Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Prepping for Paint

While working on the windshield washer effort, I got to thinking about the paint on the front of the bus. Those 2 tiny nozzles were original as is the paint on most of the bus, and the paint is in about as good a shape as those nozzles were: barely functional. So, once I got the washer bits done, I resolved to getting the paint looked at and decided that I was going to prep and paint the nose.

Organization is Key
headlight can rust
from 12 o'clock to 5
One thing that John Muir was always harping about was the need to properly tag and bag your bits an pieces. I wholeheartedly agree. No matter how optimistic you are about spending every spare moment on your project, things come up. There's a Bruin game on tv or there's a freak snowstorm you want to go play (or have to work) in. So, as bolts come off, collect them into zip-lock baggies and write with a Sharpie on the bag what the bits are for. The only exception to following this religiously is when you can thread the bolt back into its originating location (bumper bolts, eg) where they won't get in the way, or lost.

Beyond the baggies, the parts I removed needed to be categorized. Some things, like the front bumper, don't need any additional work done to them except maybe a soap-water wash or a polish. Others, like the headlamp cans need to be rust sanded, primed and painted. A final pile was created for those things which just needed to be replaced because they were beyond rust repair or a replacement was less expensive than trying to save the old part.

Removing the Bright Work
turn signal during removal
I love that British phrase for what we colonists call "the chrome pieces". Bright work sounds so much more refined. Rather than tape off things, I chose instead to remove everything and go deep on rust while I was at it. The front bumper goes first with 8 bolts: 2 each under the doors and then 2 each on either side of the belly pan. I'd hand-painted it with white rustoleum paint (see Front Bumper part 4) about a year ago. It held up okay, but the white looks dirty already. I guess I should have washed it more often. Regardless, I set the bumper into the back of the bus to start the wash/polish pile.

Once the front bumper was off, I pulled the headlight surrounds (one Phillips-head bolt and it pops out), headlamps and the cans. The original cans have rust spots on them, and the body cavities where the cans reside have a little too. Considering the bus is 40+ years old, I thought that was a really good sign. The headlight surrounds went with the front bumper. As I pulled the cans out of the nose of the bus, I labeled which side each can came from. I separated the bolts and spring and put all of that stuff into a single headlamp baggie. The cans started the rust treat pile. Next, I removed the front turn signals. The lenses are good, but filthy (clean/polish pile) but the housings were spotted with rust. I simply touched the reflector with a finger and it started flaking off. So, the turn signal housings started the "replace" pile. The housings were then joined by the fresh-air vent intake: rust appeared on the back/inside, and a replacement is available at busdepot.

stripped of what could be removed
and the sanding started
The last thing to remove (in my case) is the spare tire hanger. Held on by 3 thick screws, the tire mount appears more universal than I'd realized. It had a dusting of surface rust / patina in a few areas, but, again, it was in great shape for its age. Clearly, it wasn't original, though, as I found a sloppy peace sign had been spray-painted on the nose prior to the tire mount being installed. The tire mount went into the rust treat/paint pile and the screws into a baggie.

Now, the nose is ready for paint. Except... the windshield is still in... and won't it look funny if just the nose is painted, and the doors that match up against the nose aren't? The story continues next time.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Early Bay Windshield Washer mod (part 3)

Continuing from the last 2 posts, this part of the washer modification focuses on the electrical. Sorry it took so long to get this out. I ran into challenges getting the switch installed, as you'll see. It does work, and I've already moved on to the next big thing... which I'll get to posting about soon, I hope :)

Pump Wiring
The pump has 2 pins. I can't speak for the vanagon pump, but the more modern pump I used doesn't appear to be polarity sensitive. Meaning, you can apply 12V to either pin, with the other to negative/ground, and the pump will run the same way. Neat. I wired the pin closer to the rounded end of the plug to ground. For a ground, I used the headlamp ground, and an insulated ring connector on the end of a brown wire (brown for standard ground color consistency).
The signal or 12V pin was wired to the wiper switch with a green wire. The other pin on the switch was red-wired to the number 30 terminal on the wiper switch. I mentally debated this point. I could have used another circuit in the fuse box, but finally concluded that having a single fuse/circuit dedicated to the wiper and washer should be fine load-wise and easier to diagnose later.
I tested every connection with a multi-meter, verifying that continuity existed before moving on to the next section. I also applied 12V at the terminal 30 and demonstrated that the pump would fire when the button was pushed before considering the electrical done. I still had the switch to install into the dash, but the system was otherwise complete... but, of course, getting the button into the dash is what started this multi-post topic.

Prepare the Switch
roughed-in mount
Arguably, this is getting into what you have most likely been waiting for. The old switch/valve needs to be taken apart. The valve is held on with 2 long brass rivets. Drill them out with a 9/64 drill bit. A slightly larger one might work too. Once the rivets are gone, the valve pops off. Grab the small rubber disk that sits between the button-rod and the valve; you'll need that disk later. In my case, when I separated the valve from the switch, the rubber disk didn't just sit there, it jumped and ran. Chase it, you'll need it. Push the long brass rivet remains out of the switch.

Fab a Mount
With a pair of tin snips, cut a 3/4" wide strip from some grade 24 ducting. Step-drill a 1/4" hole in the center. Bend the strip into the shape in the picture here, and then drill 7/64" holes center-aligned with the larger 1/4" hole. To prevent the strip from grounding against the tabs on the switch, it needs to be trimmed down with the tin snips. This takes a few rounds of test fit, trim, etc. File the sharp edges. Your fingers and wiring behind the dash will thank you. 

Put it Together
switch during testing
Once the mount is formed, slip the McMaster-Carr switch through the hole, include the washer and tighten the nut. With 2 #8 Phillips-head screws (not bolts) each at least a 1/2" long, mate the mount with the switch. Test the fit with the knob and button (with long pin) in place. I found that the button on the McMaster-Carr switch and the end of the long pin didn't exactly meet, so some fiddling with the mount was necessary before it could be fully torqued down. We now have a working switch. But when bench tested, the pin without the rubber disk doesn't hit the McMaster-Carr button cleanly 100% of the time. So, the rubber disk needs to be part of the final equation. You can see the disk in the "testing" picture. This is where it gets interesting.

Dash Install
The old wiper switch fits into the dash by being fed through from the front (front-is-front!). The new switch with the added washer activator does too, but there's a complication. In order to fit through, the knob and button with the long pin need to be removed from the switch. If the long pin needs to have the rubber disk set onto it to properly activate the McMaster-Carr button, then how do we assemble all the pieces? It's not easy. I tried spot-gluing the rubber disk to the end of the McMaster-Carr switch. No good. I tried removing the mount, installing the switch into the dash and then re-assembling in situ. Nope. I tried a few other permutations too. I was able to get the whole thing installed and functional by barely threading the McMaster-Carr switch into the mount, and installing the dash-switch into the dash hole like that.... with the dashpod removed so I could get my hands in there. Then, install the turny-knob (beware: technical wibble-ly wobble-ly terms ahead) onto the dash-switch. Next, hold the rubber disk against the dash-switch while feeding the button with the long pin through the turny-knob and press it into the tiny hole in the rubber disk. This is hard with thicker fingers. Now, tighten the nut around the McMaster-Carr switch to set it tight. Test the action with a multi-meter to make sure the switch activates properly. If necessary, the mount can be pressed tighter towards the dash for a reliable action. After all the fiddling, mine needs a slight adjustment.

Button It Up
Once in-place, test the washer system first without water. If the pump fires up when you push the button on the dash, you can then test with water in the bottle. It will take a little time for the pump to prime, and for the washer lines to fill. Once the water makes it to the nozzles, adjust them so the stream lands in the center of each wiper path. Once adjusted, verify the tightness of the various mechanical connections (pump to body, switch to dash, etc), put your kick panels back on, and you're done! Hazah!

That's it for today. Thanks, as always, for following along. I hope you found this useful. More next time...

Monday, January 5, 2015

Early Bay Windshield Washer mod (part 2)

Continuing from the last post, I'm assuming you have the parts in hand.  Looking at the project, we have some larger logistics to figure out, and then some smaller detail construction. Again, all bus content this time, like last time. I'm going to just focus on the water part of the washer in this posting. Next time, I'll tackle the switch fabrication stuff.

Pump Location
pump mount strap
RAtwell suggests placing the pump below the tank so it doesn't run dry. I totally agree, though finding a spot you can get to for maintenance can be tricky. I placed my pump below the driver's side "floor" heat duct. To mount it, I got plastic pipe support strapping from Home Depot for about $3. The geniuses at the HomeDepot website don't list it, so I've linked it at a different supplier here. I pop-riveted a loop around the pump leaving a 3" tail. In the lip along the floor, there are pre-existing holes. I simply slipped a Phillips head screw through the hole and tightened it into the plastic tail. Easy peasy.

Running Lines
I don't have the benefit of having the old rubber hoses to show me where the replacements go (or even how long they are). For everyone else, since we placed the pump where we did, the rubber lines will move a little bit. I ran my line from the pump behind the air vent and then behind the radio slot. Since one of the benefits of this modification is to remove the risk of washer juice spraying into the electricals behind the dash, moving the pump-line-to-the-2-nozzle-lines junction ("Y") as far away as possible seemed prudent.

Old Nozzles Out
Pop out the nozzles and pop the new ones in. After wrestling with the passenger-side one, I found that you can rotate the nozzles from the outside 90* and it could pop right out. The driver-side one popped that way. Good thing too; accessing the nozzle from the cab-side is blocked by the dashboard and then the wiper mechanics. The passenger-side nozzle can be reached from behind the glovebox. I squeezed the tabs with a pair of needle-nose pliers and got it to slide out that way.
The new nozzles pop right in, but don't do it yet.

New Lines In
RAtwell, you're still amazing
Cut equal lengths of rubber hose for each nozzle-line, press them into the arms of the "Y" junction. I think mine were about 2 feet long. Run the nozzle lines through the retaining clips near the nozzle mounts and then feed the lines out through the holes the nozzles set into. Now you can press the nozzle hoses into the nozzles, and then pop the nozzles into the holes. You'll have to adjust the direction of the jets, but that needs to wait until later.
The last line to fit together is the pump output line. It simply presses into the base of the "Y" junction. Now, you should have the water system completed. It consists of an air line from the tank up behind the glove box, the water bottle, a hose (less than a foot) from the tank to the pump, the pump, a hose from the pump to the junction, the "Y" junction, 2 nozzle-hoses that run from the junction to the nozzles and finally 2 nozzles.

That's it for today. Next time, I'll get after the modifications to the early bay wiper switch to power the pump.