We have just been for a short stay at Donkey Creek Farm in Freckleton, near Warton…. just up the road from Lytham…. that’s near Blackpool. OK you get the idea. We can’t recommend this site highly enough, in fact in a break of usualness I’m going to write a little review.
OK back to the main event. We pitched, set up shop and sat down to the usual post pitch brew…. “Ah I thought… I’ll just pop to the loo before sitting down”…. Pushed the blue button on the Thetford toilet and….. nothing, nada, not the slightest hint of a flush pump running. OK we had this once before and it was the fuse that had corroded, probably since it was located in one of the dumbest places possible…. but I won’t go into that. Nope not the fuse, terminal looked clean (probably because I’d given them a coat of protective terminal gel. Phooey it had to be the circuit board.
Using my trusty Swiss Army knife I peeled back the big Thetford sticker on top of the loo… and retrieved the circuit board. It wasn’t looking too clever.
The circuit board was connected to the loo’s wiring via an edge connector… OK for some applications. However on removing the edge connector the copper circuit board tracks had simply corroded away tot he point there was not much copper left on the circuit board.
The other issue was the edge connector was an IDC type (Insulation Displacement Contact) which basically means the wire is squeezed into a knife like ‘V’ in the terminal cutting into the insulation to make the contact.
The upshot of this was the circuit board had corroded, the contact surfaces where the connector contacted the circuit board pads had corroded and the cables had corrosion on their conductors. (in fact I had to cut the cables back by about 60mm to get to good un-corroded conductors)
Going Full MacGyver….
I did have a spare circuit board…. back in the Bat Cave at home….. wouldn’t do much good though as the edge connector was toast. With a Swiss Army penknife…. and my trusty tool bag… Time to do a “MacGyver” and get this thing flushing. I just happened to have a strip of 6 amp terminal block… well doesn’t everyone have a spare strip of terminal block? I cut the connector free from the wiring loom one lead at a time and transferred this across to the terminal block. Once all 6 were moved across it was a simple matter of finding Positive and Negative, jumping the Negative to the Negative side of the flush pump and providing a short fly lead that when simply touched onto the correct terminal on the terminal strip would run the pump.
The rest of the stay went well…. got some cycling in to Lytham for morning coffee’s… watched a few planes and watched the wildlife.
Back In The Bat Cave…
Back home it was time to fashion a contrivance that would not suffer the same fate…. heading into the Bat Cave I had an idea…
The terminal strip offered a way to still make the circuit board removable and replaceable but without the drawbacks of the edge connector.
I did try to source an edge connector but as per usual it was something that was a bit of a bugger to locate… unless I wanted 50 of the things shipped direct from China.
Here is what I cam up with. I’d directly solder short leads onto the circuit board and protect them with a coating of track varnish… something used to coat bare circuit board tracks on prototype boards to stop them from corroding. The short leads would be crimped with a boot lace ferrule after dipping the stripped ends of the cable in a protective anti-oxidising grease.
The finished article prior to coating the soldered terminals with a protective circuit board varnish, and finally assembled back into the circuit board holder…
Installation was fairly quick and easy, the wires from he loom that I’d previously terminated on the terminal strip while away in the caravan were removed in turn, cut back to make sure there wasn’t any corrosion in the conductors, dipped in anti-oxidising grease before having a boot lace ferrule crimped on and being fastened into the new terminal strip.
The whole lot fitted neatly into the space below the circuit board and hopefully my little fix will keep the loo flushing successfully for the foreseeable future.
Another Little Job…
A while ago I swopped out the two LED spotlights above the bed (reading lights) for two that were a little less bright and that had USB sockets in their base. This left me with two ‘spare’ LED spotlights that matched those in the lounge area.
We have always thought that the location of these existing spots are great for reading, but not if you are having a meal. The lights provide a saintly halo behind your head but you plate of nom nom’s in front of you in shadow.
So I installed one of the lights right slap bang in the middle of the front overhead lockers points down at the table. So now when we are having a TV dinner with the lights low I can still see what I’m stabbing my fork into. It’s also handy of you want to do one of those artistic foodie shots…. here’s what we are having tonight.
That’s it for the moment…. unless you want to see a picture of a vary lazy cat who didn’t want to get up. Everything is better with a cat… especially if it is Henry.
Graham C said:
One of the greater joys of Caravanning is all of the DIY jobs that it brings your way.