With today's demand to have fuel-injected motors, electric fans, A/C, and creature comforts nestled into our trucks, a few issues need to be taken into account. One is the mechanics, obvious gimmes. Two is something equally as important, yet often seems to be more of an afterthought: the electrical system.
The trucks of yesteryear weren't equipped with adequate electrical systems to power modern-day features. Instead they were equipped to power just the ABC's to get them down the road. For that reason, adding several modern comforts to an old factory wiring harness is dangerous, as those harnesses weren't designed to take on that kind of workload. Also, most harnesses have seen better days, which can make them a danger to themselves without the extra workload. Go back to 50-year-old trucks, like Advance Design Chevys, and things get even worse. They're still rockin' 6-volt systems, which aren't even an option in today's market.
That said, the only option is to upgrade the electrical system. Just like you would upgrade a suspension, motor, trans, etc., special attention is required when installing a new aftermarket wiring harness capable of handling all your needs and wants. Luckily for the classic truck industry there are companies out there, such as Ron Francis Wiring, that have made this swap easy. Since 1974 Ron Francis has designed aftermarket kits that suit the vintage marketplace and go right in with no hassle. They make year-specific kits for many vehicles. They also have kits, like their Express Wiring Kit, that will wire just about anything GM, Ford, or Mopar. Seeing as how we were in the market to wire a '53 Chevy truck, we decided to get some info on the GM Express Kit from Ron Francis Wiring. This is what they had to say:
"Our newest custom wiring system, the Express Wiring Kit, is built specifically for your vehicle with all the connectors and wiring necessary to drive it, pass inspection, and be able to add accessories as you see fit-now and in the future. The Express is a direct replacement system that features everything to wire a complete truck-including starter, alternator, GM, ididit, Flaming River, and other brands of steering columns. It will also wire gauge sets that include a tach, HEI, points, aftermarket distributors, neutral safety switches, high and low beams, indicator lights, parking lights, turn signals, and brake/third-brake lights. The panel also readily accepts fuel injection, and we have included the cooling fan relay and wiring, due to the fact that more and more customers are using electric fans. The system also has a multi-connection battery junction block, which has 16 fuses, four Select-A-Fuses, and 18 circuits for complete flexibility in building it your way. Along with all that, the Express Kit uses high-temperature, fire resistant, color-coded wire with the circuit clearly printed. Topping it all off are color-coded instructions and a unique serial number for each kit that enables us to technically support the installation to the original buyer, or any subsequent owner."
With that description, we were sold. We ordered up a kit and headed over to follow along with Sam Head as he wired up his '53 Chevy pickup.
Making the task at hand easy is the user-friendly Ron Francis Express Kit. With this kit
when ordering a kit from Ron Francis, one area to look into is what components you plan on
Here you can see how the panel is fitted with all the fuses and relays needed. These are
Sam looked for a location to mount the panel, keeping in mind that holes will be needed in
An ideal time to wire is when the truck is fresh from the paint booth--nothing is installe
Another good idea is to head down and pick up an assortment of necessary sundries, such as