Monday, December 29, 2008

nightmaring of a white Christmas

After almost a month of doing nothing on the bus, I have been granted this week off by my employer. The added bonus of not getting paid time off kinda sucks, but I do welcome the opportunity to get some nagging things done. Of course, I haven't updated the blog about the last few weeks, so I'll play catch-up today.

Snow, then ice, then more snow, and, finally, more snow.
If you live anywhere in the northern 2/3 of the US, I'm sure you have a somewhat similar weather story to tell. Since I live in the Pacific NorthWest, we got it a few days before you. There are a couple of camera-phone pictures taken at night included to give you an idea of how deep the snow was. The second one is the Benz to the right and Hapy to the left each with over 6 inches piled up. I should have measured. The fun started over 2 weeks ago with a Sunday night snowstorm that usually brings the Portland Metro area to its knees: 2 inches of snow. Most folks around here don't have studded snow tires (or any snow tires for that matter), nor chains, nor skills to drive their cars in the snow. This makes it especially dangerous for pretty much everyone. Fortunately, most of the locals realize they don't have the equipment or skills, so they don't drive. We have at least our fair share of weekend warrior types with their Ford Excursion 4x4's that see snow as an opportunity to declare their vehicular superiority. Many of these motorists fail to recognize that we all have 4 wheel stop, but that function only works when you aren't driving like an idiot. These are the folks on the road (and spinning off of it), along with the few that have the right equipment, temperment and skills. I was lucky enough to have a neighbor that works at the same place I do that has these 3 advantages, so I drove in with her. Thanks Rach.

Following the Sunday night storm, there was a Tuesday night storm that brought a little more snow. This closed the schools for the next 2 days (now up to 4), and kept me home Wednesday. By this time, we'd surrendered to the storms and ordered chains over the 'net from JC Whitney. We even paid extra for overnight delivery. Thursday I was able to drive to work, but a new storm hit very early Friday morning that again closed school. This new storm was freezing rain. By midday we had an inch of ice on everything, and the snow was starting again. Fun. We got more snow over the weekend, but no chains. By Tuesday morning (12/23), we had over 8 inches of fresh snow, and work had officially closed the office until after the holiday. The chains arrived, so I was able to take my younger son to the Blazer game that night. Wednesday morning brought more snow, but we had a soft-thaw start midday that turned the compressed snow very slippery. After driving over to NE Portland for Christmas Eve, we got stuck on our hill 20 meters from our house. Christmas Day, I shoveled neighbors out, and the day after Christmas, my neighbors and I shoveled the street down to the main road so we could come and go. As I write this, all the snow is gone except for the black snow on the road edge. The memory, though, is still quite vivid.

On deck
I'll be clearing the garage these next few days to prepare for some delayed maintenance on the cars. I have some filters to replace on the Jetta, and a fuel line to repair as well. The Benz has a sagging backend that requires new "accumulators", and the rear driver-side door's "check" is broken. Once I've done all that, the bus work resumes. I have located a rear heater from a vanagon that should work. I'll be picking that up tomorrow. If the price is right, I may buy 4 rims too. If nothing else, this snow has reminded me the importance of being prepared. Those rims will have studded snows mounted on them before the first Winter Hapy can drive. Then, if an ice storm hits, or we get 8 inches of freak snow, I can be ready to roll in 15 minutes.

Regardless, the water/coolant system is next. I'll post something in a few days.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Engine into Bus, Part III

Simply put, the ALH TDI engine from a 1998 VW New Beetle is in. Once the hole was cut, it was a matter of jacking it up into the air, and hooking it up. I'll give greater detail below, but this was a huge "diamond" on the project plan. Now that the engine and bus are a single unit, I can roll the bus into the garage for the Winter. I need to re-assess what I'm going to do next, but the huge blocking task has been completed.
So, how'd I do it?

Because I haven't built a wooden jack adapter yet, it wasn't as easy as the next and all future ones will be. I tilted the engine as much as I safely could with stacked 2x4's on the ATV jack arms, but I couldn't get it all the way to 15*. So, I put a 2-ton rolling jack under the front (front is front) of the transaxle and the ATV jack is working the engine. I slowly jacked up the unit to just under the rear transaxle mounts. At this point, the lack of a hole was previously getting in the way. Now that there's a huge opening, I was able to get the engine that little bit higher. To be fair, the barrier wasa a support beam running under the ceiling, not the ceiling itself. I probably could have made the engine fit just by removingthe beam (in retrospect). Regardless, it would have made the rest of these efforts much more difficult had the ceiling remained.

Between shoving and manipulating the angle of the engine/transaxle unit with the jacks, I was able to slide the left (driver's) side bolt through. Much more angle playing, and I was finally able to thread the bolt through the mount-nut on the rear side of the mount.

Next, I switched around the ATV jack a little bit by lifting the engine (with my hands/arms) and moving the jack with my foot. This would have been a great time for a neighbor to stop by to ask what I was up to. No such luck. So, with a little good fortune, I was able to get the engine cranking back up again. With the right side rising, the left was relatively still, but I was losing control of the pitch. The front of the transaxle was getting far too high, so I couldn't slide the bolt through. New tack: lower the engine a little bit until I can attach the transaxle front mount. I connected it loosely - enough to hold the transaxle level, but it still allowed movement. Then, I moved the jack again, this time so that as I cranked it up, it would move with the rotation a little better (jack was parallel with the rear bumper). Upwent the engine right into the mount. I was able to thread the second bolt pretty easily after that.

So, now the engine is in. I lowered the jacks and danced around my driveway. By now, it had gotten dark, but I was able to snap a few pictures with flashlights, cliplights and dwindling daylight. I need a rear engine mount still, but I can do that on my schedule. In the meantime, I can focus on detailing the next steps and determine the order based on interest, desire and dependence instead of what needs to be done because the bus is sitting in the driveway.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

its in the hole!

In March of 2007, I had a post about gaining access to the engine in a 1972 VW bus. I outlined the 3 different sizes of standard openings that VW offered in their aircooled bus (and the type 3/4). After a year and a half, and a decision to swap a diesel engine into Hapy, I've put topside access into my 1972 bus. I didn't come to this decision easily (nor quickly, obviously), but now that its there, its incredible. Even if it is just a hole.

Measure, and then re-measure for good measure.
In the link above, I provided 3 possible stock-ish sizes. I liked the access idea from the typ3/4, so I took those dimensions, and made it a little smaller at 20" deep and 30" across. The hole can be expanded, if the type3/4 cover/lid becomes available. That's a decision for another day. As it is, the right side (facing front) is butted up against the support rail that runs front-to back on the right side. The front side runs along the firewall.

mark it, tape it, mark it again.
Centering the 30" on the latch, draw the lines with a T-square. 16" from center to the right is the support beam, but 15" off leaves just enough space to fit a 1" square tube in the future. 20" from the firewall leaves about 4 inches from the latch (see the picture to the right here). I'll need to weld in a support there along the backside later. Anyway, with a T-Square mark the rectangle with a pencil, over-shooting the intersections. Double check the lengths and the squared corners. Take masking tape and tape over the lines, centering the tape on the pencil lines. The tape will help keep the cuts smooth. Re-mark the lines with a sharpie so you can see them when you're working the grinder.

cut with care.
Break out your angle grinder with a cutting wheel. I bought a 4 1/2" for this job and got a DeWalt cutting wheel. Start near a corner and work one line. Stop before you get to the end and switch to another line. I did the left side then the front, then right and finally the rear. This order allowed me to climb into the bus to cut the front without stressing it. Once the lines were done, I went in through the back and finished the cross-support bar off. Finally, complete the corners, and the hole is finished.

The resulting hole needs to be filed or otherwise protected, or you'll cut yourself up on it. I'm putting that off for now. Same goes to creating a hatch. I didn't realize just how much better it was until I got back to putting the engine in and was able to see the whole thing. As it got dark, I set up a cliplight from the rear door support and it was incredible. Imagine crawling through your front grill to work on your engine for 4 years and then to finally have a hood. Wow.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Engine not in bus....

In brief, my measurements let me down again. First, my measurements for the vacuum pump and coolant flange were off. As a result, I spent the afternoon banging the engine/transaxle against the fuel tank. So, I pulled the fuel tank yesterday. Today, I set to installing the engine/transaxle again. This time, no matter how I tried, I was unable to get the transaxle mount points together. The intake and oil filler were banging against the ceiling of the engine compartment. So, what does this mean? I have to cut an access hole of some kind into that ceiling. I suspected this over a year ago, but after taking measurements over and over again, and determining it would fit, I moved on. Now, I need to get a sawzall or an angle grinder with a cutoff wheel and cut a hole in the ceiling.

Based on the measurements I took before, there should have been about an inch of space. That's what makes this so frustrating and confusing. To be fair, I've seen another TDI install in a splitty, and he put a hatch in. I guess this was inevitable. So, tomorrow, I'll be off to Harbor Freight for a cheap 4 1/2" angle grinder. Yes, I'll check craigslist first. The more important question, though, is how large a hole to cut? I have decided to cut a hole that will fit a type4 lid. I'll get a lid from the nice folks over at the DDB here in Portland at some point. I am approaching this from a "do what needs to be done to get the bus in the garage before Winter fully takes hold" perspective. I would rather move more predictably. I would rather have a firmer plan than react to problems, but that's where we are. I don't have a fuel tank solution. I don't know how big a hole I need, or how I'll fit a cover. I may have to "build a box" over the hole - some Vanagon conversions have to do that. It doesn't matter. For now, I'll be measuring and cutting a hole 2" smaller on all sides than the type4, thinking I can make it larger later, if I need to.

I'm taking all of these events as opportunities to learn something about working on the bleeding edge, and something about patience. I don't think of myself as a very patient person, but other people seem to think I am. I guess I just freak out about things on the inside. The goal hasn't moved: bus in garage asap. The limitations have been dropped, though, and that can be freeing.

I'll take pictures of the hole, and of the engine install, once its in place. I was able to see that nothing else would prevent the transaxle from mating. I take that as a great sign. Once the hole is cut, the engine/transaxle will mate, and I can roll the bus into the garage. I'll figure out a fuel tank and a hatch solution then. Thanks for reading, and I'll have more later.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Engine into bus, Part II - kinda

Well, after a few hours of huffing and puffing, I couldn't get the engine in. It seems that my measurements were a little off, and the vacuum pump and coolant flange are an issue. That's the bad news. I was able to get the engine onto the ATV jack, using a jack stand, some lumber and another jack to get it in the air enough to slide the ATV jack under. I placed a 2x4 on each of the 2 ATV runners so the engine would be more steady and then put a couple of thin,narrow boards under the right side to give the engine the tilt necessary. This set me up fo mating to the main transaxle mount at the front edge of the engine bay.

I was able to get the mountpoint within 1/2" of the mount before the vacuum pump and coolant flange hit the tank. Stupidly, I thought the jack was getting caught on something underneath it, so I pushed it a little hard and cracked the coolant flange. Great. So, I pulled the engine back, removed the flange, stuffed a clean rag into the hole and set to work again, this time watching the top end. A few hoses were dangling in the way, so it took a few tries, and some hose holding before I could see the vacuum pump hitting the tank. So, I called it a day so I could think through the options.

option 1 - "contour" the tank
This is not a pretty alternative, but it might be effective. By deadening the blow with a piece of lumber, I could hammer a concave section into the tank. This would not look pretty. I could rupture the tank. But, most important, this would take a bunch of time and still may not fit right. It could be done without pulling the tank, though.

option 2 - buy a splitty tank
The old split-window bus fuel tank held between 8 and 10 gallons of fuel (depending on the year, with the last few years having 10 gallon capacity). The bay window tank holds 15 gallons. A split-window bus (manufactured through 1967) can stil be found in the Pacific NW. In fact, people with split-window busses frequently swap their small-to-them tank for a bay window tank. I don't have the dimensions of the split window tank, but it would have to be at least an inch if not 2 inches less deep to be worth my while, fitment-wise. If I learn the dimensions, I'll post them here. The original tank is 36" wide by 11" deep by 9" high. Its not a square box for those doing the math at home and asking why am I saying the capacity isn't 15.5 gallons. Either way, if I were to go this route, I would be choosing to reduce my miles-per-fillup by 1/3. Of course, I'd also be choosing to not carry 30 pounds (5 gal @ 6 lbs per gallon), so there is a small upside.

option 3 - unhook the tank and try again
Basically, with this option, I disconnect the hold-down straps and push the tank around to see if I can make it fit with the engine. I don't think its possible, but it might be worth trying just to see how far it misses by. Regardless, I'd rather have a full inch between the engine and anything that's not the engine, so this would probably be a waste of time.

In the end, I'm going to yank the tank and mount the engine without a fuel tank. Once I know I can mount the engine, I can drop it later to get a tank in there. My biggest enemy right now is time and the weather. Here, in the Pacific NW, the darkness comes very early, making night-time work impossible. The nearly constant rain (that usually is hammering us by now. its late) makes daytime work very unpleasant when I can even find daylight hours to do bus stuff. My goal is to get the engine in the bus and the bus into the garage as quickly and as soon as possible. To meet that end, the fuel tank is coming out on Friday, and the engine is going in.

I'll post pictures once its in. I hope that will be this weekend.... after turkey. I hope you have/had a nice Thanksgiving holiday. Personally, I'm grateful for employment, a leak-free roof over my head, food in the kitchen and smiling faces when I arrive home. Everything other than that is just gravy.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Engine into Bus, Part I

The engine left the garage on Sunday. It is currently sitting under the bus, where it ill sit until this Sunday. I'll hoist it into place then, but just getting it out of the garage and into position took more effort than I expected. Today's post covers those efforts.

Measure twice..
Before I did anything, I took a level and set it on top of the highest point on the engine. As you can see from the picture here, that's about 33 inches. Then, I measured how far off the ground the rear end of the bus was, to get an idea of how much higher I'd have to get the bus to fit the engine in. From the picture on the right, here, you can see that I was only at 25 1/2 inches. Simple math later, and I need over 7 inches more clearance. The fact that I really didn't have 7 inches of jack stand lift remaining didn't really matter. I was not too hip to the idea of jacking the bus that far up into the air. So, what to do?

then measure again.
I got to thinking about rolling the engine onto its side and sliding it under. Then it would just be a matter of getting it upright again. Its funny how something that sounds so simple just isn't. I measured the width of the engine (no picture) and it was around 25 inches. After double checking all the measurements, I started loading up the right side of the engine with rags for padding. Right side: side on the left when looking at it from the back of the bus. The turbo is on the left side.

skateboarding I rolled the engine and transaxle, as a unit, onto 2 skateboards. The 5 seconds it took to type that describe a 60 minute effort of roll it on, test move, get it off, repeat. The picture on the right here was posed to illustrate how the skate ultimately fit on the engine. There's a bracket on the rear of the engine that I got caught on one side of the board. That helped hold it in place. I had to jam the other end under the front of the engine with my boot while hefting the transaxle up. Heavy, man. Then, I put a second skateboard under the transaxle. Why didn't I use the ATV jack? I wanted it available to slide under the engine/transaxle unit under the bus.

ready for lifting
Once the engine/transaxle were set on the 2 skateboards, I rolled the engine out of the garage and into the driveway. With that much weight on the boards, they really don't steer, so it took a little muscling. As you can see in the picture on the right here, it just fit under the rear end. After it was under the rear beam, I wiggled the engine around until it cleared the beam, but wasn't past the transaxle mount. Then, I dropped the bus. That was a big moment. I mean the bus had been up on stands for over a year waiting for this.

A little more wriggling and the engine is upright (slight lean) and ready for lifting. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I worked it, I couldn't get the ATV jack under the engine. So, it will be more than just sliding into place. Until next weekend, though, it looks like this picture on the left. That's a big change from where we've been.

I probably won't post again until next weekend, as I don't expect to do much on the bus during the week. It is just geting too dark and too cold to work in the driveway.

Monday, November 17, 2008

project creep

Well, the weekend after the election was full of painting and other things, so the bus slid off the radar entirely. I did want to quickly follow up on that neighbor badness post, though. My wife had an unexpected encounter with him when she returned from walking the dog, and asked him directly if he called the cops on us. He sheepishly admitted it and apologized once she explained things. Simply put, we believe in free speech. We are peaceful people that wouldn't do anything to their property and over the years we've lived across the street we have never done anything to make them believe otherwise. After this was plainly explained, its over. Ahh.. I hope this puts this whole nasty thing to bed.

I am almost finished with the living room stuff. The beams and posts took 4 coats of paint - 2 primer and 2 top coat before they looked good. Since I was anticipating half as many coats, it took a lot longer than expected. But, the can lights are in, so the living room is done. I just have to switch out the lights in the front hall, and my domestic projects for the Fall are completed. Of course, the leaves don't rake themselves......

Around the painting in the living room and front hall, I was able to get some small things taken care of. I bought a section of pipe and had it bent by the guys at Meineke. I've measured where I need to make the cuts to keep it at length (less 1/4" at each end). I didn't have time to cut it yet, so its not in the bus. I was able to get a 5/16" fuel line nipple at NAPA and open up the tank nut with a hand drill to fit the nipple. Then, the nut threaded onto the tank. This leaves the return line as the last piece to be resolved within the fuel system. I'm not convinced I need to actually put a port in the fuel filler pipe/line. I should be able to Tee into the fuel supply line, but if that were the preferred method, VW would have done that. So, I'll probably drill a port into the pipe I got from Meineke. Depending on time and available light, I'll be working on this in parallel with the engine install.

Anyway, not much in terms of news and no pictures. My next post will revolve around the install of the engine. I've decided the weather will not hold up much longer, so its time to move it all indoors. Wish me luck--

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Honestly, this post is just to move that last one off the top of the stack. Now that the election is over, the vehemence that I felt last Sunday feels a week away. On the project side, I should be completing my living room efforts by Saturday night, so, if the weather works out, I may be able to get the engine in Sunday. I still need to resolve a few things, but I think I could even resolve those things after the fact.

1 - fuel filler hose
The original hose is just that: original. That means its almost 40 years old. I don't expect that rubber to stand up to any more use, much less the diesel blends that have biodiesel (BD) in them. BD eats old-style rubber quickly. I think it eats the "biodiesel-ready" rubber too, but thereis little evidence on either side of that debate.
My plan is to take the old rubber hose over to a muffler shop and have them cut/bend me a pipe in the same shape and length, save for about 1/4" on each end. Then, I'll use the rubber hose as a source of joiners between the new pipe and the old connections. That should last a while.

2 - fuel return port
The original fuel tank doesn't have a place to route fuel overflow back into the tank. Since the 1972 VW bus was a carburated engine, there wasn't a fuel rail, or any overflow fuel to route back to the tank. I could have bought a later bus tank, but there was nothing wrong with the original, and I'd rather leave as much alone as I can. Yes, I know putting a water-cooled diesel engine in kind of runs against that. Still, the less I change, the fewer decisions I have to make. Like, does a newer tank fit in the tank bay?
My solution idea is to put a port into the fuel filler pipe that I will be having fab'd by the muffler guys. It seems pretty simple to me: bore a hole in, thread a nipple into the hole, attach the return line. I need the pip first, then the nipple, but this shoudl be a pretty easy step.

3 - starter
The original starter will fit into the original opening on the transaxle. Unfortunately, it doesn't provide enough torque to start the engine. There are vendors that are willnig to sell me a "hi-torque" starter that will directly fit. Unfortunately, these "hi-torque" starters are built like crap and are known to fail soon after the check clears. The vanagon TDI folks use a TDI starter with an adapter constructed by "Westy Ventures". From my findings, though, the vanagon starter (SR87 fitting a 091 and 091/1 transaxle) has an output shaft about 1/2" longer than the old 002 transaxle starter (SR15, SR17). So, if I were to use the adapter, it would fit in the starter hole, but the gears would overshoot the flywheel by 1/2". So, I'll either need an adapter for the adapter or a custom adapter right off. I'm leaning towards a custom adapter, but I'll need to find someone capable of doing it. I have a mock-up made out of wood, so that fabrication would be a pretty easy job for someone with the tools.

I don't really need any of these bits to get the engine slammed in. In fact, I can address all of these in the warm comforts of my garage after the engine is in. I would, however, like to get the fuel filler pipe done first. It is so much easier getting that pipe on without an engine to climb over. I'll try to remember to bring the gose with my to work tomorrow. Hopefully, I'll be able to find a local-to-my-work place that will cut and bend while I wait.

More later...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Why do McCain - Palin supporters hate my 1st Amendment rights?

Ok.. that sounds a little inflamatory, but I'm not very pleased with where the neighborhood political discourse has gone. Taking down politcal signs, and calling the cops with baseless accusations is not political discourse. Those acts are the death throes of a democracy if left unchecked. This post may be another mudball thrown, but I've had enough.

If you've been reading my posts, you already know I live in a non-contested state in terms of the electoral map. Our electorates were in play 4 years ago, but this year, it seems Sen Obama has swayed so many voters, that there are no advertisements, few pollster calls, etc. In the end, that just leaves more air-time for the more local campaigns, so I think we're all ready for November 4th. In 2004, it was easy to get your hands on a Presidential candidate sign or sticker. This year, they are not nearly as plentiful. In fact, my folks went out of their way to get us a sign and a car sticker. They are not convinced the polls are right, and feel expressing your political opinion on your bumper and with a yard sign is the right thing to do. To me, it is a simple expression of our First Amendment right to freedom of expression.

So, I accepted their Obama sign and put it in a prominent place on our yard. It is very easy to see when you drive up the street, and it serves as a little reminder that the Presidential election does need your vote, regardless of the polls. Because of its location, though, one of my neighbors who does not support the Illinios Senator, is apparently upset. I'll get to that later. After our sign had been up for a few days, I found it knocked down. I set it back up. The next day, it was down again. I set it back up again. This happened so many times, I lost track.

Honestly, I figured it was neighborhood kids with nothing better to do and didn't give it a whole lot of thought.... until one of my neighbors called the police and told them that someone in my house was taking down their McCain sign. So, they sent a car over and the nice policewoman asked my wife about it while petting my dog. My wife explained that we hadn't done anything and the policewoman asked if our sign had been tampered with. "Well, yeah, sure," she said, and then explained about how often we were finding our sign down. The policewoman's face changed to a "I know what's going on" expression and said she would talk to the neighbor who filed the complaint. We went almost a week without a sign downing, and our neighbor's McCain sign had been moved to point at our house rather than at the passing cars. "That's weird," I thought, when I got home from work and saw its orientation. Whatever. If they want to declare their political leaning to the 2 voters that live in my house, that's great. On Friday, when the small-town paper had a mention of the police call in the blotter, the sign was changed to point back towards traffic. I guess they showed us. Unfortunately, the real story didn't make it into the single "sign tampering reported" reference.

Last night, we returned home from dinner at a friend's house to find our sign down again. At this point, I got upset, but I just resolved to putting it back up in the morning. My wife took one car to church early to help with something, so I had the boys. While they were putting on their shoes, I snapped this picture (the upper picture) of our sign and put it back in the ground. Then, we all piled into the car and went to services. When we returned, our sign was down again on a windless, completely still day. I have a picture of that here too (the second one). In both pictures, my neighbor's McCain sign can be seen in the background, clearly not tampered with, and in the same place - untouched.

I'm not really sure what to make of this. What makes someone so politically bent that they don't realize when they are infringing on my rights of expression? While we were expressing our freedom of religion, they chose to suppress my rights to free spech again? What message are they trying to send to our community, and what message to they think they are really suppressing? I realize they like their candidate, and, that is their right. There's a saying ( the exact words of which I don't know) that was attributed to one of our country's founders: I ma not agree with what you have to say, but I will fight by your side for your right to express it. I wholely embrace that sentiment.

Clearly, my neighbor, the McCain-Palin supporter does not. To me, this casts their campaign in a even more negative light. From the hate mongering rallys to the ad blitz of doom, this really shouldn't surprise me, but it still does. We live in a small cul-de-sac filled neighborhood that has barbeques, (Christmas) carol sign-alongs and July 4th parades. I really didn't expect this from a neighbor. I realize that neighbors are, at their root, just people who live near you. I think its more than that, and that's why this treatment is so surprising.

I can't wait for November 5th. Then, we can all take our signs down. But, now that the line has been crossed, how do we get to a point of cross-party acceptance? Can we move on from this election as a united nation, or will the hate-politics of the last 8 years truly be the lasting legacy of this Administration?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

ready to roll, when stops the rain

I know its been a few weeks, and if you're a semi-regular reader, I apologize for the absence. I been able to get a few little things done, but between the rains, kids soccer games and the remodel effort in the living room, my time has been limited. The living room work is almost done, though. I've installed a couple of banks of recessed lights, and a fader to control them. Then, there was the dining room light chandelier install, and the corresponding fader. This weekend, I have a bunch of priming to do, and I'll have finish coat painting next weekend. After that, I should be finished with the remodel-ish stuff.

Around the remodel work, I was able to get a Sunday afternoon to focus on the bus. I lost some time to cleaning out the junk that had been piled up around my workspace, but I was able to make some headway. First, I replaced the glowplugs and the glow plug harness. This was pretty easy, though the replacement harness had clips on the wires and the original wires did not. Simple wire work, really. The original glowplugs were pulled as replacements on my other TDI engine, so I knew these were bad. You can test your plugs for resistance, and they should all be within fractional ohms of each other or they will throw a code. 2 of the ones in my old engine had infinite resistance, so they were throwing a code, and caused me to fail my DEQ test a couple of years ago. I also replaced the oil dipstick tube (the bright orange thing in the picture there). Then, I got the engine/transaxle situated on the ATV jack so I can move it under the bus. I need to figure out how to support the transaxle during that move, but a skateboard should do.

Other than the glow plugs, I installed a "Van Gogh" ear onto the block where the engine mount bracket is bolted on. "What's a Van Gogh", you ask. Its this aluminum thing that bolts to the block and supports the bracket joint. Often times, the original ear on the block shears off in an accident. In fact, this ear has been known to fail just from heavy use; though that's very rare. They're available at When I decided to re-use the original mount design, I figured it would be a good idea to add some support. When I started tightening down the bolt, I discovered that the original block ear had a split in it, so it was a good decision. The picture on the left here shows it installed.

I figured out that I need to get the rear end of the bus around 30" off the ground to get the engine underneath it. That is over 6" more than I used to need to get the old engine in and out. I'll have to get creative in how I get it up that high. It is always best to use the stock jack, but the stock jack doesn't go that high. Hmm...
I'll have that resolved by next weekend - that's when I plan to get the engine in. Hopefully, the rains will stop long enough for me to do it... and that I've gotten the fuel filler hose issue resolved. I'll post on that later this week--

Friday, October 10, 2008

engine, meet transaxle - take 2

With life spinning at an increasing rate, I haven't been able to do much since my last post. I did, however, get the engine and transaxle mated last night. This is huge. If you're one of those Microsoft Project people, I just hit a diamond. Major breakthrough. The instructions Kennedy supplied are technically correct, but I would append them a little bit:

1: test fit clutch disk onto your output shaft.
This sounds so bloody simple, you might ask "WHY?". Well, sometimes the disk has a manufacturing defect where the center hub is not on an even plane with the disk. If that's the case, it will slide onto the output shaft, but not sit parallel with the bellhousing edge. When that happens, you can't mate the engine and transaxle. The pressure plate will hold it fixed flat, but the output shaft won't be able to get in there. Fortunately, I did not have this problem.

2: leave the adapter plate off for your first fitting.
Basically, this gives you an extra inch of wiggle as you test mate the engine and tranny. Remember that inch in step 4.

3: slap on the flywheel, clutch and pressure plate.
This is pretty straightforward. Kennedy suggests torquing the flywheel to 55ft pounds. That isn't necessary for this step, sinceit all comes off and goes back on again. In fact, torquing might toast your one-use-only bolts. Set the clutch disk inside the flywheel and set the presure plate on. Loosely finger-in the bolts just enough to hold the pressure plate on there. Then, use an extra output shaft or alignment tool to set the clutch disk in the center. tighten down the bolts, using the jump-the-center torquing technique until they are no more than 18ft pounds (according to Bentley manual for the bus - there was not setting indicated in the Kennedy instructions).

4: attempt to mate.
This is the key point that the instructions don't cover. Basically, mate the engine and transaxle without the adapter plate. It works great, and it proves that the output shaft can fit inside the clutch and flywheel. The adapter is an inch thick, so there should be close to an inch between the engine and transaxle at this point. If you can't get them that close, something isn't right. Is there something hangng in the way? Are you sure the splines are aligning with the clutch disk teeth?

5: pull it all apart.
Leave the ATV jack alone (up/down-wise) and just wheel the transaxle back. This is important because once you get the angle right, you don't want to completely hose it now.

6: put the adapter plate onto the engine.
DO NOT PUT THE DOWELS IN. I don't remember if the instructions say when to put them in, but I strongly urge you not to do it now. You'll see why. Just torque down the mate-to-engine bolts according to the instructions (40 or 45 ft pounds depending on which bolt).

7: put the flywheel, clutch and pressure plate back on.
This time, torque it down to the spec (flywheel up to 55, pressure plate up to 18). Be sure to use the alignment tool or extra output shaft.

8: attempt to mate engine and transaxle for real.
It is in this step that you'll see why the dowels needed to be left out. In order to get the output shaft to slide into the clutch disk, you need to be able to rotate the transaxle slightly - even if you've followed all of these steps. Them dowels are designed to prevent that rotation, so you get into trouble if they're in there at this point. $170 worth of trouble. I was able to slightly rotate the transaxle (holding the rear end up off the jack a touch) and fit the output shaft through.

9: thread the dowels through.
Once the transaxle is pressed against the adapter plate, you can rotate the transaxle to your desired angle (upright, 15* or 50*) and thread the dowels through. Finger tighten as best as you can. Then, using 2 nuts on the long-thread end, tighten them all the way down into the plate.

10: nut-down the transaxle.
Now, just torque it down. According to the instructions, the torque limit is 40 ft pounds. I tightened down the nut on the starter dowel too, so I could see that the transaxle set onto the adapter all the way. That nut, of course, will have to come off to get the starter on.

This picture doesn't really show it well, but it looks really good. You can just make out the silver plate with the "KEP" lettering in the mass of black.

I have 2 seperate action items next. 1) get the engine into the bus around the raindrops and (2) solve the TDI-starter into an 002 starter hole question. Fortunately, my man Justin has offered to fabricate something. I just need to rough-up an example with wood or something. So far as getting the engine-transaxle into the bus? Well, I hope the weather is accomodating this weekend. Of course, I have a painting-the-livingroom project that I'm getting sucked into, so the bus may sit idle for a little longer than I'd like.

More later--

Sunday, October 5, 2008

There Goes Sunshine

Well, my hopes to beat the rainy season just didn't make it. The Autumn rains have begun and the bus is still on jacks in the driveway, and the engine/transaxle are still sitting on the garage floor. I had a few delivery issues, and some other things come up, but time just pushes out on projects this size. My last mishap was the killer, though.

"I didn't like the sound of that..."
I alluded to an issue with the adapter plate in a post a week or so ago. Here's what happened. After waiting for the clutch and pressure plate to arrive, I mounted them onto the flywheel using the extra output shaft I had from the 091/1 vanagon transaxle I had lying around. Once everything seemed aligned perfectly, I attempted to mate the engine and the transaxle. Since the engine is on a little wheeled sled and the transaxle is on a ATV jack, everything would move if I pushed. After about 3 hours of manipulating the transaxle it seemed to be aligned, but I couldn't get it the last 1/4". I figured the friction between the output shaft and the splines on the clutch disk was greater than the wheels resistance to moving. What I should have done was roll everything against a wall so I had some resistance to my pushing. Maybe I was tired, and should have just taken a break. Instead, I tried to close the gap by tightening down the nuts on the adapter plate. That proved costly. I used my torque wrench because I was concerned about screwing things up, so I set the torque wrench to 20 foot-pounds and worked the jump-the-center concept of torquing. Unfortunately, the plate was not designed to handle any torque that pulls or pushes it from flat. The KEP adapter plate is designed to hold the transaxle and the engine together (once flat) and from rotating relative to each other. So, the adapter plate's design combined with my ill-advised means of closing the gap lead to the adapter plate's failure. Yeah, that's right, I cracked it with less than 20 foot pounds.

Enter the rains.
So, I talked to Kennedy about the cracks in the plate. They said send the cracked plate, and they'll send a replacement. They even said they had a bunch on the shelf, so they could get it right out. So far, so good. Then, a week later, they tell me they'll replace it, but I have to pay for the new plate. That's not exactly replacing, that's a willingness to sell me another one. They did give me a 15% discount on the replacement plate (at least that's what I think it calculated out to). My costs for the Kennedy Engineering stuff has become a much larger percentage of the costs than I had intended. $440 for the original adapter kit + $170 for the "replacement" plate + $120 for the stage1 pressure plate = $730. That's a lot of cabbage. Certainly more than anything else on this project, and it irks me that they didn't give me a better shake on the cracked plate. Anyway,I haven't opened the box yet; it arrived on Friday.

While we were dicussing the plate, the sunny weather ended. Here in the Northwest corner of Oregon, the rainy season usually starts by the middle of October. This year, it basically started on the 2nd of October - 2 weeks ahead of average. Honestly, even if it was on-time, I ould be in the same spot, and I probably wouldn't have goten the engine into the bus. At this point, the delays from shipping, and the cracked plate negotiation cost me 2 weeks. So, I'm pushing my goal to have the engine in the bus, and the bus in the garage to Halloween.

I'll be re-attempting the engine - transaxle husbandry this afternoon. If all goes well, I may still be able to get the engine into the bus next weekend. Then, there's getting Hal over here to do some welding, clearing the garage, etc... Should be a busy couple of weeks. Oh ,did I mention I started a new job on Monday? Busy days, but life would be awfully boring if I was only trying to keep one ball in the air :D

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Last Coast Dash for the Summer

One good thing about not having a job is you have some time on your hands. Now, I admit, I did land a contract starting on Monday, so this past week was more like an unpaid vacation. The kids didn't have school on Thursday and Friday for parent-teacher conferences, so we had a chance to get away. We had set our appointments for first thing Thursday, so we had all day Friday on our hands. We decided that with the dry and somewhat warm weather, we'd make a last dash to the coast. We didn't have any real plan other than wanting to eat at Moe's Restaurant. If you haven't eaten at Moe's on the Oregon Coast, it is a small (6 location) chain that serves locally caught seafood.

We loaded up the old Benz wagon with sand tools/toys, the kids and the dog, topped off with some $4/gal dino-diesel and hit the highway. The car ran great, so this trip report has little in terms of car stuff in it. We drove out of the Portland area on US26, thinking we'd hit the Tillamook area tidepools. As we approached OR6, though, we were talking about Moe's and realized that we'd be a good 45 minutes away from any of their locations. So, we drove straght out OR26 (caller "the 26" by we locals) towards Cannon Beach.

Ecola State Park
Just south on US101 (Pacific Coast Highway) from the 101-26 interchange is the first opportunity to enter Cannon Beach "city center". This is also the way to Ecola State Park. We made a few more snap decisions and we entered the State Park. We figured this would be an unimpeded access to the water. The park entrance is less than 10 minutes of twisty-curvy driving from the 101. We were close to 8 minutes into it when we started thinking of turning around. Since there wasn't any way to do so, we kept on going until we saw the Ranger booth. One $3 day-pass purchase later, we were on our way to "the most photographed spot on the Oregon Coast". At least that's what the Park Ranger said. The viewpoints were incredible, and these pictures from my cell phone probably don't do it justice. There were photog's with big fancy cameras and tripods everywhere, but the birds didn't seem to mind. Everyone was very polite and pleasant - typical Oregonians :D We explored the different dog-accessible paths, visited the clean flush-toilet restrooms, and then decided we were ready for some tasty eats. We intended to return to see what Indian Beach (the North end of the State Park) looked like, but we never got back. We'll definitely return, and next time, we'll leave home a little earlier so we can see more of this park.

Moe's Restaurant - Cannon Beach
The Cannon Beach location for Moe's Restaurant is at the far South end of the town, right on the beach. Almost half of the tables are against the windows where you get an unimpeded view of the waves hitting the beach. The clams, chowder, scallops, and cod were great, and the service was too. The proprietor walked among the tables chit-chatting with the patrons. It had a very local feel to it, and (again) the food was yummy.
Sitting seaside for an hour, though, was more than the kids could take. The idea of getting in the car to drive back to the state park was not very popular. So, we played in the sand outside. We exhausted the dog with a tennis ball and walked the lunch off a bit. Unlike the "Muscle Beach" experience in Seaside at the beginning of Summer, he didn't need a leash, and he didn't get kicked. It was a great few hours of sand castles in the sun before the Fall colors, the Huckleberry Festival, and Thanksgiving start to loom.

Haystack Rock tidepools-
We left home wanting to see tidepools, and we were directed to the base of Haystack Rock by the folks at Moe's. After making a giant sandcastle, we knew our time was running out, so we stopped on the side of the road across from Haystack Rock. That weird looking thing to the left is a small section of that base. Lots of muscles and starfish. Very cool stuff, and, again, lots of people. Strange that there would be so many people on the Oregon Coast on a Friday in the middle of September. Regardless, it was a picture perfect day for a last splash.

On the bus... I had a small mishap with the adapter plate, so the work has temporarily suspended while I wait for a replacement. This may jeopardize my timeline (getting engine in bus, bus in garage before the rainy season starts), but I'd rather have it right than on-time. Once the new plate arrives, I'll post about what happened. Hopefully, I'll have the new plate and the engine/transaxle mated by the end of next weekend. We'll see.
More next time..

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

More coolant re-routing

Well, like I said in the last post, that adapter I got from autohausaz wasn't right. They were great about the return, but I haven't gotten my money yet, so I'll post the final disposition on that when it arrives. Its less than $10, so its really more of a test of their return policy for the blogosphere than me wanting my money. Of course, like anyone, I could find a use for that $10.

While we wait for the money, I did get the automatic-version coolant flange from them for about the same amount (less than $10). Getting the old one off was a bear. It takes a 12mm hex socket on 2 bolts. The upper one was easy, but the second one wasn't. That lower bolt holds a steel support for the water and vacuum lines that makes this difficult. Well, sorta. It just wasn't easy peasy. Anyway, pull the nut, pop it into a baby food jar, then pull the steel support off the end, and then remove the bolt. Off comes the flange.

Then transfer the lines.
The fat one that came out the end of the old flange connects to the fat pipe that points to right (if you're looking at the engine from over the flywheel). I didn't connect this fat one, actually. Once I noticed the bend in the hose, and how it would basically route right into the exhaust header, I figured I should get a different hose. There's a smaller line that connects to the small pipe (routes to the oil cooler), and the temperature sender fits into a similar looking hole. When you pull the old flange, pull the old washer (or get a new one when you get your flange) for the temperature sender. Had I realized this was not part of the replacement part, I would have ordered one. Fortunately, the old washer has plenty of life left... or so it looks. The picture here shows it put back together. The temp sender is on the right, there's an open bib above it for the coolant to route to the heater. By the way, I got that M6/75 bolt at Winks Hardware for $0.61. I went with an allen head thinking it wouldn't stick out as far. Turned out it doesn't stick out past the flange. Ahh... Oh, and none of the flange sticks out past the vacuum pump (shiny thing above the flange in the picture), so the issue it was bought to address has been resolved.

So, now the coolant re-route part is over until I get the engine in the bus and I have to start working through the radiator details. At some point, I have to deal with not having a heat solution yet, but I'm holding out hope that I'll find a local junked Jetta and take the whole heater unit from it. I've got the time, so maybe I'll have some luck. Unlike what happened when I tried to re-mate the engine and transaxle. I'll post on that next time...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Coolant re-route starts

I ordered and have since received a coolant flange that I thought I should be able to put on the front of the engine. Turns out, I was wrong, and I wasn't able to finish this bit off. My plan was to use this flange to route the water that comes out of the head/block above the transaxle over to the side so it isn't banging into the fuel tank. I talked about this in an earlier post (tanks for nuttin? Maybe earlier than that). Basically, the issue is that the coolant routes over the top of the transmission when these engines are in a Beetle, Jetta or Golf. In the bus, that big aluminum flange juts out so far, it would make using the stock bus fuel tank impossible. I figured, if I can't change the tank (I spent 3 days trying to find a good solution), then change what the coolant lines do.

Since I have an engine from a manual transmission (USA model), there is an extra bit on the end of the flange that's really the bugger. On the USA standard transmission model, they added a coolant heater that is powered by glowplugs. Yes, these are very much like the glowplugs that warm up the engine. Anyway, in the automatic models, there isn't a coolant heater (I don't know why), and the flange dead-ends just about even with the vacuum pump. This would be a better post with pictures, so, here's one from the ETKA that shows the 2 of them next to each other. The one on the right is the one that I had stock. The one on the left fits the same, but doesn't have part numbered "8" (028 121 145B). Note, too, the blue #14. That is a bolt that I'll need too (M6x75x37) as the stock (#15) bolt isn't nearly as long.

So, in haste, I ordered what I thought was the right parts. I ordered p/n 037121121A and the gasket (p/n 059121119) from autohausaz. Their prices are better than most, and they deliver fast. As long as I was on their site, I got an ALH motor mount, a new oil dipstick tube and a gasket for the exhaust:turbo outlet. Basically, I needed these things eventually and once I got over $50 in stuff, shipping is free. Sweet. The only snag: I got the wrong parts. I should have checked ETKA first. Hopefully, I'll learn that lesson this time. So, I'll be returning / exchanging and installing later. I pulled the original flange off and it was quick discovery that the parts were wrong. Although, that does well-prepare me for the install of the new flange.

I'll figure out a way to use the coolant heater later. Maybe I can charge the heater on cold days that way. Hmm... that reminds me, I have to think about how to deal with heat at some point. Oi. So many loose ends. More next time. Hopefully, I'll have a job and some other engine-related news soon--

Friday, September 12, 2008

Flywheel fun

I mentioned last post that I've been distracted with job searching, school starting etc. In fact, I was wrestling with taking a contract in another city working for a missile manufacturer. The money was good, the project interesting, but I just couldn't face helping build missiles and bombs that were eventually going to land on people. The travel would have been unpleasant for the family (and me), too, but we would have accepted that as part of the new information job market dynamic.
In the end, we rarely have the opportunity to actually test our ethics like this. Given the alternative of possibly not working at all, not being able to support my family, pay the mortgage, buy food -or- helping build missiles for the government 2 airflights away from that family, what do you do? There are people that probably think they can make the decision easily, but I think if you really thought about it, you'd see why this was so difficult. Between the potential involvement (albeit indirectly) innocent deaths and the time away from my family, I couldn't do it. Anyway, here's hoping I find a job soon and this just becomes another interesting story to tell years from now. Returning to the bus...

After conferring with Kennedy Engineering (KEP), I resisted taking the flywheel to a machine shop. KEP indicated that the flywheel wouldn't have fit onto their balancing machine if the center hole were too small. In the meantime, I ordered a KEP pressure plate and heavy duty clutch disk from CIP1. They arrived today - and that was with their 10-14 day free shipping. Good to know that time window can be that pessimistic.
Last night, I followed their advice and slowly pressed the flywheel on using the old "jump the center" approach to torquing things down. Basically, crank one down a little bit and then jump across the centerpoint to the opposite bolt. Keep doing that until you need to set torque. It worked great. I cranked the flywheel down using a 17mm socket and torqued to 55 ft/lbs as specified in the KEP instructions.

It was starting to get late, but I figured I still had a little in the tank, so I unboxed the clutch disk and pressure plate from CIP1. They look like nice parts. I still had an output shaft from the old 091/1 transaxle I sold early in the Summer, so I had a way of aligning things. About 15 minutes later, I had the clutch and pressure plate aligned and installed. It was pretty easy, actually. Take the clutch disk and put the flat side down on a clean spot on your bench. Set the pressure plate on top, and move them as a unit. Set the pressure plate / clutch disk unit onto the flywheel and align the 6 bolt holes. Thread in the bolts enough so that the will hold the pressure plate on, but not in a fixed spot. Then, thread the extra output shaft (or alignment tool, if you have one) through the center until it comes to rest deep inside the flywheel. Then, tighten the bolts.

The pressure plate does not come with bolts, so I used some stainless 13mm bolts that I had from when I removed Hapy's old exhaust. Torqued to 25 ft/lbs per Kennedy instructions, and I'm ready to re-mate the engine and clutch. I have a picture of this assembled flywheel / clutch / pressure plate on my phone, but I didn't have time to sync the phone and my home computer. I'll push the picture up tonight, if I remember.

More next time...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

if it doesn't move, paint it

Sorry I didn't post earlier this week. I've been distracted with the start of the school year, looking for a new job and selling off old bus parts. So, I haven't really gotten much done in the past week.

I did take the opportunity to address the surface rust on the underside of the belly (over where the transaxle usually sits) this past weekend. It was a simple job of wire brushing everything, shooting rust converter and then some basic black spraypaint. Rust contained, for the next 20 years. Ultimately, I should shoot some better chip-resistant paint or some of that rubber undercoating stuff. We'll see. Like the subject line says, if it doesn't move, paint it. That's what the foks in the Army say, and it certainly applies to vehicle maintenance too.

More in a couple days-

Thursday, September 4, 2008

engine, meet transaxle

its late, so this won't be very long. Justin picked me up from work yesterday, and we got the new rear main seal on. He confirmed my suspicions that the flywheel center-hole was a little small for the crankshaft. Great. So, I'll be taking that to a machine shop in North Portland to get expanded a touch. Good thing I didn't sell the original flywheel yet. Justin pointed out that, since I'm taking it to a machine shop anyway, why not bring the new clutch disk and pressure plate and have the whole thing balanced. It shouldn't cost much more, and it will already be in their hands.... First, I need to get my permanent clutch/pressure plate. Next stop, KEP for their stage 1 pressure plate. Actually, I tried to get some good customer service from them today, and there was very little to be had. That was unexpected. So, CIP1 or eBay will get that business. It doesn't matter. It's still their pressure plate, so they'll get my money regardless.

So, what happened with the mating of the engine and the transaxle? The second half of that last post? Oh, yeah. On the left, here, there's a picture of the transaxle sitting on a ATV/motorcycle jack. I used that to move the transaxle into my garage (though I could have carried it), and I spun it around so the bellhousing was pointing away from the 'jack-up' end. With the adapter plate already on the engine, the next steps should have been put on the flywheel, torque to spec, attach the pressure plate/clutch disk, and align with an old driveshaft or centering tool. Well, I got stopped at the first step, as I aluded to above when the centerhole in the flywheel was just a touch too small. (see picture to the right). What I didn't mention was covering the CV joint openings on the transaxle. I used wax paper - 2 12" squares, held on with a pair of rubber bands. This will keep any dust out.

Instead, I tested the mating of the transaxle to the engine/adapter without the flywheel/clutch/pressure plate. Does this prove that all that stuff fits inside the bellhousing properly? No. But, I did try it with the flywheel on like the pisture above shows, and it fit, so I think the rest will fit fine.

I picked a 15* install, so it looks like the engine when its pictured in the Bentley manual. If you've been reading this blog, you know that my fixing-cars experience was quite limited until I got this bus 4 years ago. Every little bit helps.

To do the 15* install, I varied the height of the transaxle with the ATV jack and tilted it slightly onto one side with a 1" cresent wrench. I was able to slide the transaxle onto the dowels pretty easily. There's a picture here showing them mated together. I have since pulled them apart so we could put the rear seal on, and because I'll have to put the flywheel, etc on. And then there's the starter... maybe I'll work on that post next time.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

KEP on keeping on

Still no seal, but my man Justin says its in his hands, so its just a matter of a few days before its getting put onto Hapy's new engine. Justin offered to help install it. The rubber edge has a tendency to miss an edge, leaving a gap, so I welcomed his expertise. The rear seal is one of those items that is replaced once, maybe twice in an engine's life before it is entirely rebuilt, so I figured this isn't something I need to do on my own. I recognize Justin's time is valuable, so I thought I would test-fit the engine and transaxle. I figured that having the parts together once, and then pulled apart for the seal would make re-assembly later on (when he was here) much faster.

So, how works KEP adapter? I've had the adapter plate for almost a year. I didn't realize it had been that long until I went through the instructions and email threads. Whoa. I found, while digging through the paperwork and emails that I didn't really have a good idea of how to put the whole thing together. The instructions are accurate, but not at all detailed, so I had to contact the company about simple things like "which way does it go on?". After giving it a try, it turned out to be pretty straightforward. I detail the "how" below in case someone else needs a pictoral of the plate install.

Step 1 - decide your angle
The KEP adapter fits in 3 possible positions: upright , 15* (degree) and 50*. I didn't realize they had an upright option when I ordered it. The TDi engine sits at a 15* angle in the Jetta, Beetle and Golf, so I had initially planned to go with that. The 50* angle is necessary for a vanagon install (because their rear deck is so much lower). This could be a choice for a bus too, but some custom fabrication is needed to deal with the turbo. Personally, I'd rather have the engine look like it does in the Bentley manual for the TDi so when I have to do maintenance, I know where everything is.

Step 2 - find the "dowel" holes
Once you know your angle, take the adapter with the "KEP" lettering facing away from you. Place the adapter onto the bellhousing, fitting the lip of the plate inside the bellhousing. Rotate the plate into your desired angle from upright rotating counter-clockwise to 15* or more to 50*. Align the small holes with the mounting holes on the transaxle. I did this by croutching down and looking through the holes until I could see light. Mark all 4 holes with tape. I found that once the plate came off the bellhousing, it wasn't easy to be 100% sure which ones were the "right" ones. You can see the blue tape in the picture below.

Step 3 - put in the "dowels"

Pull off the plate and set it on your bench. In my case, I used the garage floor because my bench is covered in tools. Anyway, take the 4 "dowels" that came with the plate. They are the shiny silver bolt-looking things with threads at both ends. There are 3 that are the same length and one that is longer. Take the longer one (shorter threads away from you) and thread it into the upper left-hand dowel hole that you marked. This will become one of the bolts the starter hangs on. Then, thread the other 3 in the same way: shorter threads into the plate, longer threads sticking out. The picture to the left, here, shows which hole the longer one goes in. Depending on your orientation (upright, 15* or 50*, you will use the hole above, the same hole or the one below respectively.

Step 4 - hang it on the engine
Once the dowels are in, place the plate onto the engine. With the dowels, there's only one way to put it on: KEP facing out. If you kept the 2 upper transmission bolts (like I did), you'll have enough bolts to put the plate on a 002. I can't speak for the 091 bellhousing, but I was able to use the original bolts for the 2 upper holes that are on either side of the KEP lettering. You can make out one of them at the top of the picture on the right. There are 3 other holes in the plate that align with holes in the engine block. The 2 holes on the left do not require a nut and thread right in with 2 of the bolts provided. I used a longer one in the upper left hole, and a shorter one in the lower left hole. The one on the right requires a nut. I finger tightened everything, knowing I was going to have to separate the whole thing later.

Next, you put on the flywheel, the clutch and pressure plate, and mate the engine and transaxle. I'll cover that next time. As you can see from the 2 last pictures, there's no seal on right now. Not how you want to store your engine for very long. Fortunately, my engine is in an insect-free, warmed garage, and it will only be like this for a few more days. More next time--

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tanks for nuttin'?

Well, I'm still waiting for the replacement seal. I'm not sure what the hold-up is. If our Utah parts-man is anything like the local area merchants, the August slowness has gripped him too. So, I took this opportunity to re-measure some things, and I think I might have a problem.

First, I checked how far back into the fuel tank compartment the tank sits. It is so close to the front edge, its basically 0 inches. Ok, I'll be generous, and say its 1/4". Actually, upon rechecking, there is a beltline lip that runs around it (about 2" above the bottom) that is flush with the tank lip. That beltline sticks out 3/4". That's important.

Next, I checked how far out from the engine lip the top end of the engine sticks out... well, how far out the vacuum pump sticks out. 3 inches. Eek.

Ok... so how thick is the adapter plate? 1 inch.

How far out from the body does the transaxle stick into the engine bay when its in the bus? Well, that's hard to say, now that its on the ground. But.. the distance from the mounting ears to the lip of the transaxle is about 2 inches.

What's the net? 2 + 1 + 3/4 = 3 3/4" - (vacuum pump stickout) 3" = 3/4" of room

I was concerned that after all the work on the tank, I would not be able to use it without cutting or denting it. Honestly, I thought it was going to be much worse until I discovered the mounting ears reached back 2" from the front lip of the transaxle. I think, once I account for the body-mount, it will be just shy of 2". It looks like we'd still have at least a half inch between the vacuum pump and the fuel tank. I'd rather have more, but this is good news compared to where I thought I was when I started this post.

Well, hopefully, the new seal arrives soon. If its not here by the weekend, I will be test fitting the adapter plate without it. I'll post with pictures regardless.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Fuel tank in

Well, I'm still waiting for the new rear main seal from our friend in Utah. Its unfortunate that it hasn't arrived yet, but I was able to get something done. I'd rather be moving forward on getting the engine and transaxle mated, but the fuel tank needs to be in before the engine goes in anyway. There's not a whole lot to putting the tank back in. Make sure the small square-ish foam seal is in place over the hole. Then, just push the hold-down straps out of the way and muscle the tank in. Connect the signal wire from the right side of the tank bay to the top of the tank. Connect the ground wire to the top of the body/frame. Push the bolts at the ends of the hold-down straps through the holes, and tighten them with a deep socket 13mm rachet.

I've cleaned up the threaded fuel line attachment, but I haven't put it on yet. I've heard that a Honda petcock fits these fuel tanks. I thought it might be interesting to put one of those on there instead of the old pass-through. The most obvious question would be "when would you want to shut it off?". Well, when you change the fuel lines, for one. It could be used for security, but who wants to roll under the bus to turn off / on the fuel flow? There are new petcocks that are vacuum operated that shut off the fuel flow when the engine cuts out. Sounds neat... for a gas engine. Diesel isn't flamable like gasoline, so the threat of pouring fuel onto a fire isn't quite as threatening. Then there's the question if diesel would destroy the fancy new petcock. Possible... in the end, it seems like one more thing that would be a hassle. I can always add one later. So, I'm going to take the "attachment" with me to a friend's house that has Honda's and see if this thing would thread onto a Honda. Logically, this would tell me if a Honda petcock would fit on the early bay fuel tank. Then, "the attachment" willll go on the tank, and all that I'll have left for the fuel tank is getting the supply and vent lines hooked up.

The vent lines should be quick, unless they need replacing. Routing the lines from the tank to the hard lines will be easy. The thing I need to figure out is what to do about the other end (routing into the air intake) and the thick vent line that connects to the fuel filler. That vent is supposed to vent fuel fumes back into the pump when you're filling up, but I think I may use that topside access for the fuel return line instead. Not sure on that yet. Regardless, next, I'll be hooking up the fuel filler line and the 2 side-vent lines. I'll leave the rest for later.

Hopefully, my next post will be about getting the rear main seal on, followed by posts about the fitting of the transaxle and engine together. I still need a permanent clutch/pressure plate and a starter solution, so there's lots still up in the air. Time is getting tight, too. Figure the rainy season starts by mid-October here in the Pacific NorthWest. If I want to be working in a dry location, I need the engine in the bus and the bus in the garage before then. Its gonna be tight.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Parts is parts

I had one last maintenance item to deal with before I started mating the engine and transaxle - the engine rear seal. I had ordered one from "BleachedBora", but the part numbers got mixed up somewhere along the way and the part I got was a rear engine seal, but it wasn't the exactly right part. Apparently, gone are the days that VW makes the same part for all of their cars.

First, some orientation. The engine rear seal is what holds the engine oil inside the engine at the point where the driveshaft/crankshaft comes out of the engine to attach to the transmission. Ordinarily, people don't change these very often at all. In fact, most people dson't change them at all. If things start acting funny with their car, or there's an oil puddle they either sell the car or pay the dealer some ridiculous amount to pull the engine, seperate the transmission from the engine and replace a $40 seal. So, it seemed like it was a good idea to replace it when it was all exposed in front of me.
So, if you're looking at the crankshaft/driveshaft, there are 6 bolt head pointing at you going around in a circle. There are 2 others that are pointing at the ground that come up into the seal housing from below. These 2 from-below bolts are not the same for all ALH engines. Why!?!? So, I got the seal with the slightly smaller bolt holes, so the seal didn't fit. So much for preparing for mating engine and transaxle this next weekend. Another one is on the way, so I may still be able to get the engine/transaxle mated, but it will be a much longer day now.

Start me up...
I've spent some time over the last couple of days thinking about how I'm going to start this engine once its all together. The original 1972 starter will fit, but it isn't strong enough to turn a TDI engine. The TDI starter has a different bolt pattern, so it won't fit. There are "high power" starters out there, but the word on the street is they don't last very long, but they would fit, and would start the engine for a while... before they suddenly fail. So, we look to what the vanagon TDI converters do. They're lucky. They have a resource in Karl (at WestyVentures) that fabricates starter adapter plates. They make it so the TDI starter will fit into the bellhousing of a mid-70's through early 80's transaxle (the 091). Unfortunately, the 002 starter (for transaxles manufactureed between 1968 and 1975) and the 091 starter aren't identical. The shaft sticking out of the 002 starter into the bellhousing is 1/2" shorter. So, if Karl's adapter were to be used on a 002 transaxle, the gear would stick a 1/2" too far into the bellhousing, missing the flywheel. Argh.
Now is when you start thinking... why didn't I just buy the 091 adapter plate from Kennedy Engineering? That bellhousing would have fit my transaxle, and I could have used Karl's adapter. So.. back to the drawing board. I'm looking for a burned out TDI starter now, thinking that I may be able to fabricate something. If not, I may start looking for a KEP adapter setup for a 091 transaxle. This is where the money on conversions is lost. I thought I was saving money by not going 091 out the gate, and now I may end up there anyway. But first, I lose a bunch of time and money. Drat.
More next time--

Friday, August 15, 2008

transaxle out

Like the title says, the transaxle (transmission) is now out of the bus. In terms of steps, its pretty easy... once the engine is out. The Bentley is accurate, and the Muir book is not. ell, I found the Muir book confusing on this, and the Bentley simple, so maybe Muir is right. I loved that book when I first got my bus. He explained everything in such conversational terms, it was easy to follow. Now that I've gotten used to the service manual and the terms for the different parts, the Bentley manual is easier to follow. Of course, the Bentley assumes you have this long list of weird VW tools that nobody has, so you have to use a blending of the 2 books for most things. The removal of the transaxle was one of those cases.

First, undo the clutch cable. This means spin the wingnut on the end until it falls off in your hand. You'll have to put a vice-grip or hold the end of the cable. I used a screwdriver in the end of the cable (it has a little slot for that). Pull the cable free of the clutch engaging arm (not sure what the real term is), and put the wingnut back on the end of the cable. Don't tighten it, but make sure it doesn't fall off either. Then, remove the 2 bolts that are holding the next secion of the cable to the transaxle housing. This is called the bowden tube, and it helps you adjust the clutch cable movement. It is held on with 2 13mm nuts. One of mine was so rusted on, the bolt unthreaded from the transaxle. I'll have to fix that later. Anyway, at this point, the cable is not longer connected to the transaxle, so we move on to the CV joints, then the shift linkage.

The CV (constant velocity) joints need to be unbolted from the sides of the transaxle. Now, a few years ago, that would have been a very scary sentence to read. But now, its just a matter of finding the right Allen wrench (6mm) and going to it. Before you do, check the travel of the axle. Hold the axle right at the transaxle and try to move it front to back. Does it move? That CV joint needs replacing. Check the other end too. I got lucky and didn't have to replace any of them. Pull all of the Allen bolts off, or at least enough to separate the bolt from the transaxle. Pop the joint into a plastic bag, tape it up so water and dirt can't get in there and move on. You can either wire the axles up in the air or let them hang free. Somewhere in the pictures, you should see one of each.

Disconnecting the shift linkage is eerily easy. The Bentley says to have the transaxle in 3rd gear. Muir says neutral. I went with the Bentley, and put it into 3rd. Then, slide under the bus, cut the safety wire and unscrew the little square bolt that holds the shifter coupling to the front of the transaxle. Now, all that's holding the transaxle in are the 2 mounts. Grab a support. Bentley says to use some weird VW tool. Muir says to use a board and some chain. I used an ATV/Motorcyce jack - I bought it for engine drops, and it works great for transaxles too. If you do the same, slide the jack in the rear. Jack up the transaxle just a touch - just enough to support its weight. Disconnect the front transaxle mount. Mine had a 17mm and a 16mm head bolt. I thought that was pretty strange, but that's what fit.

Bentley described the next step as just sliding the rear support bolts out. Well, they failed to mention that the bolts threads work into threads in the top of the transaxle. Unwind them, and the bolts work their way out. Then, drop the transaxle and pull it on back.

Since I changed my transaxle gear oil less than 4k miles ago, I didn't drain the transaxle first. You might want to do that if you don't know when your oil was changed, or if you know it due (which, if you don't know when it was done, its due). Well, that's it for today. With the transaxle on the ground, I need to replace the rear main seal on the new engine, and I'm ready to start mating the transaxle, and the new engine on my garage floor. more later--

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

engine bay / fuel tank bay painted

Just a brief update with this weekend's antics. After completing the de-greasing and cleaning of the engine bay and the fuel tank compartment, I performed rust treatment. The concept of rust converters is pretty much the same, and the price differential really comes down to how pure the contents are. In the end, the rattle can stuff works well for hard to get to spots, and the milky goop works fine for flat brushable areas. Of all the choices, I prefer the Eastwood Rust Encapsulator, but shipping is getting expensive, and I will usually top-coat or otherwise paint whatever I'm treating, so I use the Eastwood in targetted areas. The engine bay and fuel tank compartment weren't. I used the brush-on milky goo that you can get at NAPA. It is easy to locate locally, you can use multiple applications, it doesn't smell and it is paintable after 24 hours. Sweet.

While I was getting the rust converter, I grabbed a couple of cans of plain blue paint. I decided a while back that when the day ever came to do body work on the bus, I'd paint the lower section blue. I suppose any other color would have worked fine too, and there are probably some VW purists out there that are cringing at the thought of changing the color. Sorry, but all Dove-White is just really boring, and looks dirty/crummy pretty easily. Every time I got out of the engine compartment or out from underneath, I'd leave a fresh grease-mark with my gloved hands. That's just one more reminder that white shows everything, just like black always looks dusty. Anyway, I digress. So, I papered off the sound absorbtion and shot the fuel tank compartment and the engine bay with NAPA plain blue paint. Now, when the rest of the body is done, the engine bay will sort-of match. Well, it will match better than grease-marked Dove-White would have.

Once the paint dried, I degreased and cleaned all the wiring and re-fit the looms, including the rear light assemblies. I intend to replace those one day, as they are falling apart, but that cost will have to wait. More on the transaxle drop next time-

Thursday, August 7, 2008

fuel tank prep inside and out

I haven't documented this process yet. Now that it's about to go into the bus, I wanted to snap a few pictures and write down what I did. I thought that pulling the tank and sealing it would be a good idea before changing fuels (gas to diesel). Add to that, the fact that the fuel tank had probably never been out of the bus, there was a pretty good chance that there was a bunch of gunk in there. Maybe rust. Maybe some kind of foreign objects. Oooh.

So, if you're going to do this, I bought my tank coating stuff from Eastwood. Many sites recommended using muriatic acid to clean out the rust. I found something at HomeDepot that claimed to work as well. "Hmm," I thought. "Sure." I bought a bottle of it, thinking it could only waste my time and money, but wouldn't make things worse. I also got a spray can of "TankTone" from Eastwood for the outside. Of course, you need a bucket for the cleanser stuff, rubber gloves to protect your hands and rags. You may want a replacement fuel level sender or at least a new gasket. I didn't replace either, and I'll post if that decision ends up haunting me.

Getting at it-
You don't have to remove the engine to get the tank out, but honestly, you'd be crazy to go through that much effort. If you want to go that route, you have to pull the ignition and fuel system out, and even then, its harder to get the tank out. So, you (wisely) drop the engine. Once out, pull the firewall. There are the obvious screws, but on an older bus ike mine, there are 2 hidden screws on either side of the transaxle. After about 30 minutes of looking and poking around, I grew impatient and pulled those last 2 screws with a pry bar. Not exactly pretty, but effective. So, now you're looking at the fuel tank in its native state. Remove the ground screw for the fuel sender from the ceiling and unplug the signal wire from the right side. The tank is held down by 2 straps that have a bolt that goes through the floor and is held down by a nut. 13mm, IIRC. Disconnect the fuel feed hose from the filler (behind that paintcan lid looking thing to your right), disconnect the vent lines, and the tank is ready to come out.... almost. Two things first: 1 - disconnect the fuel line from the fuel pump and drain the tank (completely) into a bucket. 2 - remove the fuel line from the bottom of the tank.

The tank takes some wrestling to get out, but it will come out. My tank had some surface rust on it, and a little varnish on the inside, but otherwise, it was in really good shape. The tank bay was dirty and had some surface rust too, but it was solid. So, once it was out, I took a bunch of pictures, and got to work. The step-by-step how-to comes with the Eastwood products, so I won't detail them and possibly do it out of order. Basically, the varnish is removed, the rust is neutralized and the inside is coated with this white milky stuff. The picture to the right is a poor picture of the inside of the tank. That shiny column in the middle is the fuel level sender.

After the inside was done, I shot the outside with the TankTone. Now, its ready to go back in, and it looks great. Hopefully, it can withstand the wrestling back into the bus without getting all scratched... not like I'd really see it anyway.