Sunday, May 8, 2016

Special Type 34 Parts, Part 2 - Turn Signal Lever

I sold two of these Type 34 turn signal levers this past week, but I thought I'd post a couple of pictures and add a few words about their specialness.  I've previously referred to this part in another blog post here.  If you don't have one for your Type 34--or, possibly break one unexpectedly, then you eventually discover how difficult sourcing a replacement can be.  Some folks install a regular Type 3 part as a temporary fix, but this soon becomes a semi-permanent fix.  Personally, I've got my spare Type 34 part, however realized that hoarding two additional spares is ridiculous.  To move them out, all it took was the mention of their availability, so it appears that the demand for them is there.  This is one of those special Type 34 parts that takes a beating over its lifespan and might need replacement, even on seldom used vehicles.

At the beginning of the year, I exchanged emails with Lee Hedges concerning the reproduction of certain Type 34 parts that would benefit the community.  Strangely, this particular part never came up in our discussions.  It's not only a functional part of any car, but it's also a safety related part.  I'll admit that workarounds are available.  I've seen folks have broken levers somewhat successfully repaired (welded), I've seen hack-jobs involving a short length of wood and duct tape, and I've seen the aforementioned 'Type 3 solution' implemented.  The Type 3 part actually leaves more than an inch-wide gap between the top edge of the upper steering column and the lower edge of the steering wheel and is a bit unsightly, but it works--if you can reach far enough, because the lever is at least an inch further away from the steering wheel, which may put it just a bit out of reach for some.  The reason for this is because the actual steering column shaft itself is about one inch longer on the Type 34 than it is on the Type 3.  You could retrofit the steering column from a Type 3 onto a Type 34, but that would put the steering wheel about an inch further away.  Maybe not a big deal for some...but again, that's a bit of a reach for others.

With the number of new or reproduction parts needed for the Type 34, I guess I might put this part a fair ways done the list in priority for reproduction.  I just hope someone stumbles upon a big stash of NOS units someday, puts them up for sale at a reasonable price, thus satisfying the demand. 

Yeah...right--like that will ever happen.

Koni Shocks



About a year ago Shock Warehouse spammed my email inbox with some schlock related to a special sale they were having.  And I bought it hook, line and sinker, too!  KONI !!!

So...yeah...I splurged and bought the Nautilus a round of Koni's.  Of course, the Beetle and Karmann Ghia are clearly listed in their online sales catalog, as is the Type 3 Fastback.  But as usual, not a hint or whiff of the Type 34 Karmann Ghia.  Fortunately, all of these cars get the exact same Koni Classic 'D' Shocks, with their catalog listing part number '80 1349' for the front, and '80 1350' for the rear.  Since the part numbers are the same for the Nautilus (Type 34) and Winston (Type 14), I could actually use these with a clear conscience on Winston, while also maintaining 'the Dutch vibe' already present on that car because Koni Shocks are made in Holland.  That's cool.  When his engine is complete, I might just do that.  Because KONI !!!

The Shock Warehouse transaction was smooth and fast.  I like this company.  Because there is always a downside in anything I write about in this blog, there was a rather small downside with this transaction that I must share, and which had absolutely nothing to do with Shock Warehouse.  It has to do with Koni and their product packaging.  These Koni Classic 'D' shocks ship with a 'vintage-like Koni Classic' sticker, inside a rather generically sized box that doesn't exactly mitigate the over 5 inches of empty space that allows the shock to slide freely about.  Evidence of product shifting was the red-orange Koni shock paint present in various places inside each box.  As a result, only 1 of these stickers emerged from the packaging unscathed.  And by unscathed, what I really mean is folded in half.  The others were either completely off their backing paper and stuck to the inside of the box, or somehow creatively stuck to the shock itself.  Removing the stickers essentially damaged them beyond re-usability.

Now...some might say "So what?"  But, I would say, "I PAID FOR THAT! And no amount of money can buy that kind of quality!"  My point was sort of reinforced when I went out and tried to source replacement stickers.  Some Porsche shops were actually charging $20.00 EACH for these.  All expletives aside, that's robbery and required that I continue to look around until I either found them for free from Koni, or found some reasonably priced alternative.  Said reasonable alternative--Paragon Parts--provided me with five of them for $13.95, shipped.  Maybe a bit of OCD on my part, but I now have something nice to apply to my shocks, above and beyond that which Mother Nature will eventually plaster to them.

Why Koni's?  5 adjustment settings for tuning.  Known product quality.  No known compatibility issues.  Super-cool orange-red paint and decals.  I'm all set.

Building a power plant for the Nautilus, Part 3

I took the crank, rods, flywheel, pressure plate, fan, pulley and pistons to Denver Balancing last Thursday to have them dynamically balanced.  I also left them with the engine case and main bearings, asking that they be taken to Painters Grinding to have case clearancing for the 74mm crank and piston spigots to ensure the dome top piston skirts clear.  I've done a lot of non-precision case grinding here lately, but it made a freaking mess to my workspaces in the garage and the results look a bit amateurish.  The 'D' hole for the breather hole in the engine case for the 1500S was incorrectly done by RIMCO and the metal baffle plate wouldn't set flat on the block.  Also, the immediate shelf area inside the case was not cut through.

I tried to get several shops to handle this entire job for me, but no one locally would.  I finally sent the case off to RIMCO for some work, but they only opened up the top breather hole, and then only just enough for their comfort level.  The pictures here show what I had to do with my new drill press and a hand held Dremel tool to get the results I was after.  It's pretty close to what the factory does with all late '64 and later VW cases.  Why do this?  Because interior case pressures at higher RPMs causes oil burning.  There's a Workshop Bulletin that discusses this, some of which is shown above.  The other recommendation in this Bulletin was to use an improved piston oil control ring, which was actually done already in the NOS 1500s piston and cylinder kit I sourced 12 years ago.  Beyond this, I'm going to use Deves piston rings and that should be yet another improvement and further reduce the potential for oil burning in this higher compression engine.  With Painters finishing up the job with clearancing, I hope the results will be worth both the cost and the wait.  And, help keep my shop clean.  We shall see.

There's been engine progress made with the induction system, too.  I've worked hard to come up with a great set of stock style dual Solex carburetors for the Nautilus' power plant. Along with the dome 83mm 'S' pistons, the Solex PDSIT carbs debuted on the Type 3 1500 S engine at the beginning of the '64 model year.  Most Type 34s received this engine configuration as VW tried to give the car all the performance it could. These Solex carbs are left and right specific and the main carb bodies are stamped with a code that helps identify the engine specification onto which they were originally installed.  For an early '64, I was looking for codes of 5-2 on the right carb and 6-3 on the left.

I let BerT3 in Belgium know what I was looking for and he eventually found a good rebuildable set.  His carb rebuild services include re-bushed throttle plates using Oilite bushings and new reproduction levers in the accelerator pump covers.  I must say his work is outstanding.

As good as BerT3's work was, I did find a little room for improvement.  Maybe I was just being picky when I swapped out used electric cutoff jets with some NOS units and replaced the chokes and choke seals with some NOS pieces.  I also replaced the accelerator pump lever washers and keepers with original parts to help better maintain the original geometry.  I also replaced the drain plugs and idle enrichment screws with some brass pieces I had.  Just because.

These carbs shipped to me with clear zinc plated intake manifolds, but these will be painted with the same high temperature gray muffler paint as the exhaust components before installation.  Or, those particular manifolds won't be used at all because I'm considering dual port heads, with larger venturis in the carburetors.  This will no doubt also require a re-jetting for each carburetor.  I know that all of this is a departure from the originally bone stock configuration I intended for the craft, but these changes will wake up the performance modifications I am installing deep in the engine.  I'll be using VW parts, so I consider the engine modifications a sort of later 60's 'vintage speed' modification that could have been made to result in some real performance gains.  I do realize I'm sort of heading into an odd direction with this restoration, but I've invested in a set of Wide-5 CSP front disk brakes and later stock Type 3 dual master cylinder, so the horsepower increase--while not massive--is coming with an improved braking system.  When VW introduced the 1600 Type 3 engine in the '66 model year cars, the cars also were equipped with front disk brakes.

I confirmed I have the correct air cleaner and air control assembly.  The induction is definitely getting closer to being entirely sorted.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Nautilus stands inspection, Part 1

I decided to take the car cover off the Nautilus this morning to take another good close look at the paint.  I've been test fitting parts a lot over the past few months and this has involved a lot of fiddling around with the various openings in the body to clear paint and filler to allow the components a good fit.  Front and rear light housings have all been installed at least once, then removed so I can later determine if primer or paint needs to go on in places to prevent future rust.  I still don't have a good touch-up paint match, so investigations were intended to be a bit more broad in scope.  I went looking for weird paint issues and it didn't take long before I found something that really needs attention.

The outside of the Nautilus is actually really nice, overall.  There was some dirt, masking tape residue, excess wax and buffing compound that was all sent along its way with some minor encouragement from a microfiber towel and a little water.  No big deal.  Notes were taken for the minor paint damage I've introduced.  I went into the rear trunk and it still needs a good cleaning, but no paint damage.  I checked the underside of both doors--still looking good.  Then, I headed to the front of the car and that's where things went a little sideways.
As the picture above shows, the front hood fit is a problem.  It just sits a bit too proud, particularly when a seal is installed.  I've tried all kinds of seals and found one that nets the best results, but it's nowhere close to perfect.  I decided this morning to loosen the hinge and latch plates to adjust the fit of the hood in its opening and during this work I discovered something entirely new:  two cracks in the paint on the inside of the hood at the left leading front edge.  The cracks go all the way to the metal, but there's a lot of product that will need to be removed to prevent future encounters with rust in this area.

So...just great.  Another unwelcomed step backwards.  Right now, there's a big part of me that just wants to pull the car cover back over the craft and entirely abandon the project.  But, I also have to admit that I have a real possibility to introduce some improvements by getting this relatively small issue fixed.  I do have two spare hoods and maybe one of those will fit better that the one currently installed?  Yep--I'm going to have to install them to find out.  And then there's the question of who I get to do the body and paint work?  Am I headed into another bodywork nightmare?

More Motorworks Restorations bodywork demerits have been awarded.  When this round of front end body shop  re-work is done, I don't think I'll consider this a Motorworks project, anymore.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Eating my own dog food...and finding it acceptable.

There's a concept in the computer software and hardware development industries where folks beta-test their own product(s) on themselves, prior to going into mass production and releasing them on the public.  Companies sometimes derogatorily refer to this as 'eating their own dog food'.  In my opinion, this is a good standard practice and as a result we get better quality personal computer products for home and business use.  While this was also the original intent for the Type 34 wiring harnesses I had Wiring Works build a few years ago, this unfortunately didn't happen because my own car wasn't ready for the road.  In fact, it's still not ready.  That aside, I really wanted to give one of the wiring kits a workout in advance of general sales just in case Bob's selection of wiring gauge somewhere wasn't quite up to spec for the job.  The wiring in a VW is simple and Bob's been doing VW wiring since the '80s, so I expected no surprises as long as I did my work correctly with the prototype I supplied him.  And I was qualified to supply prototypes, having 3 original harnesses on hand with which to use.  None of these harnesses were actually usable because each had undergone some catastrophic failure, resulting in fire and melted plastic and copper.  I have one example of this in my parts collection that's nearly burned and melted clean through at one place, near the wiring junction where the voltage regulator wiring branches off and under the jump seat.  It's unsettling to think about the possible heat and smoke (fire?) that resulted as part of that meltdown.

With three Type 34 wiring meltdown samples on hand, the above mentioned electrical failure really shouldn't be considered an aberration.  I also refer back to these samples when critics ask me why I bothered with this wiring project at all.  Many have stated that the existing wiring is easily repairable and that the costs for new Type 34 wiring kit excessive.  I say, "It depends".  And my sojourn into the intricacies of Type 34 wiring was never intended to be as altruistic as it became.  Like others, I purchased the available Type 3 wiring kits--front and rear--and found them deficient in just too many ways.  The modified results looked sad and lacked the features of the originals.  My assertion at the time was that it shouldn't be all that hard for me to send off an original harness to Bob at Wiring Works and have him replicate it once or twice.  That's all I wanted, originally, but Bob refused to make just 1 or 2 front and rear harnesses.  He wanted to make these two main harnesses in minimum batches of 10.  Ok...so, I asked him about all the other wiring bits for the car, too, because I knew there was so much more wiring in the car than the front and rear main harnesses.  Keep in mind that my car was nothing more than a shell at the time, with no wiring at all.  I decided that I would not repurpose any of the abused wiring I salvaged from the craft and other VWs, which then required that I figure out what was missing, the color codes and purposes for each wire.  This involved some research of Type 3 and Type 34 parts because some parts actually come with their own attached wiring.  I then started thinking about how a single kit could be developed for a range of Type 34 model years, easily adapted by the purchaser, and provide authentic results.  This actually took some unexpected effort because I was still collecting parts at the time.  Bob at Wiring Works is a craftsman when it comes to VW wiring, but he was working to my specifications and I had to get it right if I were going to sell to product to customers.  Bob as a businessman, understandably didn't like re-work or project hold-ups caused by my perfectionism.  At times I felt significant pressure and it was no fun.  As a hobby, this stuff was not supposed to feel like work.

When I received the first prototype I had to install it (twice, actually) and electrically test it thoroughly to be able to confidently recommend several modifications.  Remarkably, only one wire was flat out incorrectly run through a short length of PVC sheathing up to the steering column.  I easily fixed this issue on the prototype.  Several other wires had to be lengthened a little, with resolution to both issues requiring a couple of phone calls.  I then started requesting the additional wiring, requiring more phone calls.  Relations with Bob were sometimes strained because I am a pain in the ass and want things done as correctly as possible.  When a guy like Bob starts questioning me about the Type 34 wiring to include in a kit, you know I was going in way deep with the details.  So, the final pricing on the kits probably reflected this required development work.  But I must say that our efforts really paid off during the second 10 unit run, where I actually sent Bob my own wiring harness kit to serve as the template.  Because of this, he was able to give a pretty good discount for the second run of kits, even though the price of copper had dramatically increased.

Somewhat disappointingly, the original prototype Type 34 wiring kit shipped from Wiring Works with nothing more than a single hand written and photocopied page of wiring kit components.  Before receiving the first order, I decided that my own research notes should accompany them.  I ended up massively expanding on those notes to assemble a spiral bound 60 page booklet.  Call it a labor of love, but I would also want a person to consider it a 'value add' incentive to buy the kit.  Some would call it overkill because VW wiring is really simple in concept and very similar across all contemporary VW models.  I included a copy in all 19 kits sold and kept a couple of spares for reference.  I'm glad I did, because I find myself referring to it every now and again to refresh myself on something.

I didn't even come close to breaking even on the Type 34 wiring project--but then, that was never the point.  With a wiring kit for any VW vehicle, owners of cars under restoration are of a different mindset than, say, Porsche restoration owners.  I quickly found I couldn't mark up the kits without complaints and needed to keep the pricing--with shipping--as far under $500.00 as possible to ensure I could move inventory to recoup my out of pocket expenses.  I had to do this twice and keep my wife happy with how I was handling it financially.  And while there has been quite a lot of interest in having more kits made, I've decided I won't front the money for Type 34 projects like this anymore.  Thankfully, it appears I won't have to because others are really kicking in with the reproduction parts and sources for having them created.  Maybe this can also include wiring kits?

Installing the front and rear wiring harnesses in the Nautilus last September was fairly anticlimactic.  As expected, the overhead interior light harness was a serious hassle to get installed without damage...as documented, even.  I was using Rev. 3 of the kit, which means that it included not only all regular wiring, but also the transmission ground strap and battery cables.  The only wire not included in the kit was the front beam ground strap--the early style, non-braided, brown wire type that goes between one of the front beam mount bolts, up to a steering box cover bolt (the slightly longer zinc bolt, BTW).  These kits really ended up becoming quite comprehensive, and as I slowly use the kit, I'm very thankful I spent the time on the details.  Hopefully others feel the same.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Building a power plant for the Nautilus, Part 2

As mentioned, I'm building two VW engines right now.  I figured that if I'm in 'engine building mode', I might as well stay with the program.  Besides...there are now some serious space considerations and building and installing engines fits with my goals.

I thought I had a well developed plan for the 1500S years ago.  I found a decent, potentially numbers matching engine case from a completely parted out Type 34 in reasonably good shape.  I had it sent off to RIMCO for double thrust cam bearing cut, line bore, cylinder decking, lifter bore dressing, case savers, oil galley plugs removed and threaded, and to have the top breather port cut to the 'D' shape.  This last bit was to address potential blow-by issues in the Type 3 1500S engine as noted in a factory bulletin from early '64.  I'll have to address this opening a bit because it really isn't the correct shape and needs a little cleanup to allow the metal breather plate to be installed flat and in the correct orientation.  My new drill press will get a workout, I think.  Otherwise, the case just needs a really good cleaning...or, so I thought.

I've never really been happy with the 69mm crank I have.  It's a DPR crank and should be a good fit in the engine case, but I noticed some welding at the gussets that should have been better dressed during its production.  Maybe no big thing, but I'm not happy with it.  The rods I have are reworked stockers and are ok, but nothing special in the balancing.  The flywheel is stock weight, but 8 dowelled/6 Volt/200mm with an O-ring--so that's kind of different.  Nothing really unique in this engine configuration and it really just represents an overall upgrade of the stock configuration.  On the other hand, it could be argued that it comes with a downgrade because the counterweighted crank is heavier than stock.  To offset this, a couple of years ago I decided to have a lightened 13lb flywheel constructed, 8 dowelled/6 Volt/200mm with an O-ring.  I have a tachometer for the Type 34 to monitor RPMs and I figure it might liven things up for the typical driving I plan to do in the car.  If I dislike it and the car bogs like heck on the hills, I'll have the stock weight unit to go back to.  I plan on having both flywheels balanced for this engine so I can do that without throwing things out of balance.

A few months ago I was inspired by Aaron Britcher and his 74mm SPG based engine to purchase from DPR a 74mm plain bearing crank for my engine build.  At the same time, I also purchased a set of 'AA' brand Porsche length (5.325") stroker connecting rods, which should help maintain the external size of the engine given the 'A' pistons I will be using.  A set of ARP 2000 rod bolts was included with the rods, which was unexpected and very nice to find.  The pistons I plan on using are the Kolbenschmidt 83mm dome top 'S' style, so this should essentially give me a Porsche 356/912 internal engine dimension and result in an approximate 1602cc displacement.  This configuration worked for Porsche and their relatively heavy cars, so it should work for me and the Type 34.  With an Engle W100 cam, gear and lifters, I should be all set, but I also plan to try 1.25 to 1 rockers.  None of this is earth shattering, but it should give a little extra grunt to move a heavier Type 3 vehicle.

The heads are square boss single ports with heavy duty springs.  I want to say that these are those that would be found on the '66 Type 3 engine.  I had some polishing done, but their ability to breath might be the weak link in this engine.  I might want to have some more work done to them by folks who know best.  It also depends on what needs to be done to help the carburetors breathe a little more.  I plan to run stock carbs, re-jetted for altitude, with larger venturis.

I'm doing a lot of measuring and gut checking right now.  I might need to do some grinding on the case to fit the larger crank.  Once everything is clearanced, I'll send parts out for balancing--but I think I need to find another shop for that work.

Quality time with Winston, Part 2

It's taking me forever to get anything done with anything VW related.  I have decided the best use of my time is to focus on projects that result in a significant reduction in the use of storage and garage space.  VW engines are fairly compact packages when built out, but not when strewn about in pieces.  And I think we can all agree that the best storage place for a Karmann Ghia engine is when it's correctly built and installed within its respective car.  So, I'm getting on with it then. Two engines to build.

I next decided to 'warm-up' my engine building skills with Winston's 40 Horse.  When last we checked in on Winston and his 'freshly rebuilt--though seriously ailing' power plant, it had a significant oil leak.  It was misfiring, had an exhaust leak or two, and was just generally unhappy with its lot.  In the three years since then, I've collected a bunch of parts and should have some good options for this rebuild.  As mentioned, I found enough wrong during the main seal replacement with the flywheel and its shims that I decided a complete teardown would be a good idea.  Again, that big puddle of oil developing under the car after each run really drove my decision.  I also felt a little excessive heat, saw a fluttering oil light and some disturbing ping'ing during hard acceleration, even with modest distributor advance.  Made me wonder if the installation of the Mahle 40 Horse Big Bore kit and previous head flycutting resulted in an excessive compression ratio.  Lots of concerns and time to lift the veil of mystery and get my hands dirty to resolve it all.

I chose to use the original heads, case, 180mm flywheel and hardware.  The heads are square boss '65 heads and they cleaned up real nice.  The flywheel was already done.  The case was sent to three different places to check for cracks--with none found.  It was then sent on to RIMCO to again check for cracks, then machine for double thrust cam bearings.  It also got ANOTHER line bore!  Because after 375 miles it needed one!?!?  And that line bore also went along with a custom thrust cut to #1 main bearing.  The lifter bores were surfaced/clearance.  The case already had the inserts for the head studs and cylinder deck seemed ok.  I had RIMCO send along a set of Silverline (#2 steel backed) main bearings and found that they are really, really nice bearings.  Dare I say nicer than the Mahle/Kolbenschmidt bearings I've seen of late?  I was worried about Silverline--but no longer.  Cam bearings are Mahle double thrust, because they were locally sourced at NuVintage.  I chose a set of Bugpack lightweight lifters and a Norris 329S cam, with a Webcam bolt on gear I had laying around.  The pump is a nice old Schadek 21mm.  I found a set of 6mm sealing nuts and a real nice stock cover for it, then blueprinted the pump.  No clearance of the pump body was required, otherwise.  I did have to work over the cam bearings to give the cam a little endplay in the case, but the lifter to lobe clearance was plentiful.  The crank was NOS 64mm.  The rods were the original to the engine, balanced end to end and for total weight.  New pressure place was sourced, because that's what you do.

I then decided to have the engine parts dynamically balanced, but I made a mistake by not using Denver Balancing for the work.  The shop I used instead found a bent crank pulley, so I had to source one and this turned into a year long inexplicable ordeal to find the correct part and have it powder coated.  The second round of dynamic balancing went well--until I checked the shop's work.  Let's just say that I might as well have not bothered with balancing because their idea of balancing is not mine. and had to fix some of it.  I've got to check and see if Denver Balancing is still in business and use them instead.

Anyway...all seemed in readiness...until I requested a re-hone of the cylinders.  The shop delivery person accidentally dropped them onto the shop parking lot and made quite a mess of them.  I don't know the whole story, but a scramble ensued to find me another set.  These pistons and cylinders were the old style Mahle 83mm 40HP big bore with ~350 miles on them, so they were essentially like new.  I paid good money for them.  However, what I got back was...well...I don't know their provenance, really.  They aren't well balanced.  I don't like what was done to the piston pins to clean them up because they are really sloppy in the rod bush.  It's not the stuff I sent them and I kind of feel cheated, really.  And, they are not easily replaced with as new parts.

The 'cylinder kit incident' happened easily two years ago, but it sort of left me a bit disinterested in the project--that is, until I purchased an  'AA Pistons' 40Horse Big Bore 83mm kit shortly thereafter.  Yes, they are Chinese parts and I was afraid of them.  It served to stall the project, further while I half heartedly looked for NOS Mahles.  Only recently did I actually pull one of these AA pistons out of its liner and take my first look at things.  Let me say that I was really impressed and unimpressed, all at the same time.  The cylinders are great.  I ran calipers, tested ring gaps (Deves), and used an internal bore gauge to measure everything, and was quite happy with the cylinder.  The piston rings seem like they might be Grants--or, clones.  Completely usable, but I'm going with Deves.  The piston pin retainers are decent circlips and completely usable.  Now, what I did not like at all was the casting and machining of the pistons themselves between the crown and the first ring land.  Two pistons were scratched and pitted, where it seemed they didn't get the machining correctly done to remove all of the casting recesses in the raw piston.  I'd classify these as 'Seconds' and not necessarily something I'd want in my freshly rebuild engine.  Having discovered this well outside of my warranty period, I ordered another set of pistons from 'AA Pistons' for $100.00, shipped.  We'll see how these look, and then go from there.

While I'm waiting for the pistons, I've decided to get the deck height sorted using the pistons I have.  I'm assuming that AA Pistons hasn't made any broad and sweeping changes to their piston design in the past three years...and probably is a rash assumption on my part in any case...but what I found is that the AA Pistons do not like my '65 Type 1 case.  The case at the case webbing at the #3 spigot interferes significantly with the piston side skirt at the flywheel side and I believe I will have to crack apart the case to do some grinding.  The Mahle pistons don't have any problems, here, and when comparing the two pistons I can see why.  The Mahle's have a shallower side skirt by quite a margin.  So...there's that.  I also compared the deckheight measurements for both the Mahles and the AAs and now have an idea of the cylinder base shims I need for piston to head clearance for each, but need to 'cc' the heads to adjust that to reduce the compression ratio to sane levels.  In the AAs favor, I was given a more consistent deck height measurement across all cylinders.

This is getting fun!

UPDATE:  The pistons arrived today and they are excellent.  No casting marks, scuffs or other abnormalities.  Unfortunately, the piston design remains the same and there's still the interference with the case at #3--and possibly with at least one other cylinder spigot.  Deck height remains unchanged with these new pistons, so that's good, but weights are all over the place.  Piston pin weights are nearly 20 grams more than the Mahle pins.

Now...do I use the old Mahles, or crack the case and clearance it, then go with the new AAs?  Hmmm....