Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tank sealed

Brief posting. I finished sealing the tank on Sunday (3/16) with the stuff from Eastwood. Easy to use, easy to follow instructions. I went off-script only with the rust-killer. The Eastwood and ratwell.com instructions both indicate to use muriatic acid to eat the rust. When I was at Home Depot, I found a "zap" product that claimed to eat the rust, and do so with a no-toxic formula. Now, I've got kids running around all the time, so any opportunity to use something that's less harmful, I'm taking it.

According to the instructions on the bottle of Zap, it works considerably slower than muriatic acid. When I got it home on Saturday, I took a long look at the insides of the fuel tank, and my rust was very minimal. I used the Zap stuff, and it ate the rust that I had in there in about 30 minutes.

I used the Metal Etch according to the instructions, but I didn't clean up the excess with the Acetone. Instead, I let the tank drain overnight and it was dry and had that hazy light gray color anyway. I'll be returning the Acetone later. The liner poured in easily, and coated very well. It was pretty easy, just move the liquid around the tank so it covers as well as you can get it. Drain it well when you're done. I stood the tank like I did the night before - with the fill spout at the very bottom, so it couldn't pool as it dried.

If I had to do it over again, I'd set up a saw horse or something to set the tank on. Leaning over a tank all afternoon got my back hurting. One of these days I gotta remember that I'm not 20 anymore. I didn't get to paint the outside. The weather turned rainy, so its sitting under a tarp waiting for the next sun break.

I should be cleaning, vibration & sound insulating, etc the tank bay this weekend. Hopefully, I'll have some before-after pictures. I expect to start posting pancake (type4) engine parts for sale soon. If you have needs, email me.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

mounts fab'd

It took a few hours, but Ed the welder knocked out a set of serviceable mounts for Hapy today. After a quick consultation, he took off to Home Depot for steel stock and assorted supplies. I, then, took the boys and a friend to the local Easter Egg hunt, with the dog. Unfortunately, the dog gets very excited around big groups of kids all hopped-up on sugar, so we had to stay off to the side. Shortly after we returned, Ed got back from Home Depot, and we (well, he, really) got to work.

I just realized I didn't finish the engine extraction story all the way. I left off last Saturday with uncertainty about jamming the new engine in, or fitting in the faux one. I chose the faux one after double checking measurements, and figuring that I was very close if not spot-on. We'll know when the engine install happens in a few weeks. I attached the adapter plate to the transaxle, and fitted the engine to the adapter, aligning it at the 15* angle mostly by eye. I knew where the driveshaft was supposed to go, so centering it was pretty straightforward. The challenge was figuring out where the block-to-adapter points were. I was able to identify one on the bottom and used that to align the rest. A little bailing wire to hold it in place, and the bus was ready for mount fabrication.

The how and the why:
First, we took an old moustache bar from a 72-79 bus, and cut out the middle section. It was then bolted into the stock frame mounts. Starting from the left (driver's) side, a down piece was fitted. Ed worked his way across, then constructed an engine tie-in for each side. On each end of the new moustache bar he attached a mount-point out of basic flat stock. He then welded up a bar from the side of the faux engine to the frame in front of the stock mount. There's an extra plate of flat stock welded in there too, to help support. Between the new bar and the mount-point on the moustache bar, an additional connection was made. At each end is flat stock that will require a bolt-hole boring when the engine is fitted. This design provides a triangular support on each side, connecting the side of the engine to the moustache bar and the frame. Once fitted, there should be "about an inch" of adjust-ability in all directions. The bolt holes will be drilled once the engine is set right, so it is torqued down solid. The picture here shows how they looked when he was finished, and before I metal etched and painted them.

The design did not include a vibration isolator, and we talked about that directly. It was his opinion that, since the transaxle was direct-mounted, any isolation effort would be wasted. We'll feel the vibration because of the direct transaxle-to-frame connections. If this proves to me incorrect, there is opportunity to adjust the design to incorporate an isolation solution later.

While Ed did all of the welding work, I set to work on the fuel tank. He only had the one shield anyway. The tank really wasn't that bad. I found that it had a very clean VDO fuel level sensor that I'll be reusing. The inside of the tank had some light rust, but it was all on the bottom. There wasn't any above the seam, which made my efforts much easier than other folks. The process is pretty straightforward and well-documented on the web: hot water & soap, metal clean, rust treat, metal etch, new tank seal. I was able to get as far as metal etch when the rain and hail began. While the metal etch dries completely overnight, the harsh weather should move out. I'll spread the new liquid seal tomorrow morning and spray-paint the outside shortly thereafter. The tank should be ready for re-install next weekend. Before then, I need to clean, noise-suppress and insulate the fuel tank bay. I'll be doing that next week at some point, work schedule willing.

Lots of progress, and more to come. It feels like this project is starting to gain some momentum. All the prep-work is starting to pay off. More later--

Thursday, March 13, 2008

tank ok, panic past

Fuel tank interference resolved-ish, ready for welding mounts.

I took a look through the Bentley manual and figured out what was sticking over the flywheel: part of the cooling system. Above the flywheel are 2 different bits that stick out. First is a cooling pipe (outlet flange, according to Bentley) with 3 glow plugs sticking out of it. This, I believe, was to help get the engine warm for cold temperature engine starts. The glowplug bit is attached to a pipe fitting that bolts to the engine. Coolant passes from within the engine (water jacket) out through that pipe. The coolant is then optionally warmed before passing through the EGR cooler. An alternate route for the coolant is to the top of the radiator. The bugger in the system is the pipe that sticks straight out from the glowplug thing that routes to the EGR cooler. In the Bentley drawing, the glowplug thing isn't there, so its a little confusing.

I am going to look into 2 different alternatives to resolve this. First, I'd like to try to re-route the connection from the block to the outlet flange. I think with a small stretch of pipe with a 90* bend in it, that whole operation can be moved around to the side. This should be relatively easy to do, once I source parts.

Second, I want to see just how important the EGR cooler is. I can see how the high heat of exhaust gas entering the engine would be bad. My real question is "how necessary is the EGR in my install?". I mean, I'm going to run BioDiesel, and that produces considerably less pollutants than regular diesel. The aircooled engine I pulled out was probably a bigger pooluter than this new engine will be without the EGR and without the catalytic converter. Lastly, this bus does not require smog testing.

Technically, I could pull all the smog stuff off this engine and drive perfectly legally. Ethically, though, I'm struggling. The whole point of this project is to embrace the "leave lighter footprints" concept and removing all of the pollution control devices seems to fly against that. I'll talk with Justin the TDI magic-man and see if he has any strong ideas. At this point, though, I am leaning very much in the direction of removing the smog control devices.... if I can confirm my suspicion that the pollution produced after its removal would still be better than the old aircooled engine when running at least b50 (50% BioDiesel / 50% dinoDiesel) as I must in Winter.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

TDI - day 3

Lots of progress over the last week. I found myself a welder to handle the engine mounts so I can focus on the other things. Ed put a Porche engine into an old VW Beetle, so I figure he's at least got the right outlook. I never saw the finished product, but it was his daily driver until he sold it for the K5 Blazer he drives now. We want a daily-driver TDI-powered VW Bus, so its game on. We spoke earlier this week, and the running plan is for him to bring his stuff over next weekend.

The backlog of prep-work now looms large. Before I can really get the new engine in a place where it can get fitted, I need to get the old one out. So, I spent the last couple of days doing just that. Well, Friday night I drained the fuel tank, and I spent today getting the engine out. It is now on the garage floor next to the new TDI. Gotta give thanks to Richard Atwell for his website (www.ratwell.com) providing step-by-step how to remove your bus engine instructions. I'd done it before, but it had been almost 2 years since I last dropped it (to replace the clutch), so a spoon-feeding reminder was welcome. Cedar, my 6 year old, helped. He's got a touch with tools already.

Once the engine was out, I got to thinking about the fuel tank behind the firewall. I'd planned on pulling it to clean it, but I was sore and tired from the engine pull. Fortunately, it was only about 2pm so I had a couple of hours of good daylight left. Knowing that once the TDI was in, I wouldn't want to pull that tank, so I set to pulling it out. 8 screws and a wrecking bar later, the firewall was out. VW put 2 extra screws under the transaxle mounts that were unreachable without dropping the transaxle. So, I popped them with a bar. I pulled the straps with a 13mm, and cut the tank vent rubber and started pulling the tank. The '72 bus didn't have the top-access hatch, and it has a drop-ceiling to contain the engine noise. The tank got hung up on that, so I had to pry-bar that out so I could pull the tank. The tank was in great shape. The black paint was still very good, almost no rust at all (very tiny surface spot only), and all of the rubber looked pretty good with only one vent rubber having a breach. Even the gauge sender looked new-ish.

Once the fuel tank was out, I took some measurements, and I don't believe I can reuse the existing tank without some modification. The TDI engine has injection-related material extending beyond the flywheel by almost 8 inches. There is less than 2 inches between the transaxle mate-point and the fuel tank. Problem. So, I'll be leaving the tank out while getting the TDI engine positioned for the welder, knowing that I'll have to drop the engine at least to the ground (not all the way out) so I can get a tank in there.

Tomorrow, body willing, I'll be freeing the ATV jack of the old pancake engine. I should starting to think through how high I'll need to get the ass-end of the bus to slide the new engine under and in. I constructed a faux-engine out of wood for Ed to use, but I'm not 100% sure its 100% right. As long as his fabrication is adjustable, and his rates are low enough, we can weld up the mounts with the box and figure out the TDI installation effort after my man Justin has been able to go through the engine with me. Considering how much effort dropping the TDI will be, I may just pay for it with cash instead of flesh and time.

I know its feast or famine with my postings, but that's the way my project and my life have been. I still hope to have this project completed in time for some Summer camping. Now that I've pulled the engine and the fuel tank, there's no looking back. Accordingly, I'll start selling off parts of the old engine to start paying for some of the little things I hadn't planned for. More later...