installation tools and shop supplies?
The Pro.Fit Wire Worm
Installer's Toolbox #2
My very first accessories post was about the S&G wire stripper. I've decided to retroactively make it the start of a series. With "Installer's Toolbox" I'll talk about the accessories that help us all with car stereo system installation.
I already own most of the installation tools that we carry, and I'm happy for any an excuse to get more of them - like the Pro.Fit Wire Worm.
One of the most challenging aspects of installing a car system is running the wire. Amplifier installations can be particularly difficult, running wires the length of the car, often through tight crevices. But other projects in your vehicle, like adding a satellite radio tuner, a Bluetooth phone kit, or a CD changer (yes, people do still listen to CDs) also involve running hidden cables.
The difficulty comes when we try to run wire under carpet, behind panels, or through any area that's hard to access, such as the firewall or the small boot that goes from the cabin of the vehicle into the doors. More to come on this location....
Many backyard installers use wire coat hangers to route the cables through these hard-to-reach areas. Coat hangers can be helpful, but they have some problems as well. It's easy for the hanger to puncture the boots, gaskets, and grommets that you intend to run your wire through. This can allow dust and moisture to enter sensitive areas and sometimes sends your wire into areas you don't intend. And coat hangers are also difficult to control.
- it's more flexible, so it can make it through some challenging areas with many bends
- it's not sharp, so it's not likely to poke through soft areas, like grommets or boots
- it's still rigid enough to muscle its way through areas where you want it to go
- it's easier to store in your toolbox
How does it work?
Tape the cable to one end of the wire worm and then push the other end through the area you're dealing with. Once the wire worm comes through to the point where your taped-on wire is accessible, you un-tape your wire and you're done. It's easier than threading a needle.
Still a little bit esoteric? I'll break it down - with pictures.
I'm putting a new sound system in my 2005 Scion tC. It's truly a labor of love, and it's truly a test of my patience and abilities. I'll be talking more about this installation when it's complete, but for now I'll show you one of the ways I used the Wire Worm.
I'm installing an entirely new sound system that includes amplifiers and speakers. I'm running new speaker wire to each speaker rather than using the tiny factory wire. There were three basic steps to getting the wire into the doors (after removing the door and kick panels and the factory speakers):
Identify the rubber boot that is above the kick panel which goes into the door. The factory wires all pass through there. It has grommets at each end, and it's often got a bit of an "S" shape. Tricky indeed. It's hard to reach the area where the boot meets the cabin, and if you just try to push wire through, it will get hung up in the boot and go nowhere.
Tape the speaker wire to the end of the Wire Worm. I had great results using electrical tape. I wrapped it fairly tight, and made sure I had at least 1/2" of tape on the Wire Worm past the end of the speaker wire and, conversely, on the speaker wire, past the end of the worm. That extra tape on each side makes the connection stronger so it doesn't disengage while you're pulling through the problem area.
Push the Wire Worm from the kick panel, through the boot, and into the door of the car. I had to work it a little bit, pushing in and pulling out, in order to get it through, but it was much simpler than I had expected.
You can start on either side. It only depends on what area gives you the easiest access. In fact, when I did the driver's side, I started inside the door, and pushed the wire through the boot into the cabin.
Accessing the doors was the primary way I used the Wire Worm in my installation, but there were other times it came in handy. I used the worm to pull 2 AWG power wire (technically known as "big, honkin' power wire") through the firewall, I also used it to pull both speaker wire and the Alpine Ai-Net control cable through the rear side panel area behind the seatbelt assembly and into the hatch area.
At the end of the day, I'm glad I bought the Pro.Fit Wire Worm. It won't catch any fish, but it definitely made my day a lot easier, and it helps me get more bass.