Archive for May, 2011

Vanagon syncro aux. back up light bracket

I want to put an auxiliary back up light on my ’86 syncro but never have found an attachment method I liked. That is until Brett H. told me about how he did it, so all credit for this bracket idea goes to him. I used scrap stainless stock I had in the workshop (hence the double holes shown) and I have an old bumper that I could do trial fittings on. Pretty simple bracket, easy bends.

It bolts to the bumper using one of the holes that the plastic clips on the rubber “rub strip” attaches to.

The lamp housing is one of a set I found at the Salvation Army some years ago. I had one on the front of my old ’82 westy, fitted with a 250 W aircraft lamp. The test fitting on the old bumper looked ok.

It is possible to attach the bracket while the bumper is on the van.

I enlarged the hole that the plastic clip was set into so that the rub strip would fit over the bolt.

The rub strip fits back on quite well, I was lucky with the hole enlarging, it seems to grab the bolt head.

Attaching the lamp to the bracket showed that I need to tweak things a bit, light is pointing slightly down. I’ll make an adapter tomorrow and show the electrical part of the install. Oh, in the pic above, the bracket is to the right of the license plate (seen on the left).


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Vanagon syncro – NOS shifter box

Courtesy of Bill M.

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ATA – CH-149 Cormorant

AgustaWestland CH-149 Cormorant

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Vanagon syncro gear shift lever maintenance

R. Jones pushed me into this, he wanted to see how it all goes together. I’ll go through it on point form, pictures and text. Bentley has an exploded view and instructions for back up.
On the way out to the workshop I noticed a cool spider on a leaf of one of the jade plants we put outside for the summer. Got a quick snap before it moved. If you want good pics, head to A. Gordon’s Wordlessme.

Back to the job, first unscrew gear lever knob and pull off the rubber shifter boot. Then mark the position of the upper plate on the lower plate. I scratched circles through the two holes in the upper plate.

No need to remove the two 10 mm nuts you see there right now, we will be taking the two plates out together. Then it’s under the van to drop the spare and remove the shifter box, four 10 mm nuts and washers, careful, they drop easily 🙂

Box removed

Now remove the vertical from the horizontal between the “ears”. It’s a 10 mm stover nut and a washer on one side, and a 13 mm headed bolt on the other.

Now you can get back into the van and pull up the plates and shifter, and take it to the bench for disassembly.

There is a set screw on that metal collar on top of that spring, hold it tight as you back the screw off and remove collar and spring. The shift lever will slide out of the housing assembly. Look at the “T” end of the lever, remove the 2 plastic bushings. These are wear items and it would be a good idea to replace them.

I didn’t as I did not have any on hand, and I couldn’t be arsed to make some up. The bolt that rides in there looked a bit worn and I suppose the small amount of play in there does contribute to the overall feel of the shifter. Here is the bolt back in the bushings.

And the wear.

Back to the other parts, now you can remove the two stover nuts holding the upper and lower plates together, you did mark position of the two plates first right? The white plastic collar on the underside of the upper plate is pried out.

Then the entire inner workings, rubber collar and all, can be pushed out from top to bottom. It might be tight, but palm pressure is enough to do it. Careful not to break the upper plastic.

The two white plastic bearing shells can be pried out of the rubber and that will allow an internal spring to sproing things apart.

Now clean all the parts.

Reassembly is pretty straightforward, first squeeze the split shells into the rubber collar, might be a bit of a struggle.

Then the one inner bearing with the protrusion is pushed in from below until it snaps into place. Good time to put a little grease on the rubbing surfaces. Not too much, Bentley makes no mention of lubricating the plastic assembly and I have seen some that are caked in grease and dirt, so it is probably best to go light with the schmalz. Do, however, put a dab of grease on the gear lever where it goes into the plastic assembly and in the bushings on the “T’ at the end of the lever. Note that the rubber collar has a “top”, the little ridge, see? Sorry about bad focus in the next couple of pics.

Then put the larger of the two springs on.

And press the upper bearing into place, again it snaps in. The rubber collar allows the split shells to spread.

This assembly is now pushed into the upper plate.

Followed by that plastic collar.

Put the upper and lower plates together and secure (in the right place using your marks) with the two 10 mm stover nuts. I risked Zinc and or Cadmium poisoning and buffed up the shift lever. The lever is inserted into the bearing assembly, the spring put on, and the collar locked down in place (there is a dimple on the shaft).

Out to the van, and pop the gubbins in.

Then under the van to connect the shift lever to the ears using that bolt and bushing arrangement. Bolt the box back on and put the spare tire and tray back in place. Back upstairs and rubber boot and shift knob back on.

That’s it. Oh, I suppose I should have mentioned that you can get replacement plastic parts for the assembly from the usual suspects, Van Cafe, Go Westy, Bus Depot etc. I re-used the old parts, they seemed to be in OK shape.


Vanagon syncro front shifter box pics

For Doug M., wanted to see the wear patterns. Looks in good shape for being almost 25 years old and god knows how many shifts.

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ATA – P-40 Curtis Kittyhawk

Almost missed this as I was driving past the airport, but the gleam of the polished aluminium caught my eye. I have no info on this particular plane, but good god it is in nice shape. Edit, I think it is this one.

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Vanagon – check valve on windscreen washer line

Boy oh boy, this is heady stuff.

Yeah, my son thinks I am a doofus too.

Ok, I didn’t get enough of squirming on my back today when I was working on the shift linkage, I had to drop the windscreen washer reservoir and add a little check valve (found at wreckers on a Vanagon years ago).


Vanagon syncro shift linkage – rear, and a glance at the front

I’ve been noticing that I sometimes have  a little difficulty shifting into 1st and 2nd. Spraying grease on the exposed wear points on linkage under the van makes the difficult shifting go away for a while, so even I got the message that it needed some attention This diagram shows the linkage, my van has neither the shift linkage protective tube, nor the rubber boots protecting the rear bushing.

Another difference is that as well as the roll pin that secures the horizontal linkage to the vertical link right at the transmission, my van also has a horizontal bolt and nut securing the two. The linkage at the rear comes off pretty easily, except that the skid rails on the syncro does restrict access to some nuts and bolts. The roll pin is tapped out with hammer and small drift from the inside of the vertical link, that link drops from the ball link which is attached  (13 mm nut) to the shaft coming out of the transmission.  On the bench, the manky, dirty bunch.

Then all cleaned up.

The brown ovoid shaped bushing was packed inside with a mixture of old grease and grit, took a few minutes to get that clean. The roll pin is worn, I think I should get a new one  ( have a spare bit of linkage so I can get the right size at the shop).

Then it’s grease them up and put it all back into the van, with a spritz of Fluid Film. Not really happy about the rubber boot that covers the transmission selector shaft. It does grab onto a ridge on transmission, but outboard end of it doesn’t seem to attach to anything. You can see a glint of exposed shaft in the pic below.

Shot of the linkage U-joint, which seems/feels pretty good, and the forward bushing which takes a bit more effort to get to.

No road test done to see if the shifting has improved, but parked, it goes into all gears nicely.

While I was in the mood, I had a look at the linkage/joint right under the gear shift lever. You know, hidden by that box above the spare tire. I had been reading this thread on the Samba and was curious.

The plastic ears are in place, and not too badly worn. Trust me, you can’t really see because to the grease.

Cleaned off the old grease and put new stuff on.


Bike parts

My old Rossin has been gathering dust, started to clean the bits and pieces.


Sunbeam Alpine

Silly me, it wasn’t a Tiger I saw the other day (when I preoccupied with the Jag Mk2), “only” an Alpine.


ATA – T-28 flying over

Friday evening, seen from my back porch, fun for some lucky bugger. Looks like the same T-28.

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ATA – a mixed bag

Rather mundane, but I haven’t posted a plane pic in a while.

CC-177 (C17 Globemaster)

And this bunch

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Vanagon syncro left hand side transmission mount and breather line

Still buggering around wondering how to raise the front of the transmission to reduce the output flange downward angle. I supported the front of the transmission and pulled the left hand side mount off. The mount on the other side is much less accessible, coolant lines restrict access. I guess I have to say that this is pretty dull blog stuff. Maybe it helps other folks doing the same thing, but mainly I am treating it as a journal, recording what I have done and reminding me what to do if I have to do it again.

So the rubber mount there is attached to a bracket which is bolted to a beam under the van, and to an ear on the transmission.

It is hard to get a wrench up to the nut on the top of the rubber mounts, but an angle head ratchet wrench (17 mm) can be squeezed in there, and the other end attacked with a socket. I found that loosening the three 13 mm bolts that hold the bracket to the beam allows the ratchet wrench to get up there easier. One funny thing, the EKTA-like diagram above show those bolts coming in from above, they don’t. So the rubber mounts and bracket were pulled out. Here is the bracket on the bench.

I sprayed some white paint on the rubber mount bolt and transmission ear just in case the transmission shifted aand I had to get things back in the right spot. As it turned out, the other mount held things in place.

I compared the rubber mounts, upper and lower (above and below the bracket). The upper one is marked with “U”.

Looks a bit collapsed, saw the same thing with the front diff. mount. The bracket was a bit rusty so I scraped off the rust and slapped some POR on it. While the paint was drying, I had a look at the part of the transmission that was exposed with the mount removed. I found the transmission breather hole which, in the syncro, has a plastic tube leading somewhere higher so that the vent won’t take in water if wading in the van. Sometime in the van’s history the transmission was rebuilt and the breather tube was reconnected to the hose barb on the transmission via a short length of rubber hose. It came off too easily so I used some clear PVC tubing to connect it (heating the stock tubing with heat gun and trying to get it on the hose barb was not a success).

It really is a tighter fit than it looks in the picture, I’m confident it will stay in place. I reassembled the mount, with the lower rubber now on top, and had a few minutes of “quality time” re-installing. I did not succeed in finding any new ideas on adjusting the transmission angle, but I am glad I got the breath line better secured.

PS I also re-installed the “new” propshaft I was babbling on about a few posts back, I had replaced one of the U-joints since. Well, the upshot of all of this was that the driveline vibrations are pretty well gone. Still a very, very slight vibe at 50 kph, but it is really acceptable.


Jag MkII

Spotted locally.


Robotic lambs

The LED eyes give them away.

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She’s due to, what’s the word, farrow in the next few days.

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Animal farm

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Vanagon syncro propshaft comparison

Took apart 2 stock propshafts. The rusty red one is an ’86 model, the black one is from a later van (I don’t know the year). You can see that there are a few minor differences. One important one is the machined end that houses the internal bushings. Note the thickness of the internal bushings, the newer shaft has much thinner bushings. Both units have shafts that are the same diameter so it’s the bushing housing that is a smaller diameter in the newer shaft. Also the shaft lengths differ, the older one being longer. The newer shaft has the o-ring in a groove, the older one has a rebate to hold ring.

Some more trivia:

1. the black (newer shaft) had one U-joint that looked stock and one that had a blanked off grease nipple. I am assuming orig. U-joint was replaced
2. The rusty red one, from my van and I am confident that is stock, does match the diagram I posted in previous blog entry. The black one does not match in some details.
3. both internal shafts are same diameter
4. overall length of shafts differ by a couple of millimeters. The black, (newer), shaft being shorter.
5. all the socket cap screws are the same
6. I haven’t found, and this does not mean none exist, any vw part number on both shafts
7. giubos are identical
8. the part of the joint that mates to the trans/front diff, on both shafts are as identical as machined sand cast parts can be
9. the diameter of the propshaft proper is pretty well identical on both shafts (3.155″)
10. both shafts assembled with U-joints out of  IN phase

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Giubo end of Vanagon syncro propshaft

I played around with a spare propshaft that I got the other day (thanks again SImon). I installed it in the van as is and it did have a vibration at around 50 kph. Wasn’t a huge vibration, but it wasn’t acceptable. Believe it or not, but it felt like the vibration was to the rear rather than the front. I took the shaft out and set about taking the giubo end apart. First thing noticeable was the U-joint had slight axial play in one of the crosses. I took off the circlips at that joint and they measure approx 0.050 in thickness. I installed a pair of 0.060 circlips and that eliminated the play. The ears of the joint look a little beaten. Also, doesn’t look like the circlip is fully in the groove does it? But it is… I think 🙂

I still could detect play at that end and guessed it might be from wear in the internal shaft and bushings. So the giubo and end u-joint had to come off.

First, here is a pic of the end of the shaft.

If you look closely you can see the head of a bolt in the inside face of the U-joint. This is to plug a grease nipple port and indicates the joint is not stock. Close up of that area.

Before taking things apart, I sprayed some paint on the works so I could put it all back together in the same orientation.

Then off with the bolts that hold the giubo to the propshaft. The giubo and joint pull out. The shaft doesn’t look too bad on the end.

Then remove the bots holding the giubo to the joint.

That end doesn’t look too bad either. You can see the shaft is thicker in the two spots, that’s where it rides on the internal bronze bushings in the prop shaft. Have a look in the hole in the propshaft. There’s an o-ring in a groove at the end. My other propshaft had the o-ring in a rebate, not a groove.

Now the giubo, sitting roughly in place, and it had washers on either side. Pretty cruddy washers, and my other propshaft did not have them.

With the giubo removed from the joint, I reinserted the shaft into the hole and tried it out for size. It felt pretty good, no slop. So where did that looseness come from that I felt when it was all assembled?

I decided to lube it all up and put it back together. I used a band clamp to squeeze the giubo into shape to let me get the bolts back in to attach joint to rubber.

And same technique when attaching assembly to propshaft.

Well, all assembled (minus those washers) and it feels nice and tight. No play like before. So I put it back into the van and had a test drive. It still has some vibration (again around 50 kph) but it is less. I had to say that didn’t I? Honestly it is better but not what I want. So the shaft is coming off again and I’ll take it to the driveline shop for spin balancing.

Addendum: In the comments Rob advised replacing that U-joint. I agree and I should have mentioned this in the post. I’ll ask the driveline guy to do it this time.

More addendum: Diagram of the end of shaft. Does it look to you like of some sort of cap at the end of the internal tube or is it integral to the inner bushing? I’m thinking the former is the case. Also note that it is a nut and bolt that holds the giubo to the U-joint yoke. In the propshaft above its a bolt, with the propshaft yoke having threaded holes. My other propshaft has same attachment method shown in diagram. No washers between giubo and shaft shown on diagram either. I bet there were some minor changes made to the shaft during production.