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1st Gen Riviera Wiring Guru - AKA the "Go To Guy" ???


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Posted (edited)

Hey Guys - 

 

Vehicle: 1965 Buick Riviera GS with all electric options. 

 

Around 5 years ago, during a full body restoration, the car suffered an electrical mishap that obviously damaged the electrical system.

 

Since then, there's been a few self proclaimed auto electricians that have had their hands into the electrical system, BUT the car continues to have electrical issues.

 

Hot wiring harness and the acrid smell of electrical system smoke has dictated that for the safety of the car, it's just stayed parked in a garage for 5 years.

 

I know that this description of the electrical issues this car is experiencing is described in a broad stroke, but that's where it's at.

 

I also know this subject has been discussed before, but the times are quickly changing as these rare GS cars, especially well-optioned and well documented examples continue to increase in value.

 

So - with that said, is there anybody in the US that has stepped up to the plate and specializes in refurbishing/renewing/replacing the electrical systems on these 1st Gen Cars?

 

Somebody that has so successfully done this that they are gaining a reputation as the "Go To Guy"?

 

Thanks and looking forward to your replies,

fast_dave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by fast_dave (see edit history)
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  • fast_dave changed the title to 1st Gen Riviera Wiring Guru - AKA the "Go To Guy" ???

Dave, the wiring on these cars are pretty labor intensive due to all the power accessories, and difficult accessibility. I dont know anyone to refer you to that i would call a guru. The only thing i could recommend is if you have a buddy that is a certified electrician maybe he can be of assistance. I have rewired motorcycles from the ground up and worked on whatever electrical problems that have arisen on my rivi and lots of other cars . Hands down the rivi is always the most challenging. The reason i recommend a certified electrician is because if they got the proper schooling, they understand the science behind electricity. Thats important for proper wire sizing, wire routing, and trouble shooting. I dont know where you are located but if you are anywhere near GODS COUNTRY , beautiful LOS ANGELES CALIFORNIA, i would be happy to help you at  no charge. Good luck.

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Anywhere near western New York? I removed my harness, unwrapped it, and repaired Jimmy Joe Calhoun's work- you know, the 6' 4" "electrician" who wears the steer horn belt buckle.

 

Fixed a Ford one time that had the brake light wires welded into the rear wheel arch repair.

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Posted (edited)

You could try to get an original harness out of a parts car. Carefully swap sections of harness from one car to the other.

 

The content and routing of each wiring harness section is documented in the Shop Manual. That gives you a guide.

 

You would have to totally strip the interior and engine compartment of both cars to get to everything.

 

The source of your "something is hot" smell could be concentrated to one or two spots, like the fuse box (and wires going into and out of it) or the headlight switch. I would also look at the ignition switch and plug/wires connected to it. Or it could be in one of the main power feeds from the voltage regulator into the car. 

 

If you can identify the areas that others have hacked on the wiring and probably repaired it wrong, you could focus on just that section coming from a parts car. Then reuse the other sections of harness as is.

 

A big job, for sure, but needs to be done.

Edited by Jim Cannon (see edit history)
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1 hour ago, 60FlatTop said:

Anywhere near western New York? I removed my harness, unwrapped it, and repaired Jimmy Joe Calhoun's work- you know, the 6' 4" "electrician" who wears the steer horn belt buckle.

 

Fixed a Ford one time that had the brake light wires welded into the rear wheel arch repair.

Not everyone that calls themselves “ electrician” has the proper training, hell i went through the ibew apprenticeship, 4 years, with guys who cheated their way through, could never do the technical side of the trade. They were the ones digging the ditches and all the other grunt work involved in electrical construction.

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My heritage would make me more a Druid than a Guru. I would help if you are anywhere near the 14420 zip code area. You can also email me at bernie@berniedaily.com and we could see what can be done without physically being there. My forte is removing improvements and fixing collateral damage.

 

I did spend about 15 years teaching an HVAC apprenticeship that was fairly intensive on electrical troubleshooting. The personalities mentioned above were noticeable. The guys whom didn't know anything became delivery truck drivers. The ones whom cheated became management. They thought all employees were like them. The psychological term is projection for how they saw others.

 

Or do it on your own, just think switches, loads, and what connects them.

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Posted (edited)

Classic AACA advice: "there are no electrical problems—there are merely chemical and mechanical problems which manifest themselves as electrical issues"

 

The electricity is always going where it has been guided to go—by something.

 

Best of luck in getting those issues fixed.

Edited by J3Studio (see edit history)
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Posted (edited)

After checking with several auto electricians and local old car guys, I put an MSD Blaster coil in my 63 when overhauling the ignition side of things. No resistors at first because I was told these cars had resistance wires. Burning smell and red hot wiring harness straight away. Same result with resistors. Ordered a new "stock" coil - no problem

Edited by powerage (see edit history)
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I have wired and rewired several cars in pursuit of my car hobby.

I have learned much along the way and although a highly optioned 65 Riv

is intimidating at first……… it is not impossible to unravel the problem.

Based on the limited info given,

a good troubleshooting is in order.

 

I’d start by getting the car running! Period!

 

This means that anything beyond the basic starting/generating circuits

be disconnected and , or all fuses pulled.  NO power to the rest of the cars accessories.

Use a remote starter or wire in a temporary ignition switch.

If the problem is in the basic start/generating sections it will be immediately evident and easily repaired.

However, if the car can be started and run without issue………… then a PLAN to hunt down the shorts

can be initiated….. circuit by circuit.

An exploded color wiring diagram should be secured, along with a good quality VOM meter as basics.

In recent years I’ve found that a product like a “PowerProbe” can be invaluable in doing circuit by circuit

installation  or troubleshooting.  It will find shorts or bad grounds etc on an individual basis….and you can use a

stand alone 12volt battery instead of the car’s battery.

Hope fastdave comes back with more specific info on what smoked after the restoration. 
I want this Riv back on the road!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I am absolutely not a wiring guru, but i've had to learn a lot to fix the wiring on my 64. It's not that bad to learn. These cars are really simple, and the components are simple. My 92 corvette, is not simple and i'm honestly terrified of the wiring on that car. 

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You don't have to have an Electrical degree to do this. Get a volt meter that reads ohms and has a continuity buzzer, a service manual, and one of the wiring diagrams from eBay. Connectors from that period are still readily available. 
 

Pull one leg of all the fuses and start with the ignition circuit. Sort that out than go to another essential circuit and work your way through the rest. If you find a connector or wire that is loose, mark it as such. There are some connectors that for some reason are in the harnesses that are not used, I’ve found several of them and they are not referenced anywhere that I can find. everything works on my car with them as found. 
 

If the engine harness is in bad shape, it can rebuilt without too much trouble. The under dash could be a challenge but if you take your time it isn’t show stopper. A harness from a donor can be rebuilt than used. 
 

We all started the same way, dumb as dirt. As we travel through life, we learn. If you are like a lot of the members, driving these old cars is fun but fixing them is the best part of owning them..... sometimes.

 

Ray

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