Saturday, June 22, 2013

Installing a step stud in an aircooled VW engine block.

I decided that I would keep Ed's engine installed in him until winter. I will then pull it and do a top end. I am pretty burned out on working in the garage and I want to enjoy some of this awesome summer weather so I opted to do the quick but proper repair on the sump plate stud while the engine was in the car. If you didn't read my previous post, the stud in my sump plate fell out while I was driving on the freeway. I shut it down before any damage happened. I ended up installing a "temporary" stick into the hole on the side of the road to get me home. This is what I am starting with today.
 I jacked it up and evaluated the situation.
 I drained the oil then removed the stick and the sump plate. I let it drip out for a long time while I purchased a step stud and got some needed tools rounded up. You can see the missing stud in this picture.
 The hole only had threads way up at the top of it. It must have been working it's way loose for awhile.
Here is the step stud I picked up. It is the stock size and then goes up to 8MM. I didn't have a 8MM X 1.25 tap and the place where I got the stud didn't have one either. I ran to Lowe's thinking they would have one. They don't even sell taps. I was surprised about that. I ended up at auto zone looking for one. They only had a 40 piece set. It was made by great neck and was cheap. I figured what the heck, I was going to be tapping into magnesium which is very soft and so it should work just fine. I opened up the set when I got home and could not believe the crap they called taps. I wouldn't use them on scrap metal yet alone my bugs engine block. I called a buddy that lives pretty close and he had one so I promptly went and borrowed his set and took that crap back to auto zone. If you ever think of buying that garbage from auto zone, DON'T. It will only mess up whatever your trying to save. (OK the rant is over.)
 These 3 things are what you will need to do this. The proper size drill bit, tap and some grease.
 If you load up your drill bit with grease it will hold most of the chips that will be made while drilling the case. I used a "H" drill bit. I didn't have a metric bit but this one matched up to the size I needed. Drill straight and take your time. You can step drill it if you want to. I didn't and it turned out just fine. Be careful because the magnesium throws out lots of chips and it likes to grab your drill bit.
 Take some time to clean out any/all chips that may of gotten in the engine. I used a few Q tips.
Load up your tap with some more grease and tap the hole. Again, go slow and work the tap a little at a time. Pull out the tap often and clean off the chips that are in the grease. The magnesium is really soft so just take your time and don't force anything.
 Here you can see how many chips are embedded into the grease. The grease will help keep them all under control. Now clean, clean and then clean again. If you are doing this while the engine is in the car then it is really important to make sure there are no chips left in the engine.
 Make sure that there is no oil in the threads where the new stud will go in. I used high strength thread locker on the stud. I installed it and then let it dry for awhile before doing anything else. This is a permanent repair for this engine so I DO NOT want these studs coming out again!
 Here the stud is installed and the loctite is drying.
Clean your screen if you haven't already and then install the gasket and then the screen.
 Make sure you install the 2nd gasket after you install the screen.
 Install the sump plate with the proper washers and make sure you do not over torque them. 5 ft. lbs max.
 I think I will keep this stick that I whittled on the side of the freeway waiting for oil to be delivered. It will now become part of my emergency kit just in case this ever happens again. Who knows, maybe I can help another VW guy out if it happens to them. I will definitely be carrying at least a case of oil at all times. I just need to remember to put it back in the bug when I take it out.
 I finished it off by filling it with oil and then Ellie and I took it for a spin. It ran like a top so we are back in business.
Hopefully I can enjoy the rest of the summer driving Ed. It seems like the beginning has been full of set backs but it should be clear sailing now.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Disaster averted for Ed!

Yesterday I was driving home on SR-201 when I looked at my speedometer and my oil light was on. I have had that light flicker on me when I get low on oil so I gave Ed a little wiggle and the light stayed on. This means 1 of 2 things in an air-cooled bug. 1. You have lost your generator belt or 2. You have lost oil pressure which usually means no oil. I immediately shut off the engine and coasted over to the side of the road. I was hoping to see the generator belt broke but when I opened the deck lid the belt was still on. I then   pulled the dipstick and found no oil on it. That was not good. I looked under the car and there was a growing puddle of oil coming out my engine. That was actually good because it meant I still had some oil in the engine when I shut it down. I quickly noticed that an oil stud from my sump plate had worked it's way out of the case and eventually fell out. I figured it was no problem because I carry lots of oil in the trunk so I just needed to plug the hole and limp it home. I went to the trunk and opened it up. I had no oil at all. AARRGG. I then remembered that when I changes the front beam out I pulled everything out of the trunk area to get access to the beam. I never did put it all back in. I called Dixie and told her to bring me a case of oil, an earplug and some paper towels. As I waited for her to arrive I decided a stick would be a better option to plug the hole then an earplug would so I whittled down a stick and jammed it into the hole. Dixie came to my rescue with oil in hand and I filled it up, fired it up and drove home. Ed seemed no more worse for wear except the stick sticking out of his sump plate. Here is a few shots of the stick and my handy side of the road repair on Ed.
 Hopefully the stud didn't flip up and hit someones windshield when it came out.

So, now I am at a dilemma. I was going to pull Ed's engine out to do a top end on it and fix some annoying oil leaks over the next winter. I need to decide whether to just pull it now, install Tugger's engine in Ed for the summer and fix it, or I can just fix the stud and drive it the rest of the summer then pull it. I can't really decide at the moment. I will keep thinking about it. Check back to see what I decide. I am really glad that I noticed it early enough not to seize up Ed's engine. It is a really good engine and I would of hate to have burned it up.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Finally some time to clean up the tools and the garage!

The shop has been bugging me for quite awhile. I have been too busy working on cars to get it cleaned and organized. Today I finally had time to do some cleaning. I actually cleaned my tools and put them away in the toolbox. I have been sliding them from one job to the other with my foot for a month now. Ha Ha. Anyways, I had a huge pile of stuff in front of the bug and I started with that. Steven came out to help me clean in the garage so he wouldn't have to help Dixie weed the garden. He was a big help to me so I didn't complain. I had to find a spot for the press I bought to do the wheel bearings on the Subaru and I moved my engine hoist and stand out from the shop area to the front of the garage.
 This was the mess in the shop area. I told Dixie we have too much stuff and the only real good option was to extend the front of the garage out 33 feet. She told me if we do that she wants a half bath where the shop is located. I think that can be arranged. I would be happy with a big sink and a urinal.
 As I was cleaning I found my ceiling fan and electrical box I bought last year. I figured it was kind of hot so why not install the fan to get some air circulating. It seemed like a good idea until I had to climb into the attic to install the box and do the wiring. It was REALLY hot up there!
 I got the box installed here. I can almost feel cold air right now.
 Here is the fan. It works good and cools the shop area and a little bit of the garage. I mounted it directly on the ceiling so I would have maximum height. I figured I didn't need the optional light kit for it. I have plenty of light, I just needed air movement.
I bought some pegboard a month or so ago and I hung that up today also. I think it will work out awesome. I was saving a spot for it right above my tool box. I got the idea from this picture below.
 I absolutely love this garage and the hot rod also. I'm not sure if my tool board will ever look this good but hopefully it will. What an awesome picture!
I hung up my roof rack so I am not tripping over it all the time. I also got this corner cleaned out and organized. The press is pretty accessible and this is a better spot for the engine hoist and stand. I always have the lawn mower or the snow blower in the garage so I have a spot for that also.
 I even had time to hang up my shop clock. I can actually see my workbench now. It's amazing! I still need to build a tire rack for some tires I have, and hang up some tools on my tool board. I could also use a couple ladder racks and I need to hang up my nova hood on the ceiling someday. I want to paint it first. I made some good progress today and I can actually move around in the garage so that's a good thing.
The Subaru drove away today (neighbors are probably happy about that) and both my cars are in the garage. I guess that means that everything is right with the world once again. I am looking for a little (and I mean little) refrigerator for the shop. I am getting tired of drinking warm water bottles from the case of water I keep in the garage so if you have one you want to sell for cheap, let me know.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Honda Odyssey Strut Change in record time!

The garage has been pretty full lately with projects and I kind of messed up my scheduling this week. Last weekend I was deciding which cars to work on. I had the Subaru, the Bug and Dixie's Honda. I knew Dixie's van was going to be down a couple days when I did the struts so I decided to work on the bug and then the Subaru. I made appointments for the van and the bug to get alignments done 3 weeks ago. (My alignment shop had a 3 week wait to get in.)  I thought I had made them for Monday and Tuesday of next week. That played into my decision of waiting on Dixie's van because I figured I had the weekend to get it done. Anyways I finished the bug up. I had to adjust the steering box and I raised it up a click for driveability reasons. With that out of the way I started on the rear wheel bearing of the Subaru. I almost finished that up on Monday. I just had the parking brake shoes to put on and then the brakes and wheel. Wednesday I was at work and looked at my phone. I had a little calender thing on it that I had never seen before. It happened to be a calender event reminder. (That shows how much I use my phone.) I looked at it and it said I had an alignment for the van on Thursday at 9AM and another one for the bug on Friday at 8AM. I am not sure why I had it in my head that I made the appointments for Monday and Tuesday. The bug was ready to go and just waiting for the alignment so I called Russ's Alignment and asked them if I could change my 2 appointments around so the bug was on Thursday and the van on Friday. They said it was no problem so now I just needed to get the struts done by Friday morning. No problem.

I took ED down today to get him aligned and I pulled into the parking lot just as this Lamborghini Countach was leaving. I told you Russ's was the place to go. Where else can you get an alignment done on a 1969 VW bug right after a Lamborghini. Ha Ha!
 Russ himself did the alignment on Ed. I have said it before and I will say it again, If you want good honest work done on your car, Russ's Alignment is the place and yes he is worth a 3 week wait! Ed is in the back of the shop getting all straightened out. I had totally guessed on the tie rod lengths because the new beam I installed had narrowed tie rods. I had nothing to go off of as a reference because of that. It drove straight and the steering wheel was centered but I did notice that it drove better after I got a real alignment done.
 OK, back to the Honda now. I did the drivers side strut last night but I didn't get any pictures because I was in a hurry. I still didn't get very good pictures today on the passenger side because I kept forgetting but I did get some. I thought about pictures just after I removed the strut so here is the strut removed from the van. This is really easy to do. Remove the brake line bracket, the wheel speed bracket, the torsion link, the 2 pinch bolts on the lower part of the strut and then the 3 nuts on the top of the strut. It will then literally fall out of the van and look like this.
I planned to change the stabilizer links and the bushings on the stabilizer bar at the same time. It's a good thing to do because they are most likely going to be corroded like mine were. I had to chisel mine off with a rivet gun.
Here is the lower part of the link that goes to the stabilizer bar. I bought MOOG parts. The new links I have are greasable which I like.
This is under your hood. Remove the 3 caps that cover the nuts for the top of the strut. You could remove the whole plastic piece if you want to but I had no problem getting the nuts on and off just using the caps.
Here is the steering knuckle. The 2 pinch bolts go through where the 2 holes are.
Like I mentioned earlier, I changed the rubber bushings on the stabilizer bar. Here is the old one before I changed it.
This is the strut mount on top of the strut. You can see the FR stamped into it in the picture. It will save you time and frustration if you mark where that is on your upper spring seat. Your new strut mounts will most likely not be marked so this will allow you to match them up and mark it before you try to install it into the van. This will only go in one way so if you don't line them up you have a 1 in 3 chance of getting it in the right spot and it sucks to reach up in the wheel well and turn the mount. (Ask me how I know!)
You can buy your struts completely assembled with new springs or you can buy them bare like I did. KYB did not offer them fully assembled and I am way too cheap to go that route anyways. I think Monroe and Gabriel offers them but I wouldn't put them on my van. I like better quality. I am a parts snob if you couldn't tell. These Honda vans have pretty big springs. Get a good spring compressor because you will need it. I used the clam shell type and it worked pretty good. I still had to press it a little by hand to get the nut started but it wasn't too bad. I would be leery on the cheap 2 piece type spring compressors. I had a buddy use them on a Subaru and they ended up spinning on him and he ended up taking them to a shop that charged him 2 hours labor to remove them. He was lucky he didn't get hurt.  If you don't have access to a good spring compressor, you can always take your struts to a shop and have them removed and installed on your new struts for a fee.
Here you can see the spring with the compressor installed. I have just removed the spring mount.
Both of my spring mount bearings were bad. I had a squeak when I turned and it has been bugging me for a long time. These bearings are what caused it.
Now for the fun part, installing all the new stuff. Here is the new strut with the bellows and bumper installed. I bought new bellows and bumpers. You could reuse the old ones if you needed to.

Here I am matching up front of the spring mounts like I mentioned earlier.
New bearing installed on the upper spring plate.
Take some time to match up your spring to the correct position where it was originally. Make sure you put this washer in the strut also.
Lining everything up and I am now ready to install the strut mount.
You can see here that I have the mount on with the upper washer. I had to sit on the thing to get the strut up enough to get the nut started. It probably looked funny but it wasn't too bad. Make sure you install the washer with the lip facing up like it is pictured here.
Nut started here. We are cooking with peanut oil now!
Use a crows foot and wrench to torque the nut to 33 ft lbs. Remove the spring compressor now.
Put the strut in place and install the 2 pinch bolts loosely. I like to use some corrosion inhibitor on the bolts. You can also hook up the 2 brackets that were removed earlier.
Now push the whole assembly up into the 3 holes that are in the body. This is where it really works out slick if you aligned the strut mount properly. If you did it should go right into place. If it doesn't you may have to adjust it a little. If you didn't mark it you have 3 chances of getting it lined up. Don't worry though because it will only go in one way so you can't mess it up.
I always get to this point and I don't have my jack handy so I grab anything that fits under the lower control arm. This keeps everything up so the studs stay in the holes. You then move up top and put on the nuts. At this point grab your floor jack and put it under the control arm. Lift it up carefully until the body just barely comes off the jack stand. You can now torque your 2 pinch bolts and the 3 upper nuts on the strut. Now is when you will be glad you bought new stabilizer links because you will have new parts with new nuts. Install them and the wheel and your done. Make sure you get it aligned and your good to go. I like the way the new struts feel and the squeaking in the steering is completely gone. I am happy and hopefully Dixie will be happy also.
I had time to get the lawn mowed, get my hair cut and then the family hit the cruise night at Arctic Circle. There were a lot of cool cars there but we forgot the camera. I did happen to get a picture with my cell phone of Isaac next to this Buick with a straight 8 in it. The engine was really really long! In fact the whole car was long. I liked it a lot!
The best part about the rush job I had to do to keep my alignment appointments is that I now have the whole weekend free. Woo Hoo! Now maybe I can get my garage organized and my ceiling fan installed on Saturday. Check back and see if anything gets done tomorrow.