23, archived)

Headlight Wiring

This is what I was making when I discovered that the tire was a great bending die for a large radius.

You can see a very slight bend on the horizontal section of tube. Basically, I wanted to give it some shape so it wasn’t straight.


The little stainless piece in the back of the headlight is a piece from the Parr headlight conduit kit. It comes with some braided hose, and two of each frame fittings and headlight fittings. I machined a shoulder on the headlight fittings and drilled them 3/8″ all the way through, for the stainless line. There are six wires in a ’32 headlight with turn signals, which *just* won’t fit in a 3/8″ tube. I took the ground from the turn signal and bolted it to the inside of the light, which is bolted to the frame. Five wires fit very snugly inside the tube, but they do fit.

’32 Update: Wiring (article 28, archived)

If there was one thing about this build that I underestimated, it was the wiring. I thought “meh, some go to the front, some to the rear, a few underneath. Should take about an hour.” OK, I’m exaggerating a little. I rarely give time frame estimates to anyone, because I’m usually wrong. My wife will ask when I’ll be home for dinner. “Don’t pressure me!” It’s been a while since I’ve posted an article, hasn’t it?

Now that you know a little bit more about me, I’ll get back to the topic at hand. We’re using a Ron Francis Express kit with accessory packs for everything – electric choke, headlight relief relays, hot start kit, dimmer control box, etc. etc… this makes it really easy for someone like me, who is a wiring virgin (ew), to accomplish a neat and tidy job, and also one that a future owner of the car will appreciate because all the wires are labeled. This is my first wiring job, by the way.

I don’t plan on going into great detail about how I wired every portion of the car. I think I will add to this article as the job gets completed, so you can see how I accomplished certain aspects of the project. I would appreciate hearing from some more seasoned (not necessarily electrocuted) wirers with little tips and tidbits on how I could have made the job easier.

First off, let me explain a simple principal I learned that will help you wire a vehicle: wires are matter, and matter occupies space. Keeping this in mind, let’s move on.

This is the particular space the wiring is occupying. On the passenger side kick panel/ side panel, I drilled holes on an angle for the a/c & heater lines. Since we’re using Vintage Air’s reduced diameter hoses, the holes are considerably smaller than standard hoses. Three lines have their own hole, but I left some clearance above the fourth hole (almost a shape like the number 8) for the wires. The wires you see will be wrapped and hopefully look pretty neat when it’s all done. Since I used the same feeder wire for every wire that came through this hole, the wires should all stay aligned within reason. Before you begin, I suggest running a feeder wire through every place you think you’ll be running wires. A pillar, over the roof (if yours is hollow like the Bear body), and through the rocker (where I’ve got the most wires). This will ensure that if you ever have to pull a wire out, you know it’s not going to be wound around other wires and impossible to retrieve.

I think this was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. This picture was taken from inside the driver side kick panel. I ran the battery cables down the drivers side rocker panel, but since Ron had already factory installed the battery clamps, I had to run the cables forward to the starter. This meant negotiating a 90 degree turn at the bottom of the rocker in a space 2″ wide and 8″ deep. I can still remember the joy I felt while removing fiberglass slivers from the back of my hand.

Oh well, this is the result.

So, with the battery cables out of the way, I can focus on the little wires. In this picture you can see the passenger side kick panel cavity I ran the battery cables through, except on the driver’s side.

This is where I’m mounting all the accessory pieces for the wiring, along with the panel itself. The wires in the standard kit are just long enough to do this, but I couldn’t put it too much further back without length becoming an issue. I did need to lengthen one or two wires that I wanted to exit the car with the other wires, but come back under the car along the top of the transmission. To make it easier to troubleshoot in the future, I added a section of wire the same color in the middle of the wire I needed to lengthen. This way, the wire is correctly numbered and labeled at both ends. I soldered and heat shrunk the joints. In this picture I’m just mocking up the components. None of the ends have been put on the wires that will connect to the panel, so I can determine proper lengths.

There is quite a bit of wiring in the cavity over the windshield because all the switches, gauges, etc. will be up there.

I had a sort of street rod mentor in to the shop and he suggested that the wires coming out at the bottom of the firewall were a bit too tight. He thought it would be better if I could remove some of the wires and run them some other way. The only wires that would run nicely somewhere else were the headlight wires… so we started to look at fishing them through the frame rail. It seemed like the best option, so I started drilling. This is the first frame rail access hole from passenger side trunk kick panel.

You’ll want to make sure you have enough cable to run the length of the rails before you start. I used wiring conduit like they use to run wires in your house. It’s stiff but flexible, and it pushes nicely over a long length.

Once the fishing wire is through the rail, you can attach the wires to it and gently pull it through. I ran the fishing wire from front to back because the front C notch is an obstacle that I could get around easily from the front. I have fished every wire on this car using masking tape. I think the most important thing is to wrap the tape around the wire you want to fish first, then wrap that “assembly” to the fishing wire. More tape isn’t always better. I have to struggle to break a good taping job.

Once the wires were through, I bent the wire 90 degrees on the end and came through the hole.

The turn signal wires come from the firewall, so they will meet up with these wires where they come out of the rail. I will be putting something on the wires where they contact the boxing plate so they don’t wear.

Quiet Time of the Day: drilling holes in the side of the radiator for the riv nuts to hold the junction blocks. If you didn’t know already, the outside tubes in Walker radiators are dummies. The second tubes, however, are not. The junction blocks are so the headlights can be disconnected and to minimize the number of wires running out of the lights. From this block, the wires will go to a block on the other side, then to the light.

I decided I wanted to hide the wires coming out of the fan motor. I mentioned a while ago about wireless cars – this would be one of the places it would be nice to have a Bluetooth electric fan.

I was able to tuck the wires just beside the fan motor so they would run along the inside of the blade guard. I connected wires of the same color and covered it with shrink tube.

And here are the wires exiting through a hole in the case. Shrink tube covers the blue wire where it will be seen. I used small black zip ties to hold the wires to the blade guard on the inside. Yes, there’s lots of clearance for the wires. Yes, I hope the fan doesn’t hit them.

That’s it for now! Thanks for your time.

’32 Update: More On Wiring (complicated minimalist theme prevails) (article 29)

More on Wiring

I have a few wires to run from the hole in the firewall/ kick panel to the headlights, and to keep the “complicated minimalist” theme going, I decided to do this:

I got some of Kugel’s stainless line clamps.  They come with stainless hardware too, which is a great thing.  Keep reading… the wiring part is coming up.

I trimmed the ends off two clamps and welded them together on the inside so you can’t see the weld.  If you’re wondering why there are only two hoses, I’ll explain that in another article.  I’ve run the heater hoses in a different place.

OK, this is where this article fits into the wiring category. I was going to attach the a/c hose clamps at the top and bottom like in the last picture. Then I started to not like the hole on the bottom and tried to think of a way not to use it. I knew I still wanted to do something to cover the wires going to the headlights, so this seemed like a good line to follow.  The stainless line that’s now welded to the clamp will hold the wires, as well as the bottom portion of the clamp. By welding a mounting tab to the tube (pointing up), I will be able to attach the tube assembly to the frame rail, and the hoses will hide the bolt head.

You can see the tab in between the clamps. Now that I’m looking at this, I’m going to change a few things. I’m serious – this was completely spontaneous. I was going to run the transmission cooler along these clamps too, but I think I can clean it up a bit still.

So, to clean up the tube that carries the four headlight wires and the two A/C hoses to the front – along the frame rail, here’s what I came up with.

I had the headlight wires along the bottom of the a/c hose brackets, but when I thought of running the trans cooler lines along the same way, everything was getting too wrapped up. So I cut the wiring tube off the bottom, moved it to the top, and bent a trans cooler line for the bottom. The cooler return line will weld to the Kugel brackets right beside the bottom line.

To mount this unit, I’ll weld a stainless tab across the two tubes and bolt to the frame rail through that tab.  That way, the a/c hoses will cover the bolt heads.