Itinerant Air-Cooled Visits Danville CA ... "all hell breaks loose"

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BoltonFTW
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Itinerant Air-Cooled Visits Danville CA ... "all hell breaks loose"

Post by BoltonFTW » Tue Jul 30, 2019 11:22 pm

"We took the valve cover off, and all hell broke loose" - C.K. 7/29/2019

As a first timer to the Itinerant Air Cooled process, I was looking forward to (and somewhat nervous about) Colin's visit for many months. I am on my 2nd VW bus but first one that I am taking care of myself. The original was passed to me by my father, and though I learned to drive on it, I had never handled the upkeep and eventually we did sell it in the 90s.

With age came regret of selling the original one and so my wife and I purchased our darling 2nd VW bus, 'MaryJane', about one year ago and I vowed to learn as much as I could in order to keep it together and preserve it for many trips to come. I do not wish to part with another classic VW.

Enter Itinerant Air Cooled.

In the garage holding my newborn child (5 weeks) and up pulls the stunning Naranja. Stunning for real. Like off a movie set.

Image

Introductions- then donuts and coffee as we discussed the IAC trip thus far and game planned for the day. My list had grown as I had questions about everything from a squeaky accelerator pedal to a possible main seal replacement. I'm sure CK was giggling a little inside at the gamut of this list. More coffee.

But #1 on my list was the IAC 101 + 102 itinerary and my goal: to sponge it up.

We started at the table, on paper, as Colin quizzed me to find out my mechanical aptitude (and it's basic, but I was about to level-up today!). I nervously answered questions wrong... corrected myself and sometimes corrected my corrections. Discussion went on: Valve adjustments, how a coil works, breaker points, dwell angles, and ignition timing diagrams. Sketches and visual were made.

To the garage for our first hands on lesson for the day: Hydraulic valve adjustment.

Pop the valve covers off-- hmm ok. Looks nice... but hmm?

That's when "all hell" broke loose.

We quickly discovered a couple issues.
1) the first valve would only turn in 1/2 turn from zero before stopping...huh--what? that's odd.
2) the point where my valve stems and adjusting screws met were damaged. why...no idea. Dirty engine? poor adjustment? did someone think this was solid lifters? wait--was this solid lifters?
3) the wrong rocker arm spacers were installed on the rocker shaft for a hydraulic lifter engine-- they are springs but should be solid spacers-- wait, was this solid lifters?

Let's double-triple-check whether we are dealing with hydraulic lifters or not. We checked the pushrods-- steel shaft. Ok hydraulic lifters. Let's see if we can get another valve turned in past 1/2 turn from zero. Ok we can.
Boy, was information flying at me fast as we dove into "hell" and Colin sorted it out on the fly. Glad I did not try this valve adjustment on my own for my first valve adjustment.

The adjusting screw surfaces were all kinds of uneven and pitted grossness. Unexpected- and no replacement screws on hand. So we hit them with the Dremel grinding tool and re-sculpted (or as Colin put it "re-dressed") them the best we could and then polished the shit out of them to make them smooth as possible. We cleaned, we sanded, we cleaned, we re-greased, we reassembled. This took ~4 hours to do them-- all the while Colin is recalling seemingly insurmountable past IAC experiences, personal life stories and lessons, and unfiltered cynicism on the world at large.

Image
(adjustment screw surface as we found it)

But hey...instead of just learning a valve adjustment, I learned a full rocker assembly breakdown and installation as well as the valve adjustment! 1.5 turns for this one and we will check again in 1000 miles when I go to install the new adjustment screws, the correct rocker arm spacers, and valve lash caps (yes I learned what these were too and had no idea they were something that existed). Also I learned the joys of the serpentine spring. I forget how we got the first valve past its original stopping point of 1/2 turn-- but we did.

Onto the next project: Timing check and adjustments. Relatively simple and quick-- minor adjustments, check distributor lube, use special grease on the rubbing block, etc. Then! onto exploring the AFM and learning about this magical device. Some explanation and experimentation on the main cog adjustment and we richened the mixture which the engine seemed to agree with and we were almost ready to drive the bus for the first time since Colin arrived...(it was about 5pm now?).

Before the test drive and on my list was "shifting into second is clunky". Colin quickly found out all about this as we left the driveway. 1st to 2nd did not happen on the first try for him. Nor on the 2nd. But the 3rd time he got it...and every time after as he mentally made the connection of exactly what was wrong and translated the corrections to his flick of the wrist. My stop plate was in need of some adjustment-- which we did on the side of the road in about 10 minutes. A few adjustments later and we are shifting in a smoothness equivalent to room temperature butter spread onto bread.

Unfortunately, upon returning from our test drive we were met with a new oil drip beneath the bus. Looks like the quality valve gaskets we installed were perhaps not so quality.

Image
(fun with valve gaskets- this is the old one which disintegrated as we pulled it out)

Dinner break- as we let the engine cool. (now 7:30pm) Great conversation, wine, and pulled pork sandwiches and an "interesting" squash recipe brought forth by my folks who also hit it off with Colin...swapping stories about almost getting arrested? (yes, a story I had never heard before from my parents).

Full bellies, back to the garage where night had long fallen. The rest of the visit spent trying to make adjustments to shore up that valve gasket leak. This included reseating the gasket with some stronger adhesive as well as removing the bail, bending it to make it hug tighter on the cover, and re-installing it with the 3 hands it needed. I am sad to report, Colin, that the leak still exists. New gaskets will be on order soon. Anyone with suggestions much appreciated.

All told, I woke up the next morning with a sore jaw from smiling so much, a sore neck from cranking it below the bus, sore fingers from sanding and cleaning etc, an ever-present scent of Gumout, and a hell of a lot more confidence and knowledge to dive in all over again.

Image
-Drew
'78 Campmobile Deluxe
'77 Tintop Weekender (SOLD) - first car!

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zabo
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Re: Itinerant Air-Cooled Visits Danville CA ... "all hell breaks loose"

Post by zabo » Wed Jul 31, 2019 5:16 am

Looks like a great 1st visit! It's amazing how one day can give you the confidence to really dive in and start doing all the work yourself.
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tommu
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Re: Itinerant Air-Cooled Visits Danville CA ... "all hell breaks loose"

Post by tommu » Wed Jul 31, 2019 10:08 am

Bales seem to be an issue for T4 gaskets. I had two sets when I built my engine and the older, crustier set clamped the covers much firmer than the new set. However it does seem that those gaskets you have are a problem too. I have a set of these I'll use when my current cork ones give out: https://vwparts.aircooled.net/SILICONE- ... -914-s.htm

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Re: Itinerant Air-Cooled Visits Danville CA ... "all hell breaks loose"

Post by Jivermo » Wed Jul 31, 2019 4:19 pm

Great first visit writeup! I throughly enjoyed reading this. Man, you packed a lot into your Itinerant day. Welcome to this remarkable assemblage of air cooled fanatics!

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Re: Itinerant Air-Cooled Visits Danville CA ... "all hell breaks loose"

Post by TrollFromDownBelow » Wed Jul 31, 2019 4:41 pm

But the real question is .... did Colin remember his readers and his pants when he left?
1976 VW Bus aka tripod
FI ...8 completely solid lifters.... now it's both kinda noisy and leaky, but she sure runs good!
hambone wrote: There are those out there with no other aim but to bunch panties. It's like arguing with a pretzel.
::troll2::

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zabo
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Re: Itinerant Air-Cooled Visits Danville CA ... "all hell breaks loose"

Post by zabo » Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:26 pm

tommu wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 10:08 am
I have a set of these I'll use when my current cork ones give out: https://vwparts.aircooled.net/SILICONE- ... -914-s.htm
These looked promising but didn't work well for me.
60 beetle
78 bus

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Re: Itinerant Air-Cooled Visits Danville CA ... "all hell breaks loose"

Post by BusBassist » Wed Jul 31, 2019 8:28 pm

Great write up - love the first-visit-energy. And great to see Colin wearing the same shirt he had at my house when he visited in June.

I’ve also had an issue with a valve cover bail wire. I ended up inserting a small piece of roof flashing between the wire and the valve cover and no more leaking oil. Probably not the best solution but works for now.
Late 73 Bay w/a transplanted 914 Engine.

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Re: Itinerant Air-Cooled Visits Danville CA ... "all hell breaks loose"

Post by Amskeptic » Wed Jul 31, 2019 10:51 pm

TrollFromDownBelow wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 4:41 pm
But the real question is .... did Colin remember his readers and his pants when he left?
Aw heck, Troll, it has been way too hot to wear pants since Salt Lake City, wanna see?
ColinYu[omhEoyjpiyTrsfrtd
(typingwithoutreaders)
BobD - 78 Bus . . . 112,660 miles
Chloe - 70 bus . . . 206,845 miles
Naranja - 77 Westy . . . 121,400 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . . 55,570 miles
Alexus - 91 Lexus LS400 . . . 92,435 miles

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Re: Itinerant Air-Cooled Visits Danville CA ... "all hell breaks loose"

Post by Amskeptic » Thu Aug 01, 2019 12:26 am

That was quite a drive down from the Fairfax CA visit with covelo. Better start with that visit where sheer hell got a good start on us.

viewtopic.php?f=78&t=13881&p=233494#p233494

I had a fast/slow/fast/slow-moving pavement-heaving exit/entrance/exit/entrance-dicing drive on San Francisco metro's freeways after the covelo call to get to BoltonFTW's house. I was woozy fatigued by the time I got to Danville, so I took a wrong turn UP Sycamore Valley Blvdwhatever and drove into what must have been Very Rich People territory. Tree-lined boulevard and carefully illuminated street signs just led me up up up and my next turn never materialized. "I quit," I said petulantly. Pulled into a church parking lot where there was no @^&*@ing stupid bright streetlamps. Was wakened at 5:06 by a Honda Accord pulling RIGHT NEXT TO ME in this empty parking lot, his lights were on, his radio was blaring, his phone was brightly illuminating his face, and he sat there for close to 20 minutes in a zombie phone trance before finally shutting off his engine/radio and his lights and bwoop!bwoop! alarm set, and he trudged off to the church. I wanted to hate him, but the little cocker spaniel on his dash threw me. I was all awake by now and drove off myself, down down down back to the town where I trolled the closed shopping mall for a spot, a spot, just a spot to shave in peace and wash all of NaranjaWesty's windows. Thus re-constituted, I drove to BoltonFTW's house to enjoy a day of essential maintenance steps. But NOOooo, we had to stumble into a mess of errors! You cannot have springs between the rockers on hydraulic lifter engines. Without momentary clearance as provided by solid lifters, the rocker arms have to be held in tighter alignment to the valve stems with a proper offset! to promote rotation (critical!) of the stems because they never have clearance! for oil! to rinse away crap! and BoltonFTW's valve stems were badly scored and the adjusting screws were badly damaged as well, and when we tried to pre-load a lifter, the rocker arm would slide sideways. Oh no no no, sorry BoltonFTW, this day has been hijacked. We barely got in some trouble-shooting sabotage (you people who clamp down your brake booster line ... make it impossible for me to be surreptitious).
But what fine company! Seriously. I enjoyed the BoltonFTW family and brand-new son who I saw look around at All This. Even had a glass of red wine with dinner before we re-attacked the valve cover gasket/bail/bale/baleful leak. Keep me apprised of developments!

So what does the professional fisherman do for relaxation? He fishes. In my case, paints the screws on the lower tins and touches them up just because it was already 3,000 mile valve adjustment day again:

Image
Colin
BobD - 78 Bus . . . 112,660 miles
Chloe - 70 bus . . . 206,845 miles
Naranja - 77 Westy . . . 121,400 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . . 55,570 miles
Alexus - 91 Lexus LS400 . . . 92,435 miles

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asiab3
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Re: Itinerant Air-Cooled Visits Danville CA ... "all hell breaks loose"

Post by asiab3 » Thu Aug 01, 2019 8:11 pm

Aye! Did the valve adjuster screws look like this?

These had about 10k miles on them. New, of course:

Image


I often wonder what you would do with your spare time if you ever got a whole engine's worth of perfectly fitting tin powder-coated………
Robbie
1969 bus, "Buddy."
145k miles with me.
322k miles on Earth.

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BoltonFTW
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Re: Itinerant Air-Cooled Visits Danville CA ... "all hell breaks loose"

Post by BoltonFTW » Fri Aug 02, 2019 8:43 am

Robbie,
Similar! but the ones in your photos actually look worse and the edge recession much more pronounced. Mine were uneven and had some lip and pitting to them but not as dramatic as the ones in your photos. My engine has ~35k
-Drew
'78 Campmobile Deluxe
'77 Tintop Weekender (SOLD) - first car!

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SlowLane
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Re: Itinerant Air-Cooled Visits Danville CA ... "all hell breaks loose"

Post by SlowLane » Fri Aug 02, 2019 10:39 am

When you do purchase new adjusting screws, don't go cheap. Get the OEM ones if you can, even if it means being ripped off at your local VW dealer.

I once installed a new set of adjusting screws purchased from an engine builder in my area who had a good reputation among the local air-heads. There was no heat-treatment at all on the screw tips. They were shedding curlicues of metal after only 50 km.

That's when I went to the dealer and bought 8 new screws for $11 apiece.
'81 Canadian Westfalia (2.0L, manual), now Californiated

"They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it is not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance."
- Terry Pratchett

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Re: Itinerant Air-Cooled Visits Danville CA ... "all hell breaks loose"

Post by pickledBus » Fri Aug 02, 2019 12:42 pm

SlowLane wrote:
Fri Aug 02, 2019 10:39 am
When you do purchase new adjusting screws, don't go cheap. Get the OEM ones if you can, even if it means being ripped off at your local VW dealer.

I once installed a new set of adjusting screws purchased from an engine builder in my area who had a good reputation among the local air-heads. There was no heat-treatment at all on the screw tips. They were shedding curlicues of metal after only 50 km.

That's when I went to the dealer and bought 8 new screws for $11 apiece.
FWIW, it isn't too hard to harden steel with a torch and some used motor oil and then temper with a stove. Whether the time and effort is worth more than $88 though is another question.

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Re: Itinerant Air-Cooled Visits Danville CA ... "all hell breaks loose"

Post by Amskeptic » Fri Aug 02, 2019 4:00 pm

pickledBus wrote:
Fri Aug 02, 2019 12:42 pm

FWIW, it isn't too hard to harden steel with a torch and some used motor oil and then temper with a stove. Whether the time and effort is worth more than $88 though is another question.
Unfortunately, pickled, this is no time to err. Over-hardened screws can destroy the valve stems in short order. Best to get the correct hrc as provided by the OEM screw supplier. At the other end of the continuum, we did go through a phase back in the early 2000's where the adjusting screws were gouging valve stems. The photo provided by Robbie does not illuminate stupid cheap so much as very very conservative "sacrificial" softness, which I almost-but-not-quite respect.
ColinInLAmetroScrumyuck
BobD - 78 Bus . . . 112,660 miles
Chloe - 70 bus . . . 206,845 miles
Naranja - 77 Westy . . . 121,400 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . . 55,570 miles
Alexus - 91 Lexus LS400 . . . 92,435 miles

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BoltonFTW
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Re: Itinerant Air-Cooled Visits Danville CA ... "all hell breaks loose"

Post by BoltonFTW » Fri Aug 02, 2019 10:36 pm

SlowLane wrote:
Fri Aug 02, 2019 10:39 am
When you do purchase new adjusting screws, don't go cheap. Get the OEM ones if you can, even if it means being ripped off at your local VW dealer.

That's when I went to the dealer and bought 8 new screws for $11 apiece.
Thanks for the advice. And thanks to all who have helped and encouraged in previous posts.
I would definitely like to avoid this again in the future so I will stay away from cheap parts.

I've been looking online at some options for OEM and comparing prices. Aircooled.net seems to have them for 8$each
https://vwparts.aircooled.net/10mm-Valv ... 09-451.htm

compared to the type4store for ~10$each
https://type4store.com/products/valvetr ... sters.html

Do we think these are actually the same product? Anyone have experience with either of these sites

Additionally-- I also purchased a used rocker assembly that has the original (for hydraulic) solid rocker spacers and wavy-thrust-washers. When I go to replace my spring spacers, should I just swap out the entire rocker assembly? Or should I keep my rocker arms and shaft in tact and just use the solid spacers and washers from the newly purchased setup? Would it matter in this case?

Thanks!
-Drew
'78 Campmobile Deluxe
'77 Tintop Weekender (SOLD) - first car!

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