Friday, February 2, 2018

Quality Time with Winston, Part 3.

It used to be easier.  Once upon a time you could just about walk into a VW shop in the morning, buy your parts sight unseen and assemble a stock engine that afternoon that lasts 100K miles.  I suppose you could try that now, but you'd probably grenade the thing on your first weekly grocery run, assuming you could develop enough torque and/or horsepower to move the car.  Parts quality amounts to financial Russian-roulette and absolutely sucks out loud.  All hyperbole aside, venting about parts issues does make me feel marginally better, but I'm done with complaining and it's really time to get on with a progress report.

The real problem is my postage stamp sized garage.  I need an honest to gosh workshop, really.  Somewhere to significantly spread out.  Having two cars on the skids simultaneously is just one car too many.  2016 involved trying to fix one of them and my efforts resulted in abject failure.  Failure is opportunity, but opportunity doesn't arrive until there is something called time--and until recently time has been in extremely short supply.  But I'll first detail the failure.

I built Winston's new 1385 40HP based engine and it initially ran just fine.  The aftermarket fuel pump failed during run-in, so I was gravity feeding gasoline and swearing for about 15 minutes, trying to keep the RPMs up above 2000.  This drama behind me, I put the original fuel pump back on the car.  Then the rebuilt carb started acting up--and this was no mongrel rebuild.  I replaced the rebuilt carb with a new EMPI replacement carb to temporarily solve that induction issue.  The second induction issue involved two cracks in the 40HP intake manifold.  I had two other used intake manifolds, but no one could unblock the heat risers so really had no ready solution for that issue.  Then, there was a suspect spark, so I replaced the spark plugs and coil.  Success!  Could there be anything else?  Certainly, because when I started it the next day it developed a nasty knocking sound when dead cold, somewhere in the vicinity of Cylinder #1.  I took the pushrods for #1 out and the knock went away.  I changed out the rockers and pushrods for some stock parts and that knock was still there.  I noticed the knock diminished a little as the engine warmed up--but a knock is a knock.  Lots of power.  A real smooth runner.  With a knock.  Great.  Just...freaking...great.

I stepped away from the whole situation for about a week.  The only thing I could think of was to go through the valve train again.  It didn't seem like the problem was rooted in there because the knock seemed deeper--but not at the crank.  Honestly, the source of noise was hard to determine, but I was starting to feel that the problem was piston related.  In researching the issue online, I ran across a thread on der Samba regarding a similar issue another guy was having with his 40HP big bore rebuild.  He had used AA pistons in his engine and had to move the pistons around to get the noise to subside.  That's crap!  At that moment all I wanted was all those Chinese parts gone from my engine.  My mission defined, I pulled the engine and tore it down.  Along the way, I found absolutely nothing wrong.  Nothing...unless you think a mess of essentially new engine components strewn all over my workbench nothing.  The whole thing was a waste of time, with no obvious destruction.  Disappointing.  No bent rods.  Pistons and cylinders look like new,  What the HECK?

I let a couple of months pass, but early in November 2016 a mad plan emerged.  I'd use the narrowed 40HP rods I've had sitting around forever in the basement on the 69mm counter weighted crank that I've also had forever in the basement, along with a new Mahle 40HP 83mm big bore kit I sourced online.  This same source had a pair of dual port European 1300 heads, which I had rebuilt with single heavy duty springs and retainers.  I then had RIMCO build me an 8 dowel O-ring 200mm stock weight flywheel with a 6V ring gear.  I also bought a pressure plate and had them balance both parts together.  Engle W100 cam and lightweight Bugpack lifters, which are said to be compatible.  I sent the engine case, crank, rods and bearings to Painters Grinding for case clearancing and a doghouse cooling conversion.  I bought a Kadron dual carb set and a Vintage Speed muffler.  Engine cooling sheet metal was then an issue, but I had a plan for that, too.  I thought it would be a cool and potentially reversible build if it didn't work out.  I had a very nice dual relief case handy that I could use on another replacement engine--but that was not the objective!  I wanted to use the original engine case.  Other than the dual carbs, I wanted the engine to look a bit Vintage Speed.

I started the engine mockup.  I found some new motivation and really got a kick out of what was happening.  After Painters Grinding clearanced the case for the counterweighted crank, it fit great--but that was only part of what I wanted to accomplish.  Since the engine was now a "stroker motor", this meant that I was going to need some cylinder base spacers to correctly set the engine dimensions and compression ratio.  I'm went for 8.0 to 1 with this 1500 engine.  I determined initially that the spacer size needed was 3.85mm.  Since the "stroker crank" takes the pistons into the case the same amount, I quickly determined that a similar amount of case material will need to be removed from the internal case webbing so the piston skirts clear.  As I measured things, I found that A LOT of material would need to be removed.  Maybe so much that the webbing at the flywheel side of the case would become quite thin and need some welding.  Ugh...what to do with that?

I guess a few words about the available 83mm pistons are in order.  First, when AA chose to 'knock off' their 40HP 'Big Bore' piston and cylinder kit, they chose the dimensions of the latest version of the Mahle kit to do so.  They are perfect copies and a lot of people are having really good luck with them for their builds.  The side skirts are very long on these pistons and I found that they required an extreme amount of skirt clearancing to make them work with the counterweighted crank.  I also knew that all four case spigots would have to be cleared a little even with a stock 64mm 40HP Crank.  I'm not adverse to performing this work, but I didn't want to weaken the case any more than the ravages of engine run time, overheating and machining had already done over the years.  Also, I didn't want to remove so much piston skirt that the pistons prematurely collapsed.  There just had to be another way...and it turns out that I had it readily available in my stash of 40HP parts in the basement in the form of a vintage set of Cofap 40HP Big Bore pistons and cylinders.  Used, sure--but potentially usable.

The older style Cofap 40HP big bore 83mm kit pistons have raised side skirts--at least 2mm--with a 2mm longer slipper skirt when compared with the Mahle/AA pistons.  I measured them up to use with the new Mahle cylinders and found everything within spec.  I already knew the Mahle piston pins would work, so I really only had to concentrate on verifying the cylinder spacer thickness so I would only end up having to have one set of cylinder shims made.  I later discovered that I could get these shims pre-made from AA directly and ordered up a variety so I could precisely set up compression.  Great--it was then time to build.  Everything went together well until I got to the head studs.  The '65 engine came with factory case savers, but no deep set #3 stud.  All studs were 10mm threads.  I found the 4 shorter inner head studs to use with the dual port heads and the engine went together pretty much like any 1600.  That is--until I got to the rocker assembly setup.

Stock VW rocker assemblies use spring washers and wire retainer clips to hold the rockers on the rocker shaft.  I wanted solid shaft rockers because of the additional valve spring pressure of the heavy duty springs due to the mild cam.  Additionally, swivel feet or elephant feet rocker studs don't necessarily fit without changing the rocker geometry to a point where angles are extreme and promote unnatural wear to valve train components.  Also, custom length pushrods are often required to help restore a more natural rocker geometry.  All of this has been discussed endlessly everywhere, but I've not had to deal with it much until this engine.  Suffice it to say that much time, money and colorful language were required to bring things into line and the efforts were well worth it.  The 1.1 to 1 VW rockers are custom, Porsche elephant feet valve adjusters were used, solid rocker shafts were used, and custom length heavy duty aluminum pushrods were built.  Lots of fun.

The next round of challenges involved the sheet metal.  I decided to run an aftermarket 36 HP fan shroud with provisions for the dog house oil cooler.  I found a guy on der Samba selling oversized Hoover Bits that fit these crappy aftermarket shrouds, and got one.  I also bought a set of aftermarket dual port top cylinder tins, and front and rear tin.  All of this needed modification, particularly the top cylinder tins because the engine is narrower than a regular 1600.  I had to trim over 1/4" of metal off the inboard side on each, plus break loose the spot welds at the outer sides of this tin so that the fan shroud could fit into the openings.  Some welding was done, and then it all went off to the powder coaters.  Turned out great!  I did need to drill two more small holes in the fan shroud to mount the Berg linkage and coil, but I'm pretty happy with the visual results.  It definitely has the vintage vibe to it!

I chose Kadron carburation and a stainless Vintage speed exhaust.  My wife wanted the pea shooter exhaust style to help maintain the original look with the engine bay closed.  I ordered it directly from Taiwan with the dual O2 bungs installed so I could do some tuning.  I am so glad I did because I am going to have to use them in the coming weeks to get the Kadron's dialed in properly.  The challenge in a Ghia is that the air cleaners are 4 inches high and won't clear the rear decklid springs.  So, I had to come up with the 2 inch air cleaner solution you see here.  They are real K&N filter elements encased in the Kadron top and bottom covers, with two layers of stucco backer screen wrapped around the elements for better looks.  The Kadrons themselves are a reasonably simple carb that use very familiar and readily available Solex jets.  For various reasons, I found I already have quite a selection of main and idle jets to choose from.  The engine is running way too rich and we live in Denver, so I'm not too surprised that this is an issue.  But it's really bad for engine break-in, so after about 70 miles the car is off the road until some baselining can be done.  For example, I installed a fuel pressure regulator and have adjusted the carb fuel pumps.  I may need to change the idle jets.  I might use an 019 distributor instead of the 010.  Or, maybe even a 009.  There's a nice reproduction vintage speed cast iron 009 clone out there that looks the part.  Or, I might have a vacuum port installed into the left carb so I can try a '64 Type 3 cast iron ZV/JCU 4 R3.  We'll see--because there's a significant flat spot that needs to be addressed and apparently the Kadrons like a lot of vacuum assist in the ignition advance curve.  As I work with the air/fuel meter I'll probably have my decision made for me.

Now...this is supposed to be a Type 34 blog and I realize that I'm going on and on about a Type 14 and my travails with it, but it's still a Ghia and it's in our family.  I decided to only run one blog and if I spend an appreciable amount of time on the car, I should probably document that somewhere.  In addition, Winston is only one model year newer than the Nautilus so a lot of little oddities are shared across the two Ghia types.  Besides...I can't work on the Nautilus until Winston is complete.  Need to keep peace in the household and should be able to have at least one Ghia roadworthy.  I will be back to building the Nautilus very soon.  Finally and importantly, lessons learned on Winston may have applicability to engine work on the Nautilus.  I'm once again very motivated for both projects!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

A Good Shop, Part 6

I had to laugh when I saw this yesterday.  What else could I do?  Somewhere on this blog I know there's a similar picture of the Nautilus at another shop.  Believe it or not--this is the time warp I seem to be stuck in with this project.  I'm in my own version of the movie Ground Hog Day.

After I shot this picture, the guy waved me in.  I had a chance to discuss the details with him--and I found an issue, of course.  Relatively minor, all things considered, but it has to do with the left Q-window opening in the body where the new roof clip was welded in and affects the curvature of the opening.  A little more bodywork there, some seam sealer down the roof gutters and it should be good to go.  I also gave him the four hood bolts and asked him to do another hood test fit.

I'm headed back this morning to see how the re-spray went.  I also need to drop off the sliding steel sunroof panel so they can cut and buff that, as well.   Fingers crossed...

UPDATE:  The body was painted and even without a color sand, looks outstanding.  Seam sealer had been applied in the rain gutters and will have to dry a day or so before the roof color goes on.  I'm thinking I'll get the car back by Wednesday, which is fine by me.

The Chrome Goes On! Temporarily!

The Nautilus came back to the garage for about three weeks and while there, received its bumpers, fore and aft.  It was a JOB to get them on there correctly.  First, my bumpers are all original, but from so many different sets that it's impossible to determine provenance. The blades and over riders went together well, but the bumper brackets were so bent and/or incorrectly shaped that the bumper blades appeared to be sagging once installed on the car.  I tried moving the brackets from side to side, but in the end the only remediation for a saggy bumper is to remove the brackets from the blades, fit them in a vice, and start bending! 

All pictures were taken somewhere during the installation process and the end results were nearly perfect.  Getting some chrome onto the Nautilus was really satisfying, too.

I was surprised at the amount of hardware necessary to put a set of bumpers together.  The bumper blade end bolts and rubber spacers were from a pair of Type 14 front bumper end bolt kits, with 5mm of rubber cut from the ends of each spacer.  Worked perfectly to give the correct spacing between the bodywork and the bumper itself.  Since I had two complete sets of re-chromed bumpers parts to chose
from, I naturally cherry-picked the best of it for actual use.  I also had a spare front left corner section that I decided to use because the chrome was really, really nice.

If you look at these pictures closely, you'll notice that the paint finish on the body itself is a wreck.  It's dirty.  There's over-spray.  It's all the 'new problems' I've discussed before.'s the reason the craft is now back at 'A Good Shop' for some more body and paint work.  So, the bumpers had to come off the car, as did the sliding steel sunroof panel, slide rails, cables and gearing.  I am happy to say that I did not add any damage to the craft with any of this work.

As the Nautilus left the garage, I spoke with yet another tow truck driver who really appreciated the work being done.  I know there's potential here--and need to keep my cool.  But, I'm once again questioning how much I'm really doing to get done on it this Summer and Fall.  Time to reassess and set some new goals.

Monday, July 3, 2017

A Good Shop, Part 5

A few weeks ago, I made my way down to A Good Shop in Commerce City during a lunch break for a 'surprise visit'.  I figured I might as well check on progress and point out any remaining issues prior to the craft's delivery home, which was scheduled a few days later on the following Saturday.  The surprise was on me, however, because I found the Nautilus sitting in the shop parking lot.  After a quick inspection it was obvious that absolutely nothing had been done for 3 weeks.  I went from being cautiously optimistic to instantly pissed.  I found a new ding on the passenger hatch and a small scratch across the center rear raised section of the deck lid.  It looked like it hadn't seen water in years.  I couldn't tell if there was paint overspray--but there really shouldn't have been because the craft's cover was sitting inside...unused, but incredibly available to anyone with sense to use it.  I had to take a moment to calm down--but that didn't help because some idiot drove up to check out a piece of crap car the shop has for sale and parked next to the Nautilus and said idiot decided that is was ok to rest the damn door of that car against the Nautilus.  I asked the person to please stop doing that, and walked away.

My trek across the parking lot was done slowly, because I really didn't want to bring an attitude with me to the shop foreman, Phil.  In this I was only partially successful.  My mood soured further as I got a good look at all the populated bays, the paint booth and overflowing side garage.  The shop was completely packed.  We had a big hail storm roll through Denver back in mid-May and this caused all the body shops in the area to fill up rapidly.  Insurance companies want quick turnaround for their customers, so the Nautilus quickly became a 'shop liability', taking up needed space for the other insurance work.  Insurance work is the real 'money maker' for body shops.  A Good Shop also became a Hagerty Collector Car Insurance preferred body shop over the past month, so more work flowed in from that source, as well.  Rather than my car being finished first to get it done and out of the way, the shop made a decision to unfavorably 'prioritize' my car.

I spent a few minutes in the shop waiting room...fuming...and found a magazine Hagerty publishes called appropriately enough 'Hagerty'.  For June's issue they featured the Corvair.  Waves of envy and irony washed over me as I thumbed the pages.  There really are a lot of styling queues between the Corvair and the Type 34.  In the article, comparisons were being made between a completely restored metallic green '60 4-door and the actual yellow Corvair Ralph Nader used to make his classic 'Unsafe At Any Speed' observations.  Interesting article, but it didn't take the edge off my mood.  Once Phil finished up a quote for a commercial customer, he turned his attention to me, 'the prioritized customer'.  I asked him to accompany me out to the parking lot so I could show him the newly installed damage and talk about the other work that still needs to be done to finish up the sunroof installation.

Throughout my discussion with Phil, I mentioned the 'first-in-first-out' concept, which went nowhere.  I then took another tact--which I felt was a really generous concession on my part:  I'll take the car back unfinished, with the new damage, and pay them only half of what I owe.  In turn, I give them 90 days to re-schedule the completion of my car.  If they don't, I don't pay them any more money.  Phil told me he'd take this offer to Al.  I was left to develop an understanding for the situation I was now in.

By the following Saturday--and having heard no word from anyone--I arrived at the shop with the intentions of paying for and picking up the Nautilus.  I was again ready to move on, but no one was there. I contacted Al by cell phone and he apologized and gave me permission to pick up the car--NO CHARGE--because his policy is that no one pays until the work is fully complete and customer is happy.
Honestly, I was stunned by Al's shop policy.  In the face of my disappointment, he still managed to exceeded my expectations.  The both of us agreed that we would follow up each week and eventually we'd arrange for the Nautilus to return to the Thornton location to be completely finished.  In the meantime, the craft is at home in my garage and I have something nice to test fit parts to...bumpers and carpet, for example.  The project really is still on track and moving forward on all fronts.  I knew this restoration was going to be a challenge.  I just need to keep a cool head and keep looking up!  I still think I'm dealing with a good shop, but I hope to be able to call it a great shop before this is over with.