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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

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Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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Saturday, June 4, 2016

ZKW Installation Finished

Earlier this week I dropped by my dealer to pick up new turn signal bulbs to replace the one I broke, only to find they were not in stock. Since that meant a special order and a delay of a few days I asked for new bulb sockets as well because those incorporate a seal that I wanted to replace to prevent any moisture from getting inside my new turn signals.

When I left the car last week the epoxy I'd used to repair the turn signal mounting rail was still soft after several hours. The plan was to come back today and evaluate the epoxy -- if it had fully cured and the rail seemed strong enough to support the turn signal housing I would install them along with the new bulbs and then wrap up the alignment. Fortunately, as I arrived at my garage I found the epoxy and the rail perfectly rigid. I wouldn't exactly tie a rope to it and repel down a mountain face, but I felt it was good enough to continue with the installation.

To test the repair I carefully inserted the housing into the "broken" rail side and found it slid in nicely and locked in place. I knew that the driver's side headlight was not perfectly aligned with respect to the body but I didn't realize how badly until I took a closer look at the gaps between the turn signal and the body. I've concluded that these units must be installed to properly gauge the alignment of the headlight but the downside is the outer adjuster cannot be accessed with the turn signal installed. Thus, if adjustments are needed (and trust me, they will be), the units will no doubt need to be repeatedly removed and reinstalled during the alignment process. Incidentally, I wouldn't want to do this with old turn signal housings as the plastic locking tabs are notoriously fragile even when new.

While in my case the inner portion of the headlight only had to go in a bit, the outer portion was definitely too far forward, so this meant loosening the lower screws relative to the adjusters to push the headlight flanges farther back into the body. The outer adjuster in particular gave me fits, to the point that I was forced to completely remove the screw from the adjuster and then use an open-end wrench to move it. The pleasant surprise came when I turned the lights on for the first time following the adjustment and got very lucky -- the beams were almost perfectly aimed.

You may note from the picture below that the cutoff is about 3" below the horizontal beam axis (exactly as required) but both beams are significantly to the right of the vertical axis. This is due to the fact that I moved the car since I put the targets on the wall. The beams are, in fact, aligned correctly because I knew the passenger beam was correctly aligned last week so I simply adjusted the driver's side to be the same distance to the right of the vertical axis.

I stand by my earlier comment that the fine adjusters are next to worthless but it's clear from working with them a bit more that the vertical fine adjuster is definitely more effective than the horizontal fine adjuster. While the cutoff moved significantly with as little as a full turn of the vertical adjuster, the horizontal adjuster required several turns and even then it didn't seem to push the beam significantly left or right. So it would appear that the vast majority of the horizontal aiming must be done with the "coarse" adjusters.

I am not 100% satisfied with how the turn signals mate with the headlights and hence the body. They appear to sit farther forward of both the headlight glass and the body than they should. I assumed that once they locked in place they would be flush with the face of the headlight, but that is clearly not the case. They do move backward a bit more and can be made to seat perfectly but there is no latch or other mechanism to retain them in that position. I'm not sure if this is due to design differences between the euro headlights and the US turn signal housings but it sure looks that way.

Despite this minor issue the new lighting up front looks a lot better. The projector lamps bring the look of the car forward about 10 years. Sure, they're not HID, but they're period correct, perform far better than the US spec lights, and most importantly, don't flag any "beam failure" warnings on the OBC. That's all that matters to me.

Replaced Aux Fan Low Speed Relay

While running the vehicle at idle for an extended period of time in that very hot weather last weekend I noticed some peculiar operation of the aux fan. It appeared to turn on in low speed mode for a very brief time before shutting off again. It never stayed on for more than a few seconds, and at least twice I saw it turn on only long enough to get the blades started before turning off again.

I knew this wasn't normal, and I confirmed this when the fan suddenly went into high speed mode and ran that way for a good 30 seconds, no doubt because the coolant temperature reached the high speed threshold. I instantly diagnosed this as a failed low speed aux fan relay and confirmed diagnosis when I pulled the relay and inspected the contacts to find them severely pitted.

I typically recommend replacement of this relay every 50K miles or so, since my experience has been that it typically fails in normal service around that time. However, I just replaced the relay a short time ago, so one might ask, as I did -- why did the relay fail so quickly? The most likely answer is that the relay contacts were destroyed when the vehicle repeatedly attempted to start the seized fan I replaced last year.

Next Up

The next project, at long last, is the interior. The foam deterioration is accelerating and even the thigh rest now has a concave section worn in it. Sadly, I confirmed this week that the thigh rest foam is officially ENDED. That means I'm stuck with the foam I have and will need to have it repaired before the new leather covers are installed.

Mileage: 263300