Most of us just glaze over at the thought of actually installing an electrical system in our classic pickups. Those bundles of multicolored spaghetti are just more than many of us can handle. Maybe wiring seems confusing because, unlike fuel, cooling, and oil systems, we cannot see the electricity flow. The actual wiring of a truck is pretty straightforward. The hardest part is running the wires neatly and avoiding sharp, moving, and hot objects.
Today’s street rod/classic truck wiring kit manufacturers—American Autowire, Keep It Clean Wiring, EZ Wiring, Haywire, Kwik Wire, Painless Performance Products, Rebel Wire, Ron Francis Wire Works, and others—have made the process of wiring your pickup extremely easy. With labeled wires; easy-to-follow instructions; and smaller, more compact units; the task of wiring has become relatively simple.
Since we are putting together a basic, no-frills ride—meaning no power windows, no power door locks, no A/C, just the basics—we searched for a simple no-frills wiring kit. While many such wiring kits are out there, we chose a kit from Rebel Wire.
Here’s the Rebel Wire eight-circuit wiring kit as it came out of the box with fuses, gromm
Assembled in America from American-made components, the Rebel Wire kit we chose is a simple, eight-circuit kit that handles the lighting system, ignition/engine starting, gauges, charging system, as well as radio, wipers, heater, and horn. Rebel Wire also offers a nine-plus three-circuit kit, and a 20-circuit kit for the highly optioned pickup or hot rod. In addition to the basic wiring kit we purchased a fan relay kit from Rebel Wire. Since we were not using a GM column or an aftermarket column patterned after a GM column, we purchased a turn signal switch from American Autowire.
The tools required in wiring a classic pickup are pretty basic: wire cutters, wire stripper, screwdrivers, and heat gun to seal the heat-shrink tubing. We do not recommend a lighter or matches for this task, but we have to admit that we’ve used a flame in a pinch.
In addition to the wiring kit some other items may be required depending on what comes in your kit, and some decisions you may need to make on just how you plan to connect and route wires. In our case, we needed an assortment of crimp connectors, an ignition switch, a battery disconnect, the turn signal switch, a horn button, a light switch, several dual-row barrier and jumper strips, and some heat-shrink tubing. Note: 3M makes standard heat-shrink tubing and heat-shrink tubing lined with a sealer. We located the sealer type of heat-shrink tubing at a local boat supply store. The sealer in the tubing creates a waterproof seal—which is good.
Armed with our Rebel Wire kit, instructions, and our additional hardware, we set out to wire our subject. The first decision to make is where to mount the fuse block. The normal mounting spot is under the dash near the driver side. We chose to mount the fuse block under the dash on the passenger side. We felt that in our case that would allow the easiest access to the fuse block, and the most room to bundle and run the wires (not dealing with the steering column, the throttle linkage, and the clutch and brake pedals).
We mounted the fuse block and the flasher/relay panel to a piece of PVC board and secured the board to an underdash support. The next step was to cut a 1¼-inch hole in the firewall to pass the forward wires of the harness through. The kit came with a grommet to fit this hole and the wires were neatly bundled in a manner that allowed us to separate the wires that were required to go to the engine compartment.
Next, we separated the front wiring harness into smaller wiring harnesses. Since the wires are marked every 6 inches it was a simple task to separate them into smaller bundles based on where they were to be used. We used the supplied wire ties to form the various harnesses. Note: Enough wire ties are in the kit to do the job, but since we feel strongly about neatness, we redid many of the harnesses as we progressed and that required additional wire ties.
We added a Rebel Wire fan relay to our original order. This relay is not included in the w
These are the basic tools required to install a wiring kit: crimping tool, wire cutters, h
Additional items required include an assortment of crimp connectors, an ignition switch, a
We mounted the fuse block and the turn signal/hazard flasher/horn relay block to a PVC pan
The wiring bundle was split up into a front harness, an underdash harness, and a rear harn
A 1¼-inch hole was drilled in the firewall and the supplied grommet was installed. The fro
We split the front wiring harness into smaller harnesses: a headlight harness, a fan harne
The harnesses were neatly wire tied every 5 to 6 inches. Plan on using a lot of small wire
Terminals should be placed in the crimping tool with the seam in the terminal opposite the