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#541174 - February 20th 2012 12:01 am Fixing the High/Low/ dimmer switch with Macro pics
wrcsixeight Offline

Registered: April 30th 2010 8:57 pm
Posts: 1920
Loc: San Diego
A few days back I realized I had no high beams. After perusing my Factory service manual, I zeroed in on the Dimmer switch located on the steering column as the likely culprit.

Funny thing was I bought a new Ignition switch last week, and realized today that both are held to the steering column using the same bolts.

First I removed the Hi/low/ dimmer switch:
It was a little bit.....ummmm, crusty.

I hit it with a nylon bristle detail brush so I could actually see the thing.
Then I drilled out the rivets holding it to the backing plate:

I opened it up slowly so the springs inside would not go flying and be lost within the depths of my van, which might incur the all too common cursing fit.
The contacts inside were not too pretty.

So I busted out the Q tips and rubbing alcohol and cleaned off a lot of the grime. Then I busted out the 320 grit sandpaper and made all the contacts shiny. At this point I went to go put it back together. The spring makes this not an easy task, and frustrated, I took a break.

When I looked closer at the contacts, I noticed all the scratches, and figured that was no good for longevity.

So I got some 600 grit sandpaper and removed most of the scratches. Impressed with how shiny copper and brass can get, I busted out the dremel with a little felt polishing tip and took it to an obscene level of shiny.

I managed to get it back together, and found some machine screws in my random machine screw bin to replace the rivets to hold it together and to the baseplate.

Since both dimmer switch and ignition switch are held to the steering column by the same bolts, I installed them and adjusted them up and down the column until the ignition switch engaged and the high beam lever clicked correctly.

I Reconnected my batteries, Fired up the Van, turned on the lights, and flashed the High beams.

Blue light on the dash, and bright Hi beams were blasting my neighbor's house.

Then I danced a Jig, screamed "I AM A MASTER MECHANIC" at the top of my lungs and ran to my computer to share my success with you all.(exaggerated for effect, I do not think I am a master mechanic)

The new ignition switch really gives the key turn a nice feel.

Soon I will not be running the headlight current through this switch, but use this switch to activate 30 amp relays and insure charging voltages make it to my headlamps and increase the Lumen output significantly.

A new switch is anywhere from 43 to 67 dollars. That buys a lot of beer or gas, or safety break supplies.

Fixing it myself and forming a better understanding of the system....priceless.

#541319 - February 20th 2012 3:14 pm Re: Fixing the High/Low/ dimmer switch with Macro pics [Re: wrcsixeight]
Lee7673 Offline

Registered: July 26th 2009 3:08 pm
Posts: 4601
Loc: Maryland
Congrats! Thanks for the pictures and tutorials! Always feels great when you can fix it yourself!

#541320 - February 20th 2012 3:19 pm Re: Fixing the High/Low/ dimmer switch with Macro pics [Re: wrcsixeight]
Reed Offline
carpal tunnel

Registered: August 27th 2001 12:00 pm
Posts: 8374
Loc: Fircrest, WA
Awesome work! Shiny is always better.
Windows- they're what make a van worth owning!

#541330 - February 20th 2012 3:31 pm Re: Fixing the High/Low/ dimmer switch with Macro pics [Re: wrcsixeight]
wrcsixeight Offline

Registered: April 30th 2010 8:57 pm
Posts: 1920
Loc: San Diego
Thanks guys.

I wonder how much voltage drop was occurring across this switch when 16 amps were flowing through it.

The lights definitely 'seem' brighter than I remember. but it could all be a placebo effect.

I did a similar cleaning of my door lock relay when it was clicking but not locking the doors. Afterwards they locked and unlocked with a solid, satisfying thunk.

My local Napa wants 82$ + tax for a new dimmer switch.

Dimmer switch

#542377 - February 24th 2012 9:04 am Re: Fixing the High/Low/ dimmer switch with Macro pics [Re: wrcsixeight]
EagleDave Offline

Registered: January 24th 2012 3:43 pm
Posts: 451
Loc: Tuscaloosa, AL
I little contact grease will slow down the corrosion. Great Fix. Easy to spend dollars if you have them. Hard to repair parts they never wanted you to fix.
Eagle Dave

Eagles Nest (1977 Chevy Van)

Member Bama Vans

#544801 - March 03rd 2012 2:08 am Re: Fixing the High/Low/ dimmer switch with Macro pics [Re: wrcsixeight]
Altosax Offline

Registered: August 04th 2011 12:58 pm
Posts: 162
Loc: So Calif
Nice fix, good pics.

#544813 - March 03rd 2012 4:31 am Re: Fixing the High/Low/ dimmer switch with Macro pics [Re: wrcsixeight]
Uncle_Fester Online   content
Festerus Vannimus

Registered: May 26th 2007 10:41 pm
Posts: 8949
Loc: On Route 66 in Bethany Oklahom...
Very cool, GREAT WRItE UP TOO!
My vans,

1)The 1991 Dodge B250, J.Y.D.

Founder & President of Sooner or Later United Truckers and PROUD TO BE A S.L.U.T. ! !


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