Tuesday, August 19, 2014

UV water purification light ballast failure

When I applied for a building permit for our garage in about 1998 the county directed me to certify my well and add to my 1969 septic system. During the well certification they required among other things a water treatment. Adding a chlorine system was suggested but we opted for a UV light purification system thinking it kills any possible bugs and does not ruin the taste of the water plus other advantages. So after quite a pile of paperwork the system was approved by the county. With the approval came a requirement that an alarm be installed if the light failed.

I designed a little light sensing circuit which has been in use all these years although in the past I have made a couple of changes in the circuit due to the alarm sounding when the light was still working.

It has been 15 years and the light failed for the first time. I replace the $35 bulb with a new bulb I have on hand for next year and still it did not function. Then replaced the bulb with a known good used bulb and it still did not light.

So I ordered a new ballast for almost $70. The ballast arrives a week later and is about 1/10 the weight and 1/10 the size. (Probably an electronic ballast of which I have little regard to their life expectancy.) Also the original ballast had 3 wires and this one has 5 wires. I went on line and found out how to wire this to the fixture and sure enough it works.

What are the odds this new ballast is going to last 15 years? I am not optimistic but will sure give it a try.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Dodge Caravan Grand Sport 2000

It is hard to believe it is 14 years old. So it backfired a couple times and runs rough suddenly but not always notable rough. I looked up its history and noticed just a little over 30,000 miles ago I replaced the spark plugs wires and sparkplugs. Then observed on utube cases of timing chain repair. This car has 150,000 miles and seems like the timing chain may not be due yet. Then I saw a great utube about sparkplugs fouling due to excessive antiseize used during spark plug replacement. It mentioned many sparkplugs come with a coating to protect the threads even for their 100,000 mile life.

So looking into the Autolight plugs NAPA sold me year ago and now seeing the decal in the engine compartment recommending Champion plugs, (RN14PMP5) which appears to be equivalent to a Champion #7031, I thought new proper plugs might be the best way to go. The plug is a double platinum plug. $15 with no tax for six through Ebay with free shipping and $24 with tax at auto parts stores. Interesting enough the computer has no faults.

Then I started looking on how to get to the inside 3 plugs. Whew. Once before I loosened the intake manifold and moved it several inches to the side so I could replace the plugs and plug wires. Youtube showed removing the panel between the windshield and the hood. This panel houses the windshield wiper motor and arms. Looks like quite a job. The Service Manual says for plugs #3 and #5 to remove the resonator which is interesting as the only resonator in the index was an exhaust resonator at the end of the tailpipe which is not near the sparkplugs. Then remove the intake strut to cylinder head. Then to remove plug #1 just remove the accessory drive belt, remove the bolts to the upper half of the generator bracket and push generator rearward to provide access. Whew.

I was ready to go for the last method and observed I could not see plug #5 but could just touch the plug wire. Would you believe it was loose from the plug. I was able to snap it onto the plug. I took the Caravan for a 3 mile spin where the van ran perfectly. So that sort of freed up several hours of work. Lots of investigation and planning yet the fix was so simple.

I decided to de-moss the garage roof. That meant getting on the roof and sweeping the whole roof. 90% of the moss removed easily. Then came the baking soda application which kill any leftover moss. Costco sells big bags of baking soda at a reasonable price. Then came the gutter cleaning. Now all is ready for the rainy season.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Maytag dishwasher not cleaning well

Linda mentioned the dishwasher is not cleaning like it used to. We purchased this Maytag in 2001 and it has served extremely well. She showed me a bottle that a little grunge that remained at the corner of the bottom. So I found my glasses, and on inspection found many of the ports on both the upper and lower wash arm were plugged! No wonder it was not working as before. I found a youtube video very helpful in how to remove the lower arm. Turns out to be simple. Then with Jeremy’s help we removed the upper arm which is also easy once you see how to remove.

I pulled most of the contamination out through the holes with fingers, toothpick and a dental pick. Then took the wash arms outside where I could get lots of water pressure to wash the arms out real good. The arms are in perfect shape other than the observed contamination. The center hole of the lower wash arm guiding the water from the pump was also plugged with contamination. Most of the contaminates appeared to be very small plastic chunks, likely not from the dishwasher.
{Youtube link - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSBubWyofN0 }

I suspect all will wash much better now. Can hardly wait to run a load.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

RV Power Converter Failure and Replacement

Our converter for the RV failed on our January 2014 Southern California trip so after the first couple of days the battery would not charge above 11.7 volts. On line there were lots of complaints about the Elexir Power Converter Charger model ELX-20 and I am unable to get the schematic. The converter is no longer made. After a physical inspection passed, no burnt resistors and such, I ordered a replacement converter that was rated high for $98 including shipping.

The new WFCO Ultra III Power Center model WF-8725P arrived in about a week. I was able to install this unit using the circuit breaker from the removed converter. The new Power Center can use a main breaker of 30 Amps however I have a 20 Amp in place. 20 Amps will likely be enough for our little Aliner trailer. This circuit just powers the 12 volt converter portion of the Power Center which can output 25 Amps 12 Vdc power. The unit uses two more 15 amp circuit breakers for 120 vac circuits in the trailer which power outlets, microwave, refrigerator at times and the air conditioner. There is also four 12 vdc circuits for refrigerator at times, furnace, radio, carbon monoxide detector, lights and water pump. The new unit uses aluminum wire which is hard for me to accept since the trailer uses copper wire. The crossover point is the weak link as I understand.

From Power Center 12 Vdc circuits -
     Green - water pump and furnace  (In USA Green is safety ground)
     Yellow - inside lights and radio
     Blue -
     Red - RV battery charge

The Operation modes of the Power Center are -
     Bulk mode: Puts out 14. 4 Vdc for maximum of 4 hours.
     Absorption mode: 13.6Vdc which is the normal mode.
     Float mode: 13.2 Vdc for a trickle charge of the battery.

I still may be able to repair the old converter I suppose, but without a schematic it might be a challenge and I see some of the parts do not have legible part numbers. Might just toss the bad one.

After two days of 120 Vac being off the RV battery reads 12.7 Vdc which is so much better than the 11.7 Vdc we had before.

Per several charts off the internet -
Volts --- Remaining Capacity
12.63 --- 100%
12.54 --- 90%
12.45 --- 80%   (75%)
12.36 --- 70%
12.27 --- 60%
12.18 --- 50%   (12.24 --- 50%)
12.09 --- 40%
12.00 --- 30%   (12.06 --- 25%)
11.91 --- 20%
11.82 --- 10%   (11.89 --- 0%)
11.80 --- 0%