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More Evidence That Everyone Needs To Clean Their Vanagon Grounds
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Mark Lewalski
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PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2020 11:31 am    Post subject: More Evidence That Everyone Needs To Clean Their Vanagon Grounds Reply with quote

I finally got around to inspect and change out ground cables on my 89. tencentlife has a good article on his website that covers some of this as well as the post here in the Forum that covers all the ground locations.

I mainly want to show folks that the concern is real about dirty/corroded ground points on our vehicles.

I removed the negative battery cable. It's not corroded much at all but here is the connection at the body:

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


Obviously, the cable will have no metal to metal contact other than the threads of the fastener.

Here is the fastener:

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


topside and threads:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.




Next up is the transmission to frame ground strap. I didn't take photos of the frame and transmission attachment points but they were very dirty under the strap eyelets.

Here is one end of the ground strap:

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


Again, the bolt (frame side) and nut (transmission mount side) were dirty and corroded on the threads and contact surfaces.

Here is the engine to body ground strap connection at the body. You can see that the connection point is painted with no bare metal contact surface:

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


Here is the engine block connection point:

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


Dirty but not corroded.

However, here are the fasteners from both ends:

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


and

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


Only the threads would be serving as the metal to metal connection on the body side and they don't look too good.


So, like I said, I just wanted to give some visual evidence of what we all probably are dealing with. My 89 is pretty clean and I believe it was garage kept for many years before I purchased it. Other vehicles may see much worse conditions of their grounds.

Thanks,
Mark
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shadetreemech
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PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2020 1:18 pm    Post subject: Re: More Evidence That Everyone Needs To Clean Their Vanagon Grounds Reply with quote

After the Annual Cleaning of The Grounds I coat 'em with dielectric grease.

Dan
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PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2020 2:03 pm    Post subject: Re: More Evidence That Everyone Needs To Clean Their Vanagon Grounds Reply with quote

If you have the original style of ground strap, braided, you might want to check that also, or just replace altogether with the shortest strap that will connect.
Those braided straps can appear to be just fine on the outside and be corroded on the inside. Yum.

I miss the days of folks posting crappy cell phone pics, or focused on the pavement behind.
It always added to the mystery of the situation, and forced folks to use their imagination of just what the hell they were looking at.
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PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2020 7:20 pm    Post subject: Re: More Evidence That Everyone Needs To Clean Their Vanagon Grounds Reply with quote

Great pics! Thanks
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dobryan
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PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2020 8:23 pm    Post subject: Re: More Evidence That Everyone Needs To Clean Their Vanagon Grounds Reply with quote

Bingo!

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

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

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Wildthings
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PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2020 8:30 pm    Post subject: Re: More Evidence That Everyone Needs To Clean Their Vanagon Grounds Reply with quote

Star washers can help. Even a split washer will tend to cut through the paint. Yes use dielectric grease, this is exactly what it is sold for. Any grease or oil is better than none though.
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Mark Lewalski
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PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2020 4:43 am    Post subject: Re: More Evidence That Everyone Needs To Clean Their Vanagon Grounds Reply with quote

I've bought replacement ground straps for the engine and tranny but still waiting on a new battery ground cable to be delivered. I also need to source the new fasteners (with star washers as mentioned), some type of brush for my drill that will cut through the paint and grime to get down to the bare metal, and then some dielectric grease.

I'll update this post when I get all that together and finish up.

...I know this topic may be mundane to a lot of folks but I felt like sharing.

Mark
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PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2020 5:40 am    Post subject: Re: More Evidence That Everyone Needs To Clean Their Vanagon Grounds Reply with quote

shadetreemech wrote:
After the Annual Cleaning of The Grounds I coat 'em with dielectric grease.

Dan

I wonder if copper anti-seize on the threads / mating surface is the way to go - prior to assembly, then dielectric grease afterwards?
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PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2020 5:40 am    Post subject: Re: More Evidence That Everyone Needs To Clean Their Vanagon Grounds Reply with quote

shadetreemech wrote:
After the Annual Cleaning of The Grounds I coat 'em with dielectric grease.

Dan

I wonder if copper anti-seize on the threads / mating surface is the way to go - prior to assembly, then dielectric grease afterwards?
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PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2020 6:10 am    Post subject: Re: More Evidence That Everyone Needs To Clean Their Vanagon Grounds Reply with quote

I just replaced the engine and transmission mounts and clutch in my '83. After cleaning and reinstalling mounts and grounds, my voltmeter is registering higher volts. N=1 experience.
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PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2020 6:51 am    Post subject: Re: More Evidence That Everyone Needs To Clean Their Vanagon Grounds Reply with quote

vanagonjr wrote:
shadetreemech wrote:
After the Annual Cleaning of The Grounds I coat 'em with dielectric grease.

Dan

I wonder if copper anti-seize on the threads / mating surface is the way to go - prior to assembly, then dielectric grease afterwards?
. I did this with my Ground Cable connection to the body mounting thread.
There is a rated electrical copper coating out there, I forget who makes it. Its more expensive than regular Anti-Seize.

We CAN take some comfort that were not alone in maintaining Ground Connections. I can post pictures later this week of other corroded ground connections from non-Vanagon vehicles to show we could have it worse, and at a much shorter time frame than the decades our VWs have gone through.
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PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2020 7:13 am    Post subject: Re: More Evidence That Everyone Needs To Clean Their Vanagon Grounds Reply with quote

It is nice to have some of this on the shelf:

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Ideal-NOALOX-4-oz-Anti-Oxidant-Compound-30-026/202276208
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PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2020 7:17 am    Post subject: Re: More Evidence That Everyone Needs To Clean Their Vanagon Grounds Reply with quote

i use copper AS on all my grounds. not because it enhances conductivity but i've found it to be very persistent thru washes and time, showing shiny bare metal when the grounds are removed. no dielectric is needed. after sanding the body or engine case to bare metal i put it on the bolt, the ring terminals, my shirt, my pants, and my face.

running a ground from the body directly to the starter bolt is a VERY good idea... too many corroded transmission case junctions for good conductivity.

don't overlook the main battery cable. mine was 'crispy' sounding when i bent it. top photo is the cable cut about 8" back from the terminal, bottom photo right at the battery terminal.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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Mark Lewalski
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PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2020 7:20 am    Post subject: Re: More Evidence That Everyone Needs To Clean Their Vanagon Grounds Reply with quote

Since there are a lot of thoughts on the proper way to utilize dielectric grease, I wanted to know how the manufacturers of the product say to use it.

I understand that dielectric grease is a NON-conductor. There are folks who say YES to put it on the contacts (or metal to metal surfaces to be mated) and those who say NO to the metal to metal and only apply it on top of the already mated connection.

This is a capture from the Permatex website. I highlighted the important part:

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


Before installing my new ground straps, I'm going to do a little test. I'll put some bolts/washers/nuts together with the dielectric grease between them then I'll measure the resistance from piece to piece. I'll let you know.

I will also say that a metallic based anti-seize compound could be used on the actual threads of the grounding bolt or stud to enhance the metal to metal conductivity in conjunction with an application of dielectric grease on the parts coming together.

All this may seem like overkill for such a simple type of job but I'm thinking that if I get a good process in place, it will be something I can repeat in seconds on many, many other vehicle connections.

Mark
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PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2020 7:21 am    Post subject: Re: More Evidence That Everyone Needs To Clean Their Vanagon Grounds Reply with quote

No reason to guess or try to look at pictures

Voltmeter

Measure B+ and B- at battery, record

Move negative to top of ground bolt, record

Now move to exposed metal nest bolt, record

You now know the voltage drop across the cable, bolt, and threads

For evaluating crusty wiring, use an analog meter, they are much better At showing fluctuating values and trends since your brain processes a needle better than reading sampled numbers
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PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2020 7:44 am    Post subject: Re: More Evidence That Everyone Needs To Clean Their Vanagon Grounds Reply with quote

Mark Lewalski wrote:
Since there are a lot of thoughts on the proper way to utilize dielectric grease, I wanted to know how the manufacturers of the product say to use it.



all we are asking dielectric grease to do is exclude oxygen from the connection. it matters not that it is NOT conductive. at the voltage and amperage we are concerned with, ALL electrical conductivity on these connections is made thru direct metal to metal contact and the dielectric, grease, vaseline, anti-sieze, or cat poo squishes out of the way leaving molecular contact of the metals.

there ARE some contact enhancers eg. Stabilant 22, that improve the molecular bond but these magic chemicals are really best suited to socketed ICs, low amperage relays, and switch contacts. but we need corrorsion protection from salty waters and oxygen so the better choice is something that physically excludes things that encourage oxidation, leaving the metals in a happy union of conductive bliss.
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PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2020 8:02 am    Post subject: Re: More Evidence That Everyone Needs To Clean Their Vanagon Grounds Reply with quote

I have been using Vasoline on the battery posts and cable ends both prior to and after assembly for 40 years at this point in time. This has saved me so much frustration over the years it is almost unbelievable. For the last twenty plus years I haven't even tighten the clamp bolts on the cable end anymore than absolutely necessary, I like to be able to grab the cable end and twist the end off the post without having to loosen it, so in case of an electrical fire or jammed starter I can just give the cable end at the battery a goodly twist and it will come off.

When making splices in wires I use an overlap splice and cover the wires with dielectric grease before assembly. Even when doing a butt splice or just installing a crimp terminal the wires get dielectric grease.
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