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Getting Wired

What to look for when checking your race car wiring

Here is a view of the "old school" way to wire a race car. Each wire ran individually, each has a terminal installed and shrink sleeve. It takes a lot of time and patience but it can be done and it can be reliable. This system has served me well for six years. We have added different things but NEVER had a problem.

Some of you readers are lucky enough to live in a climate where you are already racing or maybe only a couple weeks away. Where I live, that just ain't happening! Another 2 inches of snow today, and the ice on the side streets is about 2 to 4 inches thick. It's ugly, but the one thing that helps me retain a little bit of sanity is going out to the garage and doing some work on the two race cars.

This month we are waiting for Ohio Crankshaft to finish up the 572 Wedge. The World aluminum block is done and we are waiting on a couple small parts. WE hope it will be making noise by the April issue of MoparMax. This month I wanted to do a little refresher course on race car wiring and some of the options available out there to choose from.

The number one thing I always shoot for when it comes to race car wiring is reliability and repairability. I know it seems those are the opposite ends of the scale but they are part of the entire picture. Let's deal with reliability first. It comes into play every time you start the car and is especially important on those days when everything is going your way and you are in the 5th round and just about to reach the final round. This is no time to have a fuse blow on the water pump or your electric shifters not shift at the right time or RPM. Here are a few things I do to enhance reliability and reduce stress on myself.

I try to keep things as simple as I can. When you see the photos of the wiring on our cars you will probably say to yourself, "Who is he kidding, that does not look simple." I agree it doesn't look simple, but it is very simple when you break it down.

1. Make a map. The best thing you can do to make things simple is get out a pencil and some paper and make a sketch -- we will call it the "Wiring Map" -- of where your wires go, what they are used for and what color they are. I have every wire labeled or marked so I can find them in a matter of seconds. Label the terminal strips where they hook up or mark it down on your Wiring Map. No wire should be left off this Wiring Map. I don't care if it’s a ground wire or a wire you just added that runs a fan to blow air on you. Some new wiring kits, like the one from K&R Engineering have wires with the name of the accessory printed right on it; they are way cool.

2. Inspect every wiring connection. There is no need to solder every connection, just use a good quality crimp connector and the correct crimping tool. I prefer the type of connector that has no insulator on it because you can see the crimped wire better. I then cover the crimp with a piece of shrink tubing to protect it. Look for loose screws on the terminal block, cracked wires that could short, and make sure the wires are not rubbing against a piece of sharp metal.

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