Archive for category vanagon mods
Vanagon – aux switch gear experiment
Posted by albell in vanagon, vanagon mods on December 20, 2022
Starting to install one of those remote switch to solid state relay box type set ups. Just got the mounting plate done so far. Aluminum and slight texture powder coat. Not sure what will be controlled by this. You get stickers to go on the switch pads. I’ll show when done.
Vanagon – what silliness is this?
Posted by albell in vanagon, vanagon mods on December 1, 2022
I’ll show finished later . Later has arrived…
It’s another version of the socket part of the ball and socket linkage back at the transmission. Other versions I made a while back here .
The idea of the spiral grooves is to retain some grease … that’s a tumbled finish on the part, gonna paint it. Bore hasn’t been deburred in this pic. The end has a rim to help keep the boot on.
M6 bolt goes up through the shift rod.
End of day today made another, slight changes. Any excuse to use this lathe .
Not finished, but you get idea. More thickness at bottom and a more sexy ridge at top for boot .
There is one thing I haven’t said.. one more step. I’ll show when done.
And done. I’ve done away with the roll pin years ago. The split clamp and bolt better, especially as the shift rod probably worn and the roll pin hole wallowed.
Vanagon – fuel rail fooling
Posted by albell in vanagon, vanagon mods on November 26, 2022
Made a fuel rail a few weeks ago for fun. Trying out a tool and tool path. No need to do this, lots of commercial options. Last Friday I made a support for the rail, fitted up on old injectors and runners. No rubber on the injectors. And yes I have drilled and plugged , but not welded, the rail. Surprise for me is how sturdy the set up is
Vanagon – replaced led strip over the kitchen
Posted by albell in vanagon, vanagon mods on August 14, 2022
Left over from gutter strip replacement. Warmer colour temp. Controlled from same panel of switches as the gutter lights.
Vanagon – new led strip under gutter
Posted by albell in vanagon, vanagon mods on August 13, 2022
Last year the strip I installed under the gutter ( 6 or so years ago?) partially failed… the forward 1/3 failed to light. I got another strip , this time the kind that looks more like a cob led. That is, looking like one continual led instead of discrete elements. Of course if you look closely you can see the led elements, but the effect is of one continuous strip.
Has the same thick clear coating as the previous. Making it waterproof they say. But I noticed when I took the old one off, water gets into it from the backside, the adhesive side. So I expect the same for this one. Mind you the van is outside all year round, and it is wet in the seasons not called summer 🙂
Pic below is in daylight and the strip on. It’s really not noticeable at all when it’s off.
And at dusk.
Controlled by the same touch to dim switches as before. Two others do the inside led strips, got one left as spare for something.
It’s a handy mod when camping.
Vanagon – rear bumper done.
Posted by albell in vanagon, vanagon mods on August 11, 2022
Well pretty well done. I can see things I’d like to change in the next one. But it’s ok. Had a bit of a silly moment and painted it orange. That didn’t work.
Vanagon – making another aluminum bumper
Posted by albell in vanagon, vanagon mods on August 1, 2022
Rear first, close copy of the stock steel van bumper. This first go round ain’t perfect, but it’s good enough for my own use and next one ( I will be building more ) should be better. It’s 1/4” 5052 aluminum. Having it powder coated this week, slight texture black. You’ll notice I’ve cut some panel from the van , have plans.
Vanagon – dash foil replacement
Posted by albell in vanagon, vanagon mods on July 30, 2022
Good friend Greg has replacement dash foil in the works. Made from better materials than the original, a very nice bit of work. If you are interested , check out this survey form he created to determine numbers to make
Vanagon – stock fridge vent delete option
Posted by albell in vanagon, vanagon mods on July 23, 2022
I’ve installed a Dometic CRX-50 fridge. Yup I finally let go of the propane fridge I’ve been faithful to for 20 years. The install pics may come later, but the fridge vent replacement is now.
Made an aluminum thing that approximates the stock vent dimensions. Has a lid with magnets that correspond to magnets in main body , north south opposed.
I kinda had issues with the magnet placement, you’ll see the marks, but the concept works, a twist on the lid and it comes off.
Inder the lid is a Noco 120V inlet plug. That goes to the fridge ( has an AC power option). If I were to do it again, and I’m probably going to, I’d use larger and fewer magnets, and try not to screw up on the magnet hole drilling!
Vanagon – trailing arm replacement
Posted by albell in syncro, vanagon, vanagon mods on July 23, 2022
Not much to say here. I replaced my trailing arms with a pair I refurbished and modified, I ground off the spring perches and welded up new , thicker, and angled perches. Also made some thicker plastic pads to go on them. Primed and powder coated the arms and installed polyurethane bushings.
Made the angled perch. The lens shaped part,waterjet cut flat, then I just hammered into a roughly circular shape. Welded to top and bottom flat disks. The central boss welded in too. I drilled and tapped the top plate for a 5/16” set screw. That way I could squirt some rust inhibitor into that space after the arms painted. Also put in a couple of M6 riv nuts in arms to hold a clip for the brake hard line.
The blue plastic spacers I made from some mystery plastic that was hanging around. I think it’s nylon. Let me add this…
The reason I made the thick plastic pads for the perch was to be able to machine a recess for the spring end. The stock pad as you know, has a formed recess, with a corresponding thin and formed plastic pad. Those stock pads are hard to get, the replacements from vendors seem only to be plain plastic discs, no recess. I didn’t want to machine the metal for the recess if I couldn’t find a plastic pad to fit… get what I’m saying?
Not shown is new springs and slave cylinders in the brakes, new ( well a used 2wd ) handbrake cable on the passenger side wheel, and new brake flex lines. I did manage to bend the passenger side hardline into an ugly mess when doing that side flex line, but the little blue plastic clips ( yeah I made those) helped pull it back to reason.
The combo of the angled perch and thicker plastic pad has resulted in a height of about 19.88” from fender lip to hub centre. That’s at the limit, I think, of amount of lift for stock axles and joints.
Did the swap in my driveway, on gravel. I’m too old for this type of thing now, I felt every minute of the job.
Vanagon – “The Swellegant Junior” sneak peek
Posted by albell in vanagon, vanagon mods on July 20, 2022
Some of you may know I’ve been working a few versions of a table stand that uses the stock westy table, since about 2016. The idea is you can screw on your small or large westy table to the stand and have a place to put nibbles and drinks when sitting at the campsite.
This is the latest iteration. 6061 aluminum, stainless pins and screw, and powder coated black. It is designed for the later westy tables, the ones with the thread hole in metal plate on the underside. The earlier version table with the tube on the bottom…. Well I have a prototype adapter made, but not tested.
Has a rubber gasket that holds the legs together when folded, and when in use , the gasket goes between the table and the stand to give firm adjustability of the leg orientation.
This is a luxury item. It’s expensive to make – cnc machined, quality materials, and living wages.
But it’s excellent , and it works!
And the price…
Here are some pics taken in the workshop.
Vanagon – a slim radiator shroud and fan
Made a shroud for Quentin, his design I’m just the fab guy. He has reasons for wanting slimmer.
It’s quite a reduction in thickness.
Vanagon – stock westy kitchen light improvement
Friend Greg has developed a snap in replacement for the three halogen festoon bulbs in the westy kitchen light.
Led strips and dimmer control integrated on a board that really does just snap into the bulb holders on the stock light unit.
That spring on the left is the dimmer control. It rests in the stock shade and allows touch dimming.
Friend Simon got one and tried it out. He made a wee vid which explains how it installs and works. Have to note there are camera artifacts , you don’t see those in actual use.
I have to say, this unit is superbe. It’s so easy to install and the light quality is excellent. I think it’s a no brainer for those wanting to retain the stock light but move up to lower power draw led, with good light quality.
I think at max brightness the unit draws 1 amp, at lowest setting 70 mA.
Oh and I should add, he’s selling them.
Vanagon – door cards
Posted by albell in vanagon, vanagon mods on March 22, 2022
It’s been years in the making. I’ve never got around to it until today. 0.090” aluminum. Some mods done too. I’ve cut the stock speaker hole larger and will attempt to fit larger speaker. That does have some challenges but I think I can do it. Also added smaller hole beside that main speaker hole for tweeter. Did the back hatch card too and added cut out for hatch release using the stock front door lever assembly.
I scuffed the cards up after cutting. If you look closely you can the my weight measurement written on one card. Comparison with bone stock 82 vinyl covered card.
Oh, what I used…
Vanagon – when I’m old I shall wear orange
Posted by albell in syncro, vanagon, vanagon mods on March 20, 2022
One of the few *good* things about getting old, you care less and less about what people think 🙂
Vanagon – trailing arm rebuild part two
Posted by albell in vanagon, vanagon mods on March 20, 2022
I had this thought that I’d make modified spring perches. To replace the rusty stock ones I pulled off, and…
This is where I doubt my thinking. The spring perch is really at an awkward angle when the trailing arm at fullest low position. I’m sure it’s more aligned with the upper spring bump stop when fully compressed. But I thought I’d cant the spring perch a little to make it align “better” with spring when trailing arm at a more neutral position.
You probably know that the diesel 16” Syncro had wedge shaped aluminum spacers on the spring perch to do the same thing. But I’m guessing it was more to accommodate the change brought about by the 16” Syncro longer trailing arm.
So it’s very debatable if what I’ve done is wise or needed. But hey ho! Off we go.
Perch made from circles of 3/16” steel. I modelled a tapered spacer from same stock , and made developed shape to cut out. I just hand bent it to slightly smaller than the discs, welding allowance.
Tacked up , you get the idea
Tacked, getting the idea now?
With an extra home made plastic pad, had milled in recess for spring pigtail. That’s about 1.5” at the back. I can make thinner plastic pad if this is too much of a lift. The pad as is, 1/2”.
I put some rust converter on the trailing arms and plug welded the three holes under the perch. I didn’t attempt to fill the divots left from drilling out the spot welds that held on the original perch
And then clumsily mig welded onto arm. I’ll drill a hole in the sandwich and squirt in some waxy stuff for rust protection. Then weld up the hole.
I don’t know if all this is a good idea. But I did it 🙂
Next is to pop in some m6 riv nuts that I’ll use to secure clios for both the brake hydraulic arm, and the e brake cable. I’m thinking about welding closed some of the seam area left open from factory, not sure about that though. And I might shave the seam for more tire clearance, as the kids are doing these days ( I did that on the pair of arms I gave to Simon). Apart from that the next steps are another sandblast then powdercoating .
Vanagon – syncro transmission rebuild
Posted by albell in syncro, vanagon, vanagon mods on March 12, 2022
This is Quentin’s work, he’s at Vivid Vans. A series of pics with his comments interspersed. I’m envious.
You can see the make shift m5x.7 puller I made for all the idler shafts to the left of the housing. An m6 bolt ground down and tapped to m5 haha. You can also see wear from axial movement of the mainshaft bearing in the casting.
I took a photo of each gear with its respective syncro for easy reference at reassembly. You can also just go off the number of teeth but it was easier for a newbie like me.
Nice and clean after being glass bead blasted and thoroughly cleaned.
Test drilling old diff housing for pinion oil squirter. Right on the money first try. (housing was trashed)
My NOS S.A. aluminum diff housing I had modified by Mr. GAS in Colorado for a locker and extra material for the pinion bearing squirter. Yes it would have looked a lot nicer if I had it milled down but I ran out of time.
4th Gear cool oil bath squirter. Questionable effectiveness but doesnt hurt nonetheless. Bathes 4th gear in cooled oil.
Main bearing oil squirter. Squirts cooled oil directly into the main bearing from the front side.
Main bearing retainer plate. South African style reproduced by Alika Motorsports. Prevents axial play. (I had the wrong thrust bearing pressed into the housing please ignore! Fixed it the next day.)
Cut the oiling groove in the pinion race using my CNC angle grinder. Drilled with 1/8 carbide drill bits.
Setting up the ring and pinion with the help of our head Tech Tony. Didn’t get photos of final pattern but It was spot on. Probably the most difficult part of the rebuild.
gear stacks assembled. I literally spent months labouring over the gearing. Ended up going with:
1.125 big tooth Third
0.75 Straight cut fourth
Deleted the reverse/granny syncronizer and installed a 2wd slider instead. TDIs have been seen to rattle the syncro assemblies apart and destroy the low/reverse housing.
Fully assembled all aluminum goodness
Painted, torqued, ready to thrash. I just need to plumb the oil cooling circuit and it will be ready for break in.
One last photo of my trans temp gauge I custom built. My oil cooler pump is activated manually by a 2nd defroster switch. I considered doing and automatic cooler set up, but your brain is the best automatic controller money can buy.
Vanagon – start of trailing arm “rebuild”
Posted by albell in vanagon, vanagon mods on March 10, 2022
Years ago I had a pair of trialing arms which I fixed up for good friend Simon. I shaved the wheel side seam and welded in a reinforcing plate in that area. Also welded up the spring pad perimeter. He finally had them installed last summer. His old ones he gave to me.
They were heavily coated in tar like undercoating and had been quickly cut from the van. I burdened off the undercoating using a tiger torch, and also got the bushings out.
Had them sandblasted. Here’s what one looks like after that. You might be able to see the Zip disk cuts in the arm, and the bent tabs. No idea what that tab on the inboard bushing area is for.
I welded up the zip cuts, and then I drilled out the spot welds on the spring perches. Yup, that’s what it’s like under the pads. Even though though the arms were rust free, on the surface, under the pads it’s nasty.
I’ll go out on a limb and say, unless you’re living in a super dry part of the world, your good looking spring pads will have cracked paint and rust under. Just saying, not being a Cassandra 🙂
Vanagon – funny Trucklite headlamp behaviour
Hi, I bought another, yes another, set of cheap led headlamps. Let’s not get into the pros and cons of that just yet. I’ll report on those later.
But I had the chance to compare quickly, the new ones with some older Trucklite headlamps. They differ completely in the led arrangement and number. But when I was doing a quick comparison ( very quick , shining onto a welding curtain) , I noted the Trucklite unit had a delay switching from high beam to low. You can see in this shaky vid. Trucklite on the right
Vanagon – quick autopsy of GW throttle body
It’s from the burned out orange van. Engine fire so you can imagine all of the plastic parts in there are melted or burned up. I did manage to pull the throttle body and it’s a go westy one. Here it is, even after an hour in the ultrasonic cleaner. I’m guessing it was black anodized.
Took it apart. The bearings , sealed, 22mm OD, 8mm ID, 7mm thick, we’re toast of course. And the throttle position switch burned off.
I did my best with scotch Brite pad on the main body and I skimmed a couple thou off one end ( lathe). The small parts I used vibratory tumbler, mix of walnut shells and grit. Put it back together using a a pair of cheap ceramic open bearings that I had. Of course you should use sealed , ti reduce the air bypass along the shaft.
Couple of notes. It’s a well made thing. I’m impressed by the build quality. The shaft has a very small groove where the bearings sit. There was something in the groove but maybe not an o ring, maybe it was some sort of sealant. The butterfly is a simple flat disc, no ramp or bevel as in the stock plate. The fit in the bore is very good, very close.
Good friend Greg has one in his van. He says it’s great. I don’t doubt it, it’s well made.
I’ll keep this one for a spare, yes I’ll swap out the bearings and see about something with that tiny groove in shaft under the bearings. And I need to get a tps either a kit from the usual sources or make one up. I’d did notice GW kit uses a 3D printed cam.
Vanagon – home made muffler update
Posted by albell in vanagon, vanagon mods on August 20, 2021
I made a muffler eight years ago. Here’s a link to all the blog posts about construction then.
Since then I’ve added a working cat, and new exhaust pipes. But I’ve also hit the muffler a few times on rocks and snow banks. Hit it enough that I cracked the weld at the tail pipe end of the muffler.
So when the engine was out recently I cut that end off and re-welded. Gave me a chance to look inside and see how the stainless steel swarf I used as muffler packing was doing. Was a little sooty, not much, a little discoloured by heat, but overall surprisingly good. Don’t know why I was expecting any different.
Gave the muffler a bit of a buff to take off dirt and shine it up a little. Also made new hangers. Same style as before but stainless pins to hold the band clamps instead of aluminum. It’s 3/8” aluminum, 1/2” diameter on the pressed in pins. Oh and new band clamps.
Sounds more or less the same as before. Yes, louder than stock.
Vanagon – new fridge knobs installed
Posted by albell in vanagon, vanagon mods on August 18, 2021
Had to pull the fridge out a bit. Was it worth it? Meh…
Vanagon – replacing rusted rear spring perch
Posted by albell in syncro, vanagon, vanagon mods on August 14, 2021
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.
Vanagon – LED headlight H4 bulbs, next chapter, Part 1
Posted by albell in vanagon, vanagon mods on October 17, 2017
Last winter I installed some LED H4 bulbs into my e-code lamps. Here is the link to the last update about them. If you haven’t read that post, and the original install post referred, and you want to know my reasoning behind trying the bulbs, I urge you to go read them.
Oh and another proviso, I bought both the original and these new versions from Banggood. They weren’t given to me. My opinions about the bulbs are not influenced by any freebies.
So why did I buy new bulbs? There are three reasons. First one is I was not happy about the radio interference they caused. The interference affected weaker fm stations. It was annoying. Secondly, I wasn’t satisfied about the high beam projection. The beam seemed to get lost at distance. On the other hand the low beams are so good that I didn’t need the high beams as often as I did with halogen bulbs. Again, please refer to the post linked above for more on beam patterns. The third reason for trying another set was that these bulbs come with optional gel filters, yellow. I was curious about how they would work.
Ok then, here are the new bulbs, and here is a link to the product page. Link fixed, sorry about that.
Similar to the older model ( on the right ) but with some important differences.
Right away you see the heat sink is different. I think that the older bulb has some electronics in the base, the new ones have a separate box of electronics. And notice the difference in the led element, size, number, and orientation.
I’m going out on a limb and say that the newer bulb has the LED elements arranged to more closely mimic the filament positions in a halogen H4 bulb. Interesting that the elements are smaller and fewer but the bulbs are advertised as 30W each compared to the 25W of the older bulb.
The new bulbs have a metal box in the power line. I was surprised it was metal, made me hopeful that the radio interference issue might be fixed. Popped the cover to have a look.
Components are potted, only a cap showing.
I was impressed, I started to think that these bulbs were surprisingly well made. The power line has a very positive and o-ring sealed connection. This probably eases some installs, makes no difference in the van.
The filters, according to the instructions, are self adhesive and applied to the glass tubes.
I’m holding off on the filters for now, but I did install the glass tubes. The end of the bulb unscrews and the tube slips down and seats against an o-ring.
O-ring wasn’t in correct position in that last pic, but here we go fixed.
Another interesting feature is the rotationally adjustable mount. The three tab base is held in place by two set screws, and it can be rotated. There is a degree ring on the base and a witness mark on the bulb body. I did not change the orientation, I’ll wait for some night testing to see if it’s needed. I’m only guessing right now about what effect the rotation would give.
Time to pop them into the lamps. The older bulbs thicker bulb body didn’t let me install those rubber boots, but the new ones did.
Here is new bulb without boot.
If you remove the three tab mounting base you can push on a boot and then reinstall the base. The boot is everted here, makes it easier to get at the set screws.
Keep the boot rolled back and carefully get the retaining wire bails clipped in.
Ok, so I actually installed one lamp last night. Right away I saw that the beam pattern on the garage wall was tighter, both low and especially high beam. The radio interference problem was still there, grrr.
But today, with both bulbs in, the interference problem has disappeared! Yes, that’s right, weak fm stations now back on the menu. I’m really chuffed about that.
Next to do is swap one of the old LED bulbs back in and do a comparison, take some pics etc. So far I’m really pretty impressed by the build quality of these bulbs, especially for Can$64.
Vanagon – alternator voltage regulator re-brushing
Posted by albell in vanagon, vanagon mods on October 1, 2017
During the summer, on a camping trip, the alternator failed. The brushes on the voltage reg finally wore out. I had a spare (used) voltage reg on board and the swap got us going again.
The failed regulator was an adjustable unit I bought way back in the early noughts. It got swapped over from my old 82 westy to the Syncro in 2011. It had been working perfectly all this time and I really liked the ability to up the voltage output a little to overcome any voltage losses in the wiring up to the battery and also to give my batteries a good charge.
I think the reg cost around 35 bucks back then, haven’t checked the prices these days. Might not seem cost effective to repair it, but I wanted to. Hey why not? What’s the point of other folk posting how to do it…
Local automotive electrics outfit, Brian Roberts, sold me a pair of brushes for 8 bucks. Just $8, a little solder, flux, and time, and the reg was fixed. I wasn’t very good at documenting the steps but here we go.
The new brushes look like this, carbon-like with a braided copper pigtail. The spring is the old one, no problem re-using.
To get the old brushes out, well originally, under the solder, the metal is formed into a tube which is crimped onto the pigtail, soldered, and trimmed.
I found that merely melting the solder didn’t release the pinched pigtail. So I drilled it out. That meant when I inserted the new brush and pigtail I had to hold the braided pigtail…
Pigtail with spring fed up into the brush holder on the reg, haemostat holding pigtail so brush projects fully but doesn’t come out. Then, flux (rosin) and a good strong iron.
Was hoping for a better blob, but it’s ok.
And the iron? This old Weller, it’s a champ with this sort of thing.
Same thing with other brush. Then trim the excess copper
So that’s all good. Hey just as an aside, clean up shiny, all the contacts on the reg and also on the alternator body.
Acesss to the lower machine screw holding the reg to the alternator is fussy in the stock wbx. An intake runner impedes screwdriver.
An offset screwdriver does the job, albeit slowly. But beware, if you didn’t disconnect the battery then you can hit the hot stud on the alternator with the driver. The angry pixies make you jump. Foiled a second attack with heat shrink on the driver. But the pixies managed to nibble one end, see?
Oh, btw, adjustment of the reg is done via little screw.
Dialed mine up to 14.65 V at alternator. But I’ve noticed that the voltage will drop maybe half a volt or so when the alternator heats up. Btw, the multimeter is pretty good for $15, banggood. Auto ranging, back light, big display, AA batteries rather than 9V. Still have the protective film on display, it’s not a thing with me, just forgot.
Vanagon – minor changes to old mods
Posted by albell in vanagon, vanagon mods on July 22, 2017
A while back I made an aluminum grill to replace the stock grill on the rear side of the kitchen unit. I made it such that it would house an USB dual outlet and a voltmeter. Later I rotated it so the outlets were in top.
It was ok, never did paint it. What bugged me was no switch to turn off the voltmeter and outlet. So with more enthusiasm than design skills I made another and this time added switches and painted. Btw I used krylon espresso brown which I was told was a good match for the brown in my older westy cabinetry. The pics don’t really show the colour well but it’s darker than stock.
That thing in the aluminum block is a digital controller I’m using for the fridge fin fan(s). More on that when I post my findings about my fridge mods. Yeah you can see a bit of sloppily applied insulation on the fridge exhaust pipe, that’s much less than originally installed. Again, more on that later.
Now I can switch on the volt meter and USB outlet. The thermo controller has its own on/off function. Extra switch thrown in there just in case.
I did make the vertical slots as long as I could, but I didn’t mean to slightly overlap the cabinet. Doh…
Also refined, ha, the “new style westy table on old style arm” mod, link and link, slimming the aluminum adapter down a tad and adding a plastic spacer, ( the red thing, don’t know what kind of plastic, might be Delrin).
Surprisingly, the plastic spacer improves the tightening action.
And back to that espresso brown paint. I painted the little indicator panel on the kitchen unit front face. Maybe you can see the colour mis match in this pic. Nothing quite like taking a picture of something to make you realize just how beat up a thing is, man, look at those dents etc. Oh and another thing, trying this and that to bring back some life to the rest of the face plate. Paint was chalky and faded.
Vanagon – that clunky airfoil roof rack update
Last year I made a pretty clunky roof rack to hold my old Thule ski box. Seemed like a good idea at the time, using up some airfoil aluminum extrusion. But, and apart from my crappy welds, I think the end result was a bit off. Here is the link to the original post. At that time I was using an aluminum rail attached to the side of the pop top, it worked but I thought it flimsy.
So… I made some new side rails from 1″X2″ aluminum box section. The rear Most section is bent to fit the contour of the roof, and I put in some slots for visual interest and to access the roof rack mounting system.
That red badge is from a Passat syncro station wagon found at wreckers. Annoying that even though the mounting hole for the badge is cantered on the tube, when the badge snaps on it lies off centre, grrr.
The ends of the box section are filled with section of 2″ aluminum tubing, half circles 1″ thick. Welded and blended.
I came up with a novel method of holding the airfoil rack down onto the roof and side rails.
5/16″ NC bolts drilled out and holes chamfered, 1/8″ stainless cable with swaged ends (copper). The shorter bolt goes into the underside of the airfoil, stainless threaded inserts in the aluminum. The longer bolt goes through the box section side rail and tightened and locked with nuts.
That works surprisingly well, the cable tension is good, the rack gets pulled down firmly. The ski box is bolted to the airfoils, so that ties the two airfoils together. But even alone, the rack is very secure on the roof. I’ll paint the whole lot black some day.
Vanagon – what’s this gizmo used for?
Update: vanagon mailing list guesses include prop to keep loose vent window open and holding notes to metal dash. Good guesses and would work, but not the primary intent.
Good friend Stephen gave me this idea. Handy bit of wood with magnet on one end. It’s 1 1/2″ long, 3/4″ diameter. It could be another 3/4″ longer but works fine as is. Extra points if you can guess the wood (I’m looking at you, oldfussbudget). Wood hint, it’s never going to rot.
Oh and yes, can have more than one use, with that magnet and all.
Ok, the anticlimax, the reveal. It’s used to prop open the license plate hatch when checking fluids. Yeah I know you can use the oil fill cap, but I think this is better 🙂
If you want you can store it stick to the hatch. Or maybe better idea is to use it to hold down notes on the dash.
Vanagon – a couple of minor fridge mods
Posted by albell in vanagon, vanagon mods on June 19, 2017
Attention!!! Maybe some of these mods don’t work. Doing some tests now to confirm. Yes this is embarrassing 🙂
I’m going to try my best to not run down any rat holes in this post, for there are many when it comes to the fridge. I’ll try to stick to the mods that I recently made. Over this last winter I’ve had a couple of westy propane fridges in the workshop, in for some D&C ( that’s dusting and cleaning, not the other). With one of them, I tried out some ideas. First was to insulate the section of corrugated stainless exhaust pipe that really pumps out heat into the van. Just a couple of wraps of Fiberglas tape, exhaust pipe tape.
The next mod was a couple of aluminum plates clamped to the fridge cooling fins to help channel cooling air. I know others have made an enclosing shroud back there, I tried that about twenty years ago and I wasn’t very successful in getting a good fit. This time I reckoned that the plates would maybe do 80% of the job with 100% less effort.
In addition to the plates, I added a bank of three small, very quiet and low current draw, squirrel cage fans.
Here’s the test mule with the mods. At this time there was only one wrap of insulation on the exhaust pipe and I added a programable temperature controller and probe to control the bank of fans.
I bench tested this with propane, 120 V ac, and 12 V dc. I fiddled with a programable temp controller and finally decided that even though it was sort of fun to be able to adjust the fan set point and adjust the dead zone ( in effect, adjustable hysteresis) , it really wasn’t needed.
Also found that on propane, the exhaust pipe still gets hot. Not skin scorchingly hot as it was un-wrapped, but still a heat source. Decided to double wrap.
This weekend I duplicated the set up onto my own fridge. I had added a second fan to this fridge some time ago, and I had replaced the stock fan motor with a slightly larger unit. This was working ok, the second fan was fairly quite. Skirting round a tempting rat hole here when I say that I think the stock fan blade works as well as anything in that placement.
I removed that computer fan and installed the bank of three squirrel cage fans. The fans are wired in parallel to the stock fan. And added the plates.
Plates are held on by hooked ends, the straight ends threaded and nutted.
The fans are mounted to a bit of 1″ wide, 1/8″ thick aluminum. Little bit of a dog leg and screwed at one end, the other end cable tied to fridge tubing. It’s in there quite securely, no movement, no rattles.
Double wrap of insulation on the exhaust pipe.
I don’t think the insulation will have any adverse effect on the exhaust tubing. I think the stainless will take the additional heat.
A couple of tips on reinstalling the fridge. One thing I did some years ago was to re-thread the intake/exhaust flange for M4 bolts. The original sized holes had stripped out. The socket headed cap screws are nicer to use.
When you’re trying to line the fridge up to install the sheet metal screws inside the cupboards, a slim awl or a pin as shown is a great help.
And the propane connection to the fridge can be a little frustrating to attach. The line up might be off and the access is awkward. A short wrench is invaluable, this old family heirloom is what I use.
You know, I’m not an expert on these fridges but I’ve found that if all the components are working, the electrical connections good, and the combustion chamber ( and gas jet) is clean, then the fridge lights up easily. Believe me, I’ve struggled with the fridge at times, but I think those days are long gone.
Addendum, later that day…
Dgbeatty commented that I should look to the finned heat exchangers inside the fridge and re-do the thermal paste. That bugged me, I should have thought of that when I had the fridge out. I replied that I had tried to remove the fins years before but had no luck, they were stuck enough that I worried about breaking something. But I tried again and this time they came off.
That old thermal paste came off with WD40, then a rub with isopropyl alcohol.
Of course I don’t have a tub of thermal paste to re-apply, so I did what any redneck would do, I used anti-sieze. I don’t think that’s as daft as it seems. The MSDS for this anti-sieze states it contains 5-10% (by weight) aluminum powder.
And all back together. Replaced the the little CPU fan I had wired up to the top of the fins ( idea is to circulate the cold air, don’t use it that often) with one of the little squirrel cage fans. At the side of the fins. What the heck, it’s going to move some air.
Vanagon – pop top seal replacement and new decals
Posted by albell in vanagon, vanagon mods on June 17, 2017
This is, and i know there are many strong contenders, the most boring post on this site. You’ve been warned.
It’s funny, I mean funny curious, how we get concerned by things that others think trivial. What I mean is that there are so many cosmetic repairs I have to do to my van but what I end up doing is something minor. This time it’s the pop top seal which, while not completely thrashed, was getting tired.
And the the other funny thing is that I don’t like how many of the replacement seals look. I’m not saying they don’t work well, it’s just that they have a vinyl look that bugs me.
Way back in 2001 or 2002, I replaced the stock pop top seal on my old 82 westy with a bulb seal that I found at a local RV store. It had a nice rubber look and had a generous sized bulb and edge grabbing part. I kept that seal when I used the 82 westy parts to camperized my syncro tin top. The luggage seal was the original VW seal and I kept that ragged thing going with glue repairs.
But it was time to freshen things up and I found a replacement bulb seal. It’s a heavy duty seal that I discovered being used at a local boat company. It’s not cheap, and i had to buy more than needed.
From left to right, an unused portion of the old seal that was left over from the 2001 install, the used old seal, and the new seal.
Right away you can see the new seal has white grippers and a slightly deeper gripping portion. Also has that inside lip that really doesn’t have any effect in the pop top install.
My lord this is boring. Ok, So i bought new bulb seal and I put it on the pop top. Also used the seal on the luggage rack and it worked out just fine. That heavy bulb seal sat down nicely. Left the seal a little short at the rear to let water drain. Maybe I’ll need to cut a channel in the bulb at the front corners for more drainage, we’ll see.
There is one issue with this type of bulb seal on the pop top and I noticed it with the old seal. And that is there is a bit of a ledge between the seal and the pop top that collects dirt. What I might do is run a small bead of clear silicone caulk along the edge.
And the decals had really not weathered well. I don’t have one of those rubber wheels that you use with an electric drill to remove decals so I was thinking it was going to be a chore getting them off. But turned out that a plastic scraper and heat did the deed in a jiffy.
Bit of a tell left after a wipe down with isopropyl alcohol.
New decal, which btw are 3M reflective black, going on.
Looks ok, but I’m pants at this sort of thing, never seem to get the decal just right ( you’ll see that with the rear decal)
One last boring pic. The van is a daily driver and this is the wet coast of Canada and that combo means lichen on the pop top. Scrubbed the top and the interlux brightside on part poly urethane paint I used 7 years ago ( and only one coat, cheap me) cleaned up surprisingly well.