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philipj

Complete rewire 37 or 38 Buick...

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Hello there,

 

I have a general question regarding the headliners on 37 or 38 Buick Specials... Most vehicles that I am looking at have original wiring which should be replaced if you're to avoid shorts or a fire (worse case scenario).. To the point, can the wiring harness be replaced by partially removing the headliner?

 

Aside from the cost of a high quality harness, ($1200-$1500) What other major challenges or difficulties can be encountered by in doing such a job?

Thank you in advance for your comments and information.

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 I don't quite get the correlation between the headliner and replacing a wiring harness. The only wire that should be under the fabric is the one for the dome light. It should be fairly simple to fish a new wire in, using the old one as a pull wire. 99% of the rest of the harness is in the engine compartment, under the dash and along the chassis

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Actually, on 1937 and 1938 Buicks the wiring harness to the rear lights of the car does run between the roof and the headliner. I don't know if you can easily install a wiring harness without replacing the headliner, since I have not rewired nor installed a headliner in my current project yet. If you look at Gary W's restoration thread in Pre-War Buicks, you should be able to closely look at his photos and figure it out.

 

Typically I think a wiring harness will outlast a headliner. If you need a new wiring harness, you likely need a new headliner too. You will have better luck with these types of questions in the Pre-War Buick forum, rather than the AACA General forum, since the folks who have done more work on these specific cars are usually found in that forum.  

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Thank you Mr. MCHinson, that is what I thought... Wondered if anyone had done this on a vehicle with a good headliner.. I will have a look again at Gary W restoration and try to figure out ..

 

My question is centered about the vehicle below. If you look closely at the video you can see that there wiring harness is on its way out...

 

 

 

More info on the car is here...

 

https://mcecars.com/vehicles/448/1937-buick-40-special

 

Thank you.

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If it is the original headliner I doubt it will take much handling before it rips or falls to pieces. It MAY be possible to carefully pull it loose along one side and refasten it later but it might be best to figure on a new headliner.

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When I had my harness installed in my 1937-41 sedan. The harness was run under the carpet to the rear. A judgment call, so as to not remove the still very nice original headliner. If I replace the headliner I will route it correctly.

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Install a discreet switch, fuse, or connector to the dome light, and only power it up for judging. They work so poorly that besides a Check for function on the show field, you won’t run a risk of fire. I have seen several cars burn to the ground from a bad dome wire, for various reasons. I also have seen more than a handful smolder and char. It best to use caution. Also, do the same thing with ALL the lighters. Ed

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17 hours ago, edinmass said:

Install a discreet switch, fuse, or connector to the dome light, and only power it up for judging. They work so poorly that besides a Check for function on the show field, you won’t run a risk of fire. I have seen several cars burn to the ground from a bad dome wire, for various reasons. I also have seen more than a handful smolder and char. It best to use caution. Also, do the same thing with ALL the lighters. Ed

That is my view on automotive wiring, every wire is a lighter. Bob 

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On 1/22/2018 at 6:45 AM, edinmass said:

Install a discreet switch, fuse, or connector to the dome light, and only power it up for judging. They work so poorly that besides a Check for function on the show field, you won’t run a risk of fire. I have seen several cars burn to the ground from a bad dome wire, for various reasons. I also have seen more than a handful smolder and char. It best to use caution. Also, do the same thing with ALL the lighters. Ed


FWIW AACA judging doesn't check for functionality, so if it were the case where only the dome light was at play here and you were primarily focused on AACA judging you wouldn't need to worry about having power go to the dome at all. In this case it seems the rear body wiring also goes up through the roofline. That does seem odd,  since they did offer a convertible and clearly they went a different way on those.

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Dome light has never worked on my daily driver, that is why there is a flashlight in the center console. Bob 

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Several ways to skin this cat. Assuming a new commercial harness:

1. Replace the harness to the rear along with the headliner.

2. Discuss with the harness maker the possibility of making a rear harness that can be routed along the floor.

3. Buy the correct wire and connectors and make your own front to rear harness.

4. If choosing 2 or 3 simply disable the original harness and leave it in place.

5. If you must have a dome light you can quite possibly fish the required wire into place.

Making your own front to rear harness is fairly easy. There are only a few wires in long runs. I made my own front to rears for my cars with little problem and a significant cost savings. I recommend  you discuss the problem with Rhode Island Wiring. It's possible they have dealt with this before and have a front to rear harness made to be installed along the floor.

In any event they will gladly sell you the correct wire and connectors..........Bob

 

 

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There are so few wires that go back past the front seats on these cars, the possibilities are endless in terms of re-wiring and/or modifying wiring.

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This is all very interesting! I had no idea of the fire danger related to dome lights on vehicles with original harnesses... I would most certainly eliminate it, If I was trying to preserve an original headliner (and the car!) and run the wiring along the floor...

 

One question about the harnesses on these 37-38 cars... Does the rear harness connect under the dash ( round connector I am told) to the front section? By front I mean everything under the dash and all the wiring going through the firewall to the starting system, headlights, etc.. 

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This is a photo that shows the location of the round connector with the dash removed. 

DSC_0950.JPG

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Old cars came with a switch for the dome light located in the door post right behind the driver's left shoulder. Newer cars had it in the ignition switch. I have seen plastic dome lights melted and scorched when the door switch failed or the door left ajar and the light on.

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While this is still off on a tangent from his original question, on a 1937 or 1938 Buick, the dome light switch is on the B pillar on the passenger side of the car, adjacent to the passenger's right shoulder.

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