Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Chattanooga, TN
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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!