Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bleeder done

Today's post is mostly to express thanks to one of our readers that offered a suggestion for the bleeder. I'll then cover the steps take to implement the suggestion. First off, I haven't been very good about thanking anyone and everyone that has posted comments or sent email about what I'm doing. The blog was hit by the spam-machines, so every posting has a bunch of junk responses / comments in various languages offering all kinds of opportunities for me to share my private information for a get-rich-quick scheme or another. It seems that the spam-machines have moved on to other blogs or sites, so I can now go through and read the comments. Please keep them coming, I appreciate the supportive words.

Reader payaso de la mar suggested trying
"a brass needle valve normally used for evap cooler or fridge icemaker tap....they have i think 1/8" pipe thread and taps that size are cheap, or you can 'make' threads with JB weld."
Most excellent idea! I had to stop at the Home Depot / Lowes anyway for some ant killer (nasty little buggers seem to be the bellwether of Spring) so I hit the brass / copper fittings section. I found this tiny brass valve that should work perfectly.

To the right, here, is the picture from the Home Depot website. The store SKU is 543241 (manufacturer's pn is PB9103-CP), and it retails for $5.30, which seems spendy. Still, the right part is always cheaper than wrong part after wrong part, which has been the story of this conversion, sometimes. This valve is maybe 3 inches from top to bottom and weighs less than 0.1 pounds. With the little nipple on the end, I'll be able to route the spill-off to the overflow bottle during bleeding. Sweet.

Install and Use
I had added a copper "T" in the lower radiator line for the install of the bleeder earlier. I had used the same copper "T" near the oil cooler, so I know the oil-cooler related hose would fit the smaller opening on the "T". I had some leftover donor hose from the oil-cooler circuit, so I took about 2" of rubber, and hose-clamped it to the "T". Into the other end, I inserted the old plastic nipple from the first replacement coolant flange (that goes on the front of the head). If you'll recall, I accidentally smashed one of these flanges trying to install the engine early on. From the pictures that have my shop in the background, you can tell I don't exactly throw much away, so I had that flange lying around. A quick cut with the saw and I have something to screw the valve into. It fits into the opening, albeit tightly, and it holds up to pressure.

Now, when I want to bleed the lower end of the system, I can connect a stretch of clear plastic tubing (so I can watch for bubbles) to the valve and run the other end into the overflow bottle. Simply run the engine a bit with the valve open slightly, and the air in the lower end should come out the bleeder. Perfect.

I'll add pictures of this later on, maybe when I'm working out the kinks of the bleeding. UPDATE: here it is in-situ. I was out working on theelectrical and snapped this yesterday.

top - image taken from the Home Depot website of the valve
middle - my yellow Lab, completely wiped out from a day of playing
bottom - the bleeder in-place, hooked up to the lower radiator line

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Plugging Holes, Plugging Wires

I indicated that boss-man was going to activate everyone to work yesterday, and he did. Since my wife was out of town, and I had C with me, I couldn't really go in. Besides, I had a pre-existing commitment to be at the neighborhood association Easter Egg Hunt. I haven't really gone into the details of the HOA, and the fact that I'm on the board, but lets just say that it takes up considerably more time than I anticipated. Yesterday morning was no exception. Today's post touches on my homeowners association (HOA) responsibilities, and the progress I made yesterday.

Hay Ho HOA
In November of 2008, there was all that election energy I got to thinking that I could do a little something to make the world a better place. Let's call it a case of the "civic's". Anyway, by the following February, I found myself on the board of our neighborhood home owner's association (HOA). By the end of 2009, I had taken on the position of "Maintenance Chair", meaning I had the responsibility for all of the common-owned areas excluding the neighborhood pool. Since the start of the school year, I have hosted 6 ivy pulls, coordinated the removal of 15 dangerous trees, oversaw the bidding process and selection of the maintenance company and a surveying company. We have had another tree fall, so there was a clean up (and now insurance company involvement) of that. There have also been a few small projects, including the clearing out and bark-chipping an area where the Easter Egg Hunt took place yesterday. Because of the project, I had to attend the Egg Hunt just to make sure it all was up to snuff... and my 8 year old ("C") was a hunter. The hunt went well, and the space looked great. After meeting with a number of the homeowners, I took "C" home and logged in to work. Fortunately, it was very well under control by my co-worker, so I spent the rest of the day around the bus.

Clean up on Aisle 6
Last Tuesday afternoon when we arrived home from Bend we moved the firewood from just in front of the bus to a spot much closer to the back door. This served 3 purposes - wood no longer touches the house, closer to the door we go through in winter for wood and away from the nose of my bus so I can work around the front. We only moved the wood though, we didn't clean up all the refuse that was underneath that pile. I did that Saturday. With last night's rain completing the job, it is nice clean concrete now. After the area was nice and clean, I set to work on the bus.

Genie Finally Bottled
With some fresh stainless steel bolts, nuts and fender washers, I installed the coolant bottle bracket that I had fab'd and painted before we left for Bend. With it tightened down, I put in the bottle - also with 1/4" stainless steel bolts, nuts and fender washers. With some short stretches of steel brake line, I connected the last bits if the cooling system "bubble system". I cut up pieces of donor rubber from the stock system for the 90* elbows. The leftovers were then sliced length-wise and wrapped around the steel lines. My thinking was that the steel lines could touch ground, and cause an electrical charge through the coolant. The net result looks like the bubble system is pure rubber, but its not. The steel will hold in-place, allowing access to the oil filter and guarantee that the high point of the bubble system is the overflow bottle. The lower nipple on the bottle was tied into the engine block with a section of leftover hose from the donor engine. After much celebration, and a small snack, I switched gears over to the electrical side.

Marinara on the Side
For the first time since last October, I pulled out the wiring harnesses that I got with the donor engine. Since I spent all that time labeling 60% of the sockets, it didn't take very long to get the spaghetti laid out and the important 2 sections identified. There is a primary engine harness that was left on the engine. This has the smaller ECU plug on it as well as a couple connectors for the vehicle lighting. I don't know what I'll do with those. For now, they're just hanging out. The second important harness connects to the other side of the ECU. This has the other engine connectors as well as the multi-plugs to go into the main harness. Both of these harnesses originally passed through the fire wall into the dashboard area (out of the elements).

Considering the length of the cables, I had few choices for a dry location. The most obvious location is the spare tire well on the left side. In the later Westvalia layouts, there is a closet cabinet on top of this well, which makes it a great candidate. An alternate solution could have been putting the "dry" stuff under the rock-n-roll bed. I am not sure the cables would have reached, though. Anyway, I cut a 4" long 1-1.2" wide rectangle in the very bottom of the well. This took some doing without removing anything. Once cut (and sharpness filed), it was pretty straightforward identifying which parts of the cables needed to be in the cabinet and which needed to be in the engine compartment.

I connected the bits that were well marked, and will have to investigate some of the circuits to be sure of others. I intend to physically mount the ECU and other bits into the wheel well, though some of the circuitry needs to find a different home. For example, I don't know what I will be doing with the donor dashboard. I could imagine it taking the place of the stock bus dashpod, but I don't know if I'll have that kind of time before camping season begins. Besides that, there are lots of other parts that would consume too much of the cabinet, and look awful if jammed in there. Instead, I am thinking of removing the parts of the fridge that do the cooling, and leaving the cabinet. We don't use if as a fridge anyway, so why keep all the heavy gets-in-the-way junk? Once that is pulled out, and a pass-through drilled between the 2 cabinets (closet and former fridge), I'll be able to pass the cables into the fridge cabinet. I intend to put in a false-floor under which these circuits would live, leaving the topside for dry food storage.

Next up, is more with the electrical, of course. Since most of the work is now contained within the bus, I should be able to do things even on nasty weather days. I have to put in the accelerator, brake and clutch pedal switches, but those installs are not blocking, so they can wait until a dry day. It really feels good to be on this part, and thinking about placement of electrical bits. It really is starting to feel like I'm almost there.

top - coolant bottle installed with rubber lines.
upper middle - engine bay view of harness pass-through into cabinet. Note that big black thing. It contains the relays for the coolant heaters - which I'm not sure how I'm gonna use.
lower middle - the pasta from inside the cabinet. Eeek.
bottom - inside of the fridge cabinet that seem primed for holding some spaghetti.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Hot Tub, Hot Thai, and High Desert Snow

I'll finish the trip report with today's post. Tomorrow looks to be a rare window of no-rain, so I hope to be working on the bus all afternoon. We'll see how the boss-man-work mandate fits into that. For ease of definition, from now on I'll be referring to my 11 year old as "T" and my 8 year old as "C". I am purposely not posting their names.

Down the Mountain Run, Boy, Run
In my last post, I described some of the effort of learning how to snowboard as taught by my 11 year old son, T. His patience was really impressive. I also mentioned my 8 year old (C) having had a ski lesson, but the instructor didn't take him up on the lift. Apparently, he was "too unstable" on his skis. He was so upset about not getting a real run, I took him up with T. So, try to imagine a first time snowboarder trying to help a first time skier down the beginner slope as the mountain is emptying. Crazy. Figure 1/3 of the trails dump into the top of the beginner slope, so there are very skilled skiers and snowboarders flying past. Until they were all gone. And then there were the 3 of us. C did great, though. I was pulling a falling-leaf to stay close to where I thought he was, and he slid by in a nice crouch. Until he wasn't. T and I spent a few minutes helping him back up, and off he went again, hooting as he skied. By mid-slope, T had boarded on ahead and C was handling himself pretty well. He still couldn't get the "equals sign" stop, which is expected, but he was able to turn into the slope to slow down. With this control, he worked his way down the mountain. Unfortunately, I had spent all of my energy just keeping him safe, so I had little left to get off the mountain myself. Once down, I was hurtin', ready for a hot tub and ready for some made-by-someone-else food.

Ameritel Rescue
The hotel (Ameritel) that offers the great breakfasts and 3rd night free lodging also offers a pool and hot tub (as well as a weight room, ski lockers, and a bunch of other stuff). Since we were kicked off the mountain at 4 anyway, we had some time before the rest of the family would be ready to eat. We got C's rental equipment returned, off the mountain and into the hot tub before 5. Yeah... that's the ticket. Almost a week later, I'm still a little sore, but I'm sure if I'd gone to the gym once this week, that soreness would have been worked out.

Toomies Thai
After a nice soak, we headed into Bend for some eats. My wife had found Toomies in an online review before we left home, so we thought we'd try that. It was "oh my god" good. Maybe it was because we had spent the afternoon falling down the mountain, but my wife was saying it was the best Thai she could remember, and she spent the afternoon in the lodge drinking tea and reading. The spring rolls were great, the Pad Thai, curry... yummy. We'll definitely go there again.

High Desert Snow
We talked about maybe going back up on the mountain. We learned later that there was freezing rain on Mt. Bachelor, so we made the right call. Instead, we went to the High Desert Museum, and enjoyed snow flurries there. It is a nice museum, with some interesting NorthWest Native American specific exhibits, and some interactive western life exhibits that the boys really liked. On the grounds, they have an 1800's settler's ranch with Williamsburg-style interpretive actors to bring the pioneer's daily experience to life.

Home again
We had a late lunch at the Deschuttes Brewpub in Bend (great beers, good food), and grabbed a mid-afternoon matinee of Alice in Wonderland. None of us were impressed with the film, but we hit Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream next door, and we reflected on our trip. We crashed and awoke early, and quickly made our way out of Bend. The drive home was relatively uneventful. We stopped in Detroit for lunch at a Deli/Coffee place on the western edge of town, and sped home. We made such good time that we were able to get a couple of hours of yard work in after unpacking the car.

This Summer, we are planning to camp alongside one of the many lakes on the west side of Mt. Bachelor. I truly love this area of Oregon, and am really looking forward to that trip. I intend to figure out a day-trip into Bend or at least a stop-on-the-way for a growler of Deschuttes beer and some more of that tasty Thai.

top - C drawing while waiting for food at Deschuttes Brew Pub
middle - I believe that's the mountain 3-fingered-Jack taken through the windshield
bottom - The High Desert Museum sign - note the snow flurries

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What Goes Up Must Come Down

I mentioned in my last post that Spring Break was approaching. With the kids vacation, we chose to take a few days and make a run to Bend, in Central Oregon. I'll touch on the first half of our trip with this post, with some pictures, and then consider the remaining work to get running.

We got out of the house early on Saturday and made good time south to Salem and then East on OR22 through the Cascade Mountains and the town of Sisters to OR 97. My wife found a nice hotel with a spring break special in the Old Mill district. We hit the pool, and then we had a less-than-exemplary dinner at Anthony's. We arrived during happy hour and were repeatedly reminded that seating in the restaurant did not entitle us to happy hour pricing. Seeing how the discount was about a dollar on beverages, it wasn't that big of a deal, but it did set the mood off wrong. We ordered a round of drinks and food within 10 minutes of getting seated, but our drinks were long-empty before the food arrived. When it did, it was overcooked and wrong. Getting replacement dishes only prolonged the agony, making all of us surly. Our waitress was apologetic, and we didn't blame her for the expo-guy's complete incompetence. The manager tried to make up for it with a free desert, but even that wasn't good. Overall, I give the place a "D-" < style="font-weight: bold;">

Sunday Morning

We awoke early Sunday and hit the lobby for the included breakfast. Usually when hotels offer these kinds of breakfasts, it consists of bargain fruits and cereals in those tall plastic tube things. The dining experience usually happens in a glorified conference room complete with the cardboard-tasting coffee. That's not what we got, though. There was this whole buffet thing set out in the fireplace appointed lobby. The coffee was awful, but everything else was great.
We loaded the car with the snow-gear and hit the Old Mill for coffee and a grab-n-go lunch at Organic Coffee. The coffee folks were great - even remembered me from the night before when I stopped by for a late coffee to get the awful dinner out of my mouth. We got a few wraps for lunch, and a go-coffee and hit the road for Mt. Bachelor.

Mt. Bachelor is considered one of the top 5 ski destinations in the US. You understand why once you get there. The snow is a dry-powder like Eastern Colorado snow, and the venue seems under-populated even when the staffers call it "a busy day". Sunday was no exception as the Junior Olympic ski events were taking place on the main run in front of the main entrance. Even with that big even, the parking lot was only 1/3 full and the lines were virtually non-existent. We encountered flurries on the drive up to the lot, and it snowed most of the time we were on the mountain. The conditions were rated 'poor' by the price we paid, but by mid-afternoon the fresh snow had turned the compressed week-old snow into fresh powder a couple inches deep. It made for some great riding, even for someone that's boarded only once - literally one time down hill.

My 11 year old son spent the 4 hours we had lift tickets teaching me how to board. He showed considerable patience as I slipped and crashed my way down the beginner slope over and over again. By our last run, I was able to make it from top to bottom with only 3 crashes. Not bad. Meanwhile, my 8 year old was having ski lessons. Unfortunately, he was not taken up the lift during his lesson, and he really really wanted a go at it, so I took my sons up, and had a very challenging time getting everyone down unscathed. In the end, it was a great day on the mountain.

Well, it wouldn't be a complete post without at least mentioning the bus. I don't think I've done anything since the last post, unfortunately. I have the bracket, and I'll be mounting that next. Then, I have to finish out the rubber lines, and close off the bleeder in the lower radiator line. After those bits are done, I'll be switching over to the electrical stuff. Near the top of the electrical list is the accelerator pedal switch and the clutch/brake pedal switches. The current plan is to put all 3 of these under the floor pan. I will probably have to work this weekend, so my availability will be thin at best.

I'll post the rest of the trip next time. Hopefully, I'll have made some progress on the bus-front as well.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Good Day, Sunshine

Today was the first day of daylight savings... or yesterday was the last day of it. Either way, we set our clocks forward an hour last night. Here in the North Woods, that means that it doesn't really get dark until after 7. This opens up all kinds of after work opportunities.... or does it? This week, both of my kids start lacrosse season, so time will quickly get consumed by Spring. I did get the coolant overflow bottle bracket fabricated, though, and I think I have something going to the bleeder.

Bottle Bracket
Since my welding skill is crude and low, it took most of the day on Saturday to fabricate a relatively simple bracket. Near the beginning of the project, I got a '01 Jetta/Golf TDI bottle. I thought about locating it in a few different spots, but I settled on near the firewall on the passenger side. This places it nearest to the air-bubble lines and close enough to the coolant pump. The bottle needs to be high enough to completely flood the engine, yet below the engine lid. Building the bracket took that into account as well as the form of the bottle. I shot it with some rust proofing paint, and I need some longer bolts, and it will be ready for 'final' install.

Lower Rad Hose Bleeder
There's a reasonable concern about air bubbles passing from the radiator circuit into the coolant pump. This could cause the engine to overheat. Anyway, I used some of the old hose as donor material, and put in another "T" just in front of the block inlet. I'll have to figure out a reasonable way to block that off. I could use a PEX valve, I suppose. It would allow yet another way of feeding coolant into the circuit when the day comes to fill it, though. Hmm...

That's all I really got done this weekend. Next weekend, is the beginning of Spring Break, so I have low expectations for getting much done. I'll try to wrap up the bracket and the bleeder so I can check the coolant system off the list. Then, its on to the air filter, and then the electrical. Fun!

top - rough fit of overflow bottle
bottom - looking south-west off the Broadway Bridge at night

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The fog's getting thicker.

And Leon is getting laaaaarrrrrger.
I made a little headway on the bus after the brewbus tour. On Sunday after moving a bunch of junk around the back yard I got some more done. In the end, I finished up the intake / inter-cooler. WooHoo! First, I figured out what the sensor is, and got it worked into the mix. Also, I re-ran the coolant lines for the radiator. For some reason, quotes from the movie Airplane have been running through my head for the last few days (thanks Sean).

Joey, do you like movies about gladiators?
I was trolling the net looking at different things on autohausaz.com when I noticed that they sold a thrust sensor for the engine that I was installing. I had noted a sensor thing when I was pawing through the inter cooler plastic lines, but I hadn't pieced together that it was. Having discovered it, I did a little research. This little do-hickey tells the engine when there is a turbo failure, basically. Without it, the engine will run in 'limp-mode' thinking that the turbo is jacked. The end result: no boost, little power. So... how do we incorporate this thingy into the very short charged-air circuit I have constructed? I have almost no hard pipes, and this thing looks like its supposed to go after its been cooled. I suspect the sensor is a little heat sensitive, otherwise VW would have installed it right on the turbo itself.

Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.
I found my location answer in ETKA. ETKA is the parts and diagrams software the dealers use. I happen to have an electronic copy, and I found that the newer (PD) diesels, have the sensor on the inter-cooler, and it collects both pressure and heat data. So, I pulled my inter-cooler out, drilled a large hole and 2 small ones for the screws, cut some gasket and rubber material, and mounted my sensor in the top (cool end) of my inter-cooler. It looks relatively stock (except for the extra gasket material), and the temps should be low enough to prevent premature failure.

We have clearance, Clarence
One of the top tasks on the coolant circuit I listed in the Hal Returns post was improving the ground clearance at the radiator. I bought an '84 Scirocco upper radiator hose as a donor hose for the 90* bends, and cut it into 2 sections. As you can see from the picture here, the hose is barely the lowpoint of the cooling system - it is not lower than either beam or the axles, so we should be good to go. I need to figure out a bleeder for the lower hose, but I'll start on the overflow bottle bracket first.

That's it for this time around. Next up, the overflow bottle and the related air bubble lines, maybe locating a stock-ish air cleaner. One last quote as I go...

There's no reason to become alarmed, and we hope you'll enjoy the rest of your flight. By the way, is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?

top - the inter-cooler with the thrust sensor installed
bottom - view of the radiator from the passenger side

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Brewpub Bus Tour

Saturday was probably the nicest weather we've had since last September. It got close to 65* and sunny. The topper was that was the re-scheduled day for the magical mystery tour of Portland brewpubs my wife planed for my birthday. I have gotten a few things done on the bus, but I'll post on that later this week.

Brew Bus
Jim has been running a bus tour of the breweries and brew pubs of Portland since the mid 1990's. His knowledge of beer is vast, and his connections in the Portland beer community deep. As a patron of his bus tour, you are treated to a guided tour of at least one brewing operation, and a visit to a number of brew pubs (locations where beer is brewed on-site, and served to the public). Our tour consisted of a number of my friends as well as a few folks that became friends along the way. It was a great time, and we're going to try to make it an annual tradition. There are over 40 microbreweries in Portland, marking Portland as the home to the largest number of microbreweries in the world. Each bus tour visits up to 5 in a 4-5 hour tour, so you could take these tours over and over again, and never get the same tour twice. Sounds like fun eh? http://www.brewbus.com/

Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB)
First stop: Hopworks at 2944 SE Powell in SE PDX. We were treated to a walking tour of the brewery operation, and were treated to a few typically unavailable brews down in the brewery. The lager was very fresh and clean, but much richer than the mass-produced American lagers. Very tasty. We were also treated to a really nice bock beer. We were walked through the downstairs operation by their brewmaster (whose name I forget) through the maze of kettlers, fermenters and the huge cooler, and then upstairs to the main brew pub. If you haven't been to HUB, it has a heavy cycling theme, with bicycle frames hanging over the bar and bike seats mounted to the walls of the restroom. Hopworks is all organic - their hops, yeast, everything is organic, and their waste products are sold to a rancher to feed his hogs, so they produce very little for the landfills. It was at HUB that I sampled my favorite beer of the tour - the deluxe organic ale. Very tasty. I'll definitely be going back.

My reviews:
HUB Lager- clean, fresh & tasty. Remembered it at the end of the tour.
Bock- sharp. started well. bad after taste. not full pint worthy.
Crosstown Pale Ale- Hoppy. bitter after taste, but good.
Deluxe Organic Ale- very tasty.
Hopworks IPA- good nursing beer. great last beer of the night.
Survival Stout- like an ice-coffee. clean front and back, with a flavor hesitation in the middle where it switches from stout beer to coffee.
Seasonal Galactic Imperial Red- "wow" bitter.
Velvet ESB, Fresh Hop/ALT- unavailable.

Next stop: Amnesia at 832 N. Beech in North Portland (NoPo). By the time we got to Amnesia in North Portland, the beautiful day had pulled most of the city onto the streets. Portland Saturday Market was jammed, and it was standing room only at Amnesia. So, the 14 of us (including Jim) clambered out of the bus to an outdoor standing bar next to the barbecue. I think the smoke and smell of the BBQ altered our ability to really judge and appreciate the beers at Amnesia. None of them really reached the heights of a number of the beers at HUB, and the large crowd made the whole experience less pleasant. Amnesia has a neighborhood / industrial feel to it that is consistent with the vibe in NoPo, though. Seated at the picnic tables were an array of 20 and 30-somethings, enjoying the beautiful day, and the on-site brewed fare. We had a bus to catch to our final stop, so we quickly tried everything on the beer menu, and dashed back to the bus.

My reviews:
Dusty Trail Ale- tasted like it would go well with BBQ sauce.
The ESB- carmel, malty. little bitter for an ESB.
Desolation IPA- fair 'accidental pint' where you ordered the wrong thing, but you'd finish it anyway.
Copacetic IPA- fruity or citrusy for an IPA. cloudy.
Slow Train Porter - sweet and rich. Like a good dark chocolate.
Goldi-hops- unavailable.

Final stop: Pyramid. Pyramid Brewery was recently purchased by a mid-western company, and I had heard that the quality of their product hadn't suffered. They are changing names of some of their oferings, and I suspect they are changing recipes as well. The same thing happened when Bridgeport was purchased - they stopped making my favorite beer, and changed the recipe of my second favorite. As a result, I rarely buy Bridgeport beers anymore. Anyway, back to Pyramid. We had our only fruit-beer and Hefeweizen there. I enjoyed the Hef' much more than the Widmer Brothers that gets so much local attention. At this stop, we had some food, and the happy hour offerings were very tasty and extremely inexpensive. I had a couple of chipotle chicken tacos and my wife had a Scottish pie. Yum.

My reviews:
Audacious Apricot- like a wine cooler, buttery apricot.
Haywire Hefeweizen- summer afternoon in a glass. very fresh. only sample I drank top to bottom.
Fling Pale Ale- little hoppy, kinda weak, though
Ale House Amber- smooth, buttery, good everyday beer
Lipstinger Farmhouse Belguian, Juggernaut Red, Hum Bugr Porter- unavailable.

I'll post on my bus next time. Riding around town with 13 friends, some old, some new was one of the most fun things i've done in a long time. I couldn't recommend it more. I know someone had a camera, so I'll post pictures eventually.