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starter wires

Discussion in 'Chevy Trucks' started by Detroitdan, Dec 14, 2010.

  1. Detroitdan

    Detroitdan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,937

    Stupid starter wire question: I have a brand new starter and flexplate, however the wiring going to the starter is junk, all heat damaged and aged and crumbling. Today it failed to start for me until I laid under the truck (in the rain in a puddle, of course) and pulled and tweaked on the wires, then was able to get it to catch. I did notice the starter was extremely hot, which I assumed was because I had just let the truck idle for at least 30 minutes, it must have soaked up some heat from the exhaust manifold. Unless maybe something else was wrong. I did drive it for about 5 minutes then parked it shut off for another 5 minutes, so not sure it should have been that hot.

    Anyway, first things first, I need to replace all the wires, and I can't remember where they go. Would I be better off matching up wire and running new ones to wherever they originate from, or is there a special kind of wire? One wire has a plastic block built into it, not sure if it's a fusible link or what. It would be nice to get a whole starter harness if it were available. I havent disconnected anything yet, and I wont until I get new wire and maybe a diagram to show me how to rewire the system.

    I know this probably sounds stupid, but I havent had a Chevy gasser for a while and can't remember what all the wires are for. I know there must be one or two to the fuse block, one for 12v and one for keyed ignition. The big wire to the battery looks ok, might run a new one anyway just to upgrade it and for peace of mind. Cant really see up in there, but what are all those wires for anyway? I mean theres only 2 or 3 terminals on the starter.

    btw, this is on the 82 gasser
     
  2. B&B

    B&B PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,777

    If they look a little worse for wear it's not a bad decision to replace them all as the fusible links have a bad habit of retaining moisture and corroding internally after years of use. And of course the heat doesn't help any either.

    Should only have three to four wires besides the battery cable. The two or three reds (may appear pink due to age) should all have fusible links (two into one usually) inline about 8" from their terminal ends and be on the large terminal with the battery cable. One red goes into the cab (making a stop at the junction block on the firewall) to supply power throughout the truck, the other is the charging wire coming from the alternator. And some trucks had another extra red wire also up to the firewall junction block. This is why I stated it may have thee or four wires total, some had the extra and some didn't.

    Then you'll have a single purple wire. That one is your cranking wire and will go from the small inside terminal on the starter, though the main bulkhead connector on the firewall and into the park/neutral switch (on an auto) or the clutch interlock switch on a manual.
     
  3. Detroitdan

    Detroitdan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,937

    so do I need to buy fusible links and wire and add them, or can I get the wiring already made with a fusible link? I'd really like to just buy a harness with all the wires and just install it. Be so much easier. But either way, I can buy a roll of 12 ga wire and some links and build the harness if I have to. Is it 12 ga? I was just guessing.
    I definitely want it all new, it should have been done when the starter was replaced, but that was before I bought it. In fact the reason I got it cheap was because it wouldn't start reliably. New starter didn't fix it, so he gave up on it. I had to replace the flexplate because the teeth were gone. But it is old. 29 y/o truck deserves whatever new wires and parts that it wants.
     
  4. B&B

    B&B PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,777

    The only place you'll find a "plug and play" starter harness will cost well over $100. You can build it yourself for for $20 by simply purchasing a couple fusible link pigtails, a roll of 10 gauge wire (an upgrade from the undersized 12 gauge red leads) and a few wire ends and heat shrink. If done thoroughly and correctly it will last another 30 years.

    And if this is a plow equipped truck used on the main front then some additional upgrades should be done to the wiring instead of using the 30 year old wiring system design and simply duplicating it. Mostly on the charging side of things.
     
  5. Detroitdan

    Detroitdan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,937

    Well it has never had a plow but I am going to put an old conventional Fisher on it soon, was going to do a 9:, but instead I'm going to put an 8 with pro wings, or wings of some sort. 8's are just so much easier to find than 9's, and wings on a 9 would be overkill, whereas some forward angled wings would no doubt be more effective than a 9' straight.

    Anyways, I was thinking I'd put a bigger battery to starter wire on, like I did with my 97 plowtruck, also I did the upgrade for the charge wire to the alternator on the 97, so I'l be doing that also.
     
  6. B&B

    B&B PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,777

    Instead of following the factory routing with the charging wire and running it down to the starter, omit that wire from your new harness and run it from the alternator directly to the battery through a mega fuse holder instead. One less wire down the rear of the engine and on the starter. Fuses are much safer and more reliable than fusible links too so that eliminates one.
     
  7. Detroitdan

    Detroitdan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,937

    I think thats how I did my 97, heavy wire directly from the back of the alternator to the battery. I dont remember installing a fuse though..I think it came from the factory that way, only with a smaller wire and no fuse. Will definitely take your advice and do that on the 82. I bought two fusible links and a couple rolls of 10 ga wire today, hope to get to it soon.

    I'm looking for a diagram so I can see where the other wires exactly go. Course I wont take them off until I'm ready to route the new ones
     
  8. B&B

    B&B PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,777

    Don't think you find an actual picture layout for it due to it's age. All you'll find would be wiring schematics. It's not tough to follow them though, they're all in the main harness that travel over the engine and to the junction block on the firewall and continue on over to the main bulkhead pass through connector on the driver side. Pretty simple really so I doubt you'll have any problem.
     
  9. Detroitdan

    Detroitdan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,937

    well I had trouble getting all the wiring out of the harness and tracing it every which way, however once it was a few inches away from the starter and inside a loom it all looked like new, so what I did was made a new harness about a foot long and spliced it in. I know, not ideal but I tried to splice everything carefully, then heat shrink tubing over each slice, then new loom. I put inline fusibe links where it had them. Also replaced the battery cables with 2 gauge and pulled the shims back out. It works perfectly now, charges good and the battery is staying up. I wanted to do the alternator upgrade you mentioned, but it is a little different than my 97 so I ended up leaving it alone. The wire going to the alt from the starter doesn't go to the stud on the back, it goes into that two wire terminal. So I wasn't sure if I should cut that and run it over to the battery, or run a wire from the battery to the stud on the back like my other truck. So I just put a new end on that wire and put it back on the starter.
    I am pretty sure this was what killed the old flexplate. His new starter would simply not be able to fully engage, so it was tearing up the teeth. I nearly did the same thing, I can see some wear marks on the teeth already from the few times I started it. Clearly the burnt up, half melted wiring, and the cobbled on, taped together cable terminal someone put on the starter end of the main battery cable were preventing the starter from getting adequate voltage.
    So, it's working perfect now. I want to locate the thick aluminum flywheel cover and get that back on, should quiet it down a little more. I've only driven the truck a couple of times. ince it has been off the road for a couple of years, and I dont really know the truck yet I'm pretty nervous driving around, but it's getting better. I finally got the outside mirrors on, filled up the tank and made a Home Depot run with it today. Bout a 30-40 mile round trip. Performed pretty well, but theres a cycling vibration at highway speed, feels like a u-joint or carrier bearing maybe. Carried a ton of wood pellet fuel pretty nicely, however I don't want to do that again until I get the lift kit in. The old bed was tubbed out for the corporate rearend, but when I replaced the bed I elected not to save the tubs and redo the new bed. Didn't want to lose the bed space, and it sits high enough off the tires it wont come anywhere near it under normal driving. Knowing I would be putting in the 4 inch suspension lift, I figured I'd end up with more than enough clearance. With no lift, a ton over the rear wheels squatted it a few inches, down just about to the overloads. The edge of the bed floor was about an inch above the inside dual. I know it touched a few times hitting bumps and leaning on curves, so I just had to drive easy, which I do anyway with a load on. Made it home without damaging the tires at all. Rear springs look to have been replaced at some point, but it seems odd how it sits so high up off the overloads. My 97 was sitting right on them when I got it. Even with the bags inflated I can't get the overload spring that far from the overload stops. So the 82 seems to have a lot more suspension travel before the overloads come into play. Rode nice with the weight on it, but man is it rough out back when empty.
     
  10. B&B

    B&B PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,777

    Sounds like the project came out with positive results and as long as you did an acceptable job with splicing the newly made harness into the old there's nothing wrong with that. The larger (12 gauge) wire you found from the starter up to the alternator plug is the exciter wire the alt uses to monitor battery voltage and it's not fussy where it''s located so leaving it as is was just fine. However I'd still recommend upping the actual charge wire adding an inline fuse or breaker and running directly to the battery. Makes a once barely acceptable 80's system work to today's often heavy demand needs. Not to mention it allows the alternator itself last longer.
     
  11. NICHOLS LANDSCA

    NICHOLS LANDSCA PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 4,310

    Something else to check would be the amp rating of your alternator, if you plan on putting a plow on her. Stock is anywhere from 40-80amps on those trucks
     
  12. Detroitdan

    Detroitdan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,937

    well that was the only wire Ifound going from starter to alternator, couldnt see where the one off the big post on the back of the alt went, it climbed inside a harness and I couldnt trace it without pulling the motor. I think it went over toward the fuseblock or junction box. I would like to run straight to the battery like my other truck, that seemed like a good upgrade. No idea what amps this alt is, all I knowis it works. Got belts on order because mine are old as heck and squealing unmercifully. For S&Gs I sprayed some Prestone belt dressing on them to see if it would quiet them down until I get new ones, even though I knew better, and I know that crap doesn't work. Not even sure where it came from, I wouldn't buy it. Anyway, it actually made the squealing far worse. Like ten times worse. Thanks Prestone!

    My truck has a large amount of aftermarket wiring added. Guy told me it was for trailer wiring, and there was a schematic in the glovebox. I don't really understand it, there are 12 gauge red wires going everywhere, and on the drivers inner feneder there are three clear plastic junction box things, or maybe big relays, I don't know what they are supposed to do. The trailer wiring at the back was just a simple 7wire rv plug iirc. The truck has a homemade drawbar receiver hitch on the back, which will be coming off because I don't like how it looks. I'm sure it would haul my atv trailer fine, but no way would I hook my camper to it.
    Back to the wiring, what I know of the truck is that it was originally owned by a Chevy dealership in Maryland, they took a crecab cab and chassis and put a wrecker body on it, and used it for 6 years. Then they pulled the wrecker body off and put it on a new truck, and put a replacement bed on the c&c. They even went to the trouble of tubbing out the fenderwells. Then the 2nd owner bought it to use on his Christmas tree farm in northern N.H. He ran it all around in the fields packing the underside with clay mud, then in November he hauled a huge trailer full of trees to Maryland where he retailed them. The truck sat inside all winter then travelled back to NH in the spring.
    I don't know for sure if the extra wiring was put in for towing equipment or by the p.o for trailering, but I think he said he had it installed in Maryland. Maybe someday I'll figure out what it does. Probably a good chance this truck has a high output alternator already, between his use and the former wrecker use. It charges up high and the lights are all bright, except when the belt slips. I like these old glass headlights better than the composites in my 97, I can see a lot better at night.
     
  13. Detroitdan

    Detroitdan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,937

    I'll probably be putting a conventional Fisher on it, unless I stumble over a good deal on an electric over hydraulic. I know where theres a couple hydraulic ones in a junkyard I can have.