Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Front Bumper (part 1)

In my last post, I celebrated returning Flash to drive-able Hapy to daily-driver status.  With one extra car than I need, I immediately returned Hapy to the garage to start improving his looks.  Today, I'll cover what I'm getting into, but none of this changes my re-set expectations.  I'll have some or all of the front bumper back on the bus in the next 2 weeks or I'll drive him to the mountain without it.

Bigger Plan
front bumper in pieces
I have visions of a new (albeit amateur applied) paint job.  I thought about getting a nice one, but this isn't a car-show vehicle.  I take him camping... where branches scrape the sides... and state parks put short unexpected tree-colored posts around camping spots that dent bumpers.  I plan to take him into the snow where skis, poles, boots and boards will bang against the sides, doors and floor.  In the end, a nice paint job would just get destroyed.  So, I'm at the other end of the spectrum; the $50 paint job end.  Okay, not really $50, but pretty close.  I bought a can of white Rustoleum at Home Depot for $20 and I painted the poptop with it 2 years ago.  I intend to bring that bright white down to the belt line as well as paint the bumpers and camping outlets.  For the rest of the body, I'm looking at Neptune Blue (thanks Wolfsburg West for the color image) or something in a darker blue.  I haven't decided on whether I'll paint with colored Rustoleum or use a truck-bed paint without the non-slip agent.  The bed paint would withstand more punishment, but would probably look worse and would definitely cost more.

Front is First
rubber step: what lies beneath
I started down this path on Sunday after adjusting the shifter.  I set aside the afternoon, and it took me about 15 minutes.  So, I grabbed the plain wood panels I had cut for the rear driver's side window and quickly painted them with the white Rustoleum.  I'll get into that plan another day.  Regardless, I had now stepped into make-it-look-nice mode, which is nothing but trouble.  I found some sandpaper and cleaned up the windshield wiper arms.  "They need paint," I thought and then I looked down at the haggard front bumper.  Dented and scratched, it still had a political bumper sticker from the Bush-era.  So, I grabbed my ratchets and removed it.  4 13mm nuts hold cap-bolts to the bumper mounts.  4 15mm bolts hold the bumper mounts to the body.  On the ends, 2 pairs of 13mm bolts hold the steps to the body.  Last, 2 pairs of 13mm nuts mate the steps to the front bar.  The license plate is held on with square nuts backing bladed-screws.  Lastly, on the passenger side there is a tow hook bolted to the body with the same bolts as the bumper mount.

Banging Around
smashed tow hook
Once separated, I looked at the rubber bits.  They're all original, so 40 years old.  The steps were hiding 40 years of water seepage and the seam-rubber had hardened to stiff plastic.  Once the steel was exposed, I could start getting a sense for how much work there is.  There's a bunch.  I focused on the dents.  Even the small ones were easy to find: there was a corresponding rust mark on the inside of the bumper.  Someone with skills or access to good tools will probably cringe at this, but I grabbed by framing hammer and started backing out the dents.  With one hand behind the dent to feel for progress, I slowly moved the steel back to around where it was supposed to be.  I'm not going to make it sound like I got it all perfect, but in a couple of hours my bumper went from moonscape to dimpled.  I'm not done yet, though.  There's one more big dent and the lower lip near the driver's mount still needs wrangling.  Overall, though, it should look a lot better.  Next, I'll grind out the rust, prime and paint it.

Parting Thoughts
My tow-hook was completely flattened (see picture).  I have feelers out for a viable replacement, but I think its pretty common for them to get smashed.  When I removed the driver-side bumper bracket, I broke-off one of the bolts.  Overall, some part of every nut-washer-bolt combination was rusty.  In some cases, the entire bit was heavily rusted.  I chose to order a full bolt-set from Wolfsburg West for $21 as well as the new rubber steps and seam-seals.

In my last post, I said that I'd upload pictures of the parts we removed.  Well... Boo was very helpful and got rid of all those parts before I could photograph them.  So, you'll have to take my word for it that the coolant pump had all this sealant all over it and the rollers looked heavily worn.  That's it for today.  Thanks, as always, for following along.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Flash Lives again

Well, that was interesting.  Two days after that last post, Flash the Jetta broke.  I'll cover that today, more than anything else.

Putter... sputter... sput
It's funny.  I was looking back on a posting from about a year ago (How Diesel Gets Expensive) when Flash stopped working because of a dangerously low coolant level which led to rebuilding injectors, the IP and a timing belt change.  Back then, the driver of the Jetta was my step-son, and oddly enough when Flash suddenly stopped running on Allen Blvd, it was him again, but again, not his fault.  For the third time in a year, I had to have the Jetta towed home.  Enter a plug for AAA.

Attempts to start the engine were not fruitful.  I checked for codes, and got a P1248 (Injection Start Control Deviation).  Concluding there was a fuel delivery problem, I checked the case relief valve in the IP first.  Since the pump was just done, I didn't expect anything unusual, and it was all together like it should have been.  Sometimes, those valves get gummed up and slip out so the pump can't create pressure.  Not the problem.  Then, I swapped out the fuel filter.  After priming the lines and the filter, it still wouldn't start.  I concluded the timing of the IP was off, like the code was saying.  Enter Justin.

Diagnosis Negative
Justin stopped by mid-week after a regular workday to just peek into the situation.  Inside a minute, he spotted a flash of copper/bronze behind the timing belt tensioner, telling him that the tensioner was trash.  Concerns about the timing were spot on, but the timing of the IP was the least of our immediate concerns; one of the valves could have been struck by a piston, turning my TDI engine into a paperweight.  We got the valve cover off, and after a careful inspection, Justin concluded the valve train and pistons were probably okay.  Still, we needed to do a timing belt job.  He ran that through today.

Belt and Suspenders
Turns out the effort to pull off the old belt, replace the tensioner and put a new belt on is pretty much the same as doing a complete job.  So, while Justin started tearing down Flash, I went digging through my deep files to see what parts were replaced when Johnny did the belt as part of the IP swap-out.  I remember the receipt had all kinds of tings on it, but I never found it.  I did find the receipt for when I got towed into Bay City (Bay City Blues).  Ha.  So, in the interest of being safe, Justin and I agreed that a complete timing belt change was the best plan.  As Justin removed rollers and the coolant pump, it became increasing clear that we'd made the right decision.  Even though we only put 10k miles on the belt, an incorrectly installed belt will prematurely wear the parts it touches.  In a few hours, the belt was on, the timing was set and we'd taken a test drive to set it in.  Flash Lives.

Daily Driving
The broken Flash created a force to try driving Hapy to work.  After suffering a dead battery on the attempt on the first day, he responded very well every day after that.  I even ran errands in him one day this week.  He's been starting right up, idling a little high on the colder days, but settling down into the low 900's for idle after a few minutes.  It has been a great pleasure.  I do need to adjust the shifter a little to left to improve the gear selection in/out of 1st and 2nd.  I hope to find time to do that Sunday (tomorrow).

I think that's it for today.  We now have more working cars than drivers for the first time in months.  So, as I look forward to Monday, I have to make a decision about which TDI to drive to work.  Ha!  Thanks for following along, and for those who like the pictures, I'm sorry I didn't take any photos of Justin's labors.  I'll take pictures of the removed parts and update this posting later.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Setting and Re-setting Expectations

I've been maintaining this blog for years, and setting expectations for longer.  When it comes to the bus, it seems I am especially good at setting my goals too high.  For example, in November (Steering a Shed) I posted that I would take the bus out of operation until I "put in (door) cards and rebuild the 2 (jealousie) windows".  After 2 months, I have one window done and no cards.  Of course, I did get the deep cycle battery installed, painted a little bit and patched 2 holes.  Still, I could do better with setting targets.  So, that's my NewYear resolution: set reasonable goals with the bus.  Today, I'll give it a whirl.

Winter Goals (by Spring Equinox)
(X) - rebuild broken jealousie window in the slider door
(X) - patch the hole in the belly pan from the 1972 sink, tank drain and ice box
(X) - patch the hole in the belly pan from the 1979 sink and water tank drain
(X) - solve for accessory power
(X) - drive bus to work a few times to prove its road worthiness EDIT: drove 1/14-1/17
(O) - drive bus to SkiBowl one time to visit the snow EDIT: missed goal

Spring Goals (by Summer Solstice)

(X) - replace plastic film in front doors EDIT: done. see Film at Eleven
(X) - get door cards and put them in EDIT: done. see Hanging Cards
(-) - install the car stereo that's been sitting on the shelf for 3+ years EDIT: stereo needs lockout code. dropped goal
(X) - drive bus to one kid sports event EDIT: done. went to final tournament on 5/31

Summer Goals (by Fall Equinox)

(X) - remove most of the dings from the front bumper EDIT: done. see Front Bumper (part 1)
( ) - remove most of the dings from the rear bumper and modesty skirt
(X) - paint front bumper EDIT: done. see Front Bumper (part 4)
( ) - paint rear bumper
(X) - take bus camping near a mountain EDIT: done. see Black Sheep Family Reunion
(X) - take bus camping near water EDIT: done. see So Starts Camping Season 2014

That's enough for now.  There's no punishment for doing more, right?  Now that the weather has shifted from dry-veryCold to wet-cold, I should be able to drive the bus to work one of these days.  Ahh....

Thanks for following along-

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Hapy New Year

Duh... Failed to put a title on this one.  I'll blame the post holi-daze. So, Hapy NewYear everyone.  I have spent a few hours playing with the bus, and I'll cover that first.  Otherwise, its been a week with the boys, and I'll touch on some of our adventures as well.

Slider Window Install
window in
color sanded paint looks shiny, eh?
The week started with getting the jalousie (jealous) window installed into the sliding door.  For all the other windows, there is a rubber seal that you really have to work onto the glass.  Then, you use the rope trick to get the seal-rimmed glass into the hole and sealed.  The jalousie window is different.  It is held in with a bunch of screws, and the rubber seal doesn't go over any lip in the door.  I tried to seat the window, but it wouldn't.  Maybe it was the new paint gripping the rubber.  I wasn't sure, so I color sanded the new white with very very fine sand paper.  Even then, and after cleaning the powder dust with cleanser the window wouldn't go in.  Finally, I ran a bead of KY jelly along the edge of the hole in the door.  This removed the friction problem, and I was able to force the window into place.  It didn't go easily; in fact, I needed to lightly smack the rear-end with a rubber mallet.  Once in-place, the window was simply screwed down.  Word of caution: do not use lubricant when installing a window that is not a-fixed with screws or bolts, otherwise it will not hold under pressure (read: collision).

Fixing a Hole Where the Rain Gets In
tools for patching a hole
In the 1972 Westy, there was originally a sink / ice box behind the front passenger seat.  This unit requires 2 drains: one for the sink and one for the melting ice from the ice box.  The drains route through a hole in the floor.  Well, 2 holes if you consider the hole in the floor and then another below it in a belly pan.  The sink / ice box units came with rubber seals to keep road moisture from coming up and in.  When I removed the old unit, I didn't address the hole that was left behind.  Years ago, when I bought the 1979 Westy interior, I installed the kitchenette / sink-hob down to the pair of holes in the floor.  Now that I no longer have the 1979 kitchen, I no longer need the corresponding holes in the floor.
driver-side hole patch

To fix a hole in a place where it really can't be seen, its much easier than "real" bodywork.  I got some aluminum sheets for the install of the radiator unit, and I had a bunch left over.  I cut a small square and bent it to fit the contour of the belly pan (see picture, there's a rectangular bump-out over a flat-file).  I drilled 3 (1/8") holes on each side and then a-fixed the patch with rivets.  I'll shoot the patch with under-body rubber stuff so it seals tight.  Later, I'll put something in the body cavity to reduce road noise.  We know we want whatever I put in there to be closed-cell, so any moisture that could get in doesn't get absorbed.  I have a roll of that foil insulation I could use, but I don't think it is very effective at absorbing noise.... at least not as effectively as it insulated temperature.  I may put some down on the bottom anyway.  Once I figure that out, I'll patch the hole in the floor.  While I think about it, I'll patch the floor in the belly pan from the original ice box / sink unit.

It's been an interesting holiday season, switching from no kids to a house full of them and, soon, back again.  Boo and I hosted my extended family holiday event and laid-low on the actual Christmas eve and day.  For NewYearsEve, we took 6 kids up to SkiBowl for Cosmic Tubing.  The Tubing was fun, and SkiBowl put on a great time even with hardly any snow.  The resort is effectively closed pending snow, and the others aren't much further along.  Without some fresh snow, they will have to start shutting down lifts too.  We hit Timberline on the 27th (our anniversary), and the snow was pounded flat with a little powder on top.  That was a week ago, and they haven't gotten any freshies since.  I don't think I'll go back until something comes from the sky.  Hopefully, that'll be very very soon.

That's it for now.  Thanks for following along.