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Safely Wiring Accessories/Amp Gauge Re-wire #2708449
10/20/19 07:05 AM
10/20/19 07:05 AM
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Paducah, KY USA Earth
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jcruse64 Offline OP
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Taking the dash cluster apart on my '73 W200. Replacing missing bulb sockets and changing to LED's, cleaning it all up,and painting the gauge needles. My Amp gauge looks to be in fine shape, and I can find no signs that it's gotten too hot. Will also be taking the bulkhead connectors apart and cleaning them up and packing with grease.

I've been reading through a ton of the older posts on how to make the amp gauge safe for the vehicle, as now is a good time to do any modifications to make it so. I'd rather keep the amp gauge functional, to watch how the battery is doing. I understand that if I simply add a wire from the alt stud, with a suitable FL, to the stater relay batt stud, this will reduce load on wires passing through the bulkhead connectors, but will make the amp gauge inaccurate. If I run the "parallel" setup, per Nacho, since ALL leads are going to/from the amp gauge, the amp gauge should still render accurately, correct??

I also get it about the advice to NOT run any accessories or other powered items (think headlights run on a relay setup), except for maybe a winch, from the battery side, but to instead run them from the alt side. Where would i actually run wire off of to accomplish this, then? Right off the alt stud? I'm already running Crackedback's headlight relay system off the stud; there's not a lot more room if I end up doing a relay for the blower motor, and any other lights or accessories I might want. Should I run a wire off the alt stud to a power distribution block, and then power my headlight relays, blower motor relays, and other accessories off that? Do I run it off the battery stud on my starter relay, or is that considered running off the battery? Also looking at converting my cigarette lighter to a USB port, per E'berg's article in prior Mopar Action, and have picked up a USB outlet that also displays system volts.

Thank you,

Joe

Re: Safely Wiring Accessories/Amp Gauge Re-wire [Re: jcruse64] #2708459
10/20/19 08:15 AM
10/20/19 08:15 AM
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The goal I use when wiring a classic Mopar is to keep any high amperage current drawing devices from passing through the bulkhead connector. I follow a modified Mad Electric method of accomplishing this. I also run a fused properly routed cable from my alternator output terminal to my 12V+ starter relay lug, and I bolt both Amp gauge wires to on side of the amp gauge.

I often install a volt gauge so I can verify charging when the car is running. Your stock amp gauge is ok to use if you can't stand not having your gauge work, but don't run more than your fatory amp load through it. The secondary cable from the alternator to your 12V+ starter lug will keep the high amp 12V+ charging current load out of your bulkhead connector.

Anything that uses more than 10 amps gets properly fused and has relays installed on the circuit. I power the relays through a 12V+ distribution lug located in the engine compartment, and that is often the starter relay lug. Of course, the typically 4 gauge cable from the starter relay to the battery continues the current flow from the alternator to the battery.

Also, I use Marine Grade components for any fusing, relay or wiring applications, high quality electrical tape and heat shrink tubing. I solder all my connections, but properly done crimp connectors work very well too.


1970 Plymouth 'Cuda #'s 440-6(block in storage)currently 493" 6 pack, Shaker, 5 speed Passon, 4.10's
1968 Plymouth Barracuda Convertible 408 Magnum EFI with 4 speed automatic overdrive, 3800 stall lock-up converter and 3.91's (closest thing to an automatic 5 speed going)
Re: Safely Wiring Accessories/Amp Gauge Re-wire [Re: jbc426] #2708470
10/20/19 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by jbc426
The goal I use when wiring a classic Mopar is to keep any high amperage current drawing devices from passing through the bulkhead connector. I follow a modified Mad Electric method of accomplishing this. I also run a fused properly routed cable from my alternator output terminal to my 12V+ starter relay lug, and I bolt both Amp gauge wires to on side of the amp gauge.

I often install a volt gauge so I can verify charging when the car is running. Your stock amp gauge is ok to use if you can't stand not having your gauge work, but don't run more than your fatory amp load through it. The secondary cable from the alternator to your 12V+ starter lug will keep the high amp 12V+ charging current load out of your bulkhead connector.

Anything that uses more than 10 amps gets properly fused and has relays installed on the circuit. I power the relays through a 12V+ distribution lug located in the engine compartment, and that is often the starter relay lug. Of course, the typically 4 gauge cable from the starter relay to the battery continues the current flow from the alternator to the battery.

Also, I use Marine Grade components for any fusing, relay or wiring applications, high quality electrical tape and heat shrink tubing. I solder all my connections, but properly done crimp connectors work very well too.


If you properly wire the vehicle the only load passing thru the ammeter is what is needed to charge the battery. Nothing else. So it really doesn't matter how much capacity you alternator has or how much load you've put on the system. I just finished converting my 51 Plymouth to 12v and rewiring the vehicle. Still running the stock, original ammeter. Because the only load passing thru my ammeter is the charge for the battery, nothing else. As per the factory.

Re: Safely Wiring Accessories/Amp Gauge Re-wire [Re: jcruse64] #2708500
10/20/19 10:19 AM
10/20/19 10:19 AM
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To keep the ammeter functional NOTHING can be tapped into the line between the battery & the ammeter (including starter relay batt stud) cuz if you do you would be takeing current out of the battery without it showing on the ammeter as the ammeter strickly shows current going past the ammeter that is going into or out of the battery so you are cheating the gauge reading. #1 #1 #1 do Nachos bulkhead parallel bypass on the 2 main in/out heavy current wires & leave several inches of those 2 wires behind the bulkhead so if you have to seperate the bulkhead again, pulling the front half forward you can do so (clean all bulkhead terminals when you are in there). With this done you can add your switched draws to the alt batt stud (relay high current ones that have larger wires so you ain't running alot of large wires everywhere) or under the hood (depending on where your devices are located) between the ammeter downstream to the bulkhead (& actually between the "welded splice" where the wires down stream from the ammeter between it & the bulkhead T off to power the fuses/horn/column etc as is a bit better as it is slightly closer to the alt & you're going thru less "connections/terminals" tho a moot point if ALL terminals/connections are cleaned & have minimal voltage drops. EDIT short version: Do Nachos bypass/clean all terminals & connections/add or relay devices to alt or down stream from the welded splice. MORE EDIT I reread & yes you can run from the alt to a distribution block & use it as your power take off. the alt is the power source so as close to that as possible is a good plan

Last edited by RapidRobert; 10/20/19 10:33 AM. Reason: bored

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Re: Safely Wiring Accessories/Amp Gauge Re-wire [Re: RapidRobert] #2708504
10/20/19 10:26 AM
10/20/19 10:26 AM
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You've gotten the advice you need on wiring. I just want to add something on painting needles. It can be done but it's a difficult job IMO. Any misstep and you're in trouble, and I don't think they ever look right. You can find NOS ones still for around $50, except the speedometers which run quite a bit more. Occasionally see a KPH one on ebay for $95 if you don't mind that. It's for a later truck going 140 kph/85 mph.

KPH

https://www.ebay.com/itm/NOS-MoPar-...Ramcharger-Speedometer-KPH/143411475638?

Last edited by larrymopar360; 10/20/19 10:27 AM.

Facts are stubborn things.
Re: Safely Wiring Accessories/Amp Gauge Re-wire [Re: larrymopar360] #2708528
10/20/19 11:38 AM
10/20/19 11:38 AM
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Ive had at ;east 10 older Rams.Every one had some burning on the Amp gauge.Had 2 or 3 at least that would cut out because they were so bad.I bypassed all of them and just installed a volt gauge.I ever get another Ill do the same.Rocky


Chrysler Firepower
Re: Safely Wiring Accessories/Amp Gauge Re-wire [Re: therocks] #2708539
10/20/19 12:49 PM
10/20/19 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by therocks
Ive had at ;east 10 older Rams.Every one had some burning on the Amp gauge.Had 2 or 3 at least that would cut out because they were so bad.I bypassed all of them and just installed a volt gauge.I ever get another Ill do the same.Rocky
I just bypassed mine and haven't run a volt gauge but I did install a Quality Power alternator, 150amp, so I should be good for awhile. I just prefer the look of all stock. I still have the dead amp gauge in it's pod.

All NOS gauges. All working except amp.

NOSgaugesPW.JPG

Facts are stubborn things.
Re: Safely Wiring Accessories/Amp Gauge Re-wire [Re: larrymopar360] #2708549
10/20/19 01:16 PM
10/20/19 01:16 PM
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On my 78 I changed the amp gauge to a volt gauge. Alt go's to the starter relay and from the starter relay to a bus bar under the dash that distributes the power as needed.

IMG_0779 (Medium).JPG
Re: Safely Wiring Accessories/Amp Gauge Re-wire [Re: RapidRobert] #2708569
10/20/19 01:52 PM
10/20/19 01:52 PM
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Originally Posted by RapidRobert
To keep the ammeter functional NOTHING can be tapped into the line between the battery & the ammeter (including starter relay batt stud) cuz if you do you would be takeing current out of the battery without it showing on the ammeter as the ammeter strickly shows current going past the ammeter that is going into or out of the battery so you are cheating the gauge reading.

Only when the engine is off or the alternator can't generate enough power.

When the alternator is producing enough power to supply a device tapped in at the battery, then the power passes through the ammeter.
Current flows from the highest voltage. So unless there is a ton of resistance in the line, when the alternator is running, system voltage is around 14 V.

Re: Safely Wiring Accessories/Amp Gauge Re-wire [Re: jcruse64] #2708582
10/20/19 02:19 PM
10/20/19 02:19 PM
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Originally Posted by jcruse64
I'd rather keep the amp gauge functional, to watch how the battery is doing. I understand that if I simply add a wire from the alt stud, with a suitable FL, to the stater relay batt stud, this will reduce load on wires passing through the bulkhead connectors, but will make the amp gauge inaccurate. If I run the "parallel" setup, per Nacho, since ALL leads are going to/from the amp gauge, the amp gauge should still render accurately, correct??

Correct. I don't have a truck service manual, but the '73 Dodge cars FSM shows two versions of that type of bulkhead bypass that retains the ammeter function.
See if there was a optional wiring arrangement for the trucks, or take some ideas from the Dart or Charger/Coronet versions.

Quote

I also get it about the advice to NOT run any accessories or other powered items (think headlights run on a relay setup), except for maybe a winch, from the battery side, but to instead run them from the alt side. Where would i actually run wire off of to accomplish this, then? Right off the alt stud? I'm already running Crackedback's headlight relay system off the stud; there's not a lot more room if I end up doing a relay for the blower motor, and any other lights or accessories I might want. Should I run a wire off the alt stud to a power distribution block, and then power my headlight relays, blower motor relays, and other accessories off that? Do I run it off the battery stud on my starter relay, or is that considered running off the battery? Also looking at converting my cigarette lighter to a USB port, per E'berg's article in prior Mopar Action, and have picked up a USB outlet that also displays system volts.


Joe, cant help you on the cig lighter.
Winches are a special problem and I don't know the best answer (other than a PTO laugh2). If its going to draw a lot of current under load (check the specs), it might be more than the alternator can produce, especially at slow idle. I suspect this is why power for plows and winches were often tapped in at the battery. This probably contributed to the melting of a fair number of 70s era ammeters. Alternator is sending all it can to the winch through the ammeter, and when votlage drops to 12.8 - 13, then the battery sends whatever is needed. As the electric load is reduced, the alternator can provide the recharge. And its probably a big recharge, battery could be sucking 30 amps for a few minutes through the ammeter and all the charge wires.

As far as connecting in more normal accessories to be used with engine running, a power distribution block is a good idea.
It could just be a single stud terminal strip, or an auxilery fuse/breaker box.
Running it off the starter relay stud is the same as running it off the battery - you are correct.

On the Abody version, I beleive the factory eliminated the standandard alternator output wire, but you could leave. That would be the 'Nacho' parallel feed.
On the Bbody version, they added two terminal blocks and the ammeter's original wires had to be eliminated. The reason for disconnecting them is to insure that in case of a short to ground, the battery would send current through the 16 gage fusible link. The link at the starter relay is too big to protect the smaller wires inside the cab.

1973-60Amp-Dart-color2.png1973-65Amp-Charger-Cornet.png
Re: Safely Wiring Accessories/Amp Gauge Re-wire [Re: Mattax] #2708591
10/20/19 03:06 PM
10/20/19 03:06 PM
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Maybe this makes it clearer.
The original red (battery) wire from the bulkhead to the ammeter can be removed.
The original alternator connection from main splice to ammeter can be removed and taped off;
Or can be removed and connected as the new feed through a grommet. That might be a better connection than the bulkhead connector.
I say might, because some years and models and options had better bulhead connectors for the main feeds. I don't know what your truck has.

1973-60Amp-Charger-Cornet-color3.png1973-60Amp-charger-Cornet-color4.png
Last edited by Mattax; 10/27/19 08:51 PM.
Re: Safely Wiring Accessories/Amp Gauge Re-wire [Re: Mattax] #2708635
10/20/19 06:26 PM
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I'm working on my '67 Barracuda wiring and have bypassed most of the charge current through a wire from the alt to the battery, BUT I also fused this leg with a maxi fuse. I also replaced the fusible link going into the bulkhead with a maxi fuse. I will add a volt meter of some sort before the car hits the road. That will likely be a cig lighter replacement that has two USB charge ports and an LED volt meter.

Re: Safely Wiring Accessories/Amp Gauge Re-wire [Re: jbc426] #2708644
10/20/19 06:58 PM
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A voltage gauge will not verify charging.


11B40
Re: Safely Wiring Accessories/Amp Gauge Re-wire [Re: JonC] #2708661
10/20/19 07:56 PM
10/20/19 07:56 PM
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jcruse64 Offline OP
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Originally Posted by JonC
A voltage gauge will not verify charging.


If Jim, or I, were to run a USB plug w/ voltage readout wired off the alternator, with it's own fuse and a ground, it WOULD read the alternator's volts though, correct?

And when I mentioned I was going to do this USB/volt readout plug at the old cigarette lighter, I should have been clear and mentioned that I was NOT planning on wiring it up with the wiring from the cigarette lighter; sorry about that. I will safely cap that cigarette lighter power lead off.

Re: Safely Wiring Accessories/Amp Gauge Re-wire [Re: jbc426] #2708665
10/20/19 08:11 PM
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Originally Posted by jbc426
Anything that uses more than 10 amps gets properly fused and has relays installed on the circuit. I power the relays through a 12V+ distribution lug located in the engine compartment, and that is often the starter relay lug. Of course, the typically 4 gauge cable from the starter relay to the battery continues the current flow from the alternator to the battery.


JBC, this is what I'd like to do, also, except for this; if I've read correctly, running a 12V+ distribution lug off the starter relay lug would mean you're powering these off the battery, and what I've read is that you need to power any added accessories off the alternator, so that you're not discharging the battery any further. I'm not talking about anything factory, like factory radio. Instead, I'm thinking aftermarket stereo amp, a light bar, a CB radio, a power/USB plug. Also not talking about a HEAVY draw item like an add-on, non-PTO winch ( I see where many folks run a 2nd battery under the hood for something like running winches or electric plows).

On this '73, the PO had the truck for probably 30+ years. It ran a plow. He was a mchinist by trade, and built his own Holmes wrecker boom for this 3/4 ton truck. He put another relay next to the starter relay on the fender, and ran a power wire from the starter relay stud to this new relay to power it. This would have been powering it on the battery side, if I follow correctly. From this new relay, he powered the big winch that ran his wrecker boom, and also his plow. Given the high draw, that makes sense to me to power it that way, off the battery. I'm not running either of those on this truck now, and have removed that relay and wiring.

Re: Safely Wiring Accessories/Amp Gauge Re-wire [Re: jcruse64] #2708679
10/20/19 09:00 PM
10/20/19 09:00 PM
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Mattax, thanks for the replies. I think I see "it", on that 2nd post and diagrams.

Amp gauge to battery: From factory: wire coming amp gauge, through bulkhead connector, to starter relay with a FL on it, and then on to the battery with a HEAVY cable to the positive battery post. New way, a solid wire from amp gauge, NOT through bulkhead connector, to the starter relay, then another, same size wire to a single terminal block, and from that single terminal to the battery positive post with a FL. My first question here is, what size wires at these points and what size FL going to the battery. 2nd question on this is, how can I get my head past not having a huge cable connected to the battery post, lol.

Alt to amp gauge: From factory, wire from alt stud, through bulkhead connector. Welded splice of cab side sees power to key, headlights, and accy, with main wire continuing on to Amp gauge. New way, wire from alt stud to another single terminal block. From here, one wire continues to the amp gauge, NOT through the bulkhead connector. At the single terminal block, a fusible link goes to the spot on the bulkhead connector that was formerly occupied by the original line from the alt stud. On the cab side of the bulkhead, the wire past the welded splice is taken off that side of the amp gauge and capped and protected.

Am I close, lol.

I was reading this thread, which you have referenced in other posts here on amp gauge issues:

http://www.dodgecharger.com/forum/index.php/topic,33574.0/all.html

Last page has some good stuff on it, including Nacho's latest idea to implement on this. I was wondering how member PocketThunder's fix got power to the key, headlights, and accy????

Thanks to all of you who are replying. I'm a novice on pretty much everything, and wiring is a bit intimidating. But I want to learn it, and will be completely re-wiring a '76 RC with a modern kit, some day.

Re: Safely Wiring Accessories/Amp Gauge Re-wire [Re: jcruse64] #2708680
10/20/19 09:02 PM
10/20/19 09:02 PM
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Oh, and is it safe to say I COULD run my headlight relays off a power distribution bar that gets its power from the alt stud, or would I need to leave those headlight relay power feeds ON the alt stud. I would think that it would not matter, but I am not sure.

Re: Safely Wiring Accessories/Amp Gauge Re-wire [Re: jcruse64] #2708727
10/20/19 11:16 PM
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Originally Posted by jcruse64
Originally Posted by jbc426
Anything that uses more than 10 amps gets properly fused and has relays installed on the circuit. I power the relays through a 12V+ distribution lug located in the engine compartment, and that is often the starter relay lug. Of course, the typically 4 gauge cable from the starter relay to the battery continues the current flow from the alternator to the battery.


JBC, this is what I'd like to do, also, except for this; if I've read correctly, running a 12V+ distribution lug off the starter relay lug would mean you're powering these off the battery, and what I've read is that you need to power any added accessories off the alternator, so that you're not discharging the battery any further. I'm not talking about anything factory, like factory radio. Instead, I'm thinking aftermarket stereo amp, a light bar, a CB radio, a power/USB plug. Also not talking about a HEAVY draw item like an add-on, non-PTO winch ( I see where many folks run a 2nd battery under the hood for something like running winches or electric plows).



I run a fused heavy gauge cable directly from my alternators to the starter relay. Consequently, the alternator powers any heavy load. I leave the factory wiring that goes from the alternator, through the bulkhead through the amp gauge and back out through the bulkhead to the battery. I regularly bypass the amp gauge by bolting the two wires onto one of the amp gauge studs.


1970 Plymouth 'Cuda #'s 440-6(block in storage)currently 493" 6 pack, Shaker, 5 speed Passon, 4.10's
1968 Plymouth Barracuda Convertible 408 Magnum EFI with 4 speed automatic overdrive, 3800 stall lock-up converter and 3.91's (closest thing to an automatic 5 speed going)
Re: Safely Wiring Accessories/Amp Gauge Re-wire [Re: jcruse64] #2708728
10/20/19 11:21 PM
10/20/19 11:21 PM
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Originally Posted by jcruse64
Originally Posted by JonC
A voltage gauge will not verify charging.


If Jim, or I, were to run a USB plug w/ voltage readout wired off the alternator, with it's own fuse and a ground, it WOULD read the alternator's volts though, correct?

And when I mentioned I was going to do this USB/volt readout plug at the old cigarette lighter, I should have been clear and mentioned that I was NOT planning on wiring it up with the wiring from the cigarette lighter; sorry about that. I will safely cap that cigarette lighter power lead off.


Nothing wrong with running it off the cig lighter circuit, unless it is not switched. We run a similar unit in our late model vehicles, but it just plugs into the cig lighter. As long as you read something above battery voltage you are charging (as long as there isn't something else wrong in the wiring). That's why my charge circuit is fused to the battery and the battery fused into the passenger compartment. I'll draw out my charge circuit one of these days.

Re: Safely Wiring Accessories/Amp Gauge Re-wire [Re: jcruse64] #2709036
10/21/19 09:12 PM
10/21/19 09:12 PM
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Originally Posted by jcruse64
Mattax, thanks for the replies. I think I see "it", on that 2nd post and diagrams.

Amp gauge to battery:
From factory: wire coming amp gauge, through bulkhead connector, to starter relay with a FL on it, and then on to the battery with a HEAVY cable to the positive battery post.
New way,
a solid wire from amp gauge, NOT through bulkhead connector, to the starter relay, then another, same size wire to a single terminal block, and from that single terminal to the battery positive post with a FL.

My first question here is, what size wires at these points and what size FL going to the battery.

The '73 Coronet optional wiring used 6 gage wires protected by a 10 gage fusible link.
Generally fusible links are chosen to be 2 sizes smaller than the weakest wire being protected.
6 gage is huge. I don't know if that's an error in the manual since I haven't seen this option in real life.
Notice the oddly designated battery to starter cable in the Dart wiring diagram. 6B RED Mistake or not? Maybe it means standard was Black and optional was Red. Or its black with red stripe.

When looking at most Chrysler wiring diagrams the wire identification works like this:
Code for circuit - Wire size and then Color code.
A is usually Battery connections
R is Alternator
J is 'Ignition' which also includes other things that are on when the engine is running.
Q is Accessory

[/quote]
2nd question on this is, how can I get my head past not having a huge cable connected to the battery post, lol.
[/quote]
Not sure what you mean here.
The positive cable should have a very wire (4 gage or 2 ga) to the starter and a somewhat heavy wire to the stud on the starter relay.
A 10 gage fusible link is a larger wire than many cars came for the battery feed. Its going to take a lot of amps to melt that! If you go that large, I'd suggest looking for a protective insulating shield for the relay. Stock on many models/years but often gets lost.
Quote

2nd question on this is, how can I get my head past not having a huge cable connected to the battery post, lol.

Not sure what you mean here.
The positive cable should have a very wire (4 gage or 2 ga) to the starter and a somewhat heavy wire to the stud on the starter relay.
A 10 gage fusible link is a larger wire than many cars came for the battery feed. Its going to take a lot of amps to melt that! If you go that large, I'd suggest looking for a protective insulating shield for the relay. Stock on many models but get lost.

Quote

Alt to amp gauge:
From factory, wire from alt stud, through bulkhead connector. Welded splice of cab side sees power to key, headlights, and accy, with main battery wire continuing on to Amp gauge.
New way,
wire from alt stud to another single terminal block. From here, one wire continues to the amp gauge, NOT through the bulkhead connector.
At the single terminal block, a fusible link goes to the spot on the bulkhead connector that was formerly occupied by the original line from the alt stud. On the cab side of the bulkhead, the wire past the welded splice is taken off that side of the amp gauge and capped and protected.

Am I close, lol.

Yes. Exactly. That's what was done for Coronet's with the optional high output alternator.

The terminal block with the arrow pointing to it would be a reasonable location to add an auxilery fuse or breaker box.

But, if the loads you will be adding will be in the passenger compartment (and not using relays), then the factory bulkhead connecting terminals may be too small for the alternator output.
This where an exact diagram for your rig would be really helpful. Or maybe its obvious when you look at the firewall.
For example,in A-bodies around '75 and certainly in '76, the alternator output had a welded splice junction on the engine side which split the power before going through the bulkhead connector.
The same concept might have been introduced earlier on intermediates, full size or trucks.

The '73 Dart optional wiring is a little simpler to implement, and you could add a terminal block anywere in the alternator line.
Hope that makes sense.

yes Nacho is the guy who I credit for helping me understand how this worked!


Last edited by Mattax; 10/21/19 09:18 PM.
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