Archive for November, 2013

Inside the Felder Industries Estate

Exclusive spy shot of the private service station in the beleaguered Felder Industries estate.

checkthetiresMegalomaniac industrialist J. “Feltzy” Felder  having tire pressure checked by child attendant

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Outboard motor mount for canoe

Success! I finally found the motor mount for my canoe. Eat your heart out Felder Industries! First, some old shots of my canoe. It’s an 18′ cedar canvas canoe made by Bill Greenwood in the early ’70’s. (I snagged the pics from my long neglected website. I really should move the stuff over to this blog).

And now the mount. I suspect it was made by Greenwood. IMG_2917 IMG_2918 IMG_2919 IMG_2920

Update: I climbed up and took a pic of the mount on the canoe, the dusty canoe. Hope this helps Paul, you can see the mount pinches the inwhales and is pushed as far back as the angles on the mount allow.



You never know what will be next

Pulling stuff out of my workshop, left right and centre. And now, may I present my Onager. I made it one afternoon, oh must heave been 10  8 years or so ago. Throws a golf ball a fair distance, but crikey it is a little nerve wracking to cock. Maybe someday I’ll take a vid of it in action.



More finds during my hunt

Still looking for the car amp and canoe motor mount, uncovering more forgotten things. This time, would you believe, Polish theatre and opera posters from the ’70s. I had to take some quick pics of some of them.


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Trenching tools – East meets West

So I’m searching high and low in the workshop for a couple of things, things I recall putting away but now can’t find. Driving me batty, but there was a silver lining – I found the W.German trenching tool that had gone awol for the last few years. It was a necessary bit of kit for the van and during it’s absence I was forced to use my back-up, an E. German trenching tool.

BTW, the pair are on my old sliding crosscut table on the table saw. It’s what I use when cutting aluminum on the saw.

OK, West on the left, East on the right. West uses a spring loaded push button mechanism to adjust/lock blade angle. East uses a threaded collar.


1965? Almost as old as me.


Western tool has an independently adjustable pick.


Only markings on the Eastern tool “Made in GDR”. This is strange, why would it be in English? An export model?


The wooden handle on the GDR tool looks like it is Beech. A more pronounced grain on the W. German model, perhaps Ash.

Addendum: for those out there questioning the “MADE IN GDR” stamp, here is a rubbing.



I’m thinking the shovel is an export item, made for the military surplus market.


Mercedes Benz L 319D

This last summer my neighbour bought this MB L319D from the son of the original owners. There are many stories attached to this van, obviously, if you read the back doors.









Vanagon – look what the cat dragged home

It’s a bit of a mess, a 2.0 litre ABA engine from, I think, a ’96 Jetta. I can’t confirm date yet, but what looks like a throttle position sensor on the throttle body makes me think it is an OBDII engine. Young guy, keen on cars, was selling it and I gave $70 to him to have the pleasure of taking it home and finding out just how nasty it is.

He had it stored outside and I think rain got in one spark plug hole and filled a cylinder with water. It was water, not coolant. I started taking it apart right out beside the van mainly to make moving it easier.




No chips or gouges but definite wear. Engine has I think around 200k km on it.


Head off and there you go, water.




Close up of water damaged cylinder.


one of the “dry” cylinders.



You might ask why would I buy such an engine? The explanation makes good friend Simon sigh and shake his head. Well it’s like this, I like I4 VW engines. The 1800 8V Digifant I had in my ’82 westy worked like a champ from ’94 until 2009 when the van got T-boned. I liked the simplicity and reliability of the engine, loved how it could run all day pushing a heavy van. I still have that engine and all the mounting gear and I am thinking of making some sort of attempt at building a new version for the syncro. The 2.0 block has the appeal of a bit more power and I think is a little smoother running.

Of course, some machining, bearing replacement, etc, etc, will need to be done. And the question of whether to put the counterflow Digifant head on the 2.0 block or keep the cross flow head is still up in the air. This is a long term project, no quick answers.

I hear you, I know. A stronger more powerful motor with good low end torque would be more suited to the syncro. There is the possibility of a low boost turbo option…


Vanagon – syncro – more underbody protection, pretty well finished

Finally got the plate done and installed. I made a change to it since the last update. The length of 1/4″ 6061 aluminum I welded more or less vertically on the outboard edge of the plate was cut off. It didn’t do what I wanted it to do, that is straighten out the warps formed by welding up the individual pieces of the plate, and it made attaching to the frame rail very awkward.

I welded on 2 lengths of 3/16″ 6061 at an angle that would allow me to attach the outboard edge to the bottom of the frame rail. The process of welding those bits (and yes, 2 pieces as I was using scrap again) on took a lot of the warpage out of the plate.  I used those 1/4-20 riv-nut type inserts in the small oval holes that are on the rail bottom. The forward hole was larger than the rest so in that spot I used a 1/4″  5/16″ riv-nut set into a small bit of 1/4″ plate and fed that plate inside the frame and forward to the hole.  The bottom of the frame rail also has large oval openings with I guess you would call flanged edges. Those flanges stop the protection plate from pulling up tight to the frame rail, sits off about 1/8″.

A small cut out at the front edge to clear the front diff mount.


Still wavy, warpy. But much less than before.


It did take a little persuasion to get it lined up and in place. The curve of the plate seems to make it much more rigid than if it were flat.


Not a great job, but not awful. I need to get some of those lower profile machine screws that I used on the propshaft plate and replace the regular phillips head screws.


Now my coolant lines, heater lines, shift linkage, are all well protected against flying rocks, branches, slush etc.

Update 22/11/2013:

So I’m a little slow on the uptake. I only realized after I installed the side plate that I could eliminate those stainless connector pieces and weld both plates together. So I pulled the plates late yesterday afternoon and welded them together. I was worried about distortion during welding and subsequent mis-alignment of the mounting holes. So I tack welded the plates together with the connectors still in place.

Here are the plates held together by the connectors.


I made small tacks on the inside and larger tacks like this on the outside of the joint, in about 5 places.


I then stitched the inside, when I say stitched I mean 3″ welds on about 10 places on the seam. Then back to the outside and stitched in the same way, but only about 5 stitches. Then I welded in between the stitches on the outside. I filled the screw holes on the propshaft plate and opened up the screw holes on the side (curved) plate for drainage. I actually opened them up more than is show in this pic.


I was surprised and happy that the holes still lined up and the combined plates screwed right up with no bother



Yeah, still no drain holes on the propshaft protection section of the assembly. I haven’t decided what kind of holes to put in.


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Surprising toolbox find

Found this little bugger in a toolbox. I won’t bore you with where I got the toolbox but it did take me aback when I saw this under some other stuff. I’m guessing it is from a 20mm Oerlikon cannon round. It is 20mm in diameter and the copper band near the base is, I think, characteristic of the type.

I was worried that it might be live. You know, tracer, incendiary, or high explosive. The insert in the base and the brass tip made me think it was not a solid ball round.  But as i was handling it I felt the brass nose piece move and so I unscrewed it. It was empty. The stamping on the nose reads “6-1 Y.A.”

I’m not 100% certain it is an Oerlikon 20mm bullet, anyone tell me for sure?

Addendum: found this page on 20mm round identification. BTW, what I have is 82mm long.






Vanagon – power distribution at the alternator mod

I’m still in a funk about all my unfinished van projects. I seem to be easily daunted these days. I can’t find things in my workshop (a key component for a swanky audio accessory and a canoe thingy I promised to take pics of for James F.), the rear bumper project is still halted, and locating that new big-assed battery has me scratching my head.

I’ve come to the realization that if I don’t make something each day I feel unsettled. I suppose this is a personal issue I have to deal with.

What to do, how do I get back in the game? I know, why not make something simple. Ok then, I’ll do something I have been thinking about for years. In the Vanagon electrical system, and this holds true for all years, the power leads from the alternator are not fused at the source. Seems suspect perhaps. I agree that the vans with the battery up front under the passenger seat complicates matters, i.e. having an unfused power lead from alternator to starter then a big assed unfused cable from starter to battery. But even if you set aside the issue of fuses, what if you are like me and add more wires to the alternator, don’t it all begin to look untidy?

For years I have been using one of those fuse boxes found in 2000 and up Golfs and Jettas (maybe others too) as a handy little fuse box/distribution panel. First in my old ’82 Westy where it was located back in the engine compartment, and latterly in my ’86 syncro up under the drivers seat to distribute and fuse accessories.

Here it is in my I4 ’82 Westy, on the battery.

And here it it under the driver’s seat of my ’86 syncro.

Same old box. But the other day I bought another from the wreckers, and this one will go back to sit by the the alternator. Now, how to mount it?

Some scrap aluminum again, you should know by now that the scrap aluminum pile is my go to place. First some 1/8″ plate cut to this shape.


See how the plate fits into the tabs on either side of the fuse box?


Holds fast.


Then, more bits and bobs of scrap and a bit of tubing are welded on to the plate. I have to apologize for the picture quality in this post, I couldn’t find my little Canon point-and-shoot and used my iPad mini instead. Maybe hard to see, but some tubing and 3 tabs added to plate


Better view, the tabs with the holes in them will fix to an unused hole in the alternator body. the other tab will rest against the inboard end of the alternator.


Now you can see what I was up to, the paired tabs fitted around the unused hole in the alternator body (will be secured by a 5/16′ stainless nut and bolt).


And here with the distribution/fuse box attached.


Another view sans box.


But, there is always a but, I think I made the mounting  bracket too long. So I cut it up and trimmed it down.


Re-welded the tube to the plate.


Much better.


I haven’t shown what’s in the box. Originally there was a thick wire coming into the box at the top right hand side. This was connected to the positive battery connection in the donor car. That wire supplies power to the bus in the box.  My box had that wire cut short, so I trimmed it right back flush. To compensate, I used the first lead on the right, the black wire at the base of an 150A fusible link. On the other end of that black wire I crimped on a ring terminal to attach to the positive stud on the alternator. Next left is a wire connected to to a 110A fusible link, then two 50A fusible links. Three 30A spade fuses protect the smaller wires in the connector on the left.


I just swapped over the wires I had connected to the alternator stud, I do need to clean things up a bit, perhaps combine the two 8 gauge wires I have added into one, didn’t have time to do that tonight.


Looks much neater than before and I think it is better than stock having the power leads fused at the alternator. I know, there is more to it, but thats for another post.



Vanagon – syncro – more underbody protection – another update

Nov 11, 2013 update on battery fitment. Not liking the way the thing sits under the van I though it might fit under the back seat. But no, the seat latch gets in the way of it sitting against the vertical face of the bench. Can’t see any other spot in the van for the bugger, looks like I will be mounting it under the van. Up front in the stock spare tire location would be workable. Ifonly I had a tire carrier on the rear, you know, attached to the bumper. But no, not me, I diddle around and haven’t finished the damned rear bumper build that is going to have a tire carrier on it!


I thought I would have buttoned up this damned project the past week, but work interfered and I was thrown an 128 lb curve ball.


A Northstar, NSB M12-210, 210 Ahr AGM battery. Yeah, sure, it is more battery than I need, but it was a gift and it is much, much bigger than Simon’s battery. The latter is the important thing.

It is approximately 13″ high, so on its side it might fit between the frame rail and the outer body box section. This space is occupied on the driver’s side by the propane tank (in a Westy), and is free and clear on the passenger’s side. The passenger’s side is where I have been buggering around with the protection plate and so before I finish attaching that I thought I should make sure the battery would fit.

What I’m trying to say is I didn’t want to add any fasteners that would interfere with fitting the battery. But… before I do the test fitting I had to replace the J pipe that connects the collector to the cat on the stock WBX exhaust. Yeah, yeah, I should have replaced it when I did the heads back in May/June. But I thought I could get the old one to work. No dice, the flares on both ends of the pipe had eroded away so much that the pipe was not making a seal. You can see the difference in this pic.


That done, back to the battery fitting. Well not quite, I got distracted by my old Simplicity walk behind, 2 wheeled tractor. Got mucking around with that and I think I might post something about it soon. Ok, now to the battery.


It is a tight fit. It sticks down about 1.5″ and I agree with you, it makes me think twice about this location. Sure, I would make a good stout plate to go underneath the battery, and come up the exposed side, but I dunno…


The almost forgotten protection plate is being held onto the frame rail by some 1/4-20 bolts for now. I’m going to make some more tabs, probably weld on, to secure it better. But I have to make up my mind about the battery location (I think it might fit under the rear seat) and if i do decide on an under the van position I have make sure the securing tabs for the plate won’t interfere with things.



Vanagon – syncro – more underbody protection update

I’m trying to keep the momentum going, really I am. Over the last couple of days I got some work done on the side plate. The last post had me with the welded up, wavy and bent,skid plate. Now i had to mount it under the van. I didn’t think long and hard, but this is what I came up with.

A bit of 1″ X 0.25″ stainless flat bar cut up into 5 pieces, nominally 2″ long. Very nominally as I used a Zip disk in an angle grinder and I am notoriously bad at cutting a straight line.


As each bit was more or less 2″ i marked out hole locations from one end. I used a blue Sharpie as lay-out dye. You can barely see the scratches of location the hole positions.


I feel presumptuous to lecture on how to do this kind of thing. I really am a ham fisted metal worker. I say that with no false modesty because I have seen what real metal workers can do.  But allow me to go through the steps I take and maybe some of you might find something I say useful.

I scratched out the hole locations using my digital callipers. Then I centre punched on location using a cheap optical centre punch purchased from Lee Valley, direct link here. Then I like to make the punch mark a little larger with a regular punch. After that I drill pilot holes using a small bit, something less than 1/8″. The reason for that is the thin bit catches and hangs on to the punch mark better than a larger sized bit. I have the workpiece on the drill press table held in my hand. Allows the workpiece to move around a bit to get aligned. With a small bit there is little chance the drill will spin the workpiece around and gash your hand. With the size of holes I am drilling here, the next drilling step is the full sized hole. I’m drilling for a 1/4″X20 tapped hole and so I would be using a #7 drill bit (or something like 5.01mm). I put the part in a drill press vice for this drilling.

Now I try, in this blog at least, to avoid absolutes. But I am telling you now something you should heed. When drilling in stainless steel your drill bits have to be sharp and of good quality. Really, any other bits are just the road to perdition. What ever country of origin you like your bits to be from, buy the best you can. I think at one time nothing could beat US made made twist drill bits. But there are excellent bits from Australia, the UK, and Europe. Price is the discriminating factor, buy the most expensive you can find. It really is false economy to buy cheap bits (unless all you drill is wood).

A good resource for basic and advanced metalworking is Mrpete222 on YouTube, here is the link. And learn to sharpen your bits, might take some time, and god knows it took a good time for me to learn, but you can freehand sharpen bit larger than 1/8″ with good results. When drilling stainless a sharp bit is mandatory. If you see the bit is not cutting stop immediately and change out bits or sharpen. I use cutting oil, the sulphated kind, when machining stainless, I’d say it was mandatory to use cutting oil unless your only going through thin stock and then heading right over to the TIG welder and don’t want any contaminants.

Enough of the lecture, back to the project. The holes drilled then on to tapping. Same advice for taps, buy the best you can, cheaper taps work ok in soft metal, but in stainless and the like you need the best quality.


Poor pic of tap starting in hole.


Then i held the parts in the vice and wailed on them with hammer to make a slight bend.


The threaded stainless tabs connect the new plate to the existing propshaft plate. I had to make the holes in both plates elongated to give me wiggle room to get things in place. And remember the new plate is curved and needed a bit of persuasion to get in place. I snapped this pic tonight, in the dark. The vertical part of the plate has not been fixed to the frame rail, it needs to be pushed up about an inch. but believe it or not, as is, it is quite secure and stiff.



I’ll get better pics tomorrow when i fix the outboard side to the frame rail.