On superstitions

WELP! In my last post, I typed the words:

spare tire

…which means life saw fit to let me catch a nail on the way home from work this morning.

Nail head


Bulge right alongside (parallel with) the nail head.


I don’t park anywhere near any curbs during ANY of my driving, so I’m wondering if the bulge is from the nail just coincidentally cutting a band? These are poly band tires. Since my spare tire is a 2014 semi-offroad-style tire from a different brand, it has a larger diameter than the Hankooks I’m running. To avoid differential and transmission damage by having mismatched size rear tires, I put the spare on the front driver’s side, and rotated the front tires to the rear. Thankfully they have less than 4k on them, so wear is minimal between the other three, in case something else happens before my new tire comes from Amazon. Also, Amazon delivers tires with free shipping! Holy shit!

Checking the front brake disc while I have the wheel off:

(not a crack, a scratch from my screwdriver)

Pads are still super thick. Almost no wear! Which is surprising, considering they’re the size of milk bottle caps.

Spare on.



Kinda wish I had bought four of these Douglas tires, but they don’t make them anymore :smith:

I didn’t even notice the nail or bulge on the way home (glad I took surface streets :stare:). I had gotten underneath the car to use the last few free hours I have this weekend to track down and hopefully quell some oil leaks.

The push rod tubes that the new engine came with were used, and had been painted. In addition, while they had used the high-temperature Viton seals on the head sides of the tubes, they had used standard buna-n rubber on the engine block side. Both sides have been leaking, since new, from multiple push rod tubes. By far the worst ones were/are the driver’s side, and I was hoping to tackle those today. I found an ebay listing for eight tubes with accompanying (allegedly) Viton seals, for around $65. That seems expensive, but the tubes usually sell for around $12 apiece, and seals $4 each (with two seals per tube). So, a steal for some shiny new galvanized tubes.


While the oil leaks on the new engine are NOTHING in comparison to the old one, it still was seeping down in places, but only when the engine was running. This makes sense, as the push rod tubes are above the level of oil when the engine is off, and only have oil running through them when the engine is on and oiling the valvetrain.


You can see the build-up of burned oil on the driver’s side exhaust manifold


Now, this is something I’m not proud of. One push rod tube in particular has/had been leaking worse than the rest. I had pulled it once before, RTV’d it up, and then slathered a TON of RTV on the outside, at both ends. I regretted this today, as I had to clean all of that shit off. Despite that, after maybe two weeks, the oil seeped right through. I only bought myself some time.



So, off comes the valve covers, and the rocker arms.

Then, the push rods, and the push rod tubes. I used the old push rod tubes to keep the rods themselves organized. They have to go back exactly where they came from, in the correct orientation, as the push rods wear on the rocker arms and hydraulic adjusters together, and you don’t want to start that process over.

Push rod tubes out, two at a time (so I had a lower chance of mixing up the rods, only two on the paper towel at once instead of four).


The seals go on the ends of the tubes, and you slather it all in a high(er) temp grease. All I have is a can of red lithium grease, and I’ve read it’s safe for Viton seals, so that’s what I used.

Tubes in (you can see the excess grease squeezed out)


And all four on the driver’s side done.

The passenger side push rod tubes were/are mostly all good. One or two of the seals is very slowly weeping, but not enough to leave even a stain on the exhaust below. For now, I’m leaving well enough alone and saving the other four new ones for later.

In this photo, the rear of the bus is to the right. You can see the engine mount “mustache bar” (two bolts without nuts sticking straight down out of it) is COVERED in oil. Called that because it looks, well, like a mustache when removed.

For spatial reference, it’s the grey bar to the right, almost touching, the orange oil filter in this photo:

Just rearward of that bar itself is the fan shroud, which also has a lot of oil dripping out of it:

Here’s a picture looking UP. The mustache bar is at the top of the photo, the bulk of the shroud is at the bottom, out of frame. This is the flange on the fan shroud that bolts to the engine and surrounds the fan seal mounting.
(notice the oil)

Seeing the oil in the fan shroud, dripping down all over the mustache bar, I assumed that the fan seal itself had failed. It was pre-installed by the engine builders, and there’s always a chance my fan hub (that the seal mates to) was scratched, or I got some dirt in there, or the seal itself was cheap (as evidenced by a lot of other things on the bus). So, I took the red fan off, and looked at the fan hub, expecting to see oil everywhere, streaming down the face of the engine.


Well…huh. Not really any oil there. A few spatters, sure, but definitely not a failed fan hub seal. I even spent $10 on a new one, and had it ready to go! :argh:

The area behind the fan has a few “oil galley” plugs. This is a photo of a lot of them. You can see that I’ve “peened” a few of them, and the traditionally bad-for-leaking culprits were drilled out and tapped with threaded plugs by the engine builders. Behind the galley plugs is oil at (when cold) 100+ PSI, so if these fail, it’s usually “bye-bye engine” if you don’t catch it immediately. However, nothing really to note.


Even the oil pump, pictured here with the “VW” logo and “3f” markings, usually a big leaker if installed improperly, was bone-dry.

Now, the fan itself definitely did have oil streaks on it, going centrally outwards, so it has an oil leak behind it. It turns out, after doing some reading on TheSamba and similar, that a lot of people put thread sealant compound behind that big washer in the center of the fan hub, and on the underside of that flanged bolt. I guess that some cranks (the fan bolts directly to the crank) can have oil walk up through the center, and come out behind that big washer and get flung outwards. My fan was filthy with oil, so I pulled that big bolt and washer off, and saw this:

No pictures because the light was fading, but I cleaned up both sides of the washer (and hub mating surface) with a razor and brake cleaner, and used some Permatex thread sealant on everything. You’re supposed to wait 24 hours for curing, but I had to move the bus off of the street and park it in the parking lot. We’ll see if this is the fix. I was losing barely enough oil to notice between changes, but it was dripping down all over the exhaust and causing smoking after a freeway run, or after parking. Especially noticeable at night, and made a bad smell.


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