Sunday, November 3, 2013

Steering a Shed

So, as the weather starts to feel more like winter, thoughts of playing in the snow start to happen more often.  Today's post is more musings of getting the bus snow-worthy.  First, adjusting the steering-

Point, Re-point & Hope (not shoot)
When I drive the Jetta, the steering is tight.  So responsive.  I could drive with one finger on my left hand, leaving my right free to change stations on the radio or change gears.  In the bus, the steering has been, shall we say, a little more active.  With a 40+ year old system (and the fact that the technology is at least as many years old), it has gotten progressively looser.  On the drive back from Eugene, Boo commented on how active the driving was.  So, yesterday, we looked into what was going on.

Diagnose, and Re-Diagnose
steering box adjustment screw
center bottom of pic
Recall that this whole blog started because I couldn't find instructions for re-assembling my front end other than "install is the reverse" at the end of a tear-down procedure.  Knowing that the ball joints were good, I feared other gremlins in the mix.  So, with Boo behind the wheel and me on my back under the front end, we diagnosed the steering system.  There was no unexpected movement with any of the links, so, that means its the steering box.  The 68-72 steering box is no longer available (NLA) new, and even some of the parts to rebuild it aren't made anymore.  The best hope is to find a quality rebuild ($400+ plus core deposit) or take a plunge into adapting a 73-79 TRW box.  Hmm.. Turns out, there's an adjustment screw on that box.  The Bentley manual describes a relatively simple 2-person process for adjusting the box.  Simply put, if there's no resistance as you pass through the center-point of your wheel range (and all other system components come back "ok"), the box is loose and needs adjusting.  Verify that it's mounted to the body.  Seems obvious, but if its not torqued down, that could be the problem.  For the adjustment, shoot the adjustment screw and locknut with PB Blaster.  Loosen the locknut (19mm), turn the screw a 1/4 turn (to the right) and re-lock it.  Re-test.  After doing this a few times, and even adjusting it to the left a few times, you'll get a feel for how the steering wheel responds as it moves from post to post.  There should be slight resistance through the centerpoint of the turn.  If you think you have it, take a short controlled, low-speed test-drive.  Move the wheel from post to post as part of the drive (take 3-point turns; that's what I did).  It might take a few tries.  If you can't get it right, you may have missed another participant part of the system that needs to be addressed.

Leaky Injector
When the bus couldn't start the other day, I noticed a small dark wet mark underneath it.  Knowing that it hadn't been run in a few weeks, I knew there were few things that could account for a still-wet mark.  Any pressure in the coolant system would have vented within a few minutes after shutting off the engine.  Same goes for oil pressure.  That left the fuel system.  Sure enough, the dark mark was being made by fuel leaking from the injector closest to the rear of the bus and picking up oil as it was pulled by gravity.  Simply loosening the hard line and re-torquing it, we well as re-setting the low-pressure return lines should have solved that.  I'll be looking for leaks after work tomorrow.

Winter Approach-eth
jalousie pic from German Supply
So, driving the old bus in winter is like driving around in your old steel shed.  Drafty and cold.  With the new coolant-powered heat, there's real defrosting and heat at the drivers feet, but that does little for everyone else.  The jalousie (jealous) windows are especially horrible for passengers in Winter.  There are rebuilding kits where all of the rubber and felt can be replaced.  I need to do that.  The bus lacks door cards and an inner wall on the driver's side.  Those need to be resolved too.  Then there's the accessory battery to run the lights, no radio, etc.  I do have studded snow tires, though.  I have decided to pull the bus out of operation (once the steering is solved) so I can put in cards and rebuild the 2 windows.

So, I guess that means there will be a few more construction posts before there are any pictures from SkiBowl through my bus windscreen.  Thanks for following along.

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