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The Joy of EX

jcasey007

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Air-fuel ratio control for both Gas and Petrol is the same execept that it is preferable to run the gas slightly richer. The Lambda measurment is a logrithmic voltage output which is easy to read as an input.

I've had a data logger connected to my car capturing the different inputs (i.e. TPS , Lambda, MAF etc) and can see a big whole in the standard Regmatic map for the explorer.

The electronics are quite simple, the software is the fun part:D especially the acceleration and deceleration curves (which i'm planning to be externally adjustable (i.e. to alter the torque curve)
 


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JonC

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'99 UK spec - LPG soon!
Jim,

I've read the text off this thread - good job it's not on paper! I'm amazed (and max respect) by the depth to which you've got into your truck. Ford dealers all over the UK won't have the amassed understanding you've developed!

What I must ask if how far this thing with the gas system developed? Did you continue or not? I've got a particular interest because I've got a Lovato single mixer system on my new truck and it's a git!

It's disappointing really because the previous one didn't have any of the classic Explorer faults and this one is more like a sampler - it's got everything! I've taken both vehicles to a local guy who's done gas pretty much all his life and he cured all the little ills on the white one AND gave me an extra 2mpg (and you know how valuable that is!).

He looked over the black one and condemned in on the spot. I was pretty crushed for a while because right now the last thing I've got time, room and cash for is a heap of problems.

Then I got to reading your work and thought maybe all is not lost! It all sounds so very familiar. By the way, have you investigated the Explorer's other electronic systems to the same extent?

I'd love to know how it turned out - if you continued the development - and maybe I can learn something useful!

Cheers,

Jon
 




jcasey007

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Hi Jon

yes I built a prototype hardware and software version which I ran for a few days. I issues I found with it were around electrical Isolation (Ford must have spent millions on protecting the electrical supply of the electronics) as the supply is very dirty in a car (worked very well when connected to a seperate 12 Volt battery) but to be honest I've not had time to develop it further.

In fact the recent work on the Manifold has cured the backfire issue and since doing it in June I have not had a single issue. (this week alone I've driven from Warwick to Glasgow, down to Poole and back to Warwick covering over 1000 miles)

So what is wrong with the Black one? why did he condem it? Mine is still a single port system with the standard controller. If the mechanical bits are working and set up correctly, the electronics system config is easy to set-up

What can you tell me about the current installation

cheers

Jim
 




JonC

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Jim,

Fascinating stuff! I would imagine the dirty supply isn’t unique to the Explorers – it’s probably a lot of alternator noise, the coil packs and the injectors. In fact thinking about it for the first time, a (relatively) modern, fuel-injected vehicle must be an EMC nightmare! They must have gone through hell to integrate CANBus without interference!

I knew neither vehicle had seen any kind of gas system maintenance. It seems most “Normal” people don’t – they just run it till something breaks. I was wondering only yesterday what it must be like to just get in, turn the key and press the pedals and not give a f… what’s going on with the vehicle. I can’t actually imagine driving without constantly monitoring what it’s doing around me – I always have!

Anyway, gas service – because it behaves very badly. Some of the problems I’m quite sure are what I’d call “standard” Explorer stuff. It starts roughly when cold, idles badly, tries to stall (and succeeds!) but some is gas-specific;

The gauge module doesn’t indicate fuel level.

It doesn’t automatically switch back to petrol if the gas runs out.

It DOES switch to gas far too early – 30 seconds running if it’s not freezing!

It’s also (usually) very noticeable when it switches across – like a hard gearchange – but I’ve been told that this is because on the early systems, the gas “isn’t already there” though I can’t remember where “there” is!

The other irritation is if I fill the gas tank, it then won’t run on gas for an hour (weak solenoid?).

So I took it in – because they’d so totally transformed the previous one – then the phone call just said forget it, not worth it, nothing serviceable, fit a new system. It was pretty crushing till I started reading your work and from the similarities, my respect started to wither!

It’s got lots of other electrical “issues” – the rear wiper doesn’t work and I haven’t investigated that yet. The mirrors don’t work but one’s mechanically broken at the pivot anyway so that’s a separate job. Thinking of converting them to heated too. The driver’s door didn’t always unlock but the WD40 I used trying to get the door switch to operate seems to have freed the lock system instead. I’ve still got no interior light (on that door) or lights-on warning and I think it’s the door switch stopping both.

One that does eat me a bit is the gearbox. The o/d light flashes sometimes but there are no specific circumstances or criteria required (apparently) to make this happen. Sometimes from the turn of the key, sometimes later (sometimes much later) or sometimes it’ll go off again. The system IS getting information from something thought because when the light is on I lose o/d, the upshifts snatch and there’s no TCC lock. I need to read the codes and see what it thinks is happening but I think it’s crap connections somewhere. This is bolstered by the random variation in the fuel gauge – wanders up and down by half a segment (1/8 tank) for no clear reasons.

There’s a front brake issue too – I think it needs discs but then I started reading all the ABS sadness people here have had. Sometimes it’s a bit like making yourself ill by reading medical books!

I haven’t studied the gas setup in detail because I don’t know enough to identify the components. I know it’s got the emulator and another (adjacent) box of electronics under the bonnet. I haven’t got close to the mixer yet. I found a solenoid/filter “expertly” installed in the front RH wheelarch, covered in s… and looking pretty sad. I thought I’d drop the bowl off and see what came out but it was pretty tight and when I did, one of the wires fell off! I took the connections off, cleaned it up, remade the crimps but one of the solenoid blades is ready to let go so it was a bit precarious reconnecting and it’s clearly got to have a new one for reliability.

The tank connections are all on top so I’ll have to drop the tank to see anything. The filler is equally “expertly” installed on the towbar, has no cap and so is similarly covered in crap. It also leaks when filling if you don’t do it just right. The tank doesn’t seem very big either – got nearly 52 litres in when absolutely empty!

I’m annoyed with myself because when I read “LPG conversion” I never thought to look any deeper. I’d heard of Lovato and that was it. Never entered my head that it might be an older/inferior system and consequently, I never looked.

Anyway, thanks for listening to what’s turned into War & Peace. I seriously and sincerely value the experience I’ve read from you guys (you, Jan, Howard, Kevin etc). I doubt Ford would even get close!

Cheers,

Jon
 




jcasey007

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You need to make a to do list and pin it on the wall:) at least you can see you are making progress.

So on some of your list-

Gas to petrol switchover, what you see is normal,

:thumbsup:When it is below 3 deg I lock it in petrol only mode until she is warm,
:thumbdwn:There is no switch back function when you run out of gas on these systems
:thumbsup:on switchover you need to keep the revs up (above 2000) or she will stall, I blip the throttle in neutral before I move off to switch it over.
:thumbdwn:The hard switchover issue - it should not switchover when you accellerate, but should switchover when you lift off (providing you have a TPS input to the unit). Also the gas isn't there yet is true, there are two gas solenoids, one before the regulator (energised when power is applied to the control board, the second is the one that releases the gas to the stepper motor valve or the manifold. after the second solenoid the gas is at very low pressure so takes a couple of seconds to get through the pipes.

On the gas tank fill, it sounds like you are overfilling it, you say the capacity is 55 litres, if so your tank size should be about 80 Litres. - I have a 100 Litre tank and will only ever get 80 litres in it. (something to do with a space for vapour?)

The fact that you have rough running and stalling from cold would tend to indicate a manifold leak, until you sort this out the gas system will not run properly as a low vacum will affect the gas regulator (which is a vacum demand system). I spend a lot of time getting the manifold seals right on mine.

lastly the Gearbox, I had exactly the same issue on mine, worst when I was on a motorway going on a long uphill stretch or when towing. Leave it shut down for 20 mins and all good again - Turned out it was the fluid getting too hot, A filter change and a change to synthetic sorted it, never to return.

I know it is no help, but when I got my EX 18 months ago (from ebay!) it was awfull to drive, the gas system would just stop working, it felt like it had square wheels, electrical gremlins (including mirrors), in fact most of what you have and then some.

You just have to deal with each issue in turn - But I still drive mine listening for problems:D

Keep the faith!

Jim
 




janolsson

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Hey Jon
On the tranny issue it seems jim thinks on the same lines as me. What does the fluid look like? Has the filter ever been done?
You can get a filter from USA automotive (ebay) for about £20 and 5 litres of comma multivehicle Mercon V for about £30. Got to be worth a try if you are up to dropping the pan. Also whilst you are in there you can check for loose VB bolts (they are very torque specific). If there are any this would say to me there is a high chance of separator plate blowout.
As for the rough running, especially with gas fitted, the lower gaskets are prob fubar. I have a set of new, unused ford upper and lower gaskets and retrictor pencil going spare!! make me an offer. Alternatively it could be time to do the 00m12 kit (contains new tensioner for the front, intake gaskets and restrictror pencil & grub screw) available from ford for about £55.

Sorry can't help you with the LPG as i enjoy regular visits to the petrol station to give them all my hard earned dough. lol
 




JonC

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Gents,

Thanks for the wisdom - it's most welcome and apart from the direct help aspect, psychologically priceless too! You're never alone with a Ford Explorer (not here anyway!).

I don't regret buying it as such - it's beautiful when it's clean - it's just that if I'd been a bit sharper, I'd have been harder and paid less for it. After I crashed the white one, I spent a while looking and started searching by specific criteria. Like Jim (only less so) my motors need to survive some mileage so a Micra or Astra was never going to cut it but basing my searches on LPG Automatics it soon became clear that the only thing that was going to fit the job was another Ex. It's the only thing that comes without a load of "what ifs".

So we've got it - and thus the joy and the pain. Now then, the gas stuff - Jim, are your comments specific to the single-mixer systems? I ask because the white one has a Bigas multi-point and did everything this doesn't. Started on petrol, ran nicely, switched to gas at the first excursion above 2000 revs once warm, screamed at me when getting low and flipped back to petrol by itself if I ignored it. It had a 90 litre tank. It took about 65 when gasping and all I ever did was fill it till the pump stopped and then drove away. No interventions, no problem!

Guys, I have loads of suspicions about the trans. It's the apparently random nature of the presentation that gets me. My Mitsubishi faulted in a similar way but did it religiously and reliably. Drive for 45 minutes and the box faults. Let it get cold and we're peachy again. It was electronics in that case.

I've seen the (excellent) youtube videos by the American guys and it could be the valve plate gaskets but if it was, I think it would always fault under identical conditions and it doesn't. I think the same applies to any temperature-related theories but then you can never be sure exactly what the box is seening in that respect.

If I can get the white one back, I'll take everything off it and swap things across. Then I'll also know a whole lot more! Just need to deal with the thieving insurance company first!

Thanks for your counsel!

JC
 




janolsson

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Jon
I was thinkin more along the lines of a clogged filter in the first instance. This might give random fluid pressure problems. If you can get the codes read that would be more definative.
Of course your thoughts on electrical could be waranted. Have you gone thro all the connectors with contact cleaner? Might be 1/2 hour well spent.
 




jcasey007

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yes my gas system is a single point system, not as fancy as the multi-point system but can be just as reliable.

Re the gearbox, as I do alot of towing, I fitted a trans temp guage, so I know exactly when the box will go into limp home when the temp hits 80 degC

This can happen when towing a heavy load with the overdrive on or when speeding uphill (the last time was on the M62 Leeds to Manchester).

Changing the filter and fluid makes a lot of difference

Jim
 




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