Category Archives: Repairs

Repairs I need to make on the bus.

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:

2016-04-30 18.18.17

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.

 

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.

2016-03-19 19.56.48

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.

2016-03-19 14.34.05

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.

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.

2015-12-24 16.34.46

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:

2015-12-24 17.44.12 2015-12-24 17.15.46

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:

2015-12-26 07.24.57

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.

bimba

$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 OreillyAuto.com 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….. 🙂

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.  http://www.ebay.com/itm/400915581735
    ef22
  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.