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Old 09-01-2020, 11:28 PM   #1
F-ONE
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Default To those who've been there, original harness, am I fighting a loosing battle?

I've been trying to get my '51 Coupe road ready. It sill has the original harness.
The brake switch wires are rotten to the harness.

All the engine wiring has been replaced to the harness. (make do repairs) The generator charges fine.

The lights, are still on the original harness. They work except for brake lights and signals.

The main harness under hood and under dash is still wrapped.

Most of the exposed wire under the hood just crumbles away between my thumb and finger, more like mud than fabric. The brake circuit was that way.

As I get to the main harness, the condition of the wire seems better.

All the interior lighting still works, as do the taillights. The car still has the original headliner.

There is some naked copper under the dash but have not determined if this is part of the main harness or something that was added. At one time the car had a big engine. It looks like somebody tried to convert it back to stock.

It's been monkeyed with a little bit.

My hope is, that there is still enough there to get gauges working, the brake lights and have it drivable.

To those that have been here, do I just need to re-wire the car or replace the parts of the harness as I go?

Do I need to get a new under dash harness and go from there?

Do I have any hope in repairing it (the present harness) or is it a waste of time and money?
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Old 09-02-2020, 12:03 AM   #2
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Default Re: To those who've been there, original harness, am I fighting a loosing battle?

I was initially paranoid to rip out my harnesses, afraid I'd never get it running again. I bought all my harnesses as original from a reputable harness maker. I then reproduced the Ford wiring diagrams in a larger format, one copy for under the car and one for the wall. Proceeding with tape and markers, I disconnected each existing wire, marking each for location. Comparing the original to the repop, the Ford diagram, and the repop maniufacturer diagram, I rewired my car bumper to bumper. Now this was overkill, of course, but I wasn't going to make a stupid mistake. One last thing, my car is a '38 convertible coupe, so it has no turn signals, no overdrive kick-down, no trunk light, no overhead light, no rear speakers, and no other added foofara like yours might have, so yes, If i were you I'd do the overkill thing also. You'll be happy you did.
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Old 09-02-2020, 01:46 AM   #3
TitusDH
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Default Re: To those who've been there, original harness, am I fighting a loosing battle?

My harness crumbled to dust by even looking at it. With large sections of bare wire exposed. Replaced all of it in one go.70+ years old bullet connectors would not even detach without breaking.
If you leave your harness alone, you'd likely get the idea what burning loom smells like rather sooner than later. IMHO, it is really asking for trouble.
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Old 09-02-2020, 04:34 AM   #4
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Default Re: To those who've been there, original harness, am I fighting a loosing battle?

My '39 Deluxe Fordor was a basket case when I bought it...in so many ways!!

I started having to patch/replace wiring sections each time I'd get a short.

It finally dawned on me that the only way I was going to solve these electrical failures was to replace the entire harness. Got a complete new one from Mac's....this was before they were bought out. Came with a wiring diagram...which I kept.

Took my time, labeled everything as I went along, and when I was finished, I never had another wiring issue. Think I started from the front of the car so that when I took an old wire off, I attached the equivalent new one....worked my way back to the tail lights.
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Old 09-02-2020, 05:23 AM   #5
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Default Re: To those who've been there, original harness, am I fighting a loosing battle?

Why take the chance of having the car burn. Order a new harness from Tyree Harris, he has adds in the V-8 Times. I've used his harness before, fair price, great fit and looks original.
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Old 09-02-2020, 06:04 AM   #6
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Default Re: To those who've been there, original harness, am I fighting a loosing battle?

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The first year I owned the 42 sedan I took it out to a couple cruise ins....the last one in the fall. When I got home and put it in the garage I opened the trunk to remove my folding chairs when I noticed a little spark where the license plate lamp wire went through a hole in the decklid. The insulation was brittle and falling off the wire. Naturally I disconnected the battery. Over the next days I went over all the wiring I could see. Aside from the repairs and splicing done by a previous owner, I kept finding more ancient and decaying wire insulation.

If it wasn’t for that little spark I might not have realized the potential fire hazard.....parked in my garage. So I decided to replace ALL the wiring. Yes it’s quite a project but the peace of mind was worth it. I did find that although there were multiple harnesses involved (and I bought them all) I still had to buy separate headlight and taillight sockets with pigtails to complete the job properly. The only wire I left disconnected was the one that feeds the overhead courtesy light.....I didn’t want to disturb my nice headliner. I tagged and insulated this one and left it tied off under the dash.
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Old 09-02-2020, 09:41 AM   #7
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Default Re: To those who've been there, original harness, am I fighting a loosing battle?

If your car is worth more than the cost of a new harness I suggest you put in the new harness. From your description the old harness is basically toast. It's not a difficult task when you follow the instructions. Most new stock harnesses come with diagrams.
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Old 09-02-2020, 10:02 AM   #8
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Default Re: To those who've been there, original harness, am I fighting a loosing battle?

One big difference is the wire itself. The newer harnesses (at least the ones I have seen) use an insulated wire. The cloth covering is just that, a covering over the modern insulated wire.
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Old 09-02-2020, 10:26 AM   #9
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Default Re: To those who've been there, original harness, am I fighting a loosing battle?

under the cloth is ancient rubber that crumbles when disturbed unless you enjoy watching you property burn to the ground do as suggested and buy a repo harness there will be more than one to do it properly.engine body etc.as suggest tyree makes what you need as well as a few more
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Old 09-02-2020, 11:16 AM   #10
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Default Re: To those who've been there, original harness, am I fighting a loosing battle?

Sounds like it's time to replace your bad wiring. Not hard to do. Buy a new harness, follow instructions, label every wire and take photos.

You will be so happy you did.
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Old 09-03-2020, 08:42 AM   #11
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Default Re: To those who've been there, original harness, am I fighting a loosing battle?

I agree with the others. That 70 year old wire is a fire hazard. My 48 coupe wiring was like that. I replaced it all.
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Old 09-03-2020, 09:19 AM   #12
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Default Re: To those who've been there, original harness, am I fighting a loosing battle?

I rewired the 48, the old wire was falling apart. I am not by any means an auto electrician however the directions and diagrams that came with the wiring harnesses were excellent. I got all the harnesses from Sacramento Vintage Ford. I breathe much easier with the new wire.
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Old 09-03-2020, 12:13 PM   #13
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Default Re: To those who've been there, original harness, am I fighting a loosing battle?

I got a new harness from C&G and everything is tagged and color coded, itís on my todo list. Many have suggested to take out the front seat to make it easier to work under dash, I plan on doing just that.
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Old 09-03-2020, 12:45 PM   #14
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Default Re: To those who've been there, original harness, am I fighting a loosing battle?

Agreed. Buy the correct harness and re wire the car.
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Old 09-03-2020, 12:55 PM   #15
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Default Re: To those who've been there, original harness, am I fighting a loosing battle?

Thanks, I really appreciate it.
I knew I had things to do to the car. I was not expecting to go this far...
One bite at a time.
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Old 09-03-2020, 02:16 PM   #16
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Default Re: To those who've been there, original harness, am I fighting a loosing battle?

A couple of funny stories that could have been sad...


My wife pushed in the cigar lighter on my '38 Ford during a trip, and waited for it to pop out, not knowing they were not automatic in that year. I still carry the burn scar on my fingers from trying to rip out red hot wires.


Years ago, my '55 Chevy would send up smoke signals from under the dash when I'd drive uphill. Never did find that one before selling the car.
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Old 09-03-2020, 03:13 PM   #17
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Default Re: To those who've been there, original harness, am I fighting a loosing battle?

Not everybody buys a new harness. The old junkers I end up with, I pull all the old wire then go back one wire at a time. One thing at a time till she's ready to hit the road. I do maybe waste a lot of zip ties and terminal cut off to change things a little.
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Old 09-03-2020, 03:30 PM   #18
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Default Re: To those who've been there, original harness, am I fighting a loosing battle?

Strip out ALL old wiring, even if it is not crumbling.
If you want to keep it stock looking along with the associated problems, get replacement harnesses and install them.

A much better method is scratch wiring.

Get an original copy wiring diagram for the model of car you have. The diagrams that come with new harnesses are not always completely right.

Get the QUALITY tools you will need to do the job. No Harbor Freight junk. You will need a GOOD volt/ohmeter. Used Simpson 260’s are cheap at $40 on ebay.

If you are not familiar with wiring cars, there are hundreds of books in the library on the subject. It is EXTREMELY important to know how to properly install lugs, solder wire and select the proper wire gauge for circuits.
Go with the books, they are more reliable than anything you will get from the internet.

Wiring from scratch is very simple if you think, “one circuit at a time”. Wiring from scratch is quite a bit cheaper. Wiring from scratch is more effective, will last longer and be more trouble free. The main reason being is you will run a separate ground return wire for each circuit. Using the frame of the car for return circuits is NOT good wiring practice. It just enables the car manufacturer to buy more yachts and golf clubs.
All ground returns are brought back to a common point close to the battery with a master shutoff switch.
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Old 09-03-2020, 03:37 PM   #19
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Default Re: To those who've been there, original harness, am I fighting a loosing battle?

Quote:
Originally Posted by corvette8n View Post
I got a new harness from C&G and everything is tagged and color coded, itís on my todo list. Many have suggested to take out the front seat to make it easier to work under dash, I plan on doing just that.
I recently did my '53 an yes it is much easier with the seat out.
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Old 09-03-2020, 03:47 PM   #20
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Default Re: To those who've been there, original harness, am I fighting a loosing battle?

I like to buy the stuff from Brillman and make those big fat 00 cables, too.

And plug wires: Packard 440 and nice terminals.
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