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Reconditioning Direction Indicator Switch
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Reconditioning Direction Indicator Switch

Brian Grossi

Time:

3 hours3 hrs

Tab:

$25

Talent:

**

Tools:

27mm socket, screwdriver (flathead and Philips), 9?x11? 600 grit sandpaper, masking tape, air duster can, paper towels, safety glasses

Applicable Models:

Porsche 911 (1965-69)

Parts Required:

CorrosionX (6oz can),

Hot Tip:

Be patient.

Performance Gain:

Functioning turn signal switch

Complementary Modification:

Replace switch housing

I have owned my 1968 911T targa (European) for more than 38 years, and have tried to keep everything not only functioning, but also looking "factory original". I recently noticed that my turn signal high beam flasher was NOT working, much to my chagrin. After checking wiring and fuses, I concluded that the turn signal switch was malfunctioning.

My first step was to see if I could locate a replacement switch: just in case I could not clean or repair my existing switch. Needless to say, the switch is NLA from Porsche! I was very fortunate to track down a used switch from Carquip: but these are extremely rare, and as it turns out, there are subtle variations at each vintage year for the early 911s!

Porsche used a variety of turn signal switch configurations in the early series 911s. From the Early 911 PET Catalog (published in 1969), the following switches are detailed:

 Year Model Porsche Part number
 1965 - 1967 911 /S 912 901.613.301.03
 1968 USA 911 /L 912 901.613.301.03
 1968 ROW 911 /S/T 912 901.613.301.02
 1969 911 901.613.301.04

In 1968, in addition to new Emission Control requirements, the DOT required interior knobs to be soft and protected: so the turn signal switch of the 1968 USA imports and the 1969 cars had modified signal handles with removable rubber end tips.

The "Combo Switch" is a multi-function switch providing left- and right- turn signal as well as low-beam, high-beam and headlight flasher functions. The left- and right- turn signal contacts are sliders covered beneath the top plate of the switch; and the return-mechanism pins are visible above this top plate. These pins are pushed by the cancelling ring of the steering wheel to complete the turn signal when the wheel turns back through neutral. The headlamp low-beam, high-beam, and flasher contact points are visible in the interior of the switch from above or below, and are activated by pushing the lever forward (high beam); neutral (low beam); or pulling the lever back (flasher).

The headlamp switch portion is made up of four layers: the top layer (yellow wire) connects to the Low Beam; the second layer (white and gray wire) connects to the switched power from the dashboard Light Switch; the third layer (white wire) connects to the High Beam; and the bottom layer (red wire) connects to the always-on power from the dashboard Starter Switch.

The first step is to remove the steering wheel and switch housing shells from the steering column. This is nicely explained in the first portion of the Pelican Parts Tech Article "Replacement of Steering Wheel Switches". If you disconnect the battery to avoid accidental blasting of the horn when removing the horn button, you will need to reconnect the battery for later testing of the switch.

When the lever is in the neutral position, the center contact is toggled upward against the top contact (yellow wire).
Figure 5

When the lever is in the neutral position, the center contact is toggled upward against the top contact (yellow wire).

When the lever is pushed forward, the center contact is toggled downward against the lower contact (white wire).
Figure 6

When the lever is pushed forward, the center contact is toggled downward against the lower contact (white wire).

When the lever is pulled backward to flash: several things happen at once:Â the toggle block itself moves slightly downward pushed by the lever, separating the center contact away from the upper contact (no low beam); at the same time, the bottom third layer contact (white wire) is pushed down upon the fourth layer plate (red wire).
Figure 7

When the lever is pulled backward to "flash": several things happen at once: the toggle block itself moves slightly downward pushed by the lever, separating the center contact away from the upper contact (no low beam); at the same time, the bottom third layer contact (white wire) is pushed down upon the fourth layer plate (red wire).

Sending power temporarily to the high beam.
Figure 8

Sending power temporarily to the high beam. Releasing the lever returns the switch to neutral.

Burnish the switch contact points.
Figure 10

Burnish the switch contact points. Place the bath towel on the driver's floor beneath the steering wheel. Cut the 600-grit sandpaper into about 8 strips 0.25" to 0.375" wide x 9". Lying on your back on the driver's floor, look up through the exposed turn signal switch interior, and site the 3 sets of contact points. Illuminating the switch from above using a flashlight or lamp may help. Carefully feed one of the sandpaper strips up through the interior across the open pair of contact beads (center pair, high beam): like threading a needle! Then reach above the switch so that one hand is holding one end of the sandpaper, and the other hand is holding the other end. Coordinate your hand motions to move the sandpaper strip lengthwise back and forth pulling pressure to the grit-side against the bead. You should notice a streak of copper/brass forming on the paper strip: which means you have cut through the tarnish. Take another strip and thread through the same contact pair: this time with the grit against the other contact bead: and repeat the process.

When you have finished with the open contact pair, push the turn signal switch lever forward to open the upper pair of contact beads, low beam. Repeat the steps above to burnish both contact beads.

The fourth-layer flasher contacts are trickier: there is a contact bead on the top associated with the white wire layer; the bottom side is a plate pad without a contact bead. Start by threading a fresh sandpaper strip through the open contact such that the grit is against the top contact bead. Use the back-and-forth coordinated motion to carefully burnish the contact point until you can detect a streak of copper/brass. Using a fresh strip of sandpaper, thread the strip through with the grit-side down against the lower plate pad. With one hand, reach up and gently pull the signal lever backward to initiate a "flash": this will start to put pressure from the upper contact bead against the plate pad; with just enough pressure to create some "friction", use the other hand to drag the sandpaper strip partially through the switch. Repeat this process by applying slight "flasher" pressure, but pull the sandpaper strip through the other direction. Continue this process until you can detect some metal discoloration on the sandpaper strip.

When you believe that you have burnished all the contacts beads satisfactorily, you can TEST your work by re-connecting the battery, turning on the dashboard Light Switch, and testing the Low Beam, High Beam, and Flasher function. All should be functioning at this point in the process.

The final step in the process involves flushing the switch components with CorrosionX.  NOTE THAT THIS WILL MAKE A BIG MESS (similar to spraying with a can of silly string)!!! Specifically, it will launch a blue-green spray that initially foams (to chemically remove tarnish and grime), and then after the foam dissipates, a lubricant will remain on all the surfaces. To capture and contain the mess, I hung an 8-gallon plastic wastebasket bag directly under the steering column switches by using masking tape to hold the corners of the bag opening to each end of the switch levers (turn signal switch lever on left side, wiper switch lever on right side). Then I loosely crumpled up several sheets of paper towels to inflate the bag in order to create and hold a large open mouth directly beneath the steering column switches. Make sure the bag is open much wider than the switches are located on the steering column.

There still should be a large towel on the driver's side floor from the burnishing exercise. Now it is time to lay a smaller towel across the driver's side dashboard, draping down over the instrument cluster onto to the steering column.

I suggest temporarily disconnecting the battery cable once again prior to spraying the CorrosionX.
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Page last updated: Tue 4/25/2017 03:12:40 AM