Wiring: Sanity Check

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    Looking for feedback from those who have dealt with wiring.

    As you can see in my project postings I finally have the rebuilt engine running and now it’s time to move to the next piece of the puzzle…wiring.

    My original plan was to replace all the old wiring.  But now, having spent twice the time planned on my engine rebuild I am having second thoughts. 

    I definitely will have to rewire the dash.  But I’m thinking I can get away with testing/inspecting the existing wiring and connections and only work on what’s broken.

    Any input from those with experience in this area??

    I’ve ripped off all the sheathing and exposed all wires and connections.  The wiring under the “hood” was never exposed to the elements and doesn’t look to be dry or brittle.  Anything that looks questionable I will replace.  But I’m just not sure I’m adding any real value by the gut and replace approach as most of it is still good.


    edward ericson


    When I pulled out Bridget’s interior & had a look at the
    loom/harness I did most of what you’re doing. Ended up replacing one big
    wire with a melted insulator, most of the wire ends, added a couple
    line fuses and called it good.

    In my case it isn’t, really, because I left the old fusebox in place. So
    now at regular intervals I’ll see things like the GEN light go on (the
    other night this happened) with the tach dying and the fuel gauge going
    to empty at the same time. Ah–that’s the number 3 fuse, I thought–not
    the fan belt. Turned out it had knocked loose. . . .

    In my defense, the idea last year was to get the new gauges wired and
    run them as-is until I made the new dashboard this year, then go in and
    shoot down any gremlins. But I did not make the dash, because this
    spring I had to make this instead:

    (Scale note: the retaining wall blocks are 18 inches wide by 8 inches high. The bottom step is nine feet wide.)

    Got that bad boy all sodded up on top Saturday and fixed a kink in the pipe so the garden valve works right. So now I can return my attention to more important pursuits….

    So to your question: Yes, if the wires ain’t broke, no need to fix ’em. But you need to be more fastidious than I was in deciding what needs replacement. Having seen your work so far, my bet is that you will be.




    VERY NICE back yard.  I can see how that would distract you from any other hobby. 

    I appreciate your input.   I plan on replacing the fuse block so we can start anew but, as you said, if it ain’t broke (and I can prove it) there’s no sense in messing with it.

    I’ll see what others have to say but I think this is my plan.



    Rocky, I would suggest doing as Ed says.  But, I would be very careful to make sure and clean and/or replace every one of the grounds.  Starting at the battery.  These have a way of getting overlooked.  And bigger stranded wire (smaller gauge) is always better.  If your gas gauge or oil pressure (etc) gauge bounces in syncopation with your turn signal, it is likely a ground problem.  The engine itself uses practically no electricity – it’s all the other stuff that does.   



    Rocky, What they said. I would also add that if you intended on replacing some wires, since you have already removed the sheathing, replace the entire run. For example, rather than splicing, replace the entire wire from fuse block to headlight switch, etc.

    Allen Caron
    VW based 53MGTD - "MoneyPenny"
    "If one thing matters, everything matters" - from the book The Shack




    Thanks for the heads up on the ground.  I’ll double check those with a wire brush in hand.


    That was my plan so thanks for the confirmation.  You wouldn’t believe how many splices I’ve already found.  One tail light had 4 different color of wires from the harness to one light.  All that will get cleaned up and full runs will be replaced.

    Thanks again!

    Scott A Chynoweth



    depending on the type of use box already insalled.A good upgrade is to one with the common blade fuse found in cars today.Everybody sells blade fuses,even walgreens.


    I picked up 2 from o’riellys for about $6 each,I think they were a 6 fuse box, and the nice thing is they hook together and have a dust cover.


    I really like oldbuzz’s idea.  Those older type glass buss fuses are a pain and they break.  Plus the newer blade types are more compact. 

    Montie Henderson


    I have the old glass buss type fuses on mine, think the block holds 10 fuses and is exposed on the fire wall at the top.  It’s one of the first things you see when the hood is open.  The wireing was so neetly done and layed out, glass ones just look sooo nostalgic.  I’ve have several compliments at car shows on it.   But that said, the newer blade type is easier to fine (so I stocked up on 20 amp glass ones and carry a box of spares).

    Steve Crites


      Some folks want to do the whole thing at once, knowing that it’s all new with no weak spots.  But there’s nothing wrong with doing a little at a time.  By doing one section at a time, you get to drive more!  Most cars I’ve done were the one system at a time rebuild and I’ve not regretted it. 
        I will add to Royal’s advise by saying…….ground, ground, ground, ground, then re check the ground!  You can’t assume anything when it comes to redoing grounds.  Go down to bare metal,  a little scratch in the paint under a bolt is asking for too many headaches.   Been there, done that.Ouch



    i have put my wiring off for maybe too long. when i bought my car the dash was missing and all the wires hanging loose. so i put it together best i could and had everything working for a time. the the horn quit, later the wipers. after replacing some fuses that kept blowing. i must have pulle too hard on the harness , now nothing works but the headlights. so im staying off the main roads for now. ill get to it eventually but my last bathroom in my 10 year redo of my old farm house and getting  my garden in, etc have my little red car way down the list. hell it still runs ok



    Again, thanks for the input.  VERY HELPFUL.

    I already have a new blade fuse block.  I just couldn’t see myself rebuilding and replacing almost everything else and leaving the old glass fuses.  Besides, I’ll need the extra slots when I install the A/C (it’s on the “Santa Please” list)

    I will definitely make sure I have an anchored ground.  From your comments on this string and problems addressed in others, it is clear that I don’t want to overlook this item.




    To make the cleaning of the wire terminals easier, and the cleaning of all of the grounded contact surfaces easier, I purchased the small driscoll like tool from Harbor Freight tools. It costs less then $10 and does an excellent job of precision work on the cleaning of the wire terminals and the spades on the gauges. I also used a little dielectric paste on the contacts to help avoid future corrosion. You do not need to put a lot of pressure on the cleaning tool to get the best results, but it really does save time of scrapping and sanding, to get a good metal to metal contact.


    I used the sanding drum with a light touch, and quickly I had a nice clean shinny contact surface.




    53 Classic Roadsters, built on a 72 VW chassis


    Lakeland, Florida, where we drive Topless every day

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