FOX OWNERS: Ground cable upgrade guide -- (pics) - Ford Mustang Forums : Corral.net Mustang Forum
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post #1 of 102 Old 12-27-2004, 09:28 PM Thread Starter
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FOX OWNERS: Ground cable upgrade guide -- (pics)

I've been dealing with a slow starting car ever since I owned this thing. I relocated the battery with a Summit kit a few months ago and used the 4 AWG that it came with and grounded the battery to the quad shock bracket on the frame of the car. Everything was cool, but the car still started up rather slow.

I decided to try out a new ground strap since my friends car started EXTREMELY slow when his battery ground cable was barely making a connection.

I bought some weird stereo amp wiring kit from Walmart for $25. It includes about 15' of 4 gauge cable and a bunch of misc. wires for hooking up a stereo amp and speakers. I used a few feet of the 4 gauge to upgrade my alternator wire and I had PLENTY leftover to hook up this ground strap.

Materials I used:
About 1 1/2' of 4 gauge cable
(2) 4 gauge ring terminals with 3/8 holes
(1) 7/16" course thread bolt about 3/4" long
Heat shrink tubing for 4 gauge wire

Here are some pics I took. This should be helpful, especially if you are just learning how to work on your car.

I bought these cable cutters from Lowes for about about $13. I tested them on a 2 gauge battery cable and it cut through it like butter. These are a must.


Strip the new wire. I used a razor blade and lightly cut around it


I enlarged the hole of the terminal since its only 3/8" and it needs to fit a 7/16" bolt.


Secure the lug into something stable. I used a c-clamp since I don't have a vice. Snip off small pieces of solder (1/4" or so) into a pile and place into the lug.

Slide on the heatshrink tubing.

Clean off the exposed wires on your cable. I used sandpaper. Make sure all the wires are nice and tight so it will slide into the lug without much resistance.

Add some flux to the wires if you aren't using solder that already has it. Heat the lug with a torch. My small butane torch (pictured below) did the job but it took a long time to melt the thick solder I used (.050").

As soon as all the solder is completely melted, dip the cable in there and remove the heat. Make sure that you push the cable in as far as you can and hold it steady for about 10 seconds.


Lightly heat the heatshrink tubing with a ligher or torch..


Repeat on both ends and you'll have this.


Next, I located a nice source of solid steel to attach the ground strap to. THE HEAD. On my heads, there was a bolt hole free that is tapped for 7/16" course thread. I have stock heads, so if you do too this hole should be there. I sanded off the contact area with 200 grit sandpaper. Sanding off the surface is very important, especially if your heads are painted of rusty. I then found a spare bolt that went right in.


I pointed the cable straight down and routed it underneath the power steering pump to the swaybar frame bracket.








The end result is my car starting up much faster, a steady battery gauge, highly increased throttle response, and improved idle. The materials probably cost $10 at most, the cable being the most expensive.

If you have trouble locating 4 gauge wire, buy a factory battery ground cable from Ford or your local auto parts store and modify it as you need. The stock cable is VERY long and you will have plenty leftover.

I suggest all fox owners do this (if you haven't already) as the stock ground connections on our cars are very weak and are hardly sufficient. If you are having problems with some of the things that I just benefitted from, try it.



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Last edited by Terrible Juan; 12-31-2004 at 06:18 AM.
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post #2 of 102 Old 12-27-2004, 11:27 PM
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Nice thread here. Another good reason to upgrade is if you have alot of power being drawn through electric fans, elec water pump or a big stereo, is that it REALLY reduces light dimming. I myself used a vice and overlapped the metal when i crimped ring terminals on the wire. I find that to be almost unbreakable.


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post #3 of 102 Old 12-27-2004, 11:38 PM
 
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I did sort of the same thing, except I used 1 gauge wire. Also your crimping method is maginal at best, all you did was flatten the lug and the wire inside which in time will come apart with vibration and heat cycles. I solder all my connections, but you can take your cables and connectors to most stereo shops, boat supply stores, hardware, or electric supply stores and they will crimp the connections most times for free. They have the proper "swage" (not sure on spelling) tool for doing the large wire crimps correctly. I happen to have a 150w soldering iron that will solder a brass radiator without a problem so it makes the large wire soldering a snap. I ran my ground from the battery to the front timing cover where it was originally, I will be looping that to the head, firewall, computer housing, and frame in the near future. As it sits the car idles better, starts easier, and stays steady on voltage reading with the stock 65amp alt. This is with the lights and AC on it drops roughly 1/2 of what it was before this mod. I spent roughly $75 for all my items, but I bought extra cable to relocate to the trunk if I so desire. I also purchased new battery terminals, brass and multitap for 4 8 gauge cable hook ups directly to the battery. The cable is marine grade 1 gauge ( marine grade = each individual strand is tinned to protect from salt corrosion). I know a friend who works in a retail boat store so I paid $1.89 a foot instead of $5.99 a foot. Im going to used 8 guage for the rest of the connections, also ran 1 gauge to the starter relay havent got a chance to hook up to the starter yet. I bought a pre molded 1 gauge cable at autozome for $6, 15 inches was plenty for that small run. It is worth the effort if you like bright lights, easier starting, better idle, and smoother running all around. Proper grounding is so very important, I always "over ground" all your electronics will thank you by lasting longer running cooler, and being more efficient. Of course this is just my 2 cents
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post #4 of 102 Old 12-27-2004, 11:42 PM
 
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I would suggest if your going to use a vise or hammer to crimp with then use a pair or pliers to crimp the center of the connector even more than the surrounding area so you dont just have a flat crimp across the whole area. Overlapping the crimp is always a favorable way as well, but most of the big connectors for 4,2,and 1 gauge are solid lugs not overlapping crimps. So best case is to "dent" the center of the crimp to grab the wire strands if you follow me.
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post #5 of 102 Old 12-28-2004, 03:45 AM Thread Starter
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Yea, I realize that my method of crimping is not the best, but I'm sure it will hold fine for a ground cable. It would probably work best to put a medium sized screwdriver on the back of the terminal and hammer a flat stamp at the back to keep it in there. I'm going to run another ground strap on the other head for a backup.

I do have a question though. How do you properly solder a wire that thick to a terminal? I have soldered normal wire before, but do you need special or much thicker solder for something like that?


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post #6 of 102 Old 12-28-2004, 05:06 AM
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Take the lug, put it in a vise so the cup-portion is up. Cut up small pieces of solder &
put as many as you can in the cup. ( About 1/4" long pieces) Heat it with a propane torch until it's melted down. Cup should be about 3/4's full when all is melted.
(Your cable should be already to go at this point), insulation cut back, shrink-tubing shoved far away up the cable to not be affected by the heat then with the heat being applied, jam the exposed cable in the lug Remove the heat at the same time. Hold in postion your cable until it cools. Slide your shrink-tubing down and apply a little more heat for that and, your done...................... It won't come apart.
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post #7 of 102 Old 12-28-2004, 10:19 AM
 
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Very nice post,,great pics. Ill keep that in mind shuld that happen to my 95 when I move the battery.BTW: I like your crimping tool!!!!!
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post #8 of 102 Old 12-28-2004, 11:30 AM
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I only have one question. I see where you are bolting the wire to the head, no problems there. My question is, where are you connecting the other end of the wire? If you have a pic, that would be even better.

Thanks in advance.

Edit: Never mind, I figured out where you went with it.

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post #9 of 102 Old 12-28-2004, 12:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ForcedAir91GT
Take the lug, put it in a vise so the cup-portion is up. Cut up small pieces of solder &
put as many as you can in the cup. ( About 1/4" long pieces) Heat it with a propane torch until it's melted down. Cup should be about 3/4's full when all is melted.
(Your cable should be already to go at this point), insulation cut back, shrink-tubing shoved far away up the cable to not be affected by the heat then with the heat being applied, jam the exposed cable in the lug Remove the heat at the same time. Hold in postion your cable until it cools. Slide your shrink-tubing down and apply a little more heat for that and, your done...................... It won't come apart.
I have done the same. Works quite well.
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post #10 of 102 Old 12-28-2004, 12:24 PM
 
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Use solder on the terminals. Here's how:

Heat up soldering iron. Apply liberal amounts of solder and smooth out the solder on the stripped wire end. Slip ring terminal over the soldered end of the wire. Apply soldering iron to the terminal itself and wiggle terminal until it has a solid connection. Crimp while iron is on terminal (use a proper crimping tool). That will never come off. That's how we do it on aircraft electrical systems.

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post #11 of 102 Old 12-28-2004, 12:36 PM
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It is even more critical that you have a proper crimp for a ground. That is a temporary solution that is going to cause you problems down the road.

Other than that it looks good.

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post #12 of 102 Old 12-28-2004, 04:37 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the solder advice, ForcedAir91GT. I will buy new lugs and fix it like that.

I will also take pics of the compelted job. As soon as I finished, it started raining.


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post #13 of 102 Old 12-28-2004, 06:35 PM
 
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Very good advice for soldering the bigger cables, but you must also make sure that you "tin" the wire to be soldered. What this means is to apply solder to the wire in which you mean to put in the lug. Without the wire being tinned it will not adhere as well to the lug and you will have a solder job that is only 1/2 complete and suseptible to the elements and vibrations. When you melt the solder in the lug, most of the acid resin is disipated and not effective so you do not get a good tinning of the wire. I have seen people use tinning flux on the wire before putting into the heated lug to ensure the best connection and adhesion. What your goal should be here is a good strong and sealed electrical connection. If you buy a nice big ground wire, but skimp on the connectors or connection type then you are essentially making big problems for yourself down the road that will be difficult to diagnose or find.
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post #14 of 102 Old 12-28-2004, 07:22 PM Thread Starter
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Can you go into more detail about how to properly tin the wire? Do you heat up the wire and melt solder onto it or what? I thought you could just use flux on the wire before you dip it into the molten solder.


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post #15 of 102 Old 12-28-2004, 07:32 PM
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You can buy flux in the can at any Radio Shack. Dip the cable in, and then do the method as above with the cup method, I do this all the time, and when measuring the resistance and voltage at both ends, the voltage drop is minimal at best. Your method will work okay, meaning I wouldnt mess with it if it works, but at least you already know what the problem is if you have to ever come in contact with it again. I especially had to do this with my audio system.
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post #16 of 102 Old 12-28-2004, 07:39 PM Thread Starter
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I already am going to fix it. I left myself enough slack in the cable just in case. I am also going to redo the ground cable to my battery (mounted it to the quadshock bracket) since I crimped it the same way.


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post #17 of 102 Old 12-28-2004, 08:38 PM
 
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Yes tinning the wire is just that heating it and applying solder, There are alot of different methods to it everyone has thier own way. Your are going for the best "solder joint" possible, which means the best adhesion of solder to both the wire and the connector in this case. This is why I prefer "marine grade" cable, it is pre-tinned for better protectiong from corrosion on boats that is also why it is $5.99 a foot for 1 gauge.

A few more tips:

1. You do not want to heat the solder to much, it will create "cold solder" joints or air pockets in the solder.

2. You want to use a good 60/40 rosin core solder, not the solder used in plumbing as it has not acid rosin core so it will not clean the area to be soldered. If you do use the plumbers solder you will need flux.

3. If in doubt about the solder joint, after it cools pull on it with pliers. I always do this to ensure I have a good strong connection and that there are not air pockets. You would be surprised at how easy an air pockets pulls apart and is hidden when soldering.

4. Take your time and be careful, remember this stuff is hot, melting point of 60/40 solder is over 600 degrees farenheit.

A good reference to look at here. Shows a preferable method for soldering 2 wires together.

http://fordfuelinjection.com/index.php?p=7
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post #18 of 102 Old 12-28-2004, 09:54 PM
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Also do not blow on the joint to cool it. Let the solder cool naturally.
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post #19 of 102 Old 12-29-2004, 03:54 AM
 
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great tip for the new comers !
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post #20 of 102 Old 12-29-2004, 04:42 AM
 
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I have found that with cable that large in diameter that a propane torch is much faster for soldering. Very similar to sweating pipes. After the terminal is crimped and soldered, you can slide the heat shrink over the connection really fast and sometimes avoid having to heat the tubing...heat from the soldering job dissipates into the heat shrink and does the job.
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post #21 of 102 Old 12-29-2004, 02:00 PM Thread Starter
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Whoa, sticky. That's cool.

It has been raining for the past few days so I was unable to take pictures of the completed job. I will do that soon, along with pictures of the correct process of soldering the cable inside the lug.


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post #22 of 102 Old 01-03-2005, 03:23 AM
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Interesting.
The hole in the head that you used to mount the ground to...is that hole stock and should be there in all motors? or was it there from your rear battery conversion?
Also that hole is it on the right side of the motor?
Im tired as hell right now and being a half ass car newbie isnt helping much
but if it does help with starting,voltage drops etc Im game
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post #23 of 102 Old 01-03-2005, 12:07 PM Thread Starter
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That hole should be on all 5.0's with E7 heads. I haven't relocated any of my pullies on that side and it had nothing to do with my battery relocation. Take a look and see. I'm actually interested in knowing if that bolt hole is accessible on other cars.


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post #24 of 102 Old 01-03-2005, 03:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terrible Juan
That hole should be on all 5.0's with E7 heads. I haven't relocated any of my pullies on that side and it had nothing to do with my battery relocation. Take a look and see. I'm actually interested in knowing if that bolt hole is accessible on other cars.

Ill go to the parking lot on break and look
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post #25 of 102 Old 01-04-2005, 09:14 PM Thread Starter
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So what's the verdict?


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post #26 of 102 Old 01-05-2005, 02:23 AM
 
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I upgraded to a 140 amp powermaster alternator and dropped in a orbital exile deep cycle battery, then did this upgrade and was amazed.. faster starts, better feel of throttle and response, and I run an alpine v12 600 watt amp and a mtx 300watt and the battery gauge hardy moves once in awhile when its at full with a song with deep bass, I am amazed with the results of 5$ of materials and 30 minutes max. Very happy I found this out thanks to corral.net forums.
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post #27 of 102 Old 01-05-2005, 02:36 AM Thread Starter
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That's great! I'm glad people are benefiting from this. Did you use the same mounting locations I did?


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post #28 of 102 Old 01-05-2005, 10:54 AM
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Very nice thread, and good write up...

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post #29 of 102 Old 01-05-2005, 05:55 PM
 
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I mounted it to the same spot on the swaybar bolt on the frame, but the second one I mounted to the same mount on the engine that my wire that runs to my battery in the trunk, got out a little sander and really cleaned up all the connections and added in the new wire.

The stock wire that was running from that spot to the frame looked to be like 16 gauge
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post #30 of 102 Old 01-05-2005, 07:35 PM
 
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Another thing to consider,


Apply some Di-electric grease to the bolt and the area you sanded to help ward off rust. I went one step further and used stainless steal bolts as well. Should be able to get the grease at the parts store or radio shack.
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post #31 of 102 Old 01-06-2005, 03:14 AM
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did you replace the ground strap that is normally on the back of the head and connects to the firewall? or just left it in there too?
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post #32 of 102 Old 01-06-2005, 03:24 AM Thread Starter
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That thin flat white wire? I left it there.

I might as well take it off though since it does absolutely nothing as far as I'm concerned.


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post #33 of 102 Old 01-06-2005, 03:40 AM
 
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yeah I left mine there too.. meh
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post #34 of 102 Old 01-08-2005, 10:45 PM
 
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I replaced mine with 8 gauge cable.
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post #35 of 102 Old 01-09-2005, 12:53 AM
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Just did this upgrade, the hole in the head had some rust in it so had to hit it with PB blaster and chase the threads, was only able to locate a 1" bolt however so used a thick lockwasher for a spacer, Also, I soldered using ForcedAir91GT's advice. Thanks for the thread Juan
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