cxgvd

Ready, set, go. '39 wiring harness replacement

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Next project, and electricity is my weakest subject among others.  I am confident, I have good parts, tools and a book.  Wish me luck, Gary

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Hi Gary:

 

I will be following your progress with great interest, since I am planning to do the same thing on my '41 Super (and, like you, I am not exactly a whiz when it comes to electricity).  I was a bit leery about replacing the harness without everything being disassembled, as is typically done with a full restoration, but I have been assured that it's doable.  I assume you are doing the front harness only?  That's what I'm going to do since I want to leave the original headliner in place.  Can I ask which supplier you got your harness from?  Please keep us posted.

 

Neil

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It's really not a bad job.  The harness is clearly wired so just follow along step by step and you'll get it installed just fine.  Lay it out first, get your bearings as to what wire goes where, make a few of your own labels if needed.  It's pretty straightforward.  If I can help at all, don't hesitate.

 

Good Luck!!

Gary

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Good luck! who's wiring harness are you using, Rhode Island, YnZ's, or?

I've rewired a few complete cars, both to stock and aftermarket custom ones, and I somewhat enjoy it as it can be very satisfying. I think where i'm going to run into some issues with my '37, is that my car was completely stripped of it's wiring before I bought it, so a lot of the specific connectors, clips, etc that are missing is going to make it a slower process.

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I pretty much destroyed my headliner replacing the mouse-eaten and shorted out wires to the trunk. The tail lights and brake lights and turn signals (you said '39 right?) all go through there.

 

Couldn't figure out any way other than cutting the headliner a little.

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Thanks for the encouragement, I will keep you posted as it goes.  Gary W used Rhode Island for his car, me too, they supplied both main and body as well as the headlamps.  Didn't get extra signals for the front even though the car has fender lamps, I am funny that way, keep the car the way it came.  Someone else suggested removing the front seat for more comfort and the steering wheel had voids so it was restored as part of this job, also the speedo jams at 45 MPH so I hope to address the issue during this retrofit.  My car had electrical problems, mostly involving the starter, I am nervously looking forward to getting this completed.  I have a car show in mind June 10th for this rocket.  Gary

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In removing the front seat, your back will thank you!

That seat assembly is heavy though, but, in my mind, worth the effort.

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3 hours ago, DonMicheletti said:

In removing the front seat, your back will thank you!

That seat assembly is heavy though, but, in my mind, worth the effort.

 

I could not do it without the front seat. I wrap my knees on the back of the front seat, adding blood pressure to my brain for clear thinking, the back of my shoulders planted firmly on the floor under the dash........

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Currently re-wiring my ‘38 Special at this time too, but prefer to make my own harness than buy one. Don’t trust that 80+ year old cloth covered wiring which is already deteriorating under the bonnet. Will add the extra wires for turn; signals and driving lamps.

 

Think my ammeter may be cooked but have got a spare from a ‘37 gauge set from a recent swapmeet. Interesting find when I went to remove it, seems like an assembly line worker had some fun.

 

Rodney 😀😀😀😀😀

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Haven't found any interesting slogans, worked on the replacement Sunday afternoon, standing on my head.  Unpacked the new harness and tacked up the directions from Rhode Island on a handy message board in the shop.  Cut away or unscrewed the old, crusty wires and threw them into a corner in case I need some hardware, various switches I bagged up and marked.  With the dash panel loosened now I plan to address the binding speedometer, I hope a gentle tweak of the needle will help it to clear the base.  Then I will refinish the surround in the dark burgundy colour, doesn't look as if it was woodgrained, polish the bright work and it should be ready for new wires and reinstalling.  So far so good, I am not a mechanic I just play one in my garage.  Do not understand yet how to remove the light switch?  Regards, Gary

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Hi Gary,

not sure if the switch is similar/ same as ‘38 but if it is check the following.

 

 to remove the switch first push down on the metal part that engages the push/pull rod. This allows the knob to then pull all the way out. Use an Allen key to unscrew the bezel left in the dash from the switch and “Wallah” it should all come away.

 

In the photo the pointer shows the part that needs to be lightly pushed down to disengage the rod. The rest are self explanatory. Just have to ask Allen for the right size key 😀😀😀😀😀

 

Rodney

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Tuesday update.  I've managed to remove the light switch, it was similar to the instructions above, thanks Rodney.  The harness is laid loosely around the engine and under the dash.  The time consuming item now is when I touch some electrical part I have to clean the part to find a letter, number or symbol which relates to the instructions, hope that makes sense.  Then because I am driving an old restoration I have to decide whether to reinstall the item as is, to match the look of the rest of the car or to restore or replace the part.  For instance the horns are left alone although they are less than ideal, the generator relay is new, bright and shiny so I refinished the horn relay to match.  So far so good, the new harness is flawless.  Regards, Gary

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Update Thursday.  Main or engine wiring harness is in, the engine starts and the ammeter reads charging correctly according to dashboard gauge.  No smoke or sparks, however, I learned I have the wrong voltage regulator and the vacuum switch is not functioning.  I installed a spring loaded button located inside the car to run the starter for now.  Brought the engine up to temp and changed the oil.  Last night I reviewed Gary W fine restoration post concerning his wiring and found we had the same problem specifically which terminals to attach which wires at the starter solenoid.  I guess it is moot because the starter cranks the engine nicely.   Also on his thread my friend Larry said he laid the rear body harness on the floor of the car and didn't disturb the headliner, seems right and I plan to copy him.  Headlamps harness should be easy and the dome light is a project for the future.

Thanks, Gary

 

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The wiring at the starter solenoid doesnt matter which goes where.

The correct 5 pole regulator is hard to find. That 5th regulator pole supplies the ground for the starter solenoid. The vacuum switch supplies the positive. A push button is a common replacement for this complicated system.

As you probably already found, just grounding the wire that is at the regulator and using the button for the + works just fine.

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Final update, I have who friend who says education is expensive until you try to do without it.  Body harness is attached running along the floor and everything works, but I am not happy with the job because it is messy and I had to remove the original trunk matting and likely did some damage to the fabric.  My headliner is a replacement though nicely done and I am loathe to mess it up as well.  I am thinking I will remove the harness, store it, and run new wires individually.  Then I can make them anyway I want and hide them better, you don't see them until the last few inches before the lamps.

 

Started the engine this morning and my wife and I went for a test drive around the county maybe ten miles.  Steering wheel is finished and I am pleased with the result, speedometer is free now until at least 60 MPH, gas gauge reads mostly E though I put in two or three gallons from the lawn mower so I suspect it is not working properly.  The '39, which have named Trudy, is quiet and comfortable.  I'm sure it will become a good and reliable touring car.

 

And I installed a Buick 8 valve cover vinyl from Bob's, next a spring time wash.  Thanks, Gary

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The car looks great!  Since I have a driver myself, I know that it's often a tough decision figuring out what kind of improvements you want to make.  With a total restoration, you just replace everything.  And with a "historical preservation" effort, you want to replace only what is absolutely necessary.  When your goal is somewhere in between, i.e., to have a nice, presentable and reliable driver, you often are faced with a dilemma about how far you want to go.  So don't be too hard on yourself.  It's a series of compromises by its very nature, and you have to figure out what you're personally comfortable with.

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2 hours ago, cxgvd said:

gas gauge reads mostly E though I put in two or three gallons from the lawn mower so I suspect it is not working properly.

 

Assuming it was working before the wiring job, don't be too pessimistic about the fuel gauge until you put more gas in.  On my '40, the gauge sender was designed to read "empty" when there's still about three gallons in the tank.  This was an early version of the "reserve" concept before they had warning lights, and probably true of your car as well.  If it continues to read "empty" even when full, it probably means that the wire to the sender is grounding somewhere.

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Neil;  I hope you are correct concerning my gas gauge.  I once ran out of fuel at 3/4 mark on the dash so likely a trip to the gas station is in order following a visit with my financial guru.  Washed the Century after lunch I am a happy camper.  Gary

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Next final update.  I've found a gas leak, a small one,  it softens the undercoating and leaves a stain, seems the outlet pipe is cracked on the sender.  I could have repaired the crack but the cork float inside the tank is seized in the empty position.   Since reproductions are available I ordered one from Bob's killing two birds with a single stone.  Sound fuel line, all new wiring from gauge to float and no need to outrun a trail of flame.  Regards, Gary

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Glad to hear that you found the problem!  I installed one of the units from Bob's in my '41 and it works perfectly.

 

Neil

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2 hours ago, Ben Bruce aka First Born said:

cx, if the original sender hooked directly to the gas line and the replacement requires a rubber hose to join, DON,T forget to ground the sender to the body or frame.

  

  Ben

 

Better yet, do it anyway.

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