Lanval Round 2 ~ The Rat bites back!

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Lanval
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Lanval Round 2 ~ The Rat bites back!

Post by Lanval » Sun Aug 07, 2011 10:32 pm

Quick rehash (check "85 Digijet" at the bottom of the itinerary to see round 1):

3 weeks ago, van died, towed home. Replaced the starter, no start. Here it waited for Colin. I wasn't totally worthless in the meantime. Last February, Colin commented that the van "has the heart of a Porsche" or some such nonsense. At the time, he couldn't show me because we were hauling around tools and whatnot that weren't tied down. Since I very much wanted to see this "heart" in action, I focused on finishing out the interior, and getting it back together. The last section was the water tank cabinet. Plenty O mouse poop in there, but got it cleaned up:

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So here's how the van looked at 1pm, just prior to Colin's arrival:

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After the necessary political discussion, coffee and review of the flow chart for ignition diagnosis, it was off to test our mettle against a van that is both generous and cruel. There are many strong aspects of the van, and some real punishing aspects as well. This "no start" turned out to be tricky.

We walked through the diagnosis and came up with a funky rotor and cap, and a spark that wasn't optimal, but probably sufficient. The van persisted in "no start" mode, which made Colin somewhat more madcap than usual:

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The Man wanted to test the engine with sufficient spark and gas in the plenum to ensure firing. This required an entrance point, which in turned drew his attention to the most rat-chewed, half-assed, "iconic" rubber elbow left on the engine. Problem was, it had a two prong nipple that didn't want to come out. So Colin, with utter professionalism and aplomb gracefully worked on removing the plastic prong until SNAP went my precious OEM plastic piece.

Oh look, here's a little piece of OEM heaven, broken off from the mother piece:

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Now we took a step back. Can't fire the engine until we can reconnect our old pal Rat Rubber. So Colin, using his ingenuity, and super fix-it skills, fabricated this Frankensteinian abomination out of what is apparently a relatively rare and expensive VW Transporter piece. It ain't pretty but it works. Hell, that oughtta be the motto of this van:

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With that issue out of the way, Colin could get to work figuring out why the darned thing wouldn't start. We checked the rotor and cap, which were funky, with some odd wear marks. The cap was replaced (I had one on hand) and the rotor tested for resistance. Things looked good there, so we tested the resistance of a wire, and then the coil. All were within spec, though perhaps not optimal. A visual check suggested the spark was not blue/hot but yellow/sufficient. So why no start?! Such anomalies make Colin crazy; here's the proof:

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This set of difficulties led to a check of #3 spark plug. Soaking wet, and gritty crap stuck to plug. "This is no good" muttered Colin, and proceeded to check all of the remaining plugs. Wet, wet, wet. All plugs were dried, cleaned and replaced. "Let's check to see if we're getting spark" he proclaims, and I get the timing gun.

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No spark on #1. "This gun don't work" he says, and we set it aside. "Go up there and try to start it" says Colin. I do, and it seems to want to start. "OK," he warbles, "It wants to start. Let the starter run for awhile." At first I think it won't work, but slowly, surely it fires up. He gives it some gas to get it warmed up and idling; "let's drive it" he exclaims:

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Happiness is fleeting; while sitting in the driver's seat, Colin notes that it's missing. So we hop out while it idles, and asks me, "Do you hear the miss? Where do you think it is?"

"Number one" I crack.

"Why number one?" he queries.

"Because I know the goddamn timing gun works!"

He tests the #1 wire at the cap, by removing it ever so gently (do NOT try this at home without Colin-esque supervision ~ apparently it can be dangerous) only to discover that, in fact, number one isn't firing. "Check to see if the number one plug wire is attached" he commands; what am I to do? I pay for his pleasure and serve at his command. I check; the top of the plug is as visible as panty lines on a tight dress. "Go down there and plug in that wire" says Colin, and why not? Laughing, he grabs the camera for proof to Sylvester that I pay AND I do the work:

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"Now let's check that misfire!" he happily exclaims. I start, he listens ~ oh yeah, purrs like a happy cat:

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From here, the pix die down a bit; we went for a drive, and Colin showed me that I can turn much harder and tighter in this van than ever I could imagine. "Heart of a Porsche" indeed; Colin being Colin also took this opportunity to savage me for my OEM standard 8ply rated tires from China, and their under-inflated mushiness. We also discovered a bushing badly in need of replacing. "Squeak, squeak, squeak, goes the bushing, clunk, clunk, clunk goes the van; zing, zing, zing went my wallet, straight to the GoWesty Man!" [*sung to the tune of The Trolley Song; for maximum effect, imagine the singer is Rosie O'Donnell]

Once back at the ranch, we attacked the passenger side leaky brake cylinder. After pounding on the brake drum for some good time, we got it off only to discover not ONLY a leak cylinder, but the inside of the brake drum was coated blacker than the heart of the Teutonic madman who slapped water-jackets on the air-cooled engine and routed vacuum lines like he was being paid by the foot. Not to worry, a severe application of Gum Out (which, according to Colin has changed it's formula like Coke in the 80's and is now just another sad victim of the Crapification of American automotive goods ~ you know, sometimes Colin sounds like a cross between a conspiracy theorist and your grumpy old uncle; I mean really, how does he know they changed the formula? From the smell? The taste?! Wait; this is Colin we're talking about here, right? I mean, he might actually be able to taste the difference, right? I mean, he might even just be able to feel the difference in the way it sprays out the can. His automotive sense is creepy-scary sometimes... gawd. Heebie-Jeebies...)

So we finished up the brake replacement with a modicum of speed; after all, dinner was wafting down from on high, and Lanval didn't get that chubby by skipping meals; Colin, well, he does skip meals, when he's not working off a Diet Coke induced, Gumout inflected aura of automotive delirium.

Tonight's feast is Yakiniku ~ Japanese for Korean Barbecue. This being So Cal, we eat outside, to a view of sun setting on the multi-million dollar mansions sneering down on us from on high.

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The Queen of my Palace tends to Korean beef on the grill:

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And Colin regales me with political and social thoughts aplenty; oh, who am I kidding... I did most of the pontificating, and Colin demolished freshly cooked beef and vegetables. Oh, and an occasional shrimp.

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And our evening waxed philosophical from there ~ a rare treat. I've never been able to get Colin to stay... too many VWs, not enough time. Or maybe it's the desert. He disappeared into the dark after promising to return promptly in the morning. Til then...

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ruckman101
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Re: Lanval Round 2 ~ The Rat bites back!

Post by ruckman101 » Mon Aug 08, 2011 12:07 am

Thanks Lanval, now I'm hungry.

wait a minute, round 2, what did I miss?


neal
The slipper has no teeth.

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Sylvester
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Re: Lanval Round 2 ~ The Rat bites back!

Post by Sylvester » Mon Aug 08, 2011 2:41 am

Lanval wrote:He tests the #1 wire at the cap, by removing it ever so gently (do NOT try this at home without Colin-esque supervision ~ apparently it can be dangerous) only to discover that, in fact, number one isn't firing. "Check to see if the number one plug wire is attached" he commands; what am I to do? I pay for his pleasure and serve at his command. I check; the top of the plug is as visible as panty lines on a tight dress. "Go down there and plug in that wire" says Colin, and why not? Laughing, he grabs the camera for proof to Sylvester that I pay AND I do the work
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Now that is what I am talking about! Lanval is a great writer, and with pictures leaves us on a cliff with part II! THIS is what keeps people coming back to read these adventures! I can't wait for Part II!
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.

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nathan@el
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Re: Lanval Round 2 ~ The Rat bites back!

Post by nathan@el » Mon Aug 08, 2011 2:53 pm

Great write-up and photos Lanval! You're getting that van amazingly CLEAN too. It looks like it's pretty much completely rat free by this point.

See you tomorrow?
Orange 1980 Vanagon L Westy
~190,000 miles on body
~20,000 on engine

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airkooledchris
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Re: Lanval Round 2 ~ The Rat bites back!

Post by airkooledchris » Mon Aug 08, 2011 3:38 pm

did you just replace the leaking cylinder or did you do the shoes or other misc hardware while you were at it?

very well written, thank you for sharing. Colin's attention to GumOut is not exaggerated. He spotted a bottle on my shelf hidden behind dozens of old spraypaint cans, right after I boldly declared "im all out."

Glad to see the westy continuing to come together so well.
1979 California Transporter

Lanval
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Re: Lanval Round 2 ~ The Rat bites back!

Post by Lanval » Mon Aug 08, 2011 10:45 pm

airkooledchris wrote:did you just replace the leaking cylinder or did you do the shoes or other misc hardware while you were at it?
Well sir, you just need to check in to the ol' porchlight raconteurium to find out. See, we only did one brake, and thereby hangs a tale....

It was a cold and misty morning in the central OC (um, actually it was probably about 68 with a couple of drops of the marine layer recklessly lounging in my vicinity), but the cleaned up van was ready for more love:

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First of all, Colin was late. LATE. I was actually wondering if I needed to call him about the time he showed up exclaiming "It's always 9am you lugnut!" Cheekiness aside, apparently he couldn't stand the frigid temperatures; I'd like to point out that about 3 minutes of work had me pulling off my sweater...

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The first order of business was a quick Swap-O-Rooney(TM) of the worn-out hatch struts. I set from GoWesty and a few minutes. We're just getting warmed up. Colin commented that I had the "full damping effect" which means you can do this with your hatch apparently:

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That done, we were on to the real orders of the day. Having seen Colin work on the right brake, and gotten a hand or two in there with questions, today the left rear was my baby. Meanwhile, Colin was going to use the LM1 to try and smooth out the Desert Rat's engine; it tends to "porpoise" back and forth in a kind of nasty resonance between engine and suspension when driving at low speeds. It's not pleasant. So that was his gig. he pulled out the LM1 and set it up:

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(he actually bitched that the original position of the camera left out the key component: The LM1. Jesus.)

Problem was, the LM1 wasn't working. It's broken. This anchored another rant about low quality manufacturing, particularly of the Chinese variant, with asides on the sin of sending American mfg overseas, and the gradual debasement of the once vaunted German products. So he set to work on fixing the little bugger:

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(Posed, but a good approximation of the "Gawd! Look at this junk!" face)

Eventually, semi-repaired but giving consistently wrong numbers allowing a baseline measurement, the man began to work. Meantime, back at the farm (the RAT farm!)... The brakes. I sprayed everything with plenty O PB Blaster and went to work on the drum. Colin learned a new trick here: He was pounding on the drum yesterday with a hammer that made my ears ring like church bells on Christmas morn. So loooooouuuuuuudddddd... huh? Whazzat? So when I went at it this morning I used a piece of cardboard to reduce the sound. Works nice, but still gets plenty of resonance on the drum:

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Once I got the drum off, here's what I saw (yes, you have my permission to vomit in your mouth a bit):

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But they cleaned up OK, with liberal dosings of our old pal Gumout. Looked like this:

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Wondering what to do:

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Now I'm getting serious (Yep, "putting on the foil"):

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I'm putting the OEM springs back in place here. The rebuild kit from GoWesty actually contained all-new parts, but Colin wasn't having any. He was, as was I, offended by the package which stated (I kid you not):

"Made in China"

and

"Packaged in USA"

So that's what we've come to. "Look Ma, I bagged the foreign-made parts!"

"Oh Pa! Our son's become a Man."

Anyway, we reused the old springs. New brake shoes, etc. The old brake shoes were marinated in brake juice:

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We got that buttoned up, and then installed the new speedo cable prior to going for a drive with the LM1 hooked up. There was no clip to hold the thing in place, so we discovered that I hadn't left enough room to keep the speedo in place while turning the wheels. No problem though, because we're headed straight for an ACE hardware. Except I forgot my wallet... Agh. No parts to fix it with, but a quick review showed 43 cents in dimes and pennies ~ enough for a circlip! Acquired with 20 odd cents to spare and we're off again. Here's the lovely view out the picture window of your favorite Desert Rat:

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Interestingly, for a guy with a near death experience in his former vehicle, Colin is oddly reluctant to use a seatbelt. The presence of one of Irvine's finest adjacent to the ACE hardward convinced him though:

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(notice him buckling the belt, as he drives, with a coffee cup in the other hand. Dude, you are the driver you HATE!)

By the time we arrived back at the homebase, my time was running out. The weather had taken a turn for the Colin-esque, warming up nicely:

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That's two good-looking VWs. I had a little gift for Colin, something I'd acquired via Fleecebay some time ago; it seemed that it belonged in the hands of the man:

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So, with a shake of the hand and greasing of the palm, he was off to other adventures. Like Nathan@el, who lives about 3 miles from me. See you tomorrow guys:

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Amskeptic
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Re: Addendums and Clarifications

Post by Amskeptic » Tue Aug 09, 2011 9:16 am

Lanval wrote:
First of all, Colin was late. LATE. apparently he couldn't stand the frigid temperatures;
Apparently the marine layer threw my circadian rhythm, and without glaring sunshine heating up the car, I fall into hibernation. We were due to start earlier than the usual 9:00AM, yes.
Lanval wrote: Colin commented that I had the "full damping effect" which means:
that you have double-acting struts that allow you to hold the hatch in any position you like. The earlier Vanagons were kind of funny, the struts would hike the door to full open, leaving petite soccer moms clambering onto the bumper and trying to reach backwards and uppity up up to snag the hatch and then having to ride the edge of the hatch back down until their feet hit the ground.
Lanval wrote: a quick review showed 43 cents in dimes and pennies ~ enough for a circlip!
A review. A review of what? A review of the contents of the ashtray. It was like .... rummaging under the couch cushions.
It was an unexpected amusement to walk into a store with a budget of 43 cents ... and come out with change.
Colin
BobD - 1978 Bus . . . . . . . . . . . 111,155 miles
Chloe - 1970 bus . . . . . . . . . . . 206,820 miles
Naranja - 1977 Westfalia . . . . . 111,075 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . . 55,570 miles
Alexus - 1991 Lexus LS400 . . . 78,885 miles

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satchmo
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Re: Lanval Round 2 ~ The Rat bites back!

Post by satchmo » Tue Aug 09, 2011 9:09 pm

As usual, an entertaining romp with Lanval and Colin into the land of VW diagnosis and maintenance. I always appreciate reading of their exploits.

Tim
By three methods we may learn wisdom:
First, by reflection, which is noblest;
second, by immitation, which is easiest;
and third, by experience, which is bitterest. -Confucius

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Re: Lanval Round 2 ~ The Rat bites back!

Post by Lanval » Sun Aug 14, 2011 8:48 pm

Got the stereo hooked up again, and put the water system together. Water came out of the faucet!

Wait, this is the rat we're talking about here. Can't be that easy, can it?

No. Took the rat to the store for some well deserved rootbeer floats with the kid. At that point I had to ask myself:

"Why is water dripping from underneath the sliding door?"

Oh, yeah. The water reservoir is leaking. It's OK, hey it's only the whole floor under the boards and everything... I'm sure that'll be OK.

Grrrr.

Mike

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ruckman101
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Re: Lanval Round 2 ~ The Rat bites back!

Post by ruckman101 » Sun Aug 14, 2011 10:18 pm

Lanval wrote:Got the stereo hooked up again, and put the water system together. Water came out of the faucet!

Wait, this is the rat we're talking about here. Can't be that easy, can it?

No. Took the rat to the store for some well deserved rootbeer floats with the kid. At that point I had to ask myself:

"Why is water dripping from underneath the sliding door?"

Oh, yeah. The water reservoir is leaking. It's OK, hey it's only the whole floor under the boards and everything... I'm sure that'll be OK.

Grrrr.

Mike

My pump works great, my water tank alas, also leaks, so since I have never addressed the issue, I just don't use either.


neal
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Re: Lanval Round 2 ~ The Rat bites back!

Post by Lanval » Sun Aug 14, 2011 10:56 pm

ruckman101 wrote:
Lanval wrote:Got the stereo hooked up again, and put the water system together. Water came out of the faucet!

Wait, this is the rat we're talking about here. Can't be that easy, can it?

No. Took the rat to the store for some well deserved rootbeer floats with the kid. At that point I had to ask myself:

"Why is water dripping from underneath the sliding door?"

Oh, yeah. The water reservoir is leaking. It's OK, hey it's only the whole floor under the boards and everything... I'm sure that'll be OK.

Grrrr.

Mike

My pump works great, my water tank alas, also leaks, so since I have never addressed the issue, I just don't use either.


neal
On the plus side, it's gonna be high 80s low 90s this week, so should dry out OK. I'll park in a sunny spot and close the windows up to get it nice N hot in there....


Off to Elsinore for a new water reservoir and associated parts N pieces.

Best,

Mike

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Re: Lanval Round 2 ~ The Rat bites back!

Post by Amskeptic » Fri Aug 26, 2011 7:54 pm

Lanval wrote: On the plus side, it's gonna be high 80s low 90s this week, so should dry out OK. I'll park in a sunny spot and close the windows up to get it nice N hot in there....

Well? Did you get it squared away? It was nice and hot here too.
100* Lubbock Texas, the spare water jug just exploded and drenched and curled the rear carpet AND the OEVeeDub shipping box that has been holding the Tide/Chlorox containers since 2002.
Colin
(p.s. one does not *close* windows to dry out a drenched automobile, one *opens* one's windows to allow the "humidity" to escape :shaking2: )
BobD - 1978 Bus . . . . . . . . . . . 111,155 miles
Chloe - 1970 bus . . . . . . . . . . . 206,820 miles
Naranja - 1977 Westfalia . . . . . 111,075 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . . 55,570 miles
Alexus - 1991 Lexus LS400 . . . 78,885 miles

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Re: Lanval Round 2 ~ The Rat bites back!

Post by Lanval » Sat Aug 27, 2011 1:10 am

I would imagine it's dry. I haven't tried to get under the floor yet, as I have been way too busy.

I would imagine it's hot enough to dry everything out and keep it from molding. Van is running pretty well generally.

I have to keep on top of the RPM's to keep it from dying for the first few minutes. I let it die at a stop light last week. It took me about 45 minutes to get it started again :angryfire:

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