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Of all the problems that beset the classic car enthusiast auto-electric issues can be the most baffling. One minute the indicators work perfectly and the next…
Another annoying trait is that they often start to show themselves and then cure themselves a few times before something eventually fails. Broadly speaking electrical issues fall into one of three categories:
- 50% of the cases we see in the workshop it is the wiring, or to be more correct, the terminations that are the problem.
- 30% are poor installation
- 20% are component failure
Are the component is getting the correct amount of power? You would be forgiven for thinking that all the components in a car need 12 Volts, yet items such as instruments often need a constant 10 Volts, where as a starter motor needs a big surge of current (12 Volts at a higher current (AMPS) for just a small amount of time. We check the feeds to the component to make sure they are ‘in spec’.
One in every two auto-electric issues are solved at this point. The issue is usually either a poor connection or damaged wire. The copper wire that makes up the loom of the car is protected with a plastic covering. On most classics it is of reasonable quality and is unlikely to have ‘broken down’ on its own. Usually you find that the termination, that is, where the wire meets the component or fuse box has corroded.
It is at these points that the wire is most vulnerable as it is open to air and water. Luckily, only the first couple of centimetres of the wire are affected, so it can be cut away and a new termination made. Project Shop auto-electricians take great care using only the best quality components to make these repairs, that will often out live the rest of the wiring loom.
With the terminations remade it is possible to check the resistance in the wire and make sure that there are no breaks or high resistance areas which would require that particular section to be replaced.
One of the first lessons you learn when dealing with old cars is that ‘not one is a virgin’. Once a car has reached its third birthday, fallen out of main dealer care. It usually ends up being modified or ‘repaired to a budget.
Auto-electrics are a very good example of this. We often find that alarms, stereos, park distance sensors, electronic ignition systems and other aftermarket options have been added. Cost and required speed of installation regularly means that they are spliced into the wiring loom at the easiest point. It is not uncommon to find that a particular circuit has two or three times the AMP draw it was designed to take. The wires get hot, resistance goes up, and either the whole lot melts or it keeps blowing the fuse.
Project Shop auto-electricians check each circuit, work out how much current they are drawing and where necessary pull extra feeds direct from the fuse box or from a circuit with spare capacity. This way you have a stable, reliable and safe installation.
Even in the simplest vehicles there is a staggering selection of electrical components. Almost everyone of them can be refurbished or repaired or replaced at the Project Shop. We often refurbish:
- Starter motors
- Heater motors
- Wiper motors
- Alternators and dynamos
- Bulb holders
- Circuit boards
We replace and upgrade
- Fuse boxes
- Wiring looms
- Flasher units
In fact we are yet to find an auto-electric issue that we have not been able to fix in house or send to one of our specialist contacts for quick and cost effective refurbishment.