What type of wire for DIY repairs

Discussion in 'Technical Q&A' started by JIMBO, Jun 16, 2017.

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  1. JIMBO

    JIMBO Formula Junior
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    I apologize for my lack of knowledge on this simple subject, but what type of wire is best for Do It Yourself repairs on a Ferrari (or any automobile application). Copper, copper-coated aluminum, number of strands, etc. Where can an individual purchase such wire, and, without a crash course in electron flow and resistance, what wire is used in particular applications (radio vs ignition circuit). How do you figure out what size wire to use to handle a certain current load?
    Or perhaps is there some book you can recommend that will explain all the above and more?
    Thanks for your time and patience.
     
  2. Jumprun

    Jumprun Karting

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    Ynz wiring, Redlands ca. A good supplier of auto specific wiring needs.
     
  3. ///Mike

    ///Mike F1 Veteran
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    So many questions...

    Wire gauge should be determined by current load and length of wire. There are plenty of online calculators to help there-- just make certain to use one for DC. Add in *at least* a 10% or margin for safety though. In other words, never run a conductor above 90% of its rated ampacity. 80% is better. Copper stranded wire with silicone insulation beats the other choices. Amazon is a good source. Stay away from aluminum conductors.
     
  4. johnk...

    johnk... F1 Veteran
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    Simple answer is to use stranded copper wire with the same gage as the wire being replaced. More important is that the insulation be suitable for the environment, specifically, resistance to heat and fuel/oil. Easy to find at places like Summit Racing.
     
  5. bisel

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    #5 bisel, Jun 17, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2017
    I have used a supplier called WayTek for their SXL or GXL cross-link automotive wire. SXL has thicker insulation but GXL is fine for nearly all applications. Unfortunately the minimum order qty is 250 feet. You can get the same wire at Delcity for a bit higher price, but the minimum order qty is less. If you search Amazon for GXL wire you will find same wire, but cost more than either DelCity or WayTek.

    This wire is specific for automotive applications and withstands temps up to 257 deg F. Various gauges. Choose the same gauge as existing ... ok to use larger wire, don't go smaller. From your original post details, you would be fine with 16 gauge for most applications but as others said ... depends on current load and length of wire. Here is a rule of thumb chart that you may find helpful,

    https://www.tessco.com/yts/industry/products/itm/automotive/get_wired.html

    And here is link to DelCity where you get buy the wire:

    https://www.delcity.net/store/Cross!Link-Wire/p_804928

    Steve
     
  6. DGS

    DGS Two Time F1 World Champ
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    This.

    The wiring diagram should indicate the wire size, in mm.
    You can convert from that to US AWG gauge sizes with handy internet charts. ;)
    Wire Gauge Converter - AWG versus square mm

    Much of the wiring in my 328 seems pretty thin, for the job.
    But as I started out in household AC and industrial applications, I tend to "go big" on wires.

    Solid wire doesn't tolerate vibration well, so use multi-strand in cars (and airplanes ;)).

    Aluminum wire popped up when copper was expensive, in the '60s.
    Several issues were found. Best to just avoid aluminum.

    And yes, you have to make sure the insulation is suited to the environment.
    Consider the car a "plenum". ;) (E.g. use insulation that doesn't emit toxic gases when heated.)
     
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  8. JIMBO

    JIMBO Formula Junior
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    Wow, thanks to all for the gobs of good info which I will sift through tonight and print out the conversion tables and other important info. Thanks also for your patience with my ignorance on these simple matters matters.
    I love this forum.
    One last question: What is a rifle driver and will it fit the chuck of my 3/8" impact wrench?
     
  9. Martin308GTB

    Martin308GTB F1 Rookie
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    This question also keeps me busy since a few days.
    Over here we have that picture of those hillbillies who drive around in those pick-up trucks with a rifle hanging over the rear screen :)

    Best from Germany
    Martin
     
  10. GordonC

    GordonC F1 Rookie
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    One other point on DIY wiring - COLOUR!!! USE SOME!!! ;) At the very minimum, ensure that your DIY ground wires are the same colour as the factory ground wires in the vehicle you're working on. Second colour would be to match the colour of power wires. If you're replacing factory wiring, try to use the same colour replacement wire as the original wire.

    The very worst thing is to find a vehicle where the previous owner did some DIY wiring and only used one colour of wire for all the wiring work.
     
  11. DGS

    DGS Two Time F1 World Champ
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    Also, CONNECTORS!!! Use 'em. ;)

    I hate having to tear apart a stereo installation where the installer just wrapped and taped wires.

    When I replaced the stereo in my 328, the previous installer had chopped off the factory six pin connector.
    I found "look alike" 6.3mm (1/4 inch AMP blade) connector shells from Eagleday in FL.
    Multi Connector 6.3mm with Latch
    These look much like the factory connectors on the center console.

    I wound up just buying the complete multi-connector kit, and put in an eight pin connector in place of the original six pin -- adding switched power and instrument (dimmed) power, so the display dims with the instruments, and the stereo shuts off with the ignition. (I used the original unswitched power for the memory.)

    I also put some two pin connectors in-line with the door speakers, to make door work easier.

    The same supplier carries wire in metric sizes.

    (The other thing the connectors did was let me take the center console indoors, over the winter, to do the stereo mounting in comfort. ;) I was able to run it inside off a 12V power supply and separate speakers. I only had to crawl under the dash to put the mating connector in the car.)
     
  12. Keith360

    Keith360 Formula Junior

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    Don't use THHN Solid or Stranded wire for the hardware store. In a pinch you should be able to find proper wire at an automotive parts store. I mail order mine which give me a wide color selection and sizes, as well as length of wire/spool.
     
  13. JIMBO

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    Got it. Use connectors. With these I am familiar. Is crimping (with a real ratchet crimping tool) preferable to soldering? I have bare connectors for soldering, and recently purchased some crimp connectors with heat shrink insulation attached which seem pretty good. I have spent many hours under the disassembled dash of the 512TR lying on an asbestos blanket soldering each and every connection and then using heat shrink tubing, but maybe now I will re-think future projects.
     
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  15. DGS

    DGS Two Time F1 World Champ
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    #13 DGS, Jun 18, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017
    Therein lies a lot of internet debate. ;)

    The issue with soldering is that it converts your multi-stranded wire to a solid wire, at the connection.
    So for unsupported wires, subject to vibration, that's bad.
    Not an issue if the wire is supported by a connector or bundle wrap on both sides of the solder joint.

    Getting crimp connections right takes practice.
    It's not just a matter of pressure. Too much pressure can weaken the crimp connection.
    If you look closely, there are two parts to a crimp connector lug. One folds around and into the wire itself to make the connection, and the other wraps around the wire insulation to add support. I prefer to crimp each part separately.

    A *proper* crimp connection doesn't need solder. But it takes practice to get them right.
    I really like the crimp tool I got with the 6.3mm multi-connector kit.
    But it takes more than just squeeze and go. I find that I have to bring the ends closer together (more parallel) with the plier end before using the crimp portion. Practice a bit to find what works for you.

    Some recommend crimping the connector on, then doing a good hot solder,
    ** making sure the solder does NOT extend beyond the crimp **.
    (If it does, then you have "solid" wire past the wire support ring of the crimp -- again making it sensitive to vibration.)

    The "easy" answer is to use the method you can get right.
    A cold solder joint will be worse than a good crimp connection.
    And a bad crimp connection will be worse than a good solder connection.

    Tie-wraps to bundle the wires can help the wires support each other, although the entire bundle will still experience vibration.
    But then, it's not like we're talking about an AIM-120 missile, here. ;p
     
  16. bisel

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    Excellent. I agree entirely with "good crimp does not need solder". I have heard many people tell me that they solder after crimping. I tell them, do the job right the first time and you should not need solder. In almost all cases, soldering a crimp actually weakens the connection. No matter how hard you try, solder will wick up the strands. A lot of solder. This will result in breaks after a few flexes.

    My advice, after crimping the wire, before crimping the insulation ... tug on the connector. If you can easily pull it off, then you either used too large a connector or did a bad crimp.

    Here is a pretty decent crimp tool that I have found for a reasonable price ...
    #3128 CT - OPEN BARREL CONTACT CRIMP TOOL 24-14 AWG | SARGENT Tools

    This is a ratcheting crimper. You squeeze it until the ratchet releases to get consistent, quality crimps each time.

    Steve
     
  17. ago car nut

    ago car nut F1 Rookie
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    Above looks like the type of crimper on factory wiring. Folds the connector in to like a M. and the insulation at the end. Not the common parts store female tube type connector.
     
  18. bisel

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    That crimper is for connectors with male and female connectors that are commonly called pins for insertion into a shell. The common connector you refer to comes in both insulated and uninsulated male tabs and female connectors

    Here is a common connector series used on Ferrari's that you would need that tool for making good crimps...

    4 Way AMP 1.5 Series Superseal Wiring Connector Kit (Wire Size Options)

    Steve
     
  19. DGS

    DGS Two Time F1 World Champ
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    Ferrari seems to have used a lot of different connectors on different models, and even different connectors on the same car. ;)

    My 328 uses a number of Bosch type connectors in the engine bay, but a lot of 6.3mm blade connectors in plastic shells all over, especially in the dash.

    I was specifically shopping for the 6.3mm blade connectors, but Eagleday carries a lot of different connectors.
    Electrical

    The "AMP junior timer" connections look like the engine bay connectors, but I haven't tried those.
     
  20. ago car nut

    ago car nut F1 Rookie
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    I believe they are also called (weather-pac).
     
  21. bisel

    bisel Formula 3
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    Weather Pack is different company but similar design. The TE Superseal is a bit smaller than Weather Pack which are by Delphi.

    Steve
     
  22. JIMBO

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    I just received my first shipment of assorted wire from Del City. Prompt free shipping, good price. I'm ready to go.
    Thanks to all for the advice.
     
  23. peterp

    peterp F1 Rookie
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    There is a lot of great information in this thread! Thanks everyone for sharing.
     
  24. John Glen

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    All aircraft wiring incorporates high quality multi strand copper wire with a very tough but thin insulation. Most all wires terminate with a Amp brand crimp on end. Solder will just make connections brittle and prone to fracture which is why it is done this way. Also traditional aircraft wire when assembled in a bundle is all the same white colour and the wires are individually stamped with an identifier number that corresponds with the wiring diagrams. Just a few interesting notes about wiring. Also, min bend radius, diligent support of wire bundles with clamps, anti-chafing clearance and protection are some of the many considerations. JGW
     
  25. SoCal1

    SoCal1 F1 Veteran
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    I like Tefzel Wire
     
  26. DGS

    DGS Two Time F1 World Champ
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    In commercial aircraft, yes. But there are far more test points, and wire bundles are often replaced as a single unit, connector to connector, to reduce down-time on the ramp, to keep the aircraft in service.

    But cars don't usually have a complete spares inventory.

    ... except maybe for owners of V-12 E-types. :p
    (One to drive while the other is in the shop. ;))
     

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