Category Archives: fix up

Ball Joints installed on luggage doors

I finally got the D19 ball joints installed.  There were 10 of them and with a helper I was able to dismount and remount the doors.  This restores functionality to all 6 luggage bay doors.

I still need to convert the ball joints on the tie-rods for each luggage bay door, but at least this part is done.

I also reconnected my mid-ship marker lights which are integrated into the doors.

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Door and Lighting progress

I’ve been working on the coach here and there making great progress.  I have installed track lights in the parlor/dining and bath areas.  The track light fixtures have arrived and are installed.

I stopped in the bedroom because the wiring is really funky.  It originally had Phillips Capri lighting which is commercial/industrial.  It’s capable of 240v but it was mostly being used to provide multiple switch points.  I can’t obtain fixtures for it so I’m scrapping it.  I’m planning to rework and simplify the lighting while I’m at it.  There are things going on that I think are just stupid, so now is a good time to rework them.

I’ve also been working on the luggage bay doors.  Mike over at Strut-Your-Stuff was being plagued by over-agressive spam filtering and not getting my emails.  We finally worked that out and he was able to get me the replacement struts for the luggage bays, access doors and engine door.  The engine door wound up being custom, but they should be here shortly.

I had a hell of a time installing the gas springs that counterbalance the luggage doors.  I wound up using a piece of unistrut, a 2×4 and a ratchet strap.  Between the 3 of those I was able to pry and coax each strut into position.  Some of the old ones aren’t bad, but I can’t tell by looking which ones are good and which ones aren’t.  As part of replacing all the ball joints I’m going to go ahead and replace the gas-springs.  It’s expensive, but it will put this behind me and let me move on.

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Today I managed to get the first door completely retrofitted.  I’m still waiting on D14 ball joints from Germany to arrive.  I had one pair that I ordered as a test set.  I had to take one off and put the door on and then reattach the ball stud to the door.  The moment of truth was raising and lowering the door.  It worked great which was a big relief.

One of my other upgrades this week was to replace the dysfunctional power gauges with an electronic volt/amp meter.  I’ll eventually have two of them so I can monitor both legs.  The original was monitoring the Neutral leg and my spot checks with a clamp handheld meter showed this to be inaccurate.  I ordered this on eBay or AliExpress for $8.58 back in January with the intent to use it on the generator.  It looks great on the power panel.  I’ll eventually need to rework the panel with mountings for all the gauges.  For now this is what it looks like:

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I like being able to see my current pull at a glance and to verify that voltage is where it should be.  I’ll be installing a similar unit for the DC side as well.

Lastly, I noticed a smell in the holding tank this week, so I went ahead and emptied it.  This was a chance to install the dump inlet I had installed in the yard.  It worked great and that was a nice relief.  I still need a post for water and power, but I’m making progress finally and that’s nice.


Saturday update

It’s been an interesting week.  I figured out what was wrong when I plugged into shore power.  The transfer switch was connecting the genset to shore power.  With the genset not running it was throwing a breaker.  I guess it was trying to start the genset through the generator head.  Bad juju.  In theory the transfer switch isn’t bad, it’s just sorely miswired.

I talked to Mike with Strut-Your-Stuff, he is my go-to source for gas-springs in the USA.  I bought my replacement gas-springs for the luggage bay doors and other doors from him.  He was able to track down replacement gas-springs for the engine bay door as well.  They are 9.25 inches long with 1200N of force!  1200N is like 300 pounds each.  There are 4 of them!  Turns out they are normally like $90/ea or something and he cut me a bit of a break because I have spent so much with him.  He’s great about helping you measure and get the right replacement.  Very nice US made struts.  If you order from him, please tell him Brian with the Neoplan sent you.

I also ordered my LH (reverse) M16 DIN 71802 ball joints for the tie rod ends.  While Mike is knowledgeable, he said he had never seen a LH thread ball joint end.  🙂  I explained that they were DIN 71802 spec ball joints.  I ordered my M19 DIN 71802 ball joints as well.  Those are coming from Germany.  The door project is shaping up to be another $1500 project.  All of the existing ball joints are rotted out.  They use a rubber cup style ball joint and the rubber is rotted after 30 years.

As if all that wasn’t enough, I also bought the replacement tracks for the track lighting from Home Depot.  They didn’t have all the parts I needed in stock, so I had to order some online and wait for them to come in.  No big deal.  I’ll get what I have installed.  I ordered some fixtures from them as well.  The coach is currently equipped with Phillips Capri lights which are commercial/industrial 120/240 capable fixtures.  Neat, well built, but an odd size and luminairs (fixtures) are stupid expensive to get.  For the price of a few fixtures I can get all new track and fixtures from Home Depot.

I also ordered light bulbs from AliExpress.  I’m getting dimmable LED bulbs in a couple of different formats.  We’ll see if I like what shows up.  It wasn’t much, so if I don’t like them I’m not out much.  The current bathroom lights are E26 base (candelabra size) Globes….. G16.5 or G25.  They do a great job in a makeup mirror style… but they put off some heat and use 240 watts combined.  There are 8 lights and the new ones will use 16 watts combined.  Alot less power and less heat.

I’ll post some pics as I install some of this.

Replacing roof vents

Last weekend I replaced the two van-air roof vents and the central roof vent.  The van-airs were installed in the kitchen and bathroom.  They were just 32+ years old and had disintegrated.  They did still work, but not well.

The good news is that the replacements were $45/ea on eBay.

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I used a ladder to get up on the roof and there are a couple of photos of what I was replacing.

The central vent was a strange / obsolete vent.  I replaced it with a Fantastic Vent with a thermostat and a rain sensor.  This required a small enlargement to the hole.  I was nervous about the enlargement because there was structural framing on one side.  I consulted the parts manual and realized it was okay to modify.  The “skeleton” section from here.

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I had to take the vent apart in order to trace it’s outline on the roof.

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It also involved taking the vent apart in order to trace it’s outline.  It’s sealed with a good heavy duty sealant, OSI Quad.  I believe this is a one part polyurethane rubber, but Henkel doesn’t say.  I know it’s the best stuff to use on Hardie Siding and it has a 25% stretch rating.  A bus is hardly hardie siding, but it is a tough thing to seal up.  I’m happy with the results and it did not leak when it rained recently.

I picked up the Fantastic vent on eBay as an open box return.  It was in perfect condition.  $300 vent obtained for $120 including shipping.  🙂

High stop lights

Here is an update from this weekend on the high-stop lights.  I’m nearly done with the bus lights and just waiting on a couple of 24v to 12v stepdown transformers to arrive.


Here is one of the fabricated mounting brackets, primed and painted.2016-03-27 15.24.24

Here are both of them with the lights mounted on them. 2016-03-27 15.30.51

Here they are with the wiring spliced.2016-03-27 15.46.20 2016-03-27 15.52.48

I am sealing them in with silicone caulk.  It’s simple and it excels at this purpose.

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After the install I wipe up the excess and it looks darn good.2016-03-27 16.06.31

Here is what I am replacing, a Hella light.2016-03-27 16.06.43

The inside is pretty worn out.

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This one had a busted bulb in it.

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The wiring is okay, but doesn’t look factory.  There is an interesting rubber seal that the light mounts to.  I had to cut it to get rid of it.2016-03-27 16.08.21

I always test the lights before sealing them in.2016-03-27 16.12.06

And here is another view showing the curb side completed.  Looks great and I shouldn’t have to mess with it for a while.2016-03-27 16.18.52

Misc Maintenance

This past weekend I knocked a few things out that were on my to-do list.  The first one was getting the driver door window to where it would operate smoothly.  When I bought the bus I drove it home with a 1 inch gap in the window.  I was afraid that if I forced it the window might break, so I left it alone.  I finally got around to forcing it and getting it going again.

The culprit was bits of glass in the track.  It appears that someone broke out the window and the safety glass shattered and fell into the track.  It was a pretty easy fix with some brute force, silicone lube, and a shop vac.

Now I can open or close the window all the way.  That will make life easier when I’m driving it.  There still isn’t any coach air working.  The heater doesn’t work for that matter either.  One thing at a time.  Right now I’m working on getting the coach ready to pass road inspection and get license plates.

More defective wires

So I moved to the front of the coach and started working again.  The curb side turn signal has not worked since I bought the bus.  I brought out my signal and tracer unit and started trying to follow the wire.  I concluded that there was a break somewhere under the dash.  This is just great because the dash is like Houdini’s last escape.

I would absolutely love to remove it, but that doesn’t look like it’s possible without alot of headache.  The drivers console is screwed to the dash cover and it seems to be what supports it.    I’m not quite that frustrated or that brave.  The picture below shows one view of what I was working with.

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I thought that the wire was broken behind the wiper motor, so I managed to get enough of it loose to get it out.  I was wrong, it was much closer to the end of the wire.

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In the photo above the break is between the two places where the green wire is visible.  Had I looked closer I would have easily found it.  But I insisted on stripping all of the wire loom cover off of it.

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Which is just as well.  It revealed the wound where someone had drilled into the wire and cut through 2 strands and severely damaged several others.  It’s a wonder it conducted electricity honestly.  Wire is cheap, so this is an easy fix now that I have found the problem.  As you can see in the picture it was getting dark, so this will be tomorrow’s funitivity!  I did pull it apart to survey the extent of the damage.  It’s not too bad, just a few feet of wire will need to be spliced in.  I’ll need to trace and label all the wires at this point and may replace everything downstream of here anyway.

Progress on wiring and a hole in the wire

This morning I resumed work on the rear lights.  I’ve been working for a few days now on tracing what wire does what back there.  The wires have labels, but they have been painted and I don’t have a schematic.  So everything is hunt and find.2016-03-19 14.35.21 2016-03-15 16.49.43

Here I’m using a multi-meter and some alligator clips to check wires.2016-03-19 12.42.11

I finally gave up and concluded that the original wiring harness had some faulted wires.  I cut the entire harness out and it made very short work out of identifying the remaining wires and labeling them.  I’ll have to build some sub-harnesses to reach my new assemblies, but that won’t take as long.2016-03-19 14.35.13

Somewhere in the picture below is a broken wire… maybe more than one.  I got frustrated and cut them out.

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The brake light and reverse light need to stay 24v.  So that requires stepping them down at the “tailgate.”  I ordered a couple of small step-down transformers on AliExpress.  They promise to be waterproof and capable of 5A.  5A is a tremendous amount of current and I’m only going to push maybe 1A through them, so this should work just fine.  You can view the listing here.  Unfortunately, Alibaba thinks they are being clever by stopping you from copying the images…. but what they are really doing is hurting the ability of bloggers like me to reference them.  At any rate they are fully potted step down voltage regulators.  They should be just fine for this application and I ordered and extra one just in case.


Screw less – an update on my lighting retrofit

So I started on mounting the light cans to the front trim tonight.  For those of you just finding this post, let me bring you up to speed on the project.  My Neoplan Bus based RV has 1985 German / Euro spec signal, marker, and headlights.  They are nice units made mostly by Bosch and Hella.  Unfortunately, the headlights are worn out, have cracked lenses, and are miswired severely.

So I opted to install standard H4/H11 Truck Lite LED units.  I could have installed non-LED’s, but I would have had to mess with converting them to 12v.  The trucklite’s can handle 24v.  This works out to be easier and simpler and avoids the question of what capacity the wires are.  If they could handle halogen 24v they will be fine on LED 24v.

One challenge is that the lights don’t mount the same.  I learned that the mounts are called buckets or cans.  They are semi-standardized, so I ordered some on eBay for $25 including shipping.  They required light modification to make them fit.  No big deal.  I clipped off a piece and drilled holes sized for 10-24 machine screws.  Unfortunately, I don’t have the right length screws on-hand.  I figured I could pick them up locally at HomeDepot, but they don’t apparently know what they have.  This isn’t really a big surprise, the hardware aisle is always a wreck.  I usually use the order-online, pickup-in-store.  I got a call this morning that they couldn’t find the 1.5″ or 1.25″ screws that I ordered.  Shrug, just an excuse to stock up on hardware from BoltDepot.  I will try to take some pictures this weekend.

The net of it is that it is going together nicely.  I ordered some driving lights on alien press and have yet to see them….. Hopefully they will show up before long.  They are LED 10w units.

DIN vs non-DIN Angle Joints and supplier irritation

Well, my order of ball joint sockets arrived from Midwest Control Products.  Very un-amused.

My  first beef with them is what I call shipping rip-off.  $20.50 for $6.80 of postage.  I’m fine with a $5 handling charge to put 50 items in a small box.  $15 is a rip.

Second, I ordered retaining clips ($38 for 25) because the description said they didn’t come with the ball sockets.  It was wrong, they were included.  Nothing like errors that cost you money to piss you off.

Third, the ball sockets that they sent are missing the internal positioning ring.  So when the ball is inserted into the socket there is axial slop to the tune of a couple of mm.  Axial slop means the ball moves in and out of the socket by 2mm.  This is 12% of it’s diameter.  Clearly not a defect, but what application allows a 10% slop factor on a control linkage?  Messy.

Which brings me to the title of the post.  I had ordered a sample on eBay from a very very nice supplier.  It took me a couple of emails to get it and then it showed up once I finally got an invoice via Paypal.  It’s a beautiful part with a black oxide finish.  When I went back to order more he was unresponsive again, so I went searching and found Midwest.  Well, I went back to looking at his part and noticed that it has the external clip, but also a c-clip ring internally that serves to hold the ball captive.

I did some googling of angle joint definitions and DIN and realized that I was looking at a DIN 71802 in black oxide.  Further digging shows that DIN 71802 nicely details the mechanical and precise joint.  Now, you may be asking, WTF is DIN?  Well, I know I asked.  DIN is Deutsches Institut fur Normung, or the German Institute for Normal, translated quite literally.  This is the German equivalent of ASME.  The difference being that DIN is a government function while ASME is a professional association with a penchant for hostaging it’s standards documentation.

One of the things I *really* admire and enjoy about working on German anything is that they are exhaustive in their documentation of standards.  A quick leap to Wikipedia shows hundreds of active, withdrawn, and retired DIN standards  covering every conceivable mechanical contrivance from pins to lettering to bolts to pipes to angle joints.  You can see the list here

Now, I’m only interested in DIN 71802 right now, and you can see a great detail of it here.  Fluro® does a great job defining it and helped me realize I have D16 and D19 DIN71802 joints on my bus.  It’s like the heavens parted and sunshine emerged.  Moving from the WTF is this area to the defined and findable.

A quick search on eBay found a reasonable German supplier with fair shipping rates.  A few samples have been ordered.  The D16’s were here:  and the D19’s are here: