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Winston Joins the Illuminati
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msinabottle
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2006 9:23 pm    Post subject: Winston Joins the Illuminati Reply with quote

Hello!

Well, I've promised to tell you about the conclusion of my first series of modifications and repairs to Winston. The last long verbose post told about the auxiliary battery, the Voltage-Sensitive Relay, and the inverter and microwave. I finished my work on Winston's lighting this week. For those who don't yet know him, Winston's my '84 Westfalia, with a 1.9 wasserboxer.

All right... I mentioned adding the second dome light and that a certain type of leaves fell even this late in Winter. Having just said no, and flushed, here's what the 2nd dome light looks like now:

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


That's at night with the orginal and the new light both on, using LED arrays in place of the original festoon incandescent lights. Voltage draw is very, very low, you can read comfortably by the light of either. You can turn the lights on with the little switches on the ends, or off, or rig 'em so that they both turn on when either front door is opened. Very happy with those results. You can also see the 2nd LED array I put over the sink and range, that's in my post about doing the battery (Winston Gets Wired).

Now, when I wired in that 2nd LED array (the first replaced his old-style big incandescent galley light), I ended by running another pair of wires under the molding all the way to the back of the cab, so that when his flourescent lamp finally arrived, I could wire it in quickly. It took me a month to get that lamp, which is why I will not recommend that any of you buy anything whatsoever from the company that made my month so rotten, Northern Arizona Wind and Sun.

First, they sent me the wrong lamp, a recessed twin-bulb affair that I couldn't use. It was more expensive than what I wanted. I wrote them a friendly E-mail asking for a UPS label to send it back to them, and didn't get an answer to that, ever. Then I tried their 800 number. I got disconnected multiple times, once after a human operator told me to please hold, and no one ever responded to the increasingly-irate voice mail I left. After two weeks I did get to talk to a human, who explained that they were moving, and did arrange for UPS label so that I could return their mistake. They waited 'til that had arrived, then phoned to tell me that I had received the wrong lamp. After two days, they sent me the right one--no apology, no explanation, nothing at all by way of apology or recompense. I wouldn't buy a child's pinwheel from them on a bet, after all that.

Sorry, it had to be said. The flourescent light, when I finally got it, was great, except that for some freaky reason ThinLite has the black wire positive and the white wire negative, as is apparently the standard for AC wiring. They did inform me of that fact with a sticker on the plate that covers the ballast. I decided to give myself the option of mounting one more light, so I pulled the fuse for that circuit in my 2nd fuse block and spliced in two more of those three-ring-terminals pop-riveted together connectors I've been making and ran a new length of wire back to another set of those which I pushed over the top of the closet with a ramrod. Hey, it worked. Then I ran wires connected there under the metal combing that covers the upper berth's mattress hinge and the edge of the cut out, and wired that to the light itself through a hole I drilled in the combing. Here's a look at that, you can see the plastic conduit I used to cover the exposed wiring:

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


I found out--the hard way--that the best way to mount the light itself was with T-nuts, which are bolt sleeves with a toothed flange on them, through the board floor of the upper berth. I used insulated spade connectors on the lamp and my power lines. I had to use nylon spacers on the bolts held in place with nuts to make the lamp mount perpendicular to the upper berth, but that also gives the ballast a bit of air to cool it. Very happy with how that turned out.

Well, that was the last light I wanted to put in--at least, once I'd turned it on after dark and seen how well it lit up the entire cabin. I'd thought of putting another one forward, but the two dome lights have all the light I want up there. Also, I'd rather touch-dance with Hillary Clinton than order another flourescent light from Northern Arizona Wind and Sun. At any rate, here's a shot I took with a tripod and timed exposure of Winston's cabin, fully illuminated with the dome lights, the two LED arrays, and the two six-LED map lights I have plugged into his front lighter and his rear 12v. power tap:

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


I can turn any of those off and on as needed, and none of them draw that much from the auxiliary battery--the flourescent's the worst at 6W at 12v. They're all wired to the auxiliary battery, the only thing the main one runs are the exterior lights. Speaking of THOSE...

For no good reason, since the draw on Winston's main battery's been reduced so much, I converted the last six lights I could on him to LED arrays. Those were his license plate lamps, his brake lights and his reverse lights, used the 30 LED clusters from superbrightleds.com for the last two--or meant to. The 30's are too big to fit into the narrow openings in the lamp cluster covers over the brake lights, which have reflectors, I should note.

Accordingly, I moved the 19 LED clusters I'd put in the tail lights over to that socket, and put the 30's in the tail lights, where they'd be more useful anyway. With bit of coaxing, I got the covers on and it all together and working. Here's the result, also showing the 3rd brake light I wired in following Dogpilot's wisdom:

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


They're pretty bright! I'm happier with the LED's in there, because the original incandescent bulbs were so low-wattage I always felt a bit nervous about putting in conventional 1156 and 1157 bulbs in their place. Also, those have a reputation for burning out frequently, I think the LEDs are more robust, and a lot more modern. I tried a single LED bulb on one side of the license plate lamps, it was far too dim, so I replaced them both with 4-LED bulbs. Remember with LEDs to get the same color as the plastic over them, superbrightleds will warn you about that.

I won't be replacing the front turn signal/parking lamps, nor the rear turn signal--older flashers can't cope with LEDs in the place of the incandescents they're replacing, and also LED's are very unidirectional. Light shining only straight back would be all right for the rear turn signals, but not a good idea for the front parking lamps, which also serve as the front running lamps and need to be seen from the side. Winston's rear running lamp are red LED's, and look great.

I've been driving Winston a great deal lately, and getting the hang of his quirks. I sometimes get lost between gears on a turn, but I'm getting much better at shifting a four-wheeler, and hills aren't nearly the terrors I thought they'd be. I've decided I can't use that Coleman camp oven on his range, the cover gets in the way, but I'll keep it and use it on an external stove if I'm in the mood for pie. Things are otherwise going well--he's going to be fun to camp in.

Thanks to Dogpilot, again, for his wise counsel about LED's, thanks to some dear friends online who gave me additional advice about the wiring and one of whom was quite correct to suggest that rear flourescent instead of yet another LED array. Hope the rest of you found this interesting.

Did I mention I was tired?

Best!


Last edited by msinabottle on Fri Mar 17, 2006 12:53 pm; edited 2 times in total
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levi
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2006 11:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wow.....nice post Very Happy
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terryg
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2006 7:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

maybe he would rather touch-dance with zazu pitts....probably more his style! too bad he had to interject some crass political bs in the middle of the post...
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HerrBGone
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2006 8:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quite interesting. Winstonís really coming along well. Very Happy

I will probably follow suit and swap a lot of Thunder's lighting over to LEDs eventually. Gotta do the second battery and auxiliary solar charging system too.

I still have the original incandescent galley light and Thunderís PO installed a shore power florescent next to it. Looks like an under counter unit intended for the kitchen at home. Havenít used that yetÖ I may replace them with something like yours along with provision for powering them from shore power in addition to 12v.

I have temporarily substituted a small LED tap light centered just back from the mirror for the presently nonfunctional dome light. Iíve been thinking of getting three more of the LED tap lights for Thunder. One will go over the slider so I can have some light on the mid deck when hauling in the groceries without having to turn on one of the galley lights and the other two will go under the roof air shelf aiming toward the engine bay. I donít want to do engine work with only those, though I might be able to in a pinch, but they will provide good general lighting as needed. The one on the flight deck does a pretty good job as a map/utility light, though itís not activated by opening the doors.

Out of curiosity, how well does the florescent light your engine bay as positioned?
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msinabottle
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2006 8:51 pm    Post subject: Rear Illumination Reply with quote

Hello!

I haven't had the cover open since I finished all the light installations, but I did take a look back there when I was doing all the photography. There's a fair amount of light over the rear mattress, for a fact, I think due to the positioning of the flourescent.

One of the reasons I left a connection at the very back was with the thought that I might want a light shining directly down, but I also plan on keeping a head lamp handy, both for those long nocturnal trips to the little bear's room, and for emergencies of any sort or variety. I have two different--LED, of course--lights on strings for additional illumination, and a little Coleman Exponent dual-fuel single mantle lantern as ultimate backup. The head lamps are lovely because they leave your hands free.

I've been told that the mid-80's VW's DID have electronic flashers, that WOULD flash the turn signal bulbs no matter what their voltage was. Can anyone confirm this? I can test by removing two of Winston's bulbs and seeing how fast or whether they flash, but, perhaps someone's beaten me to it.

Best!
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Dogpilot
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 18, 2006 9:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You did a very nice job with all that! You can add a resistor to the LEDs in flasher circuits. Use your volt meter to measure the Ohms of the bulb, and get a 1 watt resistor of the same valuse and put it in parallel. This makes the LED array look the same to the flasher circuit. Many of the Flasher ciruict LED bulbs can be orered with the resistors already in place.

Cheers,
james
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 18, 2006 8:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have you worked out just how much juice youíre saving vs. incandescent? How does that translate into battery life when camping? IE: How much longer will you still have full functionality compared to the stock set up? I realize the install is just finished and wouldnít expect you to have empirical data. I was just curious if you had calculated the improvement.

BTW: Iím so frustrated! I went to my storage bin today and I couldnít find my VW solar trickle charger. It may be lost in the strata for future generations of storage archeologists to find. Brick wall
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msinabottle
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 18, 2006 10:31 pm    Post subject: Someone Did... Reply with quote

I'm told that I'm drawing 3 amps on that circuit, which has a 10 amp fuse on it. I haven't actually been camping in Winston since I've added all those lights. I do think it'll take some time to draw down that Odyssey 1200 using them--the real battery-eater's the fridge.

Thinking just of you, I took another look back there after dark--it is a bit dim over the engine compartment. I may use those last two splices I left and put one more of those LED arrays shining directly down into the engine for emergencies. We'll see, I still intend to keep a head lamp handy, too.

What I also need to get are some of those big plastic triangles in the event of an emergency. Haven't found those at a good price yet.

Best!
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msinabottle
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 18, 2006 11:54 pm    Post subject: Follow up on the Flasher... Reply with quote

NAPA offers an aftermarket electronic flasher specifically for the '84 Vanagon, at least, for $18, it's their part number:

NF EP35

and you might be able to find it at this web page:

http://www.napaonline.com/masterpages/NOLMaster.as...urn+Signal

I say might because retail sites can be capricious. Nice thing about getting it at a NAPA is that if it didn't work with your LED turn signal bulbs, you could take it back.

Not sure if I'll do it or not--or if I'll just wait 'til my current flasher quits. I'm told these don't chatter like a mechanical flasher does, on the other hand, the VW will flash a light at you on the panel that's hard to miss.

Best!
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2006 5:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just happened to drive by Northern Arizona Wind and Sun, and the unit seemed to be empty. Their little wind generator was still spinning on the roof.

Cheers,
James
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msinabottle
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2006 10:45 pm    Post subject: Moving... Reply with quote

The tired-sounding lady I talked to twice said they were moving, and I'm not usually the vindictive sort--but no apology, no sense of urgency in rectifying their mistake, no compensation--I'll take my business elsewhere, thank you!

Best!
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