This one’s a bit tricky to explain, so let me start by sharing my own example.
I’ve always wanted to build vehicle wire harnesses. I’d lay out an OEM harness on a big, 4×8-foot sheet of plywood on the garage floor, mark all the bends, label the connectors, trace out the wires, all of it, then hang the board on a wall and start running new conductors.
There’s just something nice about a fresh wire harness.
Pretty much every gearhead either has or, at some point in the past, had to deal with a janky wire harness somewhere on a vehicle. Engine bays are probably the most common locations, with the heat, vibration, and chemicals present taking their toll over time. Interiors are probably second, due to hamfisted owners installing stereos, speakers, and gauges.
My interest is almost purely engine bay.
20 years ago, I built automation equipment and a couple times a month I’d have to roll out the harness boards and build up 5-10 identical harnesses for whatever production runs I was assembling. The boards were mounted on rotisseries. I’d roll a massive cart with 50 spools of wire over and start pulling conductors.
Even back then, when my DSM had hubcaps and I was sneaking into an unused office to browse 2GNT on my lunch break, I was geeking out over clean cable management. Decades later, I would lean on this experience to get my foot in the door at a data center, where “structured cable management” was a key part of my job.
Happiness is cable porn. (SFW)
Electrical issues can get scary real quick. Completely replacing an engine harness from scratch is a great way to ensure a clean slate you know like the back of your hand. Take the uncertainty out of troubleshooting electrical issues and it can get surprisingly interesting.
I like to imagine myself going out to a quiet, clean garage after the kid goes to bed and just pulling wires for a bit until I decide I’m done for the night. Bonus: Considering wire harnesses like this can cost nearly $1,000, this little hobby could likely pay for itself in time.
So why have I never done it?
I dunno. My garage is a shit show of abandoned ideas and sloth, for one. Tooling up and basic supplies aren’t cheap, either. You want to do it right, you’re looking at north of $1,000 for tools, and bulk wire isn’t exactly cheap when you think about buying 10 times more than you need for a single harness.
See also, I’ve never actually been in a position to need to replace an engine bay harness. It’s just one of those would-be-fun, would-be-nice kinda projects that’s so deep in left field relative the rest of the things I need/want to do on my vehicles, I’ve never pursued it.
I always like checking out nice wire harnesses, though. I guess there’s just something about clean, structured cabling that calms me down.
I shared this with Joshua Mead the other night after we recorded TGP37 for the Super Issue. He showed me the harness under the hood of his recently restored GVR4—501/2000—was the one out of my old GVR4—195/2000, which Brother Keith is slowly turning into a vintage rally monster at the shop.
And it got me thinking—does anyone else out there have a longstanding project idea he or she has always loved, but never actually attempted like this? I mean, if I came home to find a harness board and wire rack in my garage, I’d all over it in a hot minute—but I’m not about to pursue it.
If you’ve got something like this in the back of your mind, I’d like to hear about it.
Leave me a comment? Get in touch via email or something?