Irvine Adventure Part II

Moderators: Sluggo, Amskeptic

User avatar
nathan@el
Getting Hooked!
Location: Guilford, Vermont
Status: Offline

Irvine Adventure Part II

Post by nathan@el » Fri Jul 30, 2010 4:17 pm

After meeting Colin for a brief time around this time last year, when he was out in Irvine working on Lanval's 82 air-cooled, I pretty much decided that I NEEDED to book an itinerant air-cooled appointment for the following summer. I was immediately impressed by Colin's knowledge, his general enthusiasm about VW's, and, of course, his absolutely amazing and impressive work of art that is his book-in-progress. After checking out this website and seeing the great community of people here--and how much everybody appreciated Colin's work--my decision was made.

I woke up on Thursday morning at 8am excited to meet Colin again, and excited to dig into my 80 air-cooled as I had a number of projects I wanted to work on, including a tune-up and general check-up of a new engine that I got put in the van about 8,000 miles ago by Europro in Costa Mesa, but was concerned was running too hot. I awaited Colin's arrival with some trepidation, due to general nervousness, and also due to the fact that we had a party at my house the night before for my new roommate, and, honestly, I was a little hung-over at 9am still.

I prepared the van with Diet Coke, tools, and tune-up parts, and awaited Colin's arrival, who was already in the general area since he had worked with Lanval the day before in the miraculous effort to get Lanval's new-to-him 85 with a 2.1 engine up and running. For the record, Lanval showed me the new 85 a couple of weeks ago, which had been sitting for years and had become somewhat infested by rats. I was impressed by the general condition of the van though, and deemed it a solid project to get going (and I was a little jealous of that water-cooled power potential!) I predicted that Colin's visit would SURELY result in getting that engine running, but Lanval didn't seem as certain as I was. In any case, I digress, but as you already know, Colin and Lanval did manage to get that thing running. These vans are tough and don't want to die, apparently.

Upon Colin's arrival we started off with a brief tutorial about valve adjustments--which is something that I have never done on my van before. After some conversation and lessons, Colin show's me what to do, and I go at the valve adjustment while he busily works away on the engine lid--which was falling apart and shedding insulation into the engine compartment. The valve adjustment went smoothly, aside from some difficulty getting the left side valve cover back into place, since it was nearly blocked by the catalytic converter. Colin fought with it a little and got it in place though.

Next, we moved on to timing the engine--something that should be a relatively simple task, but my engine set-up would prove to be somewhat less than optimal, due to ridiculously crappy wiring and possible issues with the idle stabilizer and/or ignition control module. In any case, we started out timing the engine, and realized that the van seemed to have a mind of its own. Even with the idle stabilizer disconnected, the engine would attempt to change the timing settings itself, making our task truly difficult. In addition, my distributor set-up seemed to refuse to provide enough advance at high RPMs.

We dove into the wiring, thinking that maybe something was amiss, miss-wired, or just generally worn out or broken. We replaced a couple of wires that were in terrible shape, hoping that would solve the problem, but no matter what we tried, the engine wanted to time itself. At about this time, Lanval stopped by with a large box of Vanagon goodies for us, that he didn't need anymore for his 82. He had to run off to teach a class, but promised to return later in the evening to help us sort through all of the stuff.

In the meantime, Colin and I took a couple of test-drives with the engine timed as best as we could figure out, and Colin immediately realized that the engine was anemic in terms of power delivery, and was also running somewhat hot. After disconnected the oxygen sensor, the temps came down about 20 degrees, and the engine actually seemed to run a little better too. In any case, we took a trip to the gas station to put some air in the rear tires, and in the parking lot Colin attempted to time the engine completely by ear--something that he claimed he had never done before with a VW engine due to the potential for possible damage. Of course, Colin's years of experience served him well, and the timing ended up being at least as good as using the timing light.

We went back to my place and dove into a few smaller projects as we awaited for Lanval to return with a new distributor, which we sort of narrowed down as the most likely problem with the timing situation. Either way, Colin reasoned that putting in the older-style distributor with points (I have a CA spec van with electronic distributor) would be a good test to see what the problem could be, since doing so would also bypass the ignition control unit and the idle stabilizer. As we waited, we lubed up the gearbox, which was woefully squeaky, and Colin also adjusted the shifter itself, since the positioning of the gears had been slightly wonky since I got the new engine put in.

With that done, Lanval arrived again, and I realized that I had misunderstood him earlier. He didn't actually have another distributor for us to try in the van, which we had been waiting to throw in to see if that would solve the timing problem. But, being the kind and experimental person that he is, Lanval said that we could pull the distributor and coil out of his 82, and put it in my van to see if that fixed the problem. After a little bit of thinking on Colin's part, we figured out how to switch over some of the wiring to get the older style distributor working, and we got it into my van and set about timing it. And, low and behold, the mysterious electrical gremlins immediately disappeared, and the engine started acting like it should and actually let us time the damn thing! Excited about our progress, we took the van on another test drive, and the difference was immediately noticeable. The van actually had POWER (well, as much power as 67 horses can provide), and it was also running much cooler than before. Success!!

On our test drive, I discussed with Colin how I might be able to keep Lanval's distributor, since I wasn't too excited about the prospect of going back to my crappy set-up, which was the only option available for now, until I can find another distributor. I briefly considered hitting Lanval on the head and running for the hills with my awesome new engine set-up, but reasoned that it might not be the best thing for me to do! We get back to my place, and started on the process of changing back the distributors and coils, much to my dismay. Of course, I am already thinking, "there is no way I will be able to do this myself without Colin's help", and was wishing that a distributor would magically appear in front of me, ready to install, as I wasn't too excited about the prospect of trying to do it myself. Alas, no distributor appeared, and I was soon back to my old, anemic and weird set-up. In Lanval's box of random parts, we miraculously found a different ignition control module, and decided to try that in my van on the off chance that that unit was causing all of the mystery problems we were encountering. I was hopeful, but in the end, it proved to cause the same problems as before. However, the test wasn't completely useless, as it narrowed down the list of potential problems to pretty much just the wiring or the distributor itself. We timed it as best we could again, and by this time in the day it was getting late and we decided to wrap things up.

As it was getting dark, Colin, Lanval and I decided to head down to the local pizza place for some much needed food and beer. While there, Colin drew me some more diagrams, and helped show me what to do when I got a new points style distributor to put into the van. I was feeling good about the progress of the day, even though I was also terrified of the prospect of facing this task without the master himself there to guide me along. I learned a lot about the van though, and was feeling more confident about my mechanical abilities and about my knowledge of the Type IV engine. We had a long discussion about various other topics, and I was thinking how much I appreciate Colin's general thoughtfulness about the world in general. It is clear that we share some of the same viewpoints about political and social issues, which made me appreciate Colin's visit all the more. At about 10pm all three of us went our separate ways, and I vowed to book another visit next summer. All-in-all, a successful and productive day, even with the setbacks that we encountered. And, hopefully in the near future I will have a new distributor set-up that will allow the van to run at its full potential, and will be better on my new (and expensive!) engine.

--Nathanael
Orange 1980 Vanagon L Westy
~190,000 miles on body
~20,000 on engine

User avatar
Amskeptic
IAC "Help Desk"
IAC "Help Desk"
Status: Offline

Re: Irvine Adventure Part II

Post by Amskeptic » Sat Jul 31, 2010 9:52 am

nathan@el wrote:Lanval said that we could pull the distributor and coil out of his 82, and put it in my van to see if that fixed the problem.
the difference was immediately noticeable. The van actually had POWER (well, as much power as 67 horses can provide), and it was also running much cooler than before. Success!!

We had a long discussion about various other topics, and we share some of the same viewpoints about political and social issues,
A big thank-you to Lanval for jumping in and letting us experiment using his Big Blue Beautiful Running Vanagon With No Appreciable Problems (noisy transmission? pshaw).

It is not as fun working on engines that have pesky electronics hiding under plastic covers, and these cruel electronics were niggardly in their dispensation of timing advance. You can only follow the directions . . . and the directions say "disconnect the stupid plugs to the stupid idle stabilizer and plug them into each other, stupid, and adjust the stupid timing to 5* ATDC". Well, we did just that. But the electronics refused to allow us to get the upper range of centrifugal advance, even though the distributor itself had very nice mechanical action.

The Nathan@el OrangeMobile Vanagon has the spirit of a Volkswagen friend, you can just tell such a thing. Driving communicated that same sense as I had with the Road Warrior, this car is a person's friend and has racked up Experience.

The Nathan@el Himself is possessed of a keen mind and perspective that gives me hope.
Colin
BobD - 78 Bus . . . 112,660 miles
Chloe - 70 bus . . . 206,845 miles
Naranja - 77 Westy . . . 129,490 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . . 55,570 miles
Alexus - 91 Lexus LS400 . . . 94,225 miles

User avatar
Sylvester
Bad Old Puddy Tat.
Location: Sylvester, Georgia
Contact:
Status: Offline

Post by Sylvester » Sat Jul 31, 2010 10:12 am

I need pictures.
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue, I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace. Where never lark, or even eagle flew. And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod, The high untrespassed sanctity of space, Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

User avatar
Amskeptic
IAC "Help Desk"
IAC "Help Desk"
Status: Offline

Post by Amskeptic » Sun Aug 01, 2010 8:33 am

Sylvester wrote:I need pictures.
Don't have 'em. Sorry.

But I do have yesterday's abandoned Bosch Auto Group dealer parking lot Heater Box Refresher + Now The $^&%^@*! Left Side CV Boot Replacement photographs:

Image

. . . as I knew would happen, the aesthetic balance is all screwed up now, so now I have to restore the whole undercariage:

Image

Under the crud were totally fresh fasteners with cad plating still intact.
Colin
BobD - 78 Bus . . . 112,660 miles
Chloe - 70 bus . . . 206,845 miles
Naranja - 77 Westy . . . 129,490 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . . 55,570 miles
Alexus - 91 Lexus LS400 . . . 94,225 miles

User avatar
yondermtn
Old School!
Location: IL
Status: Offline

Post by yondermtn » Sun Aug 01, 2010 9:36 am

hmmmm, sounds like what I am going through.

I think I'm on the right track, but who knows?

I have been trying to figure out my inconsistent idle problem and was advised that I may have a sticky distributor.
I also cannot get this thing timed. I'll set it at idle and things are fine, then give it some gas and when it returns to idle the timing is off.

Ordered new distributor(with pertronix installed) and tried that.
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=425700

I've pretty much given up on the new distributor and am currently at a loss. Scheduled to embark on a week long camping trip on Thursday. :pale:
1977 Westy 2.0FI
1990 Vanagon MV 2.1 Auto

User avatar
Amskeptic
IAC "Help Desk"
IAC "Help Desk"
Status: Offline

Post by Amskeptic » Sun Aug 01, 2010 6:27 pm

yondermtn wrote:hmmmm, sounds like what I am going through.

I think I'm on the right track, but who knows?

I have been trying to figure out my inconsistent idle problem and was advised that I may have a sticky distributor.
I also cannot get this thing timed. I'll set it at idle and things are fine, then give it some gas and when it returns to idle the timing is off.

Ordered new distributor(with pertronix installed) and tried that.
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=425700

I've pretty much given up on the new distributor and am currently at a loss. Scheduled to embark on a week long camping trip on Thursday. :pale:
Too much aggravation here!

Put the original distributor back in! Get it running! Time it with vacuum hose OFF to 28* at 3,200 rpm!
What is your idle timing?
Drop the idle speed down to as low as you can with the engine still running. Does the timing back down?
Shut engine off!
Take cap off and manually rotate rotor counter-clockwise.
Does it move? OK, sticking centrifugal weights/upper shaft.
Does it not move? Good!
Re-assemble.
Start with no gas pedal.
What is your idle speed/timing?
Set idle speed to 850 if timing is not returning to "base".
Set idle speed to 900-950 if timing is returning to "base".
A slightly sticky distributor is no big deal, but make sure the upper timing range is good at 3,200 rpm.
Go enjoy your vacation!
Colin
BobD - 78 Bus . . . 112,660 miles
Chloe - 70 bus . . . 206,845 miles
Naranja - 77 Westy . . . 129,490 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . . 55,570 miles
Alexus - 91 Lexus LS400 . . . 94,225 miles

User avatar
yondermtn
Old School!
Location: IL
Status: Offline

Post by yondermtn » Mon Aug 02, 2010 8:29 am

I cleaned up the old distributor really well and lubed it up.
Installed it and got it running. Sounds good, and timing seems to be more consistent. I will go through the above procedures after work.

I did get some other items checked off my list during my frustration. Finally got the instrument lights wired correctly and working. And, rust-proofed my battery tray. :compress:
1977 Westy 2.0FI
1990 Vanagon MV 2.1 Auto

User avatar
nathan@el
Getting Hooked!
Location: Guilford, Vermont
Status: Offline

Post by nathan@el » Mon Aug 02, 2010 3:45 pm

Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures either. I planned on pulling out my camera, but we got so busy trying to figure out the mysterious timing problem that I completely forgot about it. It's too bad, because I would have liked to get some photos of the orangemobile and the Bob D together! That is one beautiful, clean bus!

And yes, thanks again to Lanval for letting us disassemble his van for testing purposes! I'm heading out to Vermont on Wednesday morning for 10 days, but I hope to be able to do the distributor switch out soon after I arrive back in California.

Thanks also for the kind words Colin! It was a pleasure talking with you.
Orange 1980 Vanagon L Westy
~190,000 miles on body
~20,000 on engine

User avatar
aopisa
Addicted!
Location: Vermont
Status: Offline

Post by aopisa » Mon Aug 02, 2010 5:16 pm

nathan@el wrote:
I'm heading out to Vermont on Wednesday morning for 10 days, but I hope to be able to do the distributor switch out soon after I arrive back in California.
Where in Vermont? Just curious. We see so few VWs here or their owners it's like seeing visitors from a strange far away land.
1977 Westy 2.0L F.I.

Flow with whatever may happen and let your mind be free. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate. - Chuang Tzu

User avatar
nathan@el
Getting Hooked!
Location: Guilford, Vermont
Status: Offline

Post by nathan@el » Mon Aug 02, 2010 6:54 pm

Where in Vermont? Just curious. We see so few VWs here or their owners it's like seeing visitors from a strange far away land.
I'll be hanging out in the Brattleboro area mostly. That is where I grew up, by the way. And yeah, the lack of air-cooled VW's is highly prominent in Vermont! I hardly even see any water-cooled Vanagons driving around when I'm out there now. Rust is a bitch...
Orange 1980 Vanagon L Westy
~190,000 miles on body
~20,000 on engine

User avatar
aopisa
Addicted!
Location: Vermont
Status: Offline

Post by aopisa » Mon Aug 02, 2010 7:05 pm

Ahhh...Brattleboro. The college town without a college. I like McNeill's brewery among other great little treasures there. I live straight across the bottom of the state near Bennington. My youngest son goes to school in Putney.

Have fun. It's been the warmest summer here that I can remember, but I'm not complaining. I did see my first maple tree with leaves turning red just yesterday. :(

Keep an eye out for a green 77 Westy. It's about the only one I know of within 50 miles of here.
1977 Westy 2.0L F.I.

Flow with whatever may happen and let your mind be free. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate. - Chuang Tzu

User avatar
Ritter
IAC Addict!
Location: Sonoma County, CA
Status: Offline

Post by Ritter » Mon Aug 02, 2010 8:46 pm

Amskeptic wrote: Image
Yer accordion tube is FILTHY! You should be ashamed. :blackeye:
1978 Westfalia 2.0 FI

User avatar
Amskeptic
IAC "Help Desk"
IAC "Help Desk"
Status: Offline

Post by Amskeptic » Wed Aug 04, 2010 8:55 pm

Ritter wrote:
Yer accordion tube is FILTHY! You should be ashamed.
I am.
:blackeye:
(It will be detailed shortly after I do the First Seasonal Rubberized Undercoat Application)
BobD - 78 Bus . . . 112,660 miles
Chloe - 70 bus . . . 206,845 miles
Naranja - 77 Westy . . . 129,490 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . . 55,570 miles
Alexus - 91 Lexus LS400 . . . 94,225 miles

User avatar
RZAR
Getting Hooked!
Location: San Diego, CA
Status: Offline

Re: Irvine Adventure Part II

Post by RZAR » Sun Aug 08, 2010 1:33 pm

Amskeptic wrote:It is not as fun working on engines that have pesky electronics hiding under plastic covers, and these cruel electronics were niggardly in their dispensation of timing advance.
I didnt know people still used the word "niggardly" in 2010. :pukeleft: geesh
77 Bus. Stock 2.0 FI with Computronix ignitor and coil

Lanval
IAC Addict!
Status: Offline

Post by Lanval » Sun Aug 08, 2010 4:36 pm

RZAR,

The etymology of that word has nothing to do with race. The origins of the word are generally accepted to be 14th century Norse, from the root nig/hnorr, or possibly Old English hneaw. Note that an OE derivation suggests an age of more than 950 years, at a minimum (that is, if it was coined at the end of the Anglo-Saxon period, and no earlier).

Nothing naughty here; it just sounds naughty, like this:

"Last night I caught my roommate exacerbating! I couldn't believe it; right there in the living room!"

(exacerbate: to worsen)

Heh. Now that's humor!

L.

Post Reply