Monday, August 21, 2017

LED tail lights.

I finally broke down and bought a set of LED tail lights for the van.

they look great, but I noticed a major problem right away... the brightness level between parking light and brake light was almost non existent...  the parking lights were too damn bright!

that was a major safety issue for me, I want people to be able to tell when I hit the brakes, or the turn signal is on, and at these brightness levels, and today's distracted drivers.. this wasn't going to work.

I ended up adding a 150ohm resistor inline on the parking light side, which dimmed them down enough to make it work like it should

New LED vs my old Altezza's and the stock lens.

parking light

Brake light

I also swapped out the backup bulbs for LEDS.
much brighter and it's a nice white light.

short and fat

I have been running 275/60s on 15x8 rims for a very long time...
last year I managed to find a set of 15x10s for a great price, and they have been sitting in the garage waiting for me to need new tires.

This spring I finally put some rubber on them and mounted them up..  I can't believe I waited this long to do it! 

sorry, the pictures don't do it justice.

Safety Pins

not that I really need them, but I have always wanted to put hood pins on the astro..
so that's what I did on Sunday.

Water pump

Coming home from "A Boogie Affair" last weekend, I noticed some bearing noise coming from the engine as I got home.  I pulled the van into the garage and popped off the belt and started checking all the pulleys, and discovered the fan was moving a lot... time for a new water pump.

This past weekend I took the time to swap it out.. not nearly as difficult as I expected considering the amount of room there is to work.

not that you can see it once it's installed, but I painted it bright red.
I also sandblasted and painted the fan.

Pump is out

old vs new

sand blasted the fan

painted the van

painted the pump

ready for install

I love the red... 

shroud and belt back on, can't see the fan any more, and can barely see the pump

Saturday, June 24, 2017

the return of the illuminated chin!

for several years, I had bullet lights across the front spoiler that worked with the parking lights, and the outer bulbs on each side were tied into the turn signals.

the type of filament in these bulbs didn't stand up well to road use and they were constantly needing replacement.

about 13 years ago I had to swap my front bumper, so I had to remove all the lights and wiring, and never bothered to put it back after.

I couple of years ago I bought LED versions of the same lights and put them on my "to do list" for the van.

well, today was the day..  ran all new wiring, soldered and shrink tubed everything.. only to find it didn't quite work...

with the parking lights on, everything appeared the way I wanted... lights would blink with the signal, etc...  but if I turned the parking lights off, they didn't do anything.  testing with a regular bulb showed the circuit was doing what it was supposed to.

if I reverse the polarity on the LEDs, they work with the turn signals as long as the parking lights aren't on.. but didn't work at all with the parking lights.

ok.. conundrum time..

I solved the problem by adding a relay on each side..

the pulse from the turn signal/parking light trips the relay, which then feeds 12VDC to the LEDS from the battery, so it's always the correct polarity.

now they work as turn signals if the parking lights are on or off.

I did have two bulbs that didn't work at all, so I used the old filament bulbs till I get the LED replacements in the mail.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

lighting up the night.

one of the things I never liked about my astro was the headlights.
they were just standard sealed beam lights, but no matter what brand I tried, I was never satisfied with the amount of light and road coverage.

In 2003 I bought and installed some APC crystal clear lamps that used H4 bulbs.

these looked fantastic and the light coverage on the road at night was 10 times better.

flash forward 14 years..  one of them has yellowed horribly over time, while the other still looks bright white/silver.  the difference between the two really bugged me.

I had looked for another set, but APC parts like these seem to have all dried up.
I tried a couple of different things off of ebay... glass lenses, guaranteed not to yellow... well, the glass didn't, but the plastic chrome reflector inside it did..  and I would put the APCs back in.

I have had a set in a box out in the garage for some time, and finally decided to give them a go, so I installed them yesterday.
they have the LED surrounds on the sides of the lamp, I tied these into my marker lights/turn signals, so they will come on with the parking light, and flash with the signal.

hopefully they won't yellow over time, at least not quickly.

maybe next time I will go with LED headlights.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Spring Cleaning

the astro didn't see a lot of road time last summer.

for the first time ever, I didn't drive it to the nats.. didn't have enough time off from work to drive there and back again, so I rode down with a friend and flew home.

This spring I decided I needed to invest a little time and money into it...

installed a new battery, old one eas 6 years old.

swapped out my rear wheels from 15x8 to 15x10, something I have been wanting to do for years.
I kept the same size tire though, 275/60/

now the tires look right, and fill out the rear wheel wells nicely.

Also upgraded the shocks... I had Tokicos that I had installed 15 years ago, I went with Bilstein this time

I still need to change the spark plugs.. anyone with an astro knows this is a pain, add to that the fact I have headers, it's even more a challenge.  hoping to get that done, as well as a few other much overdue tune-up items soon.