Category Archives: fix up

How tall it is not…..

I decided to finally measure the height of the bus today.  I fired it up and let it fully air up the air bags while I drug the big ladder out and got it all set up.  I then hauled a fittingly pink 2×4 up the ladder and laid it across the top of the Air Conditioner.  I used an 8 foot construction level on top of this to verify that the 2×4 was level, because the driveway sure as hell isn’t level.  Heck it’s not even in one place or one piece.  The picture below shows how it shifted up 3/4 of an inch when I parked on it.

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I found the tape measure and convinced my roommate to help me by standing on the end of the tape measure.  It was windy and it wouldn’t stay still.

It turns out the bus is 12.5 feet tall.  Good thing I didn’t bet on that because I sure thought it was taller.

Time for a custom screw or two

Well, my replacement screws from BoltDepot arrived and none of them fit.  It turns out that the screws used on the steering indicator are narrow head M5 screws….. nearly unobtanium.  WTF.

I found a company, Misumi USA that either stocks them or will make them and ship them for $3/ea.  Done.

I also found a set of wiring diagrams for Neoplan USA on eBay.  It’s a $50 gamble that it will shed some light on my bus.

The 24v flasher showed up and it actually works well.  We’ll see if I wind up throwing it away when I convert the turn signals to 12v.

So much fun, so little time.

Time for a new light – adventures in vehicle lighting

I found this gem of a document, (catalog-of-lights-neoplan)a cross reference for old European commercial vehicles that shows which Hella lights were OEM equipment.

So the problem I have is that the OEM lights are worn out.  The plastic is brittle, the lenses are fragile/cracked/glued, and they aren’t working right.

After a bunch of research I settled in on Maxxima Lights.  I’ve ordered a pair of park/turn lights for around $20/ea.

Maxxima LED Light Turn and Park


They are 12v, which means I’m going to open a can of worms with converting my turn signals to 12v.  I’ll probably end up converting all the lighting to 12v.  For now it’s going to start with the turn signals.

For now I’ll just buy the equivalent 12v bulbs and replace them.  That’s a very inexpensive solution to my headache for the short term.  I’ll eventually buy some LED bulbs.

There are some great YouTube videos on understanding bulbs:

Bayonet socket’s explained:

Globe (shape) explained:

I wound up buying some 1155 (12v version of 1251) for $7.39 for 10 on AliExpress shipping from the US with free shipping.  That was the best price I could find anywhere…. shake my head on how they pay for shipping and deliver something that works for that price.

Bought a step-down transformer for $14. That will solve the 12v power issue for all of my lighting probably.

My “large” bulbs are 1683SC which is a BA15S stils S8 globe bulb producing 400 lumens with 28 Watts at 1.02 amps for 28v rated.

The #199 is a darn close match at 12v, 2.25a 28 Watts…. should produce the same lumens.  Now to find an LED equivalent.  Turns out that the 1156 is basically the same bulb.  There is a minor difference in the resistance of the element…. the 1156 is way more common…

Found them on AliExpress for $9.87 for 10 pieces including free shipping from a US Seller.  SMH, not sure how they can do this.. but whatever.



Incompetent Wiring unwound

The weather is nice today…. so I decided to do the unthinkable and start tracing wires under the dash.  Ugh, uber-cluster-fuck.  Several iterations of mis-wiring are present.

My front turn signals did not work when I started.  Oh so many fun things found.

  1. 12 v flasher in a 24v system…. yes Dorothy, voltage mismatch causes bad juju and a fast flash.  Cured via eBay for $8 from a local company.
  2. The bulb was missing from the driver side.  That was easy.
  3. Someone has taken the signal/wiper switch off the steering column before, screws are stripped.  Off to Bolt Depot for replacements…..  Ordered several options, I’m sure something will fit
  4. Still no idea why there is no power getting to the passenger side turn signal.  Opened the dash a bit and discovered a wonderful AP4600 paging car alarm.  Deposited that in the trash.  The first of many items that will be coming out from under the dash as I untangle the wiring.

I’m debating a few things:

  • Convert to 12v turn signal system.  It’s all fed from one place, so this is feasible and would make it easier to get LED lights.
  • Replace front turn signals and markers.  The existing ones are Hella and hella hard to find…. lol.

3D replacement parts – tuning the unobtanium

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I’m so close…. I have 3D printed ABS Plastic sockets that fit the ball like a glove and fit the tie rod end so tightly I have to use pliers to push them out.  As you can see from the lower picture it has taken me many iterations to get here.

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I’m working on tuning the retaining ring right now.  The original part was a semi-flexible rubber that expanded when you inserted the ball and then the hoop locked it in place.  ABS is a great fit for this as it is slightly flexible.  However, I’ve chosen to just print a ring right above the bulge of the ball stud.  This captures the ball stud effectively and achieves the same effect.  The socket will expand slightly when the stud is inserted and the tie rod end will “lock” the stud in place preventing easy withdrawal.  A photo of the CAD design is below.


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3d printing for unobtanium parts

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A couple of weeks ago I decided to buy a 3d Printer Kit from Prusa Research and put it together.  You can read more about that on where I focus on electronics.  One of the great uses for a 3d printer is printing hard to find parts.  These plastic/rubber sockets are a perfect application.

I’m using a $600 printer, $18/lb plastic and free software to model them.  I’m currently printing version 19 trying to get the dimensions just right.  In the photos above I show version 13 in PLA a starch based biodegradeable plastic.  I want the final part to be in ABS, and didn’t realize it shrinks a few percent when printed.  🙁  So now I’m working on adjusting that out.  It takes about 45 minutes and costs around 15 cents to print one.

I have more than a few parts that are hard to get or out of production on this bus.

Here are some photos of the lead up to the photo above:
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An ABS version being printed

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The assembled printer


A drawing from Autodesk Fusion 360, which is free for hobbyist and startup use.


A rendering from the same program

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versions 1 through 12…. they don’t always turn out so great…..unobtanium-gcode

A rendering from Simplify 3d which is the software that transforms the drawing into “g-code” that the printer understands.unobtanium-v10

Another rendering.  There is a torus or donut shaped ring visible.  I moved it further down to retain the ball.

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Another picture of the 3d printer, fully assembled.

Tie-Rod Mystery

So, my bus has these nifty self-levitating luggage doors.  Well, they would be nifty if they didn’t have some worn out hardware.  These ball joints are on the doors.  I have 24 of these and 12 larger cousins installed.  These are 16mm balls, which I can get sockets for $4/ea.

Sad thing is that the nylon “cup” is all that is bad.  It’s probably not nylon, it’s a semi-flexible translucent rubber.

I have half a mind to try and print the damn things on my 3-d printer when I finally get it later this week.  Hmm, let’s see….. assuming that all the sockets are the same price that is $144 worth of plastic bits….. probably worthwhile.  They are relatively simple as plastic bits go, so it shouldn’t take too much trial and error to figure out the exact size.

I may just do that.

In the meanwhile, does anyone know what brand these are?2016-01-19 19.10.11 2016-01-19 19.09.50 2016-01-19 19.09.34 2016-01-19 19.09.29 2016-01-19 19.09.26

A replacement candidate arrived yesterday in the mail….

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