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71 Challenger in AZ

Olacmot

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I posted in the welcome wagon about my 1971 Challenger that I’ve owned since 2000, but wanted to post here to track my progress and maybe get advice and suggestions about different aspects of this project.

In the early 2000s I swapped the 318/904/7&1/4 for what I was told was a 340(more on that below), a 727, and an 8&3/4. Since then I’ve gone to an aluminum radiator with electric fan and Milodon water pump to keep her cool.

More recently I restored the heater box and swapped the heater core which developed a leak. I tested my actuators and they all work, but one of them has a slow leak and doesn’t hold vacuum. Will this be an issue? I had a hard time finding a replacement so I just bolted it in and am hoping for the best. The dash is still out so I could remedy the issue now if needed.

I made a jig for the dash and stripped it down, then refinished it black from the original blue. Eventually I’ll paint the exterior the original blue, but I have all black interior panels from the PO, so I figured I’d stay the course and make it all match. I swapped in Dakota digital gauges and I’m waiting for a dash pad from YearOne. I need to work on the gaps between the control bezel and gauge bezel… but they’re no worse than they’ve ever been. The clips on the gauge bezel were broken when I disassembled it so I assume someone else has been in there and struggled with alignment as well. The ash tray was particularly hard to line up, as the bottom of the door would drag on the inner case that has the bar the door pivots on. I had to trim about an 1/8” off to stop it from rubbing. I cleaned up the connections and posted in the electrical section about the 4 post wiper control motor connector I’m looking for as it’s pretty toasty. I’m working on cleaning all the connections in the harness, and cleaned all the fuse box connections up so there is 0 ohm resistance across the fuses now. Started with .4 or 1 ohm across all of them. Smelled like cigarettes as I dremeled the tarnish off 🤣. I’m curious for opinions on whether it’s worth cleaning up connections or buying new harnesses? All the wires seem pliable so I’m certainly trying to save the expense of the harness behind the dash. I figure if I can get impedance down through each circuit there is no harm in reusing it. I might get new harnesses for under the hood to save time. A few before and after pics of the dash are attached.

Otherwise I had an old Wilwood disk brake kit that I bought in the mid 2000s that I never put on because I parked the car. I rebuilt the calipers, knocked surface rust off the rotors (somehow they got wet during 20 years of garage storage…a mystery that remains) and did the swap, just waiting for some brake lines to arrive to finish it off. I also bought a power brake booster from master power brakes and installed that. Before and after pics attached… you could say it was time for the drums to go! Those grooves in the passenger front drums were there from before me… and unfortunately I knew about them. The car would brake fine until the pads would wear down and match the groove. Then it would shake under heavy braking. I always told myself it was kind of like a poor man’s ABS system… right?

I also replaced all the ebrake cables… figured in case of actual emergency caused by the disk brake swap this would be smart to have in working order. 😬 Question on that - the kit came with an “s” hook that should hook the cable to the transmission mount, but it appears a few inches short. Can I run the system without this? I have pictures if needed but I won’t clutter this post with them for now.

As for the “340” I ordered. I went to checker auto when I was in high school and purchased a 340 long block. I wasn’t big on research in my teens so I just slapped it in unbeknownst to casting numbers on the block. Later I noticed the casting numbers on the side are gone and there is a “remanufactured” tag there, but the front drivers side casting has 318 stampings… but 340 written on it lol. I have the original paperwork and will post it later out of curiosity. I’m assuming I got taken for a ride on that one 🙄

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Challenger RTA

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Seems like your a handy guy. As far as the dash wiring. The bulkhead connector should be inspected. Other one to inspect would be amp gauge wire ends,Headlight sw dimmer sw, steering column plug, fuse box battery and accessory feed. Fan sw and fan motor connector.
They are high current loads. Below is a diagram with dots that show the battery and charging circuit. That's the ones to be concerned with. Providing everything else is in order.

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Explanation of the Dots.

Follow the dots. understand how it's wired first. Blue charge circuit, yellow battery supply, red ACC circuit.
1:RED wire 16 Battery power yellow dot to splice one feeds fuse block, 2:charge wire 18 black wire blue dots to splice one through amp meter to red wire blue dot 16 to battery, 3:ACC feed from splice 1 Red wire Q3_12R yellow dot to steering column. Black wire 12BK red dot to ACC side of fuse box.ch load.
 
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Xcudame

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Challenger RTA is one of the best electrical guys on the site! So he's worn out a lot of t-shirts (been there, done that, bought the t-shirt).

Disc brakes are so superior to drum! I'm not convinced rear disc brakes add much other than the "Awe" factor. 70% of braking is done on E-bodies with disc brakes in front.

I'm a little confused on the 318/340 engine. If you could supply a photo of the block casting numbers or a photo of the stampings on the block below the driver's (left) side of the block, that would be helpful. Don't sale the 318 short! It can be modified to be a great performer. Since the small block Mopar has valves that open on center, it can use big valve 340/360 heads and intakes!
 

Olacmot

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Seems like your a handy guy. As far as the dash wiring. The bulkhead connector should be inspected. Other one to inspect would be amp gauge wire ends,Headlight sw dimmer sw, steering column plug, fuse box battery and accessory feed. Fan sw and fan motor connector.
They are high current loads. Below is a diagram with dots that show the battery and charging circuit. That's the ones to be concerned with. Providing everything else is in order.

View attachment 120645
Hey, thanks!! I try to be, and love a good project. I have my hands full with this one for sure.

Bulkhead connector didn’t take much of an inspection to determine it’s toast! I have a new one in my garage and plan to re-pin it this weekend. I’ll check the ends of the switch connections as you mentioned. I was going to delete the ammeter connections and join the two wires with a bullet connector, as the Dakota digital gauges have a volt meter instead.

Once the connections are all cleaned up I’m hoping that will avoid burning up the connector again.

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Olacmot

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Challenger RTA is one of the best electrical guys on the site! So he's worn out a lot of t-shirts (been there, done that, bought the t-shirt).

Disc brakes are so superior to drum! I'm not convinced rear disc brakes add much other than the "Awe" factor. 70% of braking is done on E-bodies with disc brakes in front.

I'm a little confused on the 318/340 engine. If you could supply a photo of the block casting numbers or a photo of the stampings on the block below the driver's (left) side of the block, that would be helpful. Don't sale the 318 short! It can be modified to be a great performer. Since the small block Mopar has valves that open on center, it can use big valve 340/360 heads and intakes!
Good to know! I have a feeling he’ll be fielding some of my questions then haha

Here are pictures of the block casting and stamped numbers on the front. 318 casting for sure. You can faintly make out the handwritten 340 with what looks like “na” above it on the front of the block. Receipts and some documentation posted. The remanufacturer was Recon, who I understand went out of business or sold the company some years ago. 340 is listed all over the paperwork. However this is a lesson on why it pays to be an informed buyer. I was just an excited teen doing a motor swap with his dad… never thought to inspect what I’d been sold!

It’s ran reliably for years so that’s a plus! At least no failures that were squarely the motor’s fault anyway.

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Challenger RTA

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Challenger RTA is one of the best electrical guys on the site! So he's worn out a lot of t-shirts (been there, done that, bought the t-shirt).

Disc brakes are so superior to drum! I'm not convinced rear disc brakes add much other than the "Awe" factor. 70% of braking is done on E-bodies with disc brakes in front.

I'm a little confused on the 318/340 engine. If you could supply a photo of the block casting numbers or a photo of the stampings on the block below the driver's (left) side of the block, that would be helpful. Don't sale the 318 short! It can be modified to be a great performer. Since the small block Mopar has valves that open on center, it can use big valve 340/360 heads and intakes!
I'm not the only one here electrically inclined. There are others here that are very knowledgeable in that field. I have to say I respect there input of there knowledge and that's what makes all this work. So thanks EXCUDAME for the complement to all of us that try to resolve all the problems, be it electrical mechanical or other. If it can't be figured out here I don't know where else it would be.
 

Challenger RTA

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When you go to change the bulkhead connector. Save your self some grief zip tie each group together. Less chance of a wrong wire in the wrong hole. Clean and use Dielectric grease.
Don't forget about column connectors.
Yeah I know it looked like spaghetti but wrapped up pertly good. Not tap wrap.
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Olacmot

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I'm not the only one here electrically inclined. There are others here that are very knowledgeable in that field. I have to say I respect there input of there knowledge and that's what makes all this work. So thanks EXCUDAME for the complement to all of us that try to resolve all the problems, be it electrical mechanical or other. If it can't be figured out here I don't know where else it would be.
Honestly I’m blown away by the input so far, you guys are incredibly helpful. Electrical is one of those things I’ve always been interested in and feel like I have a decent grasp on, but you can also fill an ocean with what I don’t know. I’m not afraid to dig into anything, but I think I’m good at leaning on resources before I get myself into trouble.
 

Olacmot

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When you go to change the bulkhead connector. Save your self some grief zip tie each group together. Less chance of a wrong wire in the wrong hole. Clean and use Dielectric grease.
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View attachment 120670
Good idea. Question on the bulk head connector: The toasted terminals are pin 16, which looks to be red off the starter relay/battery, and pin 18 which is black. I plan on cleaning these and all other terminals plus butt splicing the ammeter connections. When this is wired up, what’s the best way to test these connections to make sure they don’t overheat? Amp clamp? These look like 12awg, so I assume I should be looking for 20A or less. Or is this just a connection issue that caused heat right here?

Also, will just cleaning these terminals at the bulk head be sufficient or should I change them? Small task either way I think I just need to buy the correct female connectors for this larger wire. The ones I have look like they’re thinner gauge metal/less amps.

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Challenger RTA

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Having problems somewhere with internet issues. Go figure! I'll get back to you or someone else may. There was someone that did mention about water tight connections. they might respond.
 

terrywalker

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I have the same problem with the red and black wires melting together and damaging the bulkhead connector in the 72 Challenger I'm currently working on. I may just bypass those two wires around it altogether and bypass the ammeter in the dash also. See my photos.
Terry W.

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Challenger RTA

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In short no pun intended. Yeah there is. Here's a member that made a video that helps explain somethings.
 

terrywalker

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There's been a lot of discussion on this and other Mopar Forums - For A Bodies Only, And For B-Bodies Only for example, discussing the MAD Bypass solution to this bulkhead connection overheating problem. It basically takes away the problem of having so much amperage up in the dash that causes the overheating of the wires/connectors. I am still deciding how to approach it.
Terry W.
 

Challenger RTA

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Funny thing about that. The fusible link won't blow before or if at all it destroys the connectors. There still has to be a feed to the fuse box somehow.
 

Challenger RTA

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I installed a voltage gage. Use another fusible link form the battery. Through the alt feed connector to feed the accessories.
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terrywalker

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I'm showing two MAD drawings. The first shows pretty much what our E-bodies have with the ammeter. The second shows the upgrade bypassing the bulkhead connector and using a voltmeter and not the ammeter. In the bypass, they use 16 gauge fusible link. I'm thinking I may install an inline more modern fuse instead. I'm not worried about originality whereas the OP may be trying to keep his 71 Challenger original in which case, go back with a new bulkhead connector or maybe a new wiring harness. I'm still deciding on mine. Interesting to see this is a common problem.
Terry W.

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MAD Dwg B Upgrade.jpg
 

Olacmot

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In short no pun intended. Yeah there is. Here's a member that made a video that helps explain somethings.
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Great video and it made me look at something I hadn’t considered. Mine look to have slight heat damage. I’ll probably use a packard for the red and black for now and consider upgrading the whole thing.

For the first time in 20+ years of having the car I got the AC to work last summer. While driving at night with headlights on and AC up I started smelling a strange melting plastic. That video just reminded me of that.

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Olacmot

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I'm showing two MAD drawings. The first shows pretty much what our E-bodies have with the ammeter. The second shows the upgrade bypassing the bulkhead connector and using a voltmeter and not the ammeter. In the bypass, they use 16 gauge fusible link. I'm thinking I may install an inline more modern fuse instead. I'm not worried about originality whereas the OP may be trying to keep his 71 Challenger original in which case, go back with a new bulkhead connector or maybe a new wiring harness. I'm still deciding on mine. Interesting to see this is a common problem.
Terry W.

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What does MAD stand for? I’m not concerned with originality, especially in this case.

I think I’ve seen this called the alternator bypass somewhere else. Same idea, charge the battery directly from the alternator and bypass the bulkhead connector? Just downsize the existing fusable link?
 
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terrywalker

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MAD Enterprises is the company who wrote it out. It is the alternator bypass setup.
Terry W.
 
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