You know, sometimes it’s just better to not “over-think” things. Yep, guilty as charged.
A short history. The bigvan had some issues on the last trip back from Roswell. The alternator gauge was acting weird (read, low charge) and the oil pressure gauge was showing really high pressure (which I knew it didn’t have, no blow-by from the filler tube). It was also cutting out and running really rough. Well, yesterday I decided to get to the root of the problem. I have a whole shit-ton of auxiliary stuff running on that van…….lights, fans, etc. So I disconnected all of that to see if the charge issue was in that mess. Um, no, but now the gas gauge isn’t working. Say what? I didn’t touch that wiring, so wth? And then the fight started. I was convinced this was a grounding issue. A bad ground strap will cause all sorts of bizarre symptoms, including freaky gauges and rough running. So I inspected the ground coming from the battery……all seemed well.
It also seemed (please note that word for a bit later) that when I messed with the wiring on the back of the alternator that it would cause the gas gauge to work again. Hmm, must be a loose connection on the back of the alternator. Of course, the only way to get to THAT is to pull the doghouse. Not a particularly hard task, but infuriating because of the tight working area. Got it off, and now I can’t reproduce the working gas gauge. Nothing made any difference. GAH!
And right about then, I had a total brain failure. I saw a grounding strap on the back of the engine, AH-HAH! That must be the other end of the battery ground. Damn, it’s tight and clean, so that’s not the issue. So I began tracing wires from the alternator, still determined that the problem must lie somewhere in the miles of multicolored aggravation under the hood. Still……nothing.
Then, DUH. You IDIOT. No, that rear ground strap is NOT the battery ground, you dumbass. That is the ground for the alternator. Ok, so just WHERE is the battery ground. After grumbling, straining and removing little bits of hide from my hands, I finally found it, behind the smog pump. As soon as I touched it, I KNEW. That sucker was so loose, I could wiggle it by hand. LOW AND BEHOLD the gas gauge started working, the alternator was now charging as it should, and my oil gauge was no longer threatening to blow up. Got it tight, everything is now good in bigvan land.
I *KNEW* it was a grounding issue, so you would think that it would have been easy to locate that ground strap. But, when I saw that one on the back of the engine, I assumed something that I should not have. I have no explanation, since I know damn good and well that both the battery and the alternator have ground straps, and that they are not the same.
I tried to over-think it. Time to go back to the KISS principle. Keep it simple, stupid. Some days I really need to leave shit alone.