Saturday, December 24, 2005

More Winter Biodiesel Issues...

Mmmm waxy sludge...

Washers and Wipers

Given the salty, slushy weather of late I decided to fix the windshield washers and replace the wipers. 20" or 21" front and 13" rear (remember, SoDak is a wagon) Buy the high quality Bosch microedge wipers! The washer system is a bit odd. The system utilizes 2 pumps-one for the front and one for the rear-and one reservoir. The pump motors are slid into rubber washers at the bottom of the tank. If your wiper reservoir is leaking, these rubber seals are a prime culprit. There is also a rubber washer around the black plastic filler neck as it goes into the tank. The fluid level sensor is grounded right next to the front right turn signal assembly. I found this ground to be heavily corroded and cleaned it, and all electrical connections.

Charging Problems Solved!

After replacing the alternator with a bosch rebuilt unit that turned out to be bad, I again replaced the alternator. I now have no charging issues! Note: the D+ terminal at the back of the alternator goes to the charge light on your dash. You should get ~14V DC at this terminal with the car running. The W terminal goes to your tachometer and is a pulsed DC signal. It should showed up on my multimeter as ~7.5V DC. FYI, the little plastic black box on the back of the alternator with one wire to the B+ terminal is a radio interference suppressor.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Running out of Fuel

I am embarrassed to say that I ran out of fuel yesterday. 378 miles on the trip odometer. My fuel gauge is not working very well. Luckily, I was stranded at a freeway exit with a diesel filling station. Lucky me. $11 and I was back on the road. I was very surprised at how little time it took the pump to prime (under a minute!) This is much less time than it takes my Jetta TDI, which I curse every time I need to change the fuel filter.

I was really amazed at the service I got. First a police officer stopped and asked how I was doing. I told him I had mechanical problems and that I had my tools in the back and I was going to tinker around a bit(Hint: you'll get a ticket for running out of fuel on the freeway). He said he'd be back in a while to check that I was alright. Then, 2 minutes later, a "highway helper" parked in back of me and put on his light bar while I fueled up SoDak. What service!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Alternator Contd. Contd.

According to the 740 manual I have, a voltage drop at the battery(measure voltage across battery with no load and with load - headlights, rear defrogger, blower fan on high- and compare) should be no more than 0.7 V. My measurements were 14.2V with no load and 13.3V with the above accessories on, for a voltage drop of 0.9V. I was concerned, but my friend Stew said that this was completely normal given the temperature (8F) and my 55A alternator.

Next I checked for voltage drop in both the power circuit (measure voltage between alternator + and battery + with load/no load and compare) and the ground circuit (measure voltage between alternator ground and battery - with load/no load and compare) I found a voltage drop in the ground circuit that was slightly more than the allowable 0.4V

I was lazy and just ran a redundant ground from the alternator housing directly to the negative battery cable.

The charge light was still on! Stew suggested we unplug the spade connector at the back of the alternator (red wire) and if the charge light went off the alternator was a bad unit. It went out. BAD rebuilt Bosch alternator :( I'm glad that I'm working on a Volvo where the alternator is easily accessible!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Front End Work, Starter Issues, Cold Starting, Heat...

Well, my starter started acting up. The small gear that pops out and engages the flex plate (kind of like a flywheel, but for auto trabsmission cars) is sticking when the temp is below zero :( My temporary solution is to just quickly flick the key 2X so as to "unstick" the gear and then start it.

The Volvo continues to start fine in sub-zero (-8F) weather without an electric heater. On the first starting attempt, it runs for 10 seconds and kills. On the second attempt, it starts and stays running. Because of the fact that the engine actually starts (initially) better than my 2000 Jetta TDI, this again points to a fuel issue and not a compression issue. The fuel is igniting just fine.

What I love most about this car is the heat. It's incredible! The TDI takes 15 minutes to warm up and provide decent heat in below zero weather. The Volvo is warm in 3 minutes and the heater is quite substantial. I can even drive to work in my Birkenstocks.

Today I finished repairing the engine wiring harness and did the RF ball joint and tie rod end. Thank God for my friend Stew and his import shop. I get to work inside in comfortable 60 or so degree heat.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Let it Snow

Having had a chance to try out the Viking snow tires lately, they are excellent so far. The snow traction is on par with the Michelin Arctic Alpin and Bridgestone Blizzak WS-50's I have owned and driven. We haven't had much ice, but they are great on packed and fresh snow. I will update y'all on their wear characteristics and how they perform on ice.

Alternators Contd.

I replaced the alternator with a rebuild Bosch unit. The charge light is still on :( as are all of the dash lights on the right side of the instrument cluster. Hmmm. I checked the voltage coming from the alternator. A-OK I then repaired some of the deteriorating engine wiring harness. It seems as if a previous owner had spliced in a replacement 8-pin wiring harness plug(the one on top of the driver's side wheel well). They did a horse-sh*t job of it. They just used butt connectors and wrapped the whole thing in electrical tape. I removed the 8 pin plugs and just joined the wires. I used butt connectors cut off the plastic insulation, soldered the butt connectors and the put 3M shrink tubing over the connection.

I still have to track down what is causing the charge light to come on. My tachometer is still not working despite having confirmed a signal at the alternator using a digital scope.

In short (pun intended), I most likely have a wiring issue or a ground issue, but for now, SoDak is back on the road.