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dobryan
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2016 9:13 am    Post subject: Re: Dangerously dim headlights w/ relays… Reply with quote

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2016 9:22 am    Post subject: Re: Dangerously dim headlights w/ relays… Reply with quote

greebly wrote:
A healthy battery fully charged will be at least 13 - 13.2 volts.


With all the autos I'd ever own, not once have I observed anything near this range. The range is more like with the engine running and the healthy battery being charged. Here in Vanagon land most of us still have the good old fashion flooded battery as the starting and running battery. The OP made no mention if the engine is running of the voltage measured at the battery, but I infer the engine is off, but the battery is being loaded by the headlights. I have seen the battery goes near 12V in this situations.

one of many flooded battery discharge chart
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2016 10:28 am    Post subject: Re: Dangerously dim headlights w/ relays… Reply with quote

A load tester will indicate in it's instructions that it is ineffective at testing a battery at 12 volts. It is not charged. My trickle charger will maintain 13.2 volts. That is fully charged. The battery without external source will settle to 12.6. I asked him if the voltage measurement was under load of the lights being on. The OP needs to clarify this. I maintain if he is sitting at 12 volts with no heavy load, his battery is weak.
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dobryan
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2016 10:34 am    Post subject: Re: Dangerously dim headlights w/ relays… Reply with quote

Yep, 12.0V at no load that battery is at about 50% charge. I thought you were referring to 13.2V at no load as a full charge condition. Just a misread on my part. Very Happy
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chase4food
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2016 10:38 am    Post subject: Re: Dangerously dim headlights w/ relays… Reply with quote

I would not be too alarmed to see the group 41 battery at 12.0 V with all hi/lo beams on and not being charged. If the OP has 80/100W hi/low plus 100W hi all on. This is roughly 46A of current being pulled from the battery at 12V. All battery starts to deteriorate the day you put it into service.

Fine print:
Auto headlight are designed to operate when the alternator is charging, so I infer the wattage rating is likely for the nominal voltage closer to 13.4V. Still, my calculated current magnitude is in the right ballpark.

Go test your Vanagon and see what you get in same situation.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2016 10:46 am    Post subject: Re: Dangerously dim headlights w/ relays… Reply with quote

While the OP first post did not expressly state clearly if the measurement at the battery that read circa 12.1V, the other measurements in the photo as well as the context is quite clear that he had the hi/lo beams on. The low voltage at the battery can only suggest the engine is not running, or the alternator is bad.

To far out to the limb now...
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2016 5:31 pm    Post subject: Re: Dangerously dim headlights w/ relays… Reply with quote

In all the tests (except where noted, checking the charging voltage) the engine was off.

None of this is good news, is it? I was originally concerned about the aux battery and now my main one might be dying? #2gunfire

I picked up a ground strap from FLAPS, assuming that the existing one is toast. I figure I should replace it regardless, just to verify the connections are all solid.

Still starts with enthusiasm, so maybe a hard start relay was already added or the Tiico is just easier to crank.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2016 5:53 pm    Post subject: Re: Dangerously dim headlights w/ relays… Reply with quote

take both batteries out and have them tested at a battery shop (not an auto parts store)

the tester should be a large cart-based machine, not a handheld thing
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 28, 2016 4:07 pm    Post subject: Re: Dangerously dim headlights w/ relays… Reply with quote

I find myself with a free couple of hours and a ground strap from FLAPS but what's all this about about not disconnecting the ground point from the body (Bentley 97.6)? How are you supposed to do this? And what's the special bolt used to connect the ground strap? I thought this was a fairly straightforward task but now I wonder.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 29, 2016 12:15 am    Post subject: Re: Dangerously dim headlights w/ relays… Reply with quote

Grounding straps are not rocket science, you want a very heavy conductor (or two) between your engine/transaxle assembly and the chassis. OK to use flat braided strap, also OK to use heavy flexible wire if installed so it can flex without subjecting the wire at the terminals to stress or causing fatigue. Since we are passing DC (not radio frequencies) here it makes little difference what shape the copper is, so long as there is a lot of it. If your existing strap is in good shape (not broken strands or all green) then leave it in place and add a #4 cable somewhere else between engine/trans assembly and chassis. No harm at all in this.
And I like to use toothed lockwashers between the terminal and the chassis or transmission case to get lots of contact points.
Your 85/100 watt lights are going to draw 3 times the amperage of the stock lamps. Since the original wiring was barely adequate it would make sense to increase the size of the wires and improve their ground attachment preemptively. A short run of heavier wire to a good chassis ground will be way better than the long run to the grounding trees on the OE skinny wire.
If you have Jay's relay kit it might be worth installing it, following his directions step by step, just to know that the installation is correct. You can't assume the PO did the job right or the kit was set up properly to minimize voltage drop. It is OK to look for voltage drop but some things are pretty easy to predict, too small grounding wires is one of them.
Idea
With incandescent lamps (including quartz/halogen lamps) a 10% drop in voltage will cause about a 30% drop in light output so it is important to minimize the voltage drop in all parts of the circuit. Good news, though, is that a 10% reduction in voltage just about doubles the life of the bulb.
Idea
You may also want to invest in high-temperature socket assemblies with those big lamps. Most of that 100 watts turns into heat which will cook your stock lamp sockets. Check with Jay for those.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 29, 2016 2:48 am    Post subject: Re: Dangerously dim headlights w/ relays… Reply with quote

Have you thought about charging your battery and then checking your headlights at night? If they are ok with a charged battery you will know it's not a headlight or battery problem, then if they go dim after you drive for a while that would indicate it's a charging problem.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 29, 2016 6:56 am    Post subject: Re: Dangerously dim headlights w/ relays… Reply with quote

No one would ever confuse one of these bricks for a rocket, no.

So let's examine what I think I know:

• neither battery is fully charged
• the alternator is about a year old
• PO's installation of the GW aux kit may have been part of the repeated blown alternators as shown in receipts: I know it was done wrong
• battery ground strap is probably oem/OG
• given this is an engine swap, the transmission strap is likely not oem/OG
• the relay kit is probably ok, as the van was upgraded in '03 for a Little Old Lady (still have the window cards reading "for sale," etc) who wanted to head out for the wilderness.

So a charging/continuity problem looks likely. Charging the battery might confirm it. If I take it to FLAPS and they get it to 13 and change and it doesn't hold, I have a weak charging circuit. Given a new alternator, do I look at the rear ground strap? How do I test the alternator's output while running without screwing anything up?
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 29, 2016 7:41 am    Post subject: Re: Dangerously dim headlights w/ relays… Reply with quote

chase4food wrote:
While the OP first post did not expressly state clearly if the measurement at the battery that read circa 12.1V, the other measurements in the photo as well as the context is quite clear that he had the hi/lo beams on. The low voltage at the battery can only suggest the engine is not running, or the alternator is bad.

To far out to the limb now...



or the battery is bad. dont forget that, or the wires have high resistance, dont forget that either. any of these and others could cause a low voltage reading even with a working alternator.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 29, 2016 7:44 am    Post subject: Re: Dangerously dim headlights w/ relays… Reply with quote

Dampcamper wrote:
Grounding straps are not rocket science, you want a very heavy conductor (or two) between your engine/transaxle assembly and the chassis. OK to use flat braided strap, also OK to use heavy flexible wire if installed so it can flex without subjecting the wire at the terminals to stress or causing fatigue. Since we are passing DC (not radio frequencies) here it makes little difference what shape the copper is, so long as there is a lot of it. If your existing strap is in good shape (not broken strands or all green) then leave it in place and add a #4 cable somewhere else between engine/trans assembly and chassis. No harm at all in this.
And I like to use toothed lockwashers between the terminal and the chassis or transmission case to get lots of contact points.
Your 85/100 watt lights are going to draw 3 times the amperage of the stock lamps. Since the original wiring was barely adequate it would make sense to increase the size of the wires and improve their ground attachment preemptively. A short run of heavier wire to a good chassis ground will be way better than the long run to the grounding trees on the OE skinny wire.
If you have Jay's relay kit it might be worth installing it, following his directions step by step, just to know that the installation is correct. You can't assume the PO did the job right or the kit was set up properly to minimize voltage drop. It is OK to look for voltage drop but some things are pretty easy to predict, too small grounding wires is one of them.
Idea
With incandescent lamps (including quartz/halogen lamps) a 10% drop in voltage will cause about a 30% drop in light output so it is important to minimize the voltage drop in all parts of the circuit. Good news, though, is that a 10% reduction in voltage just about doubles the life of the bulb.
Idea
You may also want to invest in high-temperature socket assemblies with those big lamps. Most of that 100 watts turns into heat which will cook your stock lamp sockets. Check with Jay for those.


ditto that on the sockets. my stock ones died using stock watt bulbs. I found some high temp sockets on amazon .com and they are working great, ceramic base rather than plastic, much lower voltage drop across them verse the heat damaged stock ones.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 29, 2016 7:46 am    Post subject: Re: Dangerously dim headlights w/ relays… Reply with quote

Paulbeard wrote:
No one would ever confuse one of these bricks for a rocket, no.

So let's examine what I think I know:

• neither battery is fully charged
• the alternator is about a year old
• PO's installation of the GW aux kit may have been part of the repeated blown alternators as shown in receipts: I know it was done wrong
• battery ground strap is probably oem/OG
• given this is an engine swap, the transmission strap is likely not oem/OG
• the relay kit is probably ok, as the van was upgraded in '03 for a Little Old Lady (still have the window cards reading "for sale," etc) who wanted to head out for the wilderness.

So a charging/continuity problem looks likely. Charging the battery might confirm it. If I take it to FLAPS and they get it to 13 and change and it doesn't hold, I have a weak charging circuit. Given a new alternator, do I look at the rear ground strap? How do I test the alternator's output while running without screwing anything up?



lots of autoparts stores will do a free test of your battery. worth doing if your in doubt about it.
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2016 11:04 am    Post subject: Re: Dangerously dim headlights w/ relays… Reply with quote

I tested the alternator/battery and here's what I got:

W/o engine running:
Battery shows 12.8v without lights on
Battery shows 11.8 with headlights on (just the lows)

With engine on:
13.95 v at the battery w/o lights
13.65v with lights

Just checked voltage at the light sockets, low beams on, engine off:
11.8 v at the battery
11.3 at the headlight socket

With the engine running @ idle:
13.6 v at the battery with low beams on
12.5 at the headlight socket
12.1 at the highbeam socket

The voltage did flicker and flutter a bit at the headlight socket, around .5v.

FWIW, local grounds made no difference. I used the bright metal of the screw hole that holds the light frame and got with a hundredth of the voltage of the ground at the plug. Probably a better idea overall but it's not a factor in this particular situation.

The alternator shows 14.1v without lights, 13.9 with lights. This was at idle as I don't have three hands or enough leg to rev to 2000 rpm.

The alternator/regulator is what I am curious about. The alternator is new, as of a year ago. The regulator doesn't look to be new and I don't think it was replaced at the time. Replace it? Get an adjustable or just the regular kind?

The cabling looks pretty beat. If Jay Brown still makes that starter harness kit, I may swap that in for peace of mind.
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PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2016 8:36 am    Post subject: Re: Dangerously dim headlights w/ relays… Reply with quote

I guess mine is charging to 105% THis is a brand new group 41R battery bought at Costco for $72.00 fully charged. the first picture is with the van off, the second with it running. * note I have a 1.8T with a 90 amp alternator and brand new regulator.
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Engine running
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PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2016 8:45 am    Post subject: Re: Dangerously dim headlights w/ relays… Reply with quote

greebly wrote:
I guess mine is charging to 105% THis is a brand new group 41R battery bought at Costco for $72.00 fully charged. the first picture is with the van off, the second with it running. * note I have a 1.8T with a 90 amp alternator and brand new regulator.


14.8V is too high for normal alternator output... Shocked You must have to add water really often....

The resting voltage of a battery will often be quite high, especially after being charged to 14.8V. This is likely a surface charge which will dissipate in a few hours, or if you put a small load on the battery.
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PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2016 8:52 am    Post subject: Re: Dangerously dim headlights w/ relays… Reply with quote

Yep, the battery had a trickle charger on it and it was just removed, the alternator voltage is high because the battery is fully charged, it is not loading it at all, I plan on keeping an eye on the new regulator but am confident after a load is applied and the battery floats down it will also drop down. 14.8 will cause some oxidization and maybe a little out gassing, 14.5 is desirable.
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PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2016 9:42 am    Post subject: Re: Dangerously dim headlights w/ relays… Reply with quote

greebly wrote:
Yep, the battery had a trickle charger on it and it was just removed, the alternator voltage is high because the battery is fully charged, it is not loading it at all, I plan on keeping an eye on the new regulator but am confident after a load is applied and the battery floats down it will also drop down. 14.8 will cause some oxidization and maybe a little out gassing, 14.5 is desirable.



one must also wonder how percise the meter is. when was it last calibrated?
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