The CJ Build – Wiring Harness Install

The new wiring harness install

I have to say at the start…this was in my opinion the hardest part of the whole buildup… not because it was hard to figure out so much as it was just plain TEDIOUS work! plus, the old wiring harness…well, here’s what I had to work with:

When I was tearing down the rig…I just took the entire harness and pitched it in the corner…not knowing whether or not I’d use it again or try to use SOME parts off it or anything… looking back, I’m glad I didn’t throw it away…and I would suggest that anyone wiring their rig up be sure to take LOTS of pictures of your project BEFORE you tear it down so you can see any wiring differences (color) in what you have vs. what the manual says it should be. Now, the different manuals out there will have different information too…nice eh? I once heard someone say AMC stands for “all makes considered” and I couldn’t agree more…Jeep just threw stuff together at times with the manufacturing process and to find two jeeps with exactly the same setup is probably a rare occurance.

Anyway, on to the project… what did I do? I got a new painless wiring harness kit #10106. This kit is not a exact replica…it’s close though. It has the factory style bulkhead connectors (on the firewall) and then has open ended lines… it also comes with additional GM pre-wired plugs for ignition switch, dimmer switch and turn signals. So, I cracked the box open and proceeded to READ READ READ…I am not typically the kind of guy that reads the instructions before trying to put something together…but in this case, I thought I’d rather do it right than do it by the seat of my pants and then end up having a fire in the engine compartment in a couple weeks because I did something completely stupid and was listed in the manual not to do.

The start of this project was pretty easy, honestly… just take the two main harnesses (interior and engine compartment) and stick the bulkhead connectors together on the firewall in the correct location and tighten the screw….ok, then you have what looks like this on each side of the bulkhead:

Interior Wiring Harness:

Engine Compartment Wiring Harness:

I decided to start with the interior part…because I figured that would be a little easier…boy was I wrong. I got all my wiring tools and went to town…be sure you have plenty of split loom or whatever type of wiring cover you decide to use. Also, get LOTS of zip ties and make sure you have a variety of colors to work with when doing this. Also, it’s important to have a really GOOD pair of wire strippers and plenty of crimpers and a good butane soldering iron and a good 100 watt wired soldering iron also. Here’s a shot of me starting the interior wiring:

It’s fairly straing forward wiring in the interior part…just follow the manual and go for it. Be sure to take your time on this and try to have some fun with it…it gets harder as you go along. Especially if you’re doing a vehicle that hasn’t been torn down like mine was at the time.

Looking at the next picture, you can see there are basically two main ‘leads’ coming off the bulkhead… pretty simple. All of the wires are marked every foot as to where they go and they’re color coded (supposedly like the factory harness, but like I mentioned, that varies a great deal) So, take the leads and approximate where they should go…

When you start with this, go from the farthest end of the vehicle first…doing the taillights and brakelights and all… then move into the inside of the vehicle, the dash area… I tried to make this installation as ‘plug and play’ as I could, by using spade connectors on main connection points so that I could fairly easily remove the dashboard later on if I wanted to change things out. So, I wired the dash out of the vehicle.

Continue On With More Wiring Harness and Gauges…

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