Saturday, May 26, 2012

Did I Stutter?

As I expected from all this daily driving, a new issue would arise.  Today is all about that.

On the drive into work on May23 the engine suddenly shut itself off 3 times.  First as I was pulling onto Walker Road off the 217, again on driveway off Jenkins and last in the parking lot while I puttered looking for a spot.  Some quick research showed me that the main power relay (Relay 109) really sucks on these ALH TDI engines.  Apparently, folks buy them in bunches, and keep spares in their glove box just in case these things happen.  So, I ordered a couple from ($10 each plus shipping).  In my classic impatient way, I bought another one at Discount Import Parts (DIP) on the corner of Hall and Scholls Ferry Rd (Progress exit off 217).

Relay 109 Symptoms, but not 109
Thursday night, I tried swapping the relays, but the same effect happened.  Friday night, I tried some additional diagnosis with Boo listening while I tried starting / runing him.  As we talked about possible causes over breakfast this morning, she hit on it: it starts fine, but when you try to just run him, he dies.

Dang, it was me!
solenoid over zebra
striped rear of bus
I drove back to the bus this afternoon.  I grabbed one of the ignition relays that I put in to spook the ignition key action (see Inch by Inch) and headed for Radio Shack.  I got another relay there, but their supply of wire ends has turned to crap, so I hit O'Reilly's for wire ends (I got some heat-shrink too, but forgot electrical tape).  Back to the bus.  I started un-taping the wires from their respective ends and found 2 loose ones.  First, was the juice from the battery headed for the "run" relay.  Second was the connection between the 2 relay send signal wires and the one-way solenoid.  That one-way solenoid sends juice down to 2 of the 3 major spots, so this was a big deal.  Once these were repaired, the bus is road-worthy again.  I intend to return to the bus with the heat-shrink (and a lighter) and really seal up all of those connections.  With all the use the bus has been getting, it is crucial to have the wiring done for keeps.  This serves as a good reminder to myself: fab with the long term in mind.  Don't just do enough to get it to work.   Do it right enough so that it will last a while.  I put it that way because it is easy to over-engineer things for "lasting a lifetime", when you're just going to change your mind about things a few years from now.

Well, there's still daylight left, so I'm gonig to take a celebratory drive down the way to Taco del Mar to celebrate with a burrito.  As always, thanks for following along and more next time...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Zoom zoom

It seems that I've been gone long enough for the blogger format to have changed.  Apologies to my regular readers for both my delay and for any weirdness caused by the new blogger interface.  It'll be a basic update today, just touching on bus stuff.

Daily Driving
The ol' bus and I have been a tight-pair the last few weeks.  I've been driving him to work and back pretty much every day.  I've noticed a few things that are curious, but not necessarily alarming.  First, the coolant level continues to drop, but I can't spot a leak.  Also, the pressure (or is it vacuum?) build-up is so pure and strong that after a drive the coolant bottle is nearly empty.  When I remove the cap of the fill-bottle, coolant splashes back in all the way to the full line.  Crazy.  So, I hear the low-coolant alarm in the donor dash, but it doesn't necessarily mean I'm low on coolant... I really over-filled the bottle this morning.  I'll post what happens.
Second, there's an oil leak.  I don't know where it is, but the bus definitely leaves his mark when I park him. I think the oil line to or from the turbo could be it, or its the oil cooler or maybe the underside of the oil filter housing.  Regardless, I'll find a dry day next weekend and tighten everything.  I was just under there last weekend re-tightening all the coolant line hose clamps.  There's always something, but that's part of owning a 40 year old car.

Acceleration Interruption
fixed and re-installing
On the way home from work on Friday May 11th, I had a breakdown in the left-hand progress (not turn) lane during rush-hour.  The accelerator suddenly dropped to the floor and I was rolling without throttle control.  The RPM's dropped to 900, so I quickly scanned the traffic on Hall Blvd (in Beaverton).  I was unable to slide right, so I took a left turn into an apartment complex parking lot through the oncoming traffic.  Sketch.  I removed the front belly pan and discovered that my hack-awful welding job on the accelerator resistor bracket (see Accelerating Slowly) had failed.  Dandy.  With my welder deep in storage, getting this fixed could have been a real time killer.  Fortunately, Boo has a local mechanic guy (Johnny) who can do small welding repairs, so I asked him to do it.  Less than an hour (and only $15) after I gave it to him, the weld was done and the whole thing was painted.  I can''t find a business name for Johnny's garage, but the location is (9085 SW Beaverton Hillsdale Highway, Beaverton, Oregon).  Great guy.  Talk your ear-off, if you let him, but he'll fix your car for a fair price.

Since I've neglected the blog a bit, I'll post again in a couple of days covering snow and personal experiences.... and, of course, another bus conundrum. :)  As always, thanks for following along, and another apology for my blog negligence.