Wednesday, August 17, 2011

where were you when the lights went out?

so.. this van has been the best vehicle I have ever owned.. only had to have it towed home once, and that was due to a short and running out of fuses before I figured out the problem!

well, on the way home from the van nats this summer I was bragging about just how great it has been to me.
I should have kept my mouth shut.
after driving 1800 miles round trip, I'm 20 miles from home, it's 10:30 at night... and I suddenly realize I have no dash/tail lights...

GREAT!  I can't figure out what is going on, I have been driving for 14 hours, I'm tired.. I want to go home.
I run with it.. I ride the brakes enough to trigger the brake lights and just keep going.
it worked, because the state trooper that past me shortly thereafter didn't bat an eye.

The next day, after a good nights sleep, I go look, blown fuse. easy enough, I replace it, everything works.
job well done.

A week later, I drive it to a friends house, and when I leave, (after dark) I get a mile away and POP! fuse goes.
and every fuse I tried immediately popped as well. so.. again with the brake lights for the 13 miles home.

the next day I start tearing into the wiring, and am able to trace the short to the back of the van, and then it stops blowing the fuse.  I figure it must have been something lose, and all the jiggling of wires resolved it... as I wasn't able to get it to short again after that.  I drove the van for a week with no shorts (talking about the wiring, I was wearing shorts you perv).. I'm thinking I'm all set and start putting things back together.

3 days before I am supposed to drive to Connecticut, the fuse starts popping again. Thankfully I had a slow day at work and was able to really tear into the wiring, and was finally able to trace the short to its cause.
when I had the plate box removed from the rear door, they just left the wire for the plate light hanging in the door, and after 15(?) years it finally chafed through and was shorting... got rid of that entire run or wire and presto! no more shorting out.

since I had torn the wiring apart so much, I figured this was a good time to do a little clean up and change a few things around.  I added a dedicated accessory fuse box to the rear batteries, and started moving all the toys in the van from the main battery to that. Stereo, lights, etc.  I also cleaned up all the wiring in around the rear doors that was such a disaster for years and got it all put in a loom and wire tied and secured.  I'm actually not embarrassed to have the rear doors open any more!

this past weekend I ran lights and fans all weekend and had no issues with power, and the starting battery was 100% the entire time.

I still have a lot of wiring cleanup to do.. next part will be the wiring in the overhead console... then under the dash.. and then under the hood.. but as do these in this order, it will make each next step a little easier.

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