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84 Vanagon starter solenoid connections
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owenbrand
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 11, 2010 1:23 pm    Post subject: 84 Vanagon starter solenoid connections Reply with quote

1984 vanagon westfalia with 1.9l and standard transmission.

When I turn the key I only get a click from the dash area. Nothing from the starter. I have -
1. Tested then replaced the starter with a Bosch from Bus Depot.
2. Replaced, improved grounding, and finally removed a Ford style solenoid that has been on the van since I bought it. My guess is it was installed as a hot start relay for an air cooled? This is the water cooled beast. It was only confusing the matter.

The connections I have to the starter don't match what the Bentley calls for. There's a large lug sort of connector that goes on the post along with a flat ring connection. Then there's a black and red wire I put a new female blade connector on. That leaves one blade connection unused. One should be to the coil and the other to the ignition to engage the solenoid? I am stumped.

Other troubleshooting - I trickle charged my battery and confirmed getting 12 v. I cleaned up the battery ground connection to frame, the transmission ground connection, and tried a new positive cable from the starter back. All to no avail. Any help greatly appreciated.
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Captain Pike
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 11, 2010 7:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is a blank post on the starter, your OK there. The presence of the old Ford part may point to the ignition switch. Cheep part,easy to install and may very well be the "root"of the problem.
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owenbrand
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 11, 2010 7:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the guidance. I will test the switch again. I thought I did that early on but can't be sure.

I only have the red/black wire to attach to one of the two blades. Which one should it be attached to? I think I've stared at the Bentley and this starter mess too long.
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Captain Pike
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 11, 2010 8:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

doesn't matter
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owenbrand
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 15, 2010 5:18 am    Post subject: Stuck with a solenoid that clicks Reply with quote

Thanks for helping me get the connections without the ford style solenoid in place.

I found the ignition harness was a bit loose. Properly connected and now I get the click of the solenoid at the starter when I turn the key. I tried hot wiring it just to eliminate the ignition switch I get the same solenoid click. When I jump across from the blade connection to the positive post on the starter I get a click and almost a clang as if the starter doesn't have enough power to turn the engine over. I checked the battery at the posts I get 12.6 volts. I am stumped.
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owenbrand
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 16, 2010 11:46 am    Post subject: Stuck like Chuck. Summarizing tested components Reply with quote

Issue: Starter solenoid clicks but won't turn over engine. Can the bushing cause this? Here's a summary of electrical done thus far -

New starter, clean new connections to starter. Removed ford style solenoid.
Connected large battery positive with new end to starter below the the large lug wire connection. Connected large red/black to blade connection #50.

New battery fully charged and load tested. Voltage at top of battery terminal 12.6 voltage at starter 12.

Cleaned ground strap at transmission to frame. Inspected wiring there solid and clean.
Cleaned and inspected grounds to engine on driver side head.

Removed ignition harness and hot wired. Get fuel pump turning on when connected and when jumpering the solenoid the click occurs.

Jumped from solenoid to hot post on starter with key on and get same click.

Ran a new heavy gauge starter wire from positive terminal to starter. Same tests as above same solenoid click result.

I can turn the engine over by hand so I know the engine isn't seized.

At various times I've pulled this engine and repaired ugly exhaust manifold bolts, replaced the water pump, replaced the clutch, tracked down temp sensors, O2 sensors, etc. I thought I knew a bit about this van. This has me completely stumped.
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owenbrand
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 17, 2010 10:02 am    Post subject: Walk of shame time - fixed it Reply with quote

After replacing the starter bushing and getting the same click I was ready to throw in the towel. I rechecked all my grounds. The connections on the drivers side head were super clean with a nice coating of dielectric grease. I rechecked the ground strap and it was corroded and loose. I had looked at that strap when I first began but somehow didn't remove itnor I would have seen the corrosion. The ground bolt was fused in place and broke when attempting to loosen it. I grounded it to the bolt holding the coil and it turned over first try.

Many thanks for the help in this thread and the many useful posts in the forums. It's great to get this old van back on the road.
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owenbrand
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 25, 2010 6:38 pm    Post subject: drivers side head ground wire getting very hot Reply with quote

After cutting off the corroded end of the original left side head ground the engine would turn over somewhat slow but start right up. Since I was just running a bolt through the braided wire I thought a replacement ground might improve things.

I replaced the older ground strap with a "Help" item from the flaps and it gets burning hot. It's clearly not the quality copper of the original strap and it almost melted the ECU insulation jacket through as I attempted to start it up and got the familiar slow crank. Yikes.

I augmented that inferior ground with a piece of 10 gauge wire and replaced 3 of the other grounds on that head with new clean connections crimped onto clean bright wire. It still slow cranks and that 10 g wire gets warm even after a few fairly short start attempts.

Any ideas? Any sources for a quality replacement ground? I'm off to try to salvage the old one for now to see if it also gets so hot.
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owenbrand
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 25, 2010 9:31 pm    Post subject: 6 or 8ga wire recommended on other threads Reply with quote

The 10ga wire I had on hand isn't big enough per other threads here. Gonna go pick up a 6ga wire from the flaps and see if that does the trick. I don't trust the old strap to salvage.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2010 8:17 am    Post subject: Re: drivers side head ground wire getting very hot Reply with quote

owenbrand wrote:
...Any ideas? Any sources for a quality replacement ground?...


Ground straps don't have to be that braided stuff, look among the battery cables (even WalMart has them) for a big cable with lugs at both ends (usually black, maybe 2 gauge).

I added one from the body directly to the starter to improve cranking. See arrow for the body connection, you'll have to imagine the other end.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

Also added a hot cable from the alternator to the starter to improve the other half of that equation. Also have the hot-start relay (also in that photo).

Somewhere in there something worked.
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owenbrand
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2010 9:14 am    Post subject: I was way off with the wire size. Thanks for the picture too Reply with quote

Thanks for the guidance and the image. Now I see how I was confused with ground wire size. I'm going to add the grounds you have suggested and order the relay.

I don't know how I've let "letting the magic smoke out" be my understanding of automotive electronics.
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owenbrand
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2010 6:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Found a couple of 4 ga cables 30". Ran one of them as a new chassis ground and put a new ground from the bottom bolt of the starter to the chassis by the transmission mount. After each change I tried the key and got the same whuh whuh then nothing. At this point I have to think it's not a ground issue. I have no idea what else this can be. Sure tired of not being able to drive the van.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2010 6:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I see this has been going for a week or two... you must be pretty frustrated and burned out on it.

Do you have a voltmeter? Measure the voltage between the big starter power post and the trans case... 12.6v or so? Now keep measuring that and crank the starter... might need 3 hands... or alligator clips. Don't short anything out 'cause you're dealing with a lot of amps (as you observed by the melting ground strap). Still around 12v, or does it drop down to 9v or 10v? It will drop some, but a strong system shouldn't drop it much. If it drops you're not delivering enough amps to the starter to crank it. Do you know for a fact that your battery is good? How about your positive battery cable? I can't recall if you replaced the negative battery cable or just the ground strap... but you need to make sure all the pieces are 100%. Take the cables off the battery and clean the posts & insides of the clamps too if you haven't already.

Another question: Does it crank the same from both the ignition switch and shorting the solenoid trigger to the big power post? If it does you know your problem is somewhere in that Battery-PositiveCable-Starter-TransHousing-GroundStrap-NegativeCable loop, in which case the relay won't help (it certainly won't hurt, but it won't solve the problem). If they crank differently, resolve the problem with the hot-wire cranking, then add the relay and you should be golden.

It sounds like you're reasonably electrically savvy... you can solve this.

Paul
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2010 12:31 pm    Post subject: multimeter results Reply with quote

Using an analog voltage connector I see just over 12 volts at the posts of the battery and at the post on the starter grounded to the transmission case. Engaging the starter voltage dropped to around 10 volts. So that drop might indicate insufficient power to the starter? I will give this another go with my digital multimeter it was giving me some wacky readings so I didn't trust it.

The battery is pretty new and I tested it good with 12.6 volts using my digital meter. The connections to the battery are shiny clean still I will haul it in to test it should the replacement positive battery cable not solve it. The negative cable wasn't replaced but has a very clean connection to the body in the battery box.

Using a screw driver to jump across the starter returns the same slow starter response. I have a new cable I will use to run straight from the positive post of the battery to the starter. I tested this earlier in the process but maybe strengthening the rest of the system makes this the weak point?

Thanks for the words of encouragement and direction.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 8:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This season I figured out where I was going wrong. It was a combination of issues. The bad ground that caused the new ground strap to get burning hot also managed to melt important bits in the new starter. I took both the new bosch starter and the old VW starter to a rebuild shop. Bosch was determined to be a new boat anchor and the old VW starter cost $32.00 to repair. Put it in and it started right up. An occasional slow crank but no issues with hot ground wires. I was straightening up plug wires when I bumped the coil wire at the distributor. The engine died. I tried to restart the engine and no more slow crank. No start so i checked connections on both ends again and it started right up. This had been checked previously but I had since had to drill and tap a new ground connection, r&r the starter, etc.

My lesson learned is to follow the entire test sequence from beginning to end since conditions change or something may be missed the first time through.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 8:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yaaay. Glad you solved it. Very Happy
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