Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It

Whoever said "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" must have owned old VW's. Today's post is all about my getting taught that lesson again. I probably won't learn, though. Fixing stuff on the bus is just too much fun. When the day comes that I don't want to mess with something on it, I'm probably not supposed to own it any more. Anyway, on with today's adventure...

Dang Stanky
In my last post, I mentioned something about the exhaust-y air getting pulled into the heat system. There are a few reasons for that. First, I put the heater unit inside the engine compartment. This made sense at the time because it created very short heater hose runs, minimizing possible air pockets. Second, I'm using a vanagon rear-heat unit which has just a simple open-end into which supply air rushes when the squirrel fan starts spinning. So, with the open-end facing the rear of the bus, and the bus standing still at traffic lights at rush hour, the exhaust that wafts out of the tailpipe is only a couple feet away from the fan. Net result: stanky air coming in. Is it broken? Not really.

pic from theSamba
When I first started working with the rear heater, I screwed a 4" vent stub around the open-end. I knew that one day I'd want to supply the air from somewhere other than wherever I put the heater unit. It's probably worth noting that the coolant supply and return lines for the vanagon rear heater unit stick out directly in front of the open-end. This wasn't a problem for the vent stub, but attaching anything else would require some rough stuff.

Rough Stuff
I had to go to Home Depot to figure out the thread size and pitch of the caliper bolts for the Jetta. Home Depot has one of those handy boards in the fastener section where you can take a mystery bolt and just keep trying different mounted nuts and figure out what its thread size and pitch are. Of course, this assumes the bolt isn't so trashed that it won't thread anymore... like mine was. Anyway, While I was at the Home Deopt, I got the great idea of getting some 4" drier vent to connect to the heater in the bus so I could get some fresh air up in the cabin.

Idea: Great.
Timing: Crap.

I got home with some flexible ducting and set up at the back end of the bus. I looked at the vent stub and the coolant lines and figured I could simply remove the top line, remove the valve, get the ducting on and install everything back in reverse. This sounded great, but the application didn't go so hot. The ducting needed to get beat up pretty badly to accommodate the coolant lines, the valve and the assembly tools.

Standing in Puddles
In the end, the supply air is much better, but the re-assembly left me with a leak. A bad one. The leak started out with a drip, and after about 20 minutes of driving it had evolved into a steady stream.

The drive home from work became a harrowing nightmare: defroster not only didn't defrost, it was actively fogging the windscreen. Did I mention the rain or how Portland drivers have their drive-stupid switches activated by precipitation? Now, add in a leak that's so bad, I needed to add water every 20 blocks. I stopped 4 times on my way home in rush hour traffic in the rain to add coolant. So sketch. My nerves were shot, but the bus was safely home without over-heating nor getting in a wreck. I don't drink very much nor terribly often, but I had a whisky rocks when I got home.

So, I'm down two cars at this point and leveraging Portland's mass transit system (TriMet) to get to work and back. Today, we'll get Flash's calipers fixed. After that, Hapy will move into the garage and I'll start on his heat system. Next time I decide I'm going to mess with something that isn't broken, I'll wait until I don't have another car on jack stands. Jeez.

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