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1951 Commander: Make-up of Wiring Bundles at fire-wall?

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  • Electrical: 1951 Commander: Make-up of Wiring Bundles at fire-wall?

    Trying to sort out the wiring in my 1951 Commander Starlight. Wondering if anyone has any diagrams that show the wiring in each bundle coming thru the firewall.

    Altho' the body on this car is seemingly rust-free, most non-painted metal surfaces, especially the surfaces of wires, the metal that wiring connects to, or the switches themselves, do have a layer thick layer of rust on them. The car was built in L.A., delivered to Washington State, but I bought it from someone in Texas who did not disclose much.

    My car seems to have some replacement wires, some original, some faded, some clearly colored. Many were disconnected, or , if replacements, hooked up to the wrong place. Generally it's confusing, made worse by the period's repeated use of red, black and taupe that have all faded to similar looks. I know I have replacement wiring, because underneath some of the fabric is a rubber/vinyl coating that doesn't exist in my 1951 Champion. Or am I wrong about this?

    Is there anything out there that shows how Studebaker bundled the wires? If I have four red wires, coming out of two bundles thru' the firewall, how do I sort what is, say, the stoplight-switch feed, versus, the back-up lamp feed (both red)? If I had something that narrowed down what should be in each bundle, I'd have a better chance.

    One last question on the headlight switch. Mine is semi-functional. I've found a replacement, but it seems to be missing the internal threads on the metal tube that the dash-nut screws into, to hold the whole thing to the dashboard. Is it possible to move the tube from my old switch to this one? Cut new threads around the switch-actuating rod?

    I am making progress -- I cleaned the light-sockets for the instrument lights, put in new bulbs, repaired the grounds, and voila - illumination! I had to separate out the dome/dash/switched light wiring from the switch and replace the blown circuit breaker on the old switch -- there's a short in that circuit, somewhere.

    Anyway, thanks if anyone has anything on this stuff.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	dash lit.jpg Views:	0 Size:	22.8 KB ID:	1904673
    Last edited by newedmu; 07-26-2021, 10:50 AM.

  • #2
    I would go and purchase a new one from Studebaker West. Price is affordable.


    • #3
      The wiring was in two main harnesses: the big one that branches off to the firewall, headlights etc. is the main harness, and the other harness is the group of wires serving the rear of the car and includes tail lights, brake stop switch, dimmer etc.
      As mentioned, if the wiring is marginal, it’s a good idea to replace as a unit, and the shop manual has the wiring diagram in the electrical section.


      • #4
        I admit this is long winded, but do hope it is received as I intend it to be.
        I agree with getting the shop manual, I also have a 51 commander starlight coupe V 8 auto and anti-roll back. I completely rewired mine, but in hind sight the complete harness replacement is much quicker and “painless”, the shop manual is hard to follow and if your have turn signals with indicators in the speedometer then there is a challenge to connecting these lights.
        You will need basic soldering skills as well. Don’t be in a rush, as this is time consuming. You really do need the shop manuals, body, shop and parts all to be able to Identify everything. The worse areas are where the wiring goes through the firewall and having the rubber grommets. Go to your local auto parts and have a variety of the grommets on hand as you run wiring. You must stay safe in wire size as you run if you decide to fabricate your own. The absolute minimum gauge for 6 volt wiring should be 14 gauge, in my opinion and to ward off future problems. Always remember, 6 volt requires more amperage capacity than 12 volt.
        I suppose for instrument wiring etc then 16 gauge could be used. You will find ALL the wiring gauges to use are in the wiring diagrams in the shop repair manual. be sure to look at the 1952 supplement, as this has the turn signal wiring included. The turn signal wiring if you have factory installed TS is located inside the steering column outside cover between the steering shaft and outer cover. The TS wiring is 12 gauge I believe, and very susceptible to rotting of canvas insulation. Remove the turn signal switch and disconnect the wires that plug into the black “revolver” shaped junction just outside the steering column cover up under the dash. These wires are hidden but very, very susceptible to age and dry rot. Remove the headlight switch and replace all wiring piece by piece so as not to mix up the function. The same applies for lighting and heater controls.
        Unless you are looking to factory spec wiring, then make your own color coded wire harness, but be absolutely certain to write the code and where the wire goes. There are many wiring numbering kits available, even at HD or Lowe’s for house wiring ID. The numbers go up to about 45 or so with many of the same numbers to ID as you go through the length of wire. As you run the wires, be sure you have the aforementioned grommets in position, or you will find yourself slitting the grommets in order to get wires inside.
        One BIG thing is the size of the battery cables. A lot of folks get the standard wire cables used with 12 volt systems. Don’t make that mistake. battery wires to solenoid or starter switch if on the floor by clutch pedal MUST be 2 ought wire and also to the starter from the solenoid and of course the “ground” that is pos to engine the same size. They must be copper to carry the load, or you will most likely suffer from being unable to start when engine is hot.

        I will be glad to assist where I had difficulty, just ask. We are ALL here to help, again I apologize for my long-winded reply.
        Hugh in Maine


        • #5
          Trey this wiring diagram, turn sig not included here