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Thread: How to clean a cloth wiring harness

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    Jedi Warrior BoyRacer's Avatar
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    How to clean a cloth wiring harness

    I am reusing a newer wiring harness on my BT7 ... fabric covered. Not greasy or oily - just dirty. Any ideas on getting it clean without damaging it?
    Richard Mayor
    Vintage Racer HBN7L-466
    Portland, Oregon

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    Yoda steveg's Avatar
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    Re: How to clean a cloth wiring harness

    What about spray carpet cleaner? The kind that foams up then when dry you brush it off.
    Steve Gerow
    Altadena, CA, USA
    Maker of most complete Big Healey rear disc kit
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    Yoda HealeyRick's Avatar
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    Re: How to clean a cloth wiring harness

    Quote Originally Posted by steveg View Post
    What about spray carpet cleaner? The kind that foams up then when dry you brush it off.
    I'd be leery of anything that leaves a residue you have to brush off as I'd be worried the residue would get caught in the weaving and be impossible to get out. I haven't done it so you'd have to test it first, but maybe wiping with alcohol would work?
    Rick

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    Yoda John Turney's Avatar
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    Re: How to clean a cloth wiring harness

    Quote Originally Posted by HealeyRick View Post
    I'd be leery of anything that leaves a residue you have to brush off as I'd be worried the residue would get caught in the weaving and be impossible to get out. I haven't done it so you'd have to test it first, but maybe wiping with alcohol would work?
    I'm thinking that wiping alcohol on/off would have the same issue. Also, alcohol might affect the colored thread. I would probably try Windex or something where wiping isn't required to soak it and let dry.
    John, BN4

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    Yoda steveg's Avatar
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    Re: How to clean a cloth wiring harness

    You'd need something that would release the dirt and float it away. The carpet cleaner would release the dirt, then dry to dust; perhaps it could be blown off with compressed air. I'd think spray upholstery cleaner would be similar.

    I'd be worried about alcohol and the paint.
    Steve Gerow
    Altadena, CA, USA
    Maker of most complete Big Healey rear disc kit
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    Jedi Warrior
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    Re: How to clean a cloth wiring harness

    I used alcohol on my wires once. Wiped off the color coded stripes! That was the wire not the cloth.

    I used Scotch guard on my new cloth wiring harness to protect it. A carpet guy gave me the industrial strength stuff. Though I haven't driven the car enough to know if it worked.
    Dale

    BJ7 frame up restoration of "the car that would not be restored"; began Dec. 2005, est. complete 2023

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    Luke Skywalker RAC68's Avatar
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    Re: How to clean a cloth wiring harness

    Boy Racer,

    When considering how to clean the fabric, remember that the fabric was used to allow a wet harness to drain and dry. Depending on the condition of the fabric (over time the heat and cold, wet and dry cycles take a toll and the treads grow brittle so would never consider physical adjuration). I would use a detergent like Dawn mixed in hot water and sprayed it on the harness. I would then rinse it with and water spray and allow to dry. If you want to take a chance, I would use a small amount of washing bleach in the washing mix to brighten some of the lighter colors but I would first test on a small section. Keep in mind that the threads of the woven cover are either strong enough to sustain the wet/dry cycle or not and, if not, the cover (not the harness) will need to be replaced. I would never expect it will look new.

    Good luck,
    Ray(64BJ8P1)

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    Jedi Warrior BoyRacer's Avatar
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    Re: How to clean a cloth wiring harness

    To be clear, the harness is out of the car. And, the cloth fibers are in very good condition. Based upon what Ray just said, I think I should be able to put the entire harness into a bathtub with a mild detergent and gently agitate to get it clean? I was originally concerned that there might some kind of plastic wrapping under the cloth that could trap water and not completely dry out.
    Richard Mayor
    Vintage Racer HBN7L-466
    Portland, Oregon

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    Jedi Warrior BigGreen's Avatar
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    Re: How to clean a cloth wiring harness

    Steam works wonders
    White Terry cloth to wipe it dry
    The least I can do is keep my CarClean.com
    Jaguar X type 2.5, 2003 Carnival Red Metallic
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    Luke Skywalker vette's Avatar
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    Re: How to clean a cloth wiring harness

    Richard, here's what an old timer who ran a motor rewind shop told me once. When I was restoring my Healey the original starter was i terrible condition but still worked. I disassembled it and the innards were just coated with grease and grime. I took the field winding out and the cloth fabric wrap and insulation was just disintigrating. I asked the old fello if the winding could be saved and he told me to go home and gently wash them with soap and water, let them drip dry in the sun for a few days then paint them with automotive enamel. I told him I didn't have any enamel but I had some clear coat. He said then use that. I did exactly as he told me. That was 18+ years ago and the starter is still in the car and working today. A lot of hard summer driving every year.
    If your harness is in good shape, you could assist the drying with some low air pressure from the air hose.
    About TV Shows-
    "...you really can't restore a car in 10 days. I don't want to watch a race where people have to restore it in a week. It's not going to drive, and those cars never work. In real life, it takes years to get it right. " Jay Leno.

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    Great Pumpkin Keoke's Avatar
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    Re: How to clean a cloth wiring harness

    Quote Originally Posted by BoyRacer View Post
    To be clear, the harness is out of the car. And, the cloth fibers are in very good condition. Based upon what Ray just said, I think I should be able to put the entire harness into a bathtub with a mild detergent and gently agitate to get it clean? I was originally concerned that there might some kind of plastic wrapping under the cloth that could trap water and not completely dry out.

    Yep I think U got it right , use a bit of Dawn no bleach N the grease will be gone, I asked a baby duck---LOL
    1966 Daimler V8 Saloon; Safely Fast, Built to Last & and; Smooth as Glass.
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    Re: How to clean a cloth wiring harness

    You could always have it re wrapped. I believe auto sparks will rewrap it, or sell you the wrap to do it yourself. https://www.autosparks.co.uk
    Rob

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