Monday, September 28, 2009

Roll ready

No, not ready to roll in the 'under its own power' sense. But, Hapy is now set up enough for me to roll him off of the main driveway (where the rainwater pools) up a slight incline to a cement pad next to the garage. Sure, from the outside this sounds like a "shrug" of a post, but it is significant:

I won't lose the Winter.

Pushing Water Uphill
If you aren't familiar with Northwestern Winters, then you really haven't experienced incessant rain. I've lived in other parts of the country and when they see steady rain, it lasts for a couple/few days and everyone starts getting antcy. Here in the Great Pacific NorthWest, 2 or 3 days of steady rain could happen during the Summer drought. Steady rain here is up to 30 straight days of measurable precipitation. So, getting the bus where it won't sit where the water collects is a big deal. Next to the garage will be well drained, on the lee side of the prevailing rain direction, under a tent thing, closer to the tools, light and power in the garage, and last: a portable heater will actually warm the work-space.

I got a lot done on Sunday, and Hal nearly finished out the rear mount. Starting with his work, he was able to get the rear mount adjusted into place, and the final set of bolt holes set. The rear support bar was then removed for paint. We decided that the tower (hollow box) could be further supported / cross-membered by welding a plate onto the rear (FIF) of the tower. As I consider how that will look, I'll have to think up something interesting to paint there. Maybe a smiling sun or something non-commercially iconic. Hal also got the fuel filter bracket mounted to the right side of the engine compartment using a little bracket extension he fab'ed. We talked about integrating the fuel return line, but we didn't hit on a solution.

On my side, I did the little things under the bus to get it ready to move. This included getting the shift linkage and CV joints (axles) re-connected to transaxle. Though that sounds very little, it took me a couple of hours because the shifter and transaxle hadn't seen each other in, like, 2 years. I got a bunch of other things done before Hal arrived, like removing the masking on the turbo and reinstalling it with new gaskets. I got the vacuum ball installed (with original bracket), plumbed into vacuum system and the vacuum pump plumbed in. I still have to integrate the power brake booster, but that should be relatively straightforward. There's a picture here showing how it tucks nicely under the westy cabinet on the left side of the engine compartment.

Last, I got the water flange in. This took a little more modification, unfortunately. I had to cut off the bib on the bottom of the flange as it hits the floor of the fuel tank bay. I tried cutting just part of it off, but there really wasn't space for a hose to connect once I got it down to where the flange would fit. There was maybe 1/4", and that included that thick ring right where the flange and the bib meet. I figure I can run a short section of rubber hose to a metal line that has a bib threaded into it. I can only think of one drawback to this: the original location was at the intersection of the cabin heat circuit return and the radiator return. This would expose the oil:heat thing to the cooling benefits of both systems. My bib solution would only expose the oil:heat thing to the cooling benefits of the radiator. I'm not sure if this matters, but its worth noting.

Next up:
connecting clutch cable, shooting the paint on the support bar, installing the starter. After that, there's primary electrical, the cooling system, etc.

top - distance from fuel tank to vacuum pump. Its just over 2-1/2".
botom - vacuum system. air cleaner, waste-gate still need to be tied in.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fuel Tank solved

Progress! I have a fuel tank in the bus and the engine has been re-installed. Hapy is ready for Hal's welding work to resume on Sunday, and I'm able to move off of the fuel system for a while and focus on some other things.

Tank modification design
After proving that the below-deck boat tank wouldn't git in the fuel tank bay, I went looking for other alternatives. I heard and tried suggestions ranging from putting the boat tank under the rock-n-roll bed to hammering the original tank. I had marks on the tank from where the vacuum pump hit during install attempts and I had marked where the water flange was hitting the horizontal seam. I extended out from those end points a few inches to provide room for coolant lines and drew vertical lines on the tank. At the top, I measured a 45* angle towards the center for 5" and then drew a straight line across the top (parallel to the rear lip of the tank) for the top cut. This extra space would provide room for the vacuum pump for sure, but it also provides space for my hand to go in front of the pump and/or flange if I need to fix something later. The pictures should help illustrate this. Please contact me if you want/need more detailed measurements.

Finding a Welder
After exhausting what I felt were all other options, I found and hired a welder off of craigslist. I wasn't sure Hal wanted the work with the exploding fumes potential. Brad (the CL guy) has done other automotive welding and fabrication and wasn't at all concerned about welding on my tank. The finished job is exactly what I wanted, right down to the vent line included in the new material. I was very stoked.

Painted and Ready
I thoguht about running some Bondo onto the seams to smooth them out, but I figured I'd probably just dork it up somehow and they would eventually become rust spots instead. So, I just shot the rear of the tank with Eastwood's Tank Tone. I re-mounted the fuel level sender, soldered a ground lead with a couple of eyehooks, and it was ready for install.

Fuel Tank Install
Actually getting the tank in and out of a bus with a TDI in the engine compartment isn't brain-hard, but its body-hard. The engine needs to be lowered all the way to the ground. Then, the vacuum pump needs to be removed as it interferes with the tank install. Then, put your bus jack into the right-side (passenger) rear jack mount and raise the bus to the highest the BusDepot jack will go. The tank will slide in through the rear engine hatch from the right side, glide over the top of the engine and get rotated into the fuel tank bay. The fuel fill line took some muscling, but the vent lines were easy. Mount the ground wire to the body and then the hold down straps. I did not wire-in the level sender lead because I'm not sure how that will integrate into the main wiring. That should be easy to reach, especially now that the front edge of the tank is a few inches closer to the sender.

Engine In
Once the tank was in place, it was time to get the engine back in. Now, I still have to tighten down the fuel tank hold down straps, but getting the engine in was a bear. A few posts ago, I mentioned that I wasn't careful enough on my jack adapter alignment, so the engine came down a little crooked. This made the re-install almost as bad as the first time without the adapter. I finally got the rear transaxle bolts in though - driver side first. Now, we're ready to finish out the engine mounts come Sunday.

What's Next
I expect Hal around 5 on Sunday. With the shortening of the days, we won't have much time, but I'm optimistic that he'll be able to get the rear mount finished on Sunday. We still have the dog-bone to integrate, but there may not be enough time before darkness falls. While he works on the rear mount, I'll be getting the starter back in, and the vacuum ball installed. If time allows, I'll get the exhaust manifold/turbo re-installed and tie-in the waste-gate actuator into the vacuum system (as well as the vacuum pump). If I still have time, I'll start working on the induction side of the engine. I don't have enough detail to work on the radiator stuff yet.

I'll post after Sunday's work is done.

Monday, September 21, 2009

maintaining inertia

It's been an interesting week, but aren't they all. My concerns about available time once school started were well-warranted as I really didnt' get much wrench-time. Considering all the interrupts, tangents and distractions, I'm calling this week a win just because I was able to maintain some project inertia. I'll post more on the fuel tank solution later this week, but I touch on what's happening with the most recent twist. I have a small bit on the oil cooler and on prepping the turbo for re-install to finish out today's post. Of course, I added a picture of Mike navigating us South in sepia tones and a shot out the window along the Columbia River.

Tank Update
I was able to solicit and aggregate opinions on the diesel fuel tank under the rear seat. Now, it seems everyone agrees there's nothing legally wrong with putting the tank there, we all seem to feel the same visceral discomfort when we imagine children sitting a-top the bench during a crash. I spent time Sunday undoing everything I had done to get the WestMarine tank under the bench. Honestly, that WestMarine tank would serve very well as a water tank, and if they don't accept it as a return that's what I'll use it for. 12 gallons of water might be handy when we're off-grid camping somewhere. Regardless, I got the Westy interior back to where it was, put a bunch of accumulated tools and parts away and got to a place where Hal and I could work again.

Oil Cooler
Unfortunately, Hal hit a scheduling snag and couldn't join me, so, I redirected onto buttoning the "engine holes" back up. This consisted of cleaning the oil:water heat exchanger and remounting it. As an aside, I did some research on this "oil cooler" and it seems the TDIClub folks are very keen on this bit of equipment. This brings the oil and coolant temperatures nearly equal, so keeping the engine as a whole at "normal operating temperature" (NOT) is realized. Once external oil coolers are introduced, it is harder to reach and remain at that point, so the decision to scope-out the external cooler turns out to be a good one. The key is getting adequate cooling for the coolant via the radiator. Now, if I can figure out a way to use that external cooler to cool the transaxle oil, that would be great.

I tightened down the intake and the vacuum pump and I set to work on the exhaust / turbo. This large unit had considerable surface rust on the iron parts, so I hit it with rust converter. The turbo and the waste-gate actuator looked pretty good, so I just cleaned them with a simple cleanser. Last, I masked off the iron so I could shoot it with some engine block / exhaust manifold paint. It will look better, but I really hope this will stop the rust. Just trying to follow the simple Navy rule: if it don't move paint it.

This week, I'll be focused on the fuel tank again. As I said above, I'll post on that once it is in place. Regardless, I would like very much to have the engine back in so Hal can resume his work next Sunday. Even though we're supposed to hit an unseasonably hot 90* today, the rainy season should open in less than a month, so the pressure is on.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tank redirection

The WestMarine tank arrived on Thursday. After a bunch of other distractions this weekend, I was able to get a few semi-interrupted hours to try to fit it into the bus. I found that it would not fit into the fuel tank bay. My measurements are correct, but the fuel tank bay is not square. In fact, its all kinds of lumpy which works great for the lumpy original tank, but is lousy for a flat bottom tank. So, I moved on to plan (b) or os this plan c or d?

I figured that I'll be running diesel or a biodiesel blend of some kind. These fuels are not explosive like gasoline is. Evidence: semi-trucks have their fuel tanks hanging under the doors out where everyone can see (or hit) them. The national safety folks and the collision testing people appear to be fine with that. So, I tried to fit the tank under the "rock-n-roll" bed (some call it a Z-bed - misnomer). The tank fits with a couple of inches to spare on top, but the fittings are a small problem. Once I removed the floor register in the center of the front wall (it was non-functional in my bus anyway), the power converter, and the driver-side lower bed support the tank could sit flat. I may need to remedy the support, but the power converter will move into the area where the fridge is. I don't use the fridge as a fridge anyway, so that whole thing will come out and go onto craigslist or theSamba.

Back to the tank. I had to cut down the fuel inlet to about a 1/2". That should provide enough space to put a 90* bend hose in without the seat bottom rubbing. I determined the route for the fuel fill line through the firewall, and started making the opening. I will need to route the tank vent back into the engine compartment too, so I'll be boring a hole for that. The outlet on the tank looks a little small, and the tank did not come with a male nipple, so I'll need to figure out what size it is and buy one at Lowes or Ace Hardware. I'll have to bore a hole for the engine fuel supply line too. For all of these openings, I found bits at Lowes to fortify the hole for the lines to pass through. I'll upload pictures once I take some :) The key here is to extend the opening so it isn't a thin steel hole that can work its way through a rubber (or even steel, given time) fuel line.

I will have to fab or purchase tank hold-downs. I know I can get them at WestMarine, but they're like $35. One last lingering concern: the fuel tank fill inlet is 1-1/4" and the filler at the flap on the bus is 2". I purchased a rubber adapter, but I don't know how it will fare with diesel fuel. One more thing to keep an eye on during routine maintenance efforts.

Hal will return next weekend to finish out the engine mounts. So, the fuel stuff on the engine compartment side needs to be done by then. Its another busy week of school, soccer practices and evening meetings, so it will be tight getting this done before Hal arrives on Sunday afternoon.

top - plate on the top of the tank
middle - tank in-place under the rock-n-roll bed
bottom - fuel inlet measurement. Yes, it looks like 1-1/2", but the conduit I found that matches is 1-1/4"

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

School starts

So, Summer has effectively ended around here. We attended our friends' goodbye-to-Summer BBQ last night, and sent the kids off to their first day of school this morning with bags full of supplies. If going to see the Dead in a friend's bus wasn't motivation enough, there's nothing quite like the fear of Fall to get that Summer effort moving at a dead run. I've got to figure out what can reasonably be done with very little time between now and the rainy season and then Winter.

I figure I have about a month, maybe 6 weeks at the outside before the rains really hit here in the PacNW. Of course, it isn't drought between then and now so I need to plan while considering that could lose an afternoon to bad weather. I can't afford to lose a day to poor planning, like I lost Labor Day weekend. How did I manage that? Well, I took too long coming to the realization that I couldn't fit the new engine and the old fuel tank together. I ordered the WestMarine tank I mentioned in the previous post, but not until Friday. So, I was able to drop the engine and get the old tank out, but I can't move forward until the new tank is in hand and I've figured out how to fit it. Back to planning... I have maybe 3 dry Sunday afternooons and a few after-work evenings available. In order to be ready for rain, I need to have a few systems buttoned up.

1 - engine mount
This work needs to be completed, if for no other reason for my sanity. I think Hal's wife will have him on the couch if this stretches into the deep Fall anyway. We're very close on the tower, but the dogbone needs to be tied into the deal still. This will be close, and will keep Hal busy most of the way to the rainy season.
Estimate: 8 hours more.

2 - fuel system
The fuel tank questions need to be resolved and no longer force the engine to be dropped. Fuel tank in and fuel filler hose routed at a minimum. If the rest of it could tie in, that would be a bonus, as getting to the top of the tank isn't easy once the engine is in. This is my first priority. Tank will be on-hand Thursday afternoon. If I can resolve some fitment issues and get it into the tank bay before the weekend, it would be fantastic. I don't expect that to happen, however. Better expectation: lose the weekend to it, but done by Sunday night.
Estimate: 6 hrs.

3 - vacuum system
It is almost ready. Once the engine can go back in with the stock vacuum pump, this system is effectively finished. There's the vacuum ball. Figure a couple of hours tops for that. I can leave a few of the remaining lines disconnected, but I will have to seal them off for the Winter. This should take less than an hour. Hooking them up properly can't be completed until later anyway (no air filter, don't want to hook up the waste gate until the mounts are done).
Estimate: 1 hr now, 1 hr later.

4 - primary electrical
Once the engine is in "for good" I can put the starter in. It gets in the way of the p-side tranny bolt access, so I'd rather leave it out until the engine is in for the Winter. Installing the starter should takes less than an hour, but it'll probably be one of those after-work deals, and everything takes longer in the dark. You remember I don't have a garage for this project, right? After the starter, there's the battery and the hot-start relay. Those items can wait. There's little point in leaving the battery outside in the rain all Winter, and I'll need some thinking time on the wires to know how to hook up the relay.
Estimate: 1hr now, 2 hrs later.

4 - coolant system
Based on the estimates for the other systems I'll be working on, I should be able to focus on the coolant issues by the mid-point of my 2nd dry Sunday. With the fuel tank resoolved, we'll be back to the original (auto-tranny) water flange, so the biggest immediate issue will be resolved. The best goal for now, though, is to have a clear plan for locating the radiator, and routing the pipes. Perhaps, if that is planned early enough, I can have the pipes routed before the rain hits. Not terribly likely, but if everything else stays within estimates, there will be 1-1/2 afternoons.

5 - engine holes
The turbo is loosely hanging on the exhaust ports. The oil cooler is disconnected. The water system is open. All this needs to be closed up, and rags hammed into openings. We won't get to the new oil cooler unless something uber-fantastic happens, so the old one will be put back on to seal the system.
Estimate: 1 hr.

Anyway, no real meat since the last post other than I ordered the tank, and I got the luggage rank re-installed on the top. I never got around to painting it, but at least it's clean underneath it. I'll post pictures and progress on the tank after its in-hand and (hopefully) in-bus.