Tuesday, October 17, 2017

MGB - fuel tank R, R & R

Today's post covers the Removal, Refresh and Re-install of the fuel tank. The tank was removed for safety concerns while welding in new floor pans. I discovered, though, that there was a tiny leak at the rear and I had concerns about the viability of the fuel level float/sensor.

Standard Safety Precautions
Like any job, block your wheels, put it up on jack stands if you can't work on it while it's on it's wheels. Since you're working with fuel, at the very least make sure your garage doors are open with a fan blowing on your work area or better yet do this job outside. Obviously, don't smoke or have your friends/kids/wife playing with a welder or blow torch while you're doing this. I'm not your mom, so if you choose to slide under your car without eye or face protection, that's entirely up to you. Personally, I like being able to see things like sunsets and my wife's face, so I wear at least safety glasses, if not a full face shield anytime I'm working on a car. Honestly, the number of times I brain myself on my car has me thinking about wearing a hardhat too.

Free Your Lines
Fuel tanks are all very similar: there's a big hose to get fuel in from the pump, a small hose to supply the engine with fuel and there are vents (at least one) on the top that have lines that lead up to the engine (after routing through charcoal or something) for inclusion into the air that the engine uses at combustion time. On fuel-injected vehicles, there is an additional line for a return from the engine. When the engine doesn't require all of the fuel that the system has pressurized, like when you're decelerating, the excess flows down that fuel line back into the tank. So, once you know what you're looking for, you need to remove them from your tank before you remove the tank itself. First, remove the vent lines. these may not be the easiest to get to, but they will definitely NOT have fuel in them, so you shouldn't need a pan. Make note of where the rubber hose came from when you set it aside. You'll want to cut a replacement that's the right diameter and length at install-time.

Now, grab a pan. This is gonna get messy. Hopefully, you knew this day was coming and you already ran the tank to as close to empty as you could before you got to this point. If you have a full tank, this will take a while. Lying under your fuel tank, consider the rubber hose leading out of it. The VW bus was "gravity fed", meaning that the outlet is at the lowest point of the tank. Gravity sent the fuel to the outlet. This is one of the biggest fire hazards in the bus. If the fuel line ruptures, the tank will empty through that outlet right on top of the passenger-side heater box and axle. In the MG, like most cars, the fuel is not gravity fed, rather the fuel is pulled from the tank by a pump. This means that in order to drain the tank you'll need to create suction. I guess you could wire the pump to run the fuel into a pan... Regardless, there is fuel in that supply line, so slide the pan under the connection where the rubber meets the metal line that runs to the front of the car. Remove the rubber line at that connection and allow the fuel to drain out of both the metal line and the rubber line into your pan. There shouldn't be much fuel in either.

trunk underside - before
Now the fun part. We are going to siphon out the fuel with a MityVac. Set your MityVac up so that there is the liquid catch-bottle between the hand-pump (vacuum creator) and the rubber line. Create vacuum until fuel is dripping into the catch bottle and then pinch the rubber line with a pair of pliers. Remove the rubber line from the MityVac catch-bottle, and point it at your catch pan. Hold the end of the rubber line below the lowest point of the tank (and into the pan) and remove the pliers. Fuel should pour from the line into your pan until either your pan overflows or the fuel level in your tank meets the top edge of the outlet inside the tank. Wrap the end of the hose with plastic wrap so it doesn't drip all over you during the drop step. If you have a drain for your tank, slide your pan under the drain and remove the drain plug. These tend to send fuel all over the place when the tank has a lot of fuel in it, so it's best to siphon as much as you can before you open the drain. Ask me how I know :)

Last, remove the filler hose. In the MGB, this was the easiest part. The filler hose runs from the rear next to the passenger tail light through the trunk and into the top of the fuel tank. It is secured with a simple, albeit big, hose clamp.

Before you can drop the tank, disconnect the wires from the fuel level sender. Depending on the car, the fuel level could have both a signal wire and a ground -OR- it may only have a signal wire. This means that the sender gets it's voltage difference basis from a ground through the tank itself. If this is you, consider a means of improving that ground, especially if your fuel level gauge is a little flighty, like mine.

Tank Out
This is the fun, satisfying part. I put my ATV jack under my tank to support it while I removed the nuts and bolts. Since there will inevitably be some fuel left in the tank after siphoning, you don't want that weight bearing on the fasteners, and then have the tank suddenly drop when the last one comes free. Some tanks are held on with a pair of straps. My old Camaro was like that, and many older American cars are too. These come off with a couple of bolts. The MGB tank is held on with nuts/bolts around the outside lip where the top and bottom sections of the tank come together. In total, there were 9 fasteners: four along the one side, 3 along the other, 2 across the rear. I guess the engineers couldn't make up their minds and be consistent. The ones in the rear can be a little tricky to get to. Once out, the rear edge of the tank can get hung up above the bumper so tilt the front down first and slide forward.

Drain, Clean and Dry
Once on the ground, remove the fuel level sensor. On the MG, it is held on with a spin-on ring that lets go after a couple of taps with a hammer. Set the sensor aside for testing, and then drain the remainder of the fuel through either the fill hole or the fuel level sensor hole. Depending on how old the gas was, you may need to recycle what is now in your catch-pan. Mine was relatively fresh so I used it in my lawnmower.

At this point, I refer to my friends at Mac's Radiator. They cleaned, lined and painted the tank for the bus a few years ago, and I want the same treatment for the MGB. For about $300, your original tank is better than new, you don't have to pay oversized shipping, you know it will fit and best of all... its a genuine shipped-with-the-car original part. In the MGB case, you can no longer buy a true original. The aftermarket tanks generally don't have splash baffles (prevents the fuel from sloshing around when you corner), and some don't have vents. They aren't lined (so they may start rusting from the inside) and they are of inferior, thinner steel. Still, I did find one for $170 plus shipping that "are made with corrosion resistant Ni Terne steel to fight of rust and ethanol fuel". This is from a less-than-best distributor here in Oregon (poor return policy), British Parts Northwest, and again, it isn't lined. Part link here. Of course, good work isn't fast, so it will be a couple of weeks of waiting before I have it back, ready to install.

While your tank is at the radiator shop, test the fuel level sender. Rather than re-hash, here is a fantastic article for testing and calibrating the fuel sender and gauge. My float would not give a consistent reading below about 100ohm (or from a half tank to full tank), so it will be replaced.

The parts list is actually longer than I had anticipated. Looking at the picture above, the newer shaped tank is on the right. It bolts up directly under the trunk, so rather than having steel on steel, there are foam "straps" that fit between. There should also be a seal around the edge of the filler neck. Add the fuel-level sender. I also added in a new sender seal and locking ring. Of course, I'll be using all new 5/16" fasteners and rubber lines from the tank to vent and engine fuel-supply. Once assembled, everything related to the fuel tank and supply to the engine will be refreshed.

Placement Prep
trunk underside - after
So, the tank is out and off to the radiator shop. We're waiting for parts. Ugh. I hate the waiting part. To make the most of the delay, I grabbed my face shield, my angle grinder and a wire-wheel attachment and set to clean up the underside of the trunk. Before I got down to it, I shot the surface with Simple Green and a scrub brush. That's all it took. I hosed it off, and it didn't need any additional prep. I could have ground off the undercoating, but there was no need. So, I just shot it with some paint to help it last longer. Even though no one will ever see it, it sure looked pretty when it was done. I did a bunch of clean-up on the trunk floor and the rear bulkhead at this point as well. I'll post on that later, if I remember to.

Tank Prep
When the tank is returned from the radiator shop, it should have a protective coat of paint, but if your shop is anything like Mac's, they highly recommend a thicker, more protective coating. So, sand an edge into their paint, then prime, sand, wipe and paint with a suitable topcoat. Since this is not going to be seen, this doesn't need to be the expensive body paint, but something chip-resistant makes sense, since it will be exposed to the road. Once cured, install the level sender with the new seal, making sure the fuel pick-up tube is pointing toward to bottom of the tank.

If you got the new fastener pack, it includes little clip-on bits that act as an a-fixed nut on the tank for the loose bolts that are placed from the trunk. Be mindful to put the new ones where the old ones were removed. Not all of the mounting holes should have these clips. Some of the connections are with welded-in studs hanging down from the underside of the trunk so if you don't get the clips in the right holes, you won't be able to install. This is one of those "a picture is worth a thousand words" moments. See the blue tape in the picture for reference.

Since the steel tank sits up against a steel trunk floor, the MGB was originally outfitted with foam strips to set between. As you can see by the parts picture above, these foam strips run front to back. They are purchased as a roll and need to be cut-to-fit., It is very possible that you could save a few bucks and get basic home insulation strips at a big box store. The parts vendors assure me that the real deal are gasoline resistant, so the extra few dollars are worth it. Your choice. I bought the real parts since I was getting a bunch of other stuff anyway.

Last, set the foam collar around the fuel filler inlet. This needs to be in-place before the tank is installed.

Tank In
With new fasteners in hand, set the tank back on the ATV jack, roll it under the trunk and raise it close to where it will reside. Remember that the rear-end of the tank tends to hang-up, so tilt the tank so the rear end installs first. There are two studs on either side that are permanently attached to the trunk floor. Use these to center your tank, and lightly finger the nuts on (after the washers, of course). Now, you can drop the 5 loose bolts through the other holes in the trunk, making sure to include the large washers (first one nylon then one steel) between the bolt-head and the trunk floor. These will line-up with the clip-on bit/nut things. In my case, the clip-on nuts on the rear of the tank slipped on install so I had to poke at them with a long screwdriver to get them to line up with the holes. Take care as you tighten things back down, making sure that the foam strips do prevent steel-to-steel contact.

the contrast between new and old
Using new rubber hose, re-connect the tank outlet with the steel fuel-feed line. Then re-connect the return line (if you have one), the vent lines and the big fuel hose. Last, reconnect the fuel level sender wire(s). Make sure you didn't leave anything disconnected, like the drain or one of the fuel-carrying lines. If you haven't looked at the hoses under the hood, now is the perfect time to do it. I found that the hoses near the tank were relatively new (PO replaced the fuel pump), but the lines under the hood were stiff and ready for replacement. After a final once over, put in some fuel, test fire the fuel pump a few times to prime the fuel line and you should be good to go.

That's it for today. I only got after the fuel system because I had to do some welding, but I'm glad I did. Rust hides. If you don't get into the little crevices, you won't see what's growing until it's too late. The top of the tank looked horrible, but once the rust was arrested, the remaining steel was thick enough to last another 40 years. As always, thanks for following along-

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

MGB - master cylinders (Part 3)

Today, we finish up the master cylinders in the MGB. In Part 1, we removed the old ones, complete with the pedal box and pedals. In Part 2, I covered disassembly, parts and re-assembly. Today, we'll get everything back together again. When we left off, the pedal box was put back together with the brake booster on one end and the clutch master cylinder (MC) on the other. The box is hovering over the hole in the engine bay where the pedals dangle into the driver footwell.

Box Seal
wrestling in the pedal box
Once the pedals were over the hole, I loosened the clutch pedal pivot bolt and pulled it partway out, testing for enough play to fit the pedals through the hole as I did. Once the pedals made it through, I pushed the bolt back into place and tightened it down. With some twisting, (and moving the heater hose out of the way), the box dropped into place.

Getting the box in-place is the hard part. Of course, I got my box as far as I described above and then realized that I hadn't gotten my bottom seal in. To get it in, I sent it from below, stretching it around the pedals and then fiddling with it to get it in the right spot to seal. Frankly, I think I was sent the wrong seal (it is square, the hole is not), but it will work well enough.

Bolting the Banjo
brake calipers - before
While you still have freedom of movement, pull the shipping plug from the clutch MC and attach the banjo bolt. If your new clutch MC was like mine, it did not come with a new banjo bolt, fitting or copper washers. You'll need to re-use your old ones. The banjo bolt and fitting clean up with steel wool. Be sure to get all the little steelie bits out/off before you install. I used brake cleaner after polishing. Also, the copper washers need to be annealed for them to make a good seal. To do that, you need to get them red hot: hold with needle-nose pliers and torch with a propane torch. Once cool, and the brake cleaner wiped and dried, assemble the banjo bolt, fitting and copper washers into the rear of the master cylinder. Tighten down with a 1/2". Unlike the banjo bolt nightmare I had with the steering rack on the Jetta, this was cake.

Wrap the end of the clutch hard-line with plumbers tape and thread it into the fitting. Tighten with a brake flare wrench. I was able to use my 12mm from my VW tools.

Box Final Install
Now, you can attach the pedal box to the car. I started by lining up the holes I could see from above, and loosely threading the bolts in, then moving inside the car (on my back) to get the three from the driver foot-well. Last, I did the 2 that thread in from behind the dashboard. Times like these serve as a great reminder to loosely thread in ALL of the bolts before you tighten any. I, of course, continue to need to learn that, so I had to loosen many bolts in order to get those last two in. Then, tighten them all down.

Last, loop the return springs around their respective holes in the pedal shaft and connect the other end to the underside of the dashboard. I've found that the pedals rebound well without these, but I'm sure the engineers wouldn't have put them in if they weren't necessary... so... I put them back.

Finish Clutch Master Cylinder
clutch MC is hard to reach
Box in? check. Pedals tight? check. Clutch MC plumbed? check. Next, we finish off the clutch master cylinder with DOT4 brake fluid. This sounds simple enough: put fluid in the metal can. Because of it's location up against the firewall, nearest the left-side bonnet hinge, getting a jug or even a really tiny bottle, of brake fluid in a place to pour it is virtually impossible. I imagine the bigger shops, or a place where you have a couple extra pairs of hands and some safe part storage, the bonnet is pulled waaay earlier, so it's not as big of a hassle. No matter. We're inventive. I dug through my old bio-diesel stuff and found a 10ml plastic syringe. With is, I was able to draw fluid from the bottle and add to the metal can without getting a single drop anywhere else.

If you use the syringe on a new master cylinder, expect to add at least 40ml. I filled until I could see the top of the fluid near the lip. Then, I put the cap back on, pumped the clutch pedal like mad and repeated. At one point, I figured out that I could move the master cylinder with a spanner through the top of the pedal box, so I didn't need to move around to get the MC primed. After about 5 syringes, the MC started to give good resistance. I moved to the cabin and worked the pedal with my foot, noting that the car moved in and out of gear with the pedal movement. I topped off the fluid, and called it good. A driveway test drive should shake any little bubbles free.

Prepare Brakes
VHT paint drying
Some like painted calipers. Some don't. Since yucky stuff gets onto surfaces, and looks worse when the yuck is on top of something light colored (like battleship gray unpainted steel calipers), I prefer black. Since I had the calipers off to do the front end rebuild (see parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 if you haven't already), they were ready for paint with very little extra work. For anyone else, you need to remove the calipers, disconnect the brake lines, etc. To me, that's just too much work unless you were in there to do a brake job anyway. I pulled the flexible brake line and pads, taped off the bleeder, plugged the brake line hole and scrubbed them with steel wool. The PO had shot them with some red paint that didn't adhere too well, so that needed to have an edge for the new paint to grip. Feeling the difference on the painted versus unpainted was interesting: the unpainted had a grain that gunk was attaching to where the painted side didn't. As a result, the paint, while not too good, still kept junk from caking on there. Food for thought. Anyway, after they were scrubbed, I blew them out with compressed air and them sprayed them down with brake cleaner to get any little bits of steel wool dust off. After they dried, I wiped them down with some mineral spirits, suspended them with bailing wire and shot them with VHT (very high temperature) flat black paint. They fully cure at 200*, but the off-gassing that happens when you bake-cure makes an oven unusable for anything else again. So, I decided I would let them cure through use. I'll just have to remember that they will smell a little bit the first time I drive on them, so I don't freak out.

Sew it Up
Once dry, pull the tape and brake line plug, re-assemble the pads and retainer bits. Thread the flexible brake hose back in, and install the calipers back onto their respective swivels. If you can't remember which is which, consider that the brake bleeder bolt should point up (so the air bubbles can work their way out). Thread the flexible hose into the hard lines and check your wheel movement isn't compromised by the brake lines. I've never had this be an issue, but my experience is limited compared to others, so maybe this is a thing. I figure it's always better to be careful and have all of your surprises be pleasant ones.

a little scrubbing goes a long way
There are a few little mop-up things to do. The pedal box cover needs to be put back on. This takes 1/2" #6 sheet metal screws. I recommend replacing the seal that sits beneath, if yours is original. Or missing. Bleed the brakes with the MityVac. Verify the hand brake works. And last, give it a test drive. I haven't gotten to that last part yet, since I still need to get the fuel tank in. Oh, and I need to do something with the cooling system. I'll get to those here shortly, and post soon after that. I know I'm running against time, if I want to get a drive in before the weather changes to solid rain as it does here in the fall. We usually have until right around Columbus Day, but the clouds we've seen lately lead me to believe that the weather will shift early this year. We'll see.

As always, thanks for following along.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Flappin Door

When we take our trips in Hapy, we always note something that needs to get fixed. Sometimes, we write those things down and eventually we get around to fixing them. Today, I touch on two little things that I fixed after we got back from Chinook Fest. I knew the rains were coming, and I wanted the cover on the bus before they arrived. That left me a couple of sunny hours, so I got after these two items.

Fuel Flap
Every time I fill up, I am reminded that when I prepped the bus for paint a few years ago, I pulled the little rubber bits out. Those little bits prevent the fuel filler flap from banging against the side of the bus when you close it. They also prevent the inevitable rattle from steel-on-steel, aggravated by a shaky diesel engine at idle. I can't really hear it over all the other things that rattle, but I was at Ace Hardware anyway, getting a random assortment of fasteners for the MGB and some other home stuff. The Ace in the Pearl District has one of the better spreads of random little things. Maybe they felt the competition from Winks back when they were on the west side.

Regardless, I found a couple of these little ribber bits intended for a US domestic car. For the $2 price, it was worth the risk. This is all the more true when I was unable to locate the "real" part on my usual websites. With a small slotted screw-driver, I pinched the rubber and slid it into the little hole. It took all of 5 minutes. I find it really funny how many of the little issues can be solved that quickly.

Driver Door Latch
When I bought this bus all those years ago, the door seals were shot. I bought replacements, and thought I was getting the "good" ones, based on what I had learned from the bus owners Yahoo email list. Either I bought the wrong ones or installed them incorrectly or both. Either way, the doors needed more effort to close than they should have. Fast forward to when I did the repaint, and I replaced the seals with the actually "good" ones, that are a little smaller than the not-as-good ones. The door seals much better, but years of banging the door shut had done it's damage.

The door became less and less responsive. First, if I locked the door with the key and then fiddled with the opening latch on the outside, it simply wouldn't open with the outside latch for a while. This lasted for a couple of years, but on our last trip, the door wouldn't open from the outside at all. From the inside, it would open, but it wouldn't stay latched consistently. Sometimes it would latch with a very calm closing and other times I had to slam it. Once, it popped open on me while driving. So, when we got home, I was driven to replace the latch. So, I contacted my friend Ken at TheBusCo, of course. He said he could sell me one, but I would probably get just as far simply cleaning and fixing mine, He was right. Thanks Ken! The procedure I followed is below.

Door Mechanism Remove
Open the door, raise the window all the way up.
Remove the door pull, window crank and finger guard around the inner door latch with a Phillips screwdriver.
Pull off the inner door skin and peel back the vapor barrier exposing the rear.
With a 10mm socket, remove the bolt holding the bottom of the rear window channel. You can get to it through the rectangular vent hole.
Remove the inner latch with the 10mm socket, and detach the metal door activator bar thing that runs back to the mechanism.
With a long flathead screwdriver, pull the activator bar out of the door mechanism.
Grab an Allen wrench and remove the outer door handle. My Allen's aren't size-marked, but it is a common wrench you'll find in your standard small set.
Rotate the door latch so that the "C" points down.
With a thick Phillips screwdriver, remove the 2 bolts that points rearward and the one that points inward which hold the latch mechanism to the door.
The latch mechanism should now be free to remove. Push the latch into the door and wiggle it downward. I had to press the window channel towards the outside to get the latch free.

Wait, What?
Once free, I noticed how filthy the latch was. I shot it with brake cleaner, worked the mechanism a few times and repeated until the latch worked without hesitation. Once it dried, I shot the pivot points with a WD-40 product to keep them lubricated. Everything worked great, but one bit of metal was bouncing around. Then, I noticed that the return spring for the outer latch was broken. This could be why the door wouldn't latch: the mechanism wouldn't close all the way. The right way to fix this would be to find the right spring and fit it into the mechanism like the original. Since it took me about 10 minutes to get the mechanism out, and I didn't have the spring, nor the time to go hunting through a hardware store to find one, I pulled a cursed PO move and went rogue. I grabbed a rubber band instead. Yeah, that's right. A rubber band. My thinking is that the rubber band could last a few years or it could last until next summer. Either way, I'll look for the spring, like I looked for the rubber bits for the fuel flap, and I'll do it right when I find it.

The reinstall is faster than the removal. Return the door latch so that the "C" points down and slide it up and into place. Thread the Phillips-head bolts in and attach the activation bar to the mechanism. Tighten the bolts enough for you to test the activation bar. Test that the latch springs open when the bar is pulled towards the front. Good? Awesome. Continuing, tighten those Phillips-head bolts, then re-attach the outer door handle. Hook the inner latch handle to the activation bar. Then, grab the 10mm socket, attach the inner handle and re-attach the window channel. The hard part is done. I tested the mechanism by rotating the latch, and working the different handles. Once I was satisfied, I lightly closed the door and it latched. Hazah! With a light tug on the outer handle, the door opened. Perfect!
Re-situate the vapor barrier and then fit the inner door skin. Re-attach the window crank, the finger guard and door pull with your Phillips screwdriver, and you're done!

That's it for today. I'll post back when the rubber band breaks, or when I replace it with a spring. Whichever comes first. Thanks, as always, for following along.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Chinook Fest 2017 - Road Report

I inverted the road and festival reports this time around, in terms of their writing and posting. The festival was so great, the organizers and festers so nice, I didn't want to color the reader's opinion based on our travel adventures. And it was an adventure... at least getting there was.

The Set-up
Here in the States, we celebrate "Labor Day" as the last long weekend of a typical Summer. It is often the last-gasp for those looking to maximize their sunny season. Boo and I celebrated with a weekend on the Oregon Coast. While this post isn't about that, it is important in the greater context. We didn't get home from the beach until after dark on Monday, and we decided to leave for Chinook Fest the following Thursday night. This prevented any last-minute test flights of the bus, and restricted time for general packing. Actually, we packed Monday night as clothes we took to the beach went through laundry cycles.

Our other prep-work was similarly haphazard. Most of our camping gear had been stored in the bus, so packing the rest seemed easy. In truth, it was, except for forgetting the french press. In the end, that didn't matter anyway since we also forgot coffee. Boo pre-cooked a bunch of chicken, getting up in the middle of the night Wednesday to complete it.

Almost Not a Departure
This summer has been historic in terms of wild fires across the western US. While news people have been highly focused on the hurricanes in the southeastern US, we have seen over 1.5 million acres burned across 6 western continental states. There are more burning in western Canada and Alaska. Those who don't live here may not know how widespread it is. It's bad. You can smell smoke most days, and see orange skies with a red sun many days. Thousands have been displaced, uncounted animals (both wild and livestock) lost, homes destroyed, etc. As we plotted our trip, elevation climbs were secondary to genuinely open routes from home to fest and back again, trying to forecast where the fires and smoke would go so we could make the round trip at all. I found this US Forestry Service Beta site where smoke forecast models can be run. Once you get past the scary fires part, it's really very cool.

This story starts like so many of our get-outta-Dodge stories: with simply getting home from work. Boo had to work a little late, so she hit typical rush hour traffic, delaying our departure a little bit. The gas and grocery stop wasn't too time consuming, though we doubled back home for a few things.
In fact, between the traffic delay, gas, groceries, final packing and the double-back, the sun had set before we got on the road around 8:30PM. We drove through downtown Beaverton and got onto OR217 North and saw our temps start to climb. Again. Since we hadn't hit normal temps, we pressed on, but I kept my eye on the gauge.

One Exit at a Time
By the time we got to the Sylvan exit, we had crossed over 194* and I had to pull over. No sooner did I start pulling off than the temp started to drop. We pulled through the intersection at the end of the ramp and onto the on-ramp before pulling to the side. We idled and watched the temp drop down to 185* (the temp the thermostat is rated) and then settle there. There was no backing up; in order to head anywhere, we needed to get back on the freeway. So, we nosed onto the on-ramp, and elected to just go one more exit (to the Oregon Zoo) and turn around. Maybe we could find a spot to vagabond.

From the Sylvan on-ramp, the highway goes downhill, and the temps didn't move. So, we kept going. The made it through the tunnel and onto I-405 North without issue, though the temp started to climb again as we turned onto the Fremont Bridge. We stayed right, thinking we could just take the Kirby Street exit and camp in front of my brother's house. But the temp started dropping again, so just before the exit started to fork off of the highway, I drifted left, back into the slow lane. We continued north onto I-5. As we approached the Interstate Bridge into Washington, the possibility of making it to Chinook Fest started entering our thoughts. We talked about what the best route would be: over the reportedly very steep White Pass on US-12 or through the potentially toxic smoke in the Columbia Gorge? Hapy answered by raising his temp, so we turned onto Washington State Route (SR) 14.

Smoke on the Water
Once on SR-14, Hapy and I settled into a rhythm. I wouldn't push him too fast, and he wouldn't raise his temperature too high. We followed the Columbia River past the I-205 interchange where the highway narrows to 2 lanes (one each direction with a pair of yellow lines down the middle). By now, it was after 10:PM, but the road was still quite busy. The major interstate (I-84) on the Oregon side of the river was closed from Troutdale to Hood River, and the last open river crossing until the other side of the closure was the I-205. This increased traffic held with us until Hood River, and then almost everyone turned off to I-84. We stayed. And we were suddenly alone.

As we traveled East, we could taste the smoke in the air, but didn't really see it until after Hood River. The wind had been blowing east, so the massive wild fire which was so close was not really perceptible. Once past Hood River, though, we found that we needed to put surgical masks on so we could breathe more easily. With masks on, we navigated the twists and turns of SR-14 as well as ascending / descending the summits. The smoke created an eerie fog-like space, changing perceptions of time and speed. With our speeds lowered for visibility, Hapy stayed below 192* and we didn't need to pull off to let him cool. Hapy was happy and keeping him cool wasn't a constant affair. Just East of Wishram, we turned North onto US-97, passed through Goldendale and entered the Yakima Indian Reservation. As remote as SR-14 felt after our fellow travelers turned south, we felt completely isolated now. The hour grew later, and while conversation was lively, we were both growing tired. So, as we entered Toppenish we saw the always-open Branding Iron Restaurant and pulled in for a bite.

Not Toppenish. More Bottomish
It was well after midnight by the time we stopped, and there were 2 cars and a semi in the parking lot plus our bus. The service at the Branding Iron was fast and friendly, the food was good, and more than we could consume in a single seating. Being 1 in the morning, and the only place open in Toppenish, strange people came and went while we were there. The waitress explained about the homeless, and about the serial drug users who will try to get a handout. With Toppenish being such a small town, I was a little surprised, but I guess meth has made it everywhere now.

As we were leaving, Boo suddenly became ill. We were out of the restaurant and heading back onto US-97, so we just kept going, and chose to follow the hospital signs. We found a small E/R clinic just off the main road. After a bunch of tests, and a couple of hours, they prescribed antibiotics for an infection, gave her one to start with and sent us on our way. It was 4:15AM. We had actually spent more time in Toppenish than we had spent getting there. With the gates opening at 8 and an hour left in our drive, we chose to keep going as long as we could.

Naches, WA
We entered the town of Naches just before 5:AM. We thought we would see a place to camp along the way, or at least a place to get Boo's prescription, but we found neither. At the far edge of town, we pulled into the Forest Service Ranger Station and parked under a tree to take a nap. Hapy had been a champ getting us this far, and we only had about 30 minutes further to the festival grounds. We zonked very quickly and awoke without prompting at 8:10. While wild fare smoke seemed to be increasing around us, we fired up Hapy and drove the last few miles out of cell-phone coverage to a festival that had eluded us for the last time.

As much as the drive there was an adventure, the drive home was relatively uneventful. We filled up with regular Diesel #2 as a stop in Naches that gave Hapy sporadic fits and starts, but his temps stayed relatively predictable. When they got high, we pulled over. That happened quite a bit, especially through the Yakima Indian Reservation. We stopped for lunch and a prescription pick-up at a Fred Meyers in Yakima. We hit heavy traffic east of Stevenson because of the I-84 closure, and watched the traffic lighten as we passed I-205. We left the festival after 1:30 and arrived home around 8:30 after just one extended stop, and a handful of pull-overs for Hapy cool-downs.

We thought we were going to vagabond in Portland. Then, we spent 3 hours in the E/R. The fact that we entered the gates at all was a miracle. Boo was incredible, between over-work, under-sleep and fighting an infection, her constitution amazes me.

As to Hapy, I talked to lots of fellow car folks at Chinook Fest. The consensus is that my thermostat may be sticking (replace it), but my radiator is under-powered for the amount of heat I ask it to shed. I will look into replacing it with a new high-performance radiator. You know I'll post about it when I get it done. One closing point: we got just over 33MPG round trip.
As always, thanks for following along. More to come...

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Chinook Fest 2017 - Festival Report

Taking a break from the Summer of MGB, Boo and I took Hapy the wonderbus to Central Washington for a small music festival. Today's post covers the festival part. I'll post another about the getting to / getting from, like I often do. I should begin with an expression of gratitude to Michelle who awarded us tickets perhaps in part because of our 2 attempts (and failures) to attend Chinook Fest and then Chinook Summit last year. Our only cost was $100 for Hapy to park with the RV's. Michelle and her fellow organizers were really special. Unlike so many festivals, they were very present, approachable and doing the grunt work alongside their volunteers. As Edd China would say, "top work!"

North West Know Where
ChinookFest started in 2012 as the brainchild of 3 people who wanted a party for their friends. 4Peaks started the very same way, so Boo and I were immediately onboard. This group of friends are from the Yakima, Washington area and the venue is a small community park north west of Yakima, outside a town called Naches (pronounced kinda like "nah-cheese"). The park, Jim Sprick Community Park, abuts the Naches River, at the edge of the Chinook Pass along state route 410. The Elk Ridge campground neighbors to the west and a large fire station neighbors to the east. Considering the wild fires this summer, the proximity of the fire station brought a level of comfort to the festival attendees.

Chinook Fest followed a familiar pattern of an opening night using a smaller stage, a full day of alternating from smaller to larger stage and a closing day leveraging just the smaller stage. The music started at 4 on Friday and ended after 1:PM Sunday with the final bands at night completing their sets well after midnight. There was yoga both mornings at 9, similar to 4Peaks, but the event was 21+ for Friday and Saturday. This meant there was virtually no alcohol monitoring in the camping areas, but it also meant there were very few attendees in their early 20's as well, so it wasn't as needed. Frankly, we didn't see anyone over-indulged at Chinook Fest, so our 4-year run of successfully finding Waldo (our label for drunken idiot) at every festival is now over. An unfortunate side-effect of the 21+ rule was the lack of those with kids for whom finding a weekend-long sitter is simply impossible. This created an age gap in the attendees: those without kids and those with grown kids.

festival entrance
Trees, Grass, Gravel and Dirt
The central venue is under a canopy of trees with a tree-lined river bed serving as the rear edge to the festival grounds. The park is set up for events, with permanent structures for vending surrounding a grassy lawn near the entrance. The concert area is served with water-supplied bathrooms, and further supported with port-a-potties and hand-washing stations. The water, while potable, isn't terribly good, but I'm spoiled on the Bull Run watershed. In front of the two stages, the park has packed gravel underfoot. This works well for boots and chairs, but not so well for bare feet and blankets.

Outside the concert-controlled area, the parking / camping is split into 4 sections. Closest to the Elk Ridge campground is a dirt field where overflow parking and free car-camping was allowed. Adjacent to that is a grass and tree area where RV (read: paid extra) camping was set up. Closest to the fire station was day-use parking and additional parking for tent-campers. Last, the tents were located in the grassy areas closest to the entrance, among the play structures and trees. Since we had been given a break on RV parking, we were in the grass, shaded by trees.

We arrived 30 minutes after the gates opened at 8:AM, so we missed the initial rush, though many others had already started setting up. We were directed into the RV corral and after trying a couple of spots, we resolved on a place nearest the fire-lane exit between the RV section and the dirt overflow. By 10:30, we were mostly set up and had waved over the only other VW bus at the festival to park with us. They brought their minivan-driving friends, and the party was on.

The Festers
The other VW was a 1970 green and white high top driven by Zeb and Casey from Wenatchee, WA. They, with their longtime friends Oly and Katelyn, helped set the tone for our weekend, swapping stories, fruit and beverages all weekend. The 1970 high top had a 1.8L conversion done to it by the prior owner, so we had an immediate connection about overheating and managing air bubbles in cooling systems. They had a 1960's era "circus tent" (it attaches to the side of the bus but the bright red stripes have it labelled as the circus tent) so when combined with Hapy's Riviera top and the rest of our semi-custom stuff (camping table, lot couch), we had a way of attracting car people. Oly and Katelyn had 2 10x10's set up like a lounge with a bar and a comfy-couch for visitors (picture below). They were across the "street" from us, so our little corner was pretty popular.

Early on, we met Tom and Liz from Tri-Cities. They, like many other we met, have been coming to Chinook Fest since it's first year. It seemed like every time they passed, Tom had a different tie-dye. We hung out quite a bit, and gave tours of our respective camping rigs. I hadn't crawled around a pickup-bed camper before, and we were quite surprised how much room there was. Very cool.

Daniel and Dean were from Renton, and were big VW guys. We talked quite a bit about Gene Berg transmissions, his performance work and air-cooled VeeDubs. I couldn't tell how they felt about the TDI power plant I had in Hapy, but the love for Volksies was unmistakable.

Inside the music area, we met Steve and Sandy, proud parents of the lead singer of the Wicks. Lovely people. There's something about running into musicians or those directly associated to the musicians out among the "regular people". For example, the keyboardist for the Crooks helped us solve for water that first day. Where does that happen? So often, bands slip in through their designated access gate, hang out in their special section until their turn on stage and then disappear afterwards. That wasn't entirely true at 4Peaks, and it definitely wasn't the case at Chinook Fest.

We had managed to forget both coffee and our french press, so we befriended the proprietors of the coffee place. They run Highway Espresso in Naches, and were pretty amazing, handling the coffee needs of most of the attendees. Well, at least it seemed like most attendees. David, husband of the owner, is another VW guy, and he brought their '65 Beetle up to the festival after we talked about Hapy. Tina is shopping for a VW camperbus of her own so she can start ticking locations off her bucket-list. Driving the 101 is on my list too.

Oly / Katelyn camp
That is just a small sampling of the people we met, hung out with, had drinks with, etc. The people make Chinook Fest what it is. They're open, interested and engaging. Of course, we didn't meet everyone, but based on the sample, we're fans. Based on license plates, and that sample, Boo and I concluded that almost everyone there was from the greater Yakima area, with the rest from Seattle or Spokane. If true, central Washington really represented well. Very nice people.

Stretching the Definition of Country
As great as the people were, most folks go to music festivals for the music. Overall, there were more bands with a country feel than our typical music festival tastes would run. As a festival, it felt like the theme would have been "stretching the definition of country". We learned that the way the bands are selected is through a deep investigative process by the 3 friends. They look for artists who they believe are a couple of years away from discovery by the masses. So, if you don't recognize any of the names of the bands this year, we should look back on this list in 2020 to see if any of them made it into the mainstream. Before we left Oregon, the only band we had heard of (and heard before) was the closing act on Sunday: the William G. Hardings. There were so many good acts, it doesn't seem fair to call out too many above the others. Still, I will. haha.

our setup
On Friday, Shane Smith and the Saints were probably our favorite. After our trialed efforts to get to the festival, we fell asleep before Rust on the Rails got through more than one song, so I can't really comment on them.

On Saturday, there were a few that stood out. Cobrahawk sounded like a blend of Heart and Kim Carnes, but Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal took the day. They ended their tour with us, leaving for their home in Lincoln, NE after smokin' Chinook Fest. The energy of the band was contagious, pulling us out of our very comfy camp (picture right) to dance behind the stage. Once on our feet, we drifted into the concert zone for The Silent Comedy and watched them rock their set. Their "Dead Flowers" may have been our festival highlight.

festival farm truck
Sunday brought us The Wicks. Their harmonies were really good. Downright spooky-good. While nothing will ever compare to how Vivid Curve started day 2 at the HHH in 2014, the Wicks are in solid 2nd place for how to start a day at a festival. While we weren't drawn to the stage by a didgeridoo (Vivid Curve), we did stop in our camp-breakdown tracks, mid-step frozen to listen. Yeah, they're that good. We had seen the William G. Hardings before, their straight-up bluegrass sound had the dwindled-crowd's toes tapping.

As we slowly broke camp, neighbors shared farewells and pulled out. We left when Zeb and Casey did, hours after Oly and Katelyn had gone. The end of festival is a mixture of sadness and fatigue... and the knowing that there are hours of driving before bed. But that's another post. I'll get to that. Thanks, as always, for following along.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

MGB - master cylinders (Part 2)

Today, we continue documenting the work on the master cylinders, and perhaps more importantly, the pedal box between them. In Part 1, I covered removal and disassembly. Today, I'll cover clean-up, painting and re-assembly. Unlike so many of my posts lately, this one might be a little shorter.

Parts Order
With the various major components apart, its time to consider the condition of your bits and pieces, and place a parts order. We're starting with the 2 master cylinders (MC). The whole point was replacing them, so let's start there. As of today, a clutch MC costs about $35. A brake MC costs anywhere from $60 for an aftermarket (read: Chinese) up to $220 for an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) part. I like OEM, but I don't like spending a premium if I can avoid it. Look around. Moss isn't the only supplier, and you can find the OEM for less than that.... like my new friend Basil.

How does your brake booster look? Does it look like mine, all rusty and nasty? Considering a new one is $250, you may want to consider cleaning and maybe even painting your original.

I get new fasteners when I see rusty ones, and fasteners around brake fluid always rust up, so I encourage new bolts for holding the box to the car, and screws for the lid. You will probably need 2 new cotter pins. I found that the bolts and nuts dedicated to the pivoting of the pedals were perfect, so I didn't replace those. You may want to. Get new pedal pads; they're like $3. Depending on condition, your pedal return springs (which I forgot to mention in step 1) might need replacing. Mine were rusty, so I got replacements. Consider that there is supposed to be a seal both above the box and under the lid. These are also cheap, so get these too.

My parts list was the 2 master cylinders, pedal pads, seals and a couple of handfuls of fasteners. All in, I was under $150. I got the MC's from Basil, pedal pads and seals from Moss and everything else from Ace Hardware.

Prep and Paint
assembled box, from behind
First, complete the dis-assembly, if you didn't as part of your parts order step above. Remove the pedals from the box and then the sleeves from the pedals. Remove the pedal pads if you didn't during the pedal box removal. Remove the seal from the top of the pedal box / bottom of the lid (depending on which one it is stuck to). The pedals, box and lid should now be bare. I scuffed the remaining original paint from those pieces with a mostly-spent 100-grit sanding pad after removing the rust with 60-grit sandpaper. The mostly-spent pad removed the deep scratches from the 60-grit and created and edge for the paint to adhere to. I shot the pieces with Simple Green to get the sanding dust off and then wiped them down with Mineral Spirits before shooting them with a basic gloss black. I have found that shooting smaller pieces in one shot is efficient without sacrificing the finish. For the pedals, I run a short stretch of wire through the pivot hole and hold it by the wire so I get full coverage. I did the same thing with the pedal box and lid, but short the pieces in stages, shooting the inside first and then following with the outside after the inside had dried. I left these pieces cure for a long time since it was about here when I discovered the floors were rusted out... or it was about here when I discovered that the front suspension was bushed with window insulation.

I didn't mention the brake booster in the paint list. When I painted the other pieces, I was still considering my options. I decided I would try to give the original piece some love and see if I could bring it back to looking fairly good first. I started with the same pattern of low-grit paper on the rust and 100-grit pad everywhere. It took a couple of hours, but the rust came off and the whole piece started to glow. After the spent 100-grit pad, I started polishing with steel wool. This was the magic. The steel wool took away the tiny scratches left behind by the spent pad, and removed the little bits of grime that the other efforts didn't. The end result is pretty incredible. I thought about shooting it with clearcoat, and concluded that it survived years in a barn and many more years of weather and still returned to such fine condition without it. It could go another 40 without it.

inside the pedal box
After the paint had cured (sat idle without people poking at it for a few days), I put the new rubber pedal pads on first. You could do this at the end, but the box goes in the same whether the pads are on or not, and (a) I wanted to see how they looked semi-finished and (b) I was able to make sure they were completely seated without having to lie on my back under the steering wheel to do it. I used a paint can opener to help the rubber lip around the edge of the pedal. After admiring the new pads, I mounted the brake booster to the box. Next, I attached the brake pedal to the brake booster with the clevis pin and cotter pin. Then, I attached the pivot bolt, and tightened it down.

The clutch master cylinder is next. For consistency of appearance, I threaded both bolts from the outside of the box in, so the top bolt which threads into a nut, has the nut inside the box. Next, I moved to the clutch pedal, attaching only the clevis pin and cotter pin to the MC, leaving the pivot bolt to last. For this, I put all the parts together and lightly threaded it into the captured nut inside This was just to get the box into position.

I'll cover the install in another post, so that's it for today. As always, thanks for following along...

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

MGB - master cylinders (Part 1)

Another post about the ongoing work on the MGB. Today's post covers the removal of the brake and clutch master cylinders. This got long, like so many of my posts these days, so I split it into two, with the follow-up post covering the re-assembly and re-install. It should be noted that sometimes I revert back to a sworn-at previous owner (SAPO) and start removing things without taking pictures. This is one of those times, so the pictures are from either the re-assembly or the internet. Sorry. Sometimes I suck too.

This is as logical a place to start as any. "After the list of other things that have been done why the (expletive) would you open up yet another system?" Yeah.. that's a really great question. It's not because I'm sadistic. You see, I started with the brakes. Long before I discovered the rust-thru on the floors, or learned about the front suspension having window insulation acting as bushings, I tried to fix the brakes. I completely redid them at the wheels. I even replaced the hoses with nice new ones, but I couldn't get the rear's to bleed. Turned out, the master cylinder wasn't pushing fluid to the rear, so it had to go. After some reading, I learned that for some weird flaw of nature the clutch master cylinder fails within 6 months of replacing the brake master cylinder if you don't replace them at the same time. Rather than tempt Murphy's Law, I figured I'd just get after it. Besides, winter was coming so the little car was going into the garage anyway.....

Remove the Brake Master Cylinder (MC)
my engine bay - before
After I tried all sorts of combinations of efforts to remove things, I figured out that it wasn't nearly as complicated as I (and the internets) was making it. First, remove the electrical bits: the pressure sensor and the brake-light switch. The first unplugs, the second unthreads. Then, remove the brake hard-lines from the master cylinder. There are three, two head to each of the front wheels and one heads for the rear. Put a small catch-pan under the master cylinder before you start opening these or you'll get brake fluid dripping all over the driver side of your engine bay. It is a really small space under there, so I used a washed out yogurt container as a catch-pan. I taped plastic on the brake line ends to keep some water out (and brake fluid in), but after the front end suspension work, the lines are completely clear. If you're just pulling one and slapping a new one in, It might be worth doing. I didn't see the downside except consuming 10 minutes of my time. Once the fluid lines are detached, remove the two nut/bolts which hold it to the brake booster. With a wiggle, it should come right out.

Remove Brake Booster?
not mine, but better angle
With the brake MC out of the way, the next in line is the brake booster. This unit takes vacuum from the engine and uses it to help you stop. Very clever. First thing to remove is the hose from the engine to the brake booster. If your rubber is as old as mine, make a note of replacing it. The booster is held onto what's called the pedal box from within the box, so before we can go any further, we need to pull the lid off the box. It is held on with a bunch of little fasteners. Depending on how much your car was messed with, these could be bolts or screws, Phillips head, slotted or hex. Or a combination. Mad love for prior owners. Someone will be cursing me this way one day. Anyway, remove the fasteners and the lid on top. Inside is the magic where the pedal action is translated into brake or clutch motion. In here, you can see how the brake pedal actuates a lever that runs forward into the brake booster and how the clutch pedal hinges on a pin connected to the clutch MC between the pedal box and the firewall. Whoa. So.. maybe this is why everyone says to replace the clutch MC at the same time as the brake. You have to get so deep anyway, you just might as well.

So, how do you get this thing out? You can try starting by removing the pin connecting the brake pedal to the lever. This is a royal PITA. You need inhuman fingers to do this. Same goes for the clutch pedal/MC and even getting the brake booster off. After the fact, I figured out that you don't need to separate the brake booster from the pedal box at this point. You can just remove the booster with box all at once. Whaaa???

Remove the Clutch Hydraulics and Pedal Box
thank you eBay for your blurry picture
Skipping over the brake booster, we move to the clutch master cylinder (MC). Disconnect the hydraulic line that runs along the firewall. Again, I wrapped it in plastic wrap and then taped it sealed. Now, the only thing that is holding the clutch master cylinder, the brake booster, and the pedals in the car are the little bolts which are holding the pedal box in. Many of them are addressed from the driver footwell. Only a couple (those on the engine-side of the box) are removed from above. They are different sizes, which is a little weird. Anyway, once the box is free, the entire unit can be coaxed out of the car.... but wait: the pedals are too wide to fit through the hole! Lift the box and pedals as a unit and once you have it up as high as it will go straight up, twist it counter-clockwise while you lift and you can get another inch or so. That little bit is enough for you to get access to the clutch pivot bolt. The bolthead is sticking out the left side of the box. 1/2" socket will remove it, and the pedal will be free enough for you to get the unit out. Seriously, it works. The pedal will dangle a little strangely, but the 2 pedals will fit out of the hole this way, even with brand new pads.

With the box on your bench, you can easily pull the various parts off. The brake booster is held on with 4 1/2" nuts, and the pin from the brake pedal is easier to get to when you're not leaning over a wing (fender). The clutch MC is held on with 2 1/2" bolts. One of them twists into a fixed nut, the other needs a wrench on the nut on the inside. Like the brake pin, the clutch pin is easier to get off at this point. I found needle-nose pliers to be up to the task.

Now, your pedal box, master cylinders, brake booster and pedals are all apart. In part 2, I'll cover cleaning, painting and re-assembly. Thanks, as always, for following along.