Tag Line

"Built Dam Strong!"

15 June 2012

Let there be light!

So, a side from being frustrated with my friend's minivan, I've had to deal with car issues of my own. I drive a '93 Legend coupe. It generally has been very reliable, even if it has been bat up by neighbors and friends who can't park. Lately it's been pitching a CEL for an issue with the ignition signal, and up until yesterday I haven't been able to figure WTF is going on with it. But, I did find out what is generally wrong when I was poking around, actually poking and proding, the wiring harness and when I moved the harness nearest to the ICM (Ignition Control Module), the idle settled down into a normal, smooth, lovely healthy V6 burble. *sighs* I have a loose connection somewhere in that section of the harness. I'll poke around a bit more after I get home for Father's day this Sunday to spend time with my dad. 

Continuing a theme with electrical issues, I was working in my "shop" in the garage of my friend's place and the lights went out. Just the lights. So, I walk over to the light switch and flip it off and on again, and the lights flickered for a split second and then went out again. ARG! I did actually happen to have a new switch as one of the other switches in the house went out a while ago and I had picked one up on my last trip to Home Despot. I swapped that in and everything was fine, but . . . I was curious. 

Here's the switch:

Anyone who's done any wiring in the last decade (and paid attention to things) will be able to tell that this is an OLD switch. It is not up to current NEF standards, as there is no provision for a ground. It is part of a three way switch system. Modern switches have 4 screws, this has three. The good thing about this being an old switch is that it was made to be taken apart. Instead of being riveted together, the top plate has bendable tabs that secure it into place. I bent the tabs back and pulled it apart and found this:

That brass looking thing is the actual circuit selector. The end is clearly worn. Here is what the inside of the switch looks like:

The copper tabs on the inside are where the selector contacts on both sides of the switch.

here you can see the lcoking tabs on the top plate, the switch body and the mounting screws:

There is also a spring that fits in between the selector tab and switch tang that I totally didn't bother to take a pic of. 

The final pic before I put it all back together is of the selector in the switch body. The spring rests on the center tang of the selector and also the tang on the switch. It forces the selector to either side when you move the switch. 

If you look REALLy carefully, you can see that I simply bent the tabs inwards until they could make proper contact with the selector. I put it back together and swapped it back in to the receptacle and BAM! It works! I never thought I would fix a light switch, but hey, there it is! It's easier than more modern ones, but I would imagine the internals of newer switches are similar, as least on the cheaper ones. You'd have to drill out the rivets and find a way to re-rivet the body together, but I know if I really was stuck I could do that. I mostly enjoyed the fact that I took something that most people would have thrown in the trash and brought it back to life with simple adjustments. Who knows how long it will last, but, I suspect that it could be years before anyone needs to mess with it again.