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Old 08-28-2009, 05:13 AM   #1
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Running new Wiring for lights?

I have some questions about the wiring of headlights, break lights, turn signals etc. I havent purchased a bus yet, still in planning stage..

I am thinking that I want to re-wire all the lights not using the stock wire harness (or stock lights probably) this way I know all the wires are good perhaps even overkill in quality. Also I would like to have more control over the lights than you get with a normal vehicle set up.

I would like to have individual toggle switches at the dash to turn on or off each headlight, and a switch that would turn off the tail/brake lights.

I realize the "dangers" of having a blackout mode and accidently operating in that mode on roadways...I do not belive this will be a problem.

I am looking for approx cost to wire up like this, not counting cost of lights. Also advice on how it should be wired, type/quage of wire to use, fuses, anything else that might help...

Thanks in advance
TF
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Old 08-28-2009, 11:10 AM   #2
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Re: Running new Wiring for lights?

Why?
The wiring for the lights is already installed and heavy duty enough. You could just tap into the existing system and add toggles to control "black out" functions. Remember, your in a bus. There really is no stealth mode while driving. To rewire the whole thing would be a lot of time & money if you going with all new switches, wire, relays, lights, Etc. That money could be saved and used elsewhere. I could see a problem, like you bump the tail/stop light switch. They are off and you don't know it. Your having "just one beer", A friend has a little herb in the pocket, and you get pulled over. Probable cause to search. Bus in impound, you get free breakfast.
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Old 08-28-2009, 07:57 PM   #3
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Re: Running new Wiring for lights?

several of the busses I have looked at I dont think I would trust the current wiring, there is a 57 I am looking at that dosent even have any wiring....pluse I want to use high output lights and more of them so I will have to rewire some anyway everything I have read so far says that stock vehicle (it was jeeps but still) wiring is not strong enough for high power off road lights.

Pluse I like the idea of knowing how everything works and knowing which wire goes where and does what because I put it there...

As for accidently flipping the switch I plan to have lift covers over them so they can not be bumped...might even use a turn key switch...

And driving any vehicle while drinking or doing drugs would just be dumb...
I have driven many military vehicles and they all had a black out mode, I am comfertable with its safe operation...

but mostly I just want custom lights and lots of them, but dont want them all on all the time.
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Old 08-28-2009, 09:44 PM   #4
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Re: Running new Wiring for lights?

Is there a type of flip-switch that will toggle itself when the power goes out? Then, when you turn off the bus, all your switches will reset and you will have to re-toggle them to turn stuff off again.

But, on the other hand, I dont see the point in deactivating lights with switches when you have the master light control nob-thingie.
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Old 08-29-2009, 04:13 AM   #5
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Re: Running new Wiring for lights?

So anyway, what guage of stranded wire would be best to run the lights off of?
10, 8, or 6 guage?...and how do you decide which is better anyway?

I am kool with using 10guage because "net expert bob" said to, but would rather be able to evaluate the situation and know for myself which is better...so any help on either front is appreciated.

Thanks
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Old 08-29-2009, 12:54 PM   #6
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Re: Running new Wiring for lights?

It depends on the current draw expected on the wire and the length of the run. Each gauge has specs for how much current draw it can handle. The longer the wire, the higher the resistance, which raises the current. Make sure that the fuse you put on each line is rated at less than the max current for that wire. You want your fuse to melt before your wire does.

I can't give you a specific "use gauge X for this" answer. The answer is "it depends", and you'll need to do some research to determine the answer.

Bear in mind, that you can generally take the wattage and divide by the voltage to get the current. So, a 120 watt bulb that works for 12 volts would be 10 amps. You would then add some wiggle room to that, and make sure your wire is rated for 15 or even 20 amps, then put your fuse at around 15 amps.

Also, if you decide to go 24 volt, that same bulb would only pull 5 amps. That translates to smaller wire, and cost savings. However, there's a cost associated with implementing a 24 volt system in a vehicle designed for a 12 volt system.

For my bus, I plan to replace all the marker lights with LED markers. That includes turn, tail, brake, clearance, etc. I'll keep the headlights stock. I'll never have to worry about the factory wiring for anything other than the headlights. If I choose to add some offroad lights, I'll wire them separately and make sure to use the appropriate rated wire at that time.

In a car, the length of the wire generally isn't all that important. Your battery is typically located under the hood, and you're typically pulling the wire either to the front (fog/offroad lights) or to the dash area, which is a minimal length. When pulling to the trunk, you want to bump up 1 or 2 gauge levels (or more, depending on the load). With a bus, those lengths are greatly increased. Keep that in mind.

hope this helps,
jim
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Old 08-29-2009, 03:45 PM   #7
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Re: Running new Wiring for lights?

I can't emphasize the use of relays enough. You can pick up 10 of them on eBay for $25 or less. If you go to the junkyards there will be three of them with sockets behind the glove box of Chevy trucks from ~88-95 that have the solid state heater controls that you can probably pick up for $1.

Using relays your switches carry very little current. You can run one fat wire all the way to the back to carry the power and split it using a relay to control each light. Then cheap light gauge wire can come from your switch panel. It is infinitely safer and more efficient. To run your wiring from the switches to the relays for the control you can't beat using 4-plex trailer wiring. It's cheap, easy to work with, and convenient because you will have 4 different colors of wire bonded together.
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Old 08-29-2009, 09:21 PM   #8
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Re: Running new Wiring for lights?

Thank you both for your advice, which along with what google has been teaching me I belive I can do this!

I picked up a lot of info from http://www.lunghd.com/Tech_Articles/Ele ... Lights.htm its geared twords hooking up high power reverse lights but the tech is the same. This coupled with the 4-plex trailer wiring (and cheap source of relays) and the "forumula" to decide wire size and I should be in like flin...I will probably re-post something more when I have lights and relays and am ready to buy wire just to make sure I am on track...

Thanks a lot!
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Old 08-30-2009, 12:05 AM   #9
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Re: Running new Wiring for lights?

Ironically, I have a very similar setup that I just put on my truck to power both reverse lights on it and on the trailer via the plug. I, however, left out the diodes so that I can backfeed my factory reverse lights and turn them on with the switch.

Go to it! Wiring is pretty simple and you can do some fun things with relays. There are a few other supplies you should pick up including solder and a soldering iron, shrink tube, and liquid electrical tape. I like to solder the connections, coat them in liquid electrical tape, and then shrink over them. Crimp on connections last surprisingly long if you go the liquid tape and shrink tube route as well.
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Old 08-31-2009, 04:07 AM   #10
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Re: Running new Wiring for lights?

I know from previous workings, that I can't solder worth a crap. So it will have to be crimp for me. thanks for the tip about liqued tape, I was going to just shrink wrap.
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Old 08-31-2009, 10:36 AM   #11
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Re: Running new Wiring for lights?

I have already spent several years trying to learn...and I can do it but its never pretty or "good" always to much solder or to clumpy or wicks to much etc...they spent several years trying to get me good at it, im just not.

Perhaps I could cobble it together good enough, but it would always be a weak link I think.
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Old 08-31-2009, 07:09 PM   #12
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Re: Running new Wiring for lights?

Kinda sounds like my soldering jobs. One thing I noticed, I used alot more solder when the iron wasnt clean. So I take a small file and clean the tip, works like a charm... Second, the irons from those "Learn to Solder" packs is impossible to "Silver". That's half the problem.
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Old 09-10-2009, 03:23 PM   #13
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Re: Running new Wiring for lights?

we re-did our entire electrical cabinet, and all the wiring and I'm glad we did so, as we were able to remove a lot of the useless "fluff". A good tool for figuring out what size wire you need is http://www.powerstream.com/Wire_Size.htm
You can get the amperage by taking the total wattage of your lights on a circuit and dividing by 12(or 24 depending on your voltage) Then consult the chart to see how big your wire should be.

-T
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Old 09-11-2009, 08:32 AM   #14
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Re: Running new Wiring for lights?

Awsome thanks..
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Old 09-12-2009, 12:30 AM   #15
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Re: Running new Wiring for lights?

Soldering:

1. Solder is not glue. Dropping a blob of solder onto two pieces of metal does not make a connection. Solder somehow links the molecules on the materials being joined.
2. All the metals being joined must be hot enough to flow solder to make a good connection
3. All the metals being joined must be clean. If using new/old stock switches, you will have to scrape the oxidation off first. Cut wire insulation back to expose clean metal, or else scrape old wires with a pocket knife so they are shiny.
4. The popular Weller-type guns can make about 3 connections before the connection between the gun's 2 tubes and the tip loop becomes bad. Loosen and gently but firmly re-tighten the nuts or screws that hold the tip in place after every few connections. If you don't, the nuts heat up instead of the tip, because that is where the maximum resistance is.
5. Always have a damp sponge handy as a tip cleaner. In a pinch, an industrial paper towel folded into a small square and moistened will work. I also used to use the legs of my old jeans I was wearing, but after more than a couple of quick swipes they do get uncomfortably hot.
6. Use rosin-core electronic solder for wiring. Never use acid-core plumbing solder.

Make a good mechanical connection first. Twist wires, hook wires through switch terminals and bend the loops shut, or crimp terminals before you start.

Clean the tip of the iron of any crud. You may have to wire-brush or file it, but try to minimize that. Keeping the tip tinned will avoid the need to clean off crud. Heat the iron until it will melt solder. Melt as much as you can onto the tip to cover it, especially a brand new tip. Then wipe it off with a swipe on the sponge. Repeat at least once, more if necessary. The goal is to 'tin' the tip with a thin even coat of shiny solder. This will also float off crud with the excess solder onto the sponge. If there is a dirty area that will not accept solder, clean the tip while it's hot, and get solder on it right away before the metal reacts with the air.

After the tip is clean and has a shiny layer of solder, apply heat to one of the metals in the connection. You can touch the solder feed to the tip to get a heat transfer going to the metal, but then move the solder away. When you think the metal is hot enough, touch the solder to the nearby metal and flow it on. Move the tip to the other metal and make sure that can flow solder, also. If you can hold the tip on the bottom of the connection, and solder melts on the top, it's a good sign the metal is hot enough to flow solder. Move the tip and solder around to be sure that the whole connection can flow solder at the same time. If too much solder starts balling up, swipe the tip on the sponge to clear it. When solder has flowed to the whole connection, remove the heat and immobilize the wires for a minute until they cool.
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Old 09-19-2009, 09:41 AM   #16
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Re: Running new Wiring for lights?

Thanks for the book recommendation
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