Sunday, August 28, 2016

Vansanity Part II

Is there ever a time when the van is completely trouble free? No, and that is why I am comfortable with its limits. I know what it can and can not do and I know when it is too far from a friendly parts store. It communicates to me. I thought I had tackled the major problems with the stalling and erratic idle that turned out to be related to the ignition condenser/capacitor and not at all related to the fuel. For once, the fuel was fine. I wonder if the problems I had back in Guatemala were not related to the condenser and points but I remember seeing the empty fuel filter and identifying that as a fuel delivery problem. I don't know. It's one mystery after another until I can't keep them all straight.

Well, I decided to go to a nearby town where they sacrifice chickens to cure problems and I was going to ask them to kill a chicken to ward off evil gas spirits. That makes sense. Kill a few chickens to protect the van. And I drove up there to Chamula and the van really drove like a dream, like a youth in Spring. The transmission was shifting perfectly. The idle was perfect. The acceleration was smooth, the timing sounded perfect. I gave myself a metaphoric pat on the back for solving yet another puzzle. But my smug self satisfaction was soon replaced by grief and agony...

The trip to Chamula was short, which is why I picked it as a starter trip. I parked in a tourist overlook and realized I hadn't eaten in two days so I skipped the chicken sacrifice and went straight to devouring the fire roasted chicken with beans and rice. I slayed that chicken. Then I went to the plaza and dodged some fireworks, almost bought an ocelot pelt, etc. etc. bought a few pieces of probably fake amber, a ring advertised as coconut and a cool sheep wool vest.

church courtyard
I went back to the van, really proud of myself that it was running so well again. I get in, start it up. Drop it in gear and the alarm goes berserk. Well, I didn't set the alarm. And furthermore, the alarm never goes off when I start the van. It only goes off if the doors are opened when the alarm is activated. The alarm is deafening and it doesn't even sound like my alarm so I thought it was the car next door to me. Then I hear an explosion behind the dashboard and smoke comes from both the dashboard and also the smell of burning plastic. Man! I can't get a break. I stop and look around for the sniper trying to kill me but only find what looks like the cover to my alarm controller and a capacitor cap. Oh, so the controller exploded. Capacitors do explode when they fail and this one exploded with such force it blew the cover off the controller. ok. And the burning smell was probably the capacitor blowing up some circuit and finally the alarm went off with a dying sound. Great. 8 years I had that alarm and it's destroyed unless I can find a replacement capacitor and solder it on.
the inside of a capacitor look like aluminum cotton candy

So I look around and the idle sounds ok and there is not much I can do about it so I press on and only drive about 100 feet before the idle decays and I can barely accelerate. I drive another 100 feet and finally pull over in a taxi-stop because the idle is non-existent and I can't accelerate. Man, what is going on? I can't accelerate. nothing. So I turn it off.

I initially expected the old condenser had failed again or maybe I didn't install it right so I swapped it out and tried the ignition and get absolutely no ignition or sign I am turning the key. Puchica Madre! This is the worst of all, no ignition. But I'm Oggy and I don't care, I will tackle anything anywhere because I have no choice. And I think that maybe when I tightened the drive belt in the morning I didn't get the ground bolt snug on the pivot bolt where the negative from the battery is bolted. That would cause no ignition. So I snug that down and try again and get nothing. Well, the ignition could be toast. I feel around under the dash, moving the nest of wires and trying the key to see if something blinks. Nothing. So, the ignition goes from the key to the starter solenoid. Maybe...I check the starter solenoid and the wires are all snug but then I see that the primary ignition wire to the hot terminal of the starter solenoid, the critical wire to get any kind of ignition, has melted and has broken and dangling from this butt splice. 
primary ignition wire is toast.

Well, this is something I can handle because I spent a season crimping wires destined for silicon micro-chip wafer slicers in Indonesia. Crimping is in my blood. So I splice the wire back together and the engine fires right up. I don't know what the series of events that caused this were. Did the alarm blow and cause the ignition wire to melt? Or did I melt the ignition wire when I tried to start the engine the other day and that caused a short circuit in the capacitor? Or are the two unrelated and by changing the condenser I did fix the idle problem but the ignition wire had melted and broke at exactly the same time, but was unrelated? I don't know the answers. I need a VSI: Van Scene Investigator: Special Victims Unit.

Oggy, in his element.

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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.