Month: March 2016

On deferred maintenance, baby

Over the past three or four days, the bus has started to run like garbage. I mean, I could still get up to freeway speed (65 or so), but it was very difficult to start and a bit lumpy at idle. Also, the idle was lowering more and more, even though I had it set to a fairly fast idle from the last time I did an emissions test, and also for idle oil pressure in hot temps.

Before I dug into a tune up, though, I accomplished some small, but necessary, tasks.

First, a CO monitor:


Then, clean up the signal and switch wires from my subwoofer install two weeks ago



Much better. Now, onto the tune up.

First step is to remove the air cleaners. Those with weak constitutions, turn away now, because what you’re about to see is the result of a man battling too much blowby with the incorrect tools. You’ve been warned.


With those out of the way, I could start to see the real problems. First, these two brackets that hold the throttle crossover arm were both very, very loose, allowing the arm to flop all around.



I tightened those up with an 8mm spanner. With those brackets being loose, it would be impossible to sync the carbs. Now, to sync the carbs, you need a manometer, or vacuum gauge, of some sort. I vaguely remember spending upwards of $150 two years or so ago on a very fancy 4-channel one that was imported from the UK. Since then, I’d lost track of it, but fixing that simply requires rooting around in my junk for awhile.

I hadn’t touched this bucket in a long time. Could it be in here?


There you are!




It was a little crusty, but I blew it out and shook it around. To work properly it needs to be absolutely vertical, so I set it up on the engine trapdoor cover. I hooked it up to the distributor vacuum ports on both carbs, and gave it a whirl.

Uh oh.



Ten minutes or so of fiddling later, and I got it as close as I reliably could throughout the entire range. There’s a little bit of differences through the ranges, but overall it keeps together.

That sorted and away, the last thing on the list was new plugs and wires. I’ve had this box kicking around for a month or two, and it was time to put it to use.


Ranges in different manuals state anything from .024 to .028, so I just picked the middle ground with .026


Old plugs out! #4 isn’t looking too happy, though 😦










If 3 and 4 were equally sooty, I’d chalk it up to driving around for 9 months on unsynced carburetors. And while it’s true that the passenger side plugs are both darker, #4 up there is making me a tad worried. Maybe I’ll drive a few hundred miles and do another plug pull to see if there’s really something going on or it was just the carburetor tune.

On half shafts, baby.

Driver’s side CV joint boot just exploded. So, now it matches the passenger side :v:

Well, not “exploded,” but “torn cleanly on the hub side,” exactly like the passenger side one is. I have one replacement axle and was putting off doing the actual replacement, but now it’s time to order a second one and make a day out of it.

Two days later

The CV axle replacement did not go as expected.

Now that it’s a few hours later and I’ve finally cleaned up all of the grease, summary for the day:

At around 1400, I finally got up off of my ass and decided to change the CV axles on the bus, as both sides have torn boots, and they looked original.
By 1415, the driver’s side CV axle was off. Hub side had triple square bolts, the transmission side had 6mm allen, but meh, it was painless.
By 1430, the new driver’s side axle was on. I started on the passenger side.
At 1455, I had discovered that two bolts on the passenger side axle were seized
At 1500, all but those two bolts were removed, and I was contemplating getting out the angle grinder
By 1505, the heads of the two bolts were ground off, and axle was removed
At 1515, I had greased up the new passenger axle cv bearings
By 1530, I had discovered that the passenger axle was too long
At 1600, I had finished contemplating returning to Amazon and buying locally. Surprise! No auto parts stores had the correct one in stock in the entirety of Phoenix. Time to implement Plan B.
At 1830, I had the new axle torn to bits, and was tearing into one of the old ones. It’s really starting to get darker, now
By 1900, I had finished reassembling my new Franken-Shaft consisting of an old axle shaft and new bearing parts and boots
By 1930, the passenger axle was installed

On seals, baby

I installed the rear shocks on the beetle. I was going to do the front shocks, but Amazon sent me the wrong part (or, more like, listed the wrong part as being compatible, so I have to return them) :argh:. The 71-73 Super Beetle is a strange cookie, and I’m tired of one-year-only parts (3-bolt ball joints, strut cartridges, etc).

No pictures of the new shock absorbers in, but visualize KYB GR-2’s in a beetle and you’ll get the idea.

The old ones, though, were oem



“Made in Western Germany” :allears:


And another box of Wago Lever Nuts came in. These are literally half the size of the old ones, and easier to use.


So small


I also got a 10-pack of weatherproof Posi-Locks (called “Posi-Seal”) connectors. Gonna change those big ugly solar connectors on the bus out for these on the roof.


On all about that bass, baby

At work a few days ago I saw a possible future. Now that I have seen it, I can avoid it. The guy driving it had both a dog, and an eyepatch:




Today, however, I installed a subwoofer. It’s an old home theater sub, but it fit perfectly in the space I have allocated for a sub, and it was also 4 ohms. Only “42W,” but that’s plenty for me.


I shoehorned a POS amplifier in there. It’s a POS rated for “1100 watts,” but it’s enough and it was very cheap. A reviewer on Amazon did some calculations with current and voltage measurements under test, and calculated it out to be only 114W. Again, completely adequate.


Gives me a little end table for the bench.


In much bigger news, however, :siren: my fiancee :siren: crashed her motorcycle. Yet another guy turning left in front of her while she had a green. I know she’s not a speed demon, and is actually quite the competent rider from the few times I’ve ridden with her.

Everything is dickered:




Headlight is unrecoverable


Gonna need new headlight/fork ears. Good thing generics are cheap (like, $20 for both)


Speedo and tach were bent all around. I had to strong-arm bend the speedo back into place to limp the bike the remaining half-mile home from the accident



(You can see the rust from an old scrape from another bike; the surround was a junkyard replacement years ago)

Broke the newly-replaced (last year) choke lever. Kinda difficult to find the right one for this redheaded-stepchild of a motorcycle (a lot of “first-year-only parts before a completely new look and frame in 1980)


Got the tank pretty good.



Also got the clutch lever just enough to make it really difficult to use. I rode home in one gear because it’s dickered



I am thankful that I insisted on crash bars years ago. They’ve paid themselves off with this one


LH footpeg


Just a little bit on the front fender. It was bent out of place and scraping the tire, again had to bend it out to limp home


Rear turn signal


And the big one: nothing lines up anymore. The handlebars are bent way out of shape. The front fork is only a tiny bit out of whack, and hopefully I’ll be able to disassemble it and loosen it up and it’ll straighten out, but we’ll see. The whole headlight and gauge assembly will have to go. The rest of the bike from the triple tree back is okay, and the crash bars took the brunt of the damage from the exhaust and (very expensive and hard-to-find) side covers.


Now, the kid that cut in front of her actually stopped when he saw her go down, and police were called. By complete chance I was working on the ambulance and was posted in the area. By another stroke of luck, all of this happened in front of a Phoenix PD sergeant who saw the whole thing, so when he came up to her she gave him my phone number and we came directly to her instead of having her call 911 and ending up with a huge fee (family of employees get free/discounted ambulance rides, but not if it’s a full 911 callout with an engine and everything). The kid that hit her is only 19, but he did have insurance through a weird company called “Young Driver’s America,” which I can’t find out much through google. He was very apologetic and assisted with everything, though he denies that he was on his phone.

I called my insurance and got a phone number and contact info for his insurance, and she called in the claim today. She was wearing a helmet, boots, and gloves, but again wasn’t wearing any of the other riding gear I got her (:argh:) so she got some gnarly road rash.