View Full Version : Who let the smoke out?

02-26-2010, 06:06 PM
It was such a nice day today and since I was playing hooky from work, I decided to drive my Lark up to the shop. I cranked it up and started out of the driveway and the inside of the car filled up with smoke. Someone let the smoke out of my wiring harness.
On top of the project I am trying to finish, this had to happen. There is two weeks before the first big show of the season and I would like to take my Lark.
Is it easier to pull the dash to access the wiring harness or wrestle it out through the instrument cluster opening?
I probably should pull the dash out and dye it while I hope to repair the harness.

Jamie McLeod
Hope Mills, NC

Skip Lackie
02-27-2010, 07:30 AM
I'm no expert, but I suspect which approach is better depends on whether you want to do other things to the dash at the same time. If you want to dye the dash, then take the whole thing out -- it's really not that difficult. If the ONLY thing you were gonna do was repair the wiring harness, then I would recommend pulling out the instrument cluster only. I have done that, and it's a bit of a chore, but probably about the same amount of work as pulling the whole dash.

Skip Lackie
Washington DC

02-27-2010, 10:40 AM
This exact thing happened to my girlfriend while driving the Lark last summer. We were lucky. The short was in the main wiring harness and did not melt any other wires in the harness. We were left with a bare piece of copper 3 feet long from the ignition switch to wherever (can't remember). It sure freaked her out when the car filled with smoke pouring out from the dash but the damage was done within seconds. When I went to retrieve her and the Lark I got the whole story. She shut the ignition off immediately grabbed her purse and ran! I got the call from a rather shaken woman telling me about all the smell and smoke! I brought along several different wire colours and black tape just in case I could fix the problem quickly. Within an hour I had the Lark and my girlfriend back on the road again. Like I said we were lucky.

How bad was harness damaged? Do you really have to remove the dash?


1964 R2 GT Hawk
1963 Daytona Convertible
Oakville, Ontario.
Hamilton Chapter

02-27-2010, 11:10 AM
def. pull the dash, but have a helper help you so you don't hork up the steering column. It's easiest to disconnect the engine end of the harness, pull through the firewall, then remove the dash and harness as a unit. BTDTGTTS.

If you do this, get some harness tape so you can rewrap the whole thing after you're done fixing it. IT's just like electrical tape but has no adhesive (you have to tie off the ends so it doesn't unravel)

If it's a '61 or '62 you pretty much have to pull the whole dash, you don't have an option, unless you're thin and like hanging under the dash with your head on the floor.


55 Commander Starlight

02-27-2010, 11:57 AM
I was thinking about having my original harness refurbished by an automotive electrical shop but after reading these comments I have dedicided to order all new harnesses from Studebakers West.


63R-2386 under restoration & modification

02-27-2010, 01:12 PM
John, you might want to reconsider. If the harness you get is anything like the one supplied 10 years ago for R5642, it will have non-stock terminals and be wrapped with sticky electrical tape. I had to change most of the terminal ends to "stock" appearance and remove all the loose sticky wrap and replace with correct harness wrap. Restoring harnesses is easy to do. By making "invisible" soldered splices, you can remove "fresh" wire from under the existing wrap area for exposed terminations, and replace those sections under the wrap with identical gauge wire. Wrapping with the adhesive-free tape can be hard on the fingers, particularly if they are arthritic, but the job is do-able. Use a clothes pin, spring type, or something similar, if you need to stop and give your hands a break. I've done several. You will end up with an original looking harness and save a whole lot of cash.

02-27-2010, 01:18 PM
Jamie, one way to go is NOS. Last I knew, SASCO had some left for Larks. I bought one for my 62- still fresh and supple.

Robert (Bob) Andrews- on the IoMT (Island of Misfit Toys)
Parish, central NY 13131

02-27-2010, 06:13 PM
I got mine from Studebakers West and it was great. All terminals as OEM, went in like butter.


Clark in San Diego
'63 F2/Lark Standard

02-27-2010, 08:05 PM
I have not had a chance to look at it yet. I am trying to finish up a motor swap for one of our esteemed forum members. I have to finish up some powdercoating in the morning and will take a closer look then.
It's funny how we react to "situations " like this. When I saw the smoke, I pulled the hood latch and got out to disconnect the battery. It felt like I was moving in slow motion. I didn't get mad of upset, just one of the things we deal with when playing with old cars.

Jamie McLeod
Hope Mills, NC

02-28-2010, 01:10 PM
Definitely unwrap the harness from the firewall, forward and to the rear to expose all damaged wires. You may be surprised at the extent of the damage to the bundle core where it passes through the firewall. Now is a good time to install a fusible link so it doesn't happen again.