Saturday, October 30, 2010

Baby Steps

Well, I haven't been able to get any real traction lately. I have made a couple of minor improvements, but I haven't had the engine running, and work has been very taxing.

Blue Thermometer
I have identified the missing plug for the coolant bottle. It turns out I was a little over-aggressive when I cut the harness apart and I cut that sensor out with a bunch of things I didn't need. I was able to find the brown/white ground wire and the red/purple send wire in the mass of clipped wires. I extended these two around the front side of the engine compartment to the overflow bottle, and its hooked up. Unfortunately, I am still getting a flashing blue thermometer signal on the dashpod. I tested the continuity of the bottle sensor wires all the way to the dashpod, and they are strong, so that sensor is not the problem.
After investigating this symptom a little bit on TDIClub, it appears that the ECU thinks this means there isn't any coolant or its too cold to start the engine, so it won't let me. This tells me the problem is in the coolant sensor, the wiring for that sensor or engine harness again. If time allows, I'll remove and re-seat the sensor to see if that does the trick.

Fuel Priming
In my post earlier this month (Won't Get Fueled Again) I mentioned that I had another one-way valve coming. I have added it into the mix and the fuel system seems to retain its prime now. I have tested with the MityVac, and I can get a solid flow of fuel even after it has sat for a week. The resolution: one-way valve between the tank and the fuel filter on both the supply and return sides, only allowing fuel (or air) flow in the correct direction.

In a swift move of optimism, I registered the bus. I haven't put the stickers on the tags, but I'll now be able to legally test drive it. Though a very minor thing, it feels like a diamond on the project plan - a big milestone. The possibility of actually driving it seems more real when the DMV says its legal.

That's all I have for now. Work has been very busy, and soccer season is just finishing up. When we reset our clocks next weekend, finding daylight for working on this project will be isolated to weekend days. To accommodate this, I'll be doing as many inside chores as possible during the week, to free that time. Hopefully, I'll still be able to keep some traction on this. I believe, once I have the blue light resolved, I will be able to consistently start the engine. Then, its getting the heat (read:defrost) working, getting Justin over to set the injector timing, and planning some short test drives. Thanks for following along, and for your positive words and ideas along the way.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Dew Tour: Las Vegas

In a post this past August (Wine Tour, Dew Tour) I mentioned that my boys had won this crazy Nerf Dart Tag competition at the Dew Tour when they stopped in Portland. This past weekend was the Dew Tour Finals (coming to ESPN soon, I'm sure), and with it, the Nerf Dart Tag Nationals. Today's post will be all about that. No bus stuff; I haven't done a thing since ordering that part (which arrived when we were gone).

Lively Up Yourself
The Nerf folks pulled the whole travel itinerary together, and both Portland teams (8-12 and 13-17) flew together on both flights. This made for a common bond among the 8 players too.
The flight itself was actually very routine. My wife had checked us in on line 24 hours ahead of time, so within the Southwest Airlines scheme, we were in the lower end of the "B" group. So, the plane was about half full when we boarded. Fortunately, the teams were able to sit mostly together, and it was a typical raucous flight to Las Vegas. The Nerf folks met us at baggage, and shuttled us to the Hard Rock Hotel for our 3 day / 2 night mini-vacation. At this point, some of our group split off to see shows, while the rest of us hit the the Dew Tour for some shwag and then the pool (it was 86* and mid-afternoon). If you've never been to the pool at the Hard Rock, its kinda like Spring Break all the time. There's rock music cranking at one set of pools while a DJ is spinning beats at the main pool. Crazy time. Fortunately, the only pool that had a slide wasn't the pool with the half-dressed (drunken staggering) 20-somethings. The boys stayed near the slide, and so did I :)

Them Belly Full
After enjoying the pool, and connecting with Gramma Marianne, everyone was hungry. Marianne lives in Las Vegas and has done so for 20 years, so she was able to route us to the best buffet in town under Planet Hollywood. Incredible eats spanning many different cuisines. The desserts were amazing - I had a chocolate mousse pie, and we shared a crape. The boys ate like they hadn't seen food in days, and we actually welcomed the very long walk back to the car. That's one thing I forgot about Las Vegas - everything is so spread out, you have to walk, like 1/2 a mile from the hotel lobby, to your room. We fell asleep early-ish, hoping to boost energy for the competition on Saturday. Not all of our teammates had luck getting to sleep early, however.

I Shot the Sheriff
Saturday was competition day. First thing in the morning, I got a text from T that he had seen Shaun White walking through the hotel. We had many such encounters this weekend, and grabbed some pictures along the way. For example, we met Ryan Sheckler in the Bell-Hop line. Great guy, nice as can be and totally down to earth. The competition wasn't supposed to start until 2:30, and it started late. By the time they figured out the competition round-robin it was almost 3:30. Still, our team was in the first match, and they lost to the eventual champs (Salt Lake City) by 1 point. The boys got upset about some calls, but we parents tried to explain that if they had played their usual run-n-gun style, the points wouldn't have been close. They took that to heart the next 2 games and blew out Boston and Las Vegas. As they announced their last match, I could see the boys grow uneasy. The ref said "with this win, (our boys) go into the finals". Well, they tensed up, didn't play their style and lost by a less than 10 points. So, they were out of the competition, but they bounced back. Before the finals had even started, C went bull riding at the Matador booth and T was off getting shwag from the Verizon booth.

Leaving the Tour grounds, the boys were a little dejected, but a dinner of pizza and soda turned them around. The following morning, we hit the pool for one last dip, and visited Las Vegas a little bit. T rode the roller coaster at the New York - New York, and C won prizes in the arcade. Then we hopped the train over to the Luxor to see the inside of the great pyramid. Time was getting tight, so we hopped a cab back to the Hard Rock, and joined the teams for the shuttle back to the airport. The other Portland team also came in third. Oh well, we all agreed that the trip was a great prize for winning the regional, and look forward to competing again next year. The final flight was delayed on the ground for 2 hours because of lightning, and we had some turbulence in-air, but otherwise, passing through McCarran Airport was a breeze for a Sunday.

I think we all agree that it was a great trip, and the boys plan to compete again next year. They can't be on the same team, as the age grouping has pushed T and the other boys into the higher age group. Still, C will figure out another trio of boys to compete with while T finds one more shooter. That's it for now. I'll post on the bus when I actually have a few minutes to work on him.

top - The Hard Rock Guitar in front of the hotel - now my phone desktop picture :)
middle - the Nerf team enjoying their pre-contest breakfast
bottom - a huge Ozzy lithograph hanging in the Hard Rock Hotel

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Won't Get Fueled Again

In my last post, I said I finally figured out what was going on with my fuel system. I'll explain that today, though I won't have pictures of the fix as I'm still waiting for a part. Also, the vacuum system is finally finished, marking one more completed subsystem. Queue the Who: "Yeah!"

Fuel Me Once, Shame On, Shame On Me
So, I tested and re-tested trying to get fuel to travel through the lines up to the injection pump. I determined that if I put a one-way valve into the vent / return line from the filter to the tank, fuel would travel up the feed line. This was true, so I put a valve in, and I was able to get the engine to run once I primed the lines. The problem is, once the engine shuts off, and the operation sits for a while, the Injection Pump loses its prime. Huh? Wha' Happen'd?

Fuel Me Twice, Um... Uh... Won't Get Fueled Again
The fuel slowly trickles back into the tank via the feed line. I hit TDIClub, and found that the stock TDI placement has a one-way valve at the tank to prevent a loss of prime. Dumbly, I took the one-way valve from the return line and put it into the feed line. Well, this didn't work, since the return line was now plling air again. Grr... ordered another one-way valve. It'll arrive i na couple of days, and I'll slap it into place and re-prime the lines.

Fresh Air, Sucka
The last bit I completed was getting the vacuum system all sealed up. I had a posting a while back that traced the vacuum system. At that time, I didn't have the turbo line in, nor the filtered air tap. I completed the turbo line when I got the intake work done a couple of months ago, but it wasn't until this past weekend that I got the filtered air tap done. In the bits and pieces that make up my filter -to- intake, I have an AMSOIL air filter connected to a MAF body. This MAF body is connected to a short flexi-hose which connects to a second MAF body. This second body has the actual sensor in it. This real MAF is connected to a rubber 135* switchback sleeve which connects to the stock intake. The first MAF body has a diamond-shaped blockoff plate on it, and it is into this block-off plate that the vacuum nipple was inserted. The vacuum line fit easily, and is routed behind the filter -to- intake chain I just described. I don't have a good picture of this (it is under the rear cabinet), but it fits well, even with the wiring mess in that corner of the engine compartment.

I'll touch on my efforts with the heat later on. Thanks for following along-

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hitchcock'd Saturday

Friday night's post suggested that I might have some time this weekend to get something done on the bus. That proved right, so I'll hit on the detail of what I got done around a soccer game, and the usual familial chaos around here. To be clear, I love the chaos, I just wish I had a big enough garage to work in so when the chaos settles down at night I can work somewhere warm, dry and well lit. Instead, I have a cold, damp and dark spot outside. I should be grateful for that. I could not have the space to do this at all. I did so much, I'll spread the tasks across a series of posts rather than making this one ridiculously long.

Rear Window
Removing a sealed-in-place window is actually easier than you'd think. With a box-cutter, repeatedly cut the seal at a 90* angle with the glass. Once you've gotten a few cuts in, wedge the knife between the seal and the glass and cut as deep as you can. The rubber should start separating and pulling off with your fingers. Once the glass to rubber seal is breached, push out from the inside of the vehicle and grab hold on the outside. Pull the glass out and then pull the remaining rubber. The window that I was removing also had a little pop-out window in it. Once the outer seal was cut out, the metal frame for the little window could slide back towards the rear and be removed. It was this little window that was leaking - the lower post was rusted away, so even when it was closed a little water could get in. Honestly, it was this leak that prompted the purchase of the cover, the new window and the new seal.

North by North Rust
Once the old seal was out, I could see the effects of the leak.
Over time, rust has built up. Under the window is an odd body panel held on with 3 Phillips screws on the bottom and clips across the top. A couple shots of PB Blaster and the screws released. Pop-pop with a rubber mallet, and the panel was off, showing the extent of the rust. I'm not a body man by any stretch, but I try to inhibit the spread of rust when I see it. Dust, sand, re-dust, then spray with rust converter. Once the converter dries, I spray some paint and let that dry. There are some pictures here to show the before-after. The paint is not an exact match, but its close enough for now. One day I'll paint this beast for real.

The 39 Steps
While the paint was drying, I started fighting the new seal around the new-to-me glass. First, I tried simple brute force.
I had read somewhere about warming the seal in the drier, but my wife suggested using the hairdryer. This proved to be the best solution as it gave me a way to focus the heat onto the bit of glass and seal that I was trying to mate. The picture to the right here shows what I'm trying to get at. After an interesting wrestling match in my living room that included multiple implements, a gash in my palm and 2 complete re-starts, I did get the seal on.

Weather is always a concern when doing anything outside, and no where is this more true than in the Pacific Northwest after October 1st (and before July 4th). With the rainy weather starting, I was concerned that while waiting for the paint to dry the rain would come and mess things up. I got lucky, though, and the rain was only that light misty rain that we used to get a lot of (years ago), so it didn't really make it past the tree canopy. It did make everything damp, though, so the drying time ran a little long.

Getting the now-sealed window to sit into the window-hole is actually kinda easy, but doing all the things the
internet sites say to do make it challenging. Most sites recommend slobbering dish soap or KY Jelly on the seal and wrapping thin nylon rope (more like twine) around the seal a couple of times. This twine is then supposed to be slobbered with lube too. Then, the whole operation is fed into the window-hole with the rope ends dangling inside the vehicle. Without a partner, this is virtually impossible. I got dizzy trying to get it all straight, and actually bonked my head on the side of the bus before removing the twine and going brute force.

So, I got the window seated in the window hole, and whacked around the edge with my rubber mallet until the seal was pressed hard against the metal sill that runs along the inner edge of the window hole.
This sill completely encircles the inner edge except for about 1/2" on the top where the little pop-out window once was. Here's where the brute force started. If you've ever gotten those paint-can openers from the home-paint stores, one end is a great bottle opener. For this reason, I've kept a few around. The paint-can opener end is great for grabbing a window seal and pulling it over the inner sill. I reached through that 1/2" opening, grabbed the seal and pulled it over the sill. Using the paint-can opener (and a Phillips screw driver at times), I pulled the seal on over this sill all the way around. You can see the tool in the picture to the right, here. I re-hammered the seal with the rubber mallet from the outside to make sure it seated completely.

The Birds
I used simple glass-cleaner to get the new window nice an clean - removing all the different lubricants and other soaps along the way. I have used the rope trick to get my windshield in a few years ago, or should I say I watched the windshield guy do it. For a one-person operation, this takes some practice. I wouldn't encourage others to use the technique I used unless they are very careful not to damage the seal in the process. A torn seal will not keep water out, defeating the purpose of the efforts. Getting the new glass into the bus by myself took much more time than a professional would have taken, and I probably should have had someone around to help out. Next time I will.

I have identified the problem with the fuel system, and I'll talk about that in one of the next few posts. I also got under the bus a bit today and did some more thinking about how to get a heater core in there. I'll post on those thoughts soon too. Thanks for following along, and yes I know I missed "Strangers on a Train" and "The Lady Vanishes" in my Hitchcock references. Some of my references were a bit of a stretch to begin with, and adding those would have been exceptionally challenging.

Top - front top edge of window hole after removing old window. Note the notch in the inner sill.
Upper Middle - Eeew. Rust.
Middle - using the hairdryer to warm the glass and the seal.
Lower Middle - window installed-ish from the outside before the seal was pulled over the sill.
Bottom - window fully installed as viewed from the inside. Note that it is over the inner sill.

Friday, October 8, 2010

October? I hardly know her

Someone commented on the blog a while back about how if I was working in corporate America, the demands weren't going to go away. Well... she was right (dammit!). I got pulled into a production issue this week that really sapped me. Fortunately, I was able to snag a few hours last weekend before the issue popped. I'm only now able to get to posting about those hours. I'll hit those bits today, and set the stage for this weekend. I should have a few hours again this Saturday (after coaching a kids soccer game in the morning). Hopefully, it will only be a gentle rain.

Cabinet Cut up
There were 2 things I wanted to do to the cabinet before re-installing it. This took the majority of the time I had. I unplugged the OBDII connector from the plastic surround and traced around the surround to mark where to cut. I wanted the plug to be somewhat discrete, but easily accessible when approaching the bus from behind. Also, it couldn't be somewhere that dirt could easily get into it. The picture tells it much better than I could. Basically, it is in the lowest cubby in the "front" (front is front of bus) wall just above the floor.
The other thing I wanted to add was an access hatch of sorts so I could switch from driver's seat ignition to remote starting easily. This was a lot easier than the OBDII hole. Since the cabinet has been in a bus since the late 70's, the underside had some pretty obvious markings to show where the tire hole is. You can see the stains in the picture. Since the underside of the cabinet is just a few thin layers of veneer, I cut the hole with a box-cutter. I won't be installing the cabinet until after we get the injection timing and other computer-related stuff dealt with.

Buen Provecho
Maybe I didn't really "eat" the wiring spaghetti, I just moved it around a bit. But, the ignition switch and OBDII are where they need to be, the computer and relays will fit under the cabinet (in the tire hole, mostly). I did color coordinate the wiring and the ignition plug. This should make switching the wires from front to remote start much easier. There's a picture of the color / paint markings here.

Pedal Recoil
I don't have any pictures of this, but I found a spring in my parts bin that I think will fit the need to pull the accelerator pedal back upright without placing that last bit of stress on the rheostat. Hopefully, this will take the reading down to 0% when there is no pressure on the pedal. I won't know for sure until I can get a computer reading the OBDII.

I think that's all I got done last weekend. Tomorrow, I hope to look into the cabin heat a little bit, maybe replace the driver's rear window (the one the cabinet faces), and wire in the front ignition. We'll see what the weather allows.

top - masked off the OBDII hole for cutting.
upper middle - underside of cabinet showing where the access hatch was cut in. You can see the OBDII hole in the side.
lower middle - the color coordination in the book, on the wires, and the ignition block
bottom - the wires hooked into the ignition block