Friday, September 14, 2012

Taming electrical beasties, part 2

So last time, I mentioned that the previous owner wasn't the only one capable of electrical incompetence. Here's what I did. I'd been hoping to take Kurt up for his second trip Labor Day weekend, and I was racing to finish up the electrical rework before then. That included pulling the old battery, which had gotten drained, in one insomniac session. I also installed a toggle switch from GoWesty. This handy little switch allows me to have the radio either powered on only when the key is in the ignition, or all the time. Finally, I dropped in the new battery.

We packed up the van the Saturday before Labor Day, and made plans to leave early the following morning. I also checked out the sink, and it wasn't working very well, even though the new battery was working fine. So I pulled the faucet off to check out the connection. The contacts looked corroded, but there was no obvious fault. When I tried to put it back together, I broke the crimp-on connector. This was about 8pm on Saturday night, and we were leaving the next morning. Good job, dude: from a flaky sink, I now had a broken one.

Still, we went ahead with our plans, and got rolling about 3 Sunday morning. As we were rolling out, I heard some quiet little popping noises underneath me. Uh-oh. They only happened when I passed a bump in the road or when I was turning, but I noticed that they were accompanied with a flicker of my battery light. Ok, definitely electrical. Time to abort the trip.

Remember how I yanked the battery out during one insomniac night? Well, I had to unmount a solenoid that's part of the aux battery charging circuit to get the battery out. A screw got away from me then, and I forgot about it. So the alternator side of the solenoid was rotating, and making contact with that loose screw, causing a near short.

So, electrical incompetence isn't limited to the prior owner: I broke the sink, and had a very dangerous potential short, due to my own incompetence.

On the plus side, this gave me time to fix the sink before our next trip.

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