A camping forum for VW bus and camper owners.
Hello everyone and welcome to our blog.
Meet Eleanor...Grand patroness of the boulevard!
This will be a storyline (of sorts) covering our trials, triumphs and tribulations while making our 66 split window bus 'Eleanor' roadworthy again so my wife and I can chronical our trips and such. My beloved bus has sat on the side of the house for at least the last three years now. I am a very bad owner! So its time to give some lovin to the only mistress my wife will let me have. Eleanor was initially sidelined with a clutch issue but we figured no problem since both our 66 Karmann Ghia and 74 Thing were still running well so we went with these cars for the last three years. Then brake issues with her Ghia the bane of my life started (long story gang) and so the Ghia got sent too the showers. Now we were down to the thing. My wife has been scrounging up rides ever since...So I set my sights on Eleanor.
Rememebering her clutch issue which was a stretched and then broken cable Im forced to install a new clutch cable OK no problem! So the new cable went in as expected (easily) then it came time to adjust the cable. For the better part of four days I struggled with trying to move the clutch arm while trying to get the cable to go through it...just was NOT going to happen! So being the way that I am I got out from under Eleanor straightend up turned and looked at her and said "Oh so its going to be like that is it!?" I then went inside grabbed my smokes and a Guinness (Extra Stout) and sat down for a break while I mulled things over.
Well three Guinness's later...my mind was made up. Out comes the engine!
About 30 min or so later there I was sitting back down in the same spot (yes with another Guinness extra stout) now staring at our engine...goodness what a mess! That voice in my head was telling me that break time was over so I got back too the clutch cable. Now it was no problem to move the clutch arm and get the new cable started with the wing nut. It was then I noticed that the cross shaft that holds the throw out bearing was not centered on the transmission output shaft and that that the throw out bearing was toasted! Well since everything is now readily availible those items got fixed right away new shaft and bearing about $60.00. After dealing with that and upon closer inspection I couldn't ignore that both the engine bay and the motor needed some serious cleaning!
So the next weekend rolls around and Im outside in the middle of cleaning the crap out of everything right!? So during a break Im walking around things stretching and working out the cramps and such (this is where the constant pain started by the way) that the lil voice in my head was now urging me to check the crankshaft end play since the motor was out of the bus I answered back why not right it made perfect sense to me since the engine was still out. So I grabed the flywheel evenly and solidly and give a hearty push pull...and of course as my reward I get a very loud clunk clunk along with plenty of movement!
I actually am ashammed to say that awful things freely passed from my lips as the reaility of a total engine rebuild suddenly became our top priority! Then something really cool happened! A clearly audible volice said "You know how to fix this, here is your chance to make it right you can afford it, and I will help you" and it was at that very moment all worry and apprehension vanished! I only just then realized that I could give Eleanor the proper travel legs (engine) that she would need out here in the brutal New Mexico desert...
Now I was excited and got to it!
Being someone who was bourne in England I have always had a love for my Welsh, Irish and Scottish cousins over the years. But...it was shortly after the teardown of Eleanors engine that "Murphy's law" suddenly came into play...That danged Irishman!
Let me explain. I drive/deliver for a restaraunt that offers some killer Gormet food! Only thing is for some reason bussiness has dropped of this year and that means that tips have suffered hard and it was the tips that were going to be used for the rebuild. Now in fairness I aready had around $500,00 saved, but half of that money was to be set aside for the building of my internet talk show...oh well. So I start cleaning and gathering new parts.
To make a long story shorter tips this year really sucked! So here I am in mid August and nearly done with the rebuild.This past four months I have become plauged with physical issues which has severly slowed down getting my baby back on the road. These constant aches and sharp stabbing deep seated pains are making Eleanor an agonizingly slow rebuild!
So I finally finished rebuilding our stock dual port near the end of August. I have upgraded everything that I felt would make for an effecient reliable daily driver and endurance/road engine. Since Mlady and I live in Roswell NM if we want to travel we are looking at 2-4 hours minimum just to get anywhere and thats with a normal car lol. So what wasn't replaced with new parts was throughly cleaned and reconditioned to new by me this is probably the part that took the longest as far as time and pain went.
This (above) is what I was confronted with at the start. Yuck!!!
Actually it wasn't really all that bad for an engine that truly had real close to (if not) 100,000 miles on it this also is the very same engine that I had rebuilt the top end on 14 years ago at our first apartment building parking lot in Benicia CA over a single weekend when this engine was in my 63 beetle "Oscar" which since 2002 has been powering Eleanor. So once everything was taken apart throughly and properly cleaned all it came down to really was a $25.oo set of piston rings and naturally all new bearings, gaskets and such for around another $75.00 or so. The case was in really sweet shape as were all of the internal parts (thank you Lord!) the heads got new exhaust valves, exhaust guides and the seats reground another $100.00 roughly and spit shined as well!
Time for some upgrades! ;)
Nice and shiney...not bad for 14 yr old pistons and cylinders
Everything on this engine has been balanced by the way.
These above pix are in my buddies shop...He insisted that we do this aspect of the build at his place under his supervision! Thank you Jack and God bless you for all of your valuable input! I have rebuilt several motors before in my day but now my knowledge base has just been expanded greatly. My buddy knows we want too be taking camping trips and such and so he advised on this build to make sure everything was just right!
I had three main objectives that I wanted to accomplish with this rebuild:
1...Address the engine and engine bay temp issues (Being a desert bus)
2...Build in strong long term durability and reliability
3...Last but certainly not least...Effeciency!
The upgrades I started with was an EMPI 1.5 quart deep sump coupled with the the EMPI high volume oil pump and spin on filter and the EMPI 'high output' 75 amp alternator was installed in place of the 12 volt generator. Mlady and I want the extra oil for cooling and the extra juice for our electrical system so we can run some well hidden high tech goodies for our roadtrips and such. Everything on this engine was meticulously cleaned, totally reconditioned and then freshly painted with heat paint. I had the case alignbored (only 20 over!) case savers installed and then had the case halves mated to each other for an absolutley flat seal when torqued together I also added a temp sending unit as well. My original 200 mm flywheel was seriously gauled so a new flywheel was added with all new clutch parts. I was fortunate to have had on hand a spare German 34 PICT III which was then expertly cleaned and rebuilt by my friend a 45 year (at least) veteran VW mechanic!
This is the final product...
Gettin ready to stab it soon (body willing) I spent a lil extra on the polished aluminium oil filler neck mainly so as to be much cleaner when adding oil vs the messy stock configuration. I also willingly confess that I flat out SPLURGED on the EMPI finned polished alumimium rocker covers so there! The muffler tips have since been finished. If you look closely you can see the white oil filter peeking out from underneath the gray breastplate tin, and you can just see the extra deep sump below. Those are the original heater boxes cleaned up and heat painted. All in all I spent around $400.00-500.00 for the whole thing. This project is funded by my tips which I have been saving and still do operate from, and of which have been scarse lately. The remote 96 plate oil cooler will have to wait for now...I still can not bring myself to add those pop rivit side scoops that you sometimes see on busses, regardless of how well folks say they work! There has to be a better way!
So this is where I am at at present I have some physical issues which have delayed the install. So I am working (puttering really) on other items for right now such as the brake lines and reconditioning all of the pedals and all of their respective cables, linkage, and what not. Any and all comments (and advice) is warmly welcomed! I look forward to hearing from all of my brother and sister VW enthusists! Best wishes to one and all in your projects, travels, and endeavors...Big smiles and happy miles!
Well I had removed the engine again mainly for two reasons:
1...I didn't feel totally right about how it went in to begin with, it was bothering me. It went in really tight and very difficult to get fully seated I had to start the engine nuts by hand and I went round and round by tightening the engine nuts like you would replacing a road wheel.
2...The clutch was way too tight, and couldn't be adjusted either way. So I am going to double check where the bowden tube joins the chassis to see if this is where the binding occured...(More than likely) so this is where I am at...hoping to have everything sorted out and running by Monday, as always my body and now weather willing. My joints lately have just been screaming! Most times I can't even pick up a cup of coffee but I will succeed.
As always more too come...Mike
Sunday evening 9-30-2012
After going through the clutch cable tube system from stem to stern today during a break in the weather I found that my bowden tube (as I suspected) is kaput! No biggie Ill order one if my buddy doesn't have it. I have tomorrow off so if the rain lets up I might be able to get something done. I will be upgrading from the stock vacum advance distributor pictured in the above engine photos too the new BOSCH electronic ignition distributor with vacum advance. I put one of these in our 74 thing and man what a difference!
Get one if you can you wont be disappointed with this unit. I have been feeling better lately and wouldn't ya just know it its been raining for most of this past week figures right? :) Anyway if tomorrows weather plays nice I will be changing the oil cooler seals in our thing, buying parts for Eleanor and doing a valve adjustment on the new engine also.
Thats the plan...wish me luck!
Well the oil cooler seals are going to have to wait (for now) my buddy had a customer bring his beetle in for some major work so his shop is tied up at present. But!..I did get the new EMPI distributor and several other parts ordered. The valve adjustment is complete and I now am tidying up some odds and ends and such, I will try to re install the motor this weekend my buddy Jack wants to help (I love this guy) as another man of faith he is a real boon when it comes to VW help, knowledge, parts and understanding (as in my current physical situation) all in all I'm thinking that sometime within this next two weeks Eleanor will have her new motor installed, all tuned up properly and ready to drive! In the meantime my body is screaming in pain I don't know whats going on, and I'm waiting for the VA (Veterans Administration) too get back to me...oh joy!
Stay tuned...sorry no pun intended :)
Well its november and I fixed the 'binding' that was occuring in the clutch system. What the problem was was a slightly bent bowden tube end...go figure. But I did get a German tube to replace it with! Woo Hoo! Were still not motoring at present though since I operate from tips which have been next to non exsistant of late thereby nearly halting progress. Bummer to be sure but I will get it done. So whats next on the agenda? Well as soon as tips improve (hopefully) its time for some wheel cylinders. I also just finished putting in a German master cylinder, and of course still no brakes that anyone would be comfortable with...hence new wheel cylinders. Only problem is its november already and Mlady still needs her own ride and bloody well soon! So wish me luck my brother and sister U boat commanders..cause I'm seriously going to need it! Talk at you good folks later...Mike
The brakes are done and with plenty of pedal! Given my past track record with installing brake componants (mostly her Ghia, the bane of my life) Im actually very suprised that everything went so well. Dont get me wrong here I have been installing brakes and such on Volksies for many years and have never encountered such headaches as I have with that bloody Karmann Ghia! Which of course is next on my list once Eleanor is fully running. All that is left is to fix the previous owners wiring job and convert the wires over for the new alternator. To this day I do not understand why people feel the need to "molest" the wiring in Volksies. Every and I do mean every VW I have ever had I have had to undue someone else's electrical goofyness! Nature of the beast I suppose, but I am really getting tired of it. Of all of the things that I am capable of doing from an automotive standpoint electrical is by far my weakest link in my chain of abilities.
More to come...may you all have a wonderful day! Mike.
It's alive! It's alive! It's alive!
Well it started right up...thank you Jesus! The carb is adjusted properly and it just hums right along. But...the binding clutch cable is back to haunt me (AGAIN!) man I just don't understand what is going on here. So tomorrow sunday (the 24th of Nov 2012) I will crawl under my beloved bus and take out the German bowden tube and inspect it. I have a sneaking suspicion that I kinked it somehow. The clutch works as it should, but I can not get the required freeplay in it like it is supposed too have. So since my new meds have been making me feel better (physically) and before it gets too bloody cold I'm going to fix this one way or the other even if it kills me! Everything is correct down/in there so I am at a loss as to why it is so danged tight again! About the only thing I have not looked at or touched is the clutch tube that runs through the chassis...and if this is the case I haven't a clue as to how one would diagnose or even fix this.
You brothers and sister's ever get tired of being creative sometimes?
Well I came, I saw, and I think I conquered. After literally crawling in and around and over everything (and finding nothing wrong) I consulted my buddy. So I went over to his shop which is actually in his back yard accessable through the alley only. Yes its an outlaw garage (I prefer privateer myself) we settled in over some coffee and started brain thrusting or bending take your pick. My buddy came up with two other possible senerio's
I could try flipping around the clutch lever that attaches to the underside pedal assembly that the front end of the clutch cable attaches to (pictured below) to see if I could gain some length in the cable (which it didn't) but it was the easiest thing to try so I figured why not?! Oh by the way if your clevis pin is grooved like mine was (see below) replace it before it breaks on you (as always) at the worst possible time!
This little operation was done on Nov 25th and as mentioned above with no success...but! After taking a couple of days off from the bus so as too relieve the stress on both my mind and body I was off to my buddies shop for some more coffee and brain picking. Well an hour later I think my buddy has once again shown why he is the 45-50 year master VW mechanic!
When I arrived he related to me how this lack of free play (the afore mentioned constant binding/extreme stiffness) in the clutch pedal system has been causing him some loss of sleep lately especially knowing that I have installed everything correctly. So I walk in and there's that familiar cheshire cat grin greeting me. I look at him and just say "SWEET!" because I know the old master has solved the equation. So what was the problem? It's the 'new' throw out bearing cross shaft that I bought from him to replace the worn out gold tone cross shaft that was in my bus to begin with. But now here's the rub of it please note the below picture.
Before I continue the shaft that came out of my bus is the one on the right with the filed end. This had to be done because come to eventually find out that someone before me goofed up the clutch shift lever when they put it on the shaft that they probably changed now that I think about it.
The shaft on the left is an original early shaft. The one on the right (gold tone)is all that is availible from aftermarket suppliers...so buyer beware!
To try and make a long and complcated story short and sweet. When I first replaced the clutch cable I could not for the life of me get the clutch shift lever to pull back so I could run the clutch cable through it. So after many days of trying all of my large screwdrivers and every pry bar that would fit up in there still nothing! This is what led me to pulling the engine. It was while the engine was out that I noticed the throw out bearing was riding right against the output shaft of the transmission. So I shifted everything back in place and moved the clutch lever by hand again and the throwout bearing would shift back over against the output shaft...the cross shaft had a worn out groove and the snap ring that is supposed to hold it in place would come out of its groove allowing the entire shaft to shift over. Time for a new cross shaft right? Well I took out the shaft and went to my buddies place and I got an identical one and put it in. To those of you who do your own work please TAKE NOTE!
The cross shaft that came out of my bus (unkown to me) was an aftermarket gold tone/colored shaft, and it was replaced with an identical aftermarket shaft. These are the gold tone ones! The problem with them is that the splines on the end where the clutch lever goes (or slides on at) now makes your clutch arm point straight up and down. In other words you will not be able to run the clutch cable through without pulling the engine and more importantly...you WILL LOSE the required pedal freeplay as has happened to me! So what's the solution? My buddy dug into his extensive original parts collection which even he won't show me :( and found me an original EARLY cross shaft. So when a clutch lever is slid on over the splines the lever now DEFINATELY points more to the front of the vehicle instead of straight up and down! Thereby making up the difference and guess what!?! Now I have the required pedal freeplay! Thank you Lord Jesus! (and) thank you Jack! So please everyone learn from my experience. I do not blame my buddy at all. He got me an exact replacement (even the part number was correct) of what came out of my vehicle.
So what is the lesson here?
Start now to try and find the more critical original early parts if you have a splitwindow and stow them away for those emergencies! I feel that it should also be noted...that my buddy whom I refer to in this blog is in his early 70's Tomorrow will be the Dec 1st. I will be attempting to finish fixing and installing all clutch related items and then re-stabbing the motor for what should be the last time (for what I hope) will be for a very, very long while!
Oh and I know this is not VW camper related, but nothing is going to happen on Dec 21st at 11am! I'm calling it now as a non event!
Remember ya heard it here! Talk at you good folks later...Mike
Thats right! Everything works like it should and with the correct freeplay.
Wow in all of my years of tinkerin and wrenching on volksies I have never had such headaches as I have with this current project! Before I continue I have another warning to give to all of my brother and sister U Boat commanders.
Beware of Empi parts! They are absolute crap!!!
For this bus project I wound up buying a boat load of EMPI parts. My current success rate is somewhere in the neighborhood of 60% at best. Why one may ask? Because they are all made in China! Now I knew this going in and I bought them for two reasons. 1...They were (for me at the time) affordable. 2...my esteemed and afore mentioned friend is our regional/local EMPI distributor and Iv'e been doing bussiness with him for quite a while now. But ever since this bus project started it has been just one problem after an other. If a part didn't fail outright then it needed to be altered to either make it fit to work or both!
I know the German parts are nearly through the roof as to there cost, but if you can get them DO IT! you will not regret it. If I may suggest the Brazilian brake parts ie: Vargas wheel cylinders are superb! I have yet to have one fail. Sure sure I know parts eventually wear out and stop working thats a given. But I have gotten years worth of stellar service from the Vargas brake parts. Just a heads up for you brothers and sisters. As to aftermarket goodies? Go with Scat they have never failed me in the past and I only went with EMPI because as stated above for price and conveinence...never again unless I have too! To say I am ticked right about now is a huge understatement! Because the throwout bearing cross shaft that has given me so much trouble and agony these past months was an EMPI part! Even their clamps failed right away, and now there raising there prices! Screw them and a pox upon them as well!
Im sorry about the ranting gang but aside from my physical issues which were (I do believe) greatly compounded by having to redo several jobs/tasks multiple times till I got a part that worked right has really taken its toll on me then there is the time lost and money spent as well. Not to mention that bloody cross shaft meant two un neccesary engine pulls! I truly hope you good folks never have to go through what I have been going through these past months because of crap parts and shitty quality control! Please forgive my language I can't stress enough to you just how terrible EMPI has gotten. They used to be the stuff back in the day. Not any more because EMPI truly sucks!
In case your wondering about Bug Pack...they have always been kinda crummy. They don't even get considered as far as Im concerned, and now EMPI can join them! Yes I know but Mike you say Eleanor is now running again and with a new engine...yeah well no thanks to EMPI I can tell you that!
Next are some road tests...think happy thoughts cause Im running some EMPI engine parts. Well its getting really late and I need to pray so anon dear gentles.
Big smiles and happy miles to one and all...Mike
Road test complete! Everything runs sounds and works just fine!
Aint she pretty?
I would have liked to have done a longer duration road test, but Eleanor isn't registered or insured just yet. The police out here can be brutal if they notice expired tags and then to not have up to date insurance! Can anyone say impound? The brown splotches on the bumpers is a rust prevention/stopper that can be sanded and repainted at a later date.
Update March 5th 2014
Well Im back with another maintenance job...oh joy!
This time I noticed on Feb 28th (2014) that both rear axles were leaking.
So of course...I pull Eleanor behind the fence and get her ready, My shop is now nearly complete. Just a few more items and Im ready to go full bore on any maintenance issue that I may encounter. So I get the bus up on stands pull the drums and egad what a mess! Ok no big thing, heres where it pays to have parts on hand. So I start with the right rear, everything is taken apart and I am now looking at the inner bearing spacer...which doesn't quite look right for some reason. So I take a picture and send it to my good brother Jack.
About 10 minutes later he's calling me back saying he'll be right over. Ok now at this point I'm thinking "Great! Must be bad if he's comming over" So I get to fixing us some fresh joe, and shortly thereafter my bro pulls in. So we get to too the task at hand after coffee and he looks at the inner bearing spacer and says "ok false alarm" naturally I'm like "what do you mean false alarm" so he explains that judging from the pictures I sent he thought the inner bearing spacers were in backwards. Thank goodness they weren't! The only snag to this whole deal is his puller is out on loan to his son who lives in Alamogordo! So now I have to come up with a solution. Enter John Muirs book!
Being a metalworker (of sorts) I also produce 16th Century plate armour in the Elizabethan fashion. I built a simple puller from scrap metal that I had laying around patterned after an illustration in the 'idiot book'. Well it worked, maybe not as easily as I had hoped...but worked all the same.
As you can see I'm quite anal about better than new. I know nodody will see all of this cleaning and such but it gives me a tremendous sense of "Peace of mind" as well as Mlady. You see I subscribe to the General George S Patton school of thought when it comes to automotive repairs. Which is a statement he once made stateing that he hated to pay for real estate twice! I for one couldn't agree more! So I totally cleaned everything and installed all new parts! My train of thought is simply thus...now I shouldn't have to go back in there for another 4-5 years or so, and only to replace the shoes. As a side thought, may I suggest once a month taking an air hose and from the backside of the drum blowing out all the dust and brake crud that will build up. The idea is that when you have to go inside and do maintenance you won't have such a mess to clean up and possibly breath in. Brake dust being what it is I use those cheapy medical masks that you can get from places like walmart and such...food for thought.
Safety first right!?
This year 2014 Mlady and I do plan on taking some weekend excursions...finally!
Money for us, is as Im sure the case with most everyone else these days is becoming more scarce by the week. But there are things we want to see and do starting with where we live 'New Mexico' which isn't called the land of enchantment for nothing ya know!? We being somewhat paranormal investigators ourselves want to visit haunted houses, ghost towns and such. Research chupacabra claims...you get the idea. As New Mexico is chock full of weirdness! Truly! Well that's it for now everyone. Blessings and...as always!
'Big smiles and happy miles' to each of you as well!