If there is one area where things can easily go wrong on a classic restoration, it’s the wiring loom. Modern vehicles tend to have connectors that are different for every point in the vehicle so it is difficult to get them mixed up. Having said that, there are dozens more of them and the circuits are often multiplexed, so getting it wrong can have weird implications.
Classics mainly rely on the same connector for just about all applications in the vehicle except the high current starter circuit. If its a British vehicle you are working on it will probably be the ubiquitous 1/4” spade connector or if inline, the 1/8” ‘bullet’ connector. Whilst the classic loom is much simpler than a modern, with their sensors and ECU’s, there are often dozens of opportunities for getting your connections mixed up on the classic due to everything looking the same.
No problem, you say, I can work out the rest from their colours using the wiring diagrams in my Haynes manual. We love Haynes manuals, but have you ever tried to use the wiring diagrams they have? Invariably the manufacturer of the looms ran out of a particular cable at some point and their supplier only had purple and green or pink and blue, so you have colours that don’t relate to the original diagram. Then they changed the wiring over the production period and added accessories so that introduced new colourways and that birds nest is now less a Sparrows and more a Tree Swallow (look it up).
So, when starting your strip down, the restorer should conscientiously label up the ends of their vehicles cables to save one heck of a lot of time and trouble at the other end of the rebuild. I can also suggest that what most will have done, or were intending to do, is tear off some bits of masking tape and write on them to create the labels. Well, here is a little secret folks: That’s about the worst thing you can do.
Masking tape is designed to be applied and removed within a few hours or at worst, days. It is designed to come off easily with no residue. The pressure sensitive adhesive is not designed to stick together for months or even years of a rebuild and as anyone who has done it will attest, it doesn’t. You will pull the loom out of its box when you come to refit it and a third of the labels will have fallen off. Hey, but at least two thirds are still there to give you a clue, right? Well that’s where another problem with masking tape comes in: Its designed to be ‘waxy’ so it repels paint because, well the clues in the name, it’s a masking tape. For paint also read ‘ink’, so that ballpoint ink with which you wrote ‘fuel tank sender’ will have faded to almost nothing by now on another 1/3rd of the labels.
That leaves about 1/3rd of the labels still in place. The ones that survived to the bitter end are going to give you a clue once you’ve routed the cables to the four corners of the car. Only, when you feed them through the bulkheads and other small, sharp orifices in the vehicle body they’re stripped off because they are just old, brittle, paper.
Trust us, we’ve been there, we understand your pain. It’s why we created TTACT tags. ‘TTACT’ stands for Tag Today, Avoid Cursing Tomorrow. The labels are a high strength plastic, almost indestructible by tearing, so they feed through those bulkhead without departing for the floor. They have a special coating that accepts ink into the surface so if you use a good pen, it won’t fade. The adhesive is permanent, so they won’t flake off. They’re yellow so you can spot them and they’re just the right size for you to write the critical info on, such as ‘Shield actuator’ or ‘Missiles + feed’. There are 50 in a box, which will see you through most rebuilds.
Masking tape is a bit cheaper, but in a couple of years time you’ll be patting yourself on the back, not cursing. Click on the photos to go to TTACT tags in our store.