Installing an American Autowire Classic update wiring harness

John Collins

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2020
Messages
272
Reaction score
119
Location
Los Angeles
I recently purchased this wiring harness for my 1973 Dodge Dart Sport with an MSD ignition and distributor and aftermarket radio. I need to upgrade to a one wire system and I’m leaning towards the 17509 Powermaster Retro. The harness itself is marketed as pretty much plug and play. Is this true? Will I need to purchase any other connectors to make this harness work with my MSD ignition system or anything else? I’m thinking about what to wrap the harness with as well. What do y’all think about DEI or Techflex temp heat shrink? Or any other brand for that matter? Thank you in advance for any suggestions you might have.
 

72bluNblu

FABO Gold Member
FABO Gold Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2008
Messages
13,526
Reaction score
6,186
Location
NorCal
I just installed an American Autowire #510603 into my '74 Duster. Other than needing the crimping tools the kit comes with pretty much everything you need to make it work. I actually ended up with a pretty good amount of wire and connectors left over. I'm not running an MSD ignition, just a "ready to run" pertronix billet distributor. Aftermarket radio was a piece of cake to hook up, has its own circuit in the AA harness. I made my own small harness for my digital fan controller, I had enough wire left over from the kit to do that. It has enough wire for a bunch of different options and years on the different A-bodies, so you end up with some extra stuff.

The 17509 is an external regulator alternator, so that's not the "1-wire" set up you need, unless you meant to type 175091, which is an internal regulator set up. I've had good luck with the Power Master alternator I'm running so far, I have a serpentine belt though and electric fans etc so I'm running this one Powermaster 8-58529-103 Powermaster Street Alternators | Summit Racing

I bought this kit for wrapping the harness. It's just regular nylon though, there was another thread here somewhere about an actual fire resistant wrap. It worked well and I have a bunch left over as well. Painless Performance 70970 Painless Performance ClassicBraid Wire Wrap | Summit Racing

As for "extra stuff" the AA harness comes with all the fuses you need for the block, but it doesn't have any extra really so I bought this, its for one of their other kits but it has a decent selection of extra fuses American Autowire 510212 American Autowire Intelligent Fuse Kits | Summit Racing

If you have a bunch of extra accessories you might consider this kit American Autowire 500429 American Autowire ATO Fuse Box Power Tap Connector and Terminal Kits | Summit Racing, it has the connectors to tie into the extra spaces in the fuse block to run power to various different extra accessories. I bought it, I haven't used it. There's a block of like 6 extra circuits for most of the common things people add for these cars anyway (fuel pump, stereo, power windows, locks, etc) that's part of the harness/block already. I just bought the kit so I'd have the connectors for the fuse block in case I ever needed them in the future.

If you run LED bulbs or anything for your turn signals you'll need the LED flasher relays, the ones that come with the kit are for standard bulbs. But really other than the crimpers and some extra fuses there's pretty much everything you need. A good set of wire strippers makes the job easy too, I already had a set similar to these...

Klein Tools 11063W Klein Tools Automatic Wire Strippers | Summit Racing

And the AA strippers. Good grief the price on these has gone up over $40 since I bought mine in April! I'm sure you can buy something similar for less, I just bought the AA ones because I wanted to be sure I had the right tools and I hadn't done a full harness like this before

American Autowire 510587 American Autowire Wire Crimping Tools | Summit Racing
 

John Collins

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2020
Messages
272
Reaction score
119
Location
Los Angeles
Man, what a stellar response!! Thank you so much. Exactly the intel I was after. I 100% misread and nearly bought the 17509 before reading this. I have guests over, but I’m going to fully absorb this later tonight. I can’t thank you enough.
 

John Collins

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2020
Messages
272
Reaction score
119
Location
Los Angeles
I went through the items you suggested and purchased them all, except for the wire strippers. I have an old version that works great. I was on the fence about the AA crimping tools, but pulled the trigger after reading similar thoughts on multiple threads. I’d rather pay up front for something that is proven effective. At this point, I’m so far in with the harness and all the other aspects needed, that not paying the extra few bucks for the exact tool needed to perform the job at hand that I’m already $1500 in to seems like a bad idea. I’ve already failed really hard at doing it “my” way/the cheap wrong way that I don’t care about saving money when it’s only a couple percent on top of the pile. Thank you again!
 

Demonx2

FABO Gold Member
FABO Gold Member
Joined
Dec 10, 2019
Messages
1,401
Reaction score
2,755
Location
Michigan - near Detroit
I used and highly recommend this clothlike covering from Haywire Wiring.
Give Darren a call anytime from 4:00pm on until about 8:00pm EST as he works days and runs this business with his wife in the evenings. Great guy, very personable and knowledgeable.

Screenshot_20221016-154151_Chrome.jpg
 

72bluNblu

FABO Gold Member
FABO Gold Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2008
Messages
13,526
Reaction score
6,186
Location
NorCal
I went through the items you suggested and purchased them all, except for the wire strippers. I have an old version that works great. I was on the fence about the AA crimping tools, but pulled the trigger after reading similar thoughts on multiple threads. I’d rather pay up front for something that is proven effective. At this point, I’m so far in with the harness and all the other aspects needed, that not paying the extra few bucks for the exact tool needed to perform the job at hand that I’m already $1500 in to seems like a bad idea. I’ve already failed really hard at doing it “my” way/the cheap wrong way that I don’t care about saving money when it’s only a couple percent on top of the pile. Thank you again!

No problem!

That’s basically why I bought the AA tools. I read enough in a few of the other threads here and talked to a couple guys that knew better than me to figure out that I could probably find cheaper crimpers that would work, but, I also might screw it up and buy the wrong kind because this isn’t really my area expertise. And after all was said and done I’d spent enough on the harness I might as well get the tools from them. They probably make a lot of money on those tools because of that!

AA has a YouTube channel where they have videos on a bunch of their products, the ones on how to make a proper crimp are definitely worth watching. I’d done some wiring before but the videos were super helpful. They also have all of their instructions on their website in PDF form to download. They include the printed instructions for each part of the harness with the harness too but I found the PDF’s helpful as well.

I’d never done a full harness replacement/upgrade like this, but the AA instructions and videos made it pretty easy. You just have to lay out one section of harness at a time and work through it step by step and try not to be in a hurry
 

John Collins

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2020
Messages
272
Reaction score
119
Location
Los Angeles
I’ve watched a couple videos on crimping, but not the AA one. I’ll check it out.

I definitely need to be careful that I don’t get ahead of myself. I’m in no rush, but once I start I’m sure I’ll start itching to get it done as quick as I can. I should have a nice laid out plan by the time I start though. We’ll see how it goes. Thanks again!
 

John Collins

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2020
Messages
272
Reaction score
119
Location
Los Angeles
I used and highly recommend this clothlike covering from Haywire Wiring.
Give Darren a call anytime from 4:00pm on until about 8:00pm EST as he works days and runs this business with his wife in the evenings. Great guy, very personable and knowledgeable.

View attachment 1715998968

I already bought another kit. I checked out their website though and they have a lot of good stuff. I’ll definitely try and use them.
 

4.7Light

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 10, 2012
Messages
688
Reaction score
503
Location
Oklahoma
I just installed an American Autowire #510603 into my '74 Duster. Other than needing the crimping tools the kit comes with pretty much everything you need to make it work. I actually ended up with a pretty good amount of wire and connectors left over. I'm not running an MSD ignition, just a "ready to run" pertronix billet distributor. Aftermarket radio was a piece of cake to hook up, has its own circuit in the AA harness. I made my own small harness for my digital fan controller, I had enough wire left over from the kit to do that. It has enough wire for a bunch of different options and years on the different A-bodies, so you end up with some extra stuff.

The 17509 is an external regulator alternator, so that's not the "1-wire" set up you need, unless you meant to type 175091, which is an internal regulator set up. I've had good luck with the Power Master alternator I'm running so far, I have a serpentine belt though and electric fans etc so I'm running this one Powermaster 8-58529-103 Powermaster Street Alternators | Summit Racing

I bought this kit for wrapping the harness. It's just regular nylon though, there was another thread here somewhere about an actual fire resistant wrap. It worked well and I have a bunch left over as well. Painless Performance 70970 Painless Performance ClassicBraid Wire Wrap | Summit Racing

As for "extra stuff" the AA harness comes with all the fuses you need for the block, but it doesn't have any extra really so I bought this, its for one of their other kits but it has a decent selection of extra fuses American Autowire 510212 American Autowire Intelligent Fuse Kits | Summit Racing

If you have a bunch of extra accessories you might consider this kit American Autowire 500429 American Autowire ATO Fuse Box Power Tap Connector and Terminal Kits | Summit Racing, it has the connectors to tie into the extra spaces in the fuse block to run power to various different extra accessories. I bought it, I haven't used it. There's a block of like 6 extra circuits for most of the common things people add for these cars anyway (fuel pump, stereo, power windows, locks, etc) that's part of the harness/block already. I just bought the kit so I'd have the connectors for the fuse block in case I ever needed them in the future.

If you run LED bulbs or anything for your turn signals you'll need the LED flasher relays, the ones that come with the kit are for standard bulbs. But really other than the crimpers and some extra fuses there's pretty much everything you need. A good set of wire strippers makes the job easy too, I already had a set similar to these...

Klein Tools 11063W Klein Tools Automatic Wire Strippers | Summit Racing

And the AA strippers. Good grief the price on these has gone up over $40 since I bought mine in April! I'm sure you can buy something similar for less, I just bought the AA ones because I wanted to be sure I had the right tools and I hadn't done a full harness like this before

American Autowire 510587 American Autowire Wire Crimping Tools | Summit Racing
Glad I found this been fighting some issues decided it was time to spend the money and throw the trash away. I should have from the start done this.
 

j par

Well-hung Member
Joined
Jul 2, 2014
Messages
31,141
Reaction score
19,150
Location
Portland Oregon
Glad I found this been fighting some issues decided it was time to spend the money and throw the trash away. I should have from the start done this.
I've done a number of American Auto wire kits in customers cars and trucks Chevys and Fords and they were pretty good... Great customer service and easy to get on the phone for help...
With all this wiring experience for my own truck I bought an $85 20 circuit generic kit.. and about $65 in supplies like solder filled shrink-wrapped butt connections, loom casings, grommets for going through firewalls cloth black tape, and various little zip ties... In most cases I just reused my original plugs... About $150 total....
PXL_20211204_001457720.jpg


Food for thought....
 

4.7Light

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 10, 2012
Messages
688
Reaction score
503
Location
Oklahoma
I've done a number of American Auto wire kits in customers cars and trucks Chevys and Fords and they were pretty good... Great customer service and easy to get on the phone for help...
With all this wiring experience for my own truck I bought an $85 20 circuit generic kit.. and about $65 in supplies like solder filled shrink-wrapped butt connections, loom casings, grommets for going through firewalls cloth black tape, and various little zip ties... In most cases I just reused my original plugs... About $150 total....
View attachment 1716039437

Food for thought....
I don't have your skill level, if I did I would. I will be ok with this kit I know way more cash the Ron Franics and painless didnt look very painless. ha!
 

j par

Well-hung Member
Joined
Jul 2, 2014
Messages
31,141
Reaction score
19,150
Location
Portland Oregon
I don't have your skill level, if I did I would. I will be ok with this kit I know way more cash the Ron Franics and painless didnt look very painless. ha!
I'm actually helping a customer right now with a what I believe is a knockoff painless and it's a pain in the butt is what it is... If you're going to go that route I would go American Auto wire...
Honestly though I don't see a vast difference between the generic and the brand name. The brand name may give you a headlight switch connection and a heater box connection and all of them want you to convert to the Chevy steering column connection which in my case I converted there's into a Mopar connection...
Beyond that most give you a power wire for the windshield wipers especially on the Fords and expect you to use your old harness for windshield wipers. Also the headlights are generally the three plug for the headlights like every car of those years had foreign and domestic...
 

72bluNblu

FABO Gold Member
FABO Gold Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2008
Messages
13,526
Reaction score
6,186
Location
NorCal
I don't have your skill level, if I did I would. I will be ok with this kit I know way more cash the Ron Franics and painless didnt look very painless. ha!

It's also really nice to not have to re-use any of the original connectors, saves time not having to strip them off the old harness and you get brand new terminals. In my AA kit the only connector I had to re-use was for the wiper motor. I kept my old connectors just in case, I just clipped them off. I've been taking the wire ends out of them as I have free time, but it takes longer than you'd expect!

The quality of the AA kit is better than what I've seen with the other more generic kits. Obviously it's not OE, so the AA kit isn't right for everybody, but especially if you're modernizing and upgrading your electronics it's a really great kit. I plan to add EFI at some point so I wanted to have a quality harness that took that into account, rather than trying to add it into a more original style harness.
 

4.7Light

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 10, 2012
Messages
688
Reaction score
503
Location
Oklahoma
It's also really nice to not have to re-use any of the original connectors, saves time not having to strip them off the old harness and you get brand new terminals. In my AA kit the only connector I had to re-use was for the wiper motor. I kept my old connectors just in case, I just clipped them off. I've been taking the wire ends out of them as I have free time, but it takes longer than you'd expect!

The quality of the AA kit is better than what I've seen with the other more generic kits. Obviously it's not OE, so the AA kit isn't right for everybody, but especially if you're modernizing and upgrading your electronics it's a really great kit. I plan to add EFI at some point so I wanted to have a quality harness that took that into account, rather than trying to add it into a more original style harness.
I have the new OE kit for engine but by the time Im done little of it will be left with HEI and new 1 one wire alt. Then the gauges inside and the tronix is fine that was not the issue. As you can see I had a lot of water get in there over the years. That will be fixed its just wise to be safe. Then I have what if I drive for a while and I decide I want to go modern and change suspension up front and engine 392 with 8 speed and rear out possibly minitub. Its a toy figure may as well have some fun though at some point I need to drive for a while!
 

j par

Well-hung Member
Joined
Jul 2, 2014
Messages
31,141
Reaction score
19,150
Location
Portland Oregon
Myself again I've installed put a number of kits going in quite a number of different directions..
Most of them $1,500 and one of them $150...
My first thousand miles plus 100 Mile drive yesterday was electrically flawless so so far so good for $150... Agree that does take a little more time and you do have to use some of your connections from your old harness that you definitely will clean up but I can think of a lot of other things to do with 1,350...
Again it's just an option for argument's sake but there's no question the American Auto wire is the easy button and gives you all new connections for the most part but not 100%..
As far as the quality of the wire itself I personally didn't see any difference...
 

4.7Light

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 10, 2012
Messages
688
Reaction score
503
Location
Oklahoma
Myself again I've installed put a number of kits going in quite a number of different directions..
Most of them $1,500 and one of them $150...
My first thousand miles plus 100 Mile drive yesterday was electrically flawless so so far so good for $150... Agree that does take a little more time and you do have to use some of your connections from your old harness that you definitely will clean up but I can think of a lot of other things to do with 1,350...
Again it's just an option for argument's sake but there's no question the American Auto wire is the easy button and gives you all new connections for the most part but not 100%..
As far as the quality of the wire itself I personally didn't see any difference...
Looking at new wiring options. I'm thinking the Ron Francis XP798 or 777 harness will work as I have a very low optioned car. Ron Francis Wiring 1961-1975 Mopar Express Series Kit
 

j par

Well-hung Member
Joined
Jul 2, 2014
Messages
31,141
Reaction score
19,150
Location
Portland Oregon
Looking at new wiring options. I'm thinking the Ron Francis XP798 or 777 harness will work as I have a very low optioned car. Ron Francis Wiring 1961-1975 Mopar Express Series Kit
Me that looks like more work and more places for a connection to go bad... Instead of every wire running directly from the fuse box you have to plug every single wire into the fuse box...
Just like I don't like the factory Ford and Chevy fuse blocks that have connections on the backside of them inside the firewall. I think Ford had it right by running the wires through a hole and directly out to the sources from the fuse box and having less connections. Of course it's not easier to plug and play it like no fun Chevy is but less places for a bad connection...
 
Top