The Studeblogger

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Dash it all.

Why is it that people think they know how to wire a car better than the factory did it? It amazes me sometimes to look under the dash of an old car, because you never quite know what you'll find there. It seems to me that no car I've ever owned had unmolested wiring, and the Lark is no exception.

I knew someone had been under the dash prior to buying the car, because of three things: 1) An aftermarket radio was installed. 2) There was a circuit-breaker poking out under the right end of the instrument panel (turns out it's the breaker for the wipers, dislodged from its usual mounting place next to the speedo). 3) There's a big bundle of red wires, bound with a zip-strip, hanging out from under the ignition lock, with both bare and taped-off ends.

I can understand that you need to go in when you want to put in a new radio - have to find a constant +12v lead - but why screw with other stuff that's just lying there, minding its own business? The wiring harness in the Lark is pretty scary, and shows signs of at least one melted wire leading from the dash through the firewall and into the engine compartment. You can read the excruciating details of my discoveries here.

Upshot: I've ordered a new wiring harness from Studebaker West, a vendor in the Bay Area. Herman is a really knowledgeable fellow, and the harnesses he supplies are not NOS like some that are still kicking around, but are instead made brand-new from scratch.

Why does this matter? My thought is that even though a harness is NOS, it's still 40-year-old NOS. It may have become brittle on the shelf all those years - a new harness, made with modern wire and modern wire wrap, applies modern tech to reliably update an old car.

I ordered a front-to-back harness (comes in two pieces, like the factory: engine/dash and taillights). It'll be done in about 8 weeks and cost around $450. That's about double the cost of NOS, but like I said... And anyway, NOS harnesses are no longer available for '63 Lark V-8's, although harnesses for the sixes are.

You won't find Studebaker West on the web; they're an old-fashioned supplier. That's OK, 'cus this is an old-fashioned car! They also carry engine parts, trim, body, etc. Contact info:

Studebaker West
335A Convention Way
Redwood City, CA. 94063
(650) 366-8787

When you call, let it ring a while :)

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