TPO = The Previous Owner
After getting the '50 Commander home and really taking a look at the engine compartment wiring it became obvious that some things needed replaced.
Replace, where possible, wire for wire, heat shrink what could not be replaced. In the before photos you will see how TPO spliced melted wires together when they should have been replaced. How some odd "foam tubing" was used to insulate wires (some still exist) and how some "lamp cord" (we are guessing) was used in a rather unique way.
We did decide to stop at the firewall for the moment as the dash is somewhat "compact" and is in relatively good shape.
Fire Wall Junction Box:
First lets look at the Junction Box mounted on the firewall. (shown above)
The burnt/melted looking wires are from the rear wiring harness that feeds the tail lights, license plate and trunk lamps. The Junction Box, which we first mistook as a ground, is used to connect the dash wiring to the turn signals (front and back) and other lights. We were impressed/shocked that the car did not burn to the ground every time TPO used the turn signals/headlights/brakes.
What could be replaced was. What could be shrunk wrapped was. There are still some issues but we will wait for other electrical work to address. We were also not willing to replace the headlight high beam switch wiring, it looked pretty good and looked like a real pain to get too.
Front Drivers Side Junction Box:
So..., the headlights and turn signal wiring follows the drivers side of the engine compartment to the drivers side junction box. At/near this point they split between left and right sides with only the left (drivers) side going to the drivers side junction box. TPO decided to incorporate the fender spear jewels (plastic inserts at the end of the fender trim) into the turn signals. This is actually pretty cool. When you turn on the turn signal it also flashes an LED mounted inside the spear and behind the jewel. TPO did however appear to use lamp cord???
What we found was a hot mess (pun intended) of tape, burnt wires, and lamp cord.
We were able to work with the harness that goes to the headlight but the wires here are very short and exposed.
You can see I kept the lamp cord wiring but did put on proper connections and was able to heat shrink everything else.
You can also see the connections to the passenger side with my little red marks to ensure each wire remained with its corresponding wire. One item of interest, we started to add the junctions box connectors to the wires BEFORE we tried to remove the nuts from the box. This was a mistake. ONE of the junction box nuts was not removable and we had to remove the junction box. Because the headlight wires are so short we felt like we could not remove the round fitting so we used new bolts to make a sort of "floating bolt" connection. These are shrunk wrapped in a clear tubing. (not exposed) Lesson learned, check the whole system before making permanent additions. Also, spot applications of rubber coating were added to the base of the heat shrink areas where the tubing could not reach.
Passenger Side Junction Box:
While not worse than the drivers side it was not really any better either. Actually once we got all of the tape off we found odd short extensions where added to get the wires to the junction box and then another short wire from the junction box to the head light harness. ODD.
Another thing found that was cool is the remote starter TPO added. This means you can turn the engine over (if the ignition is off) or start the car from the engine compartment. The "feature" stayed.
While removing the junction box (planned after the drivers side issues) we found the same issue and made the decision to remove it a necessity. Because we were ahead of the issue we did not have to use the floating bolt system as before.
All of the wires that traversed to the passenger side are zip tied to the brace behind the famous bullet nose ornament. With all of the wiring replaced we are left with 5 new wires for the lights and one for the horn.
This was truly not acceptable as they will become damaged and while we were happy with the work we didn't need everyone seeing our wiring mess.
Introducing some cheap cable wrap we get the following.
While some wiring issues remain (alternator, heater motor, defroster motor, glove box, could go on) we believe we have removed the risk of burning the car to the ground.
Update: all of this work was removed during the Re-Wiring project.