Monday, November 30, 2009

Rear Shock Weld

Most of my repairs have been cosmetic, or easily functional:
-Fuel Pump
-Seat Covers
-Steering Wheel
-Pop Top

All involved simple tools and an obvious process of remove-replace.

Not this time.

A couple of months ago I noticed a small rattle in the rear passenger area. I emptied the closet, tightened things down, checked the roof rack, checked the bolts on the CV joints. Nothing. Then I looked at the shock absorber and noticed that it moved far more than it should.

The shock is held in by a bolt that screws into a welded nut on the back side of the mount, the mount is welded onto one of the long support beams that make up the bus frame. There isn't much room to re-weld that little piece, so the best thing to do was to (eeep!) cut the shock mount off and place the nut back in.

After careful sandblasting and beefing up the weld points (like so)

we added some extra steel strips for strength:

and now have a stronger shock absorber mount.

Bus no longer has that rattle, and the shock absorber actually does what it is designed to do - absorb shocks (as opposed to rattle around in a broken weld).

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Fuel Pump Thing

I've been meaning to post this one for a while. So since I'm a little over amped on caffeine, here goes.

I went through four fuel pumps in less than four months. During that time, I found out far more about fuel pumps than I have ever wanted to know, but no matter - here's a short history, and a reason why you want to keep one on hand.

My first pump died after being installed 8 years ago. I was camping, and it just crapped out after so much use. It looked like this:

Fuel Pump #1

So I replaced it while camping - its very easy to do, two screws and two fuel lines. 10 mm bolts and a screw driver. Easy. Less than a month later, it died - apparently the spring installed on the interior was not aligned correctly and the return valve got locked shut by a spring that wouldn't move. I didn't find that out till later.

It looked like this:
Fuel Pump #2

I was near a VW shop when my second fuel pump died, so I replaced it with a used one that came with no promises, and no expectations. It died on the way home from another camp out less than three weeks later. This time I had a replacement that I was expecting to put one when I got home - and here is where I start the cautionary tale.

The fuel pump died on the freeway, I was able to pull over to a safe place and open the engine compartment. As I was removing the fuel lines and clamping them. This piece fell out:

Fuel Pump #3

It fell, I didn't pull on it, it just... dropped. So let's think about that for a moment. If it didn't die, the piece would have just eventually fallen out - giving me the opportunity to make the most of my insurance plan.

I replaced it with another one that looks like my first one(see Number 1 above), but with a few modifications...

So let's walk through fuel pumps. There are three types as show here:

Top to bottom, the three types are post 1971, pre-1971 single-carb (the one in the picture is a cheap copy) and pre-1971 dual carb.
Almost all the fuel pumps these days are made by Brosol - run by two brothers in Brazil, they are the only game in town and to be honest, they don't give a crap about quality (according to three suppliers that I know).

Let's ignore the fact that I don't want an electric fuel pump, move on.

The pre-1971 pumps have more moving parts, they can be repaired, and the repair kits are almost as expensive as the pump itself. See here:

The post 1971 (the brass colored ones) have fewer moving parts, can't be repaired, and don't have the option of a part falling off and allowing fuel to spray all over the inside of a hot engine compartment. Based on that fact alone, I'm going to reccommend that you stick with these "newer' ones.

However: The Brosol company has decided to go even cheaper and the metal pump levers (the single most important moving part) with plastic ones. They break, at random, sometimes before they get out of the mechanics garage. If you buy one, inspect the lever at the bottom. If it is plastic, you have two options - find a metal one, or replace it with your old metal one.

To replace it, you need to hammer out the pin, hammer in the new pin, and then find a way to secure the pin since (sigh) the Brosol company has also decided to remove the extra pin space that was used to allow a circlip to hold the pin in place.

I'd take more pictures to explain further, but I think you get the point.

Here's my best tip - keep a spare fuel pump on you.

Good luck.

Monday, November 2, 2009

All Hallows Eve impromptu campout

I got an email from Melissa who wants to scope out a camp ground for our next VW gathering. Its at Bothe Napa State Park, and she isn't too interested in giving out candy to hordes of children, so she's off for a recon mission.

There's nothing else going on, and I like driving through wine country in the autumn, so I pack up, head north, and despite the bay bridge being borken, I'm there in less than two hours.

Joe arrives. He's dressed like this:

It's a short night before, we have a bottle or two of wine, and go to sleep under an almost full moon that turns the tress into a shilouette.

The next morning, Joe leaves early for work, and Melissa and I walk around the campground on fallen leaves, listening to peregrine falcons and hawks battle for vocal supremacy of the trees. The falcons sound like they are winning. The woodpeckers are knocking making for a fun morning symphony.

One more cup of coffee and I'm packed up to go from a perfectly framed site.

The neighbors in the site next door were silent.

It's a short drive to St. Helena through an archway of trees and wine leaves.

And I arrive home in less than two hours. Not a bad way to spend an evening.

Notes about the campground:
-Expensive - $38.00 per site. Damn California state budget.
-Hot showers, porcelin.
-Sites 1-15 can hear the road, but its a slow road, so the noise is barely audible.
-Excellent way to go wine tasting. Camp out, eat breakfast, clean up, hit the wineries at 10:00 am when they open.
-No one there this time of year.
-Chilly, bring gloves and a hat and firewood.

Introducing, The Squirrel

I have another VW. I know it's a sickness. I'm cutting and pasting the post that I put on the samba: The Back story: My grandpare...