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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-01-2007, 11:40 PM Thread Starter
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question about wires and ballast resistors

I spent most of the day tinkering with my '66 Galaxie. It has a 302 from a '68 Fairlane, with stock points-type distributor, but a lot of "shadetree engineering" from previous owner. I was trying to make some of these 'repairs' better, like putting correct terminals on wires and so on. Here's what happened.

One wire, going into the alternator, halfway between the harness it was coming out of and the alternator it connected to, had been cut and then simply twisted together (!?!). I took off the twisted-on part and installed a ring terminal since there was enough length.

There was another wire like that, inbetween the distributor and the ballast resistor, merely twisted together. I took off the twisted part, installed a female disconnect terminal on the piece going into the distributor, and put the now shorter wire back on the ballast resistor.

Went to crank it, and it acted like it had a dead battery, very slooow turnover. I checked all connections again, but still the same problem. I 'reinstalled' the "twisted wires" back on both the alternator and the ballast resistor, cranked up fine. Took off the twisted-on wire to the ballast resistor, again cranked like it had a dead battery.

So, I am sure that the culprit is that wire between the distributor and ballast resistor, but

1) can three inches of 16 gauge wire really make that difference? (it's a simple black wire marked 16 gauge, not the pink resistor wire that are on some Fords)
2) if length is an issue, do I need to get 16 gauge wire again, this time the length that the original and twisted part was, or
3) can I install 14 gauge wire( since I have some of that)? If I do, how long would that wire have to be?
4) finally, do I need a completely different wire gauge and length? like 10 gauge, 12 gauge? I'm pretty sure that 16 is way too small.

If I can install a larger gauge wire, can I use longer lengths? I'd like to, because the coil is on the engine, and I know that heat is bad for them, and I'd like to be able to mount the coil and ballast resistor on the fenderwell (don't ask where the ballast resistor is).

Sorry for the lengthy post, but I wanted to be thorough. Oh, and just to let you know, the installation of the seat covers went off without a hitch!
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-02-2007, 03:31 PM Thread Starter
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update!

Got under the hood this morning to work on it, and I really think I may have another problem. I tried to start the car with 14 gauge wire between the dist. and the ballast resistor, but no go, and then again with the same, original "twisted together" wire, but this time, wouldn't start. I then pulled the charged battery out of my truck and put it in the car, would turn over but no spark, plenty of fuel, all connections secure.

I am thinking that I might have burned up points. They look a little discolored, and I did install a tach, so maybe I shorted a wire, or left the key too long in the ignition position. That means two problems going on here, or a single problem that coincided with me replacing that wire, but honestly, when I placed the original wire back on and it worked, that was the first thing I figured, that the wire was causing the problem!

I can't for the life of me figure out why they car wouldn't start, but then start once I put that twisted up wire back in there, and now, dead, even with a charged battery.

I am thinking new resistor, points and condenser once I double-check all wires. Any other suggestions guys?

Sorry this one is so confusing, or getting too long to read, but I feel like I need advice on this one.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-03-2007, 09:48 PM Thread Starter
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Well, there's a few who have browsed at this post, so I will update you.

Got the car started this morning, but again, only when I replaced that wire the previous owner rigged up. Instead of assuming that I had a 'magic wire,' I figured that it was the ballast resistor not letting the points get power consistently, making it hard to start, even though it would turn over. Also, I tested the coil with a DOVM, and it was going bad, losing some of its resistance.

The culprit, however, was the alternator. Like an idiot, I changed two things at once, (those two wires I talked about in my first post) though I'll admit, I did not think that replacing wires with good ones would start troubles. I found out that the wire to the alternator I fixed went on a terminal on that terminal that was loose. When I tightened the nut down, the bolt/terminal started to turn with it. That thing may have gone back and forth between being tight and loose the entire time. Ooooops. That explains the sluggish start and dead battery, since it wasn't charging the battery, just draining it. Thought it might be the solenoid, or the coil, or whatever, because of that "magic wire" but that broken terminal tells the tale.

So, weak battery through bad ignition path equals two problems working together to stumble me for two days. Though you'd think with my first car being a British sports car, I'd be a genius with electrics!

I also found out that the previous owner put the ballast resistor in the wrong place on the ignition path. Got a new resistor, will put it in the correct place, got a new coil, will test the alternator tomorrow and more than likely replace it. I will also be digging through the wiring on that car and be replacing those "hatchet-job" repairs the previous owner made, like the ignition switch.

Just thought I'd finish the story!
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-03-2007, 10:30 PM
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Glad

Glad you got it figured out. Fixing other people's hack jobs can be a PITA. I would feel sorry for anybody who owned a car after me. :lol: :lol: :lol:

Where's my beer and that half inch wrench?

http://i168.photobucket.com/albums/u...cecar066-1.jpg
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-03-2007, 11:47 PM
 
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wiring

I can't offer any help on the wiring problems, but you are correct in the wiring question.
Wire is like a garden hose. The bigger the hose, the more water it will carry; but not for long distance. If the distance is great, you will need more force behind the electricty.
While I use 10 - 18 ga. wire in my semi; there aren't many applications that you would need a 10 ga. wire on a car. 12 ga. needs are few + far between. 14 + 16 ga. should handle most jobs, except direct power needs. ie. starter relay, battery cables etc. This is also assuming you're keeping the battery up front, using stock apps.
A 1500 watt amp to power that stereo will require much bigger wire than 10 ga.

Have you thought about using painless wirings products? They offer some fairly extensive kits for stock wiring apps.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-04-2007, 07:35 AM Thread Starter
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Yes on the Painless wiring. In fact, I got a catalog from them and they finally have a harness for "Ford Muscle Cars", #10123. Says it is for Galaxie, Fairlane, Torino, Montego, etc.

You should see the wiring in this thing. Not exactly a "full-hatchet" job, but not exactly the best. The ballast resistor is coming inbetween the negative terminal and the distributor, when it is supposed to be inbetween the ignition switch and the positive terminal. It's also zip tied to a heater hose! Last week, when I installed the tach and connected the choke to the electrical system, the friggin' oil light came on, and stayed on.

I don't want stuff like that there when I put the 460 in the Gal, so I may have to go all the way with a new harness.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-05-2007, 01:16 AM
 
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wiring

I feel your pain!
There is nothing more time consuming than trying to fix someone's idea of a wiring fix.
I will soon be tackling a similar problem you're dealing with. I have a 71 Mach 1 that the mice have had a field day chewing up the wires.
I'll be giving painless wiring a call to clean up all these broken wires!
Good Luck! Steven
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