TheSamba.com Forums
 
  View original topic: Late 1967 Turn Signal Lever Replacement with a W.West Repro.
DadaCheese Sat Jan 09, 2021 9:50 pm

Greetings.

This is a tutorial for anyone who wants/needs one.

Basics for replacing your turn signal lever in a 1967 12-volt bus.
Using the part # 211953513F from www.wolfsburgwest.com


Myself; I was fortunate to learn how to drive in my 1967 back in the 1980's.
Also it was a great opportunity at the time to start learning basic mechanics to keep my bus going...

Have you ever (as a newbie) bought a part and thought; why aren't there some simple instructions to go with this?
Sure; there's the "Idiot Guide" book* (excellent for beginners), and the shop manual, not to mention your own intelligent and thoughtful ability to figure it out yourself... but sometimes a quick friendly guide would be nice.

* "How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive: A Manual of Step-by-Step Procedures for the Compleat Idiot"
by John Muir (Author), Tosh Gregg (Author), Peter Aschwanden (Illustrator)
ISBN-13: 978-1566913102
ISBN-10: 9781566913102

For various reasons, I've replaced my turn signal switch about four times in my bus.
I know how to install one, even blindfolded (practically).
This tutorial is for you, however, as a solid description to make it easy (and to describe what you're about to get yourself into).

GOOD NEWS: Although this write-up is long, it's pretty easy (in general), and YOU can do it!

First off; you're likely saying to yourself; "good gosh; this part is $100!" (Jan. 2021).
Truth is; it's a pretty intricate (and somewhat fragile/sensitive) part.
We're lucky that it is being reproduced by someone at all, and this price is pretty fair.

This tutorial, and the way that I say I use (or don't use) the wires on the turn signal lever is for my Late 1967 Tourist Delivery Westfalia Bus.
I mention this because the turn signal switch can be used in a select few different buses.
As the part description reads: "TURN SIGNAL SWITCH, Bus, 1966-1967, for US delivery cars with all red taillights, includes high low beam switch. Made by Wolfsburg West"

So what do you need?

Not much;
---the part.
---A few different flathead and a few different phillips screwdrivers.
---A 13mm socket wrench
---Copy of the wiring diagram for your particular bus (get it here on TheSamba in the "technical" section under: "wiring")
---stuff to label wires
---Extra fuses (just in case)

...and possibly...
---some plumber's tape
---needle-nosed pliers.
---very fine sand paper or emery cloth for cleaning contacts/posts
---testing light or multi-meter

...but also maybe...
---electrical tape
---Wire striper/crimper
---Maybe a new 9-Pin "Black Box" Turn Signal Flasher Box. Wolfsburg West also makes a reproduction of that; it is blue. Here's the part #: 211953227BWW

How do I go about it?

1) Gather everything up and have it ready.
2) Remove the negative lead from your battery; be sure to get it away from the battery's post.



3) Take off both of the kick panels in the front cab of the bus.

4) Start evaluating your spaghetti mess of wires.

Is this the first, or the one-hundredth time you've done electrical work on your bus?
If you've never touched any of this before, and/or you're not the original owner of the bus, this rat's nest may look daunting.
Often you'll discover that a previous owner (p.o.) has made modifications.

Some of the not stock junk you see in mine has to do with my radio (a radio power line Noise Filter Suppressor, as well as a switch for the radio's power line to switch between my stock radio and a Retrosound radio I keep on the dash tray).

Sometimes changes may have been made by a p.o. out of necessity; the 9-Pin "Black Box" (repro. is blue) was a part that no one made for a few decades, so a lot of bus owners had to get creative, and/or decide what they could, or could not live with or without (such as the hazard lights working or not).



If there's a LOT of modifications that have been made, you'll have a bit of a challenge.
Heck; why not scrap this project by going for a bigger project of rewiring the whole bus?
Here's my tutorial on that:
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?p=5288797&highlight=#5288797

...so for this tutorial I'm going to assume your bus' wiring is more or less stock.

5) Identify all the wires coming off of your OLD (still in place) Turn Signal Lever's wiring harness.

My hope is that this next picture will be one of the most useful things in the tutorial for you.
Use it to identify the ends of your old turn signal wiring.
Don't worry about the wires I say are "unused", unless they ARE connected to something in your bus, in which case, LABEL them as to WHAT they are, and WHERE they connect to.



6) LABEL each of the wires that you're going to be disconnecting.

Yes I know; you'll be replacing this old turn signal. However, this step is so that you can compare your old turn signal to your new one.
I also highly advise doing this step before removing the old turn signal, so that you get used to where each wire goes to, and what they are called (on the wiring diagram), etc.

I tend to go a little over-board with labeling wires sometimes, and leaving them labeled may not look "stock" but I find it so much easier then fumbling around in the "guts" of the dash and behind the kick-panels.



All labeled? Good... moving on...

6) Unscrew your old Turn Signal Lever Housing.

Depending on whether yours is original or a reproduction it might be a flat, or phillips head screw.
Flat would have been stock, but the repros are now also using flathead screws. This older repro. in the picture had phillips.



7) Unscrew (disconnect) the bracket that holds your steering column from the dash tray using a large-headed Philips head screwdriver, and a 13mm socket.

This can be pivoted out of the way after you remove the two screws and the 2 bolts with washers and one nut with a washer (see view from underneath below). If you're missing any of these, Wolfsburg West also sells these.
[WW Part #: N142761 (Bus steering column bracket to parcel tray mounting screw, 2 required, 1955-1967 bus.)]
[WW Part # 211805200A (PARCEL TRAY HARDWARE KIT, 1962-1967, Bus, mounts parcel tray and steering support bracket.)]


That large hole (barely visible in the picture below) just behind where my socket wrench is on the one nut, is there for so that you can stick your finger up and in to hold the bolt that the nut is attached to. This helps when loosening, or tightening that nut so that the bolt doesn't just spin.



8 ) Make sure all the wire ends of the old turn signal are disconnected, and slowly, carefully, begin to feed them up and out from behind the dash, while also pulling them up and through the bottom part of the speedometer housing.

Don't forget, you can pivot that bracket you disconnected to the side and/or angle it so that this becomes easier.

Try to note where each part of the turn signal's wiring harness is fed through so that when you put the new one in, you can feed it back through the same way.

Got it out? Good.

9) Find a large flat clean surface and stretch out your new turn lever's wires alongside your old one.

This can be important because this is the chance to see if there are any differences.
Since you took the time to label the wires of the old one before taking it out, you can now easily label the new one.
I have had reproduction turn signals levers that did not use all of the correct same color wires as came with the bus originally.
This new one (Jan. 2021) did, however.
This is why you need/want to compare the two to each other.

10) Label the wires of your new Turn Signal.

Have a print out of that picture I provided identifying the wires of the new turn signal.
Also, compare it to the old one carefully. If changes were made (on the old one) it's worth noting.

Even if you're not going to leave the labels on (after you're 100% done), labeling the NEW one makes it SO MUCH quicker to set it up once you've threaded it in.

IMPORTANT: If you're doing the same model bus as myself, and the two wires that I marked as "unused" are ALSO not used on your bus, then cover up the ends of them with electrical tape in a way that you could use them if you figure out what they are for, but that also they don't accidentally short anything else out.

11) Carefully and slowly thread the new turn Signal's wires into the bottom of the speedometer housing, the exact way/location you had removed the old one. Thread the longer wires down behind the dash, just like the one you had removed.

This can be a little tricky, and as a matter of fact, I managed to break off the second half of my "VL" wire 'cause it got snagged. Perhaps you can wrap the wires in some cloth; a clean rag, put tape around that, make it like a cloth cigar, pass it through and then take the cloth off.

Some of the wires (particularly HR, S, HL) don't have very much slack.
Keeping the feed of the wires, through and around, the other wires so that you can connect them with enough "play" in the wire can take some time.
Arrange how they come through (in front of, or behind other wires) in a way that makes sense.

12) Connect all of your labeled wires to their correct locations.

Getting lost? Maybe print out the picture I provided of what all the wires are, and/or consult your bus' wiring diagram.

Again; having labeled these before putting them in, even if only temporarily, will make this MUCH easier.

13) Before screwing the turn signal onto the steering column, see if it needs some plumber's tape.

Have you ever driven a bus in which the turn signal lever is loose, or moves around, or is hanging down? Is that the case with your bus?
Here's the trick to fix that. Plumber's tape sticks well to the steering column, and is pliable.
It allows the two halves of the turn signal housing to grip onto something and bite in.
If you apply the tape carefully and consciously, no one will see it, because you placed it strategically beneath the housing of the turn signal's housing, but where it still connects with the housing for that "bite" needed.

You'll notice in the picture below I have a gap between two pieces of tape. I had done that when one of my turn signals levers wasn't grounding well to the steering column. You might consider the same. Just make sure the open area is where that shiny silver "C" part in the left side of the signal housing would connect with the steering column.





14) Evenly (left side then right side, left side then right side, etc.) screw the lever housing together.

IMPORTANT: If you're creating a "Show Queen" bus, you're about to lightly scuff the paint on the housing of your turn signal by using a screw driver which is too wide or too thick. If you care about that (I mostly don't; I mean; look at my bus!), then make sure you have the absolutely correctly sized screw driver (or rubber tipped, if there is such a thing) before screwing this together.

15) Reconnect your battery.

16) Put your key in, and turn the ignition on.

17) Test the blinkers (left then right, or vs. versa). Walk all the way around your bus to make sure front AND back are working for each of these tests. Turn the ignition off and test the hazard lights (walk around your bus again). Turn them off. Put the key back into ignition position. Turn on your headlights. Test the high beam/low beam switch (turn lever in center neutral position; tap the lever upwards. High beams should switch on. Tap it up again; should switch back to low-beams). Turn your headlights off.

Did it work?
Are the luckiest person alive and this only took you less than 25 minutes and it worked on the first try without any problems?
Congratulations! Go buy a lottery ticket!

Truth is though; something may not work.

Back to the basics; did you reconnect the battery?
Did you have the bus' key in the ignition position?
Check all the connections again.
Make sure what you labeled was labeled correctly.
Trace the wires... is everything plugged in?
Check your fuses; did any of them blow?
Are any of the wires on the posts of the 9-Pin flasher relay accidentally touching each other?
Is your 9-pin flasher box well grounded? The screw that goes through the center of your 9-pin flasher box not only holds it in place, it also grounds it to the body of the bus. If the flasher box isn't grounded, your blinkers aren't going to work.
Your blinker lights (all four); are all the bulbs working, are their housings grounded properly to the body of the bus?


...at this point, I kind of can't help you if your new switch isn't working.

Good news though; TheSamba can!
Since you're on the same page with at least me having labeled your wires and knowing where they should all go, then you're also on the same page as anyone else who reads this drivel.
Post here on this thread with questions, or create a new thread if it's something completely different. Someone will give you some insight if you describe well what you have tried and checked.

EXAMPLE:
Here's the problem I ran into this time.
I got it all in, I tested, and it wouldn't blink left.
I found that if I pressed lightly downward on the lever (while in the left blinker position), it DID blink.

Remember when I said that this device is a pretty intricate (and somewhat fragile/sensitive) part?
I took the two other screws out of the signal's housing and started evaluating why this brand new $100 reproduction part didn't work.
In the picture below, you'll see two copper domes, and a curved brass colored part leaning on one of them.
That moves from one to the other when you signal. The curved part wasn't making good contact when it was against one of the domes.
I took a very thin piece of wood and used it to slightly bend that delicate part so that it WOULD make a good contact when it moved.
Took me awhile, but; problem solved.



Here's the point I'm making though: there's plenty of things that may not go right. You'll need time, and patience to figure out what they are.

Word of warning: You may have been dreaming of how, once the new turn signal is in, the "auto-cancellation" feature will work (that's when you turn on the signal, you make a 90-degree turn, and when the steering wheel comes back to facing straight again, the flasher lever automatically clicks back to its neutral off position all on its own.
THE TRUTH: This may not happen.
As a pretty intricate (and somewhat fragile/sensitive) part, the "auto-cancellation" feature is a physical (mechanical; not electrical) one that requires all the stars in the galaxy to align perfectly.
Currently mine does auto-cancel if I turn right, and never if I turn left.
If you ask other bus owners if theirs works properly, you'll get a variety of answers.
I'm not saying that it can't be done, and/or that yours won't work, but I am warning you so that you aren't overly disappointed.
In this write-up I'm not covering any auto-cancelation issues; this is about INSTALLING the part.
"But why is that," you're asking, "why doesn't it work on my bus, and why aren't you covering it?"
...because besides the turn signal switch (where the auto-cancelation problem may, or may not, be), there's the parts of your steering wheel that are involved, etc.
Each bus' problem with the auto-cancellation is going to be different from one another.
I DO encourage you to try to figure out why your auto-cancellation isn't working (if it doesn't), but first just be pleased that all your blinkers are working.
If you can/would like, please write up a tutorial about that aspect of this switch to help folks (even me).

Since you tested, and it all works (electronically)...

18 ) Reconnect the brace that holds the steering column to the dash (two screws, two bolts, one nut).

19) Put your kick panels back.

20) Test the blinkers/hazard flashers/high-low beam switch again.

21) Take the keys out of the ignition.

22) Clean up and put away your tools. KEEP your old turn signal. There's a chance you might want to use the wires from it sometime, and/or give it to someone who needs/wants it, or parts of it.

23) Thank anyone you live with for being patient with you.

24) Go for a spin.

25) Post on TheSamba about your success and put pictures up too.

I hope this "simple" tutorial helps someone.

Questions/comments/additions/and general dialog warmly welcomed.




One last potentially helpful picture; Print this out so that you can easily know where your wires go in the 9-Pin Flasher Relay.


BulliBill Sun Jan 10, 2021 11:33 am

Bravo!

Bill

ToolBox Mon Jan 11, 2021 10:36 am

DadaCheese wrote:
2) Remove either the negative, or positive lead from your battery; be sure to get it away from the battery's post.





Your battery hold down strap looks like it is about to become a fusiable link.

Negative cable is removed first, ALWAYS. Unless you are working on an old positive ground vehicle.

DadaCheese Mon Jan 11, 2021 11:07 am

ToolBox wrote: Your battery hold down strap looks like it is about to become a fusiable link.

Negative cable is removed first, ALWAYS. Unless you are working on an old positive ground vehicle.

Great catch, ToolBox!
I've edited the post. (click "refresh" to see the change)
Although it couldn't be seen, I had actually removed my negative already, but had taken a picture of the positive merely because it was an easier camera angle. Fixed on the post now. Thanks!

barfsurfer Mon Jan 11, 2021 4:03 pm

DadaCheese, you are a hero! This is a fantastic tutorial. I did a full re-wire of my '66 Kombi last year, including new WW Turn signal and 9-way so I can definitely appreciate the time and effort you went through on this.

I'm now on my 2nd WW Turn Signal assembly. During the initial install of everything (about 8 months ago) I had problems with one of the turn signals. can't remember exactly which side. After following the great troubleshooting guide on http://www.type2.com/library/electris/vw-9prong.html I determined that the issue seemed to be with the turn signal assembly itself. There was one point during troubleshooting all of this where I think I had the battery still connected, and something sparked at the 9-way box. So it made sense to me at the time that I had somehow damaged the T/S assembly.

So I dropped another $100 and ordered a 2nd WW T/S unit. Ouch. Anyways, that did the trick and everything worked as expected with the new unit. Yay! Only problem was that on right turns only, the mechanism wouldn't auto-disengage after the turn. Left side worked fine. A minor annoyance, but I could live with that.

A few weeks ago a new issue cropped up. Now, I get the rapid-flash on LEFT turn, implying a bulb is out or something up. And indeed that's the case - no left flashing (just rapid flash of the speedo indicator light). Right side still OK. Checked all wires, replaced the bulb for grins, no changes. As far as I can tell, it's pointing again to the turn signal assembly as the culprit (one of the first things the above 9-way troubleshooting guide mentions is that if you get ANY flashing at all - hazard, or turn flash, then the problem lies somewhere other than the 9-way).

You're spot on when you mention that the turn signal unit is a pretty intricate and sensitive little bugger. I'll definitely take it apart and see if a little persuasion can help. I was about to pull the trigger on a THIRD turn signal assembly, but hopefully that little tweak will fix my problem.

Thanks again for the great tutorial, I'll be stoked if I can somehow fix the contacts on the turn signal and get it back in shape. Seems like a very reasonable possibility at this point.

DadaCheese Mon Jan 11, 2021 4:53 pm

barfsurfer wrote: Now, I get the rapid-flash on LEFT turn, implying a bulb is out or something up...

barfsurfer, thanks for the kind words.
Also many thanks for the link to that great troubleshooting guide!

Sounds like you've thought of/tried all the regular things.
My first thought, like yours, was whether a bulb was out.

Few thoughts along those lines quickly; the article you linked identified the shortest brown wire (should be 31 on the wiring diagram), which I am not using on my bus, as being a ground wire. You might try linking that up to a long wire of your own devising which you know is well grounded, and see if there's any difference.
...Also, I know that sometimes my light assemblies (either the front "fried eggs", or the back tail light assemblies) weren't grounded well. Worth checking.

What else? Oh; the double-filament bulb in the back; sometimes even where/how it is twisted into place can make a difference. I've tried repro. back tail light assemblies that the connectors (at the base of the bulb) seemed to just "float" where ever the heck they wanted to, thus having the bulb not actually making good contact.

Naturally I hope it is as easy as one of those things before you tear apart the T/S unit.

Please post again when/if/as you figure it out.
When Covid goes away, I hope to see you down in Orange County sometime at a meet. You're living down where I grew up.

barfsurfer Wed Jan 13, 2021 5:40 pm

More excellent tips, thanks again! I'll check it out this weekend and report back.

barfsurfer Mon Feb 08, 2021 8:38 pm

Happy to report success this weekend! I did notice that the ground wires from the taillight housings to the chassis were both pretty ancient, so I made new ones and cleaned up the bolts where they connected. I also really cleaned up all the contacts on the front fried eggs, and disconnected and inspected all the connections at the 9 way box. To my utter delight, both turn signals working nicely now! It really was something that simple.

After doing this, I think I need a longer ground strap for my battery. Itís a pretty tight stretch from the - battery terminal to where it bolts to the chassis, and it rests right across the left tail light connectors. Seems like a recipe for future gremlins.

DadaCheese Tue Feb 09, 2021 4:53 pm

barfsurfer wrote: Happy to report success this weekend!

Perfect! So pleased when it's something "simple". Thanks for updating.



Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group