A/Q Wiring Service
3216 Barnett Avenue, Kansas City, Kansas 66102  (913) 342-9125  E-Mail: Ken@AQWiringService.com
Providing Aircraft Quality Electrical Systems Design, Installation & Service For Race Cars Since 1991

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Common Terms
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A/Q Wiring Service -- Common Terms In Automotive Wiring and Tools of the Trade

Mike Pollard's Ignition Panel

Sometimes you need a dictonary to know what I'm talking about.  If you don't deal with wiring (in particular, specialized electrical items in automotive racing applications) the terms can get confusing.  So here's a short glossary of terms you might encounter:

AMP® Crimper:
The brand-name tools I use to insure good and consistent wire terminations.  My experience with these crimpers comes from my days in the commercial aircraft business.  They are routinely tested, and can be calibrated to insure the quality of the terminations they are used on.
"Bump" Switch:
A switch, usually mounted on the engine side of the firewall, that will allow someone to engage the starter from outside the driver's compartment.  Used when someone needs to momentarily engage the starter to move the engine's reciprocating assembly to a different position.  This is particularly useful when adjusting the rocker arms on overhead-valve engines.
"Cannon"® Plugs:
Originally manufactured by the Cannon division of ITT, this typically describes circular, multiple-pin connectors that are usually found on aircraft.  I have found these in aircaft surplus stores and adapted them to automotive use.  These often are self-locking, yet quick-release connectors and if they're rugged enough for aircraft use, they're more than adequate for automotive use.
Can refer to a set of wires designed for a particular application, or the entire group of wires in a vehicle.
Kill Switch:
Slang term for the master disconnection switch, a safety device required by nearly all racing venues.  Designed to remove battery power from the entire automotive electrical system.
Moisture-Proof Splice:
These are sealed wire splices I use in areas that could be exposed to the elements (generally anywhere on a dirt track car!).  My preferred practice is to eliminate any splices if possible; if this is not possible, I insist on using splices that seal the connection against any moisture intrusion.
MSD® Box:
This is the specialized computer tasked with generating the spark that ultimately fires the air/fuel mixture in the engine.  Also sometimes referred to as the "spark box" or "ignition box."
In most racing applications, this is the item that allows main battery power to reach the engine starter. This in turn allows the starter to operate.
Spiral Wrap:
Material used to bundle wires together and protect wires from damage.  Especially useful in areas where debris might cause the wires' insulation to get nicked or scraped, exposing the conductor and leading to wire failure or unintentional grounding.
Weatherpack® Connector:
These are multi-pin connectors, most often seen on MSD Boxes.  General Motors uses Weatherpack connectors on production-line vehicles, and there is a NASCAR standard for the 6-pin connector on the ignition boxes.

I hope this helps you understand if I starting "talking shop" and don't explain myself :-)

Here are some examples of the tools and supplies I use:

A/Q Wiring Tools & Supplies
(click on the images for a larger picture)
Tools Supplies
AMP Crimping ToolRed/Blue
Terminals Red Terminal Lugs and SplicesRed
and Splices
  Blue Terminal Lugs and SplicesBlue
and Splices
AMP Crimping ToolYellow
Yellow Terminal Lugs and SplicesYellow
and Splices
Raychem Splice CrimperRaychem®
Splice Crimper
Raychem Moisture-Proof SplicesRaychem®
Weatherpack Contact CrimperWeatherpack®
Contact Crimper
Weatherpack Pins and ConnectorsWeatherpack®
Pins &
Pin Crimping ToolDaniels®
Pin Crimper
"Cannon" Plugs and Pins"Cannon"®
and Pins
Spiral-Wrap Wire ProtectionSpiral-Wrap
Wire Protection
Terminal StripsTerminal Strips

Click here for a video clip I made showing an example of the type of equipment I use.

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