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.