Month: June 2016

On cheap fixes, baby


I have no money right now, and the next thing I need to do with the bus is fix the sliding door again. The V-grooved bearing that the door rests on split in half suddenly on Thursday, so the side door is Out of Order until I spend $25 on a special VW bearing.

What I do have, however, is two mini-kegs of Heineken and a 3D printer, along with a few little issues on the beetle.

The first (and maybe only) thing I’m tackling this weekend is the rear turn signals. The beetle’s rear turn signal lenses have been bleaching clear over the past two years, so they’re no longer yellow. This is bad, because the COB LED bulbs I have back there are a bright white, and we all know that a car with white turn signals is annoying as shit. They look kind of like this:


I hate the fact that my phone does auto white balance (and I can’t change the setting, LG G3 Vigor) because I need you to believe that the following picture has a white flasher:


It looks yellow, but that’s just a trick of the remnants of the yellow coating.

I wanted a double-walled 3D printed object that had no infill, so it would diffuse the light from the LED bulb evenly. I could easily print a cylinder that fits snugly over the bulb, but where’s the fun in that?

It took a few trial-and-error iterations.



Signal before:


Signal after:


It’s a neon/transparent orange, so it looks a bit funky, especially in low light. It’s fluorescent so it kind of looks brighter than everything else.

The hole was meant to vent hot air (even LEDs get hot, especially in the summer) but I had a brain fart and forgot about orientation when I was designing it.


Again, you’re going to have to trust me on this, but this turn signal flash is a brilliant orange/amber, with no trace of white anywhere. It’s not as bright as the bare bulb, but at night through testing it honestly was way too bright before. I’ve been driving around for a year as that asshole that has blinding turn signals, apparently.


E: I made two gifs showing the difference, hopefully.



A roll of filament is 2.2 lbs (1kg), varies between $15 and $20 depending on color (transparent orange is $17/roll), and each of my prototypes was estimated to be .06lbs on the slicer. So around .45 cents each. Add electricity, which is (off-peak) 7c/kWh, and the printer that consumes about 300 watts to heat up and 180 watts to maintain heat and movement, so let’s say 250W average (heat-up is pretty long). Each prototype was about 45 minutes of printing plus heat-up, so let’s just say one hour of use at 250W. That’s, what, 2-4 cents? Each nozzle is around $3, and they last about 100-150 hours of printing before I throw them out due to contamination and wear, because they’re brass. Also the belts on the printer are $10/apiece, and there are three, and each set of belts is probably good for 2000 hours or so with proper care. I have nearly that many hours of printing (I think) but I can see some good wear on the belts and they’ll probably eat it sometime this year. 90% of the belt wear was from when I was learning and crashed the head a few times, causing the belts to skip. That still happens on occasion.

So each part cost between $.50-1.00.

On Studs, baby

Ugh, here goes the play money


And, let’s look at tomorrow’s temperature











New studs:


Compared to old:


While I was down there, I noticed I had a remanufactured alternator:


Removing the exhaust, along with the PO’s (and my) futile attempts to stem this exhaust leak.


Annealing the copper exhaust gaskets, because Amazon forgot to include mine in this last order:


Step 1: remove fuckered stud (sometimes the longest step)


Step 2: Drill out hole



Step 3: Counterbore hole


Step 4: Tap hole

(Step 4a: clean out tapped hole)

Step 5: Using insert tool and plenty of oil, thread in the Time-Sert insert. Insert will initially thread in easily, then it will become difficult for 3-5 turns at the tool expands the last few threads in the insert to lock it into place.




Step 6: Using high-temperature red loctite, thread in new exhaust stud.




The exhaust gaskets were cool by now, so I flattened them out and gave them a very light sanding, and will re-anneal them before installation.

(pictured: sanding not complete)

Also, note how the PO or PPO or PPPO has already done this to the other cylinder:


Okay, so I had to time-sert two other studs, as they also spun out when I went to do the final nut tightening on them after installing the tailpipe (both sides are loosely installed, tailpipe is installed and tightened, then you tighten the manifolds to the head — otherwise they often are too “narrow” to allow the tailpipe to go on).

After that, there was one broken off stud left. Vice grips weren’t cutting it, and I tried torching the area and cooling over and over, along with penetrating fluid. Eventually, I went on a vision quest for a stud extractor set.

Harbor freight was a no-go, so was Home Depot. Autozone and the local Oreilly’s didn’t have one, either. Defeated, I turned around to go home, but stopped off at a NAPA just to check. They didn’t have one in stock, either, but on the way out I spotted a yellow Irwin blister pack on their “will call” order wall. There it was! Exactly what I needed!

I asked about it, but the cashier said it was a customer pickup. On the way out, the manager called me back and said that the guy was supposed to pick it up weeks ago, so he let me purchase it.

Ta da!


Armed with the 8mm extractor, I attacked the stud after another heating and cooling round.

It snapped off nearly at the base of the head.

Having wasted $30, I decided to call Time of Death and just went on with the project. I know that may seem like bad ownership, but when I started this project last weekend each cylinder only had ONE stud holding the exhaust on (4 total), and now only ONE was missing (7 total). I’m calling that a success anyway, and resumed reassembly.

I also used two, full tubes of that silica-based exhaust sealing paste on every joint and crack and rattle.

Also, a link to the exhaust studs I purchased, because they’re WAY CHEAPER than the VW-sourced ones at $8/pop.