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Some Sort of Electrical Burning - Done I Think...

 
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85-325e



Joined: 30 Jun 2002
Posts: 4711
Location: Southampton, NY

PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 12:19 pm    Post subject: Some Sort of Electrical Burning - Done I Think... Reply with quote

Well, two weeks ago, I was driving to an appointment. As I left, I smelled something that seemed odd, but I couldn't put my finger on it. I drove about 4-5 miles, and I started seeing smoke coming from the passenger side of the console.

I had been having problems with the blower fan for a while... sometimes it would screech, sometimes it was slow to start up in the slow speeds.

Anyway, I pulled over to the side of the road. The smoke only happened when the car was running, and I'm not sure if the blower fan was on or not... things were happening sort of fast. I removed the pins that held the glove box straps, dropped the glove box. Removed the cover over the ECU, and started the car again... after a second or two, the smoke started coming again, but from behind the cover panel on the right side of the console to the left of where the glove box is when closed. So I shut the car off, and removed that panel as well. Started the car up again, and no smoke... but the smell was still lingering, and it was the smell of burning or melting wire insulation. Anyway, I left everything open, went to the appointment and drove back again, with no more smoke.

When I got home, I took a flashlight and inspected everything in there I could see... I couldn't find any burned wires. Started the car, and there was still no smoke. However, I noticed that the fan now only worked on the 4th setting, which meant the resistor was shot.

I'm waiting for some parts now from Pelican that I won't get until Saturday or Monday, parts of which are the fan resistor and new blower brushes. I don't have any facility in which to do this work anymore, so I'm going to try to do everything at once, one sunny day, and hopefully the condo gestapo won't stop me.

At the same time, the other day the brake light on the check panel went on and wouldn't go off. I know the sensors should be OK cause I don't have that much "braking" on them yet. I checked the brake fluid and it looked ok and at the right level. Then I checked the wires to the top of the reservoir to see if they were tight, but one of them just pulled out... obviously corroded. I pushed the wire back in as tightly as I could, and the light went off, so it's got to be that. For a while I was worried that whatever burned in there also affected the brake electrical stuff. Anyway, I also ordered a new cap for the reservoir, and that should solve that problem, obviously now not related to the burning wires.

When I get the parts, I'll get that panel open (never been opened in 28+ years), and take the motor out. I'll lube it a little and see if there are any wires behind it that are burned. All of those wires and the resistor are almost exactly behind where the smoke was coming from, so I'm hopeful that the resistor went, and the wires fried as it was failing, and that I can indeed fix them. I hope so anyway.

Does my hypothesis sound correct? There hasn't been a puff of smoke nor a smell since that first day that it happened. And everything seems to be working in the car except the blower on the first 3 speeds, and my idle is up higher than it was normally before, but not by much.

Another weird thing happened too, but I'm not sure how to correct that... the front 325e air dam doesn't have the correct shape anymore... it's sort of hanging down in the middle, like it's drooped. That may have to do with the disgustingly hot weather this summer, as the car hasn't seen oppression like that since 1995, but it's still weird. The dam is still very flexible, so I'm not sure how I'm going to tackle that issue, but I do want to fix it before the cold weather comes so its in good shape for the winter and not hitting stuff like snow in the road.

While I'm in there and have the blower out, I'll take that opportunity to lube the wiper linkages... the wiper isn't very strong anymore in the "mist" setting, but works ok on all of the rest. Maybe I should try to lube that motor's bearings too.

Anyway, I'll post again once I've gotten the parts and have taken a look-see. Cosmo really hates it back here in the East...
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Cosmo - 1985 BMW 325e, Single Owner, 235,000+ ORIGINAL miles and still going strong!



Last edited by 85-325e on Tue Oct 01, 2013 10:15 pm; edited 1 time in total
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tncean



Joined: 26 Feb 2005
Posts: 1652
Location: Chattanooga, Tn.

PostPosted: Thu Sep 26, 2013 4:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Might want to make alignment marks on the blower motor before you pull it, helps it go back together.
A vacuum cleaner might be handy to have, as well, not mandatory.

Are you using lithium grease for lube?

Good luck.. t
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85-325e



Joined: 30 Jun 2002
Posts: 4711
Location: Southampton, NY

PostPosted: Thu Sep 26, 2013 1:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lithium grease for lubing what TN?

I'm sure I'll use some white litho grease during the operation. For the blower motor, the instructions speak about "appropriate motor lubricant," which isn't very descriptive:

http://www.pelicanparts.com/catalog/images/misc/SQ_Carbon_Manual.pdf

I wonder how dirty it is back behind that panel after 28 years???

This is a project I can take a day or two to do because the car can just sit there and I'm not doing much "visible" mechanical work to the car. Yes, I'll have to remove the panel and the motor, but once out, I can do all the lubing, brushes and cleaning inside, and maybe put it all back together the next day (or the same day if I feel inclined). At least it's not a job with jacks etc... they don't allow that here.
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tncean



Joined: 26 Feb 2005
Posts: 1652
Location: Chattanooga, Tn.

PostPosted: Fri Sep 27, 2013 9:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You had mentioned the wiper levers, and I think lith grease might be usable.

Again, I will suggest making alignment marks on the motor, perhaps along the strap/clamp that is facing forward. The strap/clamp kind of unbuckles, upwardly, at least it did on my 90i. If the motor isn't in just right, it will be hard to close.

A hand held vacuum will come in handy, as well as a semi-stiff brush.

I would guess the smell/smoke came from the resistor that you are going to change out. Looks like it has "toaster springs" in it.

Good luck... t
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85-325e



Joined: 30 Jun 2002
Posts: 4711
Location: Southampton, NY

PostPosted: Fri Sep 27, 2013 6:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi t...

Well, I got the parts today... The first part installed was the brake fluid reservoir cover... man were those contacts corroded. I think it would have stay OK if I were still in the dry climate of Vail, but here in the high humidity, they probably degraded fast.

The next was the resistor and the new brush kit. Other than getting one screw out, everything else was very easy to take apart, and with a little small pry, the panel came off easily... that really surprised me. Also, there was almost NO dirt whatsoever around the cage and in that area.

The motor seems stiff, but I lubricated it with some oil after the brushes were in and it seemed to loosen a bit. Now I can spin it pretty easily. I won't be able to put it in until tomorrow as it's dark out there now, and I'll oil it a few more times before I crash tonight.

Which brings me to the problems again... I didn't see a single burned wire, and just from the looks of it, this resistor seems OK... none of the springs are burned or separated, and there's none of that odor I smelled when the smoke was around. Also, this resistor is a Behr, and it's blue, and the springs are denser... there are 3 of them, but they're much denser coils than the originals.

I'm wondering now if the wires connected from the fan speed selector on the climate panel going to the fan are fried. SOMETHING was burning. I just have to find it, and I really don't want to reassemble everything until I find this issue. Right now, the battery's disconnected, just so I wouldn't short something out when I was tinkering with stuff. I suppose I have to put the fan back in and connect everything to see if those wires are working ok. I can't of course see the wires behind the resistor connector, which I guess would be where the problem would be, and I can't see any way to easily get behind there to check those wires...

I'll do some research tonight on the web, and see if I find any info. This sucks lol!

Yes, if I can reach them, I'll use white lithium grease on the linkages. I didn't see those either, but it was late and light was dwindling a bit.
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Cosmo - 1985 BMW 325e, Single Owner, 235,000+ ORIGINAL miles and still going strong!

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85-325e



Joined: 30 Jun 2002
Posts: 4711
Location: Southampton, NY

PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2013 11:26 am    Post subject: Done... Reply with quote

Well, I'm finished...

The motor and cage went back in fairly fast. I connected everything, then before putting the dust shield and the panel back, I tested the motor and it worked fine on all speeds. There's a slight whine that I don't remember hearing before, but I know that nothing is blocked and the cage is moving perfectly. Maybe the new brushes are causing the whine.

I did lube up the wiper linkages while I was in there... turns out that when they painted the car back in 2005, they just sprayed in there too. It didn't occur to me until I realized that the wiper motor cover shouldn't be the body color, but black. There was a squeaky linkage right underneath the motor (the central linkage), and after a little lube, that quieted down and it seems like everything's working.

For anyone that plans on using a blower motor repair kit to fix their motor, just know that the new brushes are nowhere near the same type of metal or quality of the original brushes, which seem like much harder and a different kind of metal that what I think is carbon in the new ones. I still had a lot of life left to the brushes... I probably could have used them for another 4-5 years, but once they were out, I replaced them.

Still no clue about the smoke, and that still bothers me a lot. It's obviously not the wires to the blower or it wouldn't work like it does, and everything else seems to be operating.

I hate it when something happens like this and you can't really track it down. Nothing smelled like burning wire insulation, but I buckled it all up today and washed the car and the wheels... Back on the road again for a while!
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85-325e



Joined: 30 Jun 2002
Posts: 4711
Location: Southampton, NY

PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2013 2:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I think I found it...

I don't use the radio much... I prefer to hear everything going on around me, but sometimes turn it on to marvel at how nice the premium package sounds (I added that in 2006).

Well, I turned it on and there was a HORRIBLE sound... It was like a terribly loud, bad and slow busy signal. The tapes would play, and the radio would play, but you couldn't hear anything because the noise, coming and going on a regular basis, completely obliterated the music.

So at some ungodly time of the night, I went to the storage room, and got the tool to remove the radio. Came back, got a flashlight, and basically, in the dark, removed the radio. IT had that awful burned wire insulation smell... not very strong, but it's been a few weeks with the panels open and air going in and out of there since it happened. Still, the smell was there.

Luckily, I had a used replacement pyramid radio stashed away in the storage room, so I went back, got it, did a little soldering in the house for the power connector, and hooked it up... Noise gone. Found another issue but it's something I think I can fix fairly fast today (am printing out the electrical diagrams as I write this), but here's my question:

How can a radio, that's not "on at the time," burn up?

I know it must always be getting power so it keeps it's memory. But, the smoking only happened when the car was running. Of course, here in this horrible humidity, something could have corroded and shorted (everything corrodes here).

Anyway, the radio's been changed and I think that's what was smoking. I haven't seen a single burned wire and I've been looking hard...

Any ideas, comments, suggestions???
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dale



Joined: 22 Aug 1999
Posts: 3087
Location: Seattle, WA USA

PostPosted: Wed Oct 02, 2013 1:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Enis,
Glad to hear you found the source of the smell/smoke!

3 wires have +12V going to the radio
- memory power - always on
- main power to radio - hot when ignition switch is on
- dash gauges power - on whenever dash lights are on

Driving down the road, you had at least 2 of these hot, doesn't matter if the radio was on or not.
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85-325e



Joined: 30 Jun 2002
Posts: 4711
Location: Southampton, NY

PostPosted: Wed Oct 02, 2013 3:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Dale...

Well, I still can't solve the fader problem, but it might just be the radio itself. I pulled out all of the wires this morning, and traced everything (checking for burned wires as well), and everything seems to be just fine. So, I put everything back together, and drove it around. Everything seems to be working OK.

I also pulled the covers of the old radio, and smell that same smell lightly in there, but see no evidence of burning.

Are there places out there that actually repair these old radios?
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