September 14, 2003

Before & After, Rear Brakes Between rain showers this weekend I had planned to do the rear brakes, including new hoses, replace the master cylinder, and bleed the system so I could take the car to work one day this week and maybe get it inspected as well. As it turns out, I only had time to do the passenger’s side rear brake. I figured it was better to take my time anyway since this was the first time I was doing it. I spent some of the time cleaning the windows as well. The paper towels were black when I was done. Amazing how much dirt had built up on the windows. I think Wilson feels a little better now.

I didn’t really have much of a problem getting the passenger side rear brakes done. It was pretty much all according to the book. It was a few hours past dark by the time I was done and I was actually going to get started on the other side, but when I pulled the drum off I saw that the grease seal had been leaking. When I thought about it for a minute, I realized that this could be the reason why there was so much oil over everything near the transmission on that side of the car. The majority of caked dirt was on the back of the backing plate, and the whole area was caked with about a half-inch of dirt. It’s possible that the grease seal failed and the grease leaked out the back (like it’s supposed to) and covered everything, then the dirt was attracted to that. I didn’t have a seal kit, so I packed up everything, spent a few more minutes examining the fuse panel to see if I could find out why fuse 1 keeps blowing, and eventually wheeled Wilson back into the garage. One other thing — those brake hardware kits from CIP1 are a waste of money for the Type 3’s. They said they’re Type 3 kits, but none of the hardware fit. The retaining springs were too long, the retaining pins too short, and I suppose I could’ve used the new upper springs, but I figured as long as I was reusing all the old hardware anyway, why not use the old springs too?

Oily Shoes The local Auto Barn had a grease seal, so I bought it and thought I’d get started on the other wheel today. When I took the old one off, there was no shim or O-ring underneath. I was a little surprised as I expected these would be like the bug axles. I have a request out to the list to see if this is how it should be. I finished up the brakes on the driver’s side and put everything away until next time. I still have to replace the rear hoses and I’m thinking that’s going to be a major pain since they’re very hard to get at. After that, I have to replace the master cylinder and then just bleed the system and I should be ready to roll. As soon as I track down that electrical issue I think I can get Wilson inspected. I also picked up a new headlight, as the left low beam is out. I was going to pick up two of the Sylvania extra life halogens, but I figured if I could save a few bucks right now, that was a good thing. My thumb is killing me right now because I accidentally hit it with the hammer while trying to get the handbrake lever pin in. I hit it lightly with the hammer and missed… My whole thumb is black. The proud scars of a Type 3 owner!

September 7, 2003

Into The Light! It’s been a while since my last update. Not so much a long time as far as time goes, but it seems like I got a lot done this weekend. Friday afternoon I took off from work to get started on the brakes. I backed the car out of the garage and was going to change the master cylinder when I realized that there was still fluid in it. I decided to see if I could just bleed the system and get away with that. All was going well until I broke one of the bleeders off the rear driver’s side brake cylinder. Nice. At least it was closed when it happened. I tightened it too much. I bought one of those cups with the bleeder fitting and tubing so that I could do the brakes myself. You should’ve seen the black stuff that came out of the brake lines. Why don’t I think to take pictures of this stuff? I should be documenting this whole thing, but I get into it and forget. Anyway, once the rears were done, I got an urge to start the car up and just drive it around the block, which I did. First drive – September 5, 2003. It was a short one, and when I got back to the house, I went to fill the tires up with more air and discovered that the front driver’s side tire was very hot. That’s a sure sign of a sticking caliper. Saturday’s first task then was to check the front brakes and see what was up. As it turns out, both calipers had locked the pads on the rotors. I ended up having to hammer each side off because of the layer of rust that had built up on the outer rim of the rotor. To get the pad past that rim wasn’t easy.

Shortly after I had installed the new caliper on the driver’s side, I realized that the pads I had bought off Ebay did not fit my new calipers. Because I had a late ’71, I thought I had ’72 brake calipers, but I didn’t. The later pads didn’t fit, so I reused the ones originally on there after cleaning them up with a little brake kleen. They were almost new anyway. The last driver must’ve gotten the brakes done pretty soon before he or she stopped driving the car. I put a little white lithium grease on the caliper pins, installed the pads and the spring plate, and bled the front. I still had a bit of rubbery feel in the brake pedal, but I know the system was not bled properly. I think next project is to replace the back cylinders and hoses along with the master cylinder, which probably had a certain amount of moisture in it, and then do a proper bleed of the whole system. Hopefully that will give me proper stopping power. That’s the thing that freaks me out most right now — wondering whether or not I can stop in time. I drove REAL SLOW to the gas station to put a little more gasoline in.

I also replaced all the shocks with KYB GR-2 gas shocks. I initially wanted lighter duty shocks in the front, but the GR-2’s were all that F Paul auto parts could get quickly. They turned out to be fine, except for the fact that when I started doing the fronts, I hit the driver’s side first and realized that the lower shock mount was too thick for the shock grommet. I actually went to Pep Boys to see if I could get a “correct” size. They only had the same size mount on their stock shocks (Gideons). I went back to the car and decided to tackle the passenger side first, and that side was fine! Shock mounted perfectly. I tried to see if there was a leftover shock sleeve on the driver’s side that was causing the problem, but it looked totally solid. I ended up drilling out the shock sleeve so it would fit over the mount. I’ll have to eventually get a bigger washer to make sure the shock cannot ever slip off.

So by this point I’ve taken a couple spins around the neighborhood and sort of gotten a feel for the car a little, minus the spongy brakes, and it’s really different. I guess I expected it to be a little like the beetle, but it’s much more “adult” than that. Much more solid. It feels like a heavy car, and feels like the engine has a hard time pushing it. I imagine that will change as the rings wear in. I don’t feel like anything’s wrong with it, as it has about what I expected in regard to acceleration, but I do wonder how it’s going to act with a full load, and I don’t know how people pull trailers with these cars. I guess I do have a lot of “stuff” in the car right now, probably 200 pounds worth or more, and I haven’t timed the car with a strobe light either. The dwell is at 46, which is right about where it should be. Actually, I think the car’s settings were all proper as far as idle settings and such, transmission stuff,… I didn’t mess with any of that and it seems spot-on. I can’t believe how smooth the shifting is, both up and down. Amazing. People on the list said it would be, but I thought, “well, it’s an old car… How smoothly could it shift?” I think I’m going to like the automatic.

I’ve started to come up with a list of things I have left to do… Things like change the oil again, brake stuff, valve adjustment, a few more engine compartment things, fix the fuel pump relay issue, change crankcase oil, change fuel filler stuff, remove carbon filter system, lube doors & front end… All in good time I guess. Hopefully next weekend. Then toward the beginning of the following week hopefully I can get the inspection done and have the VW guy go over everything and just double-check stuff for me… Oh yeah! I forgot! I got my plates and got the car registered. I was panicking at the DMV because all I had from the previous owner was her signature on a transferable registration. Turns out that was all I needed anyway for anything 1973 and older. Shame I won’t get a title for this car, but as long as it’s legal, it’s cool.

September 2, 2003

Yesterday was Labor Day, and it was quite miserable out. I was planning on starting the brake job, but I figured that was best saved until a nice day when I could just take the whole day to do it. Instead I changed the oil. I took off the drain plate and found a layer of shiny, sparkly paste. I guess it’s a good thing I’m changing the oil so soon after the top-end rebuild. I planned to do it this soon anyway, since I didn’t know how much crud I might have accidentally gotten in the engine, and I plan to do it again after my first drive around the neighborhood. I was reading some of the tech articles on Aircooled.Net last night, and I realized that the one thing I never did during the rebuild was gap the rings. This could prove to be a major mistake. The article said the rings come tight, and that you have to slowly shave off progressive amounts of material until they are within spec. I’m not sure how tight my rings might be. They didn’t seem to slide in the cylinders with any amount of difficulty, so I don’t know how bad off I could be. I’m wondering if I should take everything apart again. I’ll probably leave it as is and hope for the best, and will consult the list to see how bad I futzed up here. If it turns out to be OK, all I have to do next is the brakes and then I can try to take Wilson for a quick drive. I still have to make sure all the nuts and bolts are torqued down well since the engine start and rev. Plus, I should adjust the valves once again. After I get the car insured and registered, I plan on taking it to a local aircooled VW guy to get it inspected and I think I’ll have him go through everything to do a quick check, and especially check the suspension components. I’m not ready to get into that quite yet. I’m looking forward to getting the car out in the open where I can get started on other work like cleaning out the airbox,… stuff like that.

August 31, 2003

It's ALIVE! Well, it’s running, and I can’t believe it. I finished hooking up the rest of the fuel injection connections, put on the new ignition wires (used a little of that dielectric grease) and and then went to reconnect the battery so I could time the engine. No juice. I guess I expected that since the battery had been sitting since April, but I had forgotten about it. I took a trip over to AutoBarn and picked up a 10 amp battery charger. I only had to charge it a couple hours, and during that time I did some more tidying work, like attaching the air cooling bellows, filling the oilbath air filter, put oil in the engine, took out the seatbelts so I can wash them, etc. When the battery looked like it was holding a charge, I put it back in and turned on the ignition to set the timing. It was at this point that I realized that the fuel pump was staying on, even though the engine wasn’t running. I suddenly had a pretty scary gasoline leak on the left side of the engine. I turned off the key and found out the leak was coming from one of the injectors. It didn’t appear to be coming from the hose, as it was all dry. The injectors were both soaked. I replaced the one that seemed to be leaking the worst, and put the injectors back on the engine. Turned the key and the other one was still leaking. It looked like it was actually leaking at the point where the plastic part of the injector meets the lower body part. I took my second NOS injector and replaced the leaking one with it. No more leaks… At least on that side. There was a slow leak on one of the right injectors, and I didn’t feel comfortable leaving that as it was. It seemed like it was leaking in the same place. I took one of the injectors I got in Connecticut on Tuesday and tried it. No leaks.

Setting the timing turned out to be fairly difficult as sometimes I’d turn the distributor and the light wouldn’t go on. Plus, the vacuum canister was hitting the generator. Eventually I opened up the distributor cap and made sure the points were opening and closing correctly. They were. I got to a point where I didn’t turn the distributor so much as try to make sure the light went on when I turned the engine past TDC. It took a while, but eventually I got it. I was still missing the oil breather hose, but I thought I could try to start it up. My wife and stepson had brought me dinner, so they came out to see if it would start or not. I turned the key, and it started immediately! Victoria and Christian were soon in a fog of grey smoke, so I turned off the car, eventually turning it back on to rev the engine up and down a little, like they say to do when you first start one of these engines.

Needless to say, I’m quite amazed that it started. I remember I used to have problems starting my go-kart when I was a kid, and engines used to always seem like this big, unlearnable thing for me. I know this is probably only the beginning, and hopefully I won’t be driving down the road someday and learn the hard way that I made a mistake somewhere, but for now, five months after I first picked up the car, I’m celebrating one small victory.

August 30, 2003

Started getting everything set in its proper place before the attempt will be made to start the engine. I was reading through the Bentley manual the other night and realized that I had assembled the rocker arms incorrectly. I had put the metal ring that the rocker arm bolts go through on upside-down. It was a good thing I had to take them off anyway, as I noticed I had also forgotten the seals that go on the rocker bolts. I also picked up a pack of white lithium grease and put a little on the pushrods as the manual suggested. Torqued everything down, then adjusted the valves again. When I went to turn the engine 360 degrees to do the other side, the engine would not turn. Eventually I realized it was probably because of the torque converter bolts not being put in. I got underneath the car and aligned the drive plate with the torque converter and felt something clunk into place. I had put a scratch on the drive plate and the torque converter itself so that I could line it up again when I put it all back together. I could hardly see it, but I think I got it in the right spot. I also finished connecting up the heater hoses and the vacuum hose for the auto transmission. While I was under there I also tightened up that last transmission/engine bolt, the left top one (which did, in fact, work infinitely better when the car was on a lift and when I had a long extension on the ratchet). After that I started reconnecting the FI harness and installed the new engine lid seal, which looks much cooler than the tattered bits of rubber that were there before.