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.

On accessories

My aftermarket jail bars came in. Now the spare tire won’t tap on the window, and my feet won’t kick the rear window when sleeping anymore.



Also squeezed a few new decals on it





On Cleaning

Went out today in my fever-dream haze and decided to get some fresh air by cleaning the back patio. Spent a few hours back there, organizing tools (dumping both boxes, cleaning everything, and sorting it as it went back in), power washing, etc.





The reason I’m posting it here, though, is that I found a brand-new sliding door rubber seal for the bus! I thought that maybe I bought one back when I first bought the bus, but wasn’t sure. As they’re like $60-100, I was reluctant to possibly buy a duplicate. Now I’ve got one that’s only a little sun baked!

On second versions

Going to re-print the door handles. I just added a channel to add some 6mm round bar (bent to shape, obv) for reinforcement. Driver’s handle is cracking a bit.



Also designed a simple m14 spark plug holder. Will have to use an old spark plug to thread the hole, but holds four plugs and designed to be installed in the engine bay. Saw a vintage part up on ebay, decided it was something I could make very simply. Printing it now.


On Privacy II

Small update: for the front curtain, I’ve been using a string run between two (3d printed) utility hooks. I’ve had, on my “to do” list, “curtain bar bus” for about six months.

Today, I finally did that. It’s not fancy, but it gives a lot more privacy. Shit quality photos, because camera was sold for (vw) bus money. But they get the point across:










Test with a miscellaneous EMS blanket


I also took care of putting in a new valve cover gasket on the CR-V. One of those cases where, no matter where she parks or what she was doing, it leaves a dollar-sized oil spot, but I notice no oil level drop of note between changes. Maybe from the top of the top hole on the dipstick, to the bottom of the top hole.



New gasket on.


Probably helps that I have all of the real tension washers now. Before, I had lost maybe 2 or 3 of them, and was using standard washers.

On winter warmups.

I’ve been having a dog of a time getting a smooth idle when it’s cold out. Anything under, say, 50 degrees, and it’s a bear. Plenty of power when running, but when returning to idle, it tends to dip down, then recover. Sometimes it pulses.

I know the carburetor has issues, and I’ve got a solution for that hopefully coming in tomorrow. Still, though, I need to fix the root problem, and that’s the lack of intake preheat.

Every single website that sells carburetors and intake kits recommends that you don’t do a single center progressive on the Type 4, because there are no exhaust setups stock that offer intake preheat tubes. Some people who do center carbs try to fix this by welding their own intake exhaust preheat tubes up, or add “thermal reflectors” (aluminum sheets) over the intake pipes, so block heat is trapped. Others make pipes that go from a shroud around an exhaust header, and run it to a cardboard box built around the air cleaner, and I myself may do something like that. However, the vast majority of people simply live with it, or don’t drive in the winter.

I’m going to trial something different. I don’t know how long it’ll survive, or if it’ll even work, but for $40 it’s worth a shot.

First thing, I stripped out the old heater booster fan wires and relay. The way it worked is a switch on the front heater lever grounded pin 86 on a relay, which was powered from the alternator voltage regulator output, to prevent you from draining the battery without the engine running. This relay switched a big honkin’ fused lead straight from the battery, to the heater fan. However, being 44 years old and in an engine compartment led to these failing often.






Superior German Engineering :godwinning:

I cut the heater fan wiring loom back until I was past the crispy bits, and wired that into a stock 5-pin automotive relay. Bad pic, ignore the kapton tape (taped up a test light)



I’ve wired this down to a set of four, 10x200mm, “7.5W” 12V heaters. Currently they only have a small bead of arctic silver [knockoff] compound in a strip on the bottom, and I’ve kapton-taped them to the intake runners.



So, with the engine running, I can pull the once-unused (used to open the flaps to the exhaust heater boxes) heater lever all the way down, and it clicks over the relay, which turns on the silicone heating strips. Before buttoning everything up, I got the engine running, and tested it. They warmed up right quick, to the point they were nearly too hot to touch. This is hopefully going to be much better than having icy-cold runners. I’ve honestly seen condensation on them after a freeway run to work. I also smeared a thin coating of copper RTV on top and in the sides of the silicone strips, to give them a little more sticktivity for the next week or so of testing. If everything works out, I’m going to wrap some insulating fiberglass/silicone tape over them, and call it good.

I’m aware the best place to put them would be on the bottom of the runners, as that is where gasoline vapor is probably condensing and running down to, but that’s a right pain in the dick with everything installed. Plus, as-is, if one burns out, I can rip it up without disassembling anything. I have no idea what kind of lifespan these little (I’m assuming) nichrome-mica heaters have.

On new stomping grounds

Pulling the old engine, and removing the tins, was the easiest part.





I tried capturing the mounds and mounds of oil crud on the intake valves, but even Lightroom can’t save this one


Mmm, so sexy.


The current wiring, while at a bare minimum of necessary wires, was quite messy.


We also wanted to do something with the engine bay. Clean up the crud and maybe cover the rusty spots.

(pictured: BlazeCut tube – still one of my favorite purchases for peace-of-mind)

Tins removed, and out on the rocks.


“Zundfolge 1-2-3-4.” Buddy speaks fluent German, says it’s the equivalent of “firing order”.


My buddy has this actually really good Ryobi pressure washer. It’s leaps and bounds better than the Harbor Freight “Blue” washer I have. After he accidentally hit his toe with it (and promptly sliced it right the fuck open), he switched to boots.




The Exhaust extensions I made. This was leaky as shit on the drive over, so we eventually pulled it all apart (the stainless fasteners seized solid together in one single drive, but the “Grade 8” O’reilly’s metric bolts were easily removed, hmm) and re-sealed it.


The transmission seal is clearly leaking. It was 50/50 which one was causing the wetness at the engine/bellhousing joining point, and now we knew. I replaced the seal after washing it out.


Pressure plate. I didn’t have the funds for a new pressure plate (they’re like $150-200), but I got a new clutch, so that’s 50% of the way there. Despite the pattern, it’s fairly flat on the edge of my caliper slide.


Taking care not to hit wires or the transmission drive shaft directly


Old and busted / new hotness



And suddenly I understand what a clutch centering tool is for


New engine is on the table now


…and the old is thrown to the side.


A secret pic my buddy snapped. Me inhaling red spray paint and getting high as a fucking kite.


Painting the tins.



We spent the first night (last night) fitting the painted tins. At least, when you’re an EMT, you have an infinite supply of gloves, and can change them if they ever get any grime on them. Don’t want to mark up the fresh paint!




Rear fan shroud on.


And, the next morning, the front fan shroud on.


I decided to paint the fan. Why not?


Back plate on.



Now, preface. Between the next two pictures, about an hour passed. The lift table was an absolute godsend compared to how we did this last time, with a jack and a piece of wood. Even with it, though, getting the engine mated up is a trial of patience. We eventually got it on by having my buddy up top holding the table, and me on the ground watching the bellhousing mating point, and giving directions. I ended up spinning the flywheel with a flathead screwdriver while he was shaking the engine side-to-side. That got it over the crankshaft splines, and it mated up.



Starting to work on some of the wiring.



I just like this photo. Victory!


We discovered that, if we backed the bus up to the edge of the driveway slope, it gave us a few more inches of clearance.


And, the rest of the gubbins on.