Getting started tips for doing electrical work. - Defender Source
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  #1  
Old December 4th, 2009, 12:05 PM
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Carl Jonsson
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Getting started tips for doing electrical work.

I am a total newbie to doing auto electrical work. What is the best procedure for locating a faulty connection or installing new wiring? What do I need to get started? A voltage meter? A solder iron? I have a pair of hella black magics that keeps crapping out on me due to poorly installed wiring and I also have some new items that I would like to install but it's a bit intimidating if you've never done it before. Just looking at the wiring diagrams in the manuals makes me sweat. Any tips for a complete electrical newbie are highly appreciated.
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  #2  
Old December 4th, 2009, 06:01 PM
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Jason England
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Start with something other than your Defender ...

In all seriousness find a good auto electrician and stick to minor troubleshooting.

http://autorepair.about.com/od/troub...rcuit-tstr.htm
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  #3  
Old December 4th, 2009, 06:19 PM
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Scott
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Wiring is not that difficult... It is just common sense. Get a good Fluke Multimeter, a test light, wire stripers and some connectors. Also, using heat shrink helps too.

Wiring a relay is very easy, although it seems complicated. You can google it for a diagram.
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  #4  
Old December 4th, 2009, 06:56 PM
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steve
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Agreed. It is quite easy. A multimeter is key, and so is a good soldering iron. Practice soldering, and make sure to use flux, it will make a big difference.

Wiring diagrams can be intimidating, but bring it to your truck and actually look at what it is telling you. It is straight forward.

post up any questions and I'll try to help.
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  #5  
Old December 4th, 2009, 09:58 PM
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Biggest tip, when disconnecting the battery, remove the earth lead first.
I primarily use uninsulated crimp on terminals and heat shrink tubing that has a sealant that melts inside. I always add a dab of dielectric grease to the terminal before inserting the wire.
Always make sure you size the wire properly for load it needs to carry. There are charts and figures for doing that available on the internet.
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  #6  
Old December 5th, 2009, 11:21 AM
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I would add a good quality soldering iron in the 60w range with no base station as you can easely take it with you need be. And I always opt to weld instead of crimping unless I have very good quality connectors like the aviation industry ones and I can ziptie all the wires in a clean and vibration safe manner. Vibration and corrosion are probably your biggest enemies when it come to electrical wiring.

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  #7  
Old December 5th, 2009, 11:49 AM
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1 - Get a good test light
2 - Get a good wire stripers/crimper.
3 - Understand how a relay works

The cutters/crimpers that come in the package you get from the auto place suck. get some from an electrical speciality store. they work 100% better and you get nicer crimps and cuts.
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  #8  
Old December 5th, 2009, 12:06 PM
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Just remember that electrical circuits are just that - all the electrons need to get back to the battery via the earth connection, the battery merely provides the push. If the electrons can find a short cut back to the battery without doing any work ( lighting up a bulb or making an electric motor spin ) they will, the usual result of this is an electrical fire, (if there is no fuse in the circuit) generally considered to be a bad thing. This is called a short circuit
Short circuits are caused by wires rubbing and wearing through the insulation and then connecting to earth. Always use grommets when running wires through the bulkhead or other hole you drill in the body work.
It's really not too difficult once you get started.
The worst thing is trouble shooting an intermittent fault.
A multimeter is essential for fault finding. Never assume anything is right when fault finding and slowly trace from one end of the circuit back to the battery.
Solder every connection, don't just crimp.
Any problems just ask.
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  #9  
Old December 6th, 2009, 12:47 AM
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Carl Jonsson
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Thank you all for your suggestions!
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  #10  
Old December 6th, 2009, 02:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leastonce
Start with something other than your Defender ...

In all seriousness find a good auto electrician and stick to minor troubleshooting.

http://autorepair.about.com/od/troub...rcuit-tstr.htm
Why?

You can be a complete novice, drunk, retarded, and blindfolded, and still do a better job wiring a rig than Lucas.
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  #11  
Old December 6th, 2009, 06:51 AM
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I've re-wired several vehicles. The key is taking your time and having a diagram on hand. Its much easier if you are starting with a fresh harness, and much more difficult if you are trying to sort a rat's nest left by someone else, but its all the same really. You gotta have good grounds and solid connections.

And honestly, good crimps, especially with the heat-shrink connectors are just as good as good solder, and they are much better than bad solder. If you soldering technique is not good, then just stick with the crimps.

There are also lots of good books on auto electrics, from Bosch manuals to "how to wire your hotrod" or whatever. These are handy to have if you need to know how a relay works, etc, but you can find all the info on the internet anyway.
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  #12  
Old December 6th, 2009, 03:43 PM
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Carl Jonsson
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I have confidence that I can do a good job once I figure out the basics. Most of the wiring should be stock except for the wiring that was redone when the 300tdi was installed. That was done by RN so it should be done properly as well I would assume.

There are two installs by the previous owner that I am considering removing entirely. The Hella Black magic lights have been "fixed" by a shop twice already so I have decided to do it myself now. It's a good quality harness I just think the install was very poorly done. It has a lot of loose cables just laying around underneath the hood and he routed them through a hole in the bulkhead just underneath the pedals so essentially you're stepping on them every time you get in the truck. I'm no Einstein but that doesn't seem like the best way of routing it. I was considering removing it all together and start from scratch but I don't know if I want to pony up the $90 for a new harness. If it keeps failing after my attempt to repair it then I'll get a new one.

Thanks!
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  #13  
Old December 6th, 2009, 04:11 PM
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One thing to note, if you're wiring is going to be in a location outside of the truck, ie.. your Hellas, whatnot, standard heat shrink is NOT waterproof. There is some with an epoxy like glue on the inside, but I'd suggest using a marine type of connector.
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Old December 6th, 2009, 04:22 PM
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Jim Cheney
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You'll have to remove the aux light harness anyway if you want to re-route it, so use the opportunity to inspect it and make sure its all solid. I installed my Hellas with the Hella harness, but I cut off the supplied switch and used the LR one that mounts opposite the headlight switch. Oddly, the Hella harness came with an undersized fuze for the application.

And don't assume your wiring was done right just because a particular place did it. Check how the connection was made between the main harness and the motor harness. A tdi is so simple that it's tempting to cut corners and just splice together some wires to fire it up. Hopefully, whoever did it actually used the factory connection and not just direct connections with wire splices. I actually have an RN install kit for the 300tdi and its not exactly plug-and-play. You got more than one motor harness to be used depending on the year of your truck. The actual business of making the correct connections was up to the installer, and it would doubtlessly involve moving some wires around.
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