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Guidebook for Rewiring 53 Commander.

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  • Electrical: Guidebook for Rewiring 53 Commander.

    My rewiring project on my 53 Commander Coupe (6 volt positive ground) is going reasonably well. Main harness installed. Wiper switch replaced. Front turn signals harness on order from SI. I will order the rear wiring harness later this month. Is there a guidebook available for proper installation for any or all of the 3? I have the wiring diagram from the shop manual but more would be so much better. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you.
    Studebaker! If you're lucky enough to own one, you're lucky enough!!!

  • #2
    There are Posts here about "Wire Routing", that's about ALL there is, if that helps.

    These cars are SO simple, making most connections are just common sense: Bright Bulb filaments in front are Turn, Bright in rear are Stop/Turn, Tail and Parking are Low Filament, left is Left and right is Right.
    StudeRich
    Second Generation Stude Driver,
    Proud '54 Starliner Owner

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    • #3
      That much l get. But I had headlights before I started, and now I don't. Does it sound like I messed up on a connection, or am I missing something? I am fairly good at most things mechanical on my Commander, but I am a rank amateur on electricity. So I hate to ask what many would think to be dumb questions, but I do want to do this right. Thanks.
      Studebaker! If you're lucky enough to own one, you're lucky enough!!!

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      • #4
        After rewiring, when some things don't work try switching the switch on and off about a dozen times. Those toggle switches like to not make contact after sitting around for a while, and flipping the bejesus out of them seems to clear the corrosion enough so they work for a while again. The main point is, don't assume a wiring error when it could be a corroded switch.
        Corley

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        • #5
          Use a Test Light From Ground to the "Batt" Terminal of the Head Light Switch, the Key should not need to be ON to get a Light there.
          It's Wire should be coming from one side of the Ammeter and the Other from the Solenoid, Battery (-) Terminal.

          If you have Power, then do a few simple Tests of the Lights. If working the Hd. Lt. Sw. doesn't do it, work the Floor Dimmer Switch 8 or 10 times, on Hi you should get a Red Indicator Light in the Speedometer every other "click".
          If that lights and no Hd. Lts. the switch works and the wiring to at least the Hi Beams is bad and possibly the Low Beams.

          How about the Parking Lights, they should work with Toggle Down as well as Tail Lights in BOTH Positions, also Instruments when their Switch is UP on Bright.
          StudeRich
          Second Generation Stude Driver,
          Proud '54 Starliner Owner

          Comment


          • #6
            Regardless of the vehicle...one of the keys to handling wiring is to study the individual components/wires/circuits and become familiar with them. Even if you merely grab a cup of coffee, just sit and look a harness over for a while, it will come into focus and become less intimidating. Think of wiring in terms of "source" and "destination." You have a series of sources, and each source has a destination. In all cases, the source is the battery (power) and the destination is ground (completed circuit). In a wiring harness, there are branches (wires) that branch off the main bundle at specific locations. When a wire branches out, there will be a destination connection point nearby. Sometimes, it may be just another "bakelite" connector or an "in-line" fuse that connects to an item whose power wire is not part of the main harness.

            For the headlights and front area lights, there are usually "terminal blocks" so that the main harness wires can connect at that point to the "Light wires," sometimes referred to as a "pigtail." On fresh new wiring, they are color-coded and identified by wire color, and size/gauge, by the schematic. Also, multi-colored wires with colored stripes (tracers) are described. Lighting can get a little dicey in that you have the main light switch and a dimmer switch. Also, the main light switch is multifunction in that it is a "step" switch for partial lighting up to full park & headlight function.

            Some circuits are only low current "control" circuits where the switch wire goes to a "relay." Most often these are for heavy draw applications like headlights and horns. Either way, from the main wiring harness, such components will be located near where it connects. My suggestion is to plop the wiring harness in or on the car, study it enough to determine which end starts where, and connect the first wires you are sure of. With each connection, the job becomes simpler. On a complete wiring harness, you should only need screwdrivers and nut drivers for hand tools. Either a simple circuit light tester or a multimeter set for continuity is good for testing circuits.

            The most difficult part of the job (for me) is to focus & concentrate on the schematic enough to follow it exactly instead of impatiently trying to connect wires and hope for the best. Even then, when things don't work right, a little extra work and it will come together. Hope this helps. Give it a try and let us know.

            OH...and do not connect the battery except for an occasional test. And...certainly don't bolt it solid until you are sure you're done. (I bet you already knew that.)
            John Clary
            Greer, SC

            SDC member since 1975

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            • #7
              Thank you so much to all of you for all of your suggestions and ideas. Now I have something solid to work on as I figure this out. I will keep you posted.
              Studebaker! If you're lucky enough to own one, you're lucky enough!!!

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              • #8
                So i have a question. I recently purchased a complete wiring harness for my '54 Commander from Lark Works. The current wiring is soldered to the starter switch and other switches. Was this the correct way to hook up the wiring? the harness itself is a few weeks away but am just wondering in advance. Thanks!

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by J_Cole View Post
                  So i have a question. I recently purchased a complete wiring harness for my '54 Commander from Lark Works. The current wiring is soldered to the starter switch and other switches. Was this the correct way to hook up the wiring? the harness itself is a few weeks away but am just wondering in advance. Thanks!
                  Never heard of that and know of no assembly operation that would tolerate that kind of time to install a wiring harness. I'd like to see pictures of that. Sounds to me that some previous owner had lots of time on his hands and was probably tired of cleaning corroded terminal ends and thought this was some kind of permanent solution.

                  If your switches are good and can be "de-soldered"...you might be able to reuse them. Otherwise, you might need to replace some of the switches with useable connections.

                  John Clary
                  Greer, SC

                  SDC member since 1975

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                  • #10
                    jclary thanks for the info and you said what I was thinking. Seems like it would have been super time consuming on the assembly line. Here is a picture of the starter switch I took off to replace before I decided to just rewire the entire car. I also included a picture of the new switch. I’m curious to see how it actually hooks up to the switch now.
                    Attached Files

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by J_Cole View Post
                      jclary thanks for the info and you said what I was thinking. Seems like it would have been super time consuming on the assembly line. Here is a picture of the starter switch I took off to replace before I decided to just rewire the entire car. I also included a picture of the new switch. I’m curious to see how it actually hooks up to the switch now.
                      UH OH...after seeing your pics, I could be wrong. Depending on how those wires connect, that switch could have come with one wire as a subassembly. I didn't read close enough to think your '54 had an automatic transmission and therefore no "under clutch starter button." That soldered connection certainly looks like the lousy original cloth-covered black crumbly insulation. So...someone with a similar equipped original car and experience wiring it would need to confirm.
                      John Clary
                      Greer, SC

                      SDC member since 1975

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                      • #12
                        jclary How are the other switches connected? I'd think it would be the same for the other switches across the board.

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                        • #13
                          Most all but the Ignition Switch, just plug in with Round Bullets on the wires like the "Grounding" Auto. Trans. Start Switch you showed.

                          Most Switches make and brake the "Hot" connection to Power a Component, THIS switch GROUNDS the Single small wire SOLENOID used on 6 Volt Cars to activate the Starter.

                          If not bullets, they are Nutted, threaded Studs. NO SOLDER!
                          Last edited by StudeRich; 05-01-2020, 02:18 PM.
                          StudeRich
                          Second Generation Stude Driver,
                          Proud '54 Starliner Owner

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Thanks for the info! I looked at the others to compare and I see what your talking about.
                            Attached Files

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