Archive for May, 2014

Vanagon – new wheels and tire fitment

Too long i have suffered the jibes from fellow syncro owners about the teeny stock wheels and tires I use. Finally I found some wheels that might let me join the real mens club. They aren’t my first choice but the size, price, and offset were all right. They are 15×7 Mercedes 15 hole alloys from an early ’90’s 380SL. The offset is 25 which I kinda like, I wanted good clearance from tire to suspension components. Another good thing about these particular wheels is the thickness of the casting where the lug stud goes through. In this case it is only 11mm, some can be as thick as 44mm. I would have to install longer studs for any wheel thicker than 11mm and that was something i did not want to do (its a pain to do the front studs on a syncro). This wheel thickness will come up later.

Anyhoo, I’m not going to go into all the tire choices in this post. Im just going to show you what I did today to see if one particular tire would fit. The tire in question is a Yokohama Geolander GL AT-S 225/70 15. They have I think a load rating of 100, which is my, probably flexible, lower limit.

Here’s one bolted up. I sanded this one a bit (they all need painting) to try out a primer. The wheels have to have the stud holes drilled out to fit on the 14mm Vanagon studs. They were originally drilled to accept 12mm studs. You also have to get new lug nuts, the small seat ball type as opposed th the conical Vanagon variety. I got the hardware from T3 Techniques, and I also have received a lot of great advice from the owner Chris over the years.



Here is the small ball seat lug nut from T3 Techniques.




The trial fit was done on the rear wheel for a few reasons. First, the rears have the shortest stud projection, just flush with the stock steel wheels. With the alloys I got about 6.5 turns of the nut to hand tight. Now with the thread pitch being 14X1.5 mm that means the nut goes on 9.75mm. I would have liked more, 14mm would be the same as with the steel wheels. I don’t know if this amount of thread engagement is not sufficient, anyone have any thoughts?

edit: 9.3 turns would give me 14mm of thread engagement. That would be grand, but there is a German notice of requiring 6.4 turns minimum. So what to do? I am leaning towards longer studs for the rear. The front studs might be ok, there is a couple of threads exposed with the stock steel wheel, unlike the flush situation on the rears.

The second reason to check fitment on the rear wheels is to determine if rim and tire combo clears the trailing arm. I made a rough template of the tire profile from published data. What I am not 100% sure about is the sidewall height. I initially made the template so that the sidewall height was measured from the lip of the rim. When i held the template up to the wheel it interfered quite a bit with the trial arm. I thought this strange as I am sure I have heard of this size tire fitting the stock trailing arm, even on rims with higher offset. So i trimmed the template so that the sidewall height includes the tire bead section.

Not a great picture but you can see the notches I cut and you can see there is not only about 1/4″ of clearance between template and the pinch weld seam on the trailing arm. My template does not have radiuses corners so that might exaggerate things a bit.



I don’t know if this close up illustrates the clearance any better.




I’m reconsidering this tire size based on this quick and dirty measurement.

The other worry is that with a wide tire and a 25 mm offset rim there might be interference with the sliding door. Well no worries there, it clears with about 10mm to spare (close to my paper calculation).


I’m going to have to pour over the tire choices once more. Please, don’t mention Nokians, I know, I know.

During all this my friend was giving me skeptical looks.





Vanagon – stock tire carrier replacement idea

I should have spent the time finishing the rear bumper build but over the last two days I grabbed a couple of hours alone in the shop and tried out an idea.
When I do get the rear tire carrier built, and I am almost there, I will be moving the spare from the front to the back. I guess I didn’t need to tell you that. The free space up front, what to use it for? Well I have that big assed AGM battery that I’m struggling to find a spot for. Why not put it up front? There are arguments pro and con for this idea, but I decided to have a go, at least a start.

There were three kinds of stock spare tire carriers. The tray type, in two sizes, and a cage type that you don’t see that often here in North America. Here’s a pic.


I like that carrier and i like Tigerbus’s take on it.

I can’t make anything as nice as that, but here goes with my attempt.

I’m using aluminum scraps again. Schedule 40 1 1/4″ 6061 pipe (OD about 1.66″, wall thickness 0.140″), some Shmoo shaped 1/2″ 6061 plate that were left oversĀ from a water jet cut, a bit of 3/8″ plate that was cut out of a boat hull, and some 1″ x 2″ box section 6061.

The Shmoos were welded onto the ends of the pipe, attachment points to match up with the hinges on the van spore tire tray.


And at the other end the pipes notched and welded to the box section at a bit of an angle so it fits up against the back of the bumper where the stock tire tray bolts up.


Trial fitting.


More or less fits.


The rather skanky bit of hull.


Yeah, the other side is painted. That made welding a bit of a chore.


Tacked in place.


I did a full weld-out on the unpainted side. I welded it hard and fast so that the paint didn’t fume too much. I should have used the wire feed welder instead of TIG.



Now at the front, I will be adding more stuff there, coming up in front of the bumper similar to the Tigerbus version. Im also going to add some side pieces that will angle up to meet the frame rails on the van. These bits will add side protection and will be additional points of attachment to the van. I do worry about the thing falling off with that big battery.




Vanagon – bridging ladder

it’s been a while since i posted anything, busy at work and at home. I have some Vanagon stuff to post and I’ll get on it as I can.

This post is about a bit of fiberglas grating I picked up to use as a bridging ladder. I’ve been looking for off cuts of the is material for quite a while now and last week I finally found some. The source is interesting but I really can’t say where. This kind of bridging ladder is commonly used in the UK and Europe but I don’t see it being used much over here in Canada. Here is a link to a UK source.

What I found was slightly different as what you see on that link, it has extra webbing on one surface and a very coarse anti slip grit embedded on same surface. Also it had been partially cut, annoyingly so as it screwed up a neat division into two long usable pieces. And it is about 38mm thick, major grid size is about 1 1/4″ square. You have to love the mix of measurements.



I cut it it to get one good strip and gave it a test. You can see how it bends but doesn’t break.




They left over strip, still with the partial cut in it, was strong enough to make a ramp.


And the un cut section supports well.




I have to explain why i want something like this. On logging road spurs you often find water drainage trenches cut across the narrow road. Seems to be the norm nowadays instead of installing a culvert. The trenches can be deep and steep sloped, either by design or by the drainage water eroding the sides. Sometimes the shape of the trench makes a perfect tank, I mean, Vanagon trap. You only need a little help to get across and I think even one bridging ladder will do.