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Automotive electrics - best source material/place to learn?


Martin Kol
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Hi folks, Im excited to get into the world of 7 ownership and having recently passed on a second hand 2b as it had some electrical problems (gauges and indicators not working), it has been a reminder that although being a mechanically minded person automotive electrics are definitely a weak spot in my understanding and experience! 

I just wonder if any of you guys could point to a good source material to try and help my understanding and instincts in this area, how do people learn this, especially if your like me and have just tinkered all your life?

 

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There are probably books you can buy (I know there is an advert for one in CKC magazine) but no idea how good they are. 

Personally, I was lucky enough to get a lot of initial help from a guy who used to work at GBS - I think he enjoyed the electrics side so was happy to help. After that, it was just a matter of joining wires. It also helped having the main loom from GBS and I only had to make up my own dash and engine loom myself. 

Be aware that, IMO, electrics are the single most troublesome part of a kit so if you're buying, try get something that looks good and works. With wiring, 'good' means well covered (tape, conduit) wires, firmly clipped/cable tied (so not free to vibrate loose) and sensibly routed (away from heat sources etc). Look at pics of factory build cars - as close to that as you can. 

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You ask "how do people learn this". IMO we don't normally act pro-actively as you are seeking to do. We tend to "learn" by fixing our own problems when they arise or as part of implementing a "project" like building a whole car or making an upgrade to an existing one. Much depends on your background knowledge of electricity in general, did you study Physics in school, do you understand the basics of simple circuits, OHMs law, relays, electromagnets etc.... if not then why not pay around £50 for a kids educational kit on "Electricity and Magnetism". Have fun as you put together basic circuits, understand how electricity behaves. Then get your hands on the circuit diagrams for the various parts of a cars electrical systems, youll find these on line, in loads of places, concentrate on a bit at a time, for example, how is the ignition spark generated ?, how does a light flash, why does a fuse melt ?. Then, when, in the real world, you face a real problem, like the rather general question "The guages don't work" you will instinctively know how to go about looking in more detail at the various wires and sensors that might be involved. This is just my advice for what it is worth. 🙂

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Echo what sparepart says. I studied Physics to A-Level but had always had an interest in all things electrical, particularly circuitry, right back to a child. About 8 years ago I set about with the daunting idea of creating my own electronics product, watched lots of EVBlog on Youtube, read lots of guides and forum posts from knowledgeable people in their field and managed to design and get fabricated my very own piece of electronics, put it through CE/FCC approval and everything - but it took a good 3 years of my life away from me! So all I'm trying to say is, anything is possible if you have the willing and the commitment to learn, try, make mistakes, learn from them, try again, etc... ;) thankfully basic car electrics is relatively straightforward, particularly with our cars that don't tend to have much by way of complicated systems (other than maybe the engine management)...

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Double echo Sparepart - that is great advice and a really good way to find out more 👍

Not only did I do A-level Physics, I also did Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Uni - and I'm still rubbish at electrics 😪 . I was only interested in the computer programming bits of my course, in my defence and I only started building my car 25 years after graduation, so my knowledge was a bit patchy (and it shows in my car 😉).

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Ive really enjoyed these thoughtful replies, thanks guys. ive actually tinkered all my life and do have a reasonably good understanding of the basics, i was always dismantling things as a yoof to the extent that my dad had to ask the local electrician to come round and tell me to slow down or i might kill meself...(true story).

i think what ive come up against is the realisation that although i feel relatively capable, when faced with buying a car that had obvious electrical problems i didnt feel confident it wasnt go to defeat me so wanted to change that...perhaps i just need to worry less!

 

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Ok what type of wiring loom do you have ? Home made or off the shelf. 
m0st gauges feed off one power source- do you have power to them ? 
if yes then they need an earth - do you have one of them ?? 

Everything else is a sender or a light 

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