Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Electrical. How (not) fun

I know its been a few weeks. Like so many folks, time disappears around Thanksgiving and it doesn't really re-appear until after New Years Eve. I've been in that time warp, but I have been thinking bus-y thoughts.

Well, that's Interesting

I've spent a few hours in front of televised football, Bentley wiring diagram in hand, trying to figure out the electrical system. I have this very odd electrical behavior I'm trying to chase down.  It all started again when I put the replacement battery in. I shook something loose, and now, when the running light is on, I can't shut off the engine with the key. Turn the key back to run, shut off the lights and then turn the key? Shuts off. The last time this happened, I removed the ground wire for the rear light from the tab and re-attached it. Problem went away. This time? No such luck. The brake warning system light is also illuminated when the running lights are on, so I figured it had something to do with the rear bulb again. I've removed and replaced the bulb, but no luck. The symptom persists. This brings me to my football, Bentley and head-scratching.

Wiring Mess
In looking at the Bentley, the wiring diagram for the brake warning light is pretty simple, but it connects to a few things I wouldn't have expected, like the generator warning system. I concluded that the brake warning light would be on all the time if it wasn't semi-controlled by the generator, so after some thought, that makes sense. Still, I don't have that generator hooked up, so maybe one end of that wire got itself grounded or something. Knowing the holiday break was coming, I concluded that it was finally time, after 10 years of ownership, to pull the face off the dashboard and clean up the wiring. It's actually very easy, like so many things, to take the dashboard apart. 4 Phillips-head screws (2 on each end) hold it on. Before you start removing them, though, detach the speedometer cable. On the old bus, its a right-hand thread-in type. Vanagons have a different set up.

My bus doesn't have the little plastic tips on the "climate" control levers anymore, so I didn't have to remove those. If you have these little tips, be careful; they break easily. Once the screws are out, the face lifts off. Tilt it towards you, so the top slips under the steering wheel. You can do quite a bit of wiring without having to remove the steering wheel, but first, marvel at the dusty, dirty electrical mess behind that dash. Wow.

Enter Winter Break
My employer likes to shut the offices down for the last 2 weeks of the calendar year. They have concluded that many folks take that time off anyway, so why heat a building that only has a handful of people in it? Makes sense. So, I'm lining up work for the break. I'm starting with the wiring. I've spent a few hours figuring out which wires I don't need anymore because of my different engine. I still haven't figured out the weird short in the tail light, and now I have new electrical demons to chase (see picture). The wiring behind the dash is long overdue for some love, and the fuse-box hasn't been attached to the bus frame since I bought it. Yikes. Add in the tail light, and I've got a bit of work ahead.

Plus, I've been wanting a windshield washer, and I haven't had one since I bought the bus. RAtwell lightly describes a way of installing a more modern washer (from the air-pressure model of the bus), but he has a '79. The washer valve is completely different in a '79, so this becomes a greater engineering challenge. Bring it!

Last, I found some headliner material for cheap. The ceiling of the bus is Baltic Birch that was painted white, and looks awful. I thought the foam/felt could absorb a little ambient noise and make the interior a little nicer looking. We'll see if I have the time.

That's it for today. I have already started some of the engineering work around the washer. I'll post on that progress, as well as all the other things I started sine my last post as we enter the new year. Have a great holiday season, and as always, thanks for following along-

No comments: