Vanagon – poor wee dug

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Vanagon – tree, van, dogs, Simon 

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Vanagon – study in contrasts

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Vanagon – alternator remix and a real surprise 

Back in January I had to do an emergency bearing replacement on the old wbx alternator. The local NAPA store had the bearings in stock (no name bearings, sigh) and the job went fast and worked. While I had the alternator apart I cleaned up the commutator but I noticed the copper was getting very thin and probably wouldn’t last much longer. I don’t know how to replace the commutator, or even if it’s possible to do that at home.

Yesterday when I picked up the Passat gauge clusters at the wrecker yard I also grabbed a Bosch al34x alternator ( also from a Passat), suffering from a brain fart thinking it was a direct swap into the wbx. Of course it ain’t, the bodies are different.

The al34x is on the left, a broken ( severed wires from stator to diode pack )a parts wbx alternator on the right. Note the different mounting.


So today I tore the al34x apart and mounted its rotor, bearings, diode pack, and stator into the wbx housing. The biggest chore when working on alternators is the fekkin hard to loosen machine screws. The long ones that hold the body together and the short ones on the bearing retainer plate and the diode pack. I’ve seen both slot and Phillips head in these, either way you have to use all your guile to get them loose. 

First the brush pack get pulled (you all know how to do that ) then the plastic on under the b+ and the “blue wire” (damn I forget the number designation ) terminal. The handy 1/4″ drive tool shown, I’ll talk about more later. And the pic shows that the alternator was a “premium ” rebuild. Premium, ha!


That end stripped.


The 1/4″ drive tool set I’m using has screwdriver bits.


And even being a cheap set the bit was up to the task of removing the long machine screws holding the housing together. That is after I used a regular screwedriver and hammer to give each machine screw a good rap. Then same rapping and grunt to remove screws from bearing retainer plate ( plate is internal but you have to remove the four screws before you can get housing apart).


After all that and some love with the soft hammer, the housing comes apart.

Then you pull the rotor out.


Well it looks like I struck out hoping that the commutator would be relatively fresh. It’s not, it’s more worn than I hoped. But that’s not the surprise mentioned in the blog post title. Remember this is a Bosch “premium” reman.


See it? The machine screw? It’s supposed to be in the hole just down and to the left, in the diode plate. I mean really, it came loose? Does this alternator actually work with that screw up there doing who knows what sort of mechanical and electrical mischief? 

It’s bent.


Well I’m in so deep, time and money, so I might as well finish things. The rest of the diode pack screws were not easy to remove. Too late I’m telling them, you can’t make up for your weak buddy. You can move the stator around a bit, careful not to stress the copper wires, to get at the screws. Then pull the diode pack and stator out of that housing and pop it into the wbx housing.


If you’ve made it this far you’ll know that putting it all back together is just the reverse 🙂 just keep an eye on the alignment of the two parts of the housing.


And there we are, guts swapped. Maybe it works but too late in the day now to test it. Man, I can’t get over that loose screw.

Hey, the 1/4″ drive tool I used a lot on this job is a cheapo set I bought a couple of years ago at Princess Auto. If you’re Canadian you know what that store is. I found it on sale, I think under 20 bucks and I have to say I really like it. It’s actually very well made, the ratchet could be finer of course, but jeepers for the money it’s great.

Addendum March 6 2017

Both for my education and to clear up any incorrect terms used above (and a nod to david B.) I submit this cutaway labelling  the parts in the alternator

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Vanagon – anticipation of new wiper washer nozzles

I’m on the list for a set of new wiper washer nozzles designed and built by Forrest Whitmore. His samba thread about the nozzles can be found here.

I don’t know of anyone who is really happy with the stock nozzles and the spray pattern they make. And over the years I’ve been less than happy with the washer pump performance. You sort of suspect some amount of voltage drop at the pump making the motor less than perky. I toyed with the idea of adding a new power feed and a relay but I got enough improvement by cleaning the contacts right at the washer switch up on the steering column.

Then the other week I was digging around the mess in the workshop and found a spare washer pump. So I says to myself, “go on, plumb it inline”.

Yeah but… if I was worried about voltage drop in the stock un-relayed circuit with one pump won’t having two pumps in that circuit be pushing things?

Yes.

But I did it anyway. Maybe I’ll put in a relay later, but for now I tapped the G10 terminal on the back of the fuse panel ( its hot when washer switch activated. It’s a feed for the headlight washer system, an option we didn’t get here in North America).

I simply cut the washer fluid tubing right behind the driver’s side headlamp, heated up the cut ends and slipped them over the inlet and outlet of the spare pump. Oh and luckily I had the plastic connector with pigtails so making the electrical connection to pump was easy.


That black boot ain’t quite pushed on enough in the pic below.


So how well does this work with the stock nozzles? You’ll think I’m exaggerating when I say it works twice as good. More volume and force ( it will shoot over the top of the luggage rack if not aimed right) and I’m going through fluid fast. Fast enough that I checked for leaks today. When I get the new nozzles I’ll post some vid comparing things etc.

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Vanagon – my rotten cluster foil has made me mad

Frank G. did a very nice Passat cluster into vanagon housing conversion and it’s on the blog right here. I don’t know if I will try to follow him but maybe… 

Notice the top cluster is in imperial measurements and the gauge faces are all in one piece. Needs overlays. But it’s an electronic speedo so getting the speedo cable to the cluster isn’t an issue ( just need a hall sender gizmo ). The bottom cluster is from a Passat syncro g60. Mechanical speedo which makes things interesting. Note the revs per kilometre number, 80 less than my stock syncro. Oh I don’t know what I’ll do, I bought them in a moment of weakness ( them and a spare alternator).

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Vanagon – Hightop Westy by the Coho

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