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blinking coolant temperature LED
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Blix
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2009 11:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

so not to hijack the thread, but I'm having a problem with my temp gauge as well. I have an 84 with the clock. The fuel gauge works fine. When I crank the van the light above the temp gauge blinks a few times then stops. The actual temp gauge never moves though. It stays limp on the left side. I disconnected the temp sender from the little metal disc thing on the engine and grounded it around on the engine metal with the van on and the gauge didn't budge. Tencentlife suggested making sure all the connections are in place in the instrument panel which I will try today but if there is any other feedback you could lend dbeierl I would be much appreciative. Thanks Cool
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2009 12:21 pm    Post subject: Temp gauge Reply with quote

Blix wrote:
The actual temp gauge never moves though. It stays limp on the left side. I disconnected the temp sender from the little metal disc thing on the engine and grounded it around on the engine metal with the van on and the gauge didn't budge.

Start by checking which coolant level controller you have. It's on the left cabin wall above the star grounds forward of the fuse/relay panel, shd be visible through the cluster opening. 43 painted on it; if it's a cube it's the new one. Assuming it's the tall old one (should be):

Ignition on. Unplug the coolant level sender. If you get blinking red and no gauge motion, the gauge itself is bad

If you get blinking red and full-scale needle, the problem is between the plug at the sender and the double wire at pin 6 of the panel connector.

If you get nothing, the problem is between the panel connector and the gauge itself.

If it's case 2 or 3, reconnect the sender and follow the voltage backwards from the gauge back to both sides of the connector, both sides of the under-dash connector, both sides of the connector in the wiring box and thence to the sender connector. When you find the place where the +10v goes to zero, there's your problem.

Bentley 97.56, current track 32.

Yrs,
d
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Blix
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2009 2:12 pm    Post subject: Re: Temp gauge Reply with quote

dbeierl wrote:
Blix wrote:
The actual temp gauge never moves though. It stays limp on the left side. I disconnected the temp sender from the little metal disc thing on the engine and grounded it around on the engine metal with the van on and the gauge didn't budge.

Start by checking which coolant level controller you have. It's on the left cabin wall above the star grounds forward of the fuse/relay panel, shd be visible through the cluster opening. 43 painted on it; if it's a cube it's the new one. Assuming it's the tall old one (should be):

Ignition on. Unplug the coolant level sender. If you get blinking red and no gauge motion, the gauge itself is bad

If you get blinking red and full-scale needle, the problem is between the plug at the sender and the double wire at pin 6 of the panel connector.

If you get nothing, the problem is between the panel connector and the gauge itself.

If it's case 2 or 3, reconnect the sender and follow the voltage backwards from the gauge back to both sides of the connector, both sides of the under-dash connector, both sides of the connector in the wiring box and thence to the sender connector. When you find the place where the +10v goes to zero, there's your problem.

Bentley 97.56, current track 32.

Yrs,
d


Thanks, I have condition #2. I am currently looking for the the panel connector so I can check the double wire at pin 6. I pulled the top dash cover off where the brake fluid is and looked around for anything obviously disconnected. I could get to the panels on the sides of the dash but those look like they controlled the switches and what not on the sides of the dash. If someone could point me to the panel connector I would appreciate the help. thanks again hoping to track this down soon Cool
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2009 4:42 pm    Post subject: Re: Temp gauge Reply with quote

Blix wrote:

If someone could point me to the panel connector I would appreciate the help. thanks again hoping to track this down soon Cool

It's a flat fourteen-pin connector that plugs into the back of the main panel, down low IIRC. You may have to dismount the panel to get to it for testing -- if so the stuff on the sides has to come out first. Be very careful with the plastic ears mounting the panel, don't overtighten -- they're probably very brittle by now.

Re "both sides of the connector" -- I mean probing the back side of the connector both upstream and downstream, not both pins of the two-terminal connectors under the dash and in the little wiring box in the engine room.

Yrs,
d
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2009 3:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This seems pretty obvious but I have found double checking things usually works best for me. Is this the connector I need to pull out?



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and also, by probing do you mean with a voltage tester? I haven't gotten one yet but now may be the time. thanks alot for the help everyone Cool
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2009 4:24 pm    Post subject: Meters and such Reply with quote

Blix wrote:
This seems pretty obvious but I have found double checking things usually works best for me. Is this the connector I need to pull out?

That's the bunny. But don't pull it out while you're testing. You need the gauge to be supplying its +10v to that end of the circuit while you go looking for where it stops. If it's getting as far as that plug (take a look at <http://ocw.weber.edu/automotive-technology/ausv-1320-automotive-electronics/10-trouble-shooting/back-probing-terminals> for how to "back-probe" a terminal) then the easiest place to try next is the two-place connector back in the wiring box. Do you have a Bentley? The wire you're working with should be yellow/red all the way to the sender. Starting at the plug beneath the dashboard it runs in parallel with the wire to the coolant level sender which should be blue/green

Quote:
and also, by probing do you mean with a voltage tester? I haven't gotten one yet but now may be the time.

Yes; but a 12-volt test light will do for this if you make sure you have the right wire. A meter will show you the ten volts which will tell you it's the correct one.

Strongly recommend a cheap (~US$7-15) digital multimeter with a ten amp or even better a twenty amp scale.* Also if you don't have an official Bentley repair manual (Bus Depot has them, and are the sole source for the Haynes manual which is also useful) I consider the Bentley vital for every Vanagon owner even if you don't do your own work. If you *do* then adding the Haynes, which is much less expensive, will give you a an excellent second viewpoint which is written more for the amateur.

*Other meters are also useful, but this will be an excellent start, and you won't cry if you wreck the ten-amp scale by accidentally trying to measure volts with it. These meters are generally fused on every range except the high-amps one.

Yrs,
d
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 1:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So far this has been the most helpful post on this topic I have found while trying to diagnose the incessant blinking of the Temp gauge in my '84 Vanagon. I wasted a bunch of time trying to figure out why there was no 12V on the Blue Green wire before reading that it was a pulse signal. Short story: went through the steps outlined by dbeirl and figured out the problem was in the gauge itself. I can't take any credit for this procedure as I went entirely off dbeierl's outline from earlier in this post.

Temp Gauge R&R

1.Remove Dashpod

2.Remove Flexible Blue Circuit board. I'd been reading a lot about how fragile these were, wasn't the case in my '84 it behaved exactly as a Flex circuit should. It even had a little brake fluid on it and showed no signs of deterioration. Removed the Connector guide from the LH side of the dashpod and all the nuts and screws holding the board on, but left the circuit attached over the indicator lights. In the first figure, I have a nylon probe tool under the circuit, against one of the posts that hold it in place and am rotating the tool probe tool back and forth to gently remove the circuit board from the posts.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


3. Remove any remaining screws (all the same length here) and pull the Clock/gauge assembly out of the dashpod. Cover the gaping hole to keep dust out. Remove the temp gauge. Squeeze two small latches and slide gauge out in direction indicated.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


4. Remove the black plastic gauge guide from the gauge. Drill out the 2 rivets holding the gauge to the bezel.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


5.USE EXTREME CAUTION! There's a lot fo really delicate stuff in here. Desolder the two posts from the board as indicated at the arrows. The Green arrow post is pretty easy to do. The Post with the Yellow arrow pointing to it is tricky, it has the heater wire that runs through a small hole drilled in the post. Desolder the post first, then pull the wire out while keeping the post hot with the soldering iron.
Desolder braid would have worked well here for the posts, but I got by with a solder sucker.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


6. Here's the culprit. if you look close at the base of the yellow capacitor you will see a little corrosion from the caps electrolyte leaking out. This cap has failed. It is a 10uf 16V cap and is pretty small, 0.25x0.125. I stole one out of an old amplifier I had laying around. It was a bit bigger but it did fit. The Striped (-) side of the cap goes in the hole closest to the IC chip.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


7. Clean the solder out of the tiny hole in the post for the heater wire. Make sure you can pass the wire through BEFORE putting the board back in place. Then install the board, thread the wire and resolder the two posts back up. Make sure the heater wire is not contacting anything other than the post its soldered to and the heater it's attached to.

8. I used 5 Min Epoxy to glue the gauge and bezel back together, just three small dobs to hold the rivets in, and hold the bezel to the face. I did this twice, once so I could test the gauge, then a bit more to secure it permanently, but leaving it possible to open it back up if I need to.

9. Re-assemble the gauge pod and dashpod

Yaaaayyyy! No more Blinking light! Thanks dbeierl!

This is not a difficult project, but it does take a fair amount of patience, and a very steady hand.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 8:39 am    Post subject: Remarks... Reply with quote

mad.macs wrote:
So far this has been the most helpful post on this topic I have found while trying to diagnose the incessant blinking of the Temp gauge in my '84 Vanagon.

Thanks, glad you liked it/them. Incidentally, while cruising around the mid-coast in July in thick 'o fog we were always amused by the NOAA broadcasts that started "This is the National Weather Service in Gray Maine..." and especially the one time they said "hay-drying conditions for today are wetting." Smile
Quote:
Temp Gauge R&R

2.Remove Flexible Blue Circuit board. I'd been reading a lot about how fragile these were, wasn't the case in my '84 it behaved exactly as a Flex circuit should.

My experience in New England has been the same. The folks in hotter climates seem to be having a fair amount of trouble with the stuff delaminating, complicated by amateur attempts to repair it.
Quote:
In the first figure, I have a nylon probe tool under the circuit, against one of the posts that hold it in place and am rotating the tool probe tool back and forth to gently remove the circuit board from the posts.

I've found it sufficient to grasp the film close to the barb on each side and gently pull it straight off the barb.
Quote:
Remove the temp gauge. Squeeze two small latches and slide gauge out in direction indicated.

Note that removal procedure is different for vans with tachometer. John Meeks has a writeup on replacing the cap without disassembling the gauge at http://www.vanagonauts.com/Warning-Light-Fix241.htm and in it he shows how to deal with the tachometer.

Quote:
5.USE EXTREME CAUTION! There's a lot fo really delicate stuff in here.

I've found that by the time you've done messing about in there the gauge calibration may have changed, so I recommend checking it before and after and adjusting if necessary. There are calibration marks -- three white lines -- on the edge of the faceplate at the upper and lower calibration points. The allowed tolerance is for the needle to point within the outer lines; the center line is dead on. Sight along the needle. When checking and adjusting, always wait several minutes for the needle to stabilize before reading, as the heat has to soak into or out of the gauge. Tap the side of the gauge lightly before taking a reading.

To check (see Bentley 90.21): Apply 10.0 volts (from the panel regulator if you don't have another source) between the + and ground terminals of the gauge, and apply the test resistor between the sender and ground terminals. Use 265 ohms for the low point and 35 ohms for the high point. If you're not using the panel voltage for supply, make sure that you still have 10.0 volts after applying the test resistor.

Neither test value is a standard resistor value in the 5% series; you'll have to put two or more in series to make up the correct value. I used two 100s and a 68 for one and two tens and a fifteen for the other. Half-watters should do fine, quarter-watt probably fine as well if you're using three of them or more. If you use a rheostat it should be a wire-wound rated a couple watts or better.

To adjust: there are two adjustment holes in the back of the gauge, with toothed levers visible through them. Looking from the back, the lower-right one adjusts the low point and the upper left one adjusts the high point. Do the lower point first, then go back and forth between them until they're both within spec.

Quote:
I stole one out of an old amplifier I had laying around. It was a bit bigger but it did fit. The Striped (-) side of the cap goes in the hole closest to the IC chip.

The back of the board is marked with a tiny + for the positive lead, as well.

I wouldn't recommend putting a used cap in there just because it's such a pain to replace (like a throw-out bearing). I believe that amongst their few remaining parts, Radio Shack still sells a 10 uF 16v tantalum cap for a buck or so.
Quote:
8. I used 5 Min Epoxy to glue the gauge and bezel back together, just three small dobs to hold the rivets in, and hold the bezel to the face.

Small machine screws and nuts from a decent hardware store will also work well. Can't remember if it's #2-56 or #1-whatever that fits. Wouldn't hurt to dab nail polish over the assembled nut or use blue or preferably purple Loc-Tite. Definitely don't use red, it's much too strong.

Quote:
Yaaaayyyy! No more Blinking light!

Very nice writeup, congratulations.

Quote:
This is not a difficult project, but it does take a fair amount of patience, and a very steady hand.

Read and heed, folks.

After spending a remarkable amount of time on getting Jim's very early gauge sorted out I've decided I'll do these for $50 each plus shipping, at least until I can't stand it any more. This price would be subject to reduction if I find I can do them faster. Pmail me at dbeierl at-sign attglobal full-stop net. Brighter light would be extra as it turns out to be a bit of a pain as well. If you want to replace your own, note that the existing LED does the flashing internally and runs on 4.9 volts supplied through a 5.1v zener diode nearby on the board. You can replace with a nice bright non-blinking one by using one from the current Radio Shack assortment which is not a grab-bag but a fixed assortment. Has four nice bright diffused reds in it. Replace the zener with 1,000 ohms or better resistor. There are other possibilities including either blinking or dazzlingly bright but that's cheap and easy, and who cares if it blinks...

Yours,
David


Last edited by dbeierl on Fri Mar 12, 2010 11:39 am; edited 3 times in total
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 10:20 am    Post subject: Re: Remarks... Reply with quote

I'd use a new one next time for sure, I'm going to go out and pick up a proper cap next chance I get, just didn't have one at 11:00PM.

Wished I'd thought of the machine screws for the bezel. I'll do it next time if needed.

Quote:
After spending a remarkable amount of time on getting Jim's very early gauge sorted out [b]I've decided I'll do these for $50 each plus shipping, at least until I can't stand it any more.


This is money well spent folks. Its a time consuming and detailed repair. $50 is short money if you screw up the gauge. Not to mention getting a gauge back that's claibrated.

Thanks!
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 1:11 pm    Post subject: Re: Remarks... Reply with quote

dbeierl wrote:
I've decided I'll do these for $50 each plus shipping, at least until I can't stand it any more. Pmail me at dbeierl at-sign attglobal full-stop net.

I've decided I need to go up to $60 for this.

Yours,
David
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 3:12 pm    Post subject: Re: blinking coolant temperature LED Reply with quote

randywebb wrote:
is it normal for that LED to blink when starting the engine?

the owner's manual is not very helpful on this....



Don't worry about it pilgrim. This led is a PoS and a PiTa. Ignore it, paint it black, disconnect it, whatever remove that useless PoJ.

I have posted many times, too many times about MY problems with that moronic piece of equipment so I will not bore everyone with a replay. Check your coolant level as you check the oil and the fuel lines every time or every other time you fill up, if you are so inclined add an independent water temp. gauge and drive happy.
Dancing

Incidentally ... It's normal Rolling Eyes
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 3:40 pm    Post subject: Re: blinking coolant temperature LED Reply with quote

VisPacem wrote:
iDon't worry about it pilgrim. This led is a PoS and a PiTa. Ignore it, paint it black, disconnect it, whatever remove that useless PoJ.

I have to disagree here. The WBX, like any aluminum engine, will destroy itself rapidly if it experiences a loss-of-cooling accident. That's why all three warning lights require an instant stop for diagnosis -- if the alternator belt is broken the water pump will stop turning, and if the low coolant light goes it's essential to make sure there is not in fact a low coolant situation.

On the Vanagon list we've heard over and over "the light came on and so I only drove it a mile or two home..." followed by "the engine is toast."

Yours,
David
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 9:48 pm    Post subject: Re: blinking coolant temperature LED Reply with quote

dbeierl wrote:
VisPacem wrote:
iDon't worry about it pilgrim. This led is a PoS and a PiTa. Ignore it, paint it black, disconnect it, whatever remove that useless PoJ.

I have to disagree here. The WBX, like any aluminum engine, will destroy itself rapidly if it experiences a loss-of-cooling accident. That's why all three warning lights require an instant stop for diagnosis -- if the alternator belt is broken the water pump will stop turning, and if the low coolant light goes it's essential to make sure there is not in fact a low coolant situation.

On the Vanagon list we've heard over and over "the light came on and so I only drove it a mile or two home..." followed by "the engine is toast."

Yours,
David


By the time the light comes on --if-- working properly and by the time the average driver realizes it it is probably too late anyway. Plus with the constant and multiple false alarms and malfunction of that stupid device it could very well be ignored, as a cry wolf yet one more time .. oohhh well

On the other hand an auxiliary water temp. gauge will give you the progression of things to come and advance warning BEFORE it is too late.
I constantly as posted many times, drive with the led blinking away, keeping an eye on my two water temp gauge (for pictures see my gallery) and never had any problems even in 117 F outside temperature in the shade.

But again ... this is only MY opinion and anyone is free to fight the gremlins in the led ad aeternum and wake up one morning with something melted/

Good luck
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2010 3:03 am    Post subject: Re: blinking coolant temperature LED Reply with quote

Having a working temp/coolant LED has saved a few of my Vanagon engines over the years. Most recently when my wife was driving my 87. She called and said a light started flashing so she pulled over and found coolant gushing out under the front of the van. I drove to meet her and found that a front hose had popped off one of the main coolant pipes. Yep, the metal sleeve insert had worked out of the pipe, loosening the hose and creating a big leak. That engine is still running, several years later.


The first time the LED saved me was in my 83.5 on a long trip. The light came on and I stopped to discover my waterpump was leaking around the shaft. It was a slow leak so I topped off the coolant and drove on, adding more coolant each time the light came on again until I got to where I could buy a new pump.

Mark


VisPacem wrote:


By the time the light comes on --if-- working properly and by the time the average driver realizes it it is probably too late anyway. Plus with the constant and multiple false alarms and malfunction of that stupid device it could very well be ignored, as a cry wolf yet one more time .. oohhh well
...........
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2010 7:07 am    Post subject: Re: blinking coolant temperature LED Reply with quote

crazyvwvanman wrote:
Having a working temp/coolant LED has saved a few of my Vanagon engines over the years. Most recently when my wife was driving my 87. She called and said a light started flashing so she pulled over and found coolant gushing out under the front of the van. I drove to meet her and found that a front hose had popped off one of the main coolant pipes. Yep, the metal sleeve insert had worked out of the pipe, loosening the hose and creating a big leak. That engine is still running, several years later.


The first time the LED saved me was in my 83.5 on a long trip. The light came on and I stopped to discover my waterpump was leaking around the shaft. It was a slow leak so I topped off the coolant and drove on, adding more coolant each time the light came on again until I got to where I could buy a new pump.

Mark


VisPacem wrote:


By the time the light comes on --if-- working properly and by the time the average driver realizes it it is probably too late anyway. Plus with the constant and multiple false alarms and malfunction of that stupid device it could very well be ignored, as a cry wolf yet one more time .. oohhh well
...........


I really wonder why VW went through the expense of installing a gauge when that infallible led is so wonderful.

Well -my- wife, knows how to read and monitor my two water temp gauges and never pays attention to the voices/buzzers in the van (which I have neutralized anyway) and the (descriptive removed .....) lights that come on.

However, I do rejoice of opposite opinions and I have often found ideas and adopted said opinions, not being Pico Della Mirandola...
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2010 7:18 am    Post subject: Re: blinking coolant temperature LED Reply with quote

The flashing warning led was intended to get the driver's attention to look at the gauge! Many drivers find it useful to watch where they are going and what is happening around them. While doing this they may not closely monitor the gauge needle positions.

Mark



VisPacem wrote:

I really wonder why VW went through the expense of installing a gauge when that infallible led is so wonderful.
............
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2010 9:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Plus with the constant and multiple false alarms and malfunction of that stupid device it could very well be ignored, as a cry wolf yet one more time .. oohhh well


I think you must have had extraordinarily bad luck, or perhaps a malfunction that wasn't properly repaired? It's really a simple and straightforward system, easily diagnosed if you understand what it's doing, and normally gives little trouble. At present there are large numbers of gauges that need the capacitor replaced, but once it is they should be good for many years.

Yours,
David
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2010 9:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
On the other hand an auxiliary water temp. gauge will give you the progression of things to come and advance warning BEFORE it is too late.

That's the trouble -- it won't. Once the temp sender is no longer immersed in coolant it becomes useless and will not indicate over-temp until it's way too late.

Yours,
David
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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 3:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I picked up a 1985 1.9L automatic Westfalia about 2 months ago in great condition (68K actual miles) but the coolant light recently began to constantly blink. I just followed the above directions to replace the capacitor and it worked, light blinking only for a few seconds at start, then goes off as it should! I've been reading through all the topics in this section to learn more of the inter-workings (or non-workings) of the Vanagon, and I must say this is one GREAT site! Thanks for the hard work everyone!

By the way, can anyone figure why my idle went down after taking the dash apart? The tach is reading about 200 RPM less than before and it seems to actually be idling lower than it did before (approx. 900 RPM). When started cold it idled great, now it is sputtering. It's been about a week since I last drove it. I don't have a separate Tach to check the dash Tach, but it does seem to idle much lower. I can't figure how dismantling the dash would effect the idle. Yes, I will be getting a timing light and external Tach soon.
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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 7:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

WestyHunter0 wrote:
[C]an anyone figure why my idle went down after taking the dash apart? The tach is reading about 200 RPM less than before and it seems to actually be idling lower than it did before (approx. 900 RPM). When started cold it idled great, now it is sputtering. It's been about a week since I last drove it. I don't have a separate Tach to check the dash Tach, but it does seem to idle much lower. I can't figure how dismantling the dash would effect the idle. Yes, I will be getting a timing light and external Tach soon.

Shouldn't make the slightest difference. You didn't say whether 900 rpm is old or new - if old and you're down below 750 your idle stabilizer module may have failed - get the timing light and look at the timing at idle (do not, of course, bypass the idle stab module the way Bentley tells you to for setting idle speed and timing). If the idle stab is working you should see the timing jumping around as the idle stab adds advance to compensate for load. If timing is steady and on the mark then it seems likely that the idle stab module is bad. If timing is steady and advanced then the idle stab may be trying to compensate for some other factor that's slowing down the idle (however some people advance the basic timing, so you do need to check with the idle stab module bypassed).

Yours,
David
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