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Cleaning grounds. Totally worth it.
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Sjwillis
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Joined: April 23, 2014
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 8:58 am    Post subject: Cleaning grounds. Totally worth it. Reply with quote

I''ve come across multiple threads on thesamba and elsewhere on the internet about "cleaning the grounds" and always gave it as much credence as guys who buy crazy-expensive speaker cables -- i figured a connection is a connection as long as we weren't talking about totally corroded connections.

So but anyway, we've got a big trip coming up and I had some free time this AM and didn't want to undertake too big of job just before leaving so i figured what the hell, i'll clean the grounds in the engine bay.

On a scale of 1-10 (1 being clean and shiny metal, 10 being crumbling, corroded dilapidation), the grounds in my compartment were about a 3 before I cleaned them. There was a tiny bit of build up on the connectors under the coil on the left hand side. I cleaned them with some fine steel wool and also did the distributor ground. Reconnected the ground on my battery and fired her up.

Holy cow. I'm a believer. Now it may be the same as swapping out speaker cables on the hifi and throwing Steely Dan's Aja on the turntable and thinking there's a big difference but this summer I've had a really wobbly idle, not drastic but not smooth either, after cleaning up those grounds it's pitch-perfect.

So anyway, if you were thinking that cleaning the grounds was just internet hokum, it might be worth 30 minutes or so just to see if it makes a difference.
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Gregicon
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 9:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Amen!! my Engine ground is literally crumbling into dust...
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adv rider
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 9:37 am    Post subject: grounds Reply with quote

I would say also check connector D15. Is a good preventive measure.see my recent : crank,no start thread.
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dachary
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 11:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was futzing around with an electrical issue a week or two ago and cleaned a few grounds while I was at it. I got such a sense of satisfaction from seeing those nice, clean connectors (and also discovered a connector that was in the process of falling apart) so I've decided to clean a few every so often when I have some free time.

Or maybe one of these weekends I'll tackle them all at once.

Either way, +1. Not only does cleaning grounds help performance, but you may find some wiring that's on its way out and be able to fix it before it leaves you stranded somewhere.
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Gunldesnapper
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did avionic work in the Navy for 20 years......the importance of a good clean ground can not be overstated.
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dhaavers
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 11:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I worked through all the smaller grounds last year and found little of concern,
but it's good to know they're now as good as new.

Fast forward to my recent kayak trailer project - I was frustrated at only getting 11.8v
at the trailer connection while the battery was sitting at 12.8v... Rolling Eyes

It later dawned on me that I'd never cleaned the ground in the battery box, so I recently
got in there and found the bolt-to-frame was completely rusty... Embarassed

Needless to say, that's what was causing my voltage drop. All better now...

Now, will someone please explain how the Germans decided it was a good idea to run
that bolt through the front of the battery box, right into the wheelwell along with all
the dirt/spray/salt thrown up by the tire...??? Evil or Very Mad

I'm listening...

Wink
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KindaHippyish
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cleaning the grounds is one of the first things I did after I brought my van home. It had been an Oklahoma van for a long time and had quite a bit of dirt buildup at all the points. I spent an afternoon with some steel wool (sometimes some fine sandpaper) and cleaned as many as I could find. I hadn't even thought about the ground from the battery. That's getting cleaning this weekend.

Before I did this, the van had an idle and stalling problem. I attribute the cleaning of the grounds as one of the larger contributions to being able to daily drive the van now. Seafoam and Marvel Mystery Oil also helped.
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bjrogers86auto
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 1:11 pm    Post subject: grounds Reply with quote

I had an electrical hiccup in June on a road trip. I suspected the coil so I swapped out for the spare. During the swap out I discovered the connector on one of the small wires was nearly falling off. I fixed all the connectors and since then she has run like a top!

When I bought the van in 08 it was running very poorly. After the grounds were cleaned up the issues went away. I redid all the grounds this year just for good measure...except the one in the battery box! Smile

Brian
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Howesight
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 1:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Any ground you find that is seriously compromised (usually by corrosion)should lead you to examine the wire attached to that ground also. The wire strands in the part of the wire that has insulation stripped away allow corrosive elements to corrode the wire as much as an inch up the wire under the insulation. That's how you can sometimes get 9.5 volts at the tail lights- - not a big problem for mere tail lights. But think of what that does to ECU circuits designed to measure voltage or to measure resistance!

So those who clean their grounds and still find phantom resistance need to go one step further.

BTW, a thorough ground cleanup is often the best (and always the cheapest) "tune up" a WBX will ever get. The results can be amazing.
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rlamb
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2014 10:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I went through all the grounds in the rear of my van the past two days while replacing an alternator belt and re-replacing the voltage regulator. Originally, I realized my voltage regulator was crapping out, so I got a nice adjustable one from Dave Barton. It seemed to work OK, but the voltage was jumping up and down without reason. I suspected my van and not Dave. So...

I used 4 gauge battery terminal wires from my FLAPS to add or replace the following connections:
tranny to frame ground
alternator to frame ground (new ground)
lower starter (SR408x w/Westy Ventures adaptor plate) mounting bolt to frame ground (new ground)
new hot cable from alternotor to starter in parallel with the existing wiring

I treated all new and existing ground connections with Ox-guard after I dremeled all nuts, washers, and frame connections to bare metal. Post-assembly, everything got a nice slather of dielectric grease.

I also made sure every connection on the alternator (regulator and compensator) was as good as new, and I ground aluminum oxide off where I thought it might cause an electrical weak link.

Results....
14.3V at the alternator,
14.25V at the battery,
voltage regulator is holding steady,
my van cranked faster than ever,
my engine lost the occasional small stumble it used to have,
and my mind is at peace tonight, the night before we go camping with kids in the mountains tomorrow.
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