Selecting a Wiring Harness for Your Street Rod
At a glimpse, installing an aftermarket wiring harness may look like a highly complicated task. Some might even cringe at just the thought, after all, our time spent in the garage is supposed to be fun isn't it?
But if you’ve ever tried pricing out a custom wiring harness from a professional garage, you’ll know the 20hr labor charge can shift your spirits around pretty fast. The truth is that the kits Speedway offers were developed with the do-it-yourselfer in mind. We’ve designed our harnesses for the average street rodder to tackle as a weekend-type project. Every kit is supplied with a detailed set of step-by-step instructions, with every circuit pre-labeled. And with a bit of effort, a little patience to follow the instructions carefully, taking each circuit one step at a time, anyone can do it.
There are a few things to consider when you’re ready to purchase a wiring harness. To start, you should consider the number of circuits needed for your application. Typically a basic 8 circuit harness is the most you need on a T-bucket application. A 12 circuit harness is ideal for a wide range of early street rods that may only require the basic needs like the ignition, horn, lights, charging, etc. Planning ahead is also important, if you’re considering power options or air-conditioning down the road, an 12 or 22 circuit harness would be more suitable.
If you haven’t had a chance to wire a car before, one of the toughest parts can be getting started. You can always start by laying out your harness on the floor. Familiarize yourself with the various wires and circuits. Then bundle them into the main groups of wires: like the dash, instruments, switches, engine, headlights, and taillights.
Then you can decide where to mount the fuse block. Typically customers will screw the box to a bracket or the body on a fiberglass car. Usually the best place to mount the fuse block is under the dash on the firewall or some may mount it under the seats. You’ll want a place easily accessible that will simplify running the wires from the front to back of the car. If you took an existing harness out of your vehicle, hold on to it in case you need to re-use various pigtails or connectors that are specific to your vehicle.
Having a quality stripper/crimping tool will make all the difference, especially when you’re putting solderless connectors on. For a clean look, you can use heat shrink tubing over connections to protect and insulate the wires. Conventional wire holders can be used to secure the wiring bundles to the firewall or frame. And lastly a test light is critical to fine-tune the entire system after you’re finished. This way you can test for any voltage leaks or shorts that may cause problems after the installation.
If you've never wired a street rod, don’t panic, because there are plenty of useful guides out there, like our book on “How to Wire a Street Rod”. It takes you through step-by-step with fully illustrated instructions on how to wire-up your rod. Also, if you’re working on a ‘50s or ‘60s era car, you can always refer to the factory repair manual for specific instructions to your vehicle.