factory console gauge ammeter...is it safe? - Team Camaro Tech
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old Mar 22nd, 08, 04:43 AM Thread Starter
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factory console gauge ammeter...is it safe?

I've read a lot of threads on here where people insist the ammeter is safe, but AAW and pretty much everybody else I talk to say these are a fire hazard. I'm installing the gauges now and while testing we had some smoking at the fuse box. We pulled the fuse box and the only thing that looked abnormal was the ammeter wire had a bent pin which we straightened. Plugged the fuse box back and no more smoke. It makes me a little nervous thinking that the was the problem.

AAW's not recommending using the ammeter is revealing as well, after all they make the harness so they are aware of how it's protected or not.

Let me know your thoughts. I'm thinking of pulling the wires for it and buying a voltmeter.

Thanks.

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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old Mar 22nd, 08, 06:03 AM
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Re: factory console gauge ammeter...is it safe?

Quote:
Originally Posted by booman55 View Post
I've read a lot of threads on here where people insist the ammeter is safe, but AAW and pretty much everybody else I talk to say these are a fire hazard. I'm installing the gauges now and while testing we had some smoking at the fuse box. We pulled the fuse box and the only thing that looked abnormal was the ammeter wire had a bent pin which we straightened. Plugged the fuse box back and no more smoke. It makes me a little nervous thinking that the was the problem.

AAW's not recommending using the ammeter is revealing as well, after all they make the harness so they are aware of how it's protected or not.

Let me know your thoughts. I'm thinking of pulling the wires for it and buying a voltmeter.

Thanks.
I have mine disconnected. I use a volt gauge in the glove box.

1968 Camaro Convertible ,350 TWIN TURBO , PTC 3000 stall, Hotchkis TVS kit / Subframe connectors, Caltracs, 9" rear, Street Star wheels (P275/40ZR17 / P235/45/17) , Electric cutouts. [B] .....FOR SALE.....
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old Mar 22nd, 08, 06:03 AM
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Re: factory console gauge ammeter...is it safe?

The stock ammeter is as safe as any other wire in the car that is connected to power.

Unlike the ammeters in an old mopar, or most aftermarket add on ammeters, the full current of the car is not passed thru the Camaro's ammeter.





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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old Mar 22nd, 08, 06:56 AM Thread Starter
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Re: factory console gauge ammeter...is it safe?

This is a blurb posted in a Wiki:
"There is also an ammeters out there that have an external shunt. An external shunt is basically a very low value resistor that is in series just as the ammeter was in the previous example, and then the ammeter is in parrallel to the shunt. Basically MOST of the current goes through the shunt and only a small percentage goes through the ammeter. By knowing the resistance of the shunt and the meter, the meter is able to calculate the total current by measuring only the small current that goes through the meter. This kind of setup allows small wires to be run to the ammeter in the cockpit, and the high current to remain in the engine compartment. The danger in these setups on some old cars is there isn't a fuse on that small ammeter wire, So if the shunt is damaged or a connector breaks, it would try to flow all the current through the remaining path which is the small ammeter wire and that would melt that wire (along with whatever else it is next to)."

Is this correct for the Camaro wiring setup?
In hindsight, I wish I would have gone with the meters you have Jim. Probably saved a few bucks and headache as well.

Thanks!

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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old Mar 22nd, 08, 07:34 AM
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Re: factory console gauge ammeter...is it safe?

Yes, that is an accurate description of the Camaro's external shunt ammeter wiring, almost.

#1: If you are using a correct battery cable, the small wire from the battery to the junction block IS a fusible link. (note it may not be with "universal parts store" cables!)

#2: The odds of anything bad happening to the 5 feet of 10 gauge wire running across the rad support between the battery side junction block and the horn relay / main splice are really slim to none.

I personally would not be concerned with the safety of the factory guage and wiring, assuming a mostly stock electrical system.

As for my own choice of gauges, I studied on this a lot. I was originally going to use repro factory gauges. I eventually chose the autometers because:
1: I wanted a voltmeter as it is more meaningfull, and I could not find anyone who could "redo" the factory ammter to read voltage.
2: I like numbers on my gauges, it makes them feel more accurate.
3: The "low fuel" light lens is not reproduced and I could not locate a used one.
4: I wanted to keep my idiot lights. The factory gauge wiring loses the gen, oil, and temp lights.
5: COST. My gauges cost a TOTAL of $700. Half of that was for the repro tictoc tach.
My cost estimate for a factory setup was well mnore than double that.





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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old Mar 22nd, 08, 07:55 AM Thread Starter
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Re: factory console gauge ammeter...is it safe?

Thanks for the clarification Jim. I agree 100% with your choice of Autometer over FCG. I feel better that my investment is not going to go up in smoke. I think I am going to buy a voltmeter as I too like to have something that gives me numbers. I'm probably going to unhook the ammeter.

Thanks for all your help with the console gauges. I got the right cable from AAW and it made a world of difference. Of course, they sent me the wrong one again originally, but lucky for me I live pretty close to Bellmawr, NJ, so I paid them a visit to do an exchange. I actually bought the low fuel module from them as well, but I'm going to scrap that since it was too much trouble to get wired and it doesn't have a lens in the dash.

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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old Mar 22nd, 08, 09:05 AM
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Re: factory console gauge ammeter...is it safe?

I put a ampmeter in the dash of a early 80's pontiac for a friend around 1987 along with some other small gauges that fit into existing openings in the dash.Everything was fine for a few months and then all he had was time to pull over and get out ;the car went up so fast he didn't have time to even get the radar detector off the viser.I wired it direct like insructions said.Use one of the methods above but don't wire one directly around any thing flammable,like the inside of a car.Stupid Stainless Dog found out the hard way.......
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