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Engine wiring first steps

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  • Member since
    January 2020
Engine wiring first steps
Posted by Tbird on Wednesday, March 18, 2020 5:23 AM

Hello Everbody,

 

What's a good step to begin with engine wiring?

I have never done that before, and my goal is not to build a super-detailed engine, instead, I want to build one that looks a bit better than out of the box.

 

With as few materials as possible, I want to enhance the appearance of the engine.

 

Thanks and Regards

Phil

Tags: beginner , Engine , steps , wiring
  • Member since
    August 2005
  • From: Nashua, New Hampshire
Posted by mrmike on Wednesday, March 18, 2020 8:19 AM

For me, the first step in wiring an engine is to drill a hole in the center of the distributor followed by drilling holes in the cylinder heads where the spark plugs would be.  Next is to take a bunch of wrapping wire (about 26 gauge) cut to 4 in lengths and then fold them in half with one separate wire about 1 1/2 inches long for the ignition coil.  Add your favorite adhesive or glue to the hole in the distributor cap and insert your wires and let the glue dry.  When this has dried, you can fan out the wires and either cross every other wire over the top of the distributor cap or wire the engine in order.  The wiring diagrams can be found on Google or your favorite search engine.  Add the wire to the plug hole and trim the wire length as needed to fit.  Lastly, add the ignition coil wire to the ignition coil.

You will need a pin vise, small drill bits, wire cutter, wrapping wire or equivalent, ruler, adhesive or glue. 

There are several brands of pre-wired distributors in the marketplace that you can order and eliminate the kit distributor, wrapping wire and ruler. 

"That's Spenser with an 'S' like the poet."

Robert Urich Spenser For Hire 1985

Classic Plastic Model Club

  • Member since
    March 2015
  • From: Close to Chicago
Posted by JohnnyK on Wednesday, March 18, 2020 9:50 AM

I would like to add just one thing---the drill bit has to be very, very sharp. If it is dull it will wander and you will end up with holes in the wrong location. This is especially true for the distributor. 

 

  • Member since
    January 2020
Posted by Tbird on Thursday, March 19, 2020 7:27 AM

Thanks, guys I am going to give it a shot.

  • Member since
    December 2003
  • From: Nova Scotia
Posted by Bainford on Thursday, March 19, 2020 12:06 PM

There is another way to skin this cat;

It seems that one of the most difficult parts of ignition wiring (for those who wish to not go pre-wired, and do it themselves) is the drilling of the holes in the distributor cap. It is indeed tricky to do in scale, and most kit distributor caps do not lend themselves well to it (though there are aftermarket alternatives that are better).

Instead of drilling distributor cap posts, I use plug wire boots to join the ignition lead to the distributor cap post. The boot is a short piece (perhaps, 2 mm long) of small, tubular material that fits snuggly over the cap post. The wire is then inserted into the open end of the boot. A small spot of CA glue on the post secures the boot to the post,and a small drop on the end of the wire secures the wire to the boot.

A number of different materials can be used for the boot. You need a material that has some degree of flexibility, and has a thin wall. Some use a section of wire insulation from a larger size wire, such that the ignition lead can fit snuggly into the 'boot'. When I was younger, I had a Revell 1/16 funny car kit that came with hollow, thin wall, black vinyl tubing to be used a ignition wire and fuel lines, and that material made great ignition wire boots.

However, my 'go-to' product these days is something called looming cord (some call it lacing cord). It is a thin-wall, flexible, matt black vinyl tube, approximately .035" dia, which has cotton like fibres running through it. After cutting a piece to work with, the fibres are easily pulled out with fine tweezers, leaving just the tube. The distributor cap post will likely be too fat for the boot to fit over easily, but the flexibility will allow the end of the boot to expand and fit snuggly over the post, or often I will pre-stretch the boot end with a pointed toothpick or similar. A spot of CA on the post will hold it in place. The boot can be trimmed to length ofter gluing it to the post, if you wish. Once the distributor cap is populated with boots, then the ignition leads can be inserted into the free end of the boots and secured with a spot of CA.

Once you get the hang of it, the looming cord can also be used to make 90 degree boots as well, by making a pie shaped cut half-way along the length, bending at the cut, and using CA to secure. There was once a very helpful tutorial in the Engine & Chassis section fo the forum, that might be worth looking for.

At the cylinder head end, you can drill holes in the spark plug locations and insert the plug end of the ignition lead into the hole and secure. Sometimes I will glue a .025" brass wire in the spark plug hole, smooth the exposed end, then use a boot to attach the wire to the 'spark plug', just as on the distributor cap. I do this if the plug area of the cylinder head is easily view on the completed build.

The looming cord also makes great oil cooler lines, power steering lines, air conditioning, etc. Perhaps even heater core hoses.

I get the stuff at RS Components in the UK (available online, just type the part number into the search field). Part # 554-080 gets you a 25 m spool for 5 pounds sterling, enough for a life time.

Also, for most road car and vintage race car builds, you will want ignition wire in the 32 - 36 gauge wire. Wire gauge refers to the size of the wire itself, without the insulation. Insulation can vary in thickness, so you may be better off choosing wire by measuring the diameter. Shoot for wire in the .012" - .013" range, preferably with good solid colour and a non-glossy appearance. A lot of small wire out there today has shiny, stiff insulation with a plasticy, almost translucent appearance, and should be avoided. Also, if you have a choice, go for solid copper strand wire, rather than multi-braid wire. It conforms and holds shape much better.

"It would be unusual, if the unusual didn't occur."

- Steamboat Gariepy

Trevor

  • Member since
    May 2015
Posted by Goofy62 on Thursday, March 19, 2020 1:09 PM

The most hassle free alternative is to spend a couple of bucks and order a pre-wired distributor from one of the after market providers.

Morgan Automotive Detail, (M.A.D.) (www.madmodeling.com) make excellent pre-wired distributor sets!

Each kit includes a pre-wired cap, a base, and a length of wire to be stripped for boot material.

Each distributor will run you $4.95 and they come in a wide array of cap and wire colors.

 

I used to drill out my own caps, but can find little reason to do so anymore with such nice aftermarket distributors available today.

That time is much better spent on other aspects of the build in my opinion.

 

With these distributors, all that is necessary to do is to glue the cap to the base, drill out the spark plug holes, cut the boot material and insert into the heads, and then drill the block and glue the distributor in place and then route the wires to the heads.

No worries about wires coming loose from the cap, etc.

 

If you're looking to add some modest detailing to the engine compartment without going over board, (as I am known to do) I would focus on plug wires, heater and radiator hoses, and battery cables.

All the rest is just gravy. Big Smile

 

 

 

 

Steve

  • Member since
    March 2015
  • From: Close to Chicago
Posted by JohnnyK on Thursday, March 19, 2020 1:25 PM

I agree 100% with Steve. Trying to drill holes in a kit's distributor is a huge hassle. 

  • Member since
    February 2020
  • From: Massachusetts
Posted by Ricmod on Thursday, April 2, 2020 11:30 AM

For spark plugs I like to use yellow 30 guage wrapping wire from VT Corp found on eBay. step one is to drill .025 holes into heads and paint them whatever color your using. Do not assemble them to block. Cut the wire longer than you need it and dip one end 1/4 inch deep a couple of times into flat black paint. Let each dip dry thoroughly. If the paint is too thick it may form a ball of paint at the end. Just brush it out to coat the end. After two or three coats have built up, paint 1/8th of an inch of the end white. place wire into predrilled holes adjusting the spark plug length and glue them into the inside Of the head. Assemble heads to painted block. Cut a 5/32 dia. aluminum tube about 5/32 inch long, representing a distributor, and stuff the distributor ends down the tube, adjusting each length of wire to reach the final position of the distributor and cut the excess wire at the oppostpite end of the tube. Draw the cut ends together back into the tube and drop a dollop of epoxy into it. When cured use CA to glue in place. To get the CA to cure instantly dip an old paint brush onto water an quickly hit the CA with the brush. You gotta be quick or you might glue the brush to the distributor.

ric

  • Member since
    February 2020
Posted by Manifoldhead on Thursday, April 2, 2020 2:47 PM

Goofy62

The most hassle free alternative is to spend a couple of bucks and order a pre-wired distributor from one of the after market providers.

Morgan Automotive Detail, (M.A.D.) (www.madmodeling.com) make excellent pre-wired distributor sets!

Each kit includes a pre-wired cap, a base, and a length of wire to be stripped for boot material.

Each distributor will run you $4.95 and they come in a wide array of cap and wire colors.

 

I used to drill out my own caps, but can find little reason to do so anymore with such nice aftermarket distributors available today.

That time is much better spent on other aspects of the build in my opinion.

 

With these distributors, all that is necessary to do is to glue the cap to the base, drill out the spark plug holes, cut the boot material and insert into the heads, and then drill the block and glue the distributor in place and then route the wires to the heads.

No worries about wires coming loose from the cap, etc.

 

If you're looking to add some modest detailing to the engine compartment without going over board, (as I am known to do) I would focus on plug wires, heater and radiator hoses, and battery cables.

All the rest is just gravy. Big Smile

 

 

 

 

Steve

 

 

Wow!

  • Member since
    February 2020
  • From: Massachusetts
Posted by Ricmod on Thursday, April 2, 2020 5:36 PM

That is beautiful. How did you get the texture on the exhaust manifolds?

ric

  • Member since
    January 2020
Posted by Tbird on Friday, April 3, 2020 2:08 PM

I agree that engine looks so awesome and realistic!

  • Member since
    June 2012
Posted by jhande on Sunday, April 12, 2020 1:16 PM
A little trick I do for drilling small wire holes... I snagged one of my wife's sewing needles. I use needle nose pliers to hold it tight, heat the tip up with either a lighter or candle and make a little impression where the wire needs to go. It gives me a place for the tiny drill bit to stay in place when starting to drill.
  • Member since
    April 2020
Posted by 58volvoV8 on Sunday, May 17, 2020 10:50 PM

I agree buy a pre wired distributor....for $5 you gotta buy wrapping wire and boot material anyways so just get the hassle free method......i tried making my own and tried locating wire and boot material and it was a huge hunt for what turned out to be out of scale looking plug wires......i used to use thread superglue to the dist cap posts....but meh.....kinna crapulant

  • Member since
    May 2015
Posted by Goofy62 on Sunday, May 17, 2020 11:50 PM

Thanks guys!!

 

Ricmod

That is beautiful. How did you get the texture on the exhaust manifolds?

 

I've been doing my exhaust manifolds lately using this method.

First I prime and then shoot them with Alclad "Dark Aluminum".

Next I mist a little Alclad "Exhaust Manifold" around the connection points at the head and exhaust pipe.

Finally a light dusting from a distance with a little Duplicolor "Red Oxide Primer".

That's it. Wink

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve

  • Member since
    April 2020
Posted by 58volvoV8 on Monday, May 18, 2020 10:59 PM

Nice engines...how do you get the shading on the trans especially the second pic?? Just a black wash?? Also what do you paint them with? They look really realistic 

  • Member since
    May 2015
Posted by Goofy62 on Tuesday, May 19, 2020 7:23 PM

58volvoV8

Nice engines...how do you get the shading on the trans especially the second pic?? Just a black wash?? Also what do you paint them with? They look really realistic 

 

I use various Alclad paints for the majority of my metal finishes.

The Plymouth engine has no wash applied, but the Olds engine was washed with a thinned mixture of black and brown acrylic craft paint.

 

 

 

 

Steve

  • Member since
    April 2020
Posted by 58volvoV8 on Tuesday, May 19, 2020 10:23 PM

Nice job....ill have to look into alclad paints....ive been using testors(alum. And gunmetal)and model master(steel)for my metals....and yours look..much betterYes

  • Member since
    October 2017
  • From: Arvada, CO
Posted by Straightliner1 on Sunday, June 7, 2020 8:40 AM

This is how I have been doing distributors/magnetos for many years! It works great, and, it's much easier to come by the materials, nowadays. It's also easy, and very cost-effective.

 Page 1 by Daniel Himmel, on Flickr

 Page 2 by Daniel Himmel, on Flickr

 Page 3 by Daniel Himmel, on Flickr

I build replicas of imaginary race cars.

 

  • Member since
    November 2019
Posted by mrgts1 on Saturday, July 11, 2020 1:18 PM

Replicas and Miniatures Co of Maryland makes excellent pre drill caps in colored resin to simulate tan distributor caps! He also has a ditrubutor assembly/kit that has this cap in it with a seperate vacuum advance. I just buy the caps though. They're a couple bucks for 2 or 3 IIRC. His distributors are so so in my opinion. He also has the boots that go with the caps should you want to go that route. They are thin and fragile though!

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