Vanagon – Bilstein shock perch spacers

Update, if there is any interest I’ll upload a drawing and fusion 360 model of the spacers.

Got a full set of the 16″ Syncro Bilstein shocks. I’ve already installed the rears but delayed the front install until I made up some sort of spacer to raise the spring perch a bit.

Made two sets, from some scrap aluminum which either 2024 or 7075. Im leaning to the former, but either one is a good choice.

Two sizes, 12 mm and 19 mm. With the correction for the suspension geometry, that’s about 18 mm and 25 mm of lift. But I’m not completely sure about the 1.33 X multiplier of the geometry.

If the weather cooperates, I’ll install the shocks this weekend.

Comments on the pics. First machining shot is of the shorter spacers, the second machining shot is the taller spacers. I used the tormach to do the majority of the machining as it allowed me to use the scrap I had. I didn’t have suitable round stock. Plus I could do other things as the machine did the work. The other end machined manually on lathe.

And yes, you can stack the spacers. That stack way too much but one could. I did play around with a designs that would allow adding spacers without removing shock. But I gave up, my ideas were clunky and I lost patience.

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Vanagon – inside the rear window defogger switch

It’s to do with a thread on the vanagon mailing list. I took apart a spare I have.

Not sure what that broken plastic bit was meant to do inside switch. Maybe a shade in the illumination system?

The two teeny incandescents provide light the translucent white plastic for the rocker switch icon, and the amber light pipe.

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Other vehicles – new shoes for the Howard 350

It was a barn find over a year ago. Original tractor tread type tires were flat and badly cracked. They pumped up ok and used the tiller for a season with those ancient Avons. Best substitute at a reasonable price (42 bucks a piece) were snowblower tires.

It’s a Howard 350, English made, with a Canadian made Kohler K141T engine. Apart from new tires I’ve:

– took apart carb and and fuel filter and ultrasonically cleaned

– took apart conical clutch and skimmed surface on lathe, trimmed friction band to fit better

– new oil in gearbox

– removed the spring loaded recoil start. It was breaking ropes and I just gave up after numerous attempts to fix. Simple rope start around crank now. Usually cold starts on about 2-3 pulls. Sometimes even one!

– cleaned and checked points

What’s needed:

– fix a brake shoe to clutch actuating lever to stop clutch freewheeling when clutch engaged ( still very usable without this)

– tear open gearbox to see why second gear ( highway gear ) , won’t stay engaged

– new clutch and throttle cables ( they work but ratty)

It’s a great, bit of a beast, rotovater.

Some clutch pics .

Pdf of manual

howard-350-manual.pdf

Pdf of parts list

350-rotavator-parts-list.pdf

Kohler engine manual

kohler_k91_k141_k161_k181_k241_k301_k321_serv_man_0472.pdf

Oh and why not show the fekkin annoying recoil start assembly

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Vanagon – ecu failure and fix

First off, I’d like to thank the vanagon mailing list members for their outstanding support and help. They were right there beside me all the way.

List info here http://gerry.vanagon.com/

Last Saturday as I was turning into the alley way that leads to my work ( doing plague induced alternate hours working) my van just died. No stumble, nothing.

Cranks fine, no start. I pushed van rest of way into work parking lot.

Then I started the diagnosis. Long story short, I found…

Fuel pump works key on

Ecu gets power key on

Coil gets power key on

Harness continuity to hall sensor and ground and power checks out fine

You get the idea, it all checked out. All the tests we would think of doing, including the Bentley manual ecu harness checks. Had work to do so that’s that for Saturday.

Sunday going over the same. Hall sensor failure was brought up. Well it was a candidate from the get go but I was putting that off. But I had to check if I was getting spark. Listmember suggested loosening distributor enough to raise it is shaft would turn and trigger hall sensor, watch for spark on grounded sparkplug. For some reason I was hesitant to do that but I was doing this alone and really needed to check spark. And I had no remote starter switch. I ended up with spark plug on case and video it when cranking. Yup,no spark.

Monday afternoon, evening. Back at it. Yes, the van still at work and I’m doing my evening shift. List member Geoffrey suggested brilliant idea of using timing light to determine if spark. I could cable tie trigger on and see the gun from drivers seat. No light flashing, No spark.

Swapped in a spare distributor. I had no idea if Hall sensor on it was good. But yet again no spark.

Tuesday, I took ecu out of its box, again. I had done that on the weekend to look for, oh, I don’t know what.

This time i found something. A bad solder joint on a power transistor middle leg. Bad enough that the leg would move in the joint. That must be it, I hoped. Mark and David on the list gave me hope that indeed it was the issue.

I reflowed the solder around that joint. Back up to work that late afternoon. Ecu in, and van starts. Not great, but starts.

I swapped the original distributor back in, and the van, after a bit of cranking, started. subsequent starting extremely snappy, much much better than before this event.

Poor pic of the bad joint, circled.

And in the other side of the board, the power transistor screwed to heat sink.

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Vanagon – Erin’s door

Sounds like a chapter in a novel.

Update April 5, Erin’s hanging issue. Pics at end.

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Vanagon – digital rear view mirror mount

Here’s a quick and dirty way of mounting one of those back up cam digital mirrors. The mirror is supposed to be clamped on to the existing stock mirror, but that looks very clunky. I’ve got a somewhat less clunky answer.

It’s just simple tab and slot construction, plug welded. I used 3/16″ aluminum. The uprights get spread a bit after welding just the get the mirror stalk ball in. You do know the vanagon mirror stalk pops off the mirror don’t you? And you do know the mirror stalk comes away from the van ceiling with a firm twist, clockwise or anti.

Anyway, you’ll get the idea from the pics. I think the concept at least is worthy of trying out in 3D printing. I’d guess it might even be better than aluminum.

Oh and ignore those semicircular cut outs on the edge of the backing. Thought it would be access to the reset button on the mirror. Turns out I goofed on assembly and got the position wrong. But on reflection, (see what I did there? ), it’s easier to take the mirror off the mount to get at the reset hole. That’s because the rubber band attachment things that came with the mirror work pretty well and no need for my initial idea of double sided tape. The fusion model linked does not have the cut outs.

Got a 1/4-20 bolt and wing nut in the pic. No need for the wing nut, just use a reg nut. Oh and I used a pem type bolt just because I had one. Reg bolt fine.

Again I have to say, take this idea as a staring point. While it works great and doesn’t look that bad, it sure can stand some refinement.

Here are the fusion files, if you can use them. The modelled mirror stalk is fairly accurate in the ball size.

mirror-back-archive.zip

Oh i guess I should mention the rear view cam used here, it’s the Toguard CE35-1. Seems pretty good, based on good friend Simon’s install. I’ll post some stuff on the actual wiring and install when I finish that.

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Vanagon – 82 diesel air intake elbow

Posted pics here for vanagon mailing list discussion.

The two parts were originally riveted together.

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Vanagon – led headlight as auxiliary lights

Ok, just hold your horses about the pros and cons of led H4 replacement headlights, just for the time being anyway. I’ll write about these particular lights later. For now, I’ll describe using one particular type as auxiliary lights.

I bought a pair of these from Banggood last February. Here is the link: [CA$104.34]7 Inch H4 H13 105W LED Headlight Hi/Lo Beam With Turn Signal For Harley Jeep Motorcycle from Automobiles & Motorcycles on banggood.com https://banggood.app.link/4DKhkY87b4

 

Used them as headlights for a year, they worked out fine, but I was struck by the idea of using them as auxiliary lights from the get go as they are completely sealed and have M8 threaded holes on each side of the body casting.

I made a pair of simple brackets to hold them to my light bar and wired them in to my old auxiliary lights switched power source. That’s switched by the fog light switch ( the posts about that set up is here: https://shufti.blog/?s=Fog+light+).

I’m sure there are other lamps that have mounting holes on the side, obviously the model and dxf linked below are for this particular light.

The old aux lights and the led light bar removed and the new lights wired to be low beam with first position of Switches and high beams in second position of switch.

I plan on rewiring system so the high and low beams on the new aux lights will be controlled, when they are switch one, by the stock main lights hi lo beam stalk switch.

Here is a dxf of the flat pattern of the mount. Btw, sorry about having to be zip files, wordpress won’t let me upload dxf or fusion files ( not to mention a raft of other file formats). The mounts are made from 0.250” 5052 aluminum. Love the spelling mistake I made.

aux-light-baracket-flat-pattern.zip

And a fusion file showing final bent shape.

aux-light-mount-bent-v6.zip

Read the rest of this entry »

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Vanagon – another approach to wiper arm rivet

Short story, made a rivet from stainless rod. One end with shoulder, the other end with hole ( to make that end easier to flare).

Worked really well. But I think it’s unnecessary work. Both friend and I had the same idea of finding Chicago screws that will do the job. And those screws are out there.

Funny thing they are called M5 Chicago screws, but the actual screw portion is M3. Pictures show better. Oh and you’d have to trim the length a tad. Is brass hard wearing and strong enough? I think so.

Back to my rivet. Here’s a sequence of pics using another old wiper arm. First couple show how you can hold the “c” connector in a vise and pull back on the arm to release hub. Head of the stock rivet drilled out and punched thru. Stock rivet 50 microns larger diameter than the Chicago screw… yadda yadda yadda…you get the idea.

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Vanagon – trying out a wiper hinge rivet sub.

A few posts ago I wrote how I took apart my spare wiper arms for powdercoat. The hinge between the arm and the hub was a steel rivet, had to drill that out. So what to do about reassembly?

Tried something this afternoon. Yeah, perhaps an over thought idea. Turned down some stainless rod to around 4.8mm, with a poofteenth narrower shoulder on each end ( the arm holes are smaller than the hub hole. Maybe it’s the paint.)

Tapped each end M3. I have some plastic pan head M3 machine screws, I’ll get some black stainless versions if I decide this is a good method. What gives me pause is I have to bend the wings of the arm apart to get the shouldered hinge pin, in the hub, inserted into arm. It’s kludgey.

But looks ok, arm moves nicely too.

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Vanagon – conversion table for VW tool 1301

I found this table online and I apologize for forgetting where, I’d like to be able to credit the source. I think there have been posts on the Samba with the same info.

In any case, the VW is used in Bentley procedures to test fuel and temp gauges.

David B. commented:

The Vanagon gauges are electrically the same except for the blinker circuit in the temp gauge.

Gauge resistance ~52R, input voltage ten volts plus/minus a half for tolerance of +/- half a needle width.

Top mark ~35R (fuel full or temp ~130C)
Temp blinker starts ~45R (~125C)
100C touching high side of LED ~82R (OE sender)
90C touching low side of LED ~106R (OE sender)
Top of reserve ~170R (adopted in later models as the calibration low point instead of bottom of the gauge)
60C/empty/bottom mark on gauge ~265R

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Very much not Vanagon – Glock sight mount adapter.

Was asked to make a reproduction of a plastic shim that, oh I’ll get this wrong, sits between red dot and mount on a Glock 99. The difference is, the new one was to be wedge shaped, around 4 degree taper. I had a go, black Delrin, and it worked. Little rough around the edges, I need to find a way to gently de-rag small plastic parts. Maybe a vibratory tumbler.

Anyway, just sitting back and waiting for the rush of new orders 🙂

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Vanagon – quick fix, arm rest bolt caps

Originals were a bit ratty, and a couple wouldn’t stay put. Made a set from black Delrin. You 3D printing folk have an advantage over us subtractive makers 🙂

Ok, bear with me, trying a link to the fusion 360 file, might take a few tries. Grrr, trying to insert model into a frame here, dint have the skill. This link though will take you to model and I think you can download.

https://a360.co/2uSXXHr

Hold on, managed to have a zipped file of the fusion model, to download without going thru fusion’s meat grinder.

arm-rest-plug-v3-1.zip

what a lot of palaver for such a inconsequential thing.

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Vanagon – cheap wireless tire pressure monitor

You must have seen these around. All the usual suspects sell them and I went for one last summer.

Around 30 bucks, worth the gamble.

It has a wee solar panel and function buttons on top of it and a micro USB port on one side ( kit comes with short micro to standard usb cable). There is a sticky type gel pad on the bottom to keep it in place on your dash, and that works well.

The solar panel keeps the unit charged up, mostly, after an initial charge via USB. I say mostly as the panel couldn’t manage to eek out enough current during a one week period in December. Weather was very dull, days were short.

Buttons on top of unit for setting things up. You can have low and high pressure alarm limits, and low temp alarm. Alarm is beeping and display flashing. The display changes from off to on when it feels movement , ie when I open the drivers door to get in.

The pressure and temp senders replace the tire valve caps. There is an additional locking nut supplied for each sender thats supposed to hinder theft and loosening. Of the senders that is, not the van.

The senders connect to the base unit with no fuss, and I haven’t had any disconnects between the two. Each sender has a button cell powering it, I haven’t replaced any yet. I thought the senders stuck out from wheel more than I’d like, but I haven’t knocked one off yet.

For the first while I was obsessed by watching the pressure and temp during trips. I wanted to see if there were any temperature differences between front and rear wheels during braking on long descents. Maybe I saw a 5-10 degree difference sometimes, but as the senders are sticking out in the airstream I’d say it’s not a good way of monitoring brake temps, but you do find out which side of the parked van the sun is shining on 🙂

All in all I’m pretty pleased with it . It sits on the dash, drivers side corner, not too obtrusive and getting some light for the solar panel.

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Stuff found in the workshop – ureometer and nebulizer

In a box of old glassware I have. Yes, I’m sitting on a king’s ransom of miscellany 🙂

Ureometer ( Info on this old medical device here)

I really don’t know what this “nebulizer” was used for. Anders Brand, Vancouver!

Update: more pics of the nebulizer. You can see the fine orifices on the end of the tubes inside. One tube is open at the bottom, the other tube is connected to the inlet. More label pics too.

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Other cars – restored Unimog

Secret location nearby, in for a stereo install.

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Other cars – oh the smell

Been a year, and my brain didn’t retain the model name. But I did retain the memory of the sweet old English car aroma. It’s the one on the right 🙂

Oh btw, the plan is a FrankenAustin resto. Not me, my crazy neighbour.

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Vanagon – Syncro coolant distribution tower

Last summer my tower started to leak. Everyone knows the plastic distribution tower / manifold weakens with age. The 2 wd tower is different in size and shape but same thing happens to it.

What I posted to the vanagon mailing list:

A few months ago I swapped in an aluminum version of the stock plastic coolant distribution manifold. The 2wd and Syncro versions differ in shape but not in function.

I’d always wanted to do this but what got me off my duff was my manifold had the additional feature of a temp sensor plug in one end. This is for the optional webasto aux heater that warms the coolant and thus the heater box. It was fairly common on Canadian spec Syncro.

The temp sensor is very much like a temp II sensor in that it’s a push in device with an o ring and retaining clip.

The o ring on mine failed and leaked coolant. Temp fix was new o ring. The better fix was the aluminum manifold which was easier and less messy to install than I feared.

Bottom line is, if you have the webasto aux heater in the engine compartment of your Syncro, or if you had one and forgot about the temp sensor , check the sensor O ring.

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Dream cars

Last summer I found these beauties. Way back in the 80s I almost bought, well I test drove and looked at, similar station wagon (safari). That one was way too rusty and I was a poor student with no need or skill to manage a DS21 estate. But here we have a lovely pair, someone’s dream sitting in the open.

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Vanagon – parking brake cover, recover

Another example of idle hands. I think it was from model year 85 on where ther parking brake cover was changed from a vinyl boot thing to a hard plastic shield. And on my 86 Syncro it’s the brown plastic. The brown plastic that does not age gracefully. So one Saturday last summer I took some thin leather, got it a bit damp, and glued it to the plastic. It looks fine, some little wrinkles at the hard curves, but acceptable. Have not yet figured out how to cover the actual handle.

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Vanagon – solar panel roof rack prototype

Still being worked on, as is, it’s fine. But front dam shape and side rail shape modified on the next version which is about to be powder coated black. Note that through complete luck, I can store one fiberglass bridging ladder up front. And disregard the clumsy fasteners used on front dam, that was just because… ran out of the correct ones.

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Vanagon – Syncro, Steyr badge

More output from the devils tools. Aluminum, on good friend Simon’s Syncro.

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Vanagon Syncro – Steyr sticker

Idle hands are the devil’s tools etc…

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Vanagon – wiper length difference

Taking apart a pair of wiper arms and noticed for first time they are different overall lengths and different lengths between bends. 28 years of vanagon ownership and only now saw this, ha!

Update:

Close up of part numbers on arms. 251955409

Compare to the rear wiper, mirror image, not swappable.

Photo of South African T3, Same rear wiper orientation as left hand drive. Photo taken from the Samba. Oh btw, my rear wiper part number is 251955707.

Update February 13, 2020. Got the arms back from powdercoat. I had them blasted and painted with slight texture finish satin black. They look really good, pic doesn’t fully convey the nice finish.

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Vanagon – LED headlight H4 bulbs, next chapter, Part 1

Last winter I installed some LED H4 bulbs into my e-code lamps. Here is the link to the last update about them. If you haven’t read that post, and the original install post referred, and you want to know my reasoning behind trying the bulbs, I urge you to go read them. 

Oh and another proviso, I bought both the original and these new versions from Banggood. They weren’t given to me. My opinions about the bulbs are not influenced by any freebies. 

So why did I buy new bulbs? There are three reasons. First one is I was not happy about the radio interference they caused. The interference affected weaker fm stations. It was annoying. Secondly, I wasn’t satisfied about the high beam projection. The beam seemed to get lost at distance. On the other hand the low beams are so good that I didn’t need the high beams as often as I did with halogen bulbs. Again, please refer to the post linked above for more on beam patterns. The third reason for trying another set was that these bulbs come with optional gel filters, yellow. I was curious about how they would work.

Ok then, here are the new bulbs, and here is a link to the product page. Link fixed, sorry about that.


Packaged pretty well.

Similar to the older model ( on the right ) but with some important differences.


Right away you see the heat sink is different. I think that the older bulb has some electronics in the base, the new ones have a separate box of electronics. And notice the difference in the led element, size, number, and orientation.


I’m going out on a limb and say that the newer bulb has the LED elements arranged to more closely mimic the filament positions in a halogen H4 bulb. Interesting that the elements are smaller and fewer but the bulbs are advertised as 30W each compared to the 25W of the older bulb.

The new bulbs have a metal box in the power line. I was surprised it was metal, made me hopeful that the radio interference issue might be fixed. Popped the cover to have a look.


Components are potted, only a cap showing.


I was impressed, I started to think that these bulbs were surprisingly well made. The power line has a very positive and o-ring sealed connection. This probably eases some installs, makes no difference in the van.


The filters, according to the instructions, are self adhesive and applied to the glass tubes.


I’m holding off on the filters for now, but I did install the glass tubes. The end of the bulb unscrews and the tube slips down and seats against an o-ring.


O-ring wasn’t in correct position in that last pic, but here we go fixed.


Another interesting feature is the rotationally adjustable mount. The three tab base is held in place by two set screws, and it can be rotated. There is a degree ring on the base and a witness mark on the bulb body. I did not change the orientation, I’ll wait for some night testing to see if it’s needed. I’m only guessing right now about what effect the rotation would give.

Time to pop them into the lamps. The older bulbs thicker bulb body didn’t let me install those rubber boots, but the new ones did. 


Here is new bulb without boot.

If you remove the three tab mounting base you can push on a boot and then reinstall the base. The boot is everted here, makes it easier to get at the set screws.


Keep the boot rolled back and carefully get the retaining wire bails clipped in.


Then pop the boot.


Ok, so I actually installed one lamp last night. Right away I saw that the beam pattern on the garage wall was tighter, both low and especially high beam. The radio interference problem was still there, grrr.

But today, with both bulbs in, the interference problem has disappeared! Yes, that’s right, weak fm stations now back on the menu. I’m really chuffed about that.

Next to do is swap one of the old LED bulbs back in and do a comparison, take some pics etc. So far I’m really pretty impressed by the build quality of these bulbs, especially for Can$64.

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Vanagon – alternator voltage regulator re-brushing

During the summer, on a camping trip, the alternator failed. The brushes on the voltage reg finally wore out. I had a spare (used) voltage reg on board and the swap got us going again.

The failed regulator was an adjustable unit I bought way back in the early noughts. It got swapped over from my old 82 westy to the Syncro in 2011. It had been working perfectly all this time and I really liked the ability to up the voltage output a little to overcome any voltage losses in the wiring up to the battery and also to give my batteries a good charge.

I think the reg cost around 35 bucks back then, haven’t checked the prices these days. Might not seem cost effective to repair it, but I wanted to. Hey why not? What’s the point of other folk posting how to do it…

Local automotive electrics outfit, Brian Roberts, sold me a pair of brushes for 8 bucks.  Just $8, a little solder, flux, and time, and the reg was fixed.  I wasn’t very good at documenting the steps but here we go.

The new brushes look like this, carbon-like with a braided copper pigtail. The spring is the old one, no problem re-using.


Old brush…


To get the old brushes out, well originally, under the solder, the metal is formed into a tube which is crimped onto the pigtail, soldered, and trimmed.


I found that merely melting the solder didn’t release the pinched pigtail. So I drilled it out. That meant when I inserted the new brush and pigtail I had to hold the braided pigtail…


Pigtail with spring fed up into the brush holder on the reg, haemostat holding pigtail so brush projects fully but doesn’t come out.  Then, flux (rosin) and a good strong iron.


Was hoping for a better blob, but it’s ok.

And the iron? This old Weller, it’s a champ with this sort of thing.


 Same thing with other brush. Then trim the excess copper


So that’s all good. Hey just as an aside, clean up shiny, all the contacts on the reg and also on the alternator body.

Acesss to the lower machine screw holding the reg to the alternator is fussy in the stock wbx. An intake runner impedes screwdriver. 


An offset screwdriver does the job, albeit slowly. But beware, if you didn’t disconnect the battery then you can hit the hot stud on the alternator with the driver. The angry pixies make you jump. Foiled a second attack with heat shrink on the driver. But the pixies managed to nibble one end, see?


Oh, btw, adjustment of the reg is done via little screw.


Dialed mine up to 14.65 V at alternator. But I’ve noticed that the voltage will drop maybe half a volt or so when the alternator heats up. Btw, the multimeter is pretty good for $15, banggood. Auto ranging, back light, big display, AA batteries rather than 9V. Still have the protective film on display, it’s not a thing with me, just forgot.

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Vanagon – another Syncro in Graz

Simon is back in Graz and spotted this Syncro hightop. I haven’t seen this particular style of hightop before, it looks similar to others, but not quite. I’m thinking it might have been originally an ambulance, (but the roof is different than the factory hightop ambulance). In any case, it’s a nice looking van with interesting features. Side note, Simon says he’s seen few if any vanagon’s in Croatia with fancy wheel and tire combos. You know this hightop Syncro would be re-shod almost immediately if it came to North America.

Update:

Thanks to ZsZ in comments, found what looks like to be a match on vwpix.org. Link to the images here.

Here are a couple from that page.


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Identification help

Are these a pair of “cut and hold” flower scissors? 


Only mark is in the hinge

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Vanagon – July weekend 

Doesn’t get much better than this




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Vanagon – more from Croatia

Simon hit a wrecker’s yard. And elsewhere found a hard working 2wd Doka.

LT first


Vanagon high top, postal van.


And the Doka.

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