Sunday, February 28, 2010

Hal returns

I'd thought I was going to get a bunch done this weekend, but it just didn't work out that way. Friday was mostly lost to work and messing around with my welder. Saturday was lost to pulling ivy, and the sore muscles that follows.

Today, the weather was beautiful, and I only had a few commitments. Between running kids around, taking the dog to the park and going to a lacrosse parents meeting (and watching the Olympic hockey gold medal game on tv), my day was quickly consumed, though. My wife returned from her weekend at the Oregon Coast with a late birthday present for me: one of them big red tool chest things. So, of course, I spent a bunch of time messing around with that. It's an oldie that was made in America (by Kennedy), and with a little graphite on the slides, it works very nicely again. As you can see by the over whelming clutter behind it in this picture, I needed this very badly. We hope this is the beginning of a much better organized sub-single car garage where we keep just about everything that is used outside.

Turbo to inter-cooler
Between errands, I put together the solution for getting the charged air from the turbo to the inter-cooler. Using the hose that came with the engine, I simply cut it in half and connected it with a 2" stretch of 1-1/4" pipe. At the inter-cooler end, I'm using a copper step-up.

Enter Hal
After getting some tools stowed, Hal arrived. This was the first time I've seen Hal since before Christmas, so we had quite a bit of catching up to do. We ran through the progress I'd made, and he generally agreed with my decisions. It was nice to have another set of eyes look it over. We decided to punt on the dog-bone mount until we get the engine running, and we'll determine if its needed then. Also, he won't be doing the exhaust work. If we find a better muffler, then, great. Regardless, the routing of the exhaust will be done by an exhaust guy. We set the order of work for the next couple of weeks:

cooling system
1- get the 90* bends at the radiator
2- integrate bleeder in the "lower" hose
3- fabricate bracket for the overflow bottle, install bottle
4- finish running hoses

1- complete inter-cooler to intake charged air line
2- find and incorporate an air cleaner

1- run vac line to the turbo waste gate
2- run vac line to new air cleaner

1- plug in everything I can in the engine compartment
2- accelerator pedal install
3- next.... detail the rest of the electrical work needed, and revisit this list.

That should get me through the next couple of weeks. If I can get that much done, I'll just have the electrical system to do. That list isn't that imposing, so I'm optimistic. Hal will be involved for the accelerator pedal install. More next time....

top - new tool storage birthday present (yeay!)
middle - turbo to inter-cooler charge air line
bottom - charge air line installed

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Race pipe and intake movement

I tried to take yesterday off from work after working last weekend, but it didn't quite stick. I had put in at least 5 hours every day for almost 2 weeks, so I figured I needed a day away. Unfortunately, I got roped into a meeting for an hour, and there were a few other items that needed doing, so I basically lost the morning. Shrug. I was able to make some headway on the intake effort, though, so today's post is about that.

Race Pipe
In my last post, I crowed about the delivery speed that dieselgeek delivered the race pipe kit. This kit includes an EGR replacement pipe made of 1/4" thick 6061-T6 aluminum and the related fasteners. The race pipe has a nipple for a boost valve. The kit also includes a block-off plate for the exhaust manifold end with a gasket. After putting the rubber gasket on the intake-side of the race pipe, the provided bolts threaded right in. I cinched it down with an Allen wrench, and the pipe is in. The boost nipple points towards the driver-side, and I was happy to see there were no engine-hatch fitment issues. As you can see from the pictures, it looks better than the rest of the engine does. I'll have to clean the rest up a little bit. Maybe there will be time when I replace the injector-to-injector pressurized rubber fuel lines.

Block Off Plate
The diamond-shaped plate that comes in the kit blocks the port on the exhaust manifold where the exhaust gasses would have been sourced for the EGR system. Without the EGR, the engine will have less soot routed into the intake (preventing that goop issue I blogged about here), but without the blockoff plate, I'd have a leak in the exhaust, which would be bad. The enclosed plate came with a replacement for the gasket, but not for the nuts. As luck would have it, these nuts are the same size as the exhaust manifold nuts from the old aircooled engine. I had replaced them with stainless steel bolts, nuts, lock washers, etc, before, so when I sold the exhaust, I kept those fasteners. Now, they adorn my new block-off plate, and look great.

From Inter-cooler to Intake
The route from the intercooler to the end of the intercooler suddenly grew much shorter when I installed the race pipe. I had been concerned about having enough rubber material, and after that install, I was concerned that I'd have room for the routing at all. From the inter-cooler, I used the stock rubber hose that's about 3" long. From the race-pipe, I attached another stock rubber piece that turns sharply 90*, and twisted it so it points at the intercooler. From the picture, here, you can see that there is practically no room between the 2 rubber bits. After pushing through a bunch of scrap pipe, I discovered that an exhaust pipe would fit, but I needed a sharp 45* angle. They don't sell those at Meineke. So, I cut a leftover bit of exhaust pipe, and spent my afternoon welding it so there aren't any leaks. It may not be pretty, but it will work. I'll cut it down to size tomorrow, shoot is with some paint, and we'll know about it, but no one will ever really see it.

Hal should be stopping over tomorrow after work, so we'll have maybe a couple of hours of daylight together. Ok, more like 1.5 hours. Anyway, we'll go over what's been done, and what's needed to be done. I have a very short section of pipe I need to put on the turbo-side of the inter-cooler, and the intercooler will be done. Then, I'll have the air-filter end to deal with.

More after tomorrow's efforts..

top - race pipe installed
top middle - block-off plate installed
middle right - engine bay with diesel-geek kit installed
middle left - rubber to rubber where inter-cooler meets race pipe rubber
bottom - my craptastic welding job.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Diesel Geek rocks

I know, I just posted something yesterday, and I'm already posting again. I had to make a quick shout-out to DieselGeek for their unbelievable turnaround time. To be fair, the USPS, who I roasted in another post (FedEx Ground -v- USPS), played a pretty large hand in it too. I mentioned in my last post that I had ordered a race pipe kit from DieselGeek. Well, that order hit the internets at 12:30 Saturday morning. Yeah, I was working late. Anyway, I got an order shipped message this morning, and the package arrived this evening. That's just crazy.

So in the picture to the left, here, that's the EGR valve replacement for the intake (race pipe) at the bottom. There's a nipple on there to attach a boost gauge. I hope that doesn't interfere, clearance-wise with the lid. Above that to the left is the seal. Near the top is a plastic baggie that contains 3 allen bolts for attaching the pipe and a diamond shaped plate (and gasket) for blocking the opening in the exhaust header.

Now, I have to find another of those 90* turn rubber hoses for routing the charged air. The part number is 1C0 145 834, and the usual places (autohausaz, JCWitless, etc) don't stock it. A search on eBay only brought up that Kleiner Auto guy that over prices and then slaps a $8 minimum shipping for a dirty, possibly faulty, part. His price is the same as some others charge new. Regardless, I don't like the idea of paying $50 for a section of hose that's that small (see picture on right). I may just go with a section of steel pipe there. I figure I can get a stretch of exhaust pipe bent for a few bucks down at the local Meineke and cut that to fit. It won't flex as much as a rubber hose, of course, but the inter-cooler mount is pretty flexible, so it may not matter. Regardless, for the difference in price, I'll take a run at the steel pipe.

I'm taking the afternoon off this Friday after working so much this weekend, so I'll have an opportunity to finish the inter-cooler stuff. Then, its finishing out the cooling system and thinking about an air filter.*stoked* . I should probably get 2 90* bends from Meineke so I can better assemble an exhaust. Just thinking that what I have now may not have enough material for welding. We'll see. I haven't heard from Hal, so I don't know if he'll be here on Friday or not. I have stuff to do regardless, but it would be nice to have a partner... and those bits he's working on really need him.

More next time...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Birthday, engine pass

I made progress on lots of little things since that last post. First, I had a birthday. Woo hoo. The wife and kids took me out to a hockey game after a day-time cycling picnic. Great day. Then today, I sold off my old pancake engine. Quite a weekend. The engine sale should cover some of the cost of the Riviera pop-top I bought on lay-away from my friend Toby. Other than the engine, I took a big bite out of the intake (EGR elimination) and cooling system work that's left.

Pop-top for an engine
Like I mentioned above, I verbally agreed to taking Toby's old Riviera pop-top. In my last post I went into the what and why. I sold my engine with the idea that I'd be taking that money to Toby for that pop top. I'll still have to scratch together a little more, but I'm a good half-way there now. Harry got the engine for a steal, IMHO, but I want it gone, so my sick-of-it-being-there cost me some cabbage. Oh well. It'll run well for Harry, and at his price, I don't owe any explanations or anything if it doesn't run as well for him as it did for me.

Inter-cooler / Intake Progress
I got most of the pipe set to route from the turbo to the intercooler intake. I need a short section (2") of hardpipe to span between 2 thick rubber lines, and that end is done. I haven't given any thought to the air filter yet, but I know that is next after the intercooler-to-intake portion is completed.

Early on, I made the decision to omit the EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) system on the ALH engine when I installed it into the bus. First, it feeds sooty exhaust into a damp intake creating a sludge that eventually gums up the intake. When the hot dry soot hits the damp oily intake, we get goop. The oil comes from 2 places. First, there's the PCV (positive crankcase valve). The PCV allows for the pressure that builds within the engine to be released. Because this pressure is not pure air (it contains a little oil), the EPA doesn't want that vented into the atmosphere, so it is routed into the air intake. The second source is the turbo. As a part of the lubrication of the turbo, some oil gets into the air passing through. Since we can't eliminate this second source, we're left with the soot. I intend to run at least B5, so that should eliminate the soot that would have been routing into the intake at the time of combustion.

Eliminating the EGR
To cut the EGR circuit out of the process, there are a few different things that need to be dealt with. First, there's the EGR that's bolted onto the intake. This is pretty easily removed and replaced with a "race pipe". It should be noted that a vehicle that does have to pass emissions will be in violation of emissions laws if this is used. Once the intake-side has been removed, the exhaust end needs to be blocked off too. A plate can be constructed by tracing the gasket on some mild steel. Dieselgeek offers a kit for replacing the EGR and the exhaust bit. Link here. I also removed the EGR cooler. Dieselgeek has a kit for that too, but I'm not using their replacement for that.

Oil Cooler / Upper Radiator Hose
I changed the "upper" hose. I had just a simple run from the engine outlet to the radiator. I looked at the hoses that came with the engine and noticed that the upper hose has a sensor in it and the lower hose has a bleeder. I took the upper hose and cut it off just past the 90* bend. To that I tied in the sensor and then a copper 1-1/2" / 1/2" T so I could tie in the oil cooler. The picture to the right here is the completed "upper" before installing. After separating the oil cooler feed hose from the return, I cut it down to about 4" long and routed it between the cooler and the "upper" hose. Once I integrate a better 90* solution at the radiator, I will probably be able to eliminate 24" of hose I had laid out earlier.

Bleeder to Bottle lines
After the main hoses, the TDI engine has a secondary coolant line system. These hoses are about 3/8" and pull air bubbles out of the high points of the system back to the top of the overflow bottle. The stock setup connects at 3 points: from the head, from the heater-circuit and from the EGR cooler. Since I have completely removed the EGR, I will replace that connection point with on from the "lower" radiator hose. I was able to get the lines connected for the heater circuit and the engine head, and set up a "T" for the lower hose. I have a pretty good idea where the overflow bottle will go, so I'll be working on a bracket for that next.

Cabin Heat Delay Complete
I took the hose from the heating circuit return, cut it up a bit, and tied the heat input and output together. This closes that circuit for now. There's a bleeder already in place, so I should be able to come back at this at the end of the Summer for cabin heat without sacrificing anything right now.... especially time.

Once I get the race pipe kit from dieselgeek, I will be a short stretch of rubber away from having the intercooler work completed. That short stretch will have to bend 90* twice within a very short space, so this may not be easy. I will continue to work both of these aspects of the project, though, to reduce down time. I'm certain I will need another 90* bend of turbo-charged air supporting rubber and I have a bracket to fabricate for the overflow bottle. That is where I'll pick up next time.

top - the old pancake engine. Good luck, Harry.
middle - upper pipe with the sensor and oil cooler "T" ready for install.
bottom - my boys at the hockey game.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Olympic distractions

I don't like going more than a few days between posts, and its already been a week. I haven't been able to get much time with the bus, so I'm basically just posting an apology for not having anything to post. I'll touch on the little bit of work I did get done, some extra motivating camping plans, and finally some thoughts on my pop top.

Inter-cooler lower bracket
I did have about an hour this weekend, so I started working on the lower support bracket for the inter-cooler. Its not much to write about, honestly. Its a simple 1" flat bar cut about 8" long with a slow bend in it so there's about 2-1/2" of straight at each end. Because of the angle needed to match the mount-holes on the inter-cooler, this seemed to give the best alignment. The top-side will have 2 holes for the inter-cooler, and 3 on the side for riveting/bolting to the inside of the engine compartment. I discovered that my cheap carbon-tipped drill bits are starting to wear out, though. I'll be stopping at Harbor Freight or Lowes on the way home tonight to get some replacements. If time and light allow, I'll finish boring out the holes tonight, and maybe get it in-place.

Camping plans
Its that time of year when you are finally sick of the foul weather and start distracting yourself with Summer camping trip plans. For those that have large camping vehicle maintenance or repair work, this brings and extra added incentive to get-er-done. We already have a July trip planned, but this weekend, we started talking about another one... or two. My goal was to have the bus moving under his own power in time for Independence Day. This is still the goal, but he may need to be camping-trip-ready shortly thereafter. The extra motivation wasn't needed. More daylight is. Starting to feel a little stressed....

The 1972 Westy pop-top is the early-version of the slant-roof pop top. The luggage rack is over the rear tires and the available sleeping arrangement is a single narrow cot. On my bus, I have one extra added "feature" - the canvas has a 3' tear in it from top to bottom. When driving the bus, this doesn't make any difference. When camping the bus, though, this is a big deal. Bugs and rain easily enter, and especially annoy the boy sleeping in the upper cot. I have priced replacement canvas, and it isn't cheap. For decent canvas, its over $200, and the labor is still all yours. In the end, you still only have sleeping for one up top. The later Westy's have a full sized bed, so 2 people can sleep up-top. The ASI / Riviera pot tops (they go straight up) also have a full-sized bed that can fit 2 people. I am seriously considering purchasing a used Riviera pop top (with good canvas) as a replacement for mine. This does 2 things: replaces my bad canvas and gives my boys the penthouse together for camping. To be fair, would my bus still be a "westy"?

That's it for now. I'll be trying to finish the lower bracket tonight and maybe try to get some things done on the upper one this week. I have to re-visit the cooling system, deal with the charged-air lines and air filter, and then I'll be ready to deal with the electrical. All told, I could be doing electrical stuff before the end of February. That would be fantastic. I expect the next couple of weeks, though, to be full of Olympic distraction, though. There's just something about the Winter Olympics.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Engine Hatching

Last time I said there were 4 different things I could focus on next. Turns out, there was a 5th - finishing the engine hatch. I did 90% of that finish work today. I'll cover that, and then rough out a plan for the inter-cooler mounting.

Where'd that hole come from?
Over a year ago, I needed to put a hole over the engine compartment so I could fit the new engine. After some examination, it was really only a short section of support bar, but I really didn't like not having a hatch. (see "it's in the hole" for a longer post about the hole). Anyway, I put a roughly square hole over the engine compartment.

Don't cut your lip

In December, I posted about the radiator cowling. Within that post ("Radiator Shrouded") I talked about wrapping the edge of the hatch door with drip-irrigation vinyl tubing to protect my fingers from getting cut on the lip. Well, I discovered today that it does a pretty good job of sealing off the engine compartment from the passenger cabin. I will have to pull it off to remove the remaining bits of blue tape, to put some paint on the exposed steel and to glue it back, but its a keeper. I did file all the way around so it isn't sharp. That took much longer than I expected, but so much of this project falls into that category.

hinging on what?

I thought about piano hinging this door so it lifted from right to left instead of front to back. I thought is would be more useful or that I could figure out a way to get it to stay put using the cabinet. I discovered, though, that the square-ish hatch and the roundy roof wouldn't support that. So, we're going with front-to-rear. The shape of the floor is all lumpy, though, so a simple piano hinge would look weird. Instead, I got 4 1" hinges at Lowes and a small packet of 4-40 1/2 machine bolt/nuts. The hinges were set into the floor of the bus with rivets. Maybe I should have gone with bolt/nut on both sides. We'll see. Once the hinges were set, it was just a matter of patiently aligning the hatch, marking, drilling and bolting.

keeping it closed

Now that the door will go up and down, how do we hold it in position? First, we need something to keep it from falling into the engine. Since the hole was cut without regard for where the supports were, the rear edge was hanging 4" +/- from the rear support. To remedy that, I got a 1" angle of steel (36" long) and cut a 1-1/2" square from each end. After bending the remaining tab, I had a 33" long angle bar with a tab for mounting to the front-to-back supports. (I'll post a picture). I had to hammer on it a bit to get it to fit, leaving about 3/8" sticking into the open space. I riveting the tab's into the front-to-back supports. That left defining a knob of some kind to hold it closed.

I rooted around in the box of spare parts I got with the bus and found an old glove-box knob. "Perfect," I thought. Like setting the hinge holes, it was just a matter of patiently aligning, marking drilling, dremeling and filing. The hole is about the size of a nickle. I found, though, that the hole was a touch too close to the support bar I installed in the last paragraph, and the catch was too low. I took on of the cut-off squares I cut off the bar and fab'd a striker. After an afternoon of messing with it, I have a hinged hatch that holds shut.

All that's left is pulling the tape, sealing the hinge-side with vinyl tubing and maybe putting down a strip of weather stripping along the support bar. I think that might help eliminate any rattling. Oh, yeah, I'll probably put some noise/heat protector on the underside of the hatch. I already mentioned a little paint and glue. That's 10% left.

Inter-cooling planning
Well, I thought that by the time I got to this part of the post, I'd have a plan. I really don't. I'm going to use some thin flat-bar that I have lying around from my different radiator mounting experiments. Now that I have a cross-bar supporting the top-side of the hatch, I can tie into that for the top support. The bottom should be able to tie into the base pretty easily. I doubt I'll get to that work during the week, but it should be a small enough job to complete next Saturday. With luck, I'll be able to finish the hatch stuff too.

That's it for this one. Thanks again for following along.

top: after installing hinges. You can see how I spread them out. That red circle is where the knob goes.
mid-top: while installing hinges. You can already see how it will look like it used to, except for a big black square. That rubber hanging over the seat back is a rear hatch seal.
middle: close-up of a hinge install.
mid-bottom: the striker during a test-install. I cut it down about 1/4" from that to work better.
bottom: hatch closed. close-up of glove-box knob holding it down.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

When I bite into a York Peppermint Patty....

... its like ski-jumping at the Winter Olympics. The focus of today's post is on trying to capture that same cooling sensation for the air heading for the bus' lungs - the intake manifold. So, I'll update on my inter-cooler mangling efforts and on my brother-in-law Tom. Last, a quick what's next?

Inter-cooler Placement
In my TDI Jetta, the intercooler appears in front of the front wheel. It gets forced-air through slits in the front bumper and exhausts into the passenger wheel well. Since the pressure of the wall of air through which you're travelling provides force, it doesn't need a booster fan, and it keeps the air temps heading into the engine significantly cooler. Just for background, an inter-cooler takes the air that was just pressurized in the turbo and cools it down. The charged air can get very hot because (a) it was just significantly compressed and (b) it just passed through an iron / steel block that is connected to your exhaust. HOT! The inter-cooler can drop those temps pretty dramatically by allowing the air to expand a little bit and by acting like a radiator.

So, where does one fit an inter-cooler in an old bus? Almost all of the air pressure greeted by the nose of the bus is pressed around the sides, underneath or over the top. Within a stock VW engine compartment that is well sealed, there is negative pressure within the compartment because of the vacuum produced by the engine sucking on the available air. There is virtually no passing air. With the stock engine and seals gone, there is available air-stream flowing underneath the bus. The vanagon folks often-times will put an inter-cooler in or behind the driver-side rear wheel well. I looked at that, and in the spare battery tray, and in the stock battery tray, and next to the transaxle on the driver side... etc. I looked pretty much everywhere, and concluded that the best spot was upright just to the left of the intake. I cut down a section of the old tin-line so it would snuggle-in a little bit. The inter-cooler needs a bracket at the top and bottom to hold it firmly in place, but the pictures should give a pretty good idea of what it will look like.

But how does it get fresh air? I have a few ideas on that. First, I can fabricate some cowling to dip down below the bus to slurp some passing air. That should be relatively easy. Second, I have a Yamaha radiator fan that I can hook up to the rear of the inter-cooler to boost the passing air. I'd rather avoid that, but its an alternative. There's also the question of the exhaust air. In my Jetta, it exhausts onto my tire. I imagine that shortens the life of the tire a little bit, but maybe it doesn't really produce that much heat. Rather than assume that, I'll probably fabricate exhaust cowling that vents down back into the air stream.

In the meantime, the distances from the inter-cooler to the bottom of the turbo and from the top of the inter-cooler to the intake are each less than a foot. This should reduce the amount of custom material I need to add in. I have a pile of charge-air hose from the Beetle this engine came from, so I may be able to cobble most of it together with stock parts. Considering the cost of silicone hose connectors, I'm very hopeful that I can do this with a minimum of new material.

Tom Passes (1/31/2010)
Tom lost his fight to cancer Sunday afternoon around 4:30. His mom Marianne, his girlfriend and his daughter were all at his apartment when he died. I knew Tom for 20 years, but hadn't seen him at all in the last 5. Its hard to really know that he's gone after not seeing him in person for so many years. My last mental image of him will be sitting on his brother Joe's back patio with the whole extended family playing bocce, and laughing. Tom was a pretty simple guy with a near-constant "are you kidding me" smirk. I'll miss you, Tom.

I have 4 different systems in-flight, so I could really work on / try to finish any of the 4.
1 - cooling system (needs parts).
2 - exhaust (needs some better welding).
3 - vacuum (needs air cleaner, exhaust route finalized).
4 - inter-cooler. Looks like its finish the inter-cooler, and then move on to the air filter while waiting for parts, welding expertise.

That's all for now. I don't know if I'll have much time this week, but I should have a few hours next weekend.

top - looking at the rear end of the bus with the engine door open. note the inter-cooler on the left side.
mid left - looking through the rear left tail-light at the cut to hold the inter-cooler. Note the little nub sticking out on the bottom - I'd may try to use that in the bracketing.
mid right - close up on the rear-side cut for inter-cooler placement
mid bottom - looking through top-side hatch at the clearance between the inter-cooler and the intake.
bottom - close up of the clearance between the bottom of the inter-cooler and the turbo outlet.