Projects related to automobiles and RV's, from troubleshooting and repairs, to car shows.
Other machinery repair, electronics, drones, etc...
This is an article about how I repaired the extensive damage on the fiberglass sidewall on my Fifth wheel trailer.
The included pictures show step-by-step, how I did the repair, including the lamination of the sheet of new RV fiberglass and luan plywood.
This article is about how I installed a wirelessly connected backup camera to my 5th wheel RV.
I purchased the backup camera and the wireless transmitter separately. The backup camera came with all needed hardware to install a wired backup camera, including a 25 feet extension wire.
The wireless unit contains a transmitter and receiver. The camera connects to the transmitter, and the receiver connects to the display.
In my case, the display is an Android car stereo head unit, with an RCA input for backup cameras. But one can also purchase stand-alone displays for this purpose.
I have been pulling my 5th wheel for many years, managing it just fine, but often thought that a rear-view camera would be handy. It would be helpful when backing into a campsite, when parking at home, and also when driving on highways and freeways, especially when changing lanes.
First, I needed to figure out a good placement for the camera. I thought about installing it inside the rear window, but the window reflection would affect the image quality, as well as the window screen would do. The unit is waterproof anyway. I also wanted to place it high up, to have a better view of the traffic behind, and the camera pointing downward might be better when backing the RV.
But I was hesitant about cutting new holes in the walls, and finally decided to install the camera in the default location, which is above the license plate. That was easier to install too, since the camera mounts were designed to fit the license plate brackets.
I installed the camera on the license plate brackets, and ran the wires through the tail-light housing into the trailer. The space where the wires come inside the trailer is empty space below some drawers. There I connected the camera wiring to the park/position lights. So, when I turn the parking- or headlights on in my truck, the camera also turns on.
I then pulled the transmitter up inside a hollow wall, by removing a TV antenna cable cover plate, located higher up on the wall, and fishing up the transmitter, taping it to the TV cable inside the wall, and remounting the cover plate. I wanted the transmitter as high as possible for better signal transmission.
In the truck, I connected the receiver RCA cable to the stereo and connected the power to the accessory line, same line that is used to turn on the stereo.
On car head-units with backup camera input, the screen displays the video from the backup camera automatically, only when the gear is placed in reverse. That is accomplished by connecting a specific reverse-indicator wire from the head unit to the gear reverse switch (same as the one that connects to the backup light on the vehicle).
But I wanted to be able to view the backup camera feed while driving, mainly for lane changes, so instead of connecting the trigger wire to the reverse light, I installed a switch on the dash, and connected the trigger wire to ACC power through the switch, so I can manually toggle the camera feed on and off.
Being a long RV, the distance between the wireless transmitter and receiver is almost 40 feet, from the rear of the trailer, to the dashboard in the truck. The signal can also be affected by metal structures on the truck and the trailer. The signal seems to be ok, when I tested it at home, but it remains to see how well it works on the road. The signal can be improved by trying different locations for the transmitter and receiver. The other option is to just hard-wire the connection, but that would be quite involved, routing the wires through the trailer and the truck.
I was using the Kärcher G2700 gas powered pressure washer the other day, when it gradually started running rougher and finally died.
I did a quick check on the most likely causes, but couldn’t find anything that would have caused the malfunction. It was getting the spark, and fuel. When I tried to start it again, it backfired violently, when pulling the starter cord.
A quick Internet search suggested either timing being off, due to sheared flywheel key, or the compression release mechanism broken, or valves out of adjustment.
I took the flywheel off, and checked that the key was ok. The ignition timing is not adjustable on these motors. So that wasn’t the issue.
Today I finally had time to dig deeper. I took the overhead valve cover off and noticed that the exhaust valve lifter rod was out of place, and it was also slightly bent.
The rocker arm had cracked and was bent at the crack. I also discovered that the exhaust valve was seized in close or almost closed position.
The intake valve lifter rod was also bent quite a bit, but still in place.
I straightened out both lifter rods, oiled up everything, and tapped on the exhaust valve until it loosened up.
I welded the crack on the rocker arm, and assembled everything, and adjusted the valve to rocker gaps.
I changed the oil, and tried to start the pressure washer. It started up right away and ran great!
I pressure washed my drive way, and the pressure washer ran great the whole time.
I suspect that the cause for the failure was not changing the engine oil sooner. I haven’t used the pressure washer that many hours, but other people have used it, and the pressure washer must have run many more hours than I thought.
Oh well, it is running great again, and the cost of the repair: zero! 😊.
The fuel pump failed on my 1999 Saab 9-3 Turbo Convertible.
This step-by-step write-up is about how I trouble-shot the issue, and replaced the fuel pump. This article is written specifically for my car, and the information can vary between years, engine types, markets, etc. But the general process flow should be similar to other old generation Saab 9-3 cars, and can in many cases also be applied to other makes and models, as long as you research the specifics that apply to your car.
Someone else was driving the car when the break-down happened. The way the engine died, as it was explained to me, sounded like the fuel pump went. It could also have been the fuel filter clogging, or a number of other things. The tank was half full, so the car didn’t run out of gas.
I towed the car home with my truck, and started troubleshooting the issue.
Since I suspected the fuel pump, I started there. First thing was to check if there was any power at fuse #32, located on the fuse board at the left side of the dash. The fuel pump is powered through this fuse. There was power at the fuse (and the fuse was good). That means that the fuel relay and all the other electricals prior to the fuse were functioning properly. Next thing was to check the pump. Usually you can hear the pump running when it is on, but I haven’t really heard it running before, and certainly not now.
I pulled the back seat off. It is just clipped on, so no tools were needed.
Under the seat, there is an about 4-inch access hole, just pull off the plastic cover. Through the access hole, you can access the electrical wiring connectors for the pump. The pump itself cannot be reached through the access hole.
There are two sets of connectors, one with three wires, and one with four wires. The 4-wire connector is the one we are interested in.
The two thinner wires on the 4-wire connector are for the fuel level sending unit, and the two thicker ones are for powering the pump. Of those two power wires, the green/black is power from fuse #32, and the black one is ground.
I attached a multimeter to those two wires, to measure the voltage. When turning the key on (and cranking the engine) there was power on the green/black wire. That means that there is power coming to the pump.
Next, I ran power directly from a 12V battery to the pump-side of those two wires, in order to engage the fuel pump. At this point, being so close to the pump, one would definitely hear if it is running. It did indeed run, but only for a few seconds, before dying out, and it did not kick back on despite multiple tries.
So, it was definitely a bad pump. It is common for electric fuel pumps to fail, not only in Saab cars, but many other mainstream car brands too.
The car has about 100000 miles, and I don’t know if the pump has been replaced before I purchased it at 95000 miles. I also know that the car has run out of gas at least once (not when me driving!). Low fuel level, or an empty tank, can be hard on a fuel pump, since the fuel immersing the pump helps it stay cooler.
Getting the parts
Having an auto repair shop replace the pump would cost anywhere between $600 and $1200 dollars. Actually, any work on a Saab can be expensive, due to the quirky way the car is built, parts not being as readily available, and shops not having experience working on Saabs. If you need to bring your Saab to a shop, I recommend taking it to a place where they specialize in Saab cars. At least here in the Portland Oregon metropolitan areas there are several great shops specializing in Saabs.
It is recommended to replace the whole pump assembly, but they are around $300. When I changed the pumps on my old Honda and my Silverado, I replaced just the pump itself, keeping the pump assemblies, thus saving a lot of money.
The local shops didn’t have the pump for my Saab, so I had to order it online. I prefer to support the local auto parts shops, even if the part prices are somewhat higher, as long as the prices are not outrageous.
I found a matching Bosch fuel pump online for about $60, and I also ordered a fuel filter. It is recommended to replace the filter at the same time as the pump.
Removing the tank
Many cars have access holes under the back seat for replacing the pump. If there is no such access hole, then the tank has to be dropped.
I raised the rear of the car about 10 inches, by placing blocks under the wheels, leaving plenty of space to work under the car, and have room to drop the tank. One needs to be extremely careful supporting the car properly, when raised, so It won’t fall. People have died, being crushed under their cars while working on them.
While doing this work, I consulted my car repair manual, and Saab forums on the Internet, in order to get the job done properly.
I disconnected the negative battery terminal. I had already disconnected the two electrical connectors, accessed through the hole in the floor. Next, I removed the fuel filter, after removing the plastic fuel filter cover. Be aware that the fuel might still be under pressure. An easy way to release the fuel pressure is to cover up the fuel filter line connector and the tools with a rag before loosening the connector. Also, have a bucket in place underneath to collect any fuel.
If the engine would have been able to run, the easiest way to relieve the fuel pressure would have been pulling the fuel pump fuse while the engine was running.
Next, I disconnected the fuel fill hose, and the fuel lines to the fuel evaporative system, and the two straps holding the tank.
The less fuel there is in the tank, the easier the job will be. There is less weight, and less chance of any spills. My tank was half-full (or, like some people would say: half-empty…), and I didn’t have any good means of getting the tank emptied prior to the work.
Any fuel lines that are opened should be covered up so contamination doesn’t get into the fuel system.
On this car, the tank can’t be dropped straight down, due to the exhaust pipe running below the left-hand side of the tank. Once the right-hand side is dropped far enough, the tank slides out to the right of the car. The two fuel lines going to the pump assembly don’t have to be disconnected until the tank is on the ground at the side of the car. The short fuel feed line is already disconnected at the fuel filter end, and the fuel return line is long and flexible. Still, be careful not to kink or put strain on the lines.
Once the tank is on the ground, and off to the side, the two fuel lines can be disconnected, by holding the yellow tags aside and twist and pull up the fuel line connector elbows. The plastic elbows are very fragile, and they often break in the removal process. New elbows are only a few bucks, and some people buy them before starting the project, so they have them handy if needed.
I used compressed air to blow off dirt and dust from top of the tank, before disconnecting anything. Once the fuel lines were disconnected, I removed the large threaded lock ring which holds the pump assembly in place. There is a special tool used to unscrew the ring, but I used a piece of wood and a hammer, carefully tapping on the ring counterclockwise. The ring is also fragile, so if you tap or twist too hard, it could crack or break.
The pump assembly doesn’t come straight out. Carefully rotate it back and forth about a quarter turn, while pulling it up. Lastly, maneuver the assembly out carefully so you don’t bend the fuel level sensor floater arm.
Now is a good time to siphon out the fuel from the tank through the pump assembly opening hole. Emptying the tank makes it easier to lift it back in place when putting everything back together. I saved some of the gas in a gas container, and the rest I put in the tank of my other car.
Next, I covered up the opening on the fuel tank, so contamination won’t get in there.
Replacing the pump
Replacing the pump unit in the assembly turned out to be more complicated than I thought. When I replaced the pump in the fuel pump assemblies on my 1994 Accord, and my 1997 Silverado, it was quite simple. The assemblies were open, with no covers and housings to remove. All I had to do was remove the strainer, pull out the pump, and push the new pump in place. It was, like said in computer terms, plug-and-play.
Carefully twist and pull out the coarse strainer housing at the bottom of the exterior housing of the pump asembly. Then push the four clips, and pull the housing off the assembly. Then pull the strainer off the pump. Pull the pumps rubber damper off the assembly. Disconnect the two electrical wires from the pump. No need to mark them, they are different sizes, and can’t be reconnected incorrectly.
What’s left to do is disconnect the vinyl fuel hose from the brass connector on the pump. I tried to heat up the hose with a heat gun, and when pulling the hose off the brass, the hose broke. I ended up buying a new ¼ inch vinyl fuel hose from the local car parts store. I had trouble assembling the hose, and routing it, without kinking the sharp bends on the hose. That seemed to be the hardest part of the project for me. As I mentioned before, I didn’t have to deal with this when replacing the pumps on my other cars.
Once the pump was in place, I put all the pump assembly parts back in the reverse order, and placed the assembly back in the tank. There is an alignment mark line on top of the pump assembly, and on the tank. It is very important that those lines are aligned to each other, for the pump and fuel level sender to fit in and function properly. The pump tends to rotate when tightening the lock ring. Keep an eye on the marks, and re-align the pump assembly as needed.
Next, I connected the fuel lines, and placed the tank under the car, in order to lift it back in place.
Putting it all back together
From inside the car, I connected the electrical wires to the pump assembly, and tucked them aside. Lastly, I installed the new fuel filter,
I lowered the car, re-connected the battery, and dumped the fuel from the container back in the tank. Cranking took longer than usual, since fuel had been drained out of the system. Once the car started, it ran fine. I turned the engine off, waited a while, and tried to start again. The car started immediately! Since there was only a few gallons of fuel in the tank, I took my truck to the gas station to fill the gas container, and dumped that in the Saab. Now I had plenty of gas to drive the Saab to the gas station and fill it up. Once I got back home, I parked the car on the driveway, and checked for any fuel leaks, and tried to smell any gas. Everything looks good!
I spent two half-days on this project. It should really take only a few hours, but it was my first time doing it, and I did it slowly, taking breaks from the heat (I did this outside, and it was a hot day), and doing other things.
I hope you enjoyed this write-up! If you have any questions, I will be happy to answer them. Also, any suggestions or ideas you would like to share, are very much appreciated!