Sunday, September 23, 2012

Meeting Beaverton's Finest

I'll get to the bus test drives and such, but today I have to share a story from last night.

The Set Up
Boo has been working an unsustainable number of hours lately.  I like to complain about my schedule, but like I said in my last post, this is the most productive period of the year, so of course I'm working a lot.  Still, my hours pale in comparison to hers.  Beyond just working 7:AM past 7:PM during the week, she worked yesterday from 7:AM and didn't get home until almost 10:PM.  With a schedule like that, and a small condo full of people, we agreed to take a walk to de-pressurize.  I've mentioned before how I dropped an offer on a short sale house back in May.  This house is within a short walk of our condo, so we drive or walk by with some regularity just to make sure everything is okay with it.  Last night's walk was another one of those.

Since I placed the offer, the owners have moved away, leaving the house vacant.  Unfortunately, when they left, they weren't overly concerned with the state the house was in.  There's trash along the side and the yard and gardens have become wild.  It looks vacant.  Since the walk was too short to truly get the pressure off, we decided that we'd work off some stress by pulling weeds out of the driveway concrete.  This is where things turned a little weird.

Hello, the neighbors
We spent about 20 minutes pulling weeds and then pushed the results into a pile in the center of the drive.  there wasn't a yard debris barrel around, so we just left it there and set off back home.  As we stepped into the street, we could see first one flashlight and then a second approaching from 2 different directions on the street.  "Curious," I thought.  These flashlights accelerated towards us and behind them were 3 members of the Beaverton Police.  Apparently, they also are aware of the house being vacant.  So are the neighbors.  Our efforts to make the driveway a little less trashy attracted someone's attention, and they called the cops.  Nice.  While Boo explained to a female officer, I was talking to another, detailing our short-sale offer woes and our desire to not have the house become overly neglected before the paper-chase completes.  They accepted our story once I offered MS's contact info and they inspected the pile of weeds in the middle of the driveway. (queue a line from Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant about the tools and shovels and the garbage in the back of a red microbus).

So Much for Stress Relief
The flashlights snapped off, we turned to leave and the Beaverton police disappeared into the dark.  We started walking home while I shared tales of being shaken-down on a nearly bi-weekly basis while I lived in Las Vegas many years ago.  Boo would have none of it, completely overcome with the craziness of her work schedule and lamenting that we can't simply pull weeds out of a driveway without it going sideways.  I do have to admit, we're a long way from being neighborly.

Good Dude Deed Doers
In my youth, my friends and I would spot a car in the parking lot with their lights on and try to turn them off, calling ourselves the "Good Dude Deed Doers".  Nowadays, car alarms and theft paranoia prevent such a neighborly demonstration.  Instead, announcements across a PA system in a crowded mall are how car lights are resolved.  Nice and anonymous.  No community needed.  When I think about our weed-pulling, and how it was initially misinterpreted as potential property damage, I'm saddened.  Adding to that disappointment, the neighbor who saw us in the driveway chose to just call the cops rather than actually watch what we were doing.  Had s/he taken an extra 10 seconds, s/he would have seen we were simply pulling weeds.  A strange thing to do at 10 o'clock at night?  Yes, but certainly not harmful.  Ultimately, I'm grateful that my new neighbors keep watch on my soon-to-be new home, though.  The alternative of vagrants breaking in and camping there is far less appealing.

That's it for today.  I'll post some test drive thoughts next time.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Transaxle Transition

I heard once that the most productive time in the US is between Labor Day and Thanksgiving Day.  Something like 40% of all work is performed in this period.  When I think about it, it makes sense.  Come Thanksgiving, the holidaze kicks in.  Shopping, vacations, etc through NewYears.  Then, the Winter blues take hold, and sun-seeking vacation get-aways.  Not that I take those, mind you.  Then there's Spring Break, Spring fever and then end-of-school Summer break.  Family vacations end at Labor Day, school starts, so no one is taking vacation, etc.  With this in mind, my work load is peaking, so I've been too distracted to get back to the blog.

Transaxle Arrives
starter adapter on new
I've already mentioned the gearing, etc. in another posting, and that I got it from AA Transaxle in Seattle. Daryl shipped it in a basic cardboard box wrapped in bubblewrap.  Crazy, but simple.  Since I'm living in a condo without a garage, I was in a bit of a spot for doing the work.  Boo had a funny idea of doing the work in my real estate agent's (we'll call him MS) driveway as a motivation to get a house solution.  So... we asked and that's where I did the transaxle swap.  Since I packed my storage space thinking it was only going to be a couple months, finding my tools and the ATV jack adapter was a fun adventure but I was ready to go leading into Labor Day weekend.

Out with the Old
Dropping the engine has become a bit of a predictable system now.  Disconnect the coolant, fuel, and support the engine with the adapter/ATV jack.  Disconnect the axles, lower electrical, exhaust and intake (with intercooler).  Last disconnect the rear engine support and bellhousing support bolts.  Lower the engine and transaxle as a unit.  Once on the ground, I removed the starter and the other 3 bolts between the engine and the transaxle.  Separating the 2 components was simplified with a furniture dolly (covered with a tarp) under the transaxle and simply pulling on the front mount.  The input shaft slide off of the clutch.  I pulled the transaxle into MS's garage, cleaned up my workspace and called it a Saturday.

Prepping the New
'72 stud on left
'75 stud on right
The nose (front) mount on a '75 transaxle is not identical to the nose mount on a '72.  Fortunately, the mounts attach to the transaxle the same way: 2 bolt holes.  The '72 has longer studs, though, so if you do the swap, the studs need to be swapped with the mounts.  The new transaxle was completely redone, but came without a throw-out bearing.  I know the one that was on the original 002 was relatively new, but I put on a new one anyway.  It made a racket during the initial tests at first, but its nice and quiet now.  Getting the wire clips from the throw-out bearing onto the arm takes a little willingness to get after it, but its much easier if you put a longer crescent wrench onto the clutch activation arm and press the bearing hanger away from the depths of the bellhousing.  Attaching the starter and adapter were straight-forward. That old fast-forward adapter needed the custom detailing to fit the '75 002 as well (I did this before.  There's a post in the archives).  I replaced the radiator fan switch, but I haven't seen it actually work yet.  Too paranoid; I hit the manual switch first.

When mating a transaxle to the engine, it is important to remember one key thing: remove the mounting studs first.  In reading this, it seems obvious, but when you're removing things, its easy to overlook.  After some sweaty attempts to get the transaxle on (input shaft aligning with the clutch), and a beer in the shade, I remembered.  They were easy to back out and slide back in through the ears of the bellhousing easily too.  Once the studs were out, the input shaft slid easily into the clutch and with a little twist of the transaxle, the stud holes were aligned.  Minutes later, the transaxle was torqued down, the starter was wired and the deal was ready for re-install.  I took the opportunity to get the engine harness buttoned down right, and put a new c-clip on the temperature sensor.

In with the New
new throw-out bearing
on input shaft
Classic instructions: install is the reverse.  hahaha... it was that instruction for the control arm replacement in the library that started this blog all those years ago.  Raise the nose of the transaxle more aggressively than the engine.  The shifter needs to get over the rear beam.  If you planned ahead, and put the shifter cage on first, you'll appreciate it later.  I hadn't planned, and regretted it.  Once the shifter clears the beam, raise the engine with the ATV jack into place.  Test alignment with the bellhousing mounts, and when its aligned front-to-back, install the rear mounts.  Then install the nose mount, and then do the bellhousing mounts.  That takes a second to write, but many minutes to get done.  I packed the tranny-side of the CV joints, peanut-buttered grease into the valleys where the CV joints mount, and wrenched it together.  All the remaining electrical bits from underneath were all i had energy left for and I called it a Sunday.  Finish the job by reconnecting the coolant lines, fuel, electrical.  Install the intake and exhaust.  Fill with coolant and burp the system.
I've been having issues with that burping bit.  In fact, I spent Monday wrestling with coolant leak issues, and trying to get a replacement c-clip onto that coolant sensor again.  That thing has been killing me.  I think there's air trapped in my cooling system that's creating funky pressure issues and the weak point is the temp sensor.  So, that's where the coolant leaks out.

What to Do with the Old?
On Labor Day, I drove the bus home.  The coolant leak appeared to be resolved, and he drove unbelievably well.  The amount of pep even in the lower gears was fantastic.  We played it safe at first, taking city streets, but he was able to cruise at city speed limits in the low 2000's (RPM).  Just to see how he'd respond, I spun onto the freeway for one exit, and I got up to 55MPH on the onramp with RPM headroom.  Fantastic drive home.  Since then, I've returned my tools to storage, and I have the old transaxle... sitting on the floor of the bus.... making the bus smell like axle grease..  What to do with a viable 002 transaxle?  Sell it to a dune buggy guy?  Sell it to someone who wants a rebuild core?  Welcoming ideas.

Okay, so this was ridiculously long.  Once I add the pictures, this will be epic-long.  Sorry.  I could have done this over the course of multiple postings, but its been 2 weeks already anyway.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Feel Like a Stranger

Its been almost a month, and so much has gone on.  I couldn't possibly cover everything in one post, so I won't try.  I will come back and post about the adventures the last month of Summer has presented, but just to wet your appetite... Ashland camping trip with local swimming holes, transaxle arrival and replacement, discovering a new aqueous-based (non solvent) cleansing unit, test driving, end-of-Summer at Oaks Park, school starting... So much to cover.  Since i haven't been around for a while, it seems appropriate that I start with the road trip to Ashland.

Gonna Be a Long Long Crazy Crazy Night
swimming hole upstream from
Lithia Park, Ashland OR
It seems like the amount of time you need to spend preparing for a trip is completely independent of the number of nights you'll be gone.  Instead, it increases exponentially by the number of persons under the age of 25.  Now, my early-20's readers may take offense to this, but just for a second consider how long it takes to get all your friends together and go somewhere.  Now, think about how fast you can get out of the house when you do it by yourself.  Going to the bar?  By yourself, it takes 5 minutes to find your keys, ID and hit the lights.  Add 2 friends and it takes 40 minutes to get everyone off the couch, finding the bottom of their warm-up drinks, through the inevitable restroom stop, etc.
Extend this simple bar example to a camping trip, and you have the recipe for a very long night prior to leaving.  In fact, the night got so long, we didn't even leave on the original departure date.  We left a day late.  Now, to be fair, this wasn't exclusively because we were shepherding 6 persons.  Boo had to work the first 1/2 of the departure day, so it was 1 on 4 getting the boys going.  It was a losing battle, but I tried.  Ultimately, Boo and I were getting the last of the stuff in the cars around 2:AM.  We left 5 hours later.

Out There on Neon Avenue
Evans Creek swimming hole
outside Rogue River OR
Since I didn't have the new transaxle done, we decided not to drive the bus to Ashland.  We could fit everyone, but a 52mph top speed for 8 hours of driving was more than I thought any of us could take.  Instead, Boo and I took K2 and C in my Jetta and K drove the SUV full of stuff with T (capital letter overload).  We stopped at a Jack in the Box in Eugene for breakfast and made Rogue River State Park by 11:30.  After changing our site from D32 (all-sun all-day) to D2 (almost all-shade all-day), we set up camp and spent the early afternoon lounging.  The boys, of course, couldn't take the slow pace while Boo and I were on 4 hours sleep and needed down time.  Turns out the river is now too dangerous to set foot in now that the dams have been removed.  Its an "attractive nuisance".  So, the boys took off to the town of Rogue River and found a local swimming hole on a creek tributary to the river.  Boo and I met them a couple hours later after stomping around the little downtown of Rogue River.

So Let's Get on with the Show
The purpose for the Southern Oregon trip was to visit with family from Austin and San Diego, and we met up with everyone the next day in Ashland.  We played in the hotel pool with cousins and then met for a big (50 people?) party to celebrate my dad's 80th birthday and my brother's father-in-law's 90th.  Family pieces clustered around Ashland that evening while others attended plays (its Shakespeare Festival afterall).  That became the recurring theme for the weekend; different assemblies of family gathering together at Lithia Park while others attended plays.  We campers usually arrived last, and didn't see any plays, but we had a great time connecting with folks we hadn't seen in a long time.

Inside You're Burnin, I Can See Clear Through
Myrtle Creek swimming hole
We left Rogue River State Park a day earlier than we'd planned.  When we arrived, they were in the middle of a heat wave (over 102* for the day-time high on arrival day), and even the overnight temperature didn't drop below 80* the entire time we were there.  Sleeping in that kind of heat is just very hard.  In the interests of having good sleep at least one night before returning to work, we left.  Before we got as far as Roseburg, though, we were itching to get off the road and have a snack.  Out the window we could see a lazy creek flowing way down below, so we grabbed the next exit, talked to some locals and found a swimming hole to while away the afternoon.

and the Wheels it's Smokin' around Midnight
We pulled around 8:30 and it was just getting dark.  With 4 boys helping, we had the cars unpacked, camping gear stowed and a huge pile of laundry and dirty dishes.  Boo and I started cleaning up and worked late after the boys went to bed.  I tired and crashed too, but Boo kept at it until everything was done.  It was a fun trip, highlighted by swimming in random spots all over Southern Oregon.

That's it for today.  I'll post back in a few days about the transaxle install, test drive, Oaks Park, etc. Now that school has started, there's just that much more going on.  More to post about, I guess.  Thanks again for following along, and if you get some time, check out my friend Ed's blog: Gr8tfulEd