Archive for category syncro

Trips – mostly Klanawa

The day after fixing the coolant hose problem we went on a trip. Of course, I was nervous. Maybe foolhardy to go off on such a trip , out of cell coverage, long walks to get help, without doing a better shake down of the van. A 35 year old van. But off we went anyway 🙂

Headed to Port Renfrew on the off chance we could get through RCMP roadblocks and get to our favourite spots northwest of the town.

There is a big logging protest in the area, as of writing I think there have been over 800 arrests of people protesting the logging of one of the last remaining old growth watersheds, the Fairy Creek watershed.

Wikipedia entry here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairy_Creek_old-growth_logging_protests

We got stopped by a private security roadblock well south of the bridge over the Gordon river. The stated reason for the roadblock was road work further on. Yeah, right. Very uncommon to hire private security when doing road work. Makes my blood boil just thinking about it.

Turned around and headed to Cowichan Lake via Harris main ( also know on as Pacific Marine Road. This road is paved and a popular part of a circle route back to victoria via Cowichan.

At the lake we headed west on the south shore road , and back onto rough gravel. Onward west, and into the Nitinat watershed. Nipped down the wee road to check out Nitinat river falls camping area. We’ve camped there a couple times before, but there were others there this time and so we headed back on main road, onward to the bridge across the Nitinat , and looked for spur road that we had gone up 10 years ago…

I took wrong spur and ended up on the south side of Worthless Creek, road got steep. Nothing we aren’t used to, steep enough to have to use G gear on the syncro, and ease through a couple of ditches across the road.

Here’s the approx location.

Yes, that’s Nitinat lake in the distance. We could even make out the kite surfers ( binoculars ).

You might think us crazy, but we love having a view even if it’s on a rocky logging road.

The marine fog, low cloud, the next morning .

Off again Klanawa Main. Oh btw, passed Flora Lake and the forestry campsite. Pleased to see the campsite has been fixed up again. Few years ago we saw the access road washed out.

Then down Klanawa main logging road. Stopped at a spot on the upper reaches of the river. We have stopped here on other trips, lunch spot. As expected the river at this point is dry. Forst pic looking upstream, second downstream. And yes, others have been here and left fire pits on the gravel.

Further on down we came across some helicopter logging. Erickson by the look of it.

Timber Harvesting

Sikorsky Skycrane, I was surprised. I knew they were used for this, and have seen them used on the mainland some years ago. But to be honest I didn’t think they still were in service.

About a minute and a half round trip, from picking up logs to dropping them and return.

Then onward down the river to find on of our high view point camping places ( shown in other posts labelled Klanawa). Passed the Tscowis creek campsite, no one there, but we wanted high. First try we found the road trenched, de activated. Damn. Then onward again and found that Darling main road is washed out close to Klanawa river.

Then back track to get the the other end of Darling main, found some interesting things and also found road to another high spot choked with alder. Tried to drive thru but gave up after about 100 m.

So then back up Klanawa main to little lake we have camped at a few times before. And it’s been logged on one side!

That kinda spoils the ambience. Interestingly though, found some sundew plants there, never saw them at that spot before.

So back again to the Tscowis site.

It wasn’t that bad. Very little traffic on the road nearby. Mind you the creek is unusually cold. We haven’t been there at any time when the water is bearable for more than just a quick dip.

Spent two nights there. Did nothing but read,eat, drink, lounge.

And one more thing… first night on this trip noticed the fridge not working well. It was lit, but not cooling. Just like what happened on last trip , last year. I posted recently that I had cleaned the burner jet and the fridge was working great at home. So I figured the jet was partially clogged again. I’m thinking the bumpy roads is stirring up some contaminant in the propane supply and causing this blockage at jet.

I pulled the fridge after we got to Tscowis. Cleaned the jet the best I could, and back in it went. Fridge lit and worked like a champ! Close to showing plumbers crack here.

Return trio to home uneventful. Went back via Cowichan lake and Duncan. All in all about 550km.

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Vanagon – replacing rusted rear spring perch

Recently noticed the right side trailing arm spring perch was rusty, lifting from arm and the bump stop hanging on by a hair.

I think I showed the perches I made in recent post. Pretty well copy of stock except no flange on top of bump stop. Don’t know why I didn’t make flange.

But here are all the pics I have of the perches I made. Approx 1/8” steel, bump stop made from solid stock ( no right sized pipe handy) hollowed out a bit. Welded to plate on back side . Hdpe on top, with recess for spring pig tail. Those counter sink holes are a mistake, thought I’d screw plastic to the plate… no need .

Anyway… today I took van to work and got on with the rusty perch. It was ugly. Lifting at the rear. The plate is held to the arm by spot welds. So it’s common for rust to get between plate and arm. I thought I’d got all the spot welds with drill, but missed one. Chisel and hammer was the motivating force to lift the plate. Then power wire brush and flap disc.

I cleaned that mess up more. All the rust. Treated with rust converter. Ground down to metal around perimeter and clumsily welded on the plate. primed and painted. Notice the holes… why? I have no idea why I wanted plug welds in them. I tried but the rust preventative coating I put on… made welding not nice. So I stopped. Oh but before I welded the perch on I drilled and tapped the bump stop. Put a set screw in for now. I was worried I needed the flange that’s on the stock bump stop. The tapped hole makes it possible to screw on some facsimile if needed.

And plastic on , spring on, etc etc.

It all works but I’m not happy. Recently found out that the euro 16” Syncro had and angled aluminum spring perch, matched the spring angel better. I wish I had known this before. It would have given me more confidence to do what I had a notion to do. I need more courage. And I was considering a swivel spring perch. But no, I could have, but didn’t. Coward.

But it all works, good enough for now. But I’m not happy. Things can be made better.

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Vanagon Syncro – some shift linkage mods

During the engine and trans out ordeal the last month or two, I added a couple of mods. One was a new shifter “cup”. The part that fits over the ball thingy attached to the selector shaft.

I had made a few different versions of this part over the years and was using a simple cylinder shaped aluminum one. Decided to swap in a stainless version I made some years ago. Also made aluminum version of roughly same design but I liked the stainless. You can tell which is which in this pic.

You see both are split bottom designs. Doing away with the stock method of a roll pin to attach to the shift rod. I think it’s better with the bolt. No slop at all. Here it is with boot on. The fit of the ball in the cup is close, not binding close, but close. Lubed with sylglide.

Here’s the old oily dirty simple version. oh and you can see the guide bushing in its bracket. And I had put in a zerk fitting on the cup.. why? for gods sake.

Another thing I did was make a new plastic bushing that guides the shift rod just infront of the above part. My Syncro did not come with the booted bushing found in later syncros or the ones with the “bad weather package”. Consequently the bushing gets hit by road spray and dirt and slush etc. You have to routinely clean and grease it. I’d like to have boots on it, but until then I made a Delrin bushing with a Teflon liner. I won’t grease it. To reduce the possibility of the Delrin transmitting more vibrations to the shift rod than the softer stock bushing, I added an o ring around the middle, located in a groove. The computer model shows the groove in a refined model. I added similar groove to the part after I took the pic. The grooves at each end are for boots if I can find suitable.

Yeah, always for me the first go round of making something brings up things I’ve overlooked.

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Vanagon – spotted in Graz

Peripatetic Simon is enroute to Croatia. He stopped at Graz and sent some pics of two Vanagons. I kinda like this style of hightop, most often seen on military vans. Note the double pane plastic side and rear hatch windows.


Quick camera action, snapped this syncro doka. Sure looks good.


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Simon’s syncro Get-Away-Van

Update: it is for sale, samba ad here…. link

Washed and waxed, and I think up for sale soon. Only 88,000 km (55,000 miles), correction 84,099 km (50,459 miles)  body, transmission, engine, all in great shape. I’ve driven it and honestly, it drives very smoothly. I wish my van felt half as good.

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Some pics from Simon’s trip

Some of the pics Simon sent from his last trip.

Simon writes:

“We had a great time, through Washington, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and home to the island. Altogether maybe 5000 KM? (I wasn’t tracking it). Only a couple of minor issues with the van; my electric locks went funny one day into the trip and so I disconnected them and went manual for the rest of the journey, also my window wash nozzles weren’t spraying, figured out it was a kink in the line at the pump, had a fun time fixing it with a lighter and a golf tee in cold campground in Yellowstone.”

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Trip – fogust in the Klanawa valley

Quick report on a four day trip into the Klanawa valley here on Vancouver Island. It’s the main east west valley between Nitinat watershed and the Alberni Inlet. We like this watershed despite it being extensively logged, you don’t meet many other travellers and it has a few special spots. We’ve exported this area a few times, “Klanawa” and the search box on the right will bring up previous posts.

First night was at a small lake. You have no idea how good it felt swimming in that lake after the 3.5 hr hot and dusty drive. Ok it’s hyperbole, but jeez it felt good.



I shouldn’t have been surprised, but the fog from the Pacific was thick the next morning. Dripping wet and chilly. So off we went further west into the fog and found a hill to climb out of it.


About 450 meters elevation we broke through the fog.


We parked on the side of the hill, facing south. By about 2 pm the fog retreated back to the coast. We got too hot, drove down to the Tsocowis river/creek and cooled off. This creek never seems to warm up, its not head numbing cold but it’s not “let’s just float around and enjoy life” warm either.


Than back up the hill and set up for the night. 


The road went a bit higher but no better southern view up there. Spot the van?


Yup, the fog/cloud creep back in the evening.

We smelled propane that day, I tried (soapy water) to find the leak. Somewhere at the tank I thought. No luck at detecting it. Ran out of propane during that night. Sheesh. So on Monday we packed up and drove into Bamfield to fill up with propane. Also took the guard off the tank and was able to get a bit of tightening on one fitting. Or maybe it was the spit valve leaking? In any event the leak didn’t re occur. Thought about staying at the campsite at Pacheena Bay, but decided to go back to our spot on the hill after some unsuccessful exploring for the other perfect spot. Do you get the idea we like high places with no one else around?

Yup, fog back in the morning. Actually I forget which morning.

Next day we drove back down into the clouds ( to be honest, the entire valley cleared up around 12 pm). This shot gives you an idea of the maximum grade of most of the roads. I think this is about 18, maybe 20%. Sometimes you find it steeper, and often it’s quite a bit steeper around the switch back corners.


Well that’s it, short report. To be honest it all seems much of a muchness and pretty dull stuff. But the pics don’t do justice at all to how spectactular the area is, and really how much fun it is to explore.


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Trip – last weekend

Weather great, didn’t get lost, only one thing broke* on the van. The main logging roads were rougher than usual, seems that a lot of  the gravel has gone and the bigger rocks underneath are exposed. It’s like driving on very rough cobble.


*a leak on the fresh water line from the new pump to faucet. Manifested itself by a little drip under the sliding door. Didn’t do a field repair, the leak seemed to be in part of line behind the fridge. Wasn’t bad enough to go to all the bother of pulling fridge. But at home, pulled fridge, and I lifted the entire floor (to get it dry). Found the tiny leak at a section of hose that ran adjecent to the fridge combustion chamber. It’s my fault, I secured the line back there with tie downs but too close to that chamber. I’m guessing that the new water pump made enough pressure to weaken the hose that was softened by the heat. Was just a pinhole leak, but still…

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Vanagon – Prague syncro high top

My son is traveling and I have been bugging him to find me some T3 action. He was in Beirut and I thought he might get lucky and find one there. Nope, but he came through with this nice syncro high top in Prague.

I very much like the sticker on the front door, “syncro Czech team”.

A quick sketch of Canadian version 🙂

Or the over used syntax…

And one for Simon 🙂

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Vanagon – those boring wheels on the van

Yes, this is Simon’s latest find. 88 syncro high top. Getaway van conversion, done over on the mainland (BC). I’ll have more to say about this van and pics of the interior when Simon is finished tidying it up. It’s a good looking van, and only 82,000 km. The bored out wheels look ok on it, but we both agree it needs about an inch of suspension lift to perk it up.

Yes, it’s the same Fiberglas hightop that we put on Simon’s other syncro. If you had to have a hightop, and you don’t have access to the sexy European models, I think it’s the best looking option.

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Vanagon – making a new roof rack

I get these ideas sometimes and for better or worse I follow through. Even though I have been using a perfectly good Thule rack system ( the type that has pads that sit of the roof top and hold down clamps that grip that black rail thing I installed for the purpose), the airfoil section aluminum spar material that was lying around the shop was too tempting.

Here’s the old Thule rack.

It’s the type of spar material you see used as spreaders on sail boats. This version is pretty stout, 1.5″ at thickest and a chord length of 5.5″.

The idea was to have two racks and not have them wider than the pop top. And the Thule ski box I use would be attached directly to the rack, not using the stock U bolt set up.

I cut the spars to 53″, and cut some shorties to act as pedestals. I coped the short bits to fit the airfoil section and welds them to the cross pieces. I also cut out some 1/8″ aluminum sheet and used that to close up the ends. This pic shows one with end closed, the other still open. You can see the slightly thicker section of the spar in the open end. All my attachments go to that thick section.


I glued some rubber sheet to the bottom of the closed in pedestals/feet later.


That groove running along the lenght of the spar falls pretty well on the middle of the thick section. On one end of the soars I drilled and helicoiled holes for the Thule box attachment. On the other side I used some 5/16″ riv-nuts as anchor points for eye bolts in case I need lash points for some future thing. Blanked those holes off with plain bolts for the time being.

And this is how they sit on the van.


The hold down mechanism took me a while and I ended up with a simple, if a little clunky, solution. For now the stainless brackets hook onto the rail, but when I am happy with the position of the racks I’ll bolt them to the rail and cut off the hook end. It’s a 5/16″ bolt attaching the bracket to the spar (helicoil in spar), I know it looks sort of week, I think it’s strong enough. It certainly pulls the rack down hard to the roof. Later you’ll see that I put in short sections of rubber hose to cover the naked bolts and make that part look less flimsy.

I am planning on painting the rack white, same interlux briteside one part polyurethane I used on the pop top itself. When it’s painted I think the rack will blend in with the roof, take away the raw industrial look.

It’s funny, the box still looks like it tilts towards the centre of the van. The cross spars are level, maybe the box itself is warped.


It’s not that bad looking, try to imagine it painted white. The painting will happen when the weather warms up, maybe this week. Oh and one more thing, the new rack lowers the box an inch or more.

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Vanagon – still testing the 7 rung tire carrier

I didn’t deliver it to the customer when he wanted, I wanted to test it out in my van for a spell. I’m sure it’s annoying to be told you can’t have something yet, but hey, I’m the boss 🙂

So the experiment of many rungs, what do I think? I think seven are too many. I mean there is nothing wrong with that many apart from maybe it looking a little busy. And the extra rungs are useful for lash points. The wheel carrier unit is remove able and can be shifted a couple of inches to one side of the rungs if so desired.

Here are the pics, I still have a little fussing here and there to do, some radii on sharp corners etc. That lanyard hanging from a rung is some 1/2″ Spectra line, using it as a safety back up to the wheel. It’s not needed, it’s just me being conservative. And of course the carrier is on the wrong side of the van, doesn’t matter for testing purposes.

And I’m thinking, I’m thinking of cutting the bottom rung and verticals to just below the bottom hatch attachment point. 


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Vanagon – Simon’s syncro doka is for sale

 

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Samba ad is here

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Vanagon – Nathan meets very nice syncro tin top

Addendum April 16, 2016. Very nice install of  Garmin Nuvi 44LM in ashtray, pics at bottom.

Pics sent to me by Nathan, he met local owner of this really nice blue syncro tin top. The pics tell the story.

   
    
    
   

   
   

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Vanagon – Nathan’s new wheels

I think they are 16″ Mefros. I’ll have to ask about the tires. Certainly looks perky. Hey, and note the tire carrier 🙂

  

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Vanagon – small led light bar

I’m getting a lot of guff about this light bar. 

“oh it’s so cute” 

” hey you know the front of your van is starting to look like you”

” you call that a light bar?”

And then I get this, not for the sign, but Bender’s face.

  
And this.

  
But the best one is this.

  
Yup, that’s it.

  

It’s this light bar from Banggood.com

54W 18LEDs Car Work Light Bar Spotlight White Projector Lamp

I chose it for its small ( yes, I chose small) size, had decent reviews, and had IP68 waterproof rating. It’s also a spot rather than flood beam pattern but saying spot does not imply that it is a carefully focused beam. My thinking was that I wanted a spot beam to project down trails/logging roads. And also I was pretty curious about these light bars. And god knows you see a lot of them on burley trucks around here. Multiples of the smaller ones, long ones that almost span the width of the truck, on bumpers, above cabs, you know the scene.

I mounted the light bar to what I call the light bar on my bumper ( getting confusing now ), power wire routed internally, ground wire attached to bumper. And I noticed that it’s missing one of the M3 socket headed cap screws on the face plate, sheesh.

   
 
Couple more pics of the ludicrous look.

   
 

Back to the wiring. Ran the power wire up into the dash, to a relay and fuse, and it’s switched on the second position of my fog light switch on dash. That’s why you see the aux lights on in the pics. They are on the first position of the switch.

So how bright is it at night? It’s bright but not life changing bright. I took some pics but you know how that works, never really gets things right.

First pic is the aux lights alone. These are tired 55w bulbs and I have aimed the aux lights low and a little bit to the right. The aiming is little bit of an attempt to catch any suicidal deer.

  
And this pic the led light bar and aux lights on. The led bar could be aimed a tad higher. It’s hard to believe from the pics but you could drive easily with this light combo.

 
And in this pic I’ve added my main lights (high beam). 

 

Am I happy with the light bar? Well yes, it’s fine. Good old high quality halogen spots would beat it, but for the power draw and the price I think it will do what I want it to do .

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Vanagon – Simon’s Doka

Some nicer shots of the Doka, taken by Simon. Notice the gun racks.

   
    
    
    
    
 

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Another tire carrier

Made another carrier, for good friend Simon. Some changes made from my original. I think I have a much better hatch grabbing arrangement at the bottom. Little forward pressure on the door panel but lots up vertical grip. Tire is very solid to the ladder and the ladder very solid to the hatch. Also I repositioned the tire placement to be about 3″ lower than my original so less intrusion into the rear window.

Having the tire on the hatch is a compromise. You do need to have special hatch struts to make opening the hatch an easy process. Simon has a pair of very beefy 1250 N struts that raise the landed hatch with no effort.

The top hangers and the bottom grabber assembly is made from 0.120″ thick 316 stainless. Bolts are stainless. But the lug nuts and the mounting studs are steel. 

I’m going to make some more, with some further refinements.

During the build, comparing tire placement with my original ladder.

  
Ditto.

 
It’s 1″ tubing, 1/8″ wall thickness, 6061 aluminum. Joints coped and tig welded.

   
On Simon’s van. The stainless steel hangers and bottom grabbers have been painted, but the ladder itself untouched. Simon is going to paint it later.

 
It still works as a ladder with the tire on. Step up from the RMW bumper onto the tire.

   
    

 

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’89 syncro Doka 

Good friend Simon just bought another syncro. It’s a private import 89 syncro doka that we believe was a German border guard vehicle. The jx diesel has been replaced by a 1z tdi, it has both front and rear lockers, 15″ wheels, rear cabin heater, and some rifle racks.
The van drives so very nicely. First time for me to drive a tdi powered van and it’s quite impressive. In fact, it feels more powerful than the subie 2.5 Simon has in his syncro Westy ( but that in part is due to the lower gearing and lighter weight of the Doka). The Subie is probably better for higher speed highway driving but on the trail the diesel is the champ.

Westfalia hitch.   

   Vent for turbo inter cooler.   
    
  
     
 
  
  

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Vanagon – syncro starter repair

Tuesday morning the van turned over slowly, but did start. I had to drop by a couple of places before getting to work, and on the second stop the starter died. Nothing, no click, no movement. Did a rolling start to get to work and there I checked out things ( connections, battery) and decided the starter was kaput.

I have to admit that the starter had been acting up on occasion for the last 6 months or so. Occasionally it would spin but not engage the flywheel. I agree, I should have known better.

As luck would have it, workplace close by my work had a hoist and it was free. The owner let me use it and later that afternoon I got it up on the lift.


I really wasn’t in the mood to document the job, but I did take a couple of pics and while things are fresh in my mind I have a couple of notes about the job.

Bentley does a fair job of describing the procedure, and there are a few threads on the Samba with additional tips. This was the first time I had taken out a stater in a syncro with engine in van, and I had to use both sources.

Battery disconnected

Van still on ground, S boot on air intake and air filter removed. To get access to the upper starter bolt.

Upper bolt for starter mounting removed. 17mm wrench size on nut on engine side, hex key on transmission side (forget size).

Van lifted

Driveshaft disconnected from transmission. I found the boot ripped so I took driveshaft completely out. I had a ready to go spare axle assembly and I felt chuffed about that. This kind of preparedness doesn’t happen very often

Diff lock actuator. Now this is a little bit of a bear. I found the nuts that Bentley said were welded to the bracket weren’t. Also found that the rubber sleeve covering the actuator shaft was a section of heater hose. So there was no pushing that up to drive out the roll pin, I cut the hose off. You can sort of see the cut hose in this pic.


Driving out the roll pin wasn’t as hard as I expected. Room is limited in there but I managed to do it and leave the roll pin still actuator shaft.

Now the lower starter mount nut, and the jiggle and wiggle to get the starter out. Once the gear end was out and it dropped down a bit I could remove the electrical connections. Took the starter to the bench, took apart the solenoid. Look ok I guess, it would retract under power if I gave it a helping push. Removed one end of the starter and, well, have a look.



Brushes worn down to a nub. Commutator burned, dirty, ugly.

Next morning took starter to rebuilder in town. I can’t really explain why I chose to have it rebuilt instead of buying new (or factory reconditioned, whatever that means). Starter would be ready that afternoon.

Back out to work. Had some time to swap in my spare axle, but left transmission end up attached.

Back to town for starter. Labour charge CA115 ( 84/hr rate), parts 43 bucks. New solenoid, brushes, drive gear, commutator turned, armatures checked. Looks brand new.


I really don’t like how the signal wire is attached to the solenoid by a spade connector. So I soldered on a female spade connector, then crimped and soldered on a long pigtail to the spade. Heat shrink and silicone grease. Pigtail will lead to a relay in the engine compartment that I installed a few years ago.


Diff lock actuator boot – well I copied what the previous owner did and used some hose. Polybraid stuff this time with a little window cut into it so the roll pin could be driven home. You know, the acuator shaft was pretty clean when I removed the hose so I figured it worked well enough to do same.

Getting the roll pin back in is a little tricky. What helped a bit was threading the roll pin onto the end of some stainless welding rod. It fit nicely and fetched up on the ID stamp of the rod.


Pic shows the idea without the clutter of the vacuum gizmo and the home made boot. The wire allowed me to get the roll pin in and engaged, then I could remove the wire and tap the pin home with small punch and hammer.

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I replaced the starter bushing in the bell housing. Used a 7/16″ tap and screwed the tap into the old bushing and as the tap bottomed out in the hole the bushing screwed up on the tap and out. New bushing was a bronze, oilite type bushing so I soaked in oil before hand and gave it a bit of pressure between fingers with bushing filled with oil. Fingers on open ends. I thought getting  the bushing in place would be tricky so I made a quick install tool from some brass rod. Rod turned down to fit snugly in the bore of the bushing, shoulder on the rod, and the turned down section just a little longer than the bushing length so I could feel the entrance to the hole. That worked out pretty good.

Acuator in place, starter then wiggled and jiggled up and into place. I used sealant on the mating surfaces. I made the lextrical connections when the starter was partly in place. Oh, forgot to mention, made a new wire from big stud in solenoid to alternator.

Inner cv joint connected

While van was on lift I decided to rotate tires. Noticed scraping noise on rear drivers side wheel. Pulled drum and found the adjustment lever had broken and the spring dangling. The broken bit was still in drum. Have no idea how that happened. So off comes the shoe, some prep on the metal, and I welded it back together.

Then van down to the ground, upper starter bolt installed, all the other mess in engine compartment cleaned up, the new wires from the started connected.

And yes, the starter worked. Jeez, much faster than before. My starter was dying a slow death.

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Syncro – propshaft with intermediate bearing support

John B. sent along some pics of his new propshaft. He was having some difficulty in getting the stock set up running vibration free so he went this route.

Due to some errors on my side, I can’t find his emails where he described the set up. Until I get that info I’ll post the pics as is.

   
    
    
    
    
    
   
Addendum.

In reply to Hans’ comment about CV jointed prop shaft. A couple of pics. First is the flange of my spare propshaft. Approximate measurements make it a 74mm bolt hole circle, the recess is 47mm diameter and about 2.5mm deep.

   
Stock 100mm diameter cv joint has a 6 on 86mm bolt hole circle.

 
A 108mm diameter CV joint, has a 95mm bolt hole circle.

   
I have the half shaft for that 108mm diameter CV joint. One could imagine cutting the spline section off and mounting it to a flange that mimics the stick propshaft flange, then the slides connecting to the 108mm diameter CV joint bolted to the propshaft. I hope you understand this is all just free thinking, just for discussion.

 

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Syncro and lions in Botswana

Some more great shots from John B. in South Africa. Pictures a friend of his took while in Botswana.

   
   

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Vanagon – soft shackles on tow points?

It might be a good idea, it might not. 1/4″ Spectra soft shackle to be used on the rear tow points of my bumper. On this example I have yet to trim the tails, I need to give the shackle a good pull first. one nice thing is that they pack into small spaces unlike a steel shackle. Note: 1/4″ Spectra has breaking strength of 6,000 lbs. tests have shown a soft shackle doesn’t decrease strength (infact, it can be 175% of single line strength). But, 5/16″ Spectra tests at 9,000 lbs, might be better to use 5/16″.

 

Here is link to instructions to tie this particular style. 

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Vanagon – front bumper build pretty well done

I’ll get better pics and notes when I wire up the auxiliary lights on that light bar.

   
   

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Vanagon – hatch mounted spare tire carrier

Last spring I finally gave up on my swing away tire carrier project. I couldn’t get it stiff enough for my liking. I’ll post something about that fandango and my new front bumper later. The stock location for the spare was taken over by the big assed battery so I have been using a paulchen rack to carry my spare. I really didn’t like that and last week I made a quick and dirty aluminum ladder type rack to carry the spare. I’m going to give it a bit of testing before clean up and painting, then I will post more on construction details etc.

  

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Vanagon – syncro doka

  

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Trip – Cor, what a scorcher!

Headed out Saturday morning with thoughts of the high spot campsite to catch a breeze and maybe see the Fourth of July fireworks over on Neah Bay. It has been an incredibly dry and hot summer here and the forecast was for mid 30C in the area we were heading to.


Started looking for fireworks early


It was hot and for some reason there were a lot of horseflies and deer flies around. I have to get one of the those electric fly swatters. Nearby pond was so nice, warm, peat infused water. Left you feeling very clean and refreshed. We were back and forth to the lake for a dip a few times.


Still looking for fireworks. Well no, actually we could smell smoke when we arrived, we were wondering where the fire was.


There was, and I think still is, a complete fire and BBQ ban in the back country, so we had pre cooked the food for supper. Grilled meat, grilled and marinated porcini mushrooms, a simple salad, all on a store bought tortilla.


After dinner walk and then back for the fireworks. Yeah, you probably are expecting pictures of the fireworks, but Neah Bay is 20+km from where we were and while we could see them, and believe it or not we could hear them, I couldn’t get a picture.

  

So I put up some battery powered Xmas lights for a small attempt at acknowledging the southern neighbour’s celebration.

  

In the middle of the night we noticed the moon was hazy, was it fog or smoke?

Next morning about 6:30 am, eastern sky was reddish.


Nice shot of Jake.


The smoke haze was moving in form the east.


And got worse.

  

At times like this, toast is the answer.


We packed up and decided to go exploring. The smoke haze changed the light in a strange way. Some things took on a sepia tone, but the greenery really popped out. Explored along Braden Creek, Loup Creek, got tuned back at the gate on the road near the abandoned Gordon River logging camp, doubled back to Port Renfrew and stopped at the Gordon River a few km upstream of the marina. The point and shoot camera really exaggerated the sepia tone. The iPad Air II not so much.

Braden Creek

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And the very low Gordon River

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Canon PowerShot camera really made a meal of the tinted light.

  
  
On the way home we stopped at “Shirley Delicious” coffee shop in… Shirley. Good stuff. The new wheel and tire combo worked outs great. The tires have a much, much smoother and less jarring ride than the old ones. Traction was better although on some stretches of road it is like driving on ball bearings. I didn’t notice the slight gearing handicap with the larger (5 or so percent?) diameter tires on the rough roads, but did notice it a little on some steep paved grades.

Oh, and once home we found out where the smoke was coming from. Most of it was from Pemberton over on the mainland. Some might have been from the fire at Sproat Lake near Port Alberni here on the island. An inversion layer in the atmosphere kept the smoke contained. I found this, and I admit it looks a bit dubious, satellite pic taken yesterday, Sunday the fifth.
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Vanagon – two syncros and a donkey

My rough 86 and good friend Simon’s 91 hightop. And an old donkey.

 

  

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Vanagon – some notes on new wheel install

i bought the Mercedes alloy wheels last year. They weren’t my first choice, I wasn’t really sold on the flat face look. But the price was right ($100 for 4) and I thought the offset of 25 might work out for me. The ideal offset would have been 30mm, but folks have successfully  used ( without wheel spacers) wheels with offset of 37mm on the syncro. Mind you I think those wheels were narrower than 7″. 

The whole subject of wheel choice can be confusing. Chris at T3 Technique has good information (link) and there is a very lengthy Samba thread on the topic.

With the alloys having an offset of 25mm I wasn’t concerned about clearance issues with suspension components but I was a little nervous about how much space there would be between the sliding door and the passenger side rear tire. As it turned out there is a good 3/8″ – 1/2″ space between tire and door.

Some time after I bought the alloys, good friend Simon bought a set of Mercedes 15″ steel wheels. 6.5″ wide, offset of 37mm. He offered them to me, we thought that maybe the black steel wheel look would work on my van. If they did both of us would use one of the alloys as a spare, if not then the steelies would be out spare. Simon needs a better rin for his spare.

I had one of each type mounted with tire and compared them on the van. The alloys won. The clearance between the steel wheel and both the front and rear suspension components was tighter than the alloy.

As the alloy wheels have a thicker cross section where the wheel studs locate I had to get longer studs. Well on the rear wheels anyway. The studs are a tad longer on the front wheels so I left them stock. I measured and determined I had 8.75 turns on the lug nut on the stud as it tightens up to the wheel. The thread size is M14X1.5 so that gives 13.13mm of engagement which I think is sufficient . Replacing the front studs on the syncro is a pain. Note that various alloy wheels differ in thickness in this area, some are quite thick.

I got the longer studs from Chris at T3 Technique, hands down the best source for wheel hardware. I had a spare set of rear hubs so I had the studs pressed in, sitting around waiting until I got off my duff.

Also, the lug nut seats on the Mercedes alloys were the small ball type, the stock steel wheels on the Vanagon use large ball seats. So I had to buy some new lug nuts and yes I got them from T3 Technique. Here is a pic comparing the stock Vanagon lug nut to the lug stud that came with the alloy wheels.

  
And one more thing to do. The Mercedes alloys are drilled for 12mm studs. The Vanagon uses 14mm studs. I enlarged the holes with a 37/64″ drill.

I had a bit of fun getting the hubs off the van. I’ve done this job a few times but this time the big 46mm axle nuts were very, very reluctant to come off. What I normall use is a 1 13/16 socket, 3/4″ drive but for the life of me I couldn’t find the 3/4″ extension and T bar for the socket. So I thought I’d be clever and modify the 46mm slugging wrench I had. Btw, I have a hard time using the slugging wrench in the way it is supposed to be used. I find it hard to get a good swing at it with the heavy hammer without hitting the wheel.

I welded a bit of 7/8 hot rolled steel to the wrench, and that spud fit into the 5′ steel tube I use as my might extension. Well, the hot rolled bent immediately. Ok, I cut it off and welded on a found section of bar stock. I had the notion that this particular bar stock was perhaps a stronger steel.

   
Why the heck did I weld it on with the hole at that end? I can’t explain this bozo move.

 

Well that shifted the rig hand side axle nut, but it bent a little in the process.

  
And the hub swapped.

  
But Mr Wrench (and my weld at the end) was not up to going after the other side.

   
 

I nipped over to a friend’s shop and he easily loosened the nut with his Milwaukee battery powered impact gun ( has 1100 ft lbs of torque).

Mr Wrench was still strong enough to re-torque the nut to the 365 ft lbs the bugger needs. I added a bit more weld in the hope that I can use him again sometime, in his new cranked conformation.

   
 

I’ve yet to get some good shots of how the wheels and tires look on the van. In the meantime here are some quick snaps of my van and good friend Simon’s van. Simon has South African Carat (?) alloys and Nokian WRC 205/70-15.

   
 

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Vanagon – tire and wheel comparison

I just installed, at last, some new wheels and tires. I dithered for so long and ended up with a compromise. The wheels are Mercedes alloys,15″ x 7″, ET of 25. The tires are Yokohama Geolander ATS 215/70-15.
The offset is a bit lower than perfect, the wheels stick out a little more but that gives a tad more clearance on the suspension side and the sliding door clears tire by a good 3/8″.

Simon left his van with me while he is on a trip to an un-namable place so I had a chance to do a visual comparison” his wheels are 15″, ET 30, and I think 6.5″ wide, South African carats. The tires are nokian WRC, 205/70-15.

I have only riven a short distance on my new tires but I lie, what I feel so far. Smoother over bumps, little tire noise. They change the feel of the van in a very good way.

Here is quick vid of the two vans, Simon’s van is the high top.

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