Unlike some repair procedures...
Unlike some repair procedures that require many specialized and/or expensive tools, most electrical repairs or upgrades take very little in the way of specialized equipment. Typically a pair of wire cutter/stripper/crimpers, a 12-volt test light, and a DVOM (digital volt/ohm meter), like these from Snap-on, are at the top of this list.
It's rare to find a car enthusiast who can "do it all." More often than not, when you strike up a conversation with a friend or car owner, you'll find out that he or she lacks the skills to complete certain tasks during the build of their classic ride. A simple question like, "Did you do all of the work yourself?" will usually weed out the weakness of said car owner with an answer similar to, "Well, I did all of the suspension and interior work, but I had my friend build the engine and I sent the body to Acme Painting for all the body and paint work. I just don't know a thing about engines, and paint and body outright frustrates me, so I'm willing to pay someone else to do it." Sound familiar? It does to us, and we hear it constantly when speaking with car owners at events or during a photo shoot.
While we may side with Example A above on the paint and body thing, as it does take some dedicated equipment and room to do it, most any other mechanical upgrade or repair can be tackled with some knowledge, research, and patience. Often you can score some experienced help from a club member or neighbor who will "watch over you" while doing the work. This is how we built one of our first small-block Fords, with a more experienced friend lending a hand and keeping a watchful eye.
Although many classic Ford and Mustang owners are willing to try an intake swap, or recover their own seats, it seems that whenever anything electrical is brought up or considered, said owners turn into rambling zombies about how hard wiring is, and that they don't understand how an electrical circuit works and they might burn their car to the ground. Rubbish, we say! Electrical upgrades or repairs are no different than swapping that intake or recovering those seats; it just takes some knowledge, some common sense, and a few rather inexpensive tools to do the job right and to do it safely.
Whether you're an avid DIY'er, or you're just plain cheap and don't like to pay others for stuff you can do yourself, you owe it to your ride to know the basics of electrical systems and how to repair them or add electrical components. Today's Restomod-type Mustangs can feature everything from completely upgraded whole-car wiring harnesses to power windows and locks, electronic ignition upgrades, and even fuel injection.
A simple electrical connection made incorrectly or a small wiring issue, such as a left rear turn signal that doesn't blink, can wreak havoc on your time and patience, so we've put together some basic electrical help in this story. We'll show you the tools you'll need, and what to look for in an electrical failure, such as a wiring short or an open circuit. We'll discuss basic electrical upgrades, circuit protection, wire sizing, and more. We simply don't have the room to cover every wiring scenario or upgrade, nor the space to delve into electrical theory, but we hope to give you the confidence to head to the garage and tackle that wiring issue you've been avoiding. So take a deep breath and read on.
Book 'em Dano!
Automotive Wiring and Electrical Systems
No matter how much automotive education one might possess, we all have our weaknesses. The one area that we see the majority of people struggle with is automotive electrical systems. From simple things like wiring a relay into a fan circuit to adding aftermarket car audio and gauges, many of us work with electrical systems on our projects with trepidation. With Automotive Wiring and Electrical Systems by Tony Candela, you can now upgrade or repair your vehicle's electrical system like a pro.
Tony takes you by the hand right from Chapter 1, and introduces you to the proper tools for automotive electrical repairs and upgrades, how to test circuits, build wiring harnesses, and more. There are even pre-designed wiring diagrams for popular upgrades like adding power door locks and much more. You’ll find this book at booksellers nationwide or you can order online at www.cartechbooks.com or phone order at (800) 551-4754.
1 For tight working locations,...
1 For tight working locations, especially under the dash, an automatic wire stripper, like the one shown here, allows for easy one handed operation without requiring the typical two-handed stripper/crimper that can get in the way.
2 Another great solution...
2 Another great solution for tight quarters are these mini tools from Sears Craftsman. They work great for cutting, stripping, and crimping operations where space is at a premium.
3 Yet another crimping solution...
3 Yet another crimping solution is a set of ratcheting crimpers. If you have a habit of over-crimping a wiring connection, a set of ratcheting crimpers will do the job properly every time without over-crimping.