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Old 04-17-2003, 03:37 PM
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Post Ground Cable Types & Sizes?

I'm convinced - my truck's ground is done incorrectly. My battery is about 18" rear-side of the firewall, under the floor, on the passenger side ... the ground cable from the battery post goes to the frame, which is obviously a bad idea.

In order to go from my battery post to the engine block/starter bolt, I need to have a long cable - around 46 inches or so.

1 - What size cable do I need to buy? Will the regular battery cable they sell at the auto stores be cool? Or should I get something heavier?

2 - What's the difference between those cables (above) which I assume are copper, and the flat woven type, which I guess is steel? ... which is best to use?

Thanks.

Alan Horvath
<a href="http://AlanHorvath.com/" target="_blank">http://AlanHorvath.com/</a>
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Old 04-17-2003, 04:16 PM
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Lowes stores carry #1 wire for $.96 per foot. My battery is mounted in my trunk and i had the same set up as you. Ground to chassis then to starter, body to chassis. Ijust ran a #2 wellding wire from battery ground to starter about 13 feet long. Good luck!
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Old 04-17-2003, 04:43 PM
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Thanks, carnut.

BTW - If anyone's looking (like I am) to buy an Optima battery, here are the BEST prices I've been able to find :
Red Top @ $110 - including shipping!
Yellow Top @ $136 - including shipping!

<a href="http://optimabatterystore.com/" target="_blank">http://optimabatterystore.com/</a>

The site loads s l o w ... so hang tight.

Alan
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Old 04-17-2003, 06:16 PM
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Just get the heaviest gauge you can run and remember the starter only draws the big current for a few seconds or so. Sometimes a little longer than others.


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Old 04-17-2003, 10:56 PM
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Thanks again, bro'.
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Old 04-18-2003, 09:11 PM
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You can never have too many good grounds...

Ground the battery to the block, and the frame, and the body! and the block to the firewall/dash.

Grind/sand the grounding points to clean shiney metal, and tighten them well.
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Old 04-18-2003, 11:58 PM
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Glad to hear it said! Thanks again, esmeraldo.

That's just what I've been doing - wire brushing to clear metal, adding D-Electric grease, and making a clean, solid connection.

I'm a little confused : HOW do you ground the battery to the block, frame and the body when there's just ONE battery post/wire???

Also, how come no one ever mentions Di-Electric grease around here? It repels water and conducts electricity ... seems to me it should be a standard practice when ever making electrical connections of any kind! It's great to put in the sockets of spark plug wires, too, before slippin' 'em over the end of the spark plugs!

Alan

[ April 19, 2003: Message edited by: horvath ]</p>
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Old 04-19-2003, 08:36 AM
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horvath, some wire brands are better than others when it comes to durability and making connections. the best wire i know of is sold by the foot at better custom car stereo shops.

some of these brands, including soundquest, stinger, streetwires, phoenix gold, and scosche are a little pricey, but they are available in HUGE guages (4ga, 2ga, 1ga, 0ga), which is desireable for achieving low resistance & good grounds. all most all of the best cables use copper wire. many companies make custom splitters and distribution blocks to allow multiple connections.

here are some benefits to using such wire:

-THICKER insulation. this is important when you're routing the cable through long runs and near heat sources. A thick jacket insures wear-resistance against areas of sharp sheetmetal, like when routing the wire through a hole drilled through the firewall. thicker jackets also aren't prone to cracking

-FINE, BRAIDED COPPER strands. the better brands of cable use a super-high strand count (i think my 4ga. soundquest cable has like 1,000 individual strands). this makes the wire much more flexible. if you've ever bent a normal cable back and forth too many times, you'll find the wire may weaken and eventually break. using more strands and braiding them makes for a cable that is more durable and also can be snaked though tight areas without strain or difficulty.

-CONNECTORS. many high-end cables have pretty cool connectors that making wiring jobs easier. besides creating a slick looking wire termination, better connectors are made to be used with specific sizes of wire, so they have better contact. they also use machine screws to clamp the wire, not crimping. this makes a connection that NEVER comes loose, but is reusable if you ever need to. besides termination connectors, there are also special distribution blocks & fuse holders available. distribution blocks will allow you to ground to multiple points or split the positive into many smaller wires.

-OXYGEN FREE packaging. many of the better wire makers have a process of removing most of the air from inside the wire before applying the insulation. this keeps the copper wire strands from oxidizing from the inside out (i'm sure you've torn open an old power wire and found it's green all the way through). removing the air remedies this pretty well, and many of the connectors are designed to keep the air from getting in at the ends.

-LOOKS GOOD. there are some cool-looking insulation jacket designs out there, from good ol' red and black to clear to tinted pink and grey, even purple and neon colors. typically, these jackets have a glossy, wet look that cleans up pretty well. i always wipe mine down when i'm under the hood. still looks like the day i bought it. connectors and D-blocks are available in gold if you like, but i use platinum plated versions that looks like chrome. cool!

if you're running only 46 inches, you can use 8 guage wire, but if you ever plan on running accessories, lights, or an amplified sound system, a 4 ga. would be better. also, the longer the cable run, the larger the wire needs to be. if your battery was in the trunk (or bed), you'd want a thicker cable like 4 guage to make the approx. 10 ft. run.

good luck! here are some links to check out...

<a href="http://www.tsunami-autosound.com/index.html" target="_blank">tsunami autosound</a>

<a href="http://www.scosche.com/efx/" target="_blank">scosche efx</a>

<a href="http://www.streetwires.com/products/" target="_blank">streetwires</a>

<a href="http://www.stingerelectronics.com/sting_products/products_intro.asp" target="_blank">stinger</a>

[ April 19, 2003: Message edited by: 98rocket ]</p>
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Old 04-19-2003, 06:14 PM
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I make all of my battery cables from #0 or #1 welding cable and solder on the appropriate ends. This stuff is extremely flexible, has super tough insulation and is available in any length. It is designed for much tougher service that it will ever see in your car.
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Old 04-19-2003, 06:25 PM
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Thanks willys36 ...

And DOUBLE thanks, 98rocket! That's a heap o' good info, bro'! I always wince at the cables they sell in the auto stores -- they look whimpy and they are always very stiff, maintaining kinks where they were originally folded, etc. I like top quality in any project I undertake and they just don't seem to fit the bill!

Off to check out them links ... and probably to spend some money.

PS : 98rocket - I've heard that clamp-type connectors are a no-no, and that you should only use the fully sealed connectors ... obviously you don't hold with that?

PS : willys36 - I've heard that soldering is a no-no on auto stuff ... I don't remember the "why" of it ... heat maybe?

Alan

[ April 19, 2003: Message edited by: horvath ]</p>
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Old 04-19-2003, 06:52 PM
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No, it's the flux that over time and exposure causes secondary corrosion plus the solder joint is siff due to the solder bondiing all the wires togheter making it subject to fracture. These problems are serious in smaller diameter wires but in the big cables, they don't cause trouble.

If you don't trust solder you can get ends with crimp on or the type with the crimp screw collars.
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Old 04-19-2003, 06:55 PM
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You ever watch "Two Guys Garage" on the Speed channel? They say never use the clamp on ends ... again, I forget the "why" of it, but it looks like if you want to do things up right, you gotta go that way - I mean, the pre-made stuff just sucks, eh?

Alan

[ April 19, 2003: Message edited by: horvath ]</p>
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Old 04-20-2003, 04:07 AM
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[quote]I mean, the pre-made stuff just sucks, eh? <hr></blockquote>
I don't know if I would say 'sucks' considering that pre-made stuff is what's been keeping just about every car on the road running for decades. The reality is you can always do things to make the job nicer for both apearance purposes and durability but that doesn't mean it's neccessary. I would suggest taking everything with a grain of salt that you see on these tv shows. Some of it's good, some not so good. Willys said it perfect when he said "It is designed for much tougher service that it will ever see in your car". The reality is you could probably go and buy the cheapest pre-made battery cable at the auto parts store and it would still be better than what you have now. I understand wanting to do quality work and these guys have all given good suggestions to help you reach that goal but don't give yourself migraines over the details. Just make the cable and enjoy that truck.


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Old 04-20-2003, 11:03 AM
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Thanks dmorris1200. I just want to know I've got a *quality* ride going on ... I'm not looking to build a show vehicle, I just want to drive a good looking old truck, that runs good and sounds beefy, ya know? ... problem is, when you're just learning the basics, everything sounds important.

Alan
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Old 04-20-2003, 05:39 PM
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While on the subject of grounds, consider this. Years ago, while I was doing transmissions, we used to have problems with people that added stereos to their cars. What would happen is that they would not ground them properly. Sometimes someone would have taken a ground off the car while having done work under the hood. The result would be shifter and transmission TV cables that were welded together. Meaning that the cable was welded to the cable housing. Then the cable couldn't move like it should. They would also from time to time cause the bushings in the transmissions to be wiped out with arching from trying to ground. Always make sure that the body is grounded to the engine and frame.Many times electrical problems are caused from poor grounding. You really cannot have too many grounds.
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