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Old 07-10-2008, 01:33 AM
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Default How to waterproof the wiring

I keep thinking about running a trail that has at least one water crossing. I looked at the first water crossing a couple years ago and turned back, which was probably a wise decision. Before I describe the details of my question, you can see the water crossings over at
Colorado4x4.org
The first one with the red Jeep is where I stood looking and wondering how deep it was, decided that since I was alone on the trail...

Now for my questions about my wires. 1984 CJ7 258 i6.
1. I see that the PO soldered the connection when he added the tachometer, which is commendable. That connection sits about even with the distributor and hangs a little bit above the frame rail. The coil is mounted on the right fender well. This soldered connection has long ago lost the electrical tape wrapping, although I think I remember seeing it taped. This has the shape of a Y connection where the coil wire insulation was removed without cutting the wire, and the tach wire soldered on.

I know that if I just wrap more tape around it then where the tape goes around both wires it will not be a watertight seal. I do want a watertight seal on the ignition wires, right?? What is the best way to waterproof it, and other wiring connections?

2. I see that my front axle has a vent hose. I see that it goes up a bit, has a bracket on the hose that looks like it should be held up by a bolt or screw, and just lays along the top of the frame rail. So if I get into water that rises above the frame rail I am in danger of getting water into the front axle. What is the proper routing for this vent hose?

3. The solenoid for the starter is mounted on the right fender well, it is on the vertical side right about where it starts to curve over to horizontal. Do I need to waterproof those connections? How? Or will I be floating before the water gets that high
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Old 07-10-2008, 05:19 AM
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Water in the gear cases won't strand you in the wilderness, and won't cause any serious damage if you change the lube promptly. Unless you have an automatic transmission - water will take them out in a matter of minutes.

Water in the primary ignition system won't cause any problems, although the dirt it carries in may in some places. It won't hurt 12-volt wires to get wet, even if they're completely uninsulated. Twelve volts isn't enough to push any significant current through fresh water. You should insulate everything anyway to protect it from accidents. A good product is liquid electrical tape. It's available in most hardware stores. It brushes on and gets very tough when it cures.

Water anywhere in the secondary ignition system - coil, distributor and plug wires - can stop you immediately. A couple of times a year I remove the cloil and plug wires, clean them thoroughly and spray them with silicone. I also work silicone grease into the junction of the wire and the boots. Then I clean the cap and top of the coil and spray them with silicone. Silicone keeps the water out and is also good for the wires. Most of my plug wires were original - 29 years old - when I replaced them last summer.

Keeping water out of the distributor is a problem, especially if you have the Autollite distributor with an open slot where the vacuum advance link passes through the housing from the diaphragm to the breaker plate. You need to make a metal cover for that opening and seal it with silicone caulk. I also seal the distributor cap down with silicone grease or a Blackburn caulk that a power company guy gave me.

As for the axle vent, you need to get it as high as possible. If you want to be serious about it, get a longer hose and run it to the firewall above the valve cover. Also check the vents on the transmission, transfer case and back axle. Many Jeeps don't have a vent hose for the transmission and transfer case - just a vertical tube with a cap over it on top of the case.

I ran all of the case vents into a common 1/2" hose inside the right frame rail. I brought it out of the frame at the firewall and ran it up into a fitting welded to the bottom of the air cleaner. And the air cleaner draws air from the passenger compartment via a hose that runs through the firewall above the battery.

Also there are steps you can take to protect your axle and hub bearings. About a year ago I posted a tech artticle on how to put grease fittings in your front hubs, and in the next few days I'll put up one for the back axle bearings.

Watch for the Nebraska guys to weigh in on the subject. They do a lot of river running.
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Last edited by Jim_Lou; 07-10-2008 at 05:32 AM.
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Old 07-10-2008, 09:14 AM
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You can't waterproof a Jeep, you can only make it water resistant. Eventually, water will win.

Have you thought about using a small air pump to pressurise the distributor? Aaron (JYG) did that, and reports that it's worked well to keep moisture out of the dizzy. IIRC, he used about 3psi.
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Old 07-10-2008, 10:25 AM
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For a while I had a very difficult time with the distributor. One of the steps I took was to install a vent nipple into the bottom and run a small hose from it into the passenger compartment. No joy. Then I made a little fitting for the hose and put an inflated balloon on it to lightly pressurize the distributor. STILL no joy.

I figured that the moisture from my breath in the balloon must be condensing in the cap, so I made another fitting to attach a small can of freon to the system. I'd crack the valve on the freon can to inflate the balloon, and as long as the balloon was inflated, the distributor was golden. But eventually it would deflate and then the problem would return.

That's when I noticed that the balloon wasn't just deflating; it was getting sucked totally flat. Strange. I finally found that the vacuum advance diaphragm was leaking, reducing the pressure in the distributor and sucking moisture-laden blow-by past the distributor shaft seal. A new vacuum advance cured the problem.

Since then water in the distributor has never been a problem, even after pressure washing the engine, except when I neglect to renew the duck putty between the cap and the base. I do still have the vent hose, but now it runs into the common vent system that terminates in the air cleaner. I've thought about terminating it into a box of silica gel, but won't do that unless there's a reason.
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Last edited by Jim_Lou; 07-10-2008 at 10:48 AM.
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Old 07-10-2008, 07:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LEVE View Post
You can't waterproof a Jeep, you can only make it water resistant. Eventually, water will win.
I guess the tricky part is knowing where the effort needs to go.

I have had small-pea sized hail get past my soft top door seals before, which just proves your point.

I think I recall something about the design of the military HumVees having some holes so that water can easily get into the interior and back out again so that they won't float.
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Old 07-10-2008, 07:27 PM
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Waterproofing is the norm for what we do heere in the flat lands.

There are tons of ways to build a budget snorkel. I can't find a pic right now, but for mine I use a 9 inch chrome air filter with a six inch filter element. Both Mr. Gasket. I removed the handle from a teflon 3 quart sauce pan from WalMart and cut a hold in the side of it to install a 2" PVC fitting. Drilled a small hole for the wing nut and flip the pan over, so it covers the small element. From there, I run 3" flexible RV drain hose to the spot above the battery that Jim described. It is extremely "hillbilly" but I get dry air from under the dash and it still gets filtered by the 6 inch element. I haven't gottten wet since I've been running it.

For the distributor I used rope caulk. It's much less permanent than silicone and seems to work just as well. I swapped in an HEI so that helps a lot too.

All of my axle, tranny, t-case vent tubes are spliced into a single vent line that I run up the firewall and cable clamp.

We still get plenty of water in our gear boxes. As Jim said this is not a big deal as long as you change it soon after. The next time you have your dif covers off, I would drill a hole in the lowest spot possible. Put a bolt and nut through it, then weld the nut on the back side. Fasion up a homemade gasket to fit under a flat washer and you now have a drain plug.

As Jim said, take care of those bare wires so they don't contact any metal, but otherwise the electronics actually stand up fairly well to water. We all run the lifetime warranty starters, selonoids, and alternators. Once they start to act up, we replace them.

Now to the good stuff. Middle St, Vrain is definitely on our list. We are leaving Saturday morning. I am sending you a PM with a couple ??s if you don't mind.
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Old 07-17-2008, 08:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim_Lou View Post
A good product is liquid electrical tape. It's available in most hardware stores. It brushes on and gets very tough when it cures.
Well, I thought I knew enough about electrical stuff to know that there wasn't such a thing and you were just trying to be funny. A quick search on acehardware.com confirmed my skepticism. But I didn't give up so easily and found it listed on homedepot.com and several other places. I tried the Ace Hardware store first because I needed some other things, and they had an empty spot for it on the shelf (along with a clerk who had never heard of it), so on to Home Depot. One less bit of skepticism in my brain now.

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Old 07-18-2008, 05:06 AM
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Last can I got came from Ace. It is good stuff. I put it inside heat-shrink over soldered connections. When the heat-shrink does its thing it squeezes the LET out the ends. THAT's a good connection.
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Old 07-19-2008, 09:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RickCJ7 View Post
Well, I thought I knew enough about electrical stuff to know that there wasn't such a thing and you were just trying to be funny. A quick search on acehardware.com confirmed my skepticism. But I didn't give up so easily and found it listed on homedepot.com and several other places. I tried the Ace Hardware store first because I needed some other things, and they had an empty spot for it on the shelf (along with a clerk who had never heard of it), so on to Home Depot. One less bit of skepticism in my brain now.

Thanks


Look in the boating section or Walmart or K-Mart. Any place that services boats or sells boats or boat parts (Boat US etc.) should have it. Also I think Radio Shack has it. Awesome stuff. Jim nailed it with brush the stuff on and cover with cover with heat shrink.

Edit: Just did a search and learned something. It is available ion colors! WOW!!
http://www.starbrite.com/prodcatalog.cfm?ProductCat=Home%20Care&ProductSCat =Liquid%20Electric%20Tape%20(Home)
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Last edited by jeeperjohn; 07-19-2008 at 09:41 AM.
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Old 07-19-2008, 09:46 AM
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One way of making water resistant splices is to use RTV. There's some discussion abut the RTV being acidic to the joint, but I've never found it to be a problem. You cover the finished soldered joint with a little RTV (I favor clear silicone) and then work the shrink wrap over it. When you heat the srink wrap it does just that...shrinks and squeezes excess silicone out the ends. When it cures...you've got a fairly water resistant covering.
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