Thursday, December 6, 2012

All’s Quiet on the Fleet Front

Well, not all. There are a few issues that I’m dealing with, but all-in-all the fleet’s behaving. TYL.

Ariel has had to drive Ringo around without functioning gauges for at least a month, so I decided I’d deal with that this last weekend. Thinking it was a bad cable, I disconnected the dash-end and checked it by twisting and pulling. If it was broken it’d either spin freely or pull right out. It did neither, so my diagnosis was bad speedometer/odometer. My ‘vair buddy Ken had pulled a gauge set out of PartsWagon, and I used the guts of it to rebuild the gauge set in Ringo. First, though, I had to remove Ringo’s from his dash. That’s always a fun contest of contortion. With it out, I drove the input with my electric drill running backwards – the needle jumped but then quickly settled back to 0 while the odometer did not move. Confident there’s where the problem’s lay, I disassembled both gauge sets (Ringo’s and PartsWagon’s) and put the speedometer guts from PartsWagon into Ringo’s nicer housing. Once the gauge set was reassembled, I tested it with the drill. The needle climbed as drill speed increased – success. To check the calibration, I spun the input at a steady indicated 60 mph and then timed how long it took the odometer to spin a half-mile. About thirty seconds proved it was pretty darn close to dead on. Of course there is some error that the rest of the car will introduce, but this is a good start on accuracy.

Before putting the gauge set back in, I needed to deal with the stuck gas gauge. I asked Ariel how much gas she guessed Ringo’s tank had in it and she thought it was pretty low. None of the gauges I plugged into the harness agreed with that, so I siphoned out all the gas. After nearly filling five gallons, the clear tube went dry, so I removed the hose from the tank’s sender. Lo-and-behold, another gallon-and-a-half splashed into my catch pans. With the tank finally empty, I removed the sender from the tank and inspected it. I immediately found the float had filled with gas – there’s the problem. Just in case there was more wrong, I measured the resistance while moving the sender’s arm. Zero ohms with the arm straight up (correct) and forty ohms when completely down (correct). I had a new float on the shelf, so I popped it in place of the failed one and reinstalled the sender. After pouring the gas back into the tank, the gauge read just about ½ a tank. Success!

After another contortion session, I had the gauge set back in. Not having the time to take him out for a test drive, I quit with the feeling of success.

The next day Ariel drove him to work and reported that neither the speedometer nor odometer moved during her commute, and the gas gauge hadn’t move either. CRAP!!!!!!! Last night, I pulled Lucy’s nearly-new speedometer cable off and replaced Ringo’s. The subsequent test drive up the driveway resulted in a moving needle. This success was verified during Ariel’s morning commute. The gas gauge issue could be that I’d installed the float backwards and it’s hanging up on the tank’s wall. Since the tank is basically full, I’m going to wait a few days before taking on that task.

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