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Old 01-07-2021, 04:13 PM   #1
Zeebins
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Default Running additional wires through the clock spring

I’ve had an idea for a while now to try and wrap a steering wheel with Carbon Tape to make it heated, and then rewrap the wheel with new leather to make it look factory.

Making a heated steering wheel on its own doesn’t seem like it would be hard. Wiring it into the car is more of a challenge. I can only thing of two options for running the power wires. I could give the wiring enough slack to be able to move lock to lock without chafing or getting stuck on something. Or I could try adding a new ribbon cable through the clock spring.

Adding a new cable to the clock spring seems like the safest/cleanest looking option, so I’ve been trying to figure out if it will even work. According to the instructable, 4ft of 44mm carbon tape consumes about 40 watts of power. 40 watts would be about 2.6 - 2.9 amps depending on alternator voltage. 3 amps is nothing to a 18 gauge wire, a 22 gauge would also probably be fine. 24 gauge is where it would start getting pretty close to the maximum amperage allowed. I have no idea what gauge the clock spring ribbon cable is and I would rather not find out by burning one up. I’m guessing it’s probably 22-26 gauge. It normally only has to deal with a few buttons and an airbag. The airbag gets a small pulse of 1-4 amps depending on the car. No idea how many amps get sent out for an S-series airbag. I could easily get a donor ribbon cable from a junkyard clock spring, but it would be nice to know if its a gauge wire that could handle 3 amps.

I’m probably the first person to try and do this with one of these cars, so I doubt anyone has any personal experience with a project like this, but any insight or advice would be really helpful.
...
97 SL2, auto, 122K miles

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Old 01-07-2021, 04:48 PM   #2
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Default Re: Running additional wires through the clock spring

I repaired a clock-spring years ago, and my recollection is that the traces are big enough to probably handle 3A. However, adding conductors doesn't seem possible/practical. What function(s) are you willing to sacrifice to free up two for the heater?

I would definitely get one out of a JY to experiment with before committing to this approach!
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Old 01-08-2021, 08:13 AM   #3
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Default Re: Running additional wires through the clock spring

This sounds like an interesting project. I wonder what the existing clocksprings look like? Is there a possibility that the one in the car already has extra contacts inside, for other options?

My car is bare bones, no switches on my steering wheel, so I am not sure
...
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Old 01-08-2021, 10:51 AM   #4
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Default Re: Running additional wires through the clock spring

I don't know how I'd feel running extra wires next to the bomb circuit, seems like a bad idea.

I imagine you might be able to weave the second ribbon next to the existing one but I would be concerned about the length / bulk...
You'd have to run it on the outside of the existing one and be sure there was enough length to the original ribbon to get the ~3 turns needed to not break the clockspring while turning stop to stop

My other concern would be heating in the conductors melting the ribbon if the traces were not thick enough, figure the ribbon wraps around its self concentrating the heat and there isn't much airflow in the area either..
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Old 01-08-2021, 12:18 PM   #5
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Default Re: Running additional wires through the clock spring

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ricketts View Post
This sounds like an interesting project. I wonder what the existing clocksprings look like? Is there a possibility that the one in the car already has extra contacts inside, for other options?

My car is bare bones, no switches on my steering wheel, so I am not sure
If your car didn’t come with cruise control, that’s at least 2 or maybe 3 contacts that could be repurposed for something else. I have cruse through and I’m not willing to give it up for this project.
Quote:
Originally Posted by me.theuser View Post
I don't know how I'd feel running extra wires next to the bomb circuit, seems like a bad idea.

I imagine you might be able to weave the second ribbon next to the existing one but I would be concerned about the length / bulk...
You'd have to run it on the outside of the existing one and be sure there was enough length to the original ribbon to get the ~3 turns needed to not break the clockspring while turning stop to stop

My other concern would be heating in the conductors melting the ribbon if the traces were not thick enough, figure the ribbon wraps around its self concentrating the heat and there isn't much airflow in the area either..
It’s definitely one of the more risky areas of the cars wiring to be messing with. I will be be throughly testing it before it gets installed in the car. Would not want the ribbon to start meeting and cause the air bag to go off while driving. I got a 12 volt A/C to D/C power supply for Christmas, which will be a lot nicer than my previous method of using a 9 volt battery to power/test car electronics.

I won’t know what I’m working with until I take a clock spring apart, but the idea of running an additional ribbon came from this thread on another car forum. https://rennlist.com/forums/996-foru...ockspring.html
...
97 SL2, auto, 122K miles

Last edited by Zeebins; 01-08-2021 at 12:25 PM.
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Old 01-08-2021, 02:02 PM   #6
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Default Re: Running additional wires through the clock spring

Seems safer to find something in the junkyard from Caddy or 'Vette with a stupid amount of steering wheel mounted controls and take that clockspring.

Run the power through 2-3 circuits if you need to rather than just 1 (that's what USB type C does to get 50+ watts charging).
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Old 01-08-2021, 04:32 PM   #7
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Default Re: Running additional wires through the clock spring

For heating the wheel, I would probably look to making a slip-ring unit.
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Old 01-08-2021, 05:32 PM   #8
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Default Re: Running additional wires through the clock spring

Whole lot safer and less work, to just wear gloves for the first few driving miles.
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Old 01-08-2021, 05:51 PM   #9
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Default Re: Running additional wires through the clock spring

Plus, the gloves will work on hot days too!
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Old 01-08-2021, 07:38 PM   #10
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Cool Re: Running additional wires through the clock spring

Quote:
Originally Posted by toggenburg View Post
Whole lot safer and less work, to just wear gloves for the first few driving miles.
This would also work, but my drive to work is only 3 miles. Not really enough time to get good heat. On really cold days the car definitely doesn’t get up to temp.
...
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Old 01-08-2021, 10:33 PM   #11
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Default Re: Running additional wires through the clock spring

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeebins View Post
This would also work, but my drive to work is only 3 miles. Not really enough time to get good heat. On really cold days the car definitely doesn’t get up to temp.
Three miles? This is what you need.
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...&postcount=140

http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...&postcount=143



Your steering wheel will be warm, your windows will be clear. Trust me it is an awesome setup.
...
Bryan Cotton
'99 SL2, 5SP bought new
Rebuilt at 204,067 September 2017
Engine, subframe, diff pin mod, brake lines, headliner, alternator, and so on!
'98 SC2, 5SP bought 2018
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Old 01-08-2021, 11:07 PM   #12
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Default Re: Running additional wires through the clock spring

ha I did that when my blower motor went out was some nice winter starts too!
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Old 01-09-2021, 08:36 AM   #13
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Default Re: Running additional wires through the clock spring

^^ are you indicating that somehow a rear seat setup, warmed your engine oil to enable easier winter starts? If so, you are dreaming, or your car was already in a heated garage.
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Old 01-09-2021, 11:03 AM   #14
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Default Re: Running additional wires through the clock spring

Quote:
Originally Posted by toggenburg View Post
^^ are you indicating that somehow a rear seat setup, warmed your engine oil to enable easier winter starts? If so, you are dreaming, or your car was already in a heated garage.
I assume that by nice starts, he meant something like this:
https://youtu.be/EEeYtufQUOI

Zeebins you should really try it. It will cost a $5 Harbor Freight timer.
https://www.harborfreight.com/lamp-a...mer-40148.html

If you want to try before you commit, just run an extension cord in through a door or even the trunk. Put a board on your passenger seat and put something under it to keep it level. Heck you can even aim it at the steering wheel. You will be a believer!

Just for fun: car before heater turned on:




Two hours later:


Before the pandemic my routine was to plug in the car when I got home from work. It was usually dark out so I would use the fog lights. Then I'd get back in the car and set the timer. As I was setting the timer I'd briefly run the heater to make sure everything was good. I'd kick it off at 3AM for a 5-6AM departure.
...
Bryan Cotton
'99 SL2, 5SP bought new
Rebuilt at 204,067 September 2017
Engine, subframe, diff pin mod, brake lines, headliner, alternator, and so on!
'98 SC2, 5SP bought 2018

Last edited by Waiex191; 01-09-2021 at 11:08 AM. Reason: Added pictures
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Old 01-09-2021, 12:25 PM   #15
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Default Re: Running additional wires through the clock spring

Quote:
^^ are you indicating that somehow a rear seat setup, warmed your engine oil to enable easier winter starts? If so, you are dreaming, or your car was already in a heated garage.
Oh no it didn't make the car start faster to start or anything it just made me far more comfortable while doing so
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Old 01-09-2021, 12:37 PM   #16
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Default Re: Running additional wires through the clock spring

Waiex, the space heater idea does sound does sound like a good solution to cold mornings. With the extra insulation I’ve also added, it might even heat up a little faster than yours does. The only thing keeping me from doing something like that is my ability to plug it in. I have no outside outlets at my house, so whenever a yard tool needs to be used, an extension chord gets run to one inside. Fine for the summer but wouldn’t exactly be ideal for the winter :\
...
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Old 01-09-2021, 12:52 PM   #17
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Default Re: Running additional wires through the clock spring

Sounds like the perfect excuse to learn house wiring!

https://youtu.be/A5OHrf_l3b8
...
Bryan Cotton
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Rebuilt at 204,067 September 2017
Engine, subframe, diff pin mod, brake lines, headliner, alternator, and so on!
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Old 01-09-2021, 03:34 PM   #18
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Default Re: Running additional wires through the clock spring

Just finished combining 2 clock springs I pulled from the junkyard yesterday. With one ribbon cable inside the housing, it would turn about 5 and a half times end to end. With 2 inside the housing that gets reduced to 4 turns end to end. I checked how many turns it takes from lock to lock in the car and it was about 3. So as long as the wiring holds up to the current, this method should work.
...
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Old 01-09-2021, 10:28 PM   #19
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Default Re: Running additional wires through the clock spring

Nice!

That wire looks a bit more substantial than the ribbons I've found in other clocksprings
hopefully it has enough area to handle your load..
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Old 01-10-2021, 03:28 PM   #20
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Default Re: Running additional wires through the clock spring

I had a '93 SL1 5-speed that did not have factory cruise control. But I drove the interstate a lot and wanted cruise control. So my cure was to find the parts in a wrecking yard and install them in my car. It turned out that the wiring and connectors were allready installed in my car, so I just needed the hardware parts, meaning the controller (by the accelerator pedal), the 2 pedal switches, and the switch on the steering wheel with it's wiring.

At that time, I was required to get a clock spring that was specifically for the cruise control. The cruise clock spring and the non-cruise clock spring were different. I don't know if the non-cruise part had fewer conductors in it or the plugs at the ends of those conductors were missing the sockets for the cruise wiring.

It was a simple install to put in the cruise control parts. I had to modify the back part of steering wheel cover for the switch, and everything else just bolted in and plugged in. Disassembling the steering column was probably the most labor intensive part of the whole process. When I was finished, it worked flawlessly. No problems what so ever.

My point is, that there seems to be a clock spring with extra conductors in it (at least for that '94 SL1), so you might check out that possibility for your project!


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