Month: May 2016

On pressure testing, baby

Guys nobody sent beer and I’m really disappointed in your search and rescue beer capability.

Anyway, today took a lot longer than expected, but it always does. So maybe I should expect that. Whatever, onwards!

I replaced the oil pump. As stated earlier, I was getting amazing pressure when cold, and okay pressure revving hot, but crap pressure idling hot. I haven’t gotten this new pump up to temp yet to see if it’s better than stock, but if it is AT LEAST as good as stock, I’ll keep it and sell the stock (and therefore verified good) pump on ebay. They go for insane prices, sometimes much higher than the $80 (with gaskets) I paid for this aftermarket one. You can’t even find any active or completed ebay listings for a stock (type 4, not modified type 1) oil pump, and prices in stores for remanufactured ones are upwards of $250 plus a $40-50 core charge. For awhile it looks like they spiked to over $300 even used.

I always start a disassembly with these little organizer bins for bolts and nuts. They’re $4 at Harbor Freight and are actually amazingly durable


Then, I assumed the position (sitting on a box as a stool, engine hatch open) and started disassembling the fan shroud. It’s either this or drop the engine.



Removing more parts


Here’s the CB Performance oil pump. It’s a modified Schadek type 1 oil pump, with a longer crank key and clearance machining so it doesn’t foul on the cam gear bolts.



Oil pump removed! After removing the four nuts holding it on, you have to loosen the case stud bolts above and below the pump, or it will never come out. It’s an interference fit when the halves are put together.



Comparison with the new pump.


You can see the longer key


While cleaning off the old gasket, I hit Major Snag #1. The razor blade I was scraping the gasket with bounced out of my hand and INTO THE ENGINE, underneath the crank bolt. Thankfully it’s an aluminum block, because otherwise I would have been screwed, and would have needed to drop and split the engine. In a townhouse without a garage, that is no es bueno.


New oil pump going in. Before putting the cover on, I spun the engine by hand and verified that the oil pump gears turned.



While I was down there, I installed the Fumoto oil drain valve that’s been sitting on my outdoor table for honestly two months.



Note for those that may stumble upon this: if you buy the Fumoto brand valve, you have to use a grinder or dremel ever so slightly to remove maybe 1-1.25mm of material off of the top of the valve housing. The oil drain bolt on the VW Type 4 is recessed into some pretty beefy aluminum housing and it fouls and won’t tighten all the way down if you don’t.

Now, no pictures of Major Snag #2, because I was panicking. You may notice above that I neglected to mention packing the oil pump with grease, so it wasn’t primed. After the 1.5 hour reassembly process (including filling with oil, and pre-filling the oil filter), I cranked the engine over without the distributor, and failed to see any oil pressure. Cue me freaking out and trying everything under the sun to troubleshoot this no oil pressure problem. After looking over the oiling diagram I posted earlier, I came up with two options: remove the oil sender and pour oil down there to prime the pump, or overfill the oil and jack the front of the bus up to flood the pump.

I tried the first option, but the sender I installed is NPT threaded and was refusing to come out. So I tried option #2, but I modified it a bit so I took the oil filter off and put a new oil pan underneath, and cranked the engine over without the spark plugs in. After what seemed like way too long (30 seconds to a minute of cranking time easy, in increments) oil started spuring out into the pan. So I reinstalled the filter, and was happy to find the bus building oil pressure even while cranking. I reinstalled the distributor, static-timed it (still need to really time it tomorrow), and it fired up with excellent pressure even before the spark really caught. There was a moment of small panic when the engine wouldn’t fire, but I had forgotten to plug the fuel pump back in.

By the time all of this was over, the sun had fallen. I didn’t want to bother the neighbors because it was after 2030, so I finished up the only other silent project on the plate for today, the carburetor linkage.

The carb has been working just fine (barring some cold-bloodedness, but it’s a progressive carb with 16 inches of intake runners, so that is expected), and I’ve been getting a consistent 17MPG. But I had to bodge together a linkage because the one that was on it was set up for a passenger-side throttle cable, and mine is in the stock driver’s side configuration. The throttle cable has been sticky and inconsistent, and I’ve had the linkage hang up on things. To get it to return to idle speed, I had also bodged up (not pictured) a 14″ spring going all the way up to the ceiling of the engine compartment!

Those of you with weak stomachs and an intolerance for buzzbox welding, look away now:


The kit I bought, because it is actually designed and engineered instead of whacked together, has pretty much solved all of my throttle cable issues that I could test for in 20 minutes on side streets. It also doesn’t bind, so I can finally fine-tune the idle settings. The speed screw actually does something now!



(blurry, sorry)

And, as what I hope to be a sign of good luck, the mileage on the odo after running around the block a few times.


On snips and snails and puppy –er, kitty cat tails, baby

Well, today has been a rollercoaster of stress.

I woke up (or, more accurately, was woken up) at around 11:00 by a loud “BANG.” I ran outside to see one of my neighbor’s exes slashing the rear tires on the beetle. By the time I got outside she was just finishing up the second one, and I started screaming at her. She sped off in her car. Last night at around 3 AM she had shown up at the neighbor’s door, drunk and/or high, while screaming at him. Last year the HOA got a restraining order against her, but that was before my deployment and I guess they’re only good for a year, so she’s back. I called the cops on her last night because she was clearly going to drive away drunk as shit, and I guess she just woke up or something and decided to enact revenge.

Took the cops around an hour to show up, and the officer said he knew exactly who I was talking about and would keep me updated. Asked if I wanted to press charges (of course) and the cost of new tires ($200 with mounting). Hopefully he calls back.



The only very tiny, miniscule, diminuitive, atom-esque bit of good news is that I had just recently rotated the tires because I had just gotten an alignment, so the tires on the rear were nearly bald over 50% of the tread due to the front toe being off for a couple thousand miles.








Now, what makes this a rollercoaster of emotion is that, while I was waiting for the cop to show up, I took a peek under the beetle and noticed a little furball wedged between the front tire and the concrete parking stop. Upon closer inspection, it was a teeny tiny kitten that was acting either dead, or near-death. I gently picked it up, and discovered it was still breathing, but otherwise was totally limp.


I brought him inside, and immediately got some water into him. At least he was still licking if I used a syringe to drop water into his mouth, but just barely. Then, I worked on cleaning up his eye.


It’s been a few hours (I had to do the tire swap because today is my only day off, and I had to talk with the officer) but after some milk substitute and cat kibble soaked in milk substitute, I think he’s doing better.




Some videos of the catte:

On regular maintenance, baby (a beetle intermission) 100TH POST

The Redline guy was just insane. Like how 14 Inch Nightstick posts, but the redline guy was just genuinely like that. He drifted pretty clearly into purely racist territory in regards to Chinese parts (complaining more about the people/culture than the manufacturing quality in some amazing tangents) so I stopped contact. I think I’m at that stage where it’s more about my fine-tuning while driving than any help I can get online, anyway.

Last fill-up with the bus was 17mpg, which is a genuine, no-shit improvement over 13 I was getting with the duals, so I’m getting there. I also understand that I’m hauling around a lot more weight than some people, so I can’t expect the moon. I myself am heavier than most (250), the plywood/2×4 bed in the back is about another hundo, the framing and shelving probably fifty, the two extra batteries, the five gallon diesel tank and heater setup is another fifty (I don’t keep it full, no reason when it takes less than a gallon to run for 24 hours), the bench seat, and all the tools I lug around. If I pass emissions in August, then I’m never turning back. We all remember the first emissions test and the four gallons of denatured alcohol it required :sweatdrop:

I don’t have any pictures (I tend to say that a lot, jeeze), but today I worked a bit on the beetle. It had started marking its territory a little more than the customary drop or two, so I jacked it up and took a peek under its skirt.

Both valve covers were weeping a bit, and upon removal I discovered that the cork gaskets had shrunk a little and “sucked in” some. In addition, the cork was completely black and hardened to a stone consistency. Remembering that Mafoose had gotten me a big can of the Right Stuff for AI:SS, I popped over in the Explorer to the local Autozone and picked up some Fel-Pro valve cover gaskets. Last time I had ordered the cheapest ten-pack of gaskets from , but they were probably the cheapest quality and I didn’t want to do this again this summer.

While I had the valve covers off, I adjusted the valve lash. I had adjusted them all probably 2-3000 miles ago to .0065 (a bit higher than the .006 spec because I do a lot of highway driving), and only maybe 1 or 2 couldn’t cleanly fit the .006 shim in, but all of them definitely could get the .005, so I think I’m good. I readjusted them to .0065. Of course, nobody has a .0065 shim, so I just do them so that they’re a little looser on the .006 but pretty tight on the .007 and call it good.

After that, I cleaned off the valve covers and head surfaces, plopped a bit of the Right Stuff on, and re-installed the covers. I know that a lot of websites and manuals state to use sealant only on either the head or the valve cover side, not both, but the valve covers and head surfaces are pretty chewed up in places from POs probably using a flathead screwdriver to remove gasket material, and I haven’t had any issues, so I use just a tiny bit on both sides.

Since I had the beetle up on stands, I also drained the oil, and took the time to install the Fumoto (or maybe EZ Drain, can’t remember the brand) oil drain valve. Instead of just removing the drain bolt and replacing the valve, I removed the entire oil strainer plate and strainer, and took the time to clean up all surfaces with some carburetor and/or brake cleaner. Then I sprayed both of the paper oil strainer gaskets with some copper gasket spray, and reinstalled.

Pictured: the oil strainer assembly

The oil strainer itself only had a single small piece of some burned gasket or sealant caught in it, which is a million times better than it was when I first picked up the beetle two years ago. It originally had a maybe 1-2cm thick mud/sludge coating nearly every surface from the PO, but I change the oil regularly so I don’t get that sludge buildup. However, frequent removal/installation of the strainer puts a lot of strain on those six outer studs, and you’ll frequently see a beetle with a mishmash of different bolts holding the strainer plate on due to the owner stripping them out of the case.

Pictured: a turbofucked strainer plate

I’m fairly confident in the cleanliness of the engine now, so I won’t be removing the strainer plate every other oil change as the manual says. Instead, with more frequent oil changes made easier by the drain valve, I may do it once a year, tops, barring some engine catastrophe necessitating an inspection. You have to remember that I also have an oil filter/oil pump with an actual canister filter, whereas the original setup didn’t have a filter at all, just the strainer. That’s also my justification for not removing the strainer as often.

The beetle is sitting stationary now to let the sealants cure a bit, and then I’ll go back out and re-tighten the bolts a quarter or half turn to make sure everything is snug. Then I’ll fill it up and pray for fewer leaks.

Since I was already dirty, I also did some basic maintenance on the 1998 Explorer. It’s over 210k miles so I’m starting to get wary of it, though I’ve already replaced the most commonly failed items: the intake manifold gaskets, and the PCV system (including the PCV mod for the 4.0 SOHC). I did the following:

Lubed the throttle/cruise control cables
Lubed the hood release cable
Lubed the hood hinges and latch
Checked the —
Tire pressure: 30-30-29-31: Good (filled all to 32 about six months ago, sticker is 26/28 for empty load)
Oil: Good
ATF: Good
Power Steering: Good
Brake Fluid: (good, but on the low side; topped up)
Coolant: Overflow: Empty :stare: that’s not good

Opened the radiator cap, and I could see coolant, but it was maybe 2 inches below the top. Dang. I refilled the radiator with distilled water, and filled the coolant overflow to 1 inch below the top. Then I warmed the engine up and watched it slightly overflow the coolant reservoir tank (as expected). I’ll need to keep an eye on it and maybe do a UV dye test, because after it was warm I couldn’t see any particular leak areas. However, the 98 Explorer has maybe half of the common leak areas on the radiator and hoses covered with plastic sheathing and boxes, so it’s difficult to immediately diagnose.

If the coolant doesn’t drop that quickly over the next month or so with 4x weekly driving (it’s my fiancee’s explorer) then I’ll call it good and keep it topped off forever, and maybe start budgeting for a new radiator or hoses or whatever. The A/C doesn’t work anyway (it’s started leaking faster and faster recently, whereas it used to require just a yearly or bi-yearly top-up, and it’s not an obvious leak) so I won’t have to worry about a fancy 3-in-1 radiator/condenser like it currently has.



Dusty engine:


Some shitty blanking plates I have hodgepodge glued into the dash vent holes. Keeps the bugs out, and pretty much good for nothing else:



The ebay speedo:


Latest decal additions for the bus:



The rear door on the bus is super dented and ratty. Add to that my shitty paintjob, and you end up with a person that gives no fucks. I’ve gone full retard.


After the work today, I went out to get some beer. But, since I’ve gone full R, I ended up falling for marketing.






I have no idea how it tastes yet.