Category Archives: fix up

Lighting Progress

I had some time to work on the lights tonight.  First off, they got mounted on the rear of the bus.  They look fantastic and are nearly indistinguishable from the stock lights.  I apologize that they are two separate pictures, the bus is about 2 feet from the fence which makes it impossible to get a good single picture.  The lights are mounted with 1/4-20 3 inch stainless steel screws, stainless 1/4 washers, and stainless nylon-locknuts.

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I decided to cut the existing wire loom and make my connection for the driver’s side here.  The wire loom seems to be glued together, which is another interesting feature of this harness assembly.  It also appears to use a heatshrink material that is similar to tech-flex or F6 to surround the wire bundle. There are a few more shots of the rear panel.  It’s a bit funky how it lifts up because the gas springs are worn out.  2016-03-15 16.49.41

far right (drivers) side.  You can see the fasteners and also the new wiring harness emerging from behind the lights.

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far left (curb) side showing the heavy duty connector used.  You can also see the fasteners coming through the fiberglass.  The new wiring harness is also visible.  I’ll seal it with silicone when everything is hooked up.2016-03-15 16.49.48

This is the harness connector under the dashboard.  It leads to the column mounted turn signal switch.2016-03-15 19.11.43

I spent several hours tracing wires and labeling them tonight.  I’m excited that I have most of the wires involved in the turn and lower marker signals mapped out.  I still need to sort out the reverse and brake lights.  I also have some issues with the flasher and the rear marker/side turn signals.

Lighting updates

Here are a few quick updates on my re-lighting project.  These show the assembly and layout of the replacement light assemblies.  These are for the rear of the coach.  Each set of lights is mounted to a piece of T6061 Aluminum plate that is 1/4″ thick.  I chose 1/4″ thick so I could thread it and have a clean installation for mounting the lights.  It’s more work, but avoids the hassle of a bunch of small nuts and screws.2016-03-06 15.35.53

A couple of pictures showing the preliminary layout/test fittings.  They are painted with self-etching primer and then gloss black paint.  Both are rust-oleum brand paint.  The edges were finished with a 1/8 roundover bit and trim router.  It’s not perfect, but it came out just fine and looks nice.  2016-03-05 00.00.43 2016-03-04 23.58.10


and of course what I replaced:

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Running new wire for a marker light

I decided to add marker light functionality to my mid-ship turn signals.  This involved running an extra wire to them.  The drivers side was pretty easy.  The curb side involved some creative wiring to get the wire across.  I wound up taking advantage of the stairs and carpet tack strips.  I also used some DAP Silicone (adhesive) to hold the wire still and act as a grommet where it passes through sheet metal.  This will immobilize the wire and can be easily be removed in the future if I need to.2016-03-02 18.37.20

Here is where the wire enters the coach.  I’m coming through the wheel well.  It’s sealed with silicone.  Notice the wire label marking what the wire is.  I like to do this at every penetration.  It saves aggravation later.2016-03-02 18.37.18

The silicone is also good for keeping the wire in the crack.2016-03-02 18.37.25

A screwdriver can be used to gently coax the wire into the crack.2016-03-02 18.37.27

Spreading the silicone can be messy, but using a plastic fork/spoon/knife works well.  Use the blunt tip not the eating tip.2016-03-02 18.40.00

I ran a bead of silicone up the corner of the stairs.2016-03-02 18.40.04

And here you can see me using the fork to push the wire into the silicone and smooth it out.  I’m using a piece of cardboard and a tool to hold it down at the bottom.  2016-03-02 18.40.53

Here the wire has crossed the coach and is coming through the back of the electrical space.  It’s grommeted with silicone to prevent damage.  I squeeze the silicone into the hole as well.2016-03-02 18.59.17Here the wire enters the electrical space.  It’s sealed with Silicone to protect it from movement and subsequent damage.2016-03-02 18.58.56

Upgrading side turn signals to include marker lighting

This is what I started with:2016-03-02 18.03.42

How the headlight the front trim is held on… 3 bolts with nuts on the inside.2016-03-02 18.03.46

Three more screws on the outside, amazing it stays on.2016-03-02 18.03.51

Crappy sub standard wiring…..2016-03-02 18.07.28

The solution to bad wiring is a pair of snips!2016-03-02 18.08.47

Wood screws holding the actual headlight frame in.2016-03-02 18.09.25 2016-03-02 18.09.28

Once removed you can see more lovely fire-hazard grade wiring.2016-03-02 18.11.19

Now that the headlights are out, I can debate what to replace them with and wait for the parts to arrive.

Tracing Wires the hunt goes on

So this weekend I began the long process of chasing down where wires go and untangling the bad wiring on my coach.  I did manage to get my 24v stepdown 12v transformer installed and working.  I also got one side marker light and turn signal installed.  I’m upgrading the mid-ship turn signals to include a marker function.

The second mid-ship turn is installed and working, but it requires an additional wire to power the marker function.  Some of this will be a long slog as there are no easy paths to run a wire along.


Here are some illustrated pictures of the project so far

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Properly installed transformer with wire labels

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On the back side of the transformer I riveted it in… it’s a bit odd, but it’s a stairway and I did not want sharp points sticking into this area.  Nice airstream style rivets.  🙂  2016-02-28 15.31.13

This is the cab where I am working.

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Here you can see I have the dash instruments pulled out so I can get access to the wiring…. not nice, but workable.

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Here is the lovely electrical panel.  I removed all the zip ties so I could have access to the wires.  Whoever rigged the bus didn’t spend much time.  Lots of sliced wires.  The only thing going for it is that there are no fuses.  All circuit breakers.   I don’t get why there are so many circuits on a non-computerized vheicle.  There is not that much going on.  I’ll eventually have to figure these out.  I’m labeling them as I go.

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Here is a side shot to show where the transformer is mounted.  There were not very many great locations for it.  I don’t expect to push it to it’s limits, so this will work.  It’s close the electrical box, free of combustible material and there was a blank plate nearby (it’s visible in the photo).  The blank was removed to reveal a 35mm hole.  I ordered grommets from Amazon and am currently holding on a bunch of items from there.

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Here is another shot of it being installed.

I spent some time this evening removing the curb side headlight trim assembly and turn signal.  I have Bosch combination Headlight and driving light units.  There is lots of rigging and taped wires present.  They are really bright lights…. and appear to be wired for low.  Unfortunately, one of the glass lenses on the driver side is cracked.  There is alot working against them:

  • Out of production
  • Only used on Buses and Mercedes Sedans.  lol.  Go figure.  Neoplan, Fiat, and Mercedes buses used them.  The m114 and m116 e-code units used them.
  • They are technically not street legal in the US.  It’s interesting that they are there at all.
  • No parts support.  Bosch acknowledges that it exists, but no parts are available.
  • Rusted adjustments and dry rotted rubber.
  • wiring rigged to do what it was doing with lots of bad connections.

All of this says it’s time to replace them and move on.  The question is square or round for the replacements…..

Shutdown and hi-idle air cylinder repair on Detroit Diesel 8v92TA

This past weekend I installed the Bimba 171S stainless steel air cylinders and Kysor solenoid that I repurposed.  This re-designed the engine shutdown and high-idle limit to use off the shelf commonly available parts.

I took some video of the process.  The first video explains what is going on and why:


The second video shows the installation and then operation of the engine.  It has been edited for brevity as nobody wants to watch 3 hours of mechanic work.


I’m pleased with the outcome as this was a $50 repair overall.  $25 for both cylinders on eBay and $25 for the solenoid on eBay.  Watch to see how I did it.


Scanning manuals to preserve them

I managed to obtain a Ersatzteil-Liste from Europe a month ago.  In English this is a parts-manual.  This one is specific to Cityliner N116 series coaches inclulding the N116/2 and N116/3.  My coach is based on the N116/2.

Because this is a 30 year old manual, I decided to scan it to PDF.  I’m going to keep a copy on my blog as a backup in case something should ever happen to the digital copy at my house and the physical copy in my posession.

It contains difficult to find and irreplaceable information about the parts and diagrams for the coach.

I considered the copyright implications and determined that this is a fair use and educational use.  First Neoplan USA, exited the market in 2002.  Neopart, their subsidiary, is for all intents and purposes dead.  No email, no phone calls… they don’t exist despite a webpage for them.

Auwerter / Neoplan was purchased by MAN Group which is part of the worldwide conglomerate Volkswagen.  They do exist, but they have confirmed, in email that no documenation or information exists for my coach.  Parts availability is extremely limited.

The combination of their legal and real exit from the American market coupled with confirmation that in no market can I get parts or documentation supports a fair use to post the manual online.

This actually helps the market by making it feasible for the remaining owner/operators to continue keeping the vehicles in operation.

I plan to create a page to index the manuals and then a page for each discrete manual.

So far I have collected a couple of manuals, one directly applies, and the other is for the AN440 wiring, which is insightful as to how the systems were designed.

12v Chinese Incense – aka LED 12v bulbs on a 24v system

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I decided to try installing 12v LED bulbs into the 24v lighting system.  The turn and reverse lights worked fine for brief durations…. the rear marker lights smoked after about 5 minutes.  Not good.

Further investigation determined that many corroded connectors existed and the lighting system in it’s present form was an unlimited supply of headaches and frustrations.  While the Hella lights are of high quality, they are 30 years old and are showing the typical abuse that comes with 30 years of being at the back of the bus.

I ordered Maxxima LED units that are sealed, warranted, and unfortunately 12v.  This will call for installing step-down transformers in key locations.  I expect it to work just fine as the LED’s pull a fraction of the energy (10% to be exact) of the incandescent bulbs.

Nipples and Bits from Amazon because they are cheaper….

This evening I got around to figuring out how I was going to deal with the air cylinder replacement.

Let me back up a second and bring readers up to speed.  I bought the bus right before Christmas.  After spending a day getting it ready and arguing with Ritchie Bros that changing a engine belt was not the same as working on it….. I headed East from Los Angeles to Houston.  I did not get very far before Kysor of Michigan Unobtanium cylinder failed active.  This forced the shut-down lever closed near lovely Coachella, CA.

Coachella is lovely if you are a spider, dirt, or a cactus…. beyond that it’s offerings of unlimited wind, sun, and dirt are not terribly appealing.

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I was lucky enough to coast off the freeway and past the bridge when the engine died.  This joy was short lived and I had the privilege of paying $150 for a mobile grease monkey to change my fuel filters and not be able to diagnose anything else….

Fortunately I had CoachNet, so they covered this:

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I promise that Dave and his truck were not cheap.  CoachNet covered it though.  I always consider roadside assistance an investment when it comes to specialty vehicles.  Meanwhile the Genset’s backasswards DC wiring was draining the batteries… which cost me dearly the following day.  More on that another time.

So I finally figured out what it was on Saturday when I could get a good mechanic to come out who knew Detroit Diesels.

This was the offending part:

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The cylinder on the right that is extended….. and 30 years old and no longer made.  So after a bunch of forced learning courtesy of the School of Hard Knocks ® roadside campus….. I ordered a couple of these to move to something standard and easily obtainable.


$25, stainless steel…..

I decided to test fit them today.  I knew that the threaded portion was too long, and I have a plan.  More on that later.

So about this post?  Yea, I needed a brass threaded nipple.  Local Auto Parts Whores (stores) like want $12 for a part I can buy on Amazon for $2.20.

I also ordered a plug for $1.67

And of course no nipple or plug is good without Threadlock….. Loctite 567 to be precise:

Should be here in a couple of days and then I’ll shoot a video of how it goes in and what’s involved….. 🙂