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Electrical Discussion of preventative/corrective maintenance and other technical issues regarding your coach's electrical system.

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  #1  
Old 05-06-2009
BCRoamer BCRoamer is offline
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Default Cold Cathode Lighting

Has anyone done any experimenting with Cold Cathode (CCFL) lighting? I have had on-going issues with the taillight setup in my coach and have been thinking about ways to remedy it. At this time everythings working, but, the Volvo taillight assembly is not well isolated from the dirt, dust and moisture of going down the road.

From what I've read so far, CCFL is robust, has a very low power draw and a very long service life. I'm thinking about order something just to play around and wondering if anyone has any information, pro or con, on the subject before I go down a bad road.

Forgot to mention that CCFL's are dimable and are nearly instant on.
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Old 05-06-2009
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RGloverii RGloverii is offline
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Here's a HUGE annoying warning about those Volvo taillights.

I was all set to upgrade the bulbs in the tail lights to LED. Verified the size bulbs I needed, and ordered a full set. Wasn't exactly inexpensive.

Received the package in the mail about a week later. I was really looking forward to this minor upgrade. (it's fun coming up with upgrades for the coach!)

Put the first set of bulbs in, and... NOTHING. No lights at all. I assumed that maybe the contacts needed cleaning, so I proceeded to clean the contacts. Reinserted the bulbs, and... NOTHING!

Ok. Put the original bulbs back in, and of course they worked.

So, got out my Fluke meter, and guess what I found: Pretty much the entire set of lights is wired backwards! + and - are reversed!

Due to the way Volvo designed the assembly, I can't even fix it without completely rebuilding the assembly.

So, long story short, NOTHING but regular bulbs is going to work in the Volvo tail light unless you re wire it yourself. Maybe when I get some free time, I'll try rebuilding one, but it's not going to be easy.


-Robert
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Old 05-06-2009
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are you sure it wasnt the ledthat was wired wrong
When we order LEDS we have to specify the polarity
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Old 05-06-2009
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RGloverii RGloverii is offline
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Steven,

Yes, I see what you are thinking.

However, on any DC circuit, when speaking of a light 'bulb', the inner tip contact is the positive, and the outer metal shell is the ground.

Maybe I'm mistaken, but I do not recall EVER seeing a professional install where the reverse was true.

For an incandescent light bulb, polarity doesn't matter. But for LED, polarity is important.


-Robert
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Old 05-06-2009
BCRoamer BCRoamer is offline
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I'm really puzzled; I had our coach at the house to do some maintainance and I just went out and check the polarity on my taillights. They're negative ground i.e. the outside case of the bulb is (-) and the center tap is postive (+).

Robert; maybe you should check a little further as something just isn't right.
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Old 05-06-2009
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Lance,

That IS quite odd.

I only checked the passenger side tail light. I guarantee the passenger side is positive ground on my coach, and all wiring is BB original.

Now, I'm going to have to go outside in the dark to check the driver's side. This is really bothering me!
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Old 05-06-2009
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curtsprenger curtsprenger is offline
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FWIW...If your tail light system has the top/bottom dual Volvo light system like Greg & Tim's coach, believe their coach is a 94, check out the modification that was done to give the dual rear lights separate circuits, a separate circuit for the upper and lower lights...and very bright lights as well.

If needed I'll try to locate the site(s) info. and perhaps I still have some info. in my files. It has been several years since we did that upgrade.
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  #8  
Old 05-07-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by curtsprenger View Post
FWIW...If your tail light system has the top/bottom dual Volvo light system like Greg & Tim's coach, believe their coach is a 94, check out the modification that was done to give the dual rear lights separate circuits, a separate circuit for the upper and lower lights...and very bright lights as well.

If needed I'll try to locate the site(s) info. and perhaps I still have some info. in my files. It has been several years since we did that upgrade.
Please post the info when you find it. My Volvo tail lights aren't as bright as I'd like. The Volvo lights are designed with 3 components, the lens, the "circuit board" (with the "wires" as flat metal strips), and a backing piece that holds it all together. If the polarity is reversed, I'd suspect a crossed wire somewhere else in the circuit. (Polarity on the Volvo lights isn't a big deal as the engine compartment door is non-conductive fiberglas.)

I've noticed that previous owners must have had some problems with the lights. I found that the connectors tend to become corroded (and/or loose), requiring some cleaning. A P.O. had attempted a "final solution" and put a ton of silicon caulk on/around the connector. Of course, it was not a real solution, and I had to perform a lot of surgery with a box cutter to get all the caulk out of the way so I could clean the contacts.

A bit of dielectric grease does help keep the contacts clean, but it seems that they still corrode over time, making them a regular maintenance item.
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  #9  
Old 05-07-2009
BCRoamer BCRoamer is offline
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I've had similiar problems with my taillights and have tried a bunch of different solutions, none of which have really worked. They're OK for a while but then I'll loose a light or two and/or they'll be dimmer than normal. It's been a every two year maintenance item for me. The anti-corrosion sprays do help.

I've thought about replacing the whole assembly but that requires a lot of cutting/fitting etc and it would change the looks of the coach.

What I'm thinking now is tear the guts out of the present taillights and install something in its place that is brighter. lower draw and not less affected by the weather and the dirt, dust and water of normal useage.

It appears possible that CCFL tubes could fit into the current assemply. I'm checking it out and will post anything I find that may work. It's not a high priority project, so if someone get info before me please post it.
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  #10  
Old 05-07-2009
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Indeed, I'd thought of trying to change out the Volvo lights for something else -- but as you say, it would materially change the looks of the coach -- and the body work would be far beyond my very limited skills!

IF the current assembly can be salvaged, but with a new lighting system with LEDs or something else that's brighter and lower draw, that would be great.
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