Friday, October 31, 2014

New Exhaust


The S&S Exhaust that I put on the van maybe 5 years ago finally failed. There was a good sized split upstream of the O2 sensor just after the collector. I welded on a patch which was really just some welding practice. It closed the gash but did not seal it. I was hoping that the patch would help the rough running, hesitation issue.
I did not notice a change and I had the hesitation right at start up - so probably not the O2 sensor since I understand that does not even come online until a few minutes in.
Well, the muffler and cat/pipe fell off. The van stopped running and I had AAA get us home.
Ordered a new exhaust - close to OEM - from van cafe but it was back ordered so used Joe at eVW.
With the new OEM like exhaust, I discovered that the oil filter on the oil cooler sandwich plate would no longer fit.
Figured out that the filter for a 1987 Saab 900 is the proper dimensions. We will find out if it is the proper spec.
Finished this all up last week but have not had the time to test drive. Since I put a new filter on, I will change the oil as well.

Patapsco State Park - Avalon Area

Monday, April 1, 2013

Fixing Rear End Sag

Front tires were wearing horribly on outside edge. I adjusted the lean as much as possible to get them as close to vertical as I could but still had wear problems. The tire gut told me after my last new tires that I had broken springs in the rear and that I would not be able to get the alignment right until I got new springs. I jacked up the van and looked at the springs. They were not broken but the spring perch on the trailing arm was mashed in and the bump stops were gone.
Pretty bummed at this point but decide to try to make a replacement spring perch patch based on one I saw on the samba.
I used two layers of 16 guage sheet metal from Home Depot - about an eight inch and as thick as I could cut with a jig saw. I cut one disc slightly larger than the other and welded the two together. The difference in diameter gave me a lap joint where I could run a bead and practice my sorry welding skills. For the bump stop I used a 1 1/2" plumbing coupling fitting. I was able to cut the top off of the old bump stops and welded those onto the coupling. With the patch perches done, I welded those onto the trailing arms. You will need a grinder with a twisted wire wheel attachment to get down to good bare metal for the welding.

Gas Cap Alternative from Mercedes for VW

I was at Wawa the other night getting a sub and some gasoline when a couple in a convertable VW modified into a porsche speedster pull in to the pump next to me. We started talking and looking at engines. I finally went in to pick up my sub, hopped in the van and merrily drove away, losing another gas cap but not pulling the hose off the pump.
Saturday morning, I am at Crazy Ray's on route 1 in Jessup, Maryland, an awesome pick and pull junk yard, with my shopping list which included a gas cap. None of the VW caps looked right so I pulled this cap off an 80's mercedes diesel D300. It looks like the the same cap as the 80's gasoline mercedes.
It fits nice and tight.
So, next time you are in the junkyard, pick a spae cap off a mid 80's MB.
installed, snugs right up

top, nice patina, solid

bottom, about 2"+ for the outside diameter of the fill pipe

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Lawn tractor fits - sort of.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Replacing Fuel Filter Really Works

So my van was making this tremendously loud whine from the fuel pump. It was so loud you could not use a cell phone at speed, which is nice. I replaced the fuel filter, a little $5 plastic box and the noise dropped to a low hum, still audible but a huge difference. I did the switch in a gravel parking area at the barn with a screw driver in about 10 minutes. I used a pair of vice grips to gently pinch the line coming out of the tank. Put a cloth down to catch the fuel coming out of the pump and old filter, probably about 3 ounces.

Monday, January 3, 2011

iTube for iPod

So Santa brought me connector that plays my iPod through the FM radio. The problem was that there is a total tangle of cords and plugs and the FM display thing hanging there. It is almost impossible to work the thing while driving. So I took a section of 1 1/2" PVC, cut slices in the edges to route the cables and finished the prototype with electrical tape. Some velcroon the outside with a patch on the dash and it will stay put. Finally, if I had made it just a bit bigger, the iPod and the connector wouldall fit in the tube for travel/storage.

I kowmy last two projects were PVC based. I am not a "make everything with PVC," I have just been doing lot ofplumbing lately.

The slots are at 90 degree angles to each other and they are about 2 saw blades wide. Use a file or rasp or sound paper folded around a paint stirrer to widen and smooth the slots. Fresh cut PVC will slice open a charging cable jammed into the slot - (note electrical tape on charger.)
Caps on the end, maybe some zip ties or even grommets could dress it up nicely.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

We drove all the way to England an camped at this awesome castle

Monday, September 27, 2010

Beefing Up the Roof Rack Extender

From the last post, which was just the feasibility phase, it was apparent that the extender had to be beefed up. When extended, it just did not have the strength and stiffness to hold the weight of the Sunfish. I liked the PVC as the material, but it just needed to be stiffer.
So the solution was to double up the PVC and rivet a metal bar inside the PVC pipe. This made the arrangement much stiffer.
These pictures are out of order, but you can get the concept.

Above is the second PVC clamped to the first. I tried to use the PVC glue but could not get the clamping contact in place before the solvent gave out. I think maybe a construction adhesive or just caulk would work. The [urple primer and orange glue did not work.
Another view of the failed clamping process.

This is a good shot of the concept. Double walled PVC with bar rivetted inside. In order to get the outer PVC to take that shape it needs to be heated. I used a paint stripping heat gun. A torch would also work but may result in burn or too much concentrated heat.

Close-up of the rivets that go through both layers of PVC and into the bar. These will be covered by tape or padding to prevent them from scratching the hull.

Above is the original showing the bar in place and the sliced section to be used to double up the PVC.

This is the heat gun I used. Good even controlled heating. As it heated, I pushed down on the PVC to open it up and applied clamps to hold it in place while it cooled. PVC is fairly bendable when heated but it will scorch. This is one of those well ventilated space activities.

Here is the PVC sliced open on the table saw. The next one I do will not be sliced in half but just at 3/4. This way, I will be able to get some clamping action from the "C" shape of the pipe which might elimnate the need for rivets through the two layers. The "C" shape pluse construction adhesive may work very well for this. The bar will also be necessary for the stiffness.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Roof Rack Mod for Solo Loading Sunfish

One of my original love activities is sailing. My grandparents retired to a cottage near Kilmarnock, Virginia on a small cove off Dymer Creek. Creeks off the Chesapeake can be pretty big. Dymer Creek, where they were, is about 1/2 mile wide and about 3 miles off the Bay. The Bay is very wide there, you cannot see the other side. There were abondoned farm houses, a burned down menhaden factory, a boat yard where they still built wooden workboats and a small island. Basically the best place in the world for a nine year old to be with a boat in the summer.
Grandad loved the dump and one day we brought back a little sailboat. My grandmother, Bee, sewed a sail for it, Grandad put me in it and gave me a big push away from the dock - probably so he could take a nap - and my adventures really began.
So it is pretty easy to see how I came to love the freedom and feeling of sailing.
The problem is that I need to get the Sunfish - my only remaining sailboat - to the water. I have a trailer but it is not reigstered and the cartop would be a lot easier. The sunfish weighs about 150 lbs and loading it solo would result in a broken back, broken boat or broken car. Lifting one end of the boat is fairly easy but there is no way to lift the boat onto the van one end at a time so I came up with this extension for the rack. It lets you lift the boat up onto the van one end at a time.
The rack extension is 1 1/2" PVC pipe with a 90 deg. bend on the end. There is a slot cut into the bottom of the extension that the leg of the roof rack sticks out of. The slot is long enough to allow the extender to slide out a couple feet, enough to catch the boat. The PVC is not stiff enough by itself for the sunfish so you have to do something to stiffen it. I placed a piece of square metal inside the rack that slides out with the PVC. You could use wood stiffeners along the outside of the PVC or even rig up a leg support that goes to the ground.
In the above, you can see the extender bending under the weight of the sunfish.

The above picture is the angle of attack for lifting one end onto the rack.

Once you have the front end up, it is not too hard to lift the back end up and swing the boat onto the roof. I still need to mount the rear rack, but I wanted to test the concept before going forward.

Below is a detail of the PVC with the cut out. I used a rotary zip saw to cut open the PVC.

Below are 2 shots of the roof rack inserted into the PVC extender showing how the leg of the rack sticks out of the extender and the slide range.

To perfect the rack extenders I need to stiffen the PVC. I might do this with maybe 1/2 plywood running along both sides of the extender cut into a shallow "V" to track the shape of the hull. I have to figure out how to attach the "V" without affecting the ability to slide. This same extender concept would be a great way to mount a shade off the side of the van.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Artificial Roof Gutters to Mount Roof Rack

One thing that the van is missing was a good roof rack system. I have had Thule(r) Racks since the mid 1980's. They are very strong and obviously hold up well. The racks that I currently have were probably bought about five years ago as replacements for the originals that never came back from the shop that pulled the plug on an old taurus station wagon. Those racks were a little bent from loading about 15 sheets of drywall onto them. That load actually pulled the wagon's factory roof rack base off the roof (no gutters on the taurus). I remember reattaching that track with one 10" bolt with a hole drilled straight through the track, roof and headliner. But I digress.

The van has gutters but they are too far below the pop top for the standard bases. The high bases are not a good option because they would prevent the pop top from going up. So I fabricated some gutter pieces out of 1/8" steel. The pieces are about 5"x8". I just put the piece in a mechanics vice with about 2" above the vice. I used a large hammer, also called a BF hammer, to put a 90 deg. bend in the plate. Then I raised the plate about an inch and put a cold chisel under the bend. Then I hammered with the BF hammer to bend the plate down around the round handle of the chisel. That way I made channel for clamping the rack base. I drilled holes (5/16") in the corbner of the gutter plate and in the pop top. I raised the pop top up slightly so that I could see in behind the top and to make sure that I was not drilling into the tent fabric. Remember that the fiberglass dust is itchy so wear long sleaves if this bothers you.
I am planning to use the rack to load boats, a canoe, windsurfers and possibly a sunfish. My old sunfish probably weighs about 150lbs which is probably too much to load on the pop top. In order to help distribute the load, I used some backing plates made of the same steal behind the gutters. It feels pretty strong, but I still will probably rig something up to transfer some of the dowun pressure to the actual gutters below the pop top to get the wight off the fiberglass pop top.
Next up is a way to get the sunfish up on the roof single handed. Strength and ingenuity - hopefully more ingenuity that strength.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

differential flange and cv joint lube

Time to fix the source of the big blob under the axle. Jacked up, blocked and on the jack stands - always. Also, I always keep the jack ready and under the van with the thing ready to lift the van off me if - heaven forbid -

This is what it looked like, gloopy, thick, gooey and coming out of the cv boot.

a little out of order, but here is a bicycle innertube piece that I cut to wrap around the cv boot crack. I wrapped the inner tube around the split part of the boot, then wrapped that in electrical tape. I'll let you know how long it lasts.

The axle disconnected from the differential without a problem. I hit it with the PB Blaster (R) and used a dental pick to clean out as much gunk as possible from the bolts and they broke loose without a problem. After I wiped off the grease, I saw the flange with a perfect hole in it, which should not be there. This hole let the gear oil into the cv boot and washed out the grease, which leaked onto the driveway. The hole was so perfectly round I thought I had further to go to get to the seal, but a quick Samba consult set me straight.

Here is the new seal and the old seal for comparison with the hole.

Here is the new seal in place. The old seal popped out with an awl.

Here is the bicycle innertube/electrical tape wrap patch of the CV boot. This axle is still attached to the wheel on the outside. I did take the CV joint off to pack it with new grease. There is a lock ring that holds it on which you must have the special pliers to get off. Do not even try to do it with another tool. It would be quicker to slit your wrist and be reincarnated as a person who buys the pliers.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Right before our plane trip to the west coast, I noticed a gooey black blob under the driver side axle. Since the new engine insert a couple months ago, there had been no leaks but I had recently noticed a burnt oil smell after longer runs. The gooey blob was totally new. It was like jello pudding with a film on top and the color of tar.

After a quick search on the Samba, I felt pretty confident that it was a failed differential flange seal. The good folks at Van Cafe had the flange seal, washer and lock ring ready to go and shipped that day. I also ordered a replacement hose for my oil pressure gauge - ouch $30 -. As I get into this project, I'll keep posted - for one I am not sure whether I need to disconnect anything but the inner CV boot and axle. That would be nice if I could avoid disassembling everything from the wheel in. I also will re-grease all the CV's I get into.

Terp Van

Do I have talented children, nieces and nephews or what?
This is where we are now on the painting of the terp van. The plan is to wrap the van in the Maryland flag - statetriotic

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Where have I been?

Since the valve spring removal and replacement, I have continued to use and work on the van. I have taken trips, camped and even put in a new old engine. My niece's lacrosse team played in - and won - the Women's NCAA Division I National Championship game. That's right, the University of Maryland Terrapins over the Wildcats of Northwestern in late May 2010. Right before that game, we did our best to paint the Maryland flag on both sides of the van. The next morning after we found Doug, returned the Tiger to Mike Tyson's house and reunited Carlos with his mom we did a little touch up paint and drove a completely overloaded van - coolers, grill, people, chairs - up to Towson University for an awesome game on a beautiful day.
Missing on one cylinder, made it back home on three. Tested the cylinder and zero compression.

So, pulled the engine and replaced it with the 1.9 I bought off craigslist last year. Originally, I was going to rebuild that engine but I just put it in and it started up. Used all the newer pieces that I had. After tuning and closing down the screw on the throttle body, she settled right down and has been running great.

Before the Univ. of Maryland game, I took the van on its longest trip up to Brimfield Massachusetts for the crazy antique fair. Camped in the van. Made it up and back. One quart of oil per tank and cleaning the spark plug after every second tank kept her humming along. Even drove through New York City.

After the Brimfield trip, took the van up to Princeton, NJ by way of Amish Country around Lancaster. Played Golf on Friday afternoon, drove up to Princeton, slept in van, breakgast on the grill. Watched the Maryland men's lacrosse team lose to Notre Dame - the irony. Then slugged back to SP - but the van worked fine, same rate of oil consumption - not a leak - and cleaning spark plug.

Now we've got the new engine but a large glob of goop under the differential at the inner driver side CV boot. This is apparently a differential flange seal. On order from the good folks at Van Cafe.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

first road trip

Friday after Thanksgiving, we loaded up the van and drove, all four of us, to Chincoteague, Virginia for Thanksgiving Round II with some friemds who have a place on the island. I was nervous about the van, but I had been driving around town quite a bit and had even gotten to the point where I was not watching the gauges every 3 seconds.

We made it down and back and drove it out while we were there. Our hosts loved the way all 7 people could fit and it was like just moving the living room around with everyone sitting or lounging in the back, conversing or just looking at each other.

We also took it out to Assateague. The picture was taken on a causeway through some marsh.

The trip back was only slightly eventful. I got real nervous when the oil temp went up to about 230. I just slowed way down, to about fifty, drove easy and it settled down. After stopping for dinner, it never got above 200. I think the valve that diverts the flow to the oil cooler once the temp goes up was stuck closed. I also got a couple of hiccup like hesitations.

Hopefully, my confidence will go up and my anxiety about breakdown will go down with more trips.