Archive for February, 2011

Milking a Jersey

Boy, the milk is good, and lots of cream. Next time the stainless bucket will have a cleaner outside.

After 16 hours, pretty well all the cream has risen. Jersey’s are known to produce this nice cream-coloured cream, and a fair whack of it. Wikipedia says 6 % butterfat (compare with Holsteins at 2.5 – 3.6 %).


Icebergs at Campbell River

Phil Z. took these shots a few days ago. Global warming, feh ūüôā

1 Comment

Vanagon ignition switch

It has been “discovered” that the Vanagon ignition switch is a weak design. Why? Well it switches a fair bit of current and the contacts seem just adequate for the job. All right, I admit I have no real data to present to prove this, but maybe it is wise to have OCD and switch off accessories (heater fan, wipers, lights) before starting the van. If these loads are present then contacts in the switch have to handle a bigger current, and the resulting sparking will degrade the contacts over time. Mind you, the actual switch is relatively cheap ($20 – $40), so this really does fall under the category of Vanagon nerdom.

Excerpt from manual showing switch:

David B.’s photograph of dissected used switch:

I must be so bored to resort to posting such a flimsy entry ūüôā

Update: Maybe its not such a flimsy entry after all, Jay Brown sells a relay package to reduce switch load.

Also, headlight relays on there own will reduce load on the ign. switch.

Leave a comment

ATA – close ups of the Catalina

Got lucky today and had the chance to get some quick up close snaps of the PBY 5. I even peeked inside… a lot of unpadded corners in there. Why that struck me I don’t know, maybe I am a closet Health & Safety officer. Anyway, word is that it will be flying again in the spring.

You have to watch this, Rick Mercer visiting Buffalo Airways HQ in Yellowknife, and in the winter.


Syncro and Ohio winter

Brett H. sent me this picture of his syncro. Its a good looking van, must ask him about the aux light mounts.



ATA – its all about the sky

Usual spot, nothing much of interest except the busy sky.

Leave a comment

Incredible model making

B. Perkins makes an 1/3 scale model of Mercedes W 165. It really is worth a good long look.

1 Comment

Vanagon – N. American vs European tail lights

Pulling together some stuff I have on the differences in the tail light assemblies. As some of you know, European tail lights have the provision for a rear fog light (Nebelschlussleuchte), that is, a brighter red tail light to be used during poor visibility. The light is controlled b a 3 position switch (off, front fogs, front fogs + rear fog) on the dash. I have one of those switches controlling my aux. lights. Part number for this one is 171 941 535A, the VAG says 251 941 535 is the one for the Vanagon Рbet ya they are one and the same.  Here are a couple of pics:

And here is a German manual diagram:

And here is an annotated English language diagram

And here is my diagram of the circuit boards (right hand side):

And now some pictures of a pair of right hand side tail light boards, “USA” vs “Europa”:

“USA” lens front:

“Europa” lens front:

“USA” lens back:

“Europa” lens back:

Arcane and nerdy stuff, eh Ben?


Campbell River February 18

Phil Z. sent me this nice picture.

Vanagon hiding behind trees, waiting to pounce on unsuspecting Toyota…

Leave a comment

ATA – cemetery

Right next to where I take shots of VIH helicopters, the Kamov and Jet Rangers in recent post, there is a small graveyard, (google map ref). Its the Brethour family plot, a little info here, and here. Took some quick snaps, not very dramatic as the light was flat.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Leave a comment

ATA – more VIH helicopters

I’m not going to even try and identify what “Jet Ranger variant” those are. Kamov in the the background looking small. Active sky eh?


Vanagon syncro propshaft balanced – verdict

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I had my prop shaft balanced and I finally have it installed. I drove about 10 km with the front diff. mounts loose to allow it to “settle in”. Today I tightened them down and I can report that the propshaft is pretty smooth. Of course your kind of hyper vigilant in this sort of situation, and I can feel a very very slight vibe at around 60-70 kph, a little like having deep lugged tires. I’m happy with the result.

Leave a comment

Augusto Monaco

From Wikipedia:

“Augusto Camillo Pietro Monaco (March 15, 1903 – November 4, 1997) was an Italian engineer, best known for his racing cars from the early 1930s.[1]

He was born in Buenos Aires where he earned a degree in engineering before relocating to Turin in the early 1920s, where he made his automobile engineering contributions

  • 1927 Monaco-Baudo with¬†Antonio Baudo, a 1-cylinder 500 ccm side-valved engine[2]
  • 1932 Nardi-Monaco with¬†Enrico Nardi, a front-wheeled 1-cylinder JAP-engine (998 ccm, 65 bhp) nicknamed¬†Chichibio, and winning several hillclimbs[3]
  • 1935 Trossi-Monaco with¬†Carlo Felice Trossi, a 16-cylinder (250 bhp, 3982 ccm) racecar, never winning anything due to an unsuitable 75/25 weight distribution.[4]

Since then he declined an offer to join¬†Fiat, and among several engineering projects, was involved in developing¬†synthetic diamonds, a swiss-patented invention (1948). He moved to¬†Livorno in the early 1960s, where he worked on hydraulic systems until his retirement. He passed away in Livorno, 1997.”

1 Comment

More cowbell

Update: its the “White Triplex”, see Wikipedia entry.

That surely can’t be the petrol tank in the back there can it?


Vanagon heater hose insulation

While I was under the van installing the newly balanced propshaft, (prelim. verdict is good, but I haven’t tightened up front diff. mounts yet. Letting things find their happy place), I wrapped the heater lines to the front heater with some pipe insulation. Why did I do both the feed and the return? Well to be honest, I didn’t know which was which. I still haven’t figured out the coolant path through the added hoses that the Webasto heater brings to the party.

The pics make it look like the hoses hang low, but they don’t. White cable ties are all I had. Who cares anyway, its under the fricken van!

Update, 13/05/2011. I’m not happy with the way the insulation is handling the abuse under the van. For one thing, the foam under the cable ties has compressed so that the ties needed tightening. Also the foam is ripped in places, from road debris. I need to find a tougher material to put down there.


Leave a comment

Syncro propshaft balanced

I finally had my propshaft professionally balanced by local driveline rebuilder/balancer. The tech took off the factory weights, welded on new ones (washers) and also took out a slight “hump” in the shaft. It was balanced to within 0.001″ run out at each end. I repainted the bare spots and I’ll install it today if the rain stops.


Leave a comment

J. Clark

Leave a comment

Porsche 917K plans

Amongst other things, look at the pedal placement, I think perhaps the 908 had them even further forward.

Leave a comment

What’s the connection?

One of those tiresome quizzes… what’s the link between this picture of Duncan Hamilton/Tony Rolt driving Jag C type (#18) in the 1953 24 hrs le Mans and a Vanagon Syncro?


1965 Targa Florio

J. Arnott sent me the link to this video of the 1965 Targa Florio. For sure, a different era.

1 Comment

Doka Magnum Edition

You’ve probably seen these pictures elsewhere, but here they are again.

More info, from T3 wiki, thanks for the heads up Ooznak:

  • ‚ÄěMagnum‚Äú (DoKa) hat nichts mit dem Multivan ‚ÄěMagnum‚Äú zu tun und wurde ausschlie√ülich nach Schweden geliefert. Als besondere Merkmale hatte das Modell die Rechteck-Doppelscheinwerfer des Caravelle Carat mit der in Schweden vorgeschriebenen Scheinwerferreinigungsanlage und Stoffsitze mit¬†Sitzheizung.

Google translated as:
“Magnum”¬†(Doka)¬†has¬†nothing to do with¬†the¬†Multivan¬†“Magnum”¬†to¬†do and¬†was¬†only delivered¬†to Sweden.¬†As¬†special¬†features of¬†the model had¬†the¬†square¬†twin headlights of the¬†Caravelle¬†Carat¬†prescribed¬†in¬†Sweden¬†with¬†the¬†headlight washers and¬†heated seats¬†with¬†cloth¬†seats”

Mmm, but the Doka in the slide show has round headlights…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


H6 Subie powered Syncro

Seen in passing. Nice van, but I’m surprised at how low the oil pan appears.



Leave a comment

Homemade pressure bleeder

This is what I use to pressure bleed the hydraulics. A 4 litre Nalgene polyethylene bottle with a presta valve in shoulder and a bulkhead fitting in cap. Other end of tubing connects to bulkhead fitting attached to an old brake reservoir cap. The 4 litre bottle is pressurized to about 7 psi with bike pump. You do have to top up reservoir every so often when bleeding, but its  not much of a chore. The 1 litre bottle collects the bled fluid.

Leave a comment

Brake flex line – inside the old one

I was advised that it was a good idea to replace the brake flex lines while at the same time I was replacing the calipers as the lines degrade over time. I don’t doubt that they do degrade, but my old line looks pretty good.

Leave a comment

Reverse light switch replacement

Back up lights wouldn’t come on, checked to see if I had power at the switch, yup, jumping the wires lit up the back up lights, so switch must be broken. The switch on the syncro is on the left hand side of the transmission, right beside a protrusion. Its an easy repair, 19 mm wrench, less than 5 min.

The old switch, the round end moves in and out:

1 Comment

New caliper for otherside

Replaced the front right caliper too, and that side brake flex line. I ran out of daylight to replace the left side flex line, I’ll do it soon. Notice the anti-chafe areas seem to be not positioned right… they could not be moved on the line, but one at least is rubbing against the suspension upright and doing its job.

Leave a comment

Replacing that buggered caliper

I bought a rebuilt caliper to replace the one I buggered up the other day. Its a pretty straightforward install. The new caliper came with a bolt for a banjo type fitting for the brake line, but no worries, the flare connection fits properly in the threaded hole. There was one minor hang up, the new caliper slider hit the brake backing plate, see the front (left) part of the slider hitting the backing plate?

Another view:

So I cut of a bit of the backing plate:

And then it all went together fine and I pressure bled the brake:

Had a look at the other side, here is a shot of the broken nipple (soaking in a rust buster type fluid):

I wanted to bleed this side via the hydraulic line connection, but I couldn’t shift that union so I thought it wise (!) to soak the joint in rust buster and get back to it later. I got enough brake pedal with the rest of the system bled. Here is a shot of that same side and see how that caliper slider clears the backing plate:

Last thing was to bleed the clutch hydraulics. No air came out ( surprisingly I had clutch function before bleeding), but a fair bit of dirty fluid:

Leave a comment

G. Hill

1 Comment

At the wreckers

Went to Malahat Auto Wreckers thinking they had a good condition caliper (they said so on their website), but no, they didn’t. I did get a couple of muffler hangers that were in good shape and an antenna (I tend to bend them when I go on old logging roads). Also picked up a delay dim interior for Brett – I’ll email you.

While there I took a couple of picks of some wrecked JDM imports. There are more of them than there are Vanagons. One Vanagon of note is a white 86/87 panel van. Black bumper still in decent shape.


MB Silver Arrow

The shape helps me forget the brake caliper fiasco.