First Westy Trip of the Season

As usual at this time of year the outdoor school our eldest attends had their year-end camping trip, this time to the Walbran Valley on Vancouver Island. Parents are welcome to attend so, as we have always done, we joined the trip.

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The Walbran Valley is right next to the Carmanah Valley, which was the location of BC’s ‘War in the Woods’ which ended up in the creation of Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park in the early 1990s. Currently parts of the Walbran Valley are slated for logging and another ‘War in the Woods’ maybe be ramping up as various groups in favour of saving the beautiful valley from clear cuts are working towards that end. (see https://www.wildernesscommittee.org/walbran for details)

It really is beautiful there and Walbran Falls is stunning, a truly incredible place to be.

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We went on a short hike to the Castle Giant, a massive old cedar tree and it was nice to walk among the old growth.

On the way in, we saw some helicopter logging going on just before arriving at Walbran River. The helicopter, a Sikorsky S-64, was massive and the landing was right on the road. The road was clear when we passed but others in our camping group had to wait about 10 minutes while the freshly dropped logs were moved.

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Westy ran nicely for the trip but one of our fellow campers got a flat on the way home and her spare wouldn’t work due to the fact it needed different lug nuts she didn’t have (first flat tire in a new-to-her vehicle) so as we didn’t want her to have to spend the night on the side of a logging road by herself (she had sent her kids home in other cars by the time we got there) our little group (me and 2 kids) decided to camp with her on the side of the logging road until the tow truck arrived.

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The tow truck arrived at 3:24 a.m.! By 4 a.m. he had the truck with the flat tire loaded on his flat-deck and was off down the logging road with the trucks owner. The first empty logging truck going up came by at about 3:50 a.m. and it got progressively noisier after that with the peak of uphill traffic (empty logging trucks and crew pick-ups) coming shortly after 5 a.m.  They all just drove on by with the exception of 2 pickups whose driver’s felt the need to lay on the horn for a while when driving by the westy (maybe thinking westys equate with the enemy in the ‘War in the Woods’?). Anyhow, luckily the kids sleep through the entire thing until I got them up at 7 a.m. to pack up and get ready to head back down and home. By that time there were full logging trucks going down as well as empty ones coming up and as I didn’t want to round a corner to face the grille of an empty logging truck heading straight for me at speed, I waited for the next one going down and followed fairly close behind. Luckily it had rained pretty hard that night  so there was virtually no dust even right behind the loaded truck. I ended up with an escort down and once we reached the bigger 2 lane road down by Cowichan Lake the logging truck I had been following pulled over and waved me past.  I gave him a big ‘thank you’ wave and off we went towards pavement (another 15k or so).IMG_0591 (1)

The Walbran Valley is a beautiful place that definitely merits another visit when we have time to do more hiking.

 

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Syncro Vanagon Speedometer Drive Gear Replacement

As usual at this time of year I start thinking about getting the westy trip-worthy. One of the items was getting the speedo and odometer working again.

The van has been without a speedometer and odometer for the last year. I got by using the miles-per-hour gauge on the ScanGauge2. (As I have a Bostig Zetec in my vanagon I can connect the ScanGauge to the OBD port.)

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I had diagnosed the issue to be a problem with the speedo drive gear in the front differential: when I spun the speedo cable from the differential end the speedometer moved and when the front wheels were turning the speedo output on the side of the differential was stationary unless I gave it a bit of a twist manually, in which case it would turn about ¾ of a turn and stop again. Seemed like a few teeth were worn off the drive pinion gear.

There is a great thread at https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=482112 so I read that before attempting the job of replacing the drive gear. It was very helpful.  I then prepared for the task by getting an inexpensive set of roll-pin punches and purchasing a new speedo drive pinion gear from T3 Technique in the states. (previously this was only available from the UK.)

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There is an aluminum ‘sleeve’ held into the side of the front differential housing by a roll pin and as mentioned on that thesamba thread if you ‘extend’ your punch with a socket drive extension (I used an 10”, ½” drive extension and a 10 mm socket which fit perfectly over my roll-pin punch) it is a good set-up to drive the roll pin out.

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Once the roll pin was out I used a similar method to the one described on thesamba to remove the aluminum sleeve from the diff housing (but used an old nut and part of a ball bearing as a spacer).

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Exactly as I suspected, a few teeth were worn off the plastic pinion gear.

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Next step was to make sure the new bronze gear from T3 had the same number of teeth as the old plastic one (they both have 19 teeth – well the plastic one maybe had 16 ½  left but started life with 19)

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I then removed the old plastic gear with a hacksaw, cleaned the shaft and new gear with brake-clean, coated the knurls on the shaft with loc-tite 680 and pressed the shaft into the new gear.

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According to the loc-tite website, 680 takes 24 hours to cure so I’ll put everything back together tomorrow. Looks like that should be an easy task. What I was most worried about on this job was the roll pin being stuck and possibly damaging the diff case like happened to one of the fellows on thesamba thread.

UPDATE: everything went together nicely and I now have a functional speedometer and odometer. The speedometer is a bit jumpy at low speeds though (below maybe 25 kmph). If I would have had a 10mm reamer I would have reamed out the housing the speedo pinion gear shaft fits into as there was a little resistance to turning there. I may still do that in the future, now I know this all comes apart fairly easily.

 

 

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M16 (old Studebaker farm truck)– big trip to the mainland

In the last 10 days I got the “new” intake and exhaust manifolds installed, the gas tank cleaned out and an inspection of the dragging right front brake completed.

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New manifolds from Ted as old exhaust manifold had a large crack.

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Generally this truck is super easy to work on but those big old wheels/tires are not light!

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Time for either front wheel cylinder kits or possibly new wheel cylinders. I didn’t have time to deal with that before this trip but it is on the list for ‘soon’. 

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Previous owner had had the tank cleaned and painted by a radiator shop which was great except that whoever put the tank back together used so much silicone sealant on the sending unit mount that all kinds of little pieces of dried silicone were loose in the tank and kept intermittently clogging the tank outlet.

All that work ended up happening in short order as I was preparing to use the M-16 to go pick up 38 bales of straw that will end up in the walls of a new structure we are building (slip-straw walls – a mix of straw and clay, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSApSrd8VwY if you are interested in how slip straw walls work).

 

I wanted to take the M-16 as it could easily hold all the straw in one load whereas if I took my F250 I would have needed to make 2 trips, possibly more, and the ferry costs over $100 per round trip.

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Empty on the trip to the mainland for straw

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38 bales of straw fit no problem

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Straw all tarped-up for the ferry ride. BC Ferries considers straw or hay to be dangerous goods due to the potential for fire so the load had to be well tarped and I had to fill out the dangerous goods paperwork.

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Safely home, rearranging the load so it will fit into the carport/tent.

The old Studebaker ran as smoothly as I could have hoped for although travelling at maybe 50 km/h (30 MPH) it takes a while to get anywhere. Only one person honked at me for driving slowly and ironically that was very close to a sign  requesting people to respect slow moving farm vehicles.

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Also, it seems some fumes from the engine or gas tank are making their way into the cab so I ended up getting a headache by the time I was finished the about 60 miles of driving today. I did get pretty good at shifting without grinding the gears though (it doesn’t have synchromesh in any gears – transmission is aptly name a ‘crashbox’). Those fumes will have to be dealt with prior to any future long trips.

Oh, and regarding the sticking brakes: the pedal wasn’t returning when I took my foot off and after investigating many things it turned out to be sticky linkage. My M16 originally had power assisted brakes so the linkage is much more complicated than on my parts truck which had no power assist. Anyhow, after lubricating the linkage it was better but still not good so I added an extra return spring and it works nicely now.

Here is a photo of the structure which will have slip-straw wall insulation. (from a few months ago, it has a roof on it now). The clay for the slip straw was sourced locally: we just dug it out of the ground.

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Bikes on Westy and Wasser Stopper

We got over to Pachena Bay on the west coast of Vancouver Island for a few days last week. It is a gorgeous place and the campsite is great: clean, friendly staff, etc.

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I finally got the “how to store 4 bikes efficiently” question sorted out: I found a 3rd bike attachment for the Paul Chen rack and put the 3 full size bikes there and our 6 year old’s bike can go on the roof pretty easily. I made a bracket to hold the small bike in the luggage rack so it can go up or come down quickly plus I can pop the top with it up there (last year with a big bike up there I couldn’t pop the top without bringing down the bike – quite inconvenient).

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I added a wood support to the Paul Chen bike rack as I was a bit worried it might break off with 3 bikes on there when I hit big pot holes at speed on logging roads.

It drizzled a bit while we were at Pachena Bay so I had occasion to use the “Wasser Stopper” westy tent cover for the first time. It seemed to be quite effective.

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Update to previous posts:

  • I need to space the skid plate down so it doesn’t interfere with the HCHC oil pan when the engine is torquing but haven’t had a chance to deal with that yet.
  • I had a shop install the new PS pump (which was a bit of a painful experience on it’s own) and unfortunately the new pump is as noisy as the old one.

One last thing: the Dometic fridge usually works well for us but this trip it experienced a problem I had never seen before. I tested the fridge on propane 2 times just before the trip and all was fine. Then when we arrived at our destination it would not light on propane. The orange light that usually flashes until the fridge lights and then goes steady once the propane is burning would just go on continuously immediately without the igniter ever clicking a single time (and of course the propane not burning). I tried numerous times over the first two days and then on the third day it finally lit up normally – starting to think a truckfridge or something like that might be the way to go… always something. 🙂

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Engine Skid Plate installed – Bostig syncro vanagon

I finished installing the skid plate and the crank pulley is now protected so I am happy about that, but I do need to look into things as the addition of the skid plate seems to have caused a vibration/noise issue at certain RPMs and engine loads.

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Next I want to install the 2″ receiver hitch which will need some modifications as it was made for a stock engined vanagon. In the image below you can see the bar that used to attach to the stock VW engine cradle will need to be modified to bolt to the Bostig skid plate – well maybe you can see that…

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Summer’s coming – westy trips on the mind

Summer will be here before you know it so I want to make sure the westy is ready to go so I got started today.

Last 2 summers I had to stow oldest daughter’s bike on the roof which was less than convenient.

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I plan to put an additional rack on the back for the coming summer and I have a 2” receiver hitch and rack so the plan is to use that. I’ll have to modify the receiver hitch though as it was made to bolt to a stock syncro skid plate. So before that can happen I need to install the Bostig skid plate.

The first step to installing the Bostig skid plate was to get the old power steering reservoir mounting bracket out of the way (the Bostig kit mounts the PS fluid reservoir elsewhere, as you can see below).

 

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You can see the old bracket that needed to be removed just behind the PS pump.

 

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The PS resevoir bracket – removed.

I wasn’t’ really sure how I was going to get it out of there as it is welded in place and there is not a lot of room in that vicinity, but luckily there was just enough room to get in there with a cut off wheel on my die-grinder.

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It ended up coming out reasonably easily and I got the area cleaned up, primed and painted.

Next step is installing the Bostig skid plate. It is 3/8” think and really heavier duty than I need but I wanted something to protect the crank pulley area of the engine in case I back into a stump or something.

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That crank pulley looks rather exposed, the skid plate will solve that. (old photo before I installed the new muffler, etc.)

 

PS – gotta love the Bostig skid plate video.      

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M-16 Studebaker working…

Fired up the studebaker for a trip to the gravel pit a couple of days ago. Needed to get a yard of gravel for patching potholes in the driveway. Should have got 2 yards actually but it makes for a good excuse to take the M-16 out for another short trip sometime soon.
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