albell

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Vanagon – the ignominy, the shame, the wages of procrastination (ball joint)

A few weeks ago I replaced an upper ball joint on the van. This was not preventative maintenance, this ball joint was dead.

The boot was ripped, and you can see the grease had long gone. I have no excuse for this lack of awareness of the joint failing. (You know, I think it might even be the original joint)


 I replaced the other side’s joint some years ago, blog post of that here. Good god, it was back in 2009. It was a real chore to get the tapered part of the joint out then and I expected more of the same this time. But apparently god smiles on fools, and the tapered part practically fell out of the steering upright. Back in 2009 I used a Lemforder joint, which I think are pretty darn good. But couldn’t get hold of one quickly this time and went for the Febi version. I don’t think I would have touched any other brands, those two are the best. So do you think the Febi is actually made in Germany?  Says Germany, but not made in Germany 🙂


Yeah so that all went fine, no drama in the install.


But I made life harder for myself. That strange looking tool in the picture of the new joint on Bentley may give a hint. The too was my quick effort to make something to hold the shock shaft while the nut is turned. There is a neat VW specialty  tool for this.


And during my previous spring removals I’ve not needed to hold the shock shaft, the nut came off land went back on easily. But this time there must have been some damage to the threads and the nut was not cooperative. The tool was made from scrap hence the unusual shape at the business end. Really just amounts to a rod with a slot in the end to hold the flattened end of the shock shaft.


Yeah I was swapping springs again. Back in 2013 I installed 2wd westy front springs. They are a few cm longer and the wire diameter was ( and I remeasured) only about 0.5-0.8mm smaller than the syncro springs. I can’t give you better measurements than that, the paint thickness muddies things up. Back then I thought they were really the same wire diameter. But now I wonder. Anyway, the post about that is here. Over time I started to think maybe the syncro springs were stiffer or that the 2wd springs had sagged. Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t, but I had my old syncro springs sand blasted and I repainted them. Here is the shorter syncro spring beside one of the 2wd westy springs I removed.


Well I don’t know. Probably should have left them in. But I didn’t and I had the fun struggle of spring swap. The other two tools I find useful, if not essential, in the spring swap are a ratcheting strap clamp to pull the shock into alignment and a guide tool to screw into the shock shaft to lead the shaft up through the shock tower. I made the latter years ago with a wooden knob for a handle. After I conked my forehead with the knob when I pulled up hard, but the rod was not screwed on securely to the shock, I changed the knob for a T handle.

Here’s the original at work. 


And the highly recommended T handle version. Just a bit of tubing welded to the end.


And… I finally, after a year, got around to replacing the driver’s side lower control arm inboard bushing with a polyurethane version. The original was just thrashed. All distorted, the control arm pushed forward in the mount . Hard to see in the pic, sorry.


This pic shows it better, you can see rubber bushing in the aft end but not on the forward end. Forward end of bushing all worn off.


Getting the rubber bushing out of the arm requires some threaded rod and bit of this and that to make a little press.


The polyurethane bushings are two part with a common sleeve, so it’s quite easy to push them in the arm.


Well that sums things up. But it doesn’t convey the agony of an old man on a gravel driveway working, again, on the van 🙂 

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Vanagon – that freshly painted hitop just north of S.F.

Simon spotted a nice 4wd sprinter spoiled with the ludicrous trasheroo.

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Vanagon – Thule ski box lid struts

Hey you know the strut I used to support the westy kitchen lid? This blog post. I had three left over looking for a home. Got to use two today in my old and venerable Thule ski box. Phil is wrong when he says it’s a clunky, ugly, and heavy old thing. Its a classic, and it’s strong with double wall construction.

But it has one annoying feature when used on the van, the stock support strut doesn’t hold the lid open enough for loading some things.

Gas struts to the rescue!

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Vanagon – awning guy line tensioners

Catching up on blog posts, some little things…

I have a Shady Boy awning on the van. Gosh, it must be well over ten years now and it’s worked well for us. But I never liked the plastic tensioners used on the guy lines. Came across some nice tensioners online, made by MSR and called “Camring Cord Tensioners”. Here’s a link to Mountain Equipment Coop listing. They looked pretty cool, thought I’d make some knock offs.

But whoa, you say, why bother making them when they are only about 11 bucks for four? Good question, I have no good answer. And to be honest, a little bit of me dies when I copy a good idea. 

Ok, enough of that. Here’s a pic from the MEC link of the originals.


Nice aren’t they? Nicely finished and anodized. I just guessed about the dimensions and used the stock I had on hand to come up with these.


Thicker wall tubing and not as nicely finished. I replaced the old Shady Boy guy lines with some paracord and the tensioners.


I suppose if you are going to shamelessly copy a design make sure you copy a good design. And this is a good design, tensioner slides up and down on the guy line easily with a twist of the ring, and holds firmly when set.

Shoot, forgot to give approx dimensions for my copies. OD is 1.25″, 1/8″ wall, 1/2″ long. 1/4″ holes, 3, drilled 90 degrees apart.

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Vanagon – Sexy Simon’s van in Guerrero Negro

With the paint fresh and fragrant, the vanagon heads north up the peninsula.



Shake that money maker…

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Vanagon – It’s a delicious spangle!

Just got the pics from Simon in Mexico, and the van is painted. Its Honda sunburst orange with black strip on window line and rockers. Simon says the colour really changes with the light and you can see that in the pics. I think it looks great, almost lickable 🙂 


Addendum May 12, 2017.

Trevor commented that it reminded him of the new Air Canada livery. Yeah, I can see that .

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Vanagon – Simon’s hightop primed

Maybe more bits and bobs should have been taken off the body? I’m guessing the next pics will show the colour choice.

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