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Old 03-27-2016, 06:18 PM   #81
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Kent, WA (Seattle)
Posts: 202
Year: 1987
There is moisture in the air, so when your air compressor sucks in air and compresses it, it also takes in the moisture, which will accumulate. Most air brake vehicles have a placard that state the air tank must have the moisture bled daily. Like our military friend stated above, it is all too true.

Air brakes are their own breed of brakes, and I suggest anybody operating a vehicle with them do some research on it. Many DMV's have free cdl books, which will go over air brakes. In Texas, to drive a CDL vehicle with air brakes, you must take a written and physical test on air brakes because of their importance.
Thank you! I have much to learn. I just googled it and am going to read the air brake section before turning my bus on again (for anyone interested Washington state can be found here , otherwise I'll probably just read this convenient link you posted and work from there. By "read" I will start with the airbrakes and work from there I think. I drained the valves two days ago with a yogurt container to catch the droppings. I'm assuming not much came out due to a lack of pressure, but I was only able to get maybe 5 drops of black water out of the valves. It is definitely on my radar to be aware of though.
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Old 04-01-2016, 03:17 PM   #82
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Kent, WA (Seattle)
Posts: 202
Year: 1987
Okay, so first off thank you to everyone so far. My quest to read the CDL guide has gotten sidetracked like many of my other goals, but I have read the Air Brake section thoroughly and am very glad I read it. I have had my air pressure belt slip off in the past a few times, and have contemplated continuing driving until my pressure got very low, I did not and oh boy am I glad I didn't. To anyone silly enough to drive a vehicle with airbrakes without the knowledge, the brakes will lock up somewhere between 20-45psi meaning potential disaster if you're not ready for a sudden stop. I will be reading this again to check the condition of my brakes near the bus before driving it.

So update coming later I think, progress has been slow due to some intense craigslist buying/selling I've been doing this week. I sold my 15ft coronado sailboat, and 89 honda civic, which has given our house space for this new trailer($250) I impulse bought! (different then the mentioned in a prior post). I can provide pictures of this old treasure if anyone cares, otherwise just imagine the item in really dirty functional condition.

Here's a pic of the interior

I found this dude through craigy's who was pulling the transmission and engine out of an old RV and wanted to get rid of everything he had inside for $210! One week ago, I did not expect to find a trailer full of RV parts in my driveway but here I am now. The universe operates in mysterious ways I guess. I do not have the knowledge yet to see if all of this works, so I guess I will be finding out in the near future.

If anyone nearby wants the rooftop AC, converter, dual sink, vanity sink, Satellite antenna, gas stove, dual sink, electric heater, giant RV windows, I think I can hook you up for a steep discount.

Question: Will these glass RV windows provide better insulation than current bus windows? I hear dual pane is what the smart people do, but I'm still too much of a flip flop to make such a commitment at this moment.

I'll hopefully consolidate my past work and give a good update within the next week!
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Old 04-01-2016, 04:00 PM   #83
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Ya...dual panes make quite a difference. And BTW...nice score!
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Old 04-06-2016, 05:27 PM   #84
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Kent, WA (Seattle)
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Okay my skoolie friends! My progress has been noticeable from my side, but nothing cool enough to make a huge post about. I keep telling myself that I will impress all of you with cool pictures, but here I am again just showering you all with lots of questions.

I have unofficially plugged both heaters in, I still have not turned the bus on or turned the valves for the heater hoses - so I am fearful that I will have coolent spilling everywhere. For now I am going to assume that everything is going to be A-OK.

Here's where I'm at in a nutshell, I am re-wiring my electrical wire console. My rewire station below

After doing some deer in headlights and contemplating giving up, I trusted my instinct and was able to rewire the bulk of these wires pretty painlessly. I found that the key is keep my cool and to work one wire at a time! Thank goodness I labeled the wires, and double thank goodness the labels didn't tear off. I guess I can't talk all high and mighty until keeping my bus functional (knock on wood).

The gents that sold me the bus did an "after market sound system", I am unsure if it was stock, but there is a seperate audio cable(thick white cable dangling separately two pictures down) posted separately from everything else to the aftermarket speakers. This leads me to assume that the prior audio cables are buried somewhere.

We're getting close to question 1.
I highlighted the paths of the cables I assumed were the prior existing audio cables. What puzzles me is that the green line does not go down to the box it just goes straight across from the left side to the right side. Does that look right to you guys? Since the cables come out in pairs (my hand holding them) I assumed they were audio cables. Also they lead to nothing which helped me learn why the rear speakers never worked. Picture below

So Question 1. Is it safe to assume these are the audio cables and wire them accordingly (using the substitution method)?

So there's these mystery electrical cable "midpoints" that bridge these cables together, I have no idea what their function and have been trying to figure out how necessary they are. The cable highlighted with light blue connects to one of the 5 door opener switch connectors. The yellow line once connected to a wire I pulled out while I was decluttering the wires, my guess is the emergency door buzzer - I am not sure.

The purple line leads to a lot of sub questions, which I will start by showing this picture below

Baiscally the purple line goes down into this section and pops out. I haven't a clue what that goes to but that leads to another sub question/picture.

I don't think I disconnected any of these cables EXCEPT the red cable which I accidently destroyed during my rust brushing operation.

2A. Do you have any guesses towards what the function for any of these could be? I intend to follow the red wire under the bus to figure out where it goes, I have just been lazy and it's been a little wet outside until lately.

2B. Do you think it's necessary to keep any of these around? I have not decided if my door opener is necessary, but I am okay with letting it go, especially since that stairwell will be turning into a battery box.

This next question is not a big deal at all, but I think someone could answer it easily.

I was connecting all my breakers in and found this split cable popping out of one of the breakers, one side goes out to my one of my dome light switches, the other connects to my flasher switch (which I unplugged all of)

3.Am I safe replacing this "Y cable" with a different cable I pulled out?

Thanks everyone, I hope someone can derive some enjoyment/education out of this mess of wires!

Also does anyone have any leads for LED lighting? I am hoping to get some LED dome lights, and LED headlights. I assume ebay but the selection is overwhelming! I also have fantasized about replacing the front side flashers with some LED lights to use as illegal brights when I'm far from other vehicles, but that's a very low priority. I intend to LED my brake/flashers as the current ones stop functioning.
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Old 04-06-2016, 06:27 PM   #85
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I just scrapped my wiring harness and plan on rewiring. For LED's visit here. I plan in using them when I redo my tail lights.
Hey! That's not an RV, that's a school bus.
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Old 04-06-2016, 10:01 PM   #86
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bus wiring is so fun
my bus build viewtopic.php?f=9&t=5931
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Old 04-09-2016, 07:50 PM   #87
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Kent, WA (Seattle)
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Year: 1987
The past few days has been humbling yet gratifying. Thursday I began the process of draining the radiator, which lead me to hooking everything up and starting the bus up. Hearing the bus run for the first time since taking out the electrical and heating sounded soo goood! The radiator drain, as many have said is simple and time consuming - I was very relieved in the simplicity of this process. Unfortunately there was a number of 'minor issues'.

1. No function from any electrical including turn signals, brake lights, and headlights without some fiddling, I call this 'dormant state'.

Interesting things to note:
1a. I am able to get these to 'active state' by turning on the heated mirrors which makes an unsettling clicking sound while switched on, and a process of fiddling with switches (primarily with the right side heater switch) I am able to make make everything work EXCEPT for the brake lights and headlights.
1b. Activating the headlights will shut off everything into the dormant state so I have to reactivate by turning on the heated mirrors and fiddling with the switches.
1c. When my electrical box is in it's dormant state I have discovered that my booster pump switch when turned on will glow if I flick the switches of electronics that are still wired in and working. (if I turn on the aux fan, this will make the booster pump switch glow). HOWEVER, if I turn the booster pump switch on while in an active state, everything will shut down into the dormant state.

2. The drivers side heater

2a. It did not work at first, I was dumb enough to disregard a valve that was right in front of me and switch the heater hose inlets and outlets around while mostly full of water from the 3rd flush, this resulted in warm coolant water spilling everywhere. Live and learn. I did not want to replace the coolant without verifying that both heaters can circulate hot coolant fluid. My system is currently filled with what I would assume to be a 90/10 water/coolant ratio, I will probably finish the flush Monday evening when I have a lot of time to let the system drain fully. I went ahead and assumed leaving distilled water in the radiator system is okay since the temperature around here won't be freezing for another 9 months.

2b. When I turn on the heated mirror, I noticed that the drivers side heater will spark in a corner where it is touching my alluminum vent I made.

2c. There are about 6 12gauge (ish) black cables that come out of my drivers side heater which lead to nothing (looks like cut off with cable cutters). I am assuming these were once grounds?

3. My DC disconnect works and it is awesome! I am really happy to know that it works.

In short, I have concluded that I am hitting a small wall which is helping me learn that it is within my best interest to familiarize myself with DC electrics. (which I am doing via All About Circuits - Electrical Engineering & Electronics Community).

Overall I am satisfied with everything;both heaters produce heat, and the bus starts; electricity works far better than all worst case scenarios I imagined.

The DC electric puzzle pieces lay before me, it would be cool if this resolves itself by Thursday. Until then I will educate, tinker and repeat. Even if I keep spinning in circles, I hope to do so relentlessly.
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Old 04-09-2016, 08:01 PM   #88
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Well, nice job. That feeling you get in your gut when things don't work right is the very reason I don't do electrical.
I get by with my limited electrical knowledge on simple electrical repairs, but if it gets more complicated than that I can always get another bus maybe with air this time.
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Old 04-16-2016, 02:53 PM   #89
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Kent, WA (Seattle)
Posts: 202
Year: 1987
I am delighted to report, that I have attained victory over the DC electrical system!

There were a few petty problems, but in short the primary issue was a bad ground. I'm embarrassed to say that it took 12-16 hours to figure out, however I am proud to say I did not give up. For anyone curious - especially for the dummies like myself I will explain to the best of my ability. For all those smart gentlemen who lurk around these forums, please provide any critique or concerns regarding my setup, for I am not an electrician, or just skip this post entirely.

I apologize the following picture is not current, but just pulled out of the archives, however it more or less serves it's purpose.

Highlighted is my solenoid in 4 colors, as Leo 3000 stated on page 2 of my thread,

Originally Posted by leo3000 View Post
solenoid that is likely connected to your key switch. this is very important, it is the same thing as a relay if you know how relays work.

Basically when you turn the key to the on position (or start it) it closes a low current circuit that engages the solenoid connecting the high amp current to everything that works while the bus is on.
the solenoid has 4 terminals: one from key, one grounding that; and one from battery, one that is switched to battery when key is turned on. if you wire to the one from the battery, it will always have voltage weather the key is on or not. if you wire to the one that becomes connected to the battery, it will only have voltage when key is switched on
So with that laid out, the green circle always has about 12.5-13.5 volts. The red circle only has volts when the key is in accessory or on. The Black circle should not have voltage, and the white circle should have voltage when the key is in accessory or on. (The last two statements are stated with 65% confidence). HOWEVER my problem was that the black circle had voltage/white circle did not and I was too naive to question it. It's worth noting that the white circle has two cables going to it, one which I highlighted in pink (goes to the breakers), the other which I highlighted in yellow (goes to truck components).

So the chassis of my electrical box was not properly grounded, which lead to it holding the charge that the black circles had. The reason my heated mirrors were acting "hot" was because they were grounded to the electrical box(the far right black circle), which was sending current rather than taking current (take that statement with a grain of salt, I'm not an electrician). As a result, when I turned my heated mirrors on, it sent a current backwards to my white circled terminal on the solenoid. Which lead to my solenoid clicking intensely. I am not entirely sure why turning my lights on forced everything off, but I am assuming it has something to do with breaking a circuit. I mentioned earlier that my booster pump light was glowing whenever I turned any of my active components on, I am assuming this is because the electrical box chassis was hot.

I resolved this issue by using a multimeter. It's pretty universal among all electrical guides emphasizing how important multimeters are, and I certainly do agree. I cut my heated mirrors female head off, and measured the right and left wires voltage, I unplugged their grounds(right side black circle) and retested their voltage surprised to find that there was no voltage. This lead to me testing the electrical box chassis to find that it had voltage. Next, I made a circuit with some of the old wires I pulled out between the electrical box chassis (positive), the vehicle chassis (negative), and my lift gate indicator light not connected to anything. As soon as I saw that indicator light turn on, it confirmed the multimeters report (I didn't trust it entirely).

I tried to figure out the source of the voltage, which I narrowed down to the solenoid ground (this took a lot longer than you would expect). The multimeter confirmed this hypothesis by reporting 0voltage. Once I unplugged that, I used an extra cable I had by trying to make 'pseudo circuits' by poking two different things at once, with my fan and turn signal & headlights on. If I could see my turn signal and headlights on I knew the truck components were working, if I could feel a fan produced breeze I knew my bus components were working. I did a ton of prodding around, which I find relevant, however this post is already pretty long talking about basic electrical work so I won't get into it unless asked. Ultimately I found success by connecting the vehicle frame to the ground on the solenoid, so simple. When I ran back to the house to summon the wife to report my success, It occurred to me that I might be able to getaway with leaving the solenoid grounded to the electrical box chassis and grounding the electrical box (the middle or right side black circle) to the frame of the bus. IT WORKED! Hindsight 20/20 I probably just tore this ground cable out in a heat of alcohol assisted passion work.

Lastly: This picture featured earlier on this page, I re-linked this wire with it's companion below the bus - which fixed the front lights and I assume brake lights (I haven't checked yet).

Tonight, I will ground the electrical box to the vehicle frame with a drill and a screw with 10gauge wire. The bus is very close to becoming drive-able again. Very exciting. If anyone has any questions, comments, or critiques I would love to hear it! Thank you for following so far.
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Old 04-19-2016, 12:00 PM   #90
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Wow! Good narrative, good work! Your methodology is flawless. That's how it's done, just poking around and measuring (I hope you took notes. They will serve you well some dark night.)

BTW this is why I always run dedicated black ground wires to every place they are needed. We had a thread on this earlier where is was discussed it's a good thing to run those ground wires "trunk and branch" instead of "point to point to point". Bad grounding leads to backfed circuits leads to strange erratic unexplainable behavior.

Again, good work!
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