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Winston the Westy and The Blinking Red Eye That Never Sleeps
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msinabottle
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2006 11:48 pm    Post subject: Winston the Westy and The Blinking Red Eye That Never Sleeps Reply with quote

Twisted Evil Yes, it's the LED 'low coolant' light. My sympathy for Frodo Baggins waxes. Twisted Evil

All right, I now own THREE 10 millifarad 16v. tantalum capacitors to replace the one in the gauge that goes bad and causes the Blinking Red Eye that Never Sleeps. I found out how to pull the temperature gauge from the lower face of Winston's retrofitted tach, and today I filed and otherwise had removed the two rivets holding the black gauge face to the cup that holds the circuit board that holds the old capacitor that distorts the reading that causes the flash that goes on and on and on in the tach on the cluster of the Westy that Rob bought.

<pant pant> d'oh!

Evil or Very Mad All we succeeded in doing today was to clobber the attachment of the needle--so now I get the Blinking Red Eye that Never Sleeps and NO temperature gauge. Suggestions as to how to fix THAT would also be welcome! Evil or Very Mad

Can someone provide a few more details about the repair? We're to de-solder the two posts that hold the circuit board inside. Check! One of 'em's the 'right' post. Which? This, children, is why I always say 'passenger's side' and 'driver's side.' They don't change.

Okay, somewhere under that solder is a fine wire we're supposed to uncoil. Check! But how do we get out the old capacitor without drilling out two MORE rivets that hold the internal circuit board in place? Could we cut and bypass? How? What do we use to replace those rivets Question

Sorry, but when you see a grim DOD-certified USMC AA Missile tech sergeant staring bewildered by a VW temperature gauge, you realize tjat you are out of your depth and start calling for help.

Exclamation HELP! Exclamation

Anybody got a used gauge to spare?

Anybody got and better ideas? Sad

Data, please!

On the good side, and there was one, I got back the two door handles and wiper arms I pulled from a wreck, freshly satin powdercoated. Wasn't that expensive, beautifully done, and when I install them Winston will be getting back a lot of his pride and dignity at whatever temperature he's running.

I just want to know what that is.

Best!
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mightyart
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 5:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You don't what to hear it but I think it's related to the blue thing in the dash, didn't you use one from a newer year?
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 6:44 am    Post subject: Re: Winston the Westy and The Blinking Red Eye That Never Sl Reply with quote

msinabottle wrote:
Twisted Evil Yes, it's the LED 'low coolant' light. My sympathy for Frodo Baggins waxes. Twisted Evil


You might want to look into the vanagon.com archives. There is a guy there, Darrell Boehler (i think the spelling is right) who has clearly outlined how this circuit works, and what can go wrong.

Since you have an earlier model (right?), if the LED is blinking, but the needle isn't jumping up at the same time, you have an electrical problem, usually dealing with a ground somewhere. The digijet system vans only blink the lights when it gets too hot, or when the little two-pronged sensor in the expansion tank doesn't see what it wants to se (enough of the proper coolant mix - if either of those things are off, it can blink... however, I have found it pretty tolerant to differences in coolant mix).

I do have a spare coolant gage floating around somewhere, but i won't be able to get to it for at least a couple months. If you still need it then, it is yours...

-Damon
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BavarianWrench
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 7:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If I remember correctly, Winston is from Denver but you are elsewhere? I have an 1984.5 Westy that I cut into tiny little pieces hoping to drive the prices of the later westies up. I do have the dash and gauge cluster, I think it had a clock not a tach. Let me know if it might help and I'll figure a way of getting it to you. The Van what is left of it at my body shop buddies place. We did the old chop chop to make a syncro Westy and it came out sweet. He has the rest of the running gear aswell. I told him it was worth a few bucks and he will part it out. If anybody needs axles trans anything. The red light on the dash flashed on the 84 as well But it was bone dry. I felt terrible, bought the rig for $800 bucks and it was nice. I was told it needed head gsks. I got it home and the plastic fitting on top of the block was cracked and leaking. I was not going to find another donnor interior that nice with a/c for that kind of money. I chopped it up. Now I'm one of those guys you drive by thier house and all they have is chopped up Vannagons laying about. Just kidding. Not kidding about the parts though. Let me know what you need and I'll pass it along. I would like to see Scott make a buck or two off the old van he did an awsome job on the top swap.
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msinabottle
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 4:07 pm    Post subject: What I've Learned so far... Reply with quote

First of all, thank you all for the advice and the offers of help.

1)Winston's cooling system is full of new, good quality coolant and distilled water.

2)The instrument panel grounds and every other ground I could find have been thoroughly cleaned in the course of my other adventures. In fact, I have added several new grounds and transferred grounding to them. I am well grounded in the Classics, Winston is just well grounded.

3)My experiences are not unique. See:

http://www.strictlyvwauctions.com/phpnuke/html/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&p=518

I think my old gauge from my old clock might be the same as the one they mounted under the tach--VW had that fondness for re-using standard components. If it is, I'll try the fix on that and see if I can get it all together. The URL above could do with more instructions and some photos, when I've learned something, I will share it.

BW, in response to my earliest postings, you were threatening to come over to my house and take Winston's engine out of him with an acetylene torch. I am still in Denver, but, Winston remains in Upper Lower Baluchistan, the object of watchful veneration by hyper-skilled Amazon Ninja Combat Wombats.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Best!
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 6:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My 84 had a 2.2mfd at the edge of the board. I put a hot soldering iron on its little metal top and it let me pull the cap off leaving only its wire sticking out of the board. I then used hemostats to make little hooks on the new caps legs and hooked them on the old legs in the correct polarity. Put it all back together and it never acted funny again.
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msinabottle
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 8:30 pm    Post subject: THAT is clever! <Just burning off the capacitor head> Reply with quote

That's a superb idea. I had to express my admiration. Thank you!

Best!
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msinabottle
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2006 10:34 pm    Post subject: Winston the Westy and the Closing of the Blinking Red Eye Reply with quote

Well, that was fun. But it's fixed.

The two rivets you'll have to drill or grind out are the ones holding the face plate onto the cup to which the temperature gauge is riveted. DO NOT mess with those two rivets, the ones on the back of the metal cup.

Now, the set of instructions I'm going to post after this post (although I'll add this text there) say that your next step is to de-solder the two posts holding the circuit board to the rivets, saving the wire attached to one of them for re-soldering. We didn't do that.

You can just see the wire ends of the old capacitor--that which makes the blinking red eye blink when it's not supposed to--poking through the circuit board. It's as easy to de-solder those ends, my tech used de-soldering braid, as it is to remove the posts--then you can solder in the new capacitor from the OTHER side of the board without removing it from the posts. That's what we did.

The capacitor you'll want to use to replace the old one is part number:

272-1436A

A 10 millifarad 16v. tantalum capacitor from Radio Shack.

You probably will want to trim the wires on the new one a bit, but you'll need them long enough so that the capacitor won't interfere with the movement of the needle but short enough so that they won't also short out on any of the metal surfaces all around it. We managed it. The 'upward' side of the circuit board also has a ' + ' marking, there's another one on the capacitor. Heed them.

To replace the two rivets we had to drill out I used small stainless steel machine screws and nuts, they worked very well. I blued them to hide their shininess, waste of time, the tach's face hides them.

Things to be careful of:

1)Beware the needle. A copper spring holds it on one end of a tiny wire 'U" while the gauge's solenoid holds it on the other. IT IS VERY, VERY flimsy! If you can get away without moving it in any way, DO SO. Otherwise, remember how it was put together to get it back together correctly.

2)You can take the gas and temperature gauges off the tach by loosening the dial and undoing the nuts from the back to the terminals that go through the printed circuit. BE CAREFUL (again) of the needle.

Reassembling the gas gauge, the spring popped off the end of the needle there, identical assembly. When I tested my cluster, I couldn't figure out why the gas gauge started at empty and moved out of sight to 'Beyond Empty.' Figured that out, although I'm not too sure of the calibration--it does sink down all the way at 'off.' I'll watch my odometer and see where the gauge reads at 'Fumes.'

With everything reinstalled, all terminals cleaned, and tightened, the temperature gauge works as it should--it flashes for a second or two at start-up, then goes off while the gauge needle responds normally.

I had a series of horrid problems getting it all back together and working, but it's all back together and working.

And I am very tired. Anyone who can repair a radio (and I can't!) can probably manage this repair.

Best!
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msinabottle
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2006 11:05 pm    Post subject: The Vanagon Temperature Gauge Blinking LED Fix Reply with quote

The problem: When starting, the temperature warning light starts blinking and does not stop for increasingly longer intervals, in the end blinking continuously.

--
The Vanagon's 'low coolant/dangerous overheat' red LED should blink for about 5 seconds on start up as a test to indicate function. On the earlier Vanagons (83.5-85) the needle would also rise to maximum upon start-up. Note that the temperature gauge of Vanagons with a tachometer is NOT the same gauge as that used in water-cooled Vanagons equipped with a clock. The material below describes the repair for tach-equipped Vanagons.

1. Check the amount of coolant in the expansion tank at the rear of the Van. This is the tank that cannot be seen from the license plate area (usually with a blue or black cap). This tank should be full all the way to the top with very little to no air in it at all. There must be coolant across the two terminals extending down from the sensor in the cap to short it out and prevent the LED from blinking. General consensus is that the amount of antifreeze in the coolant IS NOT a factor in the sensor indicating 'low coolant.'

2. It is possible that coolant level sensor itself is faulty if the expansion tank is totally full with no air and the red LED continues to flash. Unplug the wiring to the coolant level sensor and use a small piece of wire to short the two small contacts inside the plug to each other. If the light ceases flashing, replace the coolant sensor and check the connection and wiring running to it very thoroughly.

3. The earlier coolant level relay can be replaced with the later model if it is defective. The later (85+) version is VWpart number

191 919 376.

Remove the fuse panel, reach up and locate a tall relay on the right, which should have the marking, #43. If the light continues to blink after removing this relay, the problem is in the gauge, unless other there are other problems with the instrument cluster, which could be caused by a bad voltage regulator on the rear of the instrument cluster's printed circuit. With the help of the shop manual, try testing the wiring to the sensor with an ohm meter to see if there is a bad wire in the system. Replace any component found to be defective.

TO REPAIR THE GAUGE:

Unscrew the three nuts from the back of the printed circuit holding the terminals to the gauge itself and the LED. Unscrew the tachometer face plate, carefully remove the temperature gauge, taking care not to disturb the FRAGILE indicator needl.

Remove the two black rivets holding the cup of the gauge to the painted face plate. One suggestion is the use a spring loaded punch and a small 6mm socket acting as a anvil to assist in removing the rivets. Drill and punch out these rivets holding the face on the gauge and remove face.

One suggested procedure is to desolder the circuit board from the two posts, carefully removing the coil wire from the right-hand post first. Desolder the +10v wire from the board. Remove the 10 uF electrolytic cap and replace it with a good one, preferably tantalum. Observe polarity—there’s a + mark on the board.

If possible test with +10v and ground after removing cap—the LED should not light. Wipe a damp finger across the pads to which the capacitor leads are soldered. The LED should blink until you dry it. Touch the replacement capacitor across the pads—light should blink then go out. Reassemble after thoroughly cleaning the circuit board with circuit cleaner.

--

Here is some additional material from an article on GoWesty's site:

The coolant temperature gauge and LED on all 1983-1991 Vanagons are comprised of four main components:
1) The gauge and LED itself in dash board
2) The coolant temperature sensor on the thermostat housing on engine
a. On 83-85 models it is very small, with only one yellow/red wire going to it
b. On 86-91 models it is the black one with two wires going to it.
3) The coolant level switch in the coolant bottle in engine compartment
4) The coolant level control unit under dash board

When the ignition key is turned to run position, the LED in the gauge is supposed to flash for a few seconds then go off. Once the engine started the LED is supposed to stay off. If for some reason the light goes off then starts flashing again, there is something wrong. There are two conditions that are supposed to make the LED flash:

1) Low coolant level in the pressure bottle.

There is a switch on the coolant bottle that has two wires going to it, a brown wire and a green/blue wire. The brown wire goes to chassis ground, the blue/green wire to the coolant level warning control unit. When there is sufficient coolant in the pressure bottle, the switch inside the bottle completes the path between the two wires, providing a ground to the green/blue wire. A lack of ground present on the blue/green wire coming from the pressure tank level switch will cause the light to blink. When troubleshooting, check the two wires going to the coolant level switch in the pressure tank. Remove the plug on the level switch, make SURE that brown wire is providing a ground path to the switch. If so, put a paper clip across the pins of the plug while it is still unplugged and see if the light goes out. NOTE: in order to re-set the system, it is necessary to cycle the ignition key to the off position. If it does, and your coolant level is OK, your problem is the coolant level switch or maybe just a dirty connection between the plug and switch. We have to replace these pins all the time because of corrosion. After all, there is always moisture present in this area. If these circuits are good FOR SURE, then check the coolant temperature sensor circuit.

2) Engine temperature exceeding about 15/16’s on the gauge.

The coolant temperature sensor is a variable resistor. It’s resistance DECREASES as the temperature INCREASES. If you unplug the wire(s) from the sensor, the gauge should read cold. If you touch the wire to ground, the gauge should peg and the light should flash. During your tests, if the blinking light is ever activated, remember that you need to reset the system by turning the key to the off position. If it passes this test you know the wiring and gauge are working properly, and you might have a bad temperature sensor.

Just keep in mind that this system is SIMPLE. This is not rocket science, and it is almost unheard of that multiple failures occur simultaneously.

It is a good idea whenever you are attempting electrical repairs to have one of [Go Westy's] GVW-91 repair manuals, and study the electrical wiring diagrams. There is a nice section at the beginning of the wiring diagram section that explains all of the symbols, and common circuit types. It is worth the read.

--
Here are the streamlined instructions for the first procedure:

1) Use a spring loaded punch and a small 6mm socket to get the rivets out of the gauge after drilling the heads off.

2) De-solder the circuit board from the two posts, carefully removing the coil wire from the right-hand post first.

3) De-solder the +10v wire from the board.

4) Remove the 10 uF electrolytic capacitor and replace it with a tantalum capacitor. Observe polarity-there's a + mark on the board.

5) If possible test the gauge with +10v and ground after removing cap-the red LED should not light. Wipe a damp finger across the pads where the cap goes-light should blink until you dry it. Touch replacement cap across pads-light should blink then go out. Put it all back together after thoroughly cleaning the circuit board with circuit cleaner.

There is an alternative way to remove that capacitor: That is to put a hot soldering iron on the top of the capacitor and to pull the cap off leaving only its wire sticking out of the board. It is then possible to use hemostats to make little hooks on the wires of the new capacitor and to attach those to the old wires in the correct polarity.

The two rivets you'll have to drill or grind out are the ones holding the face plate onto the cup to which the temperature gauge is riveted. DO NOT mess with those two rivets, the ones on the back of the metal cup.

Here is the alternate method:

You can just see the wire ends of the old capacitor--that which makes the blinking red eye blink when it's not supposed to--poking through the circuit board. It's as easy to de-solder those ends, my tech used de-soldering braid, as it is to remove the posts--then you can solder in the new capacitor from the OTHER side of the board without removing it from the posts. That's what we did.

The capacitor you'll want to use to replace the old one is part number:

272-1436A

A 10 millifarad 16v. tantalum capacitor from Radio Shack.

You probably will want to trim the wires on the new one a bit, but you'll need them long enough so that the capacitor won't interfere with the movement of the needle but short enough so that they won't also short out on any of the metal surfaces all around it. We managed it. The 'upward' side of the circuit board also has a ' + ' marking, there's another one on the capacitor. Heed them.

To replace the two rivets we had to drill out I used small stainless steel machine screws and nuts, they worked very well. I blued them to hide their shininess, waste of time, the tach's face hides them.

Things to be careful of:

1)Beware the needle. A copper spring holds it on one end of a tiny wire 'U" while the gauge's solenoid holds it on the other. IT IS VERY, VERY flimsy! If you can get away without moving it in any way, DO SO. Otherwise, remember how it was put together to get it back together correctly.

2)You can take the gas and temperature gauges off the tach by loosening the dial and undoing the nuts from the back to the terminals that go through the printed circuit. BE CAREFUL (again) of the needle.

Reassembling the gas gauge, the spring popped off the end of the needle there, identical assembly. When I tested my cluster, I couldn't figure out why the gas gauge started at empty and moved out of sight to 'Beyond Empty.' Figured that out, although I'm not too sure of the calibration--it does sink down all the way at 'off.' I'll watch my odometer and see where the gauge reads at 'Fumes.'

With everything reinstalled, all terminals cleaned, and tightened, the temperature gauge works as it should--it flashes for a second or two at start-up, then goes off while the gauge needle responds normally.

**NOTE!** This material came from a very large array of sources, the experiences of a great many intelligent, determined people to whom it is not possible to award due credit. This post is just to provide a solution for a problem that will, regretfully, become more and more prevalent as the capacitors in those old VDO temp gauges age.
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EXITSTRATEGY
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 09, 2006 7:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

nice work bottle. good resource ing.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 09, 2006 8:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Msinabottle,

You are an odd-bird........I mean that with affection... Wink
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msinabottle
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 09, 2006 12:48 pm    Post subject: Thanks! Er, I think... Reply with quote

Both gauges do seem to be working--although the gas gauge reads a bit low, with which, frankly, I can deal. I'd rather it peg with fuel in the tank than indicating plenty when there's none. My main plan is to go by the odometer, that's a safer method.

The temperature gauge seems to work just fine--I admit to watching it nervously to see if it's hanging up on the LED, but it doesn't seem to be. We're in HOT weather up here, and he's been driven a lot in the city without the needle getting up beyond the LED. But, he's shown no other signs of excessive heat, and is running very, very well with the heavier oil. Washed and waxed him yesterday--pretty, old van.

I know I'm weird. I love my Vanagon. Wink

Best!
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2019 5:10 pm    Post subject: Re: Winston the Westy and The Blinking Red Eye That Never Sleeps Reply with quote

Thanks to msinabottle for breaking ground here.

For those who end up on this thread looking for a cure to the "never sleeping blinking light", there's a method that doesnt involve taking the coolant gauge apart (you still have to remove it from the gauge cluster)

http://www.vanagonauts.com/Warning-Light-Fix241.htm

Not my method, but I used it. Works great, though requires patience, good eyes, and a steady hand. Worth it to fix the problem!
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