• Over the years I've made up lots of plug wire sets for myself and friends of mine. It can help give your motor that extra little attention to detail that can set it apart from everyone else, and give it a nice clean look.

    In this article I'll show you step-by-step how to do this. It's pretty simple, and just takes a little time and patience. Of course, you'll need to go out and buy another special tool for this job. Here's what you'll need to pull this off:
    • A pair of medium-size wire cutters
    • A pair of pliers
    • A special spark plug terminal crimping tool

    My crimping tool is from MSD - Part Number 3505. This is available from lots of places on the internet; just type the PN into and pick your merchant.  This is a great professional-quality crimper. You can also buy all kinds of jaw inserts for many other types of crimping applications. The tool is shown below.
    I used some FRPP wires because they were the right color, and the right price. I removed all the lettering on them with brake cleaner and a towel. These are great wires, but they come a bit long and I wasn't satisfied with the fitment. Since these wires already had ends on them, I had to cut them off and install some new ones I picked up from a local performance shop.

    Lots of plug wires are available from manufacturers like MSD, Taylor, Moroso, LiveWires, etc. Many of these companies offer kits without the terminals installed so you can cut and crimp them to fit your motor perfectly. That's what we're going to do in this article.

    So down to business... You need to mock up all your spark plug wires in their respective locations. Starting at the post marked #1 on the distributor cap and moving counter-clockwise, the order is 1-3-7-2-6-5-4-8. You can mark the cap with a sharpie or scratch the numbers in with an awl if it helps you.

    Here are my passenger side wires loose.
    ...and the driver side wires just after I started looming them with zip ties.
    Since I don't have tons of money for fancy billet plug wire separators, I just use zip ties. It may not be as fancy but it comes out looking pretty clean and it's a lot cheaper! Simply wrap a medium size zip tie around the plug wires, and then a smaller one goes around the medium one between each plug wire.

    Starting from the spark plugs, carefully loom up the plug wires moving toward the distributor so they fit exactly how you like them. You'll have a bunch of wire hanging over at the distributor cap, but that's okay - we'll fix that later.

    Here's what mine looked like when I was done looming up the passenger side.
    Now you need to starting cutting the plug wires to length and installing the new terminals. As I mentioned earlier, I used FRPP wires which already have ends installed. You can simply pull the rubber boot off the end that attaches to the distributor and it will look like this.
    If you want, go ahead and snap it onto the distributor so you can see how they fit.
    Here are the new terminals I picked up. I think these are from MSD. These are the correct ones for the distributor end of your 5.0 Ford. If you're making wires for a different kind of car, make sure that you get the correct terminals for your application.
    Now that your plug wires are loomed up and you've got your terminals ready, you can mock up the wires on the distributor cap and cut them to length. In this picture, the left wire (which I'm holding) is going to the "bottom" exposed post, and the wire right next to it is going to the post above it. Use your wire cutters to cut the plug wire about 1/2" past the terminal.

    Then put the cut wire in your crimping tool, and strip off the insulation with the cutting part of the tool with a hole in it.

    Once the insulation is stripped, it will expose the actual wire that conducts spark to your spark plugs.  It will look like this:

    Now fold that wire over back onto the insulated part of the plug wire, and put the new terminal loosely on the end. I always "pinch" the new terminal a little bit with some pliers first - but only just enough so that it is snug and will hold itself onto the plug wire. Here's what it should look like:

    Here's a somewhat blurry picture from the side:

    You can re-check your fitment by mocking up the plug wire on your distributor, and make any adjustments as necessary.

    Once you're satisfied with the fit, go ahead and put the end of the wire with the terminal on it into your crimping tool. The closed end is on the bottom of the tool with the round surface, and the open end goes up toward the part of the tool with the small point in the middle.

    Now just squeeze the handle on the tool, and it will be crimped.
    All you have to do now is put the rubber boot back on with the open end of the terminal pointed toward the open end of the boot. Make sure you get it lined up right before pushing it back into the boot. I usually use a quick spray of WD40 to make them go in easier.

    Now just repeat that seven more times for the plug wires, and twice on the ignition coil wire (both ends) and you're done!  Here's what my wires looked like all done:
    You're done! Great job! Now you can charge your friends to do this for them to help pay for the cost of the crimping tool!! Plus you'll have the cleanest plug wire setup on the block.

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. IDMooseMan's Avatar
      IDMooseMan -
      Very nice, Paul. I would like to make one suggestion regarding the initial removal of the distributor cap boot end.

      Instead of pulling the boot completely off, push it back from the end so it stays on the spark plug wire. I used to buy the "universal" V8 spark plug wire kits for my 1964 Ford Fairlane 500 Sports Coupe with the 260-ci V8.

      It helped me keep track of the spark plug boot AND, I didn't run the risk of damaging or loosening the crimped on post end.
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