Friday, May 18, 2007

Forest, Trees, Etc., Etc.

I finally had a few minutes free yesterday afternoon, so after I got home I hopped outside to do a couple of things--change out my glovebox, and see if I could do a bit of prep work for my new sidemarker lights.

It turned out to be more than I thought it would be.

Well, first, the easy part, the glovebox. I thought I might be able to jimmy the latch without breaking the plastic catch, but obviously this won't work, so I just popped it free. Seven screws later, the new one was on and it looks very nice--no marks or waviness or crookedness. And I think the thing to do is remember to be VERY careful shutting the box door. Again, the catch is plastic, and if you just close the box without turning the knob, the catch is constantly being pushed in a way that causes it to snap off. Always turn the knob, and turn the knob slowly.

NOW THEN--trying to fix those side markers!

I wasn't quite sure where to tap into the turn signal wires, and the online instructions you can find (Google something like 'volvo 240 side marker light installation') are, as usual, light on photographs or actual dimensions. Automotive electrical junk is one of those things I'm just baffled by, and I need to have actual pictures, and not diagrams, or worse, "find the proper wire and splice into it."

Well, I figured there has to be a set of wires in the harnesses that go along the tops of both front wheel wells, but I'm not that keen on cutting into the outer tape covering for fear of creating problems with the other wiring in the bundle. I thought I might be able to discern a bit if I looked at the fuse panel. I don't know why, because if you think about it, that's a silly place to look.

I pulled the cover, and stupidly looked at the array of fuses, hoping for a sudden flash of inspiration. Then I espied a burnt fuse, 8A, third from the bottom.

"Hmm," said me. Looked at the list--taillights? WELL NO DANGED WONDER!!

I've been fighting with those danged taillights for months now, never seeming to be able to get them working right and figuring it must be something to do with damaged wiring in the loom somewhere up the line. I'd lost just about all the taillights and was having to rely--tenuously--on the rear fog lamps. I'd also lost the front marker lights, and the license plate lights. Grr.

So, let's see what happens when I change out that fuse.

As you can guess, I HAVE TAILLIGHTS AGAIN!

In addition, I found that one of my problems was a burnt out bulb on the passenger side. Seems the lens in the housing has a gap at the top and had been filling up with water. Get it full enough, it sloshes against the bulb, pops it, and I would assume, blows the fuse, too. Changed that, fished out the broken remains of another bulb, and sopped up the water out of the chamber, then did the same thing on the driver side. I need to finish that up with a bit of clear sealer on the top of the seam on the housing to keep it from happening again, but no matter, I'm thrilled to have my lights working again! AND I got the front markers to working right again, too!

If I'd only checked the fuse when all this first started happening, I could have saved myself a LOT of trouble. And an embarrassing late-night stop by the Trussville constabulary for not having any rear lights. (Thank goodness it was only a warning.)

Now then, having successfully managed to fix two things, it was back to the side marker light. I have come to the conclusion the best way to handle this is to run a couple of wires all the way up to the front of the fender to where the front turn signal wires are located and tap on to them there, rather than attempting to find the right one in the wire looms on each side. That project is for Saturday.

But while I had the time yesterday, I figured I could at least go ahead and expose the mounting hole in the fenders by removing the Volvo name plates.

Best thing to use is a piece of dental floss. Get a fairly long piece and put it behind the edge of the plate, then pull both ends firmly from one end of the emblem toward the other, sawing back and forth as you pull. This cuts through the mounting tape that holds the plate in place, without marring the paint or bending the emblem if you have a desire to re-use them.

The bad thing?

The black foam tape on my car is (was) so old that it had set up VERY hard. I spritzed it with both WD-40 and some carb cleaner, and worked on it a bit with a razor blade, doing my best not to scratch the paint. Work slowly, and don't try to take it all off at once, and keep it saturated with solvent. It all eventually came loose, although it did leave a few marks in the paint. I will be doing a repaint in the future, so it's not the worst thing in the world. (Especially considering the poor shape of the paint as it is--you can't really see it.) A few more swipes with a cloth and some carb cleaner got the rest of the adhesive residue off, and then I followed this with a bit of polish to help cover some of those fine scratches.

Now I had two holes in the fenders. I probably should have waited to do all this when I was doing the wiring so that I could have plugged the bulbs in and been done with it. Why? Well, the way it is now, someone could very easily just pop the lights loose and walk away with them. Or worse, they could fall out, not being hooked up with their electrical umbilical cord/safety belt. But, anyway, to keep from having a set of open holes, I went ahead and popped the marker housings into the fenders, and I have to say, they do look slick as a whistle.

Tomorrow I'll take some pictures and show how I'm wiring them up. If I don't get sidetracked doing unfun stuff like cutting the grass.


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