Sunday, October 11, 2009

Building a power plant for the Nautilus, Part 1

Time to start building an engine for the Nautilus. After all, I actually plan to drive it, not trailer it. It's been better than 16 years since my last VW engine build and there are aspects of this that I'm certain will be a challenge. I used to put together some very good engines and we'll have to see if my skills remain intact.

The original plan for this engine was to go bone stock with it, but I discarded that notion as purely sentimental. Stock early Type 3 engines are fraught with inherent design flaws. Why reinvent that same old problematic wheel? How about taking the good parts and ideas from the much loved original power plant and marry them to what was good and wholesome in the later engines? Build the 1500S engine, but this time with a few internal improvements. Nothing Earth shattering mind you--just apply the updates that can be implemented simply to improve the reliability.

The Nautilus did not ship from the previous owner with an engine. In fact, it did not ship with much more than a body shell. The transmission and unoriginal front beam where there, but much of the pan was rotted. It was left to me to find an engine. I've searched for a decent core engine for many years, buying up a number of potential candidates for a '64 power plant. For some reason, I always seemed to stumble on '63 model year cases easily enough, however it was only very recently that fate lent a hand and gave me what I sought: a nearly numbers matching engine case with an original Type 34 provenance. The engine number on the case could have been installed in another Type 34 the very same week the original engine was installed in the Nautilus. What an unbelievable stroke of luck! All for a bargain price of $40.00. FINALLY!

Early Type 3 engine cases, unfortunately, suffer from the same pitfalls and weaknesses of their Type 1 40-Horse brethren. Engine cases from this era of VW production actually suck. While you really wouldn't want to base your 2-liter hot rod engine on such a crank case, a 1500cc or possibly a 1600cc engine is just fine. With a few case modifications, you can also work through some of the low oil pressure issues caused by the anemic output from the early oil pump. Cam bearings, head stud inserts, uprated lifters and cam, blueprinted oil pump, balanced internals, using a cross drilled 8-doweled counterweighted crank are all factors that play in the favor of longevity for an engine based on a 40-Horse engine case.

I did indeed decide to go with a counterweighted 8-doweled 69mm cross-drilled crank, with a tapered flywheel junction to allow the use of an O-ring flywheel seal. The flywheel used is an O-ring 12V 200mm flywheel, with the 12V ring gear machined off, and new 6V ring gear pressed on. The rods are brand new VW high performance, with self-aligning caps, balanced end for end, and for total weight. The pressure plate is a stock 200mm unit. The pistons and cylinders are a complete NOS Kolbenschmidt 1500S dome top piston set, with cylinders that have the narrower and more numerous fins for better, more even cooling while under operation. I am intentionally aiming for a compression ratio of 8.5 to 1, which was stock for this engine. To further increase reliability, I have decided on the the use of later square rocker boss Type 3 heads. Cooling on these heads is far better because of the cooling fin configuration. Equally as important is the square rocker boss design that helps to prevent unfortunate valve train incidents as I motor on down the road. What is particularly interesting about the heads I've chosen is that the combustion chambers were cut into a hemispherical shape, similar to those done by Gene Berg. This should allow for a better fuel mixture burn, particularly when coupled with the 1500S dome top piston. This could possibly help keep things a little cooler and possibly reduce the chance of 'pinging'. The problem is that they will need further flycutting to bring the compression ratio into specs and I'm hoping there's enough meat in them to do this.

I used to build VW and Porsche (356/912) engines that would generally go for 100K miles without a lot of fuss. There is always a heavy reliance on quality machine work to make this happen. I chose to go with RIMCO for the case machining. The flywheel, rod and crank machine work was excellent, however the packaging done for shipping was poor. The crank and pressure plate hit each other in shipping and the pressure plate may have been bent a little. It was definitely dented, so I decided not to use it and will use another brand new one I have in stock, along with a brand new set of VW high performance rods I've had around here for years gathering dust. The fan, crank pulley, bolts, pressure plate, flywheel, crank and other hardware were all recently checked and balanced by Denver Balancing. I also had them balance the NOS 1500S dome-tops pistons, too, so this should be a very smooth running engine when assembled.

Compared to a 356 piston, the 1500 S piston is actually fairly tame. The dome measures approximately 5.1 cc's. Regardless, they are plenty cool and being NOS German Kolbenschmidts makes them fairly rare, too.

There are still a few parts to round up, but I'm getting some help with that. Jay at NuVintage VW Parts in Arvada, CO, had a NOS set of VW lifters in stock and also provided me with a brand new camshaft. The rest of what I need is fairly common and I might even have them already in my parts stash, but I need to have a set of carburettors rebuilt.

My hope is that I have the engine ready to bolt up when the car arrives home. I don't think I'll actually make that deadline, but it will be close.

Part 2 - Putting it all together--restoring the original fasteners

As promised, I'm finally posting up the Type 14 'ST - Standard Parts' list from the Type 14 Parts Book. As fascinating as the Type 34 'ST - Standard Parts' list is, this one's even more of a page turner and should put you right to sleep, no problem. It's mandatory reading for the purist, is a full 7 pages long and includes a few additional fasteners that the Type 34 list doesn't have, but does actually use...which somehow gives me pause to wonder..."Why are these parts missing from the Type 34 list?" Could it be that my part book is out of date? What else might I be missing?

As much as mulling over the inconsistencies in ST Parts Lists absorb my waking hours, I still find the time to enjoy a bold tasting beverage now and then. Putting the distractions aside for a moment, I realize that the cold, frothy depths of a great beer can set the stage for some creative thinking.  So, I'd like to break this post up a bit and present some unrelated material for you to dwell on. And it does mostly concern beer. Beer is good. If you drink it AND are over 21 years of age in the US, maybe go pour one now. Or, grab a good Scotch.

A great Scotch is even better. Responsibly and in Moderation, of course.

If you're coming up short on ideas for your adult beverage choice and are looking for huge taste, I now offer up some reasonable suggestions--and presented in no particular order.  I've certainly selected something nice from this list to celebrate the 1 year aniversary for this blog.

1) Arrogant Bastard Ale, Stone Mountain Brewery. Rest assured, you ARE worthy, regardless of packaging assertions. Go the 22 oz bomber. While you're at it, go whole hog and make it a Double Bastard. You probably won't regret it. Both are also available in a magnum size for parties!  I presented one of these bad boys to ISP West during the '09 Classic and they cracked it during the 'after party' for their annual BBQ. Definitely got a two thumbs up.

2) Balvenie 21 yo Portwood. This is my 'desert island Scotch' because it's just that good. Makes a great Christmas or birthday gift...for me.

3) Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout, Great Divide Brewing Co. Another big tasting beer, neither overwhelmed nor tamed by oak aging. I liked this one so much that I called the brewery to let them know.
4) Lagavulin 16 yo. A grand old Islay Scotch. Truly recommended and is a rite of passage for any Scotch whisky aficionado. Some say it used to be better, but I can't even imagine how. Sidenote: there's no real point in seeking out the '91 Distiller's edition, but it's a nice one too!

5) Small Batch 471 India Pale Ale, Breckenridge Brewery. It's another enormous taste of a beer with tons of malt and hop flavor, made in small batches. I prefer the 22 oz bomber bottles over the 12 oz bottles
because some bottle conditioning definitely occurs after the cap goes on and the larger bottle isn't so fizzy. Batch variations occur, which adds to the adventure. There's also a small batch ESB by this brewery made in the same small batch manner, but it's flavor fell a bit flat with me--though your mileage may vary. I plan to try it again sometime. 

6) Glenmorangie 10 yo. Big bang for the buck! Look for the new packaging to take advantage of the new product formulation. This stuff is outstanding! Even the Malt Advocate agrees!

7) Hazed and Infused, Boulder Beer Co. Reminds me of an IPA beer recipe I used to use when homebrewing. I dry-hopped it to expand the finish. This commercial product has a wonderfully floral nose and powerfully hoppy finish. Takes me the front porch at the McMennamins High Street Pub in Eugene...or even Triple Rock, in Berkely. It's a hauntingly familiar experience, that way.

8) Talisker 10 yo. Nice, distinctive peppery finish, somewhat subdued these days over the old batches, but my understanding is that they are trying to get this characteristic back into the product in the current releases. In my opnion, there is little point in seeking out the Distiller's Edition, but the 18 yo might be a worthy dram. However, the 10 yo gets the job done, with change to spare.

9) Fat Tire Amber Ale, New Belgium Brewery. Of everything on this list, this one's a nice, congenial, balanced beer that goes well with just about anything edible, just about any time of year. I had forgotten just how good it was, until recently when I was offered one by my neighbors as a token of appreciation for some yard work I did for them. Before the day was over, I actually ended up with two!

10) Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist, or 'Lair of the beast.' Good Lord, this one is tasty! Recommended over the 10yo on the basis of complexity, alone--and the 10yo was Jim Murray's whisky of the year for 2008. So you know it's good, assuming you can stomach a whisky with the Islay character. And that's a character profile I like.

11) Bruichladdich 3D3, "The Norrie Campbell Tribute Bottling". They might as well subtexted this, "Distilled for Greg Skinner's Private Reserve", I like it that well. My wife gave me my first bottle of this for Christmas last year and I was amazed by both the heavy handed peat and the beautifully complex fundamental character of the whisky. A guy I work with once commented on the Talisker 15yo, "If Duraflame made a whisky, this would be it." Well, Jeff, the 3D3 beats that one by a mile. Highly recommended for any 'peat freak'.

12) Bourbon Barrel Stout, Odell Brewing Company. This last one is a newly discovered favorite. I won't be buying it much because it's rather expensive. It's an extremely potent and well done Russian Imperial Stout that's been aged for 4 months in a Bourbon whiskey barrel. Each bottle I've tried represents my all time personal favorite adult beverage flavor nexus. While I'm actually jealous that I can't make a beer this good, I am in turn quite thankful that somebody can.

Now...back to our regularly scheduled blogging...
Remember that what you have in the ST Parts lists is some substantial knowledge to allow you to put your car back together correctly. Safety comes into play here, as well, because black oxide coated parts are stronger than their bright zinc plated brothers. If the ST Parts list calls for a black oxide plated part, Grade 8, DON'T SKIMP! Even if it looks prettier. There's a reason VW originally plated parts they way they did. I don't know about you, but I can't think of a reason to try to second guess them on this point. Be safe!