Modern Wiring

This mod was on my mind even before I bought the beetle. I new that the old wiring harness on the beetle was okay but not well designed to have modern electronics added to it. So I already new that I would convert it to some that could handle the extra stuff I was planning to add into the beetle.

So I started doing lots of research about the different wiring harnesses that are out there. For my needs I dicided to go with one that is sold by Watson's Streetworks.

Here are some pictures from their site of the wiring harness setup.

View of the wiring harness.

The following text and links are from Watson's Streetworks site, and show the harness being installed into a 66 beetle. I used these pages along with the instructiosn that came with the kit to install it into my beetle. It took me about 6 hours over a span of 3 days to do the install. One thing that the sales lady told me that was not in the instructions was that once you get one bag of parts installed, hook up the battery and test those wires. That way you could easily fix any problems as you go along. I had no problems with the install.

The following is from their site.

Rewiring the Beetle in Style

Rewiring the Beetle in Style

Almost from the first day that a Beetle drove the roads, VW restoration products were needed.

Now don't get us wrong. VW's weren't built to break down. They were a car for the people...Folk's wagons. But for that very reason, they got used...and used, and used. And as a result they needed repair. And as they aged, they needed restoration. But as well designed and as simplistically engineered as the mechanical parts of a Beetle were, their electrical systems were not. Well, actually, that same simplicity may actually be the problem with their electrical systems.

Early VW wiring was all battery was always ON. Those early Germans didn't know of drive-ins or parking. So, the radio, turn signals and wipers, for instance, ran off of direct battery feed and had to be shut off independently from the ignition switch. And, once those VW engineers determined that everything could be battery "hot" fed, they also could route wiring wherever they wanted. (Read that to mean - route wiring to the closest spot for subsequent distribution without logical engineering rational.) One point of  example.. why does the primary battery feed go to the headlight switch first?

American wiring takes a different approach which we like to refer to as the tree trunk approach. (A) Battery primary is fed directly into the fuse panel for those circuits which require it. (B) Also feed battery primary to the ignition switch and then feed, secondarily, the accessories to be controlled by the ignition switch. And (C), route all circuits through a fuse and then to the load (lights, coil, starter, etc.). This tree trunk approach provides a common feed for always-on (battery) circuits that branches off through fuses to the individual circuits and also for the on-only-with-the-ignition (accessory) circuits. Now, that's logical. It also makes for much easier trouble shooting should an electrical problem pop up.

Two other considerations of original VW wiring are visual esthetics and safety. Visually, the back side of the VW fuse panel tended to resemble either a cross-legged centipede or a porcupine having a bad quill day. Wires went everywhere without obvious sense. Not something that you could make to look "show quality". And most connectors are bare terminals just waiting to short circuit on your unsuspecting screw driver or hand.

O.K., so we need a new wiring system in our Bug and we want something modern - safe, good looking, easy to trouble shoot, uses ATO/ATC fuses...the whole nine yards. Who ya' gonna' call? No not those ghost guys. Call Watson's StreetWorks and check out their Modular Fuse Panel Wiring System for VW Beetles.

Their state-of-the-art system gives you 18 circuits, a safe, modern fuse panel, color coded and line-marked wires, terminals, detailed, easy-to-follow instructions/schematics...almost everything you need to rewire and upgrade your Beetle's electrical system. So, let's get started with the project. Check out the photos, especially the before and after shots. Wow, what a difference.

There are a few parts that are not included in the kit, so plan accordingly. There are no switches in the kit which allows you to keep your originals if you want or to selectively upgrade to new. We wanted to get away from all of the old design stuff and into modern components so that suited us perfectly. And switching to an ignition switch that included accessory position seemed the smart thing to do.

We also wanted to get rid of the complicated and expensive turn signal / emergency flasher relays which we did. And finally, we are upgrading to a 12 volt system - the details of which we will leave for another article. Lots of work, but best done all at once in this case.

There are lots of other modifications that this particular V-dub will undergo, but we wanted to show you what installing this type of wiring kit on a stocker was all about. The process is not difficult, nor are there special tools required beyond basic wiring stuff, rather it just takes some time. Planning before hand and as you go, combined with the kit's good instructions, will take you step-by-step through the process.




Not affiliated with or sponsored by Volkswagen of America