1st Gen Camaro Battery Relocation
Relocating the battery from the very front corner of the engine bay to the trunk (ideally under the hat shelf) offers a number of benefits:
Weight balance of traditionally front-heavy muscle cars is redistributed to rear to get closer to the ideal 50/50 weight distribution
Better traction taking-off from a stop-light or at the drag strip as more weight is over the rear drive wheels
Less tendency for the nose of the car to dive under hard braking, and the rear wheels are less likely to lift and lock up, very important, especially with crappy old muscle car suspensions (and the horrible rear drum brakes some of you are still using!)
Less tendency for the front of the car to bottom out going through dips
Cleaner engine bay appearance
Makes more room for additional hardware like radiator overflow tanks, cold air intake systems, etc. Iím planning a LS1 swap in the future; by doing the battery relocation correctly Iím hoping to have the room I need and the electrical all ready to go when I finally do the swap.
If you plan to drag race or road race your car you may need special hardware, details on NHRA drag racing and battery relocation can be found here: http://www.popularhotrodding.com/tec...ion/index.html
Ideas / Parts you will need / Cable routing / Etc.
Battery Location: If you care about handling put the battery as close to the middle of your car as possibleÖthat is, as far forward in the trunk as possible. On my 68 Camaro the best location is right over the axle, right behind the rear seat, directly under the hat shelf (in between the speakers). You want as much weight in the middle of the car, or any car for that matter, thatís why most Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and supercars are mid-engined: with the engine between the axles, not on top of the axles like most front engine cars.
Centralized mass = best handling.
I built a battery mount platform using 1/4Ē aluminum plate and 1Ē spacers so I could put the battery right behind the back seat up on the high part of the trunk. I also mounted the amp for my stereo right next to the battery box. The Ford starter solenoid is also on the same platform as the amp. And a hidden kill switch is there too hidden behind a panel.
If you are building a dedicated drag-only car then go ahead and put the battery way back in the passenger-side (right rear) of the trunk (itís probably where most people mount it), yes, that will help with off-the-line traction but itís a horrible location for handling, and old muscle cars need all the help they can get with handling!
Battery Cable: (Grainger.com). 1/0-gauge AWG Battery Cable from Grainger, Quick Cable brand. 1/0 gauge is a big ol cable! Could also use smaller 1-gauge (.29Ē thick). Anything bigger is overkill and anything less will have too much resistance. Welding cable is sometimes popular but I had a friend that used that and after 20 years all the insulation had COMPLETELY fallen apart, I didnít want to have to replace my cable in 20 years so I spent a few more bucks and got the Quick Cable brand, itís made in the USA and meets SAE certification, seems like good stuff but time will tell. You will need approximately 18-20ft of battery cable for the starter and 2-3ft of battery cable for the grounds. I bought a 25 ft bundle and have about 4.5 ft leftover. Note: weight of 25ft of 1/0-gauge cable is 9.5 lbs. Weight of 1-gauge cable is 7.5 lbs, so you can go with thinner 1-gauge cable but youíll only be saving less than 2 lbs.
Hammer Crimper: (Amazon.com). You will need to buy or borrow a hammer crimper to make your own cable. See video for details: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZIRT9kri5w
, donít miss the end where he cuts the cable open and compares the hammer crimp to the standard pinch-type crimp.
Solenoid: (RockAuto.com, any auto parts store, or from the guys at Mad Electrical). Donít leave an unprotected huge gauge cable running the length of your car. A short could cause big problems, especially during an accident.
A popular solution is to use a ďFord-typeĒ solenoid in the trunk, it powers the 1/0 gauge starter cable only during starting. This way the large positive battery cable is only "hot" when the car is being started. Ford started phasing out stand-alone solenoids in the late 90ís, so try to grab one from a 90ís Ford. I ordered mine from a 99 Explorer from RockAuto.com (itís a ford part, I always try to use OE parts, part number: SW-1951-C). By choosing this method I had to run a separate 8-gauge cable from the main alternator post to the battery in the rear to keep it charged and to supply power when the engine is off (read more on that below).
Terminal Block: (junkyard or Mad electrical). I used the alternator terminal as my terminal block for now but the electrical gurus at Mad Electrical recommend the following:
Add a terminal block on the firewall and: 1) Run an 8-gauge wire from the alternator terminal to the firewall terminal block. 2) Run an 8-gauge wire going to the battery in the trunk to keep it charged, and supply battery power when car is off. 3) Run an 8-gauge wire to the Horn Relay. 4) Run a 12-gauge wire to the main power wire going to the dash, which is now shorter since its coming from the terminal block instead of the horn relay. The guys at Mad also recommend 2 terminal blocks under the dash using 12-gauge wire. One will be for constant power, and the other as an ignition-switched power source. These two terminal blocks under the dash will be very convenient for wiring accessories and radios.
Also, be sure to use relays for your headlights to take load off of the interior electrical systemÖbut thatís another forum post. Maybe Iíll get to that somedayÖ
Alternator to Battery Charge Wire: (Grainger.com). Because the 1/0 gauge cable is only hot when cranking the engine you have to run a separate 8-gauge wire from the alternator to the battery to charge the battery. This is also the wire that supplies power for the rest of the car when the engine is off. Route this cable on the inside of the car and up to the firewall, use a grommet at the firewall and connect it to the alternator. I also left the original alternator wire in place as well. I used an 80 amp fuse at the rear by the battery for this cable.
MAD Electrical recommends no longer than 20ft of cable, with the preference at about 18ft to maintain the best resistance to ďslow chargeĒ the battery. See their website for more details: MadElectrial.com Online Catalog
Power Wire Routing: The alternator is the source of power used to operate the electrical systemónot the battery (props to the crew at Mad Electrical). The biggest current draw by far is the starter so run the 1/0 cable directly from the battery positive post to the starter solenoid (or through a kill switch like I did).
Use ďadelĒ clamps to attach the cable to the chassis/frame under the car. I routed mine behind the back seat and outside the car using a special Monster grommet. I used a step drill to drill a hole near the seat belt bolt area. I then ran it along the rear sub-frame and up to the rocker panel after moving the fuel line over a couple inches. It then goes over to the other side of the front sub-frame (on the inside of the sub-frame) and up to the starter.
Running the cable through the interior is not ideal as the cable is very thick. It will leave a lump in carpet, and is really too thick for door sill even tho some guys have run it there.
Ground Wire Routing: Grounds are very, very important, grounds complete the circuit, do not neglect the grounds! All the main metal components in your car should be grounded, the body, engine, and radiator support. Remember, the front sub-frame and radiator support float on rubber mounts so they are basically isolated and need dedicated ground wires if you plan to ground off of them.
Iím essentially using the car body as the negative battery return cable. So the car body should be well grounded. Remember, lights, fans, gauges, and many electrical system parts are connected to ground at the body metal.Other grounds you see are ďstrap-styleĒ noise suppression grounds (for the audio system) usually going from the engine to the body, these are not enough for the starter motor, good grounds are still needed using the same 1/0 or 1 gauge cable you used for the battery to the starter.
1) BATTERY > BODY: This is the main ground that runs from the battery in the trunk to the body. I used the vertical metal behind the seat, sanded off the paint and attached the terminal using a large bolt. I also put a very light coating of dielectric grease on everything.
2) BODY > ENGINE: The primary ground is from the battery to the engine block. This is so the starter motor gets a solid return current path; remember thatís where all the power is going to start the carÖhundreds of amps! I ran a 1/0-gauge ground cable from the body to the engine (I actually used the transmission side tab near the bell-housing).
3) BODY > RADIATOR SUPPORT: Make sure your radiator support has good contact with the body. If it does not run a 1/0 gauge cable from the body to the radiator support. The headlights are grounded to the radiator support so the support needs a good ground for the headlights to work properly.
Battery Tray/Box: (use stock tray, or get from Summit Racing). Make sure the battery is very securely mounted. When mounting the battery I was sure to mount it in the same orientation as the original battery, that is, one post on the right side and one post on the left, instead of front to backÖthe internal plates may move and touch during hard acceleration or braking, causing a short in the battery. This is especially important if using the original battery tray as it was designed to hold the battery in that position. Be sure to run vent tubes to outside of car if using a vented battery (with tubes attached to the vents) or a vented battery box.
If you plan to drag or road race you will need to follow some strict guidelines. An enclosed box may be required (Moroso 74051, and larger 74050 boxes are plastic and approved by NHRA and this is what I used). Please check the link at the top for more info on race requirements.
Battery Disconnect Ė Theft Prevention: (Summit Racing). I like the idea of having a removable key in the trunk that disconnects the battery so I went with the Longacre 45748 Battery Disconnect Switch (http://www.summitracing.com/parts/LNG-45748
). Not something to use all the time just every now and then when you park someplace sketchy. And yes, if someone really wants my car they can flat-bed it away, but Iím more worried about the amateur crook who wants to make a quick buck. Anyone whoís over locked their keys in their old car knows that the AAA guys can open em up in about 5 seconds! Theft prevention is a whole nuther topicÖ
Battery Disconnect Ė Racing: If you plan to visit the track (drag or racetrack) regulations will probably require some sort of external battery shutoff switch. Iím not doing one at this point cause drag racing to me is kinda boring, I like to turn, I know thatís crazy! And on the track 45-year-old muscle cars are not so fun, unless you spend tens of thousands making them fun, and if I was going to do that Iíd just get an Exige or GT3 (or even a CBR600) and track it. So Iím not concerned with the track for this car.
Remember, the external kill switch/pull-lever/whatever does not have to be permanent. Install it in such a way thatís itís easy to remove. You wonít want a pull handle disconnect hanging off the back of your car when you are not at the track.
Connectors: (Grainger.com or other electrical outlet) Obviously wherever you make a ground be sure to clean off all the old paint and rust. Also a good idea to use star washers too. Use a hammer crimper and some Quick cable brand 1/0 terminals to make the cables. Make sure you seal both ends of the cables with heat shrink tubing so water and corrosion doesn't get soaked into the strands. Corrosion can cause bad connections, do not underestimate corrosion. Use dielectric grease too, it aids current flow by preventing corrosion, but it does not conduct electricity itself, merely acts as a barrier to corrosion, a super-thin coat is all you need.
Fuses: (auto parts store, amazon.com, etc.) The starter motor cable is the only electrical circuit that should not be protected by a fuse, circuit breaker, fusible link, etc, it needs full power! It needs to draw all the power that the battery has to start the car, so a fuse is pointless.
For the battery charge cable use one 80A fuse, a new-car style ďmaxifuseĒ is probably best as they are easy to find and replace. Again, a fuse should be used at the battery for everything except the main starter cable.
Battery Vent Tube: If you are using vented battery box run a rubber hose into the wheel well (or elsewhere) to vent the potentially toxic battery gases. I ran mine behind the seat and exiting out of the car down near the seat belt bolt area. Also, some batteries have small vent "nipples", small hoses can be slipped over the ends and run out of the trunk.
Grommets: Use hard plastic (not rubber) grommets for the main 1/0 gauge cable, rubber grommets can wear with years of friction and eventually wear through. I got mine from Monster, they are massive but seemed to work well, hopefully they last. : )
Rear Firewall: (stock). A rear firewall between trunk and read seat may be needed for certain racing bodies. See the article at the top for more info.
Battery Mat: (Eastwood) There is a mat, from Eastwood, its flat and sits under the whole battery, soaks up the acid from the battery if it spills, maybe not a bad idea.
Estimated the costs:
Battery Cable (25 ft.): $138 (Grainger.com)
8-ga Charge Cable (25ft.): $42 (Grainger.com)
Starter Solenoid: $25 (RockAuto.com or Mad Electrical)
Connectors (1/0ga, 8ga): $50 (Grainger.com)
Battery Box: $70 (Iím using the small Moroso box, SummitRacing.com)
Battery Tray: $0 (Fabbed my own using scrap ľĒ alum plate, or use original tray in trunk)
Battery Disconnect Switch: $15 (Longacre brand, Amazon.com)
1/0 Cable Routing: $10 for adel clamps (local hardware store or online is actually cheaper)
Heat Shrink Tubing: $10 (any online or local electrical store)
Fuses: 80amp fuse: $5 (Online or Grainger.com)
Battery Vent Tube: $2 (included with Moroso box, or get from local hardware store)
Grommets: $10 (Monster brand for large grommet, hardware store for small ones)
Hammer Crimper: $20 (Amazon.com)
Rear Firewall: $??? (optional, only needed if racing)
Battery Mat: $5 (optional)
My engine actually feels like it cranks faster than it used to.
Thanks to everyone on this site as I pulled much of this from the site here, and thanks to the guys at Mad Electrical, I learned a bunch of good information from their website too. I canít stress that enough, most of this was not my idea, I merely tried to gather all the data and put it in one location explaining how I did my battery relocation, hope it helps. Good luck.
Warning: Attempt all of these modifications at your own risk. If you are not sure of your abilities do not attempt these modifications. I am not responsible for any information in this article; it is simply a recap of how I performed this modification. Your vehicle may be different, please consult a professional regarding everything you read here.