Monday, September 15, 2008

Weekend work - Oil change, replaced plugs, points, rotor and distributor cap

So Sunday was spent doing some tune-up work on Big Blue while jamming to Terrapin Station on vinyl from the old record player in our garage. I know it doesn't do much to discourage the whole hippie/bus thing, but I felt it was appropriate.

This is the first time I got down into the engine so far on either VW. First up, an oil change, which is getting pretty easy. It feels good to get it all cleaned up under there...

This oil catcher is about full...

Replacing parts with all Bosch parts...

So I had some leftover tune-up items from when we bought Big Blue. Monty had left a sack of points, rotors, distributor caps and what not among the boxes in the back of Big Blue. I ordered new plugs last week from Wolfsburg West, who is quickly becoming my favorite source for parts. If you look closely at the picture above, you may be keen enough to notice the condenser here is the wrong condenser. I wasn't keen enough to notice until I got into it, so I wasn't able to replace that.

The old spark plugs. 1 year of wear. All except the cylinder 1 seemed in good shape. If you see any concerns, let me know.

Little odd plastic things...

Perhaps the readers of this blog can give me some insight into these little plastic bastards on the end of the spark plugs. I have always worked on cars where the plug connects directly to the spark plug wire. Since they were already on the bus, and since Monty had left a bag of new ones behind, I swapped them out exactly as I found them. It was interesting to take them out and to disconnect them - you have to pull apart where the wire meets the reddish plastic thing by pulling back the rubber piece at the very right of the picture above. Seemed like a bad way of doing it, so if anyone has ideas, let me know.

A few things failed on me while doing the tune-up. I tried to check the compression of the cylinders which a compression gauge I bought last month, but I couldn't get it to read on the gauge. It would put pressure into the tube (screwed into the spark plug socket) but something wasn't connecting between the gauge and the tube. I will try to find replacement parts for it as I am curious about my compression and want to know how to do this procedure. Also, I need to order some condensers for the next tune-up. I also want to test my coil, but that seems to be a two person job...

In addition, setting the gap on my points and plugs were tough because neither my spark plug spacer nor my spacer for doing valve adjustments had the right size spacers. I was able to add them up and use multiple spacers at the same time, but for the next time, I will be buying the right sized spacer.

A question for you bus guys out there; Do the points really only come apart when they are at the top of the lobe? So they are together more than they are apart? I am still understanding the basics of this, so any insight would help. Perhaps I should have turned down the Dead and thought about it more, but it might be beyond my knowledge.

I also found out that my distributor on the bus doesn't have centrifugal advance, just vacuum advance (which I figured out how to test and it works fine, but tastes like crap), so I am going to look into the nature of that and see if I should upgrade and what that means. I bought a Pertronix Electronic Ignition and may convert it over, but would like to know how to adjust everything first. I'm thinking of doing the whole "2nd distributor backup in the bus" thing, but we'll see.

Big camping trip this weekend, so I am trying to get everything up to speed for the journey...


Ludwig's Drivers

Do not, Do Not, DO NOT! "upgrade" to a mechanical advance-only distributor (the infamous 009) in BigBlue! BigBlue should have this distributor:
I know Muir says mechanical advance-only dizzies are the greatest thing since sliced bread but he is wrong, wrong, wrong. Instead of going into an amateur lecture about how timing works, just do a search on either the IAC or on the Samba and you'll read pages upon pages of reasons for why they're terrible. I can't wait to change out Ludwig's stupid stupid 009 to a vacuum advance distributor, but I've got to wait until we can change out his stupid stupid Weber carburetor to the stock dual Solexes first.
The spark plugs. You took off those metal thingies that thread onto the end of the plugs, right? And you don't pull the reddish thing apart from the black wire; you push the reddish thing onto the end of the (installed) plug.
Testing the coil. Doesn't EP count as a person?
Feeler gauge. You really have to get a decent feeler gauge that'll have every gap you'll ever need and about three dozen that you won't. They're not too pricey at Sears.
The points. Yes, they are basically together more than they are apart. This is because during any given revolution of the engine, no spark plug is firing more than any spark plug is firing. Closed points=no plug firing; open points=plug firing.

Big Blue's Driver


I have read your distaste and the controversy of the .009 and am staying away. The .009 just has a centrifugal advance, not vacuum, correct?

What I was thinking about, and tell me if you think this is crazy, is getting the same type of distributor that's in Little Blue, with both a vacuum advance and a centrifugal advance, but swapping in the Pertronix instead of points/condenser.

Spark plugs - yeah, removed those metal caps from the end, which exposed threads, which won't let me pull the reddish thing (what are those called?) off cleanly, which is why I screwed them on. That's why I had to undo the plug cable. Perhaps I didn't pull hard enough? They really seem to want to follow those threads in...

EP does count as a person, but she was a couch shopping person on Sunday. Bad news, no coil check. Good news, new couch headed our way. I also had to do the compression test by running to the front, trying to start it for about 5 seconds, then running to the back to see if it registered. As noted, the compression gauge doesn't work.

I need to find a good resource for tools. Not sure if there are any Sears in the area, but I'll do some online shopping. I am beginning to think everything Kragen and Napa sells is crap. I bought a Paint Pen on Sunday morning to mark the 7.5 and 10 degree spot on Little Blue and the pen was dry. I'm tired of it. I'd be willing to pay a little more $$$ for tools that will work correctly. I'm trying to find my receipt for the compression thing to take back to Kragen...

Thanks for the feedback on the points. It made more sense to me the other way: Points open, not firing, points touching, firing, but I see the logic now.

As usual, thanks for the input. Sometimes, doing this crap alone gets you thinking you are doing it wrong. I make mental notes of what questions to ask on the blog, hoping for you and others to help out. So thanks again.

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