Yesterday I had a few things turn up in the post.
In here we have:
 1/4" EPDM hose to replace the leaky brake fluid reservoir to master cylinder lines on the Jag.
 Afterburner Heater Control kit for the van.
 A Series 1 Ford Ka dash clock just because I've always liked the design and I stumbled across one on eBay for £0.99 and fancy sticking one in a nice little case to put on my desk.
Our first task was to do the brake feed line on the Jag as it seemed a pretty simple job.
This is the overcomplicated mess that was on the Jag when I started out.
Small stubs of hose coming off the reservoir (I don't imagine the orange hoses are original), which then feed onto steel lines, before jumping to fabric braided hoses (which do look original) which connect on to the stubs on the master cylinder itself.
Looking closer the hose ends being the source of the leak was evidenced by the fact there was brake fluid running down the cable ties which I'd used to help stem the leaks a few days ago.
My intention was to do away with the metal lines entirely here. Too many unnecessary joints. There are eight potential points of failure here rather than four. So this lot came out.
With that destined for the bin (figuratively speaking...those metal lines will be cleaned up and definitely stuffed into the "box of potentially useful things" for future use), this is what replaced it.
I've sleeved the one where it's just sitting on the air cleaner housing since the photo was taken, I don't think it's likely to be a problem, but best to be sure.
Why Jaguar didn't just do this originally rather than messing about with those metal lines I've no idea. So far "because Jaguar" is the best I've got! While it's obviously not, I think this looks a lot more "stock" than it did.
Interestingly given that this didn't involve actually interfering with the brake system (I had the pedal held down while the hoses were changed), suddenly the car brakes a lot more evenly! It's always had quite a pull to the left on braking since I picked it up...but now it does it far less! So yeah...a full system bleed through definitely needs to happen sooner rather than later.
That was a relatively simple job, only made slightly profanity inducing because of the master cylinder being buried under that brace.
Next in line was a bit more of an involved job, fitting the Afterburner controller to the heater in the van.
The Afterburner, in case you haven't heard of it is a replacement for the controller that the Chinese diesel heaters which are widely available ship with. While the heaters themselves aren't actually bad the controllers are...sub par. This came to the attention of an engineer over in Australia who decided that this was a ridiculous situation, and took it upon himself to "build a better mousetrap" as it were. He reverse-engineered the communication protocol used by the heater and the stock controller and basically built a better one. In doing so (the design has been refined over a few years) has allowed in addition to far better basic control of the heater, addition of a far richer feature set including wi-fi connectivity, timers, frost protection modes, several GPIO channels which you can access, a humidistat, and a proper high quality temperature monitoring head.
The details can be found on the creator's webpage over here.
Looking at the back of the PCB it's immediately obvious that an engineer is behind this thing...Immediately obvious and labelled programming/debugging headers and a plethora of status lights blinking away at you.
When you initially hook it up you need to attach it along with the original controller (there's a socket on the harness for that purpose) to download the unit specific fuel tuning data from the original controllers. This is clearly documented in the instructions that came with the unit and took all of about 30 seconds. After this is done and the power is turned off the original controller can be unplugged and removed. I gave the system a good test with the controller just lashed up to make sure everything was behaving, got it hooked up to our household wireless network etc.
In these days where more and more devices hide away as much data from the end user as possible the data this little screen is willing to show you with one button press is refreshing...and has that look of "yeah, an engineer has put this together."
Quite a bit of data here...so here's the run down.
Doing this left-to-right unless otherwise stated.
Top row: Wi-Fi signal strength (it also shows additional network status messages there when relevant). Current time. System voltage & battery charge state.
Middle: Current running mode.
Bottom row: Current room temperature. Target room temperature (also shown by the arrow on the thermometer graphic on the left). Fan speed. Fuel pump rate in Hz. Fuel used since last reset. Current burner case temperature.
In recognition of the fact that everyone doesn't want to see all of this all the time, the home screen can be set to show either the current room temperature or the current time as shown below.
In addition to the data which the main system display can show in person...having this hooked up to your Wi-Fi network means that there's the ability to get data out of it that way. There is actually a web server running on there which you can access from anywhere on your network.
This gives you the ability to turn the heater on/off, change modes, adjust the thermostat etc remotely...which is pretty cool. You can access all the stuff from the GPIO ports as well, so the ability exists to turn things on and off in the van remotely as well if hooked up to this controller.
The Afterburner itself broadcasts a wireless access point as well (if turned on), so if you're away from home you can still hook up to it with your phone etc to get into this interface - probably the most useful item there is the priming option as that's a bit buried in the menus on the actual unit, and is something that you might want to access while standing on your head wherever the heater itself is buried in your van. In mine it's quite a ways from the controller.
Having it working hanging out of the spot where I'd had the original controller was one thing...however I wanted to actually get it neatly integrated, ideally where the original heater control for the gas fired heater was. That looked like this by the way, which is why I chose the black and red enclosure for the new one as a nod to originality.
Getting this in was always going to be a bit of a pig of a job.
I need to get the cable from the hole down in the locker under the bed to the hole in the wall behind the driver's head.
This sadly wasn't as simple as dropping something in there and fishing it out. Firstly the plug I needed to get through was bigger than the holes, so they were always going to need to be enlarged a bit...secondly it had to come up from the bottom as the other end is tethered to the heater body.
What made this fifty times more difficult I discovered is that there is hollow fibre insulation material in the wall so even if you drop something in there it won't fall all the way down. I was able to with a bit of swearing and attaching a weight to the end of a bit of wire to get it about 3/4 of the way down but that was the best I could do. The only option I was left with realistically was to cut an access hole at the bottom that I could get my arm or at least my hand into to try to get hold of things to pull it past the insulation.
You can see here the red wire going in the top and out the bottom - I wedged a bit of pipe I found laying around in the locker on there as a weight to help it drop down inside the panel and to be something big and obvious enough for me to get hold of when hunting for it inside the wall cavity.
While cutting a big hole in the wall wasn't ideal I'm not too bothered about it. This is within the locker under the bed so making a perfectly functional cover will be easy, even if it's not maybe invisible. Additionally, I will be wanting to install a junction box here to allow connections to the additional input/output options from the controller in the future anyway - so that can also cover a significant portion of the hole.
I was then able to hook the heater loom onto this wire and drag it back up through the wall cavity (after enlarging the hole very slightly so it would fit).
Then it was a simple matter of attaching the new controller to the wall. Oh...and figuring out where to put the room thermostat. I had a brainwave at this point, remembering that when I upgraded the thermostats in the house to wireless programmable ones I kept hold of the housings that the sensor heads used to live in. Being made to house a temperature probe they would obviously be designed to handle airflow correctly etc...and being from 1981 when our house was built, would look at home in the van.
Temperature probe fitted nicely into the enclosure sideways. A small cable tie around one of the posts in there will make sure it can't work loose and rattle around.
With the cover refitted I think this looks absolutely like the enclosure could be original to the van.
The base could do with a splash of black paint at some point, but I'll worry about that at some point down the line. It looks smart enough I think. Especially from a distance I think that I've achieved the sort of "it could be stock" look I was aiming for.
One of the additional digital inputs I will be wiring to a switch in the cab as a simple override to turn the heater on, the other I will probably hook up to a float switch as a low fuel cut off. Not major features, but "nice to haves" I'll look to add down the road.
I've probably waffled on about the Afterburner more than enough here already, but if you've got and questions about it please feel free to ask. I think this will be a really nice addition to the van though and well worth the money.
Last little project for the evening was to track down the connector wiring for that Ford clock. Didn't take long to find, so I'll look at getting a case made up for that somewhere down the road. For now...here's an example of one of the worst examples of backlighting of instrumentation in a modern car.
Trying to read this while driving at night is like trying to do a crossword while riding a unicycle. I still like it though, and look forward to it living on my desk. The dim backlighting there will work well as it won't be annoying at night.