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.