PO Box 396
Hope Valley

Rhode Island




Returning A Wood-Bodied '46 Chrysler Town And Country To Concours Status
Cars & Parts, September, 2000 - Woodie Resto by Ken New
Mostly, we find mice damage, Steve Glazier offered when asked to comment on problems he encounters with aging automotive wiring. Glazier's restoration shop, Glazier Pattern & Coach Works, is directing a full-blown restoration on a 1946 Chrysler Town and Country that is in the finishing stages - and the subject of this restoration series. One of the final steps is the addition of a new reproduction wiring harness. "Some of the worst spots," Glazier added, "are holes (through cowls and interior panels) where the mice want to go." Glazier says that almost every car that enters his shop shows signs where mice have eaten away the cotton insulation from the wires. The potential for a devastating fire is scary. Another condition Glazier finds is the tendency for older insulation to crack easily when flexed. Wiring on most cars built prior to the mid-50s features cotton insulation sleeves.

The Narragansett Management Team includes owners Miki and Ed Pease, left, and son and daughter, Eric and Mandi.

The sleeves are dry rotted and it's not uncommon for big chunks of the insulation to break away leaving the wires bare. Certainly a potentially dangerous condition exists when two or more potentially hot tempered wires attempt to occupy the same spot. Even when multiple wires aren't involved, arcing and fusing of single wires is common, especially when a six volt battery is part of the system as in T&C. Six-volt electrics demand high amperage and low voltage, a potentially rowdy duo when not held in check.

All of the scenarios mentioned above were present in the harness of the '46 Woodie It made good sense to discard reproduction harness featuring upgrades that will safeguard the owners' investment. The company chosen to build the wiring harness was Narragansett Reproductions, an automotive wiring specialist located in eh small community of Wood River Junction in the state of Rhode Island.

Narragansett manufactures authentic reproductions of wiring harnesses for just about anything on wheels from Ford 8N tractors to luxurious Lincolns and, of course, a complete set for the '46 woodie. "We haven't kept count, but I suppose we've built 20,000 harnesses" says Narragansett founder Ed Pease, a mathematical engineer who left his profession more than 40 years ago to concentrate on restoring old cars.

Starting in the mid-'60s in a four-car garage, Pease and his brother Jack were soon riding herd over a 20-car facility. "We could restore just about everything - but I was bothered that I couldn't find the correct wires. Plastic and tape didn't fit our needs, "Pease says.

In the early '70s, a braiding machine was purchased to remanufacture an authentic wiring harness for a Pierce Arrow. Thirty years later, the restoration shop is gone and Pease and his brother have gone separate ways but both remain in the wiring business. Jack runs Rhode Island Wiring Services, Kingston, RI and Ed runs Narragansett Reproductions.

Recently Ed, at 64, took steps to turn over the day-today operations at Narragansett to his son Eric. The younger Pease is an energetic 27 year old who has been officially on the payroll for nine years - having gotten into the wiring business at a much younger age. When he was nine years old, he designed and built a hazard-warning relay for a '40s-era Lincoln.

When Eric officially joined the operation, he introduced the use of machine tools into workflow to service customer needs not available in the restoration industry. An example is a fixture he machined to reproduce the injection-molded rubber insulators located in the wiring harness of the '60s-era Ford. Currently, projects include directing the shop into the electronic age by mapping all new jobs with computer software.

Narragansett is a stickler for authenticity, matching the exact colors, fabrics, etc., yet its wiring products feature materials that are superior to the originals in quality and function. Modern plastic-coated wires are used throughout, plus, Pease says "wiring to a cigar lighter is typically inadequate. We upgrade to a heavier wire."

Please click an image below for photos and more details from the Woodie Resto article:


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Narragansett Reproductions - Wood River Junction - Rhode Island