January 6, 2012

Working on all the things I started yesterday....plus a bit of a  wiring job.

Finished with the carb clean up - using both the parts washer, then some solvents like thinner and brake cleaners to get the baked-on stuff. It was so caked on - including a ton of black that looked like exhaust (?) staining. A lot of wire brushing, soaking and rubbing - which got rid of the dirt and stains, but left it looking dull and beat up.

Eastwood has an incredible array of detail paints as well as everything you need to bring a car back to day one - or better. For carbs they have dedicated carb paints in silver and gold (Holley) that resist both fuel and additives, but I have been using their AlumaBlast, which I've found both matches the silver coloring of Motorcraft and Autolite carbs and is very resistant to fading and fuels. Eastwood is serious about restorations and has a dedicated team of R&D people that come up with new shades and products that make restorations much easier than ever.

Once the outer pieces are painted, it's time to check and adjust the float level and replace all the parts and many gaskets that come in the rebuild kit. This is where attention to detail - and surgeon-like precision - gets the job done.

Like most Do-It-Yourself types,  there was a time that electrical systems and work gave me a hard time. They still do - to an extent - but I am much more comfortable with tracing circuits and making well-made wiring systems now.  One thing I've learned from How-To articles and books is how NOT to do it. The real the key to making up wiring systems, from adding a length of wire to putting on a end piece to splicing in, is to not to leave wires twisted, crimped or taped. Soldering is the only acceptable way to do this work if you want it to last and work. If you twist them  - or use "solderless" connectors, they will come apart as you try to wire them up or connect them, or worse - when you think you've got it all completed.

A while back I lamented that the wires to the steering column on the '56 Chev had been cut straight off during the trucks tear down. It looked as though it was going to be a massive pain to get sorted and re-connect all these systems...so I suggested to the owners a while back that they may want someone else to tackle it (please... ;))

Of course I'm not really the type to slough things off to someone else and although I have been saying that the truck is "pretty much" finished, I knew the electrical work was still needing some attention. After thinking about it for a couple weeks, going over various plans and looking for parts, I was feeling a little better about it. Then, after speaking with one of the owners and going over it all with him, he asked me to have a crack at it. So I had at it.

First off, I measured how much wire I needed, then went to the old (original) harness and cut off enough to reach the new plug LMC attached to the main harness. Although I had looked high and low for a female connector to match the one that came on the harness (from LMC Trucks), I just couldn't find one. One method would have been to remove that connector and move the 6 wires to a new one with matching female end, The problem here is that the harness is quite short and tucked up behind the steering column. If I was going to do it, I needed to find connectors that would fit - individually - into that connector.

As luck would have it, a few days ago I tried some different spade connectors and found one size that fit tightly into that connector. So, instead of having a connector that would mate up, I would make up a harness with 6 blades and fit each wire individually:

Above: Measuring and removing a length from the Original. This was important, as the colors would match, making it easier to troubleshoot and look more original.

Here, the blades have been crimped to the wires, then soldered with a touch of flux and then fitted with shrink wrap. Many times these connectors are referred to as "solderless" connectors - but as I said earlier, solderless is not an option. Now I always cut off the hard plastic cover that comes on these connectors, crimp, then solder, then use a shrink tube to cover and protect them.  My soldering technique goes like this: I brush on a tiny bit of paste flux on the crimp and wire
then hold my solder gun on the bottom of the wire, holding the solder wire on the top side. This is so that the paste flux and lead-free solder flows into and down through the wire.There's about 45 minutes of work not shown in the finished photo above, but here's some better step-by step splicing the new section into the steering columns harness....

I stripped off about 3/8" form the end of each wire and threaded shrink tubing onto each strand. Taking the entire mess into the truck, I first twisted each matching colored strand onto the original, then soldered each. After it cooled, I pressed the soldered bit flat against the strand then pushed the shrink tube over it. A little heat from the Piezo gave it a nice tight covering.  It was a lot of upside-down dash work as you can see by all the fluid that rushed to my face (or maybe I really look that fat!)

Here, all the connectors are soldered to the column harness and shrink tubed. Looking much neater now, bit I wasn't done yet....

Over top of those connections, I put on another, larger section of shrink tube that I had purchased for a job just like this. I slipped it over all the connections at once and heated it with the Piezo torch to shrink it.                                                        It fit very well over all the wires and connections and shrunk down 4:1, making for a decent looking harness that just needs to be tape-wrapped for that original, aesthetic appeal.
Below is the entire section, all the same color, with spades to be inserted into the LMC harness.

After carefully matching up the colors, then reaching up under the dash to insert them, here is the finished harness with all 6 wires connected to those coming from the column. Tomorrow I'll wrap it all with tape and use some connectors to attach this strand to the underside of the dash to keep it up and out of the way. Although I have a ways to go to get everything down-line hooked up and sorted, upon initial testing today I had signal lights on the dash and up front. Now I just have to figure which system goes to the rear marker lights!

Lastly today, I devoted some effort to Mrs E's bed-bench project. I first stapled a sheet of 3/8" ply to the top and then applied one more coat of paint to the entire think. It's now ready for upholstery. I think bringing home and re-purposing junk furniture makes Mrs E-tek feel like Sarah Fergusen (a favourite - and cute!) designer on HGTV. I'm sure it's basically the same kick I get out of watching the guys on Powerblock, except in that those guys are NOT cute....

Don't forget to check out the website at www.E-tekRestorations.com - How To and Product Reviews and more!