This morning, after the latest spell of torrential rain [AKA “Manchester sunshine”] I found my indicators and hazard lights had stopped working. Initially I assumed it was the troublesome old 191 relay, which has given me gyp in the past. I swapped that for a spare, but no dice. The problem was obviously a bit deeper than that.
Annoying enough at the best of times but, with the epic timing for which gadgetry the world over is famed, Herman’s electrics had decided to go into spazzy mode the morning of the day we were due to drive up to Scotland for the ferry over to Ireland for my annual visit home. So, when I should have been relaxing in prep for my long drive that evening, I ended up having to spend most of the morning hunting down electrical gremlins.
In their infinite wisdom, VW designed the LT with a front windscreen that likes to develop a leak, after a few years. And whilst it’s certainly an interesting talking point to have an indoor water feature in the front of the van, it does tend to play havoc with the electrics –VW also decided to place the fusebox right underneath where the front windscreen tends to leak!
So, I decided it was time to bite the bullet, rip the whole fusebox out and see if the water had been getting to it.
After making a careful note of what connected to where, I started unplugging the mound of spaghetti that goes into the back of the fusebox. Straight away I found signs of trouble, as the plug which goes into the section of the fusebox where the 191 relay sits was rusty inside and had some water in it.
Eventually the fusebox was all disconnected and I lifted it out. Straight away it was obvious why it had been suffering so much in damp weather. The casing was split along the top corner and what I could see through the crack looked worryingly rust coloured.
I stuck a flat blade in the crack and worked my way round the fusebox, until I had loosened the back enough to remove it. This is what I found inside. At first it didn’t look too horrific, but then I noticed the rust showing through the holes in the grey plastic overlay in the top lefthand corner
I lifted that grey plastic overlay out and got my first look at the nasty rust coating the tracks in the corner of the fusebox
As I tipped the box slightly, to get a better look, I got another nasty surprise as I ended up with a lapful of assorted small pins. For, in yet another of those “What the fuck were they thinking of?” design decisions, the engineers at Volkswagen have built the fusebox on the same principles as games like Jenga or Ker-Plunk, which involve balancing things while trying to move other things without touching the first things again, or they’ll go all over the shop”
Anyway, whilst I had [albeit unintentionally] all the connector tracks and pins out, I gave them all a good cleaning up with a wire brush.
Then began the fun task of putting it all back together again. Since the connectors and pins were all different shapes, this added another dimension to the aforementioned Ker-Jenga-Plunk reassemblage. Now, as well as all the balancing I also had a nice jigsaw puzzle to complete, as I tried to work out how all the tracks fitted back together again.
Eventually I managed to get all the pins and connectors back in their original positions. At least I hoped they were their original positions –otherwise I might be building a clown van here, where turning on the light in the back starts the windscreen-wipers.
Thankfully, the passage of time has dulled my memory of how many goes it took me until I managed to get all the pins balanced and get the grey overlay back on top, without knocking them over again but, eventually I had my fusebox back in some kind of semblance of order.
Time to re-close the fusebox. Before putting the back on again, I gave it a good lathering of silicone sealant all round the edges then put the back on and used a motley collection of ‘grabby’, ‘squeezy’ tools to hold it all together while the silicone dried.
Whilst that was drying, I got out my heat gun and left it blasting into the passenger footwell to [hopefully] drive out any remaining moisture in that part of the van.
Once the fusebox was dry enough to be handled, I stuck it back in and reconnected all the connectors, fuses and relays. Then came the moment of truth. Had I got everything back in the right order and, had it cured my recalcitrant electrics?