99% to Perfection

After some ups and downs over the past week, and the engine knocking, I decided to check the points again.

After checking and trying to regap, I found that the points set screw was stripped. So, I’m thinking now that the problem with the engine knock was the points not being seated properly(or bouncing around) instead of the marine gas.

Stripped points screw? So what’s the fix? Found one other rebuilt 021 905 205 P but at $175, need to hold off for now. I decided to move up one screw size and went with a stainless steel 8/32″ screw. The smallest length I could find was 1/2″.

Since all of my tools are packed up for an upcoming move, I used two nuts and a hacksaw to try and get the screw to about the same length as the OEM …about 3/16″. After trimming and filing, tried in the distributor and it fit. Reset the gap as close to .016 that I could… was a little difficult since when tightening, the gap would get smaller, so used a larger gap, then tightened.

After resetting, went ahead and checked the dwell which was at 51°. The range should be from 45° to 52°, so after the big flub up several days ago, I decided to leave at 51°.

Grabbed the timing light but couldn’t remember the settings exactly so got the timing close and cranked it and she purred just like before, but this time, without the engine knock. Great birthday gift for the day. 🙂

Big Oops.

After finally getting the distributor issue resolved, decided I’d break out my new dwell meter and check the dwell prior to setting the timing.  After using a points gap of .016, the dwell turned out to be 50°. But that wasn’t good enough for me,  so tried to get it down closer to mid-range of 47°-52°.

Big mistake. After setting a gap of .018, to get the dwell down, I couldn’t get her to start.

I was almost out of gas, so decided to use some fresh marine gas that I recently picked up during the recent hurricane scare.

After adding gas, and resetting the points again, I finally got her started again, BUT … I was getting a horrible engine knock from passenger side of engine. Though it was going to throw a rod.

Went to bed and it dawned on me the next day that I had added the marine gas and maybe that was the issue for some reason. I didn’t think of the gas being an issue as I had used non-ethanol gas in to before with no problems.

I drained the tank and picked up some fresh regular unleaded gas.

Distributor Popping Out

Since pulling the distributor for cleaning and painting, it was time for reinstallation. Since bumping the motor over a few times in the past three years, I had to find TDC. Pulled the #1 spark plug, checked the piston position, had my fan mark at TDC and inserted the distributor. Already had the points set to .016, bolted everything up and all is good. I set the timing by memory of where it should be.

I go ahead and crank it and after a few cranks, it fires right up and is running. Tweak the distributor a little to smooth it out.

Turn the engine off for a few minutes and then go back to restart it. No start. Turns over but no cranking. Pull the distributor cap and find that the distributor shaft has totally disengaged from the engine gear.

I pull the distributor and try everything again. Same exact scenario. After posting on VWSamba and thinking about over night, pulled the distributor and saw the problem. I had tightened the timing hold down first and then bolted the distributor in. The problem with that is there was a very small gap(see below) of about 3 sheets of paper that were causing the distributor to not fully seat into the engine gear, even though the distributor hold down was totally flush with the engine block.

After loosening the timing bracket, inserting the distributor, tightening the hold down, THEN tightening the timing bracket, it started right up not once, not twice, but every time. Problem solved…at least for now.


1st Stage of Launch: Lights…

After checking and double checking everything, time to find put some power to the ignition for a light check. And unbelievably, all lights illuminated on first attempt.

Considering I unplugged the entire rear wiring harness, rewired a good portion of the engine compartment, it was truly a miracle that everything worked on first try.


Moving along

Had a productive weekend. Received my order from JBugs on Friday, just in time for the weekend.

  • Was disappointed(but not surprised) that the rear marker lights did not fasten to the bus as they should or intended. So ended up using plastic 1/4″ anchors to fasten the base to the bus and then used screws to fasten the marker light to the base.
  • Purchased a new Duracell Group 36R battery. I must say the Walmart Everstart battery I purchased more than 10 years ago, did a great job for it’s lifetime but finally wouldn’t hold a charge.
  • Finished reconnecting all of the rear engine and electrical wiring, with the exception of the blower motor. Don’t really need it right now to get her running, plus need to rewire some of it due to age and corrosion.
  • Reconnected the starter wiring, installed new fuel line from the carb to the fuel filter but need to connect it this evening.
  • Replaced the aluminum intake to head gaskets with fiber gaskets and tightened and torqued the intake and carb.

Putting Her Back Together, Part 4

Prior to me dropping the set screw and starting this entire update process, I had picked up a set of complete insulation boards. They weren’t perfect but I could at least use a pattern. Used 1/8″ masonite(or hardboard) and traced out the pattern, cut everything out and then used a drill press and forstner bit to began the process of drilling all of the holes.

Sprayed them with semigloss black paint and never got to install them. I also scored a full set of the original insulation in super great shape. The plastic protectors had of course dry rotted, so purchased some clear trash bags, used the manufactured seams as much as possible. Then, trimmed to fit and used a lighter to melt the edges and press together to form a sealed package. Even saved the original VW papers and inserted into the insulation plastic(as seen in one of the pics)

Must say they turned out great. Should have taken some pics of the insulation prior to installing, but was too excited to get them installed.

The insulation boards have lasted more than 5 years in the garage with the Charleston humidity and still look the same as when I made them.

Painting Engine Tin

1973 Volkswagen Bus 1700 Engine Tins

With a little additional elbow grease, I was finally able to remove the engine tin. It was a battle, but I won out this time. I removed the cylinder tins, the engine surrounds, and the front tin, a few pieces underneath. I did have to unplug the wires from the alternator to the voltage regulator, however, I marked EVERYTHING to make sure I reinstalled correctly. More time spent now will save time on the backend… and frustration. Here is a pic of the tins removed and unstripped:

1973 Volkswagen Bus 1700 Engine Tin
1973 Volkswagen Bus 1700 Engine Tin

Since removing, I’ve now spent hours stripping with paint stripper, wire wheels and sandpaper. Yes, I could have had it sandblasted, however, this is a great stress reliever. I love working in the garage, whatever the task.

I chose to only spray paint the engine tin for now and not have it powder coated. I’m planning on building a second engine and will get the engine tin powder coated when that happens. Didn’t want to powder coat now and then end up scratching it.

I ended up using Dupli-Color Black Hot Rod Sandable Primer DAP1698 and then several final coats of DupliColor Ford Semi-Gloss Black DE1635. I wanted to use semi-gloss so as not to show grease smudges, etc. The main goal is not show qulity at this time, but just to try and get everything looking better.

Dupli-Color® DAP1698 - Sandable Primer Surfacer Black Hot Rod
Dupli-Color® DAP1698 – Sandable Primer Surfacer Black Hot Rod
Dupli-Color Engine Enamel Ford Semi-Gloss Black
Dupli-Color Engine Enamel Ford Semi-Gloss Black
A few of the newly painted pieces of the engine tins.
A few of the newly painted pieces of the engine tins.

A bad day in the garage, is better than a good day at work!

What started out to being a one hour job, turned into six.

I recently picked up a digital dwell meter and was anxious to tweak my timing rather than only using a timing light.

I decided to go ahead and remove my points and check for pitting and clean everything up a bit. Not that it was that dirty, but never hurts to do some cleaning. I began to reinstall the points and DROPPED the set screw underneath the engine tin. ARGH!!!

Tried my magnet in the hole and could never find it which began my quest of trying to remove the drivers side engine tin. I thought while I’m removing the tin, I’ll go ahead and strip it and repaint it from the unusual candy apple red color obviously painted by a previous owner. Ultimately, I’ll have it stripped and powdercoated, but for the time being a nice coat of semi-gloss black will be just fine.

To remove the engine tin, it was necessary for me to remove the carb and intake runners and also removed the distributor after making sure the engine was at TDC.

In an earlier post, I had written about having to repair one of the intake studs on the cylinder head. When I installed the intake, I was unable to tell if there was a left and right so I went ahead and installed which way I thought was correct. After installation, I noticed that the runners would not insert into the air distributor. So, I got them as close as possible and then used my silicone boots and there wasn’t any leakage.

I took this opportunity to reverse the intake sides to see if the fit was better. The fit is better, however, I noticed that the carb was now not sitting level. Thought at first it was just my eyes playing tricks. More on that later.

Back to the tins … I removed all of the tin screws on the left side and still was unable to remove the #3 and #4 cylinder tin. I was able to remove the two pieces from underneath and then the left outside piece. No matter how much I struggled it just would not come out and in fear of bending something I just gave up for now. I did read several posts about that once the screws are out, it should come out with some extra work. Went forward with stripping, priming and painting the engine tins I was able to remove. Finished those up last night. Not perfect but so much better than before. Pics to come. 😉

The good news is I was able to separate the engine tin far enough away to see the points set screw and was able to retrieve it. Then proceeded to installing the points again, and reinstalling the cylinder tin, carb and intake. I first tried setting my points gap to .016 inches, but that gave me a 39° degree dwell. For used points the dwell should be between 42° and 58°; for new,  42° and 50°. I went to .014 and was able to get the dwell to 52°. I then set the timing and have it set at 28° at 3000 RPM with the vacuum hose plugged.

The acceptable range for the point gap should be .016 to .020 inches.

After setting the dwell and the timing, it’s time to set the carburetor. With a progressive Weber, I used the initial settings provided by Redline. For some reason, the idle at times will vary from 500 rpm to 1100 rpm. I greased the distributor shaft and thought that would have helped that situation as I’ve run into that before. After several attempts and removing the mixture screw and spraying carb cleaner, I finally thought I had got it.

Took it out for a spin and it was actually running very well … except when I turned a tight corner to head home where it actually stalled out. Cranked it and ran fine, until I made another hard turn into the driveway and she died again.

My memory is not as good as it once was but surprisingly remembered about a post I had read on TheSamba website about someone’s carb not sitting level after reversing the intake runners incorrectly. Hmmm … ring a bell?

So, this weekend, I hope to remove it all again, try and remove my #3 and #4 cylinder tin and reverse my intake runners and see if I can pry the runners into the air distributor with some clamps. Then set everything back up again.

The good thing about all this struggle … practice makes perfect and I’ve never removed my distributor before and reinstalled.

What started out as a one hour job, turned into six hours and a hot, humid, sweat filled day. HOWEVER, a bad day in the garage, is better than a good day at work!

I’ll keep you posted.


Going to take the plunge again … rusty step repair.

Took a little time tonight to look at repairing my passengers side step. Several years ago, I purchased a pair of Klokkerholm step repair panels, however, I was a little surprised at the quality – metal thickness and the corners weren’t stamped but folded on top of each other. Luckily, it doesn’t look like I will need to repair the entire panel but can cut off the part I need and weld it in.

Check my pic below of the repair needed and then the Klokkerholm panel. The portion I will cut out is marked with a black Sharpie.

Rusty Step
Rusty Passenger Side Step
Klokkerholm Repair Panel
Klokkerholm Repair Panel