Truth.

"A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within."

Ariel Durant

Friday, November 20, 2015

Do it yourself auto repairs.



I take care of my equipment.  Doesn't really matter what it is. From firearms to hand tools, I try very hard to keep everything in good shape.

I am completely unconcerned about style or fashion.  Typically, I drive a vehicle about 16 years before it gets so worn out I can't keep it running.  Unless, of course, my wife wrecks the vehicle. She has accounted for three passenger cars in the last ten years.  When my son first went out on his own, he proved beyond doubt that if you drive your car and never check the oil, you will blow the engine.
But still, I do try.

The F250 is actually my favorite vehicle right now. We have a Jeep Cherokee and a Jeep Commander, but the F250 is essential for living here.  You can't haul wood, kerosene, hay, furniture, garbage, feed,  lumber, construction supplies , etc. without a truck.

As I mentioned earlier, the F250 is down right now.  The clutch safety switch, a big Achille's Heel in these vehicles, has crapped out again.  The switch itself doesn't cost much, but as far as I can tell the switch is mounted on a piston attached to the clutch stem. To pull it and replace it would be a tough job, since Ford designed the  truck to make it impossible to work on things under the dashboard unless you are a contortionist or a midget.

And why bother. I already had it replaced at the shop a few months ago, and now it doesn't work again.

So, I went to the internet.

I googled "replacing Ford diesel 1988 F250 clutch safety switch."

That took me to truck forums. I looked for a video but the closest I could find was a guy replacing the switch on a 1999 Ranger. Didn't match up.

So I went to the threads.  I found a really good one. The fellow was having the same problem I am, on the exact same year and model.  He started to tell how to by pass the switch, which is what I really want to do.

But before he could elaborate, some other guy came on and started preaching about how it was not good to bypass the switch. This drew a horde of others who pointed out that these switches didn't exist much before 1985 and people had managed OK without them. Then the critic reverted to  troll and basically the whole thing turned into an insult fest before the thread moderator closed it. I never did get the info on how to bypass the switch.

What I need is exact details, step by step, of how to do it. So I searched again.  I found another thread.

This time, there were several suggestions. One  guy said if you bought an ignition safety switch off an automatic version of the vehicle, and just replaced the original switch, you would be good. He said it is the same switch for both the manual and the automatic, except the automatic comes already "crossed" at the factory and it will bypass the switch on the manual. Sounds plausible, but I am having trouble deciding I want to replace the switch since pulling the old one looks like a real pain in the derriere. Even if I could find the safety switch off a 1988 diesel F250 Lariat somewhere.

Another guy said to just snip the wires on the safety switch , strip a bit off the wires, then braid them together, put a wire nut on them, and you would be good to go. The problem is, he said "there are three wires on the safety switch, two red/blue ones and a gray/green one.  Strip them all back, braid them together, and you will be good." I crawled onto the floor board, wire strippers in hand. On my truck, there are the two red/blue ones, but there's no gray/green one. Instead, there  are two lime green wires. I suspect one of them is the one I want and one is the cruise control, but I am only guessing.

I could have the truck hauled to the Ford dealer in the next county, but they won't bypass the switch like I want. They will want to replace the switch and I will be going  through this same BS in a month or so if previous experience is any guide. As I mentioned earlier, the only local garage won't work on the safety switch because they make more money putting air in rich peoples' BMW tires now.

The really frustrating thing is that according to all accounts, if you know what wires to do what to, it's a fifteen minute evolution and costs nothing. I have looked on line and a repair manual for the F250 diesel 1988 Lariat XL runs over 100 dollars for a used one that is all beat up and torn. You'd think there would be a pdf file of the book for free, but if there is, I can't tell it. And on reflection, I doubt the manual would tell you how to bypass a clutch safety switch anyhow.

I am pondering what to do.  Anyone who has any ideas, don't hesitate to let me know. I got some good suggestions on the last post but my problem is in trying to implement them.


29 comments:

  1. Wish I had some ideas but I don't know anything when it comes to working on cars. We have a tiny little junky garage down the back roads about two miles from our house that would totally do something like this. Too bad you can't use them!

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    1. Once upon a time, we had many little shops that would work on a job like this. Now there's the one garage with no use for jobs like this. I'm not that great at working on vehicles, just like I'm a bad plumber. But this is a waste land for service people unless you are "stiff with blunt" as our English cousin's say. Costs too much to hire out jobs so I have to do it myself.

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  2. I found this on an 87 f50 looks like he's using the red wires

    https://youtu.be/UkDQgYC0CzA

    and on this 91 ranger it's the pink ( looks red to me ) wires

    https://youtu.be/Hoo-zLmwRTA

    Of course your mileage may vary.

    With out seeing your setup I'd say try the red wires. Red is almost always universal for ( in autos ) being "HOT" or supplying 12v. It makes sense with it sending power to allow the truck to start when the clutch is depressed.

    Try not to cut it in a way that you you can't undo it is the best way I can't think to say.

    If it works, the first thing I'd do next is solder the wires together. Otherwise Morphy's law will kick in and that will be the point that fails if you use electrical tape and it will happen in town somewhere in a parking lot while raining.....

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    1. Matt, I surely appreciate the links. Let me go look at them. I think you are right about the two red wires. From the different things I read on line, the worst thing that could happen is the cruise control could go offline, not a big deal since it hasn't worked in years anyway.

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    2. Matt, the video made by the white haired old guy was exactly what I needed, I wish he had been more specific about the fuse he used. I think I will go into town tomorrow to the parts store, show the old guy at the counter at the video, and see what he thinks.

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    3. A couple of corrections, for anyone else that thinking about trying what I posted here.

      DO use the electrical tape once you solder the wires together. I prefer heat shrink over the soldered connection but if nothing else use the tape. I was referring to hand tying the wires together which is chancy at best and then using electrical tape. That is a connection that has a much higher chance of failure. Always solder once you confirm it works.

      Then do the same for the other 2 sets of wires.

      If it works but are still worried about the safety, you can always use simple on/off single pole switches to simulate the clutch switch. Of course you'll have to throw the switches manually.

      YouTube is our friend.

      Starting with the shifter/stick in neutral is always our friend. It won't lurch if you forget to press in the clutch.

      And always using the emergency brake is our friend especially if bypassing the safety switch.

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    4. that's the same the same repair/patch I did on my tractor except this gent was smarter than me and used a 20 or 30 amp automotive blade fuse instead of a fencing nail.

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    5. "I think I will go into town tomorrow to the parts store, show the old guy at the counter at the video, and see what he thinks."


      And that, my friends, is what the Internet was meant for!

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    6. Matt, I always start in neutral anyway so the switch doesn't do anything for me except become an obstacle. I got a good soldering iron, some wire, some solder and a good wire stripper at Home Depot this weekend. If the weather is good on Tuesday I plan to work on the truck then. If I can get it running it will be a big task off my to do list.

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    7. Moe, I found a box of those fuses in the tool box. I can't guess how old they are but they may be five years or so old, because I remember getting some of them to fix the tail lights on the truck. Hope they still work.

      The internet is really handy. I know you have to be careful about it sometimes but usually when somebody is doing a "how to" video they know what they are talking about so I feel safe with car repairs.

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  3. Harry - jam is really good with a lot of stuff but he hates anything to do with engines like our truck and atv. he is excellent at building, maintaining our well, chainsaw and generator, digging, hauling junk and a bunch of other stuff. but when it comes to the atv and truck...he figures out what is wrong and then decides whether to take it to the dealership or to our mechanic friend. he is not the least bit humbled to admit that the amount of time it would take him to fix the atv, for example, is hours of his that could be better spent doing stuff at the homestead. he spent 3 full days trying to fix something on the atv...he knew what the problem was and did all of the research but he wasn't exactly sure how to go about fixing it. we brought it to our friend and he fixed it in 4 hours!

    all of this to say - go talk to the old guy at the counter and get his advice. if he says to bring the truck to a mechanic - take the hit. you out there trying to fix your truck and spending hours and getting stressed - it's just not worth it!

    sending much love as always to you and yours! your friend,
    kymber

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    1. Kymber, my problem is that there are not any mechanics left within 50 miles who will bypass a "safety" switch. In my entire county, there is only one garage still functioning and they don't want to work on older vehicles anymore.

      This should be pretty straight forward. If it goes wrong, I will have to have the truck picked up and taken to a Ford dealership in another county. That will cost me a hundred dollars for towing, and the dealership will only put another switch in, which will go bad in six months and dump me in the same position. If I only knew a mechanic around here who would fix it I would go to him, because it's very hard for me to get down on the floorboard and work on this.

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    2. Hey Kymber,

      (captaincrunch)

      I am the opposite of your husband. Yeah' I can some fixing around the house and I can not paint unless its big, haze gray and made of steel. I have some kind of mental block about paint on wood. Paint on steel, easy (Im sure Harry remembers this. Chip it, Prime it and Paint it)

      Give me an engine to fix and I relax and feel right at home.

      I love opening the hood of a truck and tinkering. Its so relaxing.

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  4. The cruise wires are to disconnect the cruise when you push the clutch pedal. If the system does not work, then no worries. In fact it could be *why* it does not work.Look on line and try to find the wiring diagram for the system. (I think Ford had them in a separate book) It is easier than you think.

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    1. I've tried to find the schematic but my problem is I don't know all the nomenclature. Even with the safety switch, it turns out there are a number of different common names for the same switch and that makes it confusing for me. I did see one fellow talking about the cruise control (which hasn't worked on my truck for years) but all he said was that you had to be careful to get the right wires to bypass the safety switch, if you got the cruise control wires "something bad might happen" but what that was he did not say a word about.

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  5. An eight dollar multi-meter from you local hardware store set on 12 volts DC is handy for deciphering which is the hot wire. Make sure you when you cut in to the wire you leave enough length at both ends so that if you make a mistake and have to put it back together you still can. Get yourself a wire crimping tool and some correctly sized wire crimps so you can make a neat job of it and have a connection you can trust and it won't leave you stranded in West-Overshoe when you least expect it. As for repair manuals most older car manuals are available on line for download by now. Alternatively a Chiltons or Hanes repair manual though still steeply priced at 30 $ is better than dropping C note on a big dealer book.

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    1. I went this weekend while we were out and bought a crimping tool, some #4 guage electric wire, some winged wire crimps, and now I think I am ready to go. I figure on trying to fix this Tuesday. I'll see if I can find one of those two titles you mentioned, as it would be very helpful to have a manual for my vehicle. I don' even have the one originally issued when the truck was new.

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    2. Try these:
      http://www.ebay.com/itm/200941359583
      http://www.ebay.com/itm//161793719993
      Neither are as good as a dealer manual but they will help clarify things a bit. The only confusing part is that multiple years/models are bunched together so it takes a bit of deciphering. But if you want to keep that old truck alive these are just about indispensable.

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    3. Thanks for the links. I'll go take a look at them. I know I am going to have be doing most of my own truck repairs now, at least those that don't require a lot of equipment like a lift and all.

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  6. i know this is stupid since all i know about electricity is how to flip the light switch...but,
    don't you need to disconnect the cables from the battery before you touch a hot wire?

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    1. Deb, I am not the duty expert on this but I am working on the premise that if the ignition switch is off no power will be flowing through this circuit.

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  7. I just watched the first video Matt linked and that sounds like a very easy repair. A bent paper clip might be good just to test if the switch is indeed the problem. Look at the diagram on the inside of the cover of your fuse box and see which fuse is for the starter circuit. That should give you an idea of a suitable rating for the fuse. A 20 amp fuse is more than likely enough. Keep a spare handy in your ash tray in case the one you put in place of the switch blows.

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    1. That's the plan. I hope all this ends triumphantly and not in a welter of bad language, as so often happens when I do plumbing. Maybe I'll get away with it since this automotive and I've had better luck with that.

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  8. Harry, if I lived closer to you I would come over and help you out. I can usually figure out stuff like that. I got fed up with the few Fords that I have owned in the past. So now i'm a GM man I guess. I find they are much easier to work on and don't break down as much. Back when I had an F-150, I was constantly cursing the design engineers. It's worse now. They don't want you working on your own vehicles. The dealers need your business in a bad way. --Troy

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    1. My F250 was certainly not built with owner maintenace in mind. It's almost impossible to get to the switches and fuses under the dashboard.

      One of the negative aspects of living a solitary existence is that you have to figure everything out on your own, there's no one to come over and help with this or that. The advent of the internet has made it easier because a person can consult with others, but in the end it's all on you yourself. I would attack this with more confidence if I had a crony to work on the truck with, even if he didn't know much more about it than I do.

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  9. Hey Harry,

    (captaincrunch)

    Look for an e-mail on that truck 'Harry.


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  10. After working for over 30 years on navy equipment, especially some of the old GFE (Govt. Furnish Equipment). I would always save a special curse for the SOB who designed it and the SOB who installed in the worst place to work on it. I always felt that those two folks should have to take it apart in the dark with a flashlight or battle lantern for light and the reassemble it. And by the way the ship would have to be underway and with rough seas.

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    1. Seems like any time I have to work on something, it's in a place that's almost impossible to get to. The plumbing in my house is like that. Three stories makes for some interesting valve locations. I've had to put in access panels after the fact to get to them.

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