When it comes to building a project car, there are car guys that can weld-in a patch panel, others who can fabricate a custom suspension, and even those who can seemingly rebuild an engine with their eyes closed. We even know many guys that can tune a carburetor by ear. What we don’t normally run into, are those willing to take on the task of wiring a complete car from scratch. While a lot of enthusiasts feel that routing and connecting the various wires needed to complete the electrical circuits is best left to a professional, in reality, it is something that many can do themselves. We know that you are capable, but we find that most are uncomfortable working with electrical systems.
Being able to properly diagnose – or even correctly rewire a car – is something that can be accomplished by the home enthusiast. Contrary to popular belief, it is not rocket science. A little patience and a few simple hand tools are all you need. When it came time for us to wire our latest project – True SStreet – we decided that the Express 16-fuse wiring system from Ron Francis Wiring would be just the ticket.
This Express wiring system is built specifically for the brand/model vehicle being worked on, and has everything needed for the initial install. It also contains enough circuits to allow the user to add accessories in the future. The kit even includes a cooling fan relay and a Multi-Connection Battery Junction Block to reduce the number of wires going to the starter for all those add-ons in a custom application like True SStreet.
While the installation of a complete wiring kit is fairly easy, we wanted to get some input from a professional. To that end, we reached out to Scott Bowers of Ron Francis Wiring. “When it comes to wiring a car, plan ahead.” Scott continued, “Know how many circuits/power accessories you have now, and plan for future. Make sure you have good grounds, they’re half the circuit and often overlooked. Also, know what accessories you have. If you call telling us you have a 3G alternator when in fact you have a 4G alternator, this will cause problems. Finally, ground the battery directly to the engine or bellhousing. Don’t rely on grounding to the frame. Steel doesn’t conduct electricity as well as copper does.”
We’ve made the process of rewiring a vehicle so easy that even the novice can do it. – Scott Bowers
If you follow those simple suggestions, you’ll see that wiring a car is not an overly difficult task. That being said, the devil is in the details. For starters, make sure you plan enough time to do what you plan to do. There’s not much that is more frustrating than leaving a wiring job mid-point, and then having to remember where to restart – especially if you don’t get back to it right away. Also, if you do get into a situation and need some help or advice, the folks at Ron Francis are just a mouse click or phone call away.
“Enthusiasts are in good hands. We’ve made the process of rewiring a vehicle so easy, that even the novice can do it. Our systems feature color-coded wires that are printed every 5 inches as to where they are coming from, and going to. Plus, the color instructions are very descriptive. If they get confused, we offer as much tech help as needed for the customer to get the job done,” Scott said.
While we will not be showing every step involved with the process of wiring a car from bumper to bumper, we do want to make sure you have a basic understanding of the fundamentals. These are what typically get overlooked, and eventually cause problems. For instance, more often than not, an improper ground will be the culprit of many of the problems encountered.
“The importance of grounding is often overlooked. In any circuit, the ground equals half of the circuit and can cause havoc when it is insufficient or compromised. Make sure that paint, powdercoating, and rust are cleared at any grounding location,” he stated.
When we talk about the possibility of grounding issues, we need to mention those induced by poor battery cable connections. We’ve seen many guys ground the negative battery cable to the frame of a vehicle, and that is all. It might work, but it might not either. Remember those rubber engine mounts? Trying to complete the ground circuit through the small-contact area of the the rubber mount is not sufficient. Also, as Scott mentioned, steel only carries about 20-percent of the conductivity that copper does. That’s why it is always recommended to connect the negative battery cable directly to the engine block. Once you have the engine grounded, it is also a good idea to run a ground wire from the engine to the body so all of your accessories like lights, radio, etc., work properly.
Keep It Simple
One critical process that’s often overlooked in many cars – and we see it more so in race cars – is clean routing of the wires. It’s surprising how many times we’ve seen a jumbled mess of wires under the dash, surrounding the engine compartment, and even in the trunk. We can’t stress enough the importance of a clean, well-routed wiring installation and its benefits. Basically, if it doesn’t look good, it probably isn’t. But looks aren’t everything.
During the installation of any wire kit, there are specific things that must be addressed during the installation process to make sure you have a reliable, quality job that won’t have your blood pressure explode while tracing wires at a later date. Nobody wants to be “that guy” sitting at the starting line or an intersection because of a wiring gremlin. Scott agrees with that assessment, “Use common sense, and do not let form dominate function too much. When you compromise too far, it may come back to bite you as far as dependability. The tech section of our catalog is a good place to start if enthusiasts want to learn more about solid fundamentals of automotive wiring.”
Good Goes In
Getting back to our install. We decided on the Express 16-fuse kit, because this custom wiring system is built specifically for the brand of vehicle it will be installed. It also comes with all the wiring necessary to make connections so you can drive the car, pass inspection, and still have the ability to add accessories as you see fit – now, and in the future. With this kit, the fuse panel can be located in True SStreet wherever we see fit to give a clean installation.
“Our Express Wiring Kit comes with a new fuse panel, headlight switch, and a set of color-coded and printed wires to completely rewire a project vehicle. It includes circuitry for the starter, alternator, distributor or coils, gauges, and all lights to make the car street legal. It even includes wiring for the radio and wipers.” Scott continued, “The 16-fuse panel includes enough capacity for full-featured applications. The kits are tailored to each application based on engine, alternator, ignition, and steering column. That way, we can provide the proper connections for an easy installation.” That being said, you will need to supply connectors for accessories like the lights, etc. In our application, we simply spliced the Ron Francis wiring into each factory connector that was used: headlights, turn signals, parking lights, etc.
Each Express kit fuse panel also has a unique serial number that enables the techs at Ron Francis to know exactly which system they need to research should the purchaser have any questions. Finally, this 16-fuse system gives you the added benefit of four of those fuses being what Ron Francis calls Select-A-Circuit. These four fuses allow you to tailor whether the fuse is always hot, or powered when the ignition is switched on.
Whether you plan to wire you street or race car project with Ron Francis Wiring, hopefully this article will give you a little insight into what you need to consider when selecting and installing a kit in your hot rod.