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NOT A MIATA - I've made a terrible mistake

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NOT A MIATA - I've made a terrible mistake

 
Old 05-27-2019, 11:55 AM
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Default NOT A MIATA - I've made a terrible mistake

WARNING: This thread may contain one or more of the following:
  • carburetors
  • distributors
  • PO hackery
  • bad decisions
  • whining
  • divination/haruspicy
  • poorly translated German

So we'll start out on the question I'm sure no one cares has been thinking... "So EO2k, you've been gone for a while, what have you been up to?"

I got a new job, I moved, there was a fire, and I still have 4 cats an a Miata. Go me.

But you didn't come here to hear about me, you came here to see what terrible mistakes I've made. Well partner, we're going for a ride...

IN MY 1965 VOLKSWAGEN BAJA BEETLE!



So these are the first 3 pics I snapped of the car when I found it in the owners yard.



These pics are from back in November or December of last year.



The keen eyed amongst you will notice the background looks a little ...sepia tone. Well, that's not a filter. These pics were taken in Paradise, California shortly after the Camp Fire. This vehicle was sitting in my in-laws neighbors driveway when the whole neighborhood burned to the ground. Most of the cars in Paradise look something like this:



I even found a Miata for you to gawk at:




And most peoples houses look like this:





This is just one house. There are 13,500 more homes EXACTLY like this in Paradise. I don't have the correct grasp of language to express this on a level that can be understood unless its something you've experienced directly, so I'm not even going to try. To quote Dr. Ellie Arroway from Carl Sagan's book Contact: "No words. They should have sent a poet."




How that stupid VW survived with the pile of oak leaves under it is a mystery to me. The car next to it burned to the ground, the house and trailer next to it burned to the ground, but the car survived. Totally random.
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Old 05-27-2019, 12:20 PM
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I spent the next couple months trying to chase down the previous owner (PO) who I'll call "PO Ken" who clearly also lost his house, but eventually we made the connection. For the princely sum of $400 I bought this car, not running, and hauled it over to my father in laws burned out lot.

I can hear the commentary already "You paid $400 for that piece of ****?"

Yeah, I did. Because it has a clean title in the POs name, and was on current non-op. For those of you who don't understand the pain of California vehicle registration, that's a HUGE deal. If you fail to pay registration for just 2 years, its a minimum of around $550 and at least 2 trips to the DMV to sort it out. That means taking time off work and dealing with The Central Bureaucracy, and ain't nobody got time for that. If the owner doesn't have a title in their name, you're talking another $100+ and several more trips just to get the title shitshow sorted out.

Take it from someone who has played the game several times, if you live in California DO NOT buy a car with a missing or incomplete title history. The juice is almost never worth the squeeze.

But back to VW things.

For those not familiar with a Baja Bug, you basically take a perfectly good (or perfectly terrible) old air cooled volkswagen and you gut it, then cut off the nose, rear end, front and rear fenders, and anything else that gets in your way and you replace it with poorly made fiberglass parts. You then put big wheels on it and go run around in the dirt/sand/ocean/desert/whatever and give zero *****. Sounds like my kind of project!

Meeting up with "PO Ken" I got a little history on the car, and snapped some more pics:



The interior is what you might say "cosmetically challenged"






He bought the tub without an engine (quite common for air cooled VWs, check craigslist if you don't believe me) and a pile of used Baja fiberglass and slapped the car together. And I do mean slapped it together. He stuffed a post '71 1600 dual port in it and called it good to go. He drove it around for a while until he had a heart attack (probably unrelated) and now he can't work on cars anymore. It sat in his driveway for about 5 years until his house burned down, and then it was in the way, so he decided to get rid of it.\

The wiring is pretty ******* frighting






He said used words like "Ran when parked" and "just needs a fresh battery" and "no time to work on it myself" so it was like talking to a walking, breathing version of a Craigslist used car post. He also indicated that the transaxle was leaking lube, but it probably "just needed a gasket somewhere." Riiiight.

I was told that he started it and "got it up to temp every 3 months" until the fire, and it wouldn't take much work to get it road worthy. And that was great news, because I plan on driving it all over the place this summer. Why? Because I make more terrible decisions and have fantastic friends who support me in these endeavours:



https://24hoursoflemons.com/lemons-r...monterey-2019/

That's right bitches, I'm going to take a $400 Baja Bug on a Lemons Rally.

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Old 05-27-2019, 12:44 PM
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First order of business is to make sure this thing'll start and run, and try not to ruin it in the process.

I picked up some straight 30 weight oil from the Tractor Supply on the recommendation of a very VW knowledgeable friend and changed the oil.

I also replaced the oil screen in the engine, as one does with a VW. The oil was dirty and nasty, but wasn't full of sparkly bits. Probably a good sign?

The transaxle got topped off with the only GL4 in existence, as ordered from Amazon:


Words cannot describe my loathing for the stench of gear oil. Topping off the transaxle seemed to go fine, thank goodness and had done my research and already had a 17mm allen key to get the drain and fill plugs loose.

Fluids sorted, time to get it to start. Step 2, why the **** doesn't it crank?

Well, that's because the battery was dead. The car had been converted to an electric fuel pump but the battery was stone dead and clearly had issues. Well, issues beyond falling through the floor. As there is no power in Paradise, I had to haul it back to my place in Chico to put it on a charger. Precautions were taken:



The damn thing refused to take a charge, so I added some distilled water:



It took half a gallon of distilled water.

Well, this battery is clearly fuckered. Well kids, this is what happens when you leave a battery connected to a charger for like, a year. Good thing I've got a spare. I charged up my spare battery and several days later headed back up to Paradise. I hooked up the battery, turned the key, and was greeted by the saddest fuel pump noise I think I've ever heard in my life, along with the sound of dripping and spraying.

thatsprobablynotgood.gif

Turned off the key and went back to check the engine and I was immediately greeted by a smell that rivaled old gear oil. It was old fuel. And it was leaking EVERYWHERE.



Well, this isn't right. I started pulling the hoses off the regulator and they pretty much disintegrated in my hands.



Sure PO Ken, I bet it ran just fine like 4-5 months ago Looks like I need some fuel hose. /sigh

Gave up for the day and drove the 30 min back to Chico to pick up hose so I can try again another day.
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Old 05-27-2019, 12:56 PM
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I should note at this point some of the challenges of working on this project:



From where I work to where the car was stored at the time, its a 30min drive. Paradise is still under curfew for non-residents, and you are supposed to be off the roads by I think 8:00PM. It is HEAVILY patrolled by both the Butte County Sheriffs Department and the California Highway Patrol and because these guys are working in what is essentially a burned out apocalypse so they have zero sense of humor and no time for shenanigans. I've got a window of about 2.5h in the evening to get from work to Paradise, get **** done, and GTFO in the evenings after work. My weekends were packed up with other commitments so getting this thing running was getting to be a challenge.

I'm also working in the dirt/gravel, and that's cause for a few more challenges:



Damn I hate gravel.

Last edited by EO2K; 05-27-2019 at 02:41 PM.
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Old 05-27-2019, 12:58 PM
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Very entertaining.

Where are you working now? What kind os business? IIRC, in the past, you worked IT for a produce grower.
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Old 05-27-2019, 01:19 PM
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I should talk about the engine real quick:



Rather than the stock 35hp or whatever 1200 or 1300cc engine that the car originally came with, this one has been swapped out for a 1600cc dual port motor out of a 71+ Super Beetle. Much like the Millennium Falcon, the PO had clearly also made some "special modifications" as well.

The stock single PICT-whatever carb setup has been replaced with dual Kadron Solex H40/44 EIS kit, somewhat reminiscent to what was originally on a Porsche 356 back in the before times. The distributor appears to be a points unit of the "SVDA" variety (single vacuum, dual advance) and one of the carbs was specifically modified for the distributor, and the exhaust is a typical Baja buggy "extractor" exhaust with what is colloquially known as a "quiet pack" muffler. It was converted from generator to alternator (thank goodness) and an internally regulated alternator at that. Oil fill neck on the alternator stand is some sort of fancy billet piece with a breather. The heater boxes were removed in favor of a set of "J pipes" so at least I know I won't die from carbon monoxide poisoning. For those unfamiliar, the Beetle heater worked by stealing engine cooling air and driving it through a jacket in a double walled heat exchanger that was tied into the exhaust and feeding it into the cabin. They had a tendency to rust out and pump exhaust into the cabin over time. If that's not Kraft durch Freude, I don't know what is! The "high powered" genuine Bosch "Blue" coil rounds out the ensembl.

Here is some more random engine and exhaust pics:








The aluminum crank pulley (who needs a ******* damper, bunch of pansies I swear!) with all the degree markings will come in handy I'm sure.

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Old 05-27-2019, 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by DNMakinson View Post
Very entertaining.

Where are you working now? What kind os business? IIRC, in the past, you worked IT for a produce grower.
Thanks! I try

I'm working for the university here in Chico, still doing tech. The produce company was a good job, but after not really having a boss for 7 of the almost 10 years I worked there, I got a new boss and it suddenly became clear that I wasn't going to be moving forward. I put in a lot of work and effort to "pay my dues" and try to move up, but that wasn't happening unless someone else died or left, so it was time for me to go. Cost of living was too damn high, and my job was never going to afford me the opportunity to "get ahead" of my situation. I should have seen that years ago, but I had some personal stuff I was struggling with over the last couple years that blinded me to it, so it was just a "head down, grind it out, it'll probably get better" situation. Northern California is pretty cool, but I'm still adapting. It'll be a process.
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Old 05-27-2019, 01:55 PM
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If you want to megasquirt it, this guy sells a bunch of gear. He's a pretty cool guy, and I'm sure he will steer you right if you have questions:

Fuel Injection Parts and Accessories for Air Cooled Volkswagen - The Dub Shop

The other hack I remember from my VW days is that the valve lash is supposed to be set at 0 C, so you can fill a Ziploc bag with ice cubes to make it happen. Also, please name this something something pheonix/dumpster fire, etc.
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Old 05-27-2019, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by wackbards View Post
If you want to megasquirt it...
Why in the world would I want to do that? IT RUINS THE CHARACTER OF THE VEHICLE!

(Spoiler alert: I've already been in touch with Mario )
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Old 05-27-2019, 02:03 PM
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While dealing with the apocalyptically leaky fuel system, I came to the realization that the aftermarket fuel pressure regulator was no plumbed correctly. Dafaq?!

It's a super basic Holley non-vacuum referenced adjustable fuel pressure regulator, adjustment range is 1-4psi. No, that's not a typo.

Holley PN 12-804

The inlet is in the center (on the bottom in the above pic) outlets to the sides, and its generally used to plumb the fuel bowls in a 4 barrel setup, something like this:



So clearly one of my carbs was getting full, unregulated flow from the pump and the other was getting ... nothing?

Alarm bells are ringing.

The carbs are happy with 1.75-2psi (again, not a typo) so clearly the needle and seat assembly in one of the carbs is being completely overrun. I bought all new modern fuel hose, filters, clamps and replaced everything. I also decided at that point it was time to do something about the rancid fuel. Good thing the little electric fuel pump was working, because methinks its time to drain the tank and put some fresh fuel in it (without a hint of foreshadowing...)



JUST BE GLAD THIS ISN'T SMELL-O-VISION.

Last edited by EO2K; 05-27-2019 at 02:38 PM.
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Old 05-27-2019, 02:10 PM
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This was ... bad. This fuel needed to go away as quickly as possible. I generally don't have problems with automotive fluids, but the stink here was indescribable.




And yeah, that's rust. FML
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Old 05-27-2019, 02:17 PM
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So with the tank empty, I removed it and hauled it back to the house in Chico for cleanup.





Ewwwwwwwwww.

I put some diesel in it, along with a generous handful of nuts and bolts, and a length of chain, and started shaking.

and I shook

and I shook

and I shook some more.

After 3-4 cycles of shaking, diesel rinse, and more shaking, I flushed it with acetone and let it sit for a couple days to completely dry. I came back, upended the tank, whomped it with a chunk of 2x4 and this is what came out:





Nah, **** this, I'm out.
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Old 05-27-2019, 02:23 PM
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So I did what any logical human being should do, I ordered a new tank:




Lol, Amazon Prime fuel tank for a 1965 Volkswagen. It came with gasket and outlet nipple thing, but no tank screen. At just under $100 I wasn't going to complain. I got a new screen from a local air cooled VW shop and installed this bish.




Errmergerd! Original fuel cap fits!



I also re-plumbed all the stuff under the tank, and added an additional fuel filter.



I also added another filter to the rear, right after the factory hardline.
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Old 05-27-2019, 02:27 PM
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I was up in Paradise and didn't have any other fuel, so I decided to make due and get this thing rolling.

Sacrifices were made.



In order to prime the carbs, I made a little funnely thing to fill the fuel bowls directly through the vents.



#cantstopwontstop #necessityisthemotherofinvention #irsmrt
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Old 05-27-2019, 02:37 PM
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Old 05-27-2019, 02:54 PM
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It was at this point I realized one carb wasn't getting fuel at all, and the accelerator pump wasn't working in the one carb it was running on. Bugger. Tapping on the top of the carb with a large wrench to knock the needle and seat loose accomplished exactly nothing. Dammit.



One carb completely dry



The other had fuel coming out of it all over the place. /sigh. Time for some carb rebuilds! I ripped the carbs off the motor, packed up and headed home.
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Old 05-27-2019, 03:00 PM
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I got online and I ordered a couple carb rebuild kits from the guys at The Kaddie Shack in Pasadena. For being in SoCal, they seemed like ok dudes, but shipping was like, 4 days? Amazon has completely spoiled me.

In the mean time, I started working on the carbs.






It was about this time I realized this rabbit hole was going to get deep.





Unghhhhh
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Old 05-27-2019, 03:14 PM
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Time for full disassembly.



Why do one at a time when you can do them both and mix up all the parts?!

I cleaned what I could with the smallest things I had available, but I still couldn't get carb cleaner through the passages of the accelerator pump. Fffffffuuuuuuuuuuuu


lol handy carb cleaning tools

There is a tiny plastic plunger underneath a brass plug in the carb body that was obviously stuck, and a tiny ball bearing check on the output nozzle tube thingaso. Both need to come out.




Carefuling....



Tiny check ball extracted!

Time to break out the big guns
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Old 05-27-2019, 03:16 PM
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I then broke down ordered up something I've wanted for years:



Aww yiss.

And then I filled it with probably a gallon and a half of this stuff:



I set it to 35C and let'er rip.

Outside. Away from most flammable things. Lol.




For the record, I would NOT recommend filling an ultrasonic cleaner with carb dip
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Old 05-27-2019, 03:21 PM
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But holy **** does it work great.



Most of the parts look damn near brand spanking new.

I opted to order new internal filters for the carbs, along with new floats.



Carbs went together super fast, I almost didn't get a chance to finish my beer.

ALWAYS KEEP THE OLD PARTS AND THE GASKETS! You never know when you'll need the dammed things, and an old gasket is better than no gasket when you are miles from home. #carblyfe #justvwthings #reliability
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