Clocking On

Today I’m going to take you on a journey into time!

It had been bugging me for a while that Herman’s clock didnae work. I wouldnae usually be that bothered about something so trivial, but VW have seen fit to make the clock in the LT the size of a dinner plate and stick it right in the middle of the instrument panel. So it’s quite difficult to disregard the fact that the hands are stubbornly refusing to move.

Unfortunately, decent access to the clock can only be had by removing the entire instrument panel. So it was out with the screwdriver to remove the four screws and then began the epic task of disconnecting speedo cable, injector advance [ie. cold-start] cable, heater switches and about half a pound of wiring spaghetti.

Speedo on the left - clock on the right
Speedo on the left - clock on the right
I took plenty of snaps as I went along to remind me which wires plugged in where!
I took plenty of snaps as I went along to remind me which wires plugged in where!

After about half an hour, I had the instrument panel completely disconnected and was able to lift it out of the van, so I could get a proper look at what was wrong wi’ the clock.

Instrument panel removed
Instrument panel removed
The gaping wound where the instrument panel used to be
The gaping wound where the instrument panel used to be

Once I’d got the instrument panel up to the house and [literally] shone a bit of light on things, it soon became obvious why the clock wasnae working; the connector plugs for the clock and speedo are soldered into a pretty flimsy plastic circuit ribbon and one of the solder points for the plug that goes into the back of the clock had come away from the ribbon. [sorry about the blurry photo!]

Clock connector solder has come loose
Clock connector solder has come loose

There was no chance of me trying to solder the connector back on again, as the ribbon was so thin that the soldering iron would melt right through it, so a more creative remedy was called for.

I noticed that, although the section of circuit ribbon that went to the clock looked quite complicated, there were actually only two tracks in the circuit that actually connected to anything; one live and one earth [t’aint exactly a complicated machine, the oul’ dashboard clock!]. The other two tracks in the ribbon didnae connect to anything and just finished in blank terminals.

so it was out wi’ the scalpel and i ‘amputated’ that section of the circuit from the main ribbon and then soldered two leads directly into the plug which goes into the back of the clock

Clock heart bypass surgery
Clock heart bypass surgery

I then reassembled the instrument panel, wired everything back in again and soldered my new clock leads into a suitable permanent supply wire behind the dashboard. After the obligatory ‘screw everything back together and find it’s not working’ first go -which was caused by me knocking the plug out of the back of the clock while wrestling the air conditioning vent into place behind the dash- the job was a good ‘un on the second attempt and Herman can once again tell the time!

At the third stroke, the time will be...
At the third stroke, the time will be...
Meta TAGS: electricalclock
ORIGINAL PUBLICATION DATE: 12 Jul 2009
AUTHOR: stíobhart matulevicz