Friday, November 28, 2008

Big Blue's back (and slower than ever)

After $2200 work of work to the engine, Big Blue seems slower than ever.

I took it in to The Garage, in Petaluma (not my normal shop) as it had sucked in the 3rd cylinder's exhaust valve. Blue had a valve job done - new heads, compression shims added, new pushrod tubes, etc. I was pretty confident the shop knew what they were doing. They had done some work on Little Blue in the past and seemed knowledgeable.

Also, had them put on a stock exhaust (2 exhaust pipes rather than the single pipe that was on there). On The Samba, someone told me that stock should have been the 1 pipe exhaust, so that may have been an error. My old exhaust had leaks and had been hit the week before going into the shop, adding a rather large amount of backfire.

The shop insisted on putting an .009 Dizzy in there with the Ignitor, although I kept the old dizzy in case the .009 is a disappointment. (I know, somewhat, the pros and cons to this and am happy to experiment first hand.) I'll probably put the old one back in soon to see if there is a difference in power.

I posted the info to The Samba and have been getting a good deal of feedback. You can follow the conversation HERE if you are so inclined.

My top speed is 55 on a flat road with the pedal all the way down. I seem to need to have the pedal down to the floor almost all the time to maintain speed. I didn't really have to do this before. And, unless I am nuts, I remember cruising that same road at 60, 65 before.

My hill climbing is worse than ever. I was going 35 up a hill on the 101 in the dark last night! This same hill I used to take at 60 at the bottom and might be down to 50 by the top. I threw on the hazards as it was the first time in driving Big Blue in the last year that I was scared I'd be rear ended.

I'm going to do some testing of compression and then call the shop to talk through any options to get more power, or see if there's any more adjustments we can do. I just want more hill-climbing power.

Below is the final paperwork regarding the work done. As always, you can click on the image to get a bigger image...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ebert March - VW man in Northern Michigan...

An article from the Traverse City Record Eagle in Northern Michigan. You can click on each image to get a bigger image to read.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Article from JULY 1, 2006 issue of Hemmings Motor News.

This article originally appeared in the JULY 1, 2006 issue of Hemmings Motor News.

The engine that gave the iconic Beetle its soul.

Volkswagen's flat-four might be one of the simplest engines ever produced, but there was nothing simple about the path it took to production. An Austrian engineer's persistent dreams, inspiration from an iconoclastic Czechoslovakian designer and enthusiastic support from one of the most reviled dictators in history all played a role in birthing this enduring engine.

As Europe struggled to emerge from the worldwide depression of the 1930s, Ferdinand Porsche's head was filled with ideas for an inexpensive, durable car for the masses. What Porsche needed was a reliable patron.

Zundapp, the motorcycle manufacturer, wanted to get into the car business, and hired Porsche to build a prototype. Porsche suggested an air-cooled, horizontally opposed engine, similar to those that Hans Ledwinka had designed for Czechoslovakian automaker Tatra, but Zundapp specified a water-cooled radial five-cylinder, which turned out to be a failure. Porsche's engine designer, Josef Kales, then designed an air-cooled engine for a high-volume, low-priced car that NSU wanted to build, but that company lost interest, too.

It took the support of Adolf Hitler to get Porsche's car for the masses built. The car, named the KdF-Wagen (for Kraft durch Freude, or Strength through Joy), was offered to German workers through a savings plan. To power the car, Porsche tried a two-stroke vertical twin and a pair of horizontal twins, all air-cooled, before returning to his idea for a flat-four.

Franz Xavier Reimspiess's reworking of Kales's design emphasized economy and reliability above horsepower. A split alloy crankcase reduced weight, a cast-iron crankshaft with three main bearings saved money, and a single four-lobe camshaft--each lobe operating opposing valves--brought simplicity. Each side of the engine had a single, aluminum cylinder head bridging two cast-iron cylinder barrels, the assemblies held in place by studs threaded into the crankcase. The camshaft was located in the center of the block, gear-driven off the crankshaft. Pushrods were enclosed in steel tubes, pushing against shaft-mounted rockers to actuate the horizontally oriented valves.

A radial fan, enclosed in a steel cowling, was driven off the generator, which was itself driven off the crankshaft by a rubber belt. The fan forced air down over the cylinder barrels, and across the oil cooler mounted to the fan's left--oil as well as air provide the cooling in an air-cooled engine. A long manifold connected the inlet ports with a single Solex carburetor.

When crankshafts broke in testing, the cast iron was replaced with forged steel. Sure, it made only 22.5hp at 3,000 rpm, but it could run at maximum speed on low-grade fuels all day long.

VW rose from the rubble of World War II on the strength of the little car, now named the Beetle, and went on to manufacture more than 22 million of them. Over the years, displacement was increased several times, from 1,192cc to 1,285cc to 1,493cc, and, finally, 1,584cc. The maximum power rating was just 54hp--not something you were likely to learn from VW's omnipresent advertisements.

The last original Beetle was produced at Puebla, Mexico, on July 30, 2003, but it wasn't the last air-cooled VW. That distinction belongs to a microbus that rolled off the assembly lines at Sao Paulo, Brazil, on December 23, 2005.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Humphrey Motors, Inc - VW Dealership in Hayward, CA

This is where Big Blue was first sold in the summer of '68. I tried to track down the building last summer and it's gone. At least, I think it is. The address didn't exist anymore. If I get in the area again, I'll see if it's still there now that I know what it looked like...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Big Blue is back home!

More info later. But it's good to have him back!

A little customization and cleaning of Little Blue...

With Big Blue in the shop, and Little Blue running awesome, there hasn't been too much to update about our personal adventures in our VWs. Thus all the articles, scans and what-not that have little to do with our actual cars that have filled this blog lately.

The story with Big Blue is that he should be back in the next week or so. The engine went back in last week and The Garage is running through the tuning and what-not. I'll do a post about the work done when I get him back. I miss him. We left a camera with the shop so they could document the engine work, so it will be cool to see those pictures as well.

One thing that has changed is I made enough room in our garage to park Little Blue inside. This has made a world of difference when working on her as I can take my time and even work barefoot should the mood strike. I've been doing some little things like...

Adding a period bumper sticker...

Adding eyelids that Marc gave us on his visit (thanks Marc!)...

Trying to figure out how to adjust the lights. One isn't stock. I think it is the passenger side (2 images down). Notice the spots to adjust the beams are different on both lights? Also the placement of the running light is different.

I think this one is stock (driver's side)...

And this one is from a different year (it's marked VW, so I don't think it is aftermarket)...

And I have been cleaning those small places like under the VW Emblem...

Note the original color vs the re-spray.

Having a workspace right in the garage is heaven!

A good deal of dirt and surface rust is tucked away here and there, so I have been cleaning that (steel wool is amazing at taking some of the surface rust off!).



Added a period correct sticker to the oil filter.



I'm plugging away at small things quite quickly now and the garage is making it fun. When Big Blue gets back, I am going to rush to get some interior work done before the winter camping season starts. 

More updates soon...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A few more VW toys

I have picked up a few more VW toys for my office. I don't know too much about them, but they were cheap. Here are some pictures...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Small Wonder - Book Review & more

I finally finished the book Small Wonder, by Walter Henry Nelson. I'm odd about my books in that I like to experience them the way they were originally printed, so it took some time to track down an affordable, decent first edition (by affordable, I mean less than $15). So take into account that there are revised editions out there, with more pictures updated info. The original stops in the early 60s (revised editions will take you into the 70s).

That aside, the book was a fascinating story of the early years of VW's development. I wasn't too informed on the history of VW before purchasing the bus, as I was more concerned with the "camping" aspects on the bus, not the VW community. So this was a lesson in the early beginnings of, what is now, a major player in the world's car market. Along with some history lessons and, in later parts of the book, some details into the evolution of the VW community.

The book sets some of the rumors straight. Was it Hitler's design, or Dr Porsche's design (Porsche's)? Did Henry Ford get offered the company but turn it down, saying it had no future (yes and no, he was offered the company, but was advised it had no future)?

The book focuses on the sedan (the bug) specifically, as the company owes it's existence to that model, and only veers occasionally into the bus, or the 1500. And, from the pre-war design of Porsche's to the post-war hurdles and successes of Heinz Nordoff, the story is not a typical story of a company's birth. If anything, for many years, it was as if no company existed (legally, this was a battle for quite some time) yet cars continued to be made.

The company not only survived, it flourished. And with it, the culture of the VW grew. The second half of the book deals with this history. It discusses Volkswagen of America's involvement in the community as well as the bug's influence on culture.

It's a well-written and easy to follow book. Aside from the glowing chapter on the personal life and leadership style of Heinz Nordoff (the company's early president), it moves along at a good pace. If you are into VWs and haven't read it, I suggest tracking down a copy. It will give you a bit of the history about what's under the seat of your pants. And just how close you would be to never owning a VW at all...

Walter Henry Nelson from jacket cover.

In the Spring, 1963 issue of Small Word, Walter Henry Nelson wrote an article, below to promote the book.
Fold out card to send away and get a copy of the book.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

VWs of... Portland, Oregon.

We were in Portland, Oregon, a few weeks ago and I took pictures of almost every VW I saw. I was a little surprised by the fact that I didn't see more. Downtown was void of older VWs.

Anyway, here are the VWs I spotted...

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