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Winston Gets Wired (Long Post, Photos)
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msinabottle
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Joined: September 20, 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2006 2:00 am    Post subject: Winston Gets Wired (Long Post, Photos) Reply with quote

Well, that was a trip. We had five days of moderately good weather, and I tried to make the most of them.

Let me first begin by saying that NONE of this was really my idea--I just synthesized what other people had done, although I may be the first to use the Yandina C100 VSR for this whole project, and I'll tell you exactly how in this post.

All right, I went with my own recommendation of the Odyssey PC1200T battery for Winston's Auxiliary--Winston is an '84 1.9L Wasserboxer Westy, for those who don't know him. I bought the battery for $139 from this URL:

http://www.odysseybatteries.com/battery/pc1200t.htm

I thought I was in big trouble when it arrived with two large SAE bronze posts, the battery fit in Winston's auxiliary compartment just fine without them, but I had to remove them--I got an answer from West Coast batteries within minutes that I could remove 'em both with a 5mm. Allen wrench, so it proved. Good tech support, he wants our business.

One of the things I wished I'd done earlier you'll see in this picture, that is, holding the auxilary battery cover, which has SHARP edges--my hands have the scabs to prove that--up and away from the compartment with a bungee cord. I installed the Coleman 1200w. inverter some time before the rest of this, while waiting for the other parts to arrive. It's mounted to the panty wall with four stainless steel bolts and acorn nuts to prevent sharp edges from tearing the microwave, or me.

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


You DO have to remove the driver's seat--in Winston's case, I had to remove the arm on the later model driver's seat, which is very easy once you remove the escutcheon and the three allen screws holding it on. It would have hit the inverter, otherwise. You can see how I used pieces of 2x4 to wedge the Odyssey into place. That worked very well, it's quite firm.

You can remove the seat from the slide rails just by lifting up the catch on the inboard side and sliding it backwards off them--didn't find that in the Haynes until after I'd removed the whole mounting plate. Before I put it all back together, I cleaned off the old grease and put on new grease so that the seat would rotate more easily, there are no bearings.

I'll note that whenever I bought hardware, I made a point of using metric stainless steel--on general principles. No need to switch tools, corrosion resistant, better quality at multiples of the price. It did take a Dremel cutting wheel each to reduce the length of the two bolts I used for my battery terminal.

There is a LOT of room under those seats... When I decided not to use the old refrigerator relay, I just tucked the old wires--which had insulated connectors--up toward the front of the seat. Found an old towel in there from I don't know how long ago, 'Please, no drugs!' as I pulled it out--weren't any, whew. Also tucked the old cables for the seatbelt buzzer up in there, I have no desire to be buzzed by that, or, again, drugs. I've seen some folk who put a little drawer with the opening at the front in that spot, may do that, it's wasted space, otherwise. Have to figure out a good way to cut the sheet metal and hold the carpet in place.

I made my own ground and battery cables from very heavy 8 gauge multi-strand wire, the ring connectors for each end of those were about a dollar each. I don't think I'd use insulated connectors if I were doing it again, the uninsulated ones are easier to make secure with the HANDLE SIDE of a good pair of linesman's pliers, much more leverage than the jaws proper. You insulate the connectors later with fusing silicone tape, which you stretch first to make sure it bonds to itself well. Don't let the dielectric grease get onto the tape, it screws up the bonding.

I cut all my holes in Winston's sheet metal with a 3/4 inch bi-metal hole saw, which lost progressively more teeth as I moved on through the project. Every time I cut a new hole, I put a nylon grommet in it to keep it from fraying the wires running through them. Two holes went into the side facing aft of Winston's auxilary battery box, two went into the side facing inboard, one into the angled end of the box for Winston's main (SLI) battery, which, of course, I removed before starting.

I ran the big 4 gauge cables from the inverter through the corner of the auxilary battery cover that Westfalia had notched out for the wires for the sink pump and the fridge--punched two holes in the carpet to do so. Wired those directly to the battery with stainless steel 5mm. screws, one with a nylon cap on that to make it harder to short out the battery with the metal cover. The plastic part of the battery sticks up above the contacts for the M5 terminals, so it's unlikely I'd get a short, but why not be careful?

All right, negative and positive 8 gauge cables--as short as I could make them--to the Blue Sea 100 amp 6 circuit fuse block I bought at West Marine, which is a national chain of boating supply shops. The people are helpful, the prices reasonable, and the quality of the merchandise seems slightly better than NAPA or CarQuest. The sink pump, the refrigerator DC, the lighter circuit, the interior dome light circuit, the radio and its 100 watt Amp all ended up wired into that. Note the cover here:

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


And you can see how I used the leg and bracket mount for Winston's front table to shield the fuse block and the wires running into it. There was one small hole in a depressed area in the bottom of the auxiliary battery compartment, I ran the wires for Winston's radio and amp through that, and drilled one more hole for the sprinkler system cable I ran from the heater hose grommet behind Winston's vent cover down under the cab and up to the fuse block.

Feeding that insulated cable through that heavy grommet was a nightmare, but it's a firm installation. Note--multi-strand cable is much more flexible than solid wire, solid wire is much more easy to thread through holes than multi-strand. The insulated sprinkler system cable held two insulated 16 gauge wires, one for the cigarette lighter circuit, one for the interior lights, both of them coming off of Winston's 8 amp #8 fuse on the original fuse box. I used a lot of nylon ties to hold the wires well away from Winston's moving parts.

The 100 watt amp of my aftermarket radio had originally gone to the SLI battery, I had to use a Western Union splice to add wire enough to move the connection over to Winston's new fuse block and the auxiliary battery. Western Union splices are very good for joining thinner 10 gauge solid wire to fatter 10 gauge multi-strand wire, I tinned the ends of both wires first, then heated the splice and added more solder before covering the whole thing with heat shrink tubing. High-conductivity, and very solid.

I felt good about moving the amp wiring to the fuse block, there was no fuse on it and there ought to have been. You want your fuses as close to your battery as you can get them, so that if that wire shorts out anywhere along its length the current gets shut down FAST and you know which end to trace and look for torn insulation.

The most important part of the wiring was to get the VSR (voltage sensitive relay) correctly installed. That gadget can take power from the charger running to the auxiliary battery, and from the alternator running to the SLI battery, and allocate either back and forth between the two batteries until both are nearly completely charged. In other language, it will charge both batteries. It will also isolate a battery that's gone too far down, so as not to drain the other.

The Yandina came with two more wires, a blue one to limit the voltage going to the Odyssey so as not to fry it, and a green one to allow me to deactivate the VSR or to force it on, in the event I need extra voltage in an emergency, such as starting. The Odyssey could easily start Winston on its own, ask the Military about why redundancy is a good thing. The two heavy gauge red wires coming out of the Yandina had to go to the positive terminals of both batteries. You void your lifetime warranty by shortening them, so I didn't. I lengthened the wire to the SLI battery with a bolt through two ring terminals, covered that connection with dielectric grease, silicone tape, and conventional electrician's tape. I'm thorough.

I kept the entire installation of the VSR inside Winston's cab by running the wire to the SLI battery under the molding where the carpet lifts up between the seats. I had to bend the ring terminals slightly to get them through my 3/4 inch holes. Here's the URL for the Yandina:

http://www.yandina.com/c100Info.htm

In this picture you can see both wires and the SPDT switch I installed for manual control of the VSR, where I hope the seat belt buckle will protect it from accidental switching. I ran the green wire for the switch through the seatbelt buzzer cable's hole and grounded to one of the two grounds I put into the auxiliary battery compartment. Ecce:

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


Did I mention that all this work was taking days and days? It did. I had to cut down the 5mm. bolts I bought for the Odyssey's terminals, and getting:

The cable to the fuse box
The cable to the Inverter
The cable to the VSR
The blue wire to limit voltage to the Odyssey which would explode if that wasn't done, and...
The green wire (wrong color, but that was what I had) to the battery charger/minder, I had to splice in more wire to reach the battery

to fit on one bolt was a bit much. I should have made a 'rat tail' to a long bolt and bolted them all onto that and insulated it. That's a short length of wire FROM the terminal ENDING in a terminal to which you attach the wires you want to run to the main terminal. At least I didn't use just one ground, I used the original grounding bolt for one, which needed to be rat-tailed because it was too big for most of my ring terminals, and the old battery hold down bolt for another ground. I ground down to bare metal all around the ground bolts and covered them with corrosion-fighting dielectric grease, which is a great idea unless you have to remove them--repeatedly--as I did. I had to ground the switch for the Yandina, the Yandina, the fuse block (more short 8 gauge wire), and the battery tender.

By day three, this is what the interior of Winston's passenger compartment looked like:

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


For the splices, the soldering iron and the heatgun for the tubing over them, a sledge hammer to get things attention, the drill, the Dremel to cut off bolts and grind things down, wrenches, wire, the Makita cordless for driving screws, Krylon Almond for the new plastic covers I bought and installed for the interior AC outlet and the circuit breaker, you can see those in the corner... Took me a full day to clean up the mess after everything was installed. The automatic wire stripper from Radio Shack was wonderful, as was the good-quality crimper and the linesman's pliers. If you don't know what a Western Union splice is--learn.

In this view you can just make out Winston's battery tender/charger to the side of the Sharp Half Pint in the sub-sink cabinet. As it's rigged now, whenever you plug in the city AC, the Schumacher tender sends current to the auxiliary battery, which the Yandina distributes between that and the SLI until both batteries are charged up. You can run the fridge off AC at the same time, which saves energy later, then DC off the auxilary battery during the drive, then propane once you've stopped:

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


It was a real thrill when the Inverter powered the microwave as I tested it with a mug of water. Never run a microwave empty. I doubt if the battery would last for a half hour at a 600W drain, but I don't plan on microwaving for anything longer than 15 minutes, tops, and powering everything that I can off of DC. With that in mind, I ran two wires in split plastic conduit behind all the cabinets with fishing tape and installed this next to the refrigerator vent:

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


That's an aftermarket 12v. power connector--NOT a cigarette lighter--from Wal-Mart with an LED maplight plugged in. You can read by that at night while sitting in the bench seat.

I plugged Winston into the AC overnight, prayed--checked for sparks, sniffed for ozone or burning, found nothing--the green 'combined' LED on the Yandina went on, meaning that it was transferring current between both batteries, the green 'charging' light on the charger went on--and by morning the red 'charged' light was on and my battery indicator panel switch said 'Green,' battery at high power. The radio ran, the interior lights worked, the two map lights in the sockets functioned just perfectly.

I had one more day's nightmare yesterday when I installed a 2nd LED light array to compliment the one I'd used earlier to replace Winston's old 12v. incandescent. I had to remove the paneling and molding running along the roof over the sink, and the heavy plastic taps into the existing light wires I tried first were too thick--I pop-riveted three small ring connectors together to make my splices, and felt dumb when I accidentally shorted the wires as I worked. At least the fuse block had a successful test, I should have pulled the blessed fuse. That ended up looking like this:

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


Note how I used the old shelf bracket moldings and split plastic conduit to protect the thin wires coming up from the LED lights and to look 'factory.' I've got a flourescent DC light coming to mount over the bench, but the company pulled the wrong fixture and I'm still waiting.

I suppose to say that I am very tired right now would be rather pleonastic. True, though.

Best!
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EXITSTRATEGY
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 8:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

nicely completed project. thanks for all the tips.
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ChesterKV
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 10:37 am    Post subject: Re: Winston Gets Wired (Long Post, Photos) Reply with quote

Good job; curious to know what your main battery is..... Think
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msinabottle
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 11:50 am    Post subject: Winston's Current Main Battery Reply with quote

Winston's current starting battery is a Batteries Plus GNB416--very big, very heavy, but so far reliable standard auto battery. When it goes, I think I'll put in another Odyssey to save weight and space.

I was a bit stunned to see a response to this post! Hadn't heard a word when I sent it out, except for a few pm's on specific points. All this time later, the rig seems to be holding up perfectly. I left the Schmacher plugged in for three days instead of the usual overnight, and it topped off both batteries. That was over a month ago, and I still got a 'Green' on the VW battery indicator LED when I flipped that switch.

Right now I'm debating ways of doing Tom's under-seat storage--I think Winston's compartment wasn't divided from the space below the seat--and getting his dash blower, front heater core, and wiper motor done. Then new seat covers, and the side door panel.

There's scads more, but I'm less ambitious now that Winston is well away from 'beater' status.

Best!
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msinabottle
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 16, 2008 8:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I still get a question or two about all the things I did, so I thought I'd post the latest long answer to three questions I just got about my installation. So far <touch wood> it's all holding up and working beautifully.

1)As I recall, I removed the clips from the original fuse block for the interior lights, radio, and the cigar lighter and spliced those into the wire I ran through the big rubber seal behind the heater vent cover and down under the van. That was a 14 or so gauge three-in-one under rubber insulation sprinkler system cable. You can get 'screw in' wire clips and the Vanagon's subframe had a lot of places where I could actually run the heavily-insulated wire through it, protecting it and holding it in place. VW ran a wire or two down there themselves!

Quote:
And you can see how I used the leg and bracket mount for Winston's front table to shield the fuse block and the wires running into it. There was one small hole in a depressed area in the bottom of the auxiliary battery compartment, I ran the wires for Winston's radio and amp through that, and drilled one more hole for the sprinkler system cable I ran from the heater hose grommet behind Winston's vent cover down under the cab and up to the fuse block.


2)Yes, I drilled the holes--actually I used a small metal hole cutting saw bit and then put very heavy-duty grommets in the resulting holes. I cheated just a bit by CAREFULLY folding in the loop connectors on the end of the Yandina enough to go out and in the grommeted holes, then CAREFULLY bent it back to 'flat.' I ran the wire right under the 'threshold between the cab and 'parlor' carpeting, and installed the 'on/off/isolate' switch behind the driver's side seat belt.

Quote:
I cut all my holes in Winston's sheet metal with a 3/4 inch bi-metal hole saw, which lost progressively more teeth as I moved on through the project. Every time I cut a new hole, I put a nylon grommet in it to keep it from fraying the wires running through them. Two holes went into the side facing aft of Winston's auxiliary battery box, two went into the side facing inboard, one into the angled end of the box for Winston's main (SLI) battery, which, of course, I removed before starting.


3)There's a good-sized rubber seal where they run things such as the tachometer wire and a few other things--as well, I think, it's been a while--as the heater cables. Makes a good place to run wires through and yet still insulate the cab. You can also follow the speedometer cable down and out, that's do-able, but harder. Then, as I said, in and under the frame, then up and into the cab--I don't remember where I found an opening, but I didn't have to drill one--near the auxiliary battery. There may be a vent hole like there is for the main battery. The P.O. had a big fused wire for the 100W (or whatever it was) amp for the stereo he had installed, I did a 'Western Union' splice into that and ran heavy wire over to my auxiliary fuse box.

I still need to label all those circuits. Next project is some sort of solar array coming in, a la Dogpilot.

Best!
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retswerb
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 9:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

msinabottle, never has there been a van with such fantastic documentation from the PO! Please put me in your will with an option to purchase Winston. Laughing

Thanks for all the detailed writeups, I love seeing people's van projects and yours never leave me hanging.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 9:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Superb post!
This is on my list to do. I will defintely need assitance on this. I am switching my passenger syncro to full westy interoir minus the pop top.
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msinabottle
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 10:26 pm    Post subject: Thank you, Very Much Reply with quote

Thank you, very much.

Winston is now garaged, with a cord running into him continuously, so that he STAYS topped off, the Schumacher doing exactly what it's supposed to do. For some reason, these days I loop the cord up and through the driver's side door handle and over the mirror and window, so that there's no way to get into Winston and drive him without unplugging the cord.

I wonder why I do that?

Shocked

Best!
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 10:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hehehe... I used to keep my gas cap key in the dash ashtray, it seemed convenient not to have to pull the keys out of the ignition at the gas station.

Didn't turn out too convenient to keep leaving the cap on the top of the gas pump and not realize it until later in the day... the key now lives on my keyring next to my ignition key. Very Happy

Shocking how often I STILL climb back into the van, buckle up, and then realize I have no ignition key. I'm only 29 and the alzheimers is here already! Shocked
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singler3360
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2009 7:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

msinabottle,
Your play-by-play post is very appreciated. I've been lurking in the Samba posts to learn how to this and yours is a stand-out. Can you post a wiring diagram and include all the links in your chain? Regards.
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msinabottle
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2009 11:00 pm    Post subject: No Diagram, Alas! Reply with quote

Thank you very much for your kind words. I can't post a circuit diagram, because I never used one! I just did things on a 'circuit by circut' basis. DC is fairly straighforward, that way. The wire that had done to the old fuse panel went to the new fuse box, however I could get it there, which was as close to the battery as I could get it.

One thing I've been muttering about--I replaced all of Winston's instrument panel, running, rear, and license plate lights before I even wired in the other battery. Since then, I've gotten to watch the rest of you reinventing the wheel. Well, all right. I just tried to save you the trouble by posting my own results.

Best!
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Vanagator
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 3:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

msinabottle,
I'm about to install a new Yandina and noticed your statement
"The blue wire to limit voltage to the Odyssey which would explode if that wasn't done"
My yandina came with blue wire snipped off at the unit. I didnt think there was any danger of overcharging the batteries while using the yandina.....
Kevin
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son1caaron
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 21, 2009 3:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

They got rid of the blue wire on all of the new combiners. They claim you wont need it so you should be good. I wouldn't worry about it.
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