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.

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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.

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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.

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Dusty engine:

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

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The ebay speedo:

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Latest decal additions for the bus:

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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.

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

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I have no idea how it tastes yet.

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