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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

New wiper assemblies

Late one Saturday a few weeks ago I was in the process of installing new wiper blade inserts (just the rubber portion of the blade) when one of the clips that secure the wiper blade assembly to the wiper arm broke. The slap in the face was that it was supposed to rain the next day (a Sunday) so I knew I had no hope of acquiring the part(s) necessary to fix the problem. With no other option I used what remained of the broken clip and some electrical tape to secure the wiper assembly to the arm. Ghetto, for sure, but it worked.

A glance at the ETK later that evening did not reveal a part number for the clip so I assumed that they must be available only as part of the wiper blade assembly. On Monday my technician and the parts guys confirmed that so I ordered new blade assemblies and justified the cost (around $30 for the driver's side and $20 for the passenger side) by considering it part of my ongoing restoration process. The paint on the old wiper assemblies was still intact but quite faded, so they probably should have been replaced for cosmetic reasons anyway.

A few days later the electrical tape came off and the new assemblies went on. Fortunately, they came with fresh blades so all I had to do was mate the assemblies to the arms and get on with my day.

Transmission A/M Switch LED Conversion Experiment

Over the life of the car I've probably replaced the transmission mode switch / annunciator several times because the incandescent bulb that backlights the "A" character fails in as little as one or two years in service. In fact, I've replaced the switch so many times that when the present bulb failed a couple years ago I decided not to replace it until I could come up with a better solution involving LEDs.

(Image: Test of LED conversion of A/M switch)After several hours (!) of analysis, parts selection, and installation I successfully replaced the bulbs with LEDs as you can see in the photo. Unfortunately, what the picture doesn't show is that the replacement components don't fit perfectly in the connector body because it was specially designed keep the incandescent bulbs aligned with the amber-tinted light pipes and prevent some of the component leads from shorting out. Worse, the original circuit is not symmetrical (one side came with a dropping resistor, albeit one of a value inappropriate for LEDs) so one side of the connector body has a bit more wiggle room than the other.

When I tried to reinstall the PCB one of the LEDs routinely hit the side of the connector body, which pushed the LED out of alignment with the light pipe. Alignment of LEDS is critical because they are directional by nature and the parts I selected with a 20 degree dispersion angle even more so. My take at this point is that 3mm LEDs should solve the clearance issues but I'm not sure if I can get them with the same brightness specification. Time will tell.

If you're looking for some advice regarding the conversion it's "don't bother" -- unless you can spare the time, like fiddling with electronics, and have no illusions regarding the payback for this effort. I could buy a dozen switches for the time I've given to this project already. But then again, sometimes life is not about the numbers.

More Blower Motor Research

Some additional research on the blower motor has revealed that removal of the intake manifold on six cylinder engines may help provide additional clearance. Normally I'd try to work around that but it dawned on me that I need to do some preventative maintenance under the intake manifold anyway -- namely, replacement of the oil separator and idle control valve. Both of those jobs can technically be done without removing the intake manifold but the three tasks taken together represent the critical mass necessary to justify removal of the manifold. So guess what? The big job just got bigger.

Mileage: 176600, Parts: $55