Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Exploratory Surgery...

Nicole was digging into one of our storage areas the other day when she discovered another old / non-working part that had been squirreled away a few years ago. 

It was our battery isolator solenoid that permits our rear battery to be charged by the alternator at the flip of a dashboard mounted switch. 

When it stopped working we went 'manual' and now on rainy days we walk outside, open the hood and connect the rear battery 'by hand'. 

Perhaps this next exploration will bring about the return of more convenient switch flipping.

                Here it is.  Looks like it has been around the block a few times.

2 (1)
A good while and a lot of sparks later, yet another part not intended to be opened up, has been demystified.

For those curious about such things,  our house (living area) battery connects to one of the large side posts and our starting battery connects to the other.  The small post on the front is connected to a dash mounted on/off switch that permits power to travel to it.  When that post receives power, it energizes the magnetic coil and pulls that center disc down to touch both of the larger posts; essentially connecting both batteries together.

Moving on..

2 (4)
          A rear view shows the age and the significant rusting that was going on.

2 (5)
A look inside, immediately revealed the reason the solenoid had stopped working.  The primary 'power' wire had be "de-soldered".

2 (3)
Not exactly the cleanest solder job but functional.  A quick test revealed a successful re-connection.

At this point, Nicole could have simply closed it up and moved on to the next project but there was a reason that the primary wire shorted.  If that reason isn't found, it will most likely happen again.  Time to dig in a bit deeper. 

2 (2)
The nuts and washers had some significant rusting.  So much so that the washers had even lost their original shape.  On top of that the nuts had to be cut off which required the bolts to be re-threaded.  In the above photo you will notice that the curved insulator is missing from the longer of the two bolts. 

Removing the bolt revealed that the insulator was broken in half.  A little JB Weld applied and then sanded down and it was good as new.

Now on to the most shocking reveal and the most likely cause of the short.

The parts in the front, which Nicole originally thought were metal washers were not metal at all. They were some sort of plastic or non-conducting composite material.  And they no longer did their job of creating a buffer between the electrical posts (a.k.a. the bolts) and the body of the solenoid (which acts as the ground).  The parts in the rear are the closest thing we could find to replace these. 

With all causes of dysfunction revealed it was time to give this old boy a much needed make-over.

You'd be surprised at how long it takes to grind off 25 years of rust but here it is all sanded and ready for primer.

                            Three layers of primer and he's looking good!

        Three additional layers of some beautiful blue and the excitement builds!

                            Almost done... time for the official rebuild.

First up, a little dremel action on the insulators and they fit right into place.

           Here's a shot of the white one (left) and black one (right) in place.


Since the unit was originally one solid piece and had to be cut apart a 'filler' for the missing metal needed to be found.

With yet again more dremel action and some clipping as well, these large plastic insulating washers should do the trick.


DSCN0873                                                    Yup... that will work!

Nicole is still deciding on her closing procedure for this project. 

While she pondered various ideas for the completion of the isolator project, she found herself involved in the completion of another project that's been on the wait-list for a good while now. 

Perhaps you recall the hail storm we had during our last visit to Wyoming and the extensive damage that it did to our girl, Annie.  One of the damaged parts was our AC Condenser which had many of its delicate fins crushed.

                            After the hail storm it looked like the photo above.

             Eight hours of delicate work later... and things were looking much better.

Since she had to take off the damaged grill to get to the condenser, Nicole got the brilliant idea that she might as well tape it up and paint the black parts that were no longer black.

The tape job for this activity was quite a chore.  Halfway through Nicole almost gave up.

     The grill looked pretty good in all black.  Something to consider for the future.

Can you judge the work involved by the size of the tape ball?  In this case, definitely, yes!

And now for the big reveal...

                                                       The Before

                                                         The After

Back on the van, the grill was looking pretty darn spiffy.  With that, it is now time that we make our exit from Pennsylvania.  We'll hit the road in a few days.  See ya, next time.