Elvira : Rebuilding the 36hp, episode 10 : Heater Boxes
episode 10 : heater boxes
I've never had any heating in this ride, which kinda limits its usage in winter (yes, even on the French Riviera!).. Even though I've owned it for over 25 years! It's high time I do something about it!
I initially only had J-Tubes on my engine ; so I started by sourcing a pair of used heater boxes. A bit of rust, a couple of dents and holes, a locked mechanism and a missing lever... But nothing patience, WD40 and a MIG can't fix.
So I start by thoroughly cleaning, followed by sandblasting all the parts. I protect with a bit of masking tape the part of the mechanism that can't be taken apart easily (as its welded in place), to avoid messing with it while sandblasting...
One of the mechanisms is seized by rust (articulated lever) ; WD40 doesn't help, and the bearing finally ripped off as I was trying to free the lever. I finally managed to persuade it to move after clamping it in the vise, so I plug-welded it back on. Done.
On the other side, the mechanism was not seized, but was missing the lever actionnating it. Using a piece of masking tape, I copy the shape of the one present on the other box. Two saw cuts, some filing and drilling two holes, I have a pretty good copy ready to plug weld in place.
All parts finally get a couple of coats of rattle-can Rustoleum hi-temp paint (supposed to handle up to 650°C/1200°F, but I won't hold my breath). All the hardware gets bead blasted, and it's ready for reassembly.
For the whole system to work properly, and for the heated air to be actually forced into the passenger compartment, it requires the under engine tins to be present with their moving flap to redirect the airflow. I did not have those tins on my original engine, and they are getting harder to find (and never built as reproductions). But with some patience, regularly checking online ads, and some bucks, I finally found a pair.
The ones I got were in an ok state, with just a little tab broken on one of the moving flaps. Thorough clean up with naphtha and brake cleaning fluid, then bead blasting to get rid of the flaking paint. And since those are below engine tins,exposed to road gravels, I brush two coats of Hammerite, as it will protect them better than any body paint. Here you can see the left on in its original state, and the right one after full treatment :
I can then focus on fixing the broken tab on the other heater box : only took some MIG persuasion to tackle it.
Bead blasting again it is, and a lick of paint again :
While I was at it, I also changed the flaps control cable, the little rubber boots back where the cable gets out of the chassis, and the fittings on the boxes levers ; next I'll put all this back in the car, and make sure the flaps actually move as expected!
But this will have to wait until the next episode!
It's all good and well that I've rebuilt the 36HP engine, but hey, I've owned this car for over 25 years now and I've never rebuilt the braking system...
Ok, I'll give you I've not driven that much in the meantime, but anyway, I don't feel secure driving not knowing what I got behind the middle pedal - especially with my almost 4yo son who can't wait to go for a ride! Additionally, the (much too) long immobilization of the car caused troubles, I already had the brakes locking while I was hand-pushing the car around the workshop.
So, here we go, the full Monty, let's rebuild everything new : master cylinder, wheel cylinders, drums, flexibles, shoes, springs... And while we're at it, bearings, and seals.
The wheel cylinders, just like the master cylinder, before being installed, are taken apart, cleaned with brake fluid (a toothbrush is great for that), and then slightly lubed with ATE brake grease (which is miscible with DOT brake fluid - do NOT use standard grease here!).
This important as these parts, when stocked for long periods of time, can get "sticky", and not work properly. So yes, that one additional step, but the difference in the smoothness of operation is really worth it.
Here we go, let's disassemble everything, it looks pretty oily... T'was high time to replace the brake shoes, don't you think?
While I'm a it, I clean up the whole rear axle, gearbox, chassis... WD40, a brush, and lots of elbow grease to get rid of 60 years of oil/dirt/stuff. It's always better to work on a clean base...
One bad surprise when taking down the right side, the flexible brake line was so tight I haven't been able to disassemble it (even after trying all the tricks in the book, heat, penetrating oil, vise grip on the brake line wrench...). I finally had to cut it and remake two rigid lines from scratch.
And since everything was out, I changed the rear bearings at the same time, cobbling together a tool to extract the original ones.
Then it's business as usual : cleaning, blasting, and painting to reassemble anew. The brake plates are surprisingly good looking under the dirt. I use Hammerite spray paint for the first time, to give it a shot, I've never used it before.
Finally, I give the new brake shoes a slight bevel with a file, degrease them with brake cleaner fluid, and put everything back together with a touch of copper grease on the friction points...
The rear drums had reached the wear limit (231mm), and they were pretty heavily marked by the shoes. Those were the original drums, stamped July '59, they were due to get a replacement!
The reproduction rear drum don't feature the original oil slinger hole, so I measure 12 times (you know the drill - pun intended - c'mon, I'm a dad now, I get a pass for dad jokes), and drill a Ø8mm hole on each. A bit of grinding/filing, and the oil slingers can go back in.
Now time for painting : degreasing, light sanding, re-degreasing, masking, re-re-degreasing, and three coats of Hammerite spray paint (hey, Hammerite people, I'm open to sponsoring! . The result is pretty neat, we'll see how it handles in time.
One trick when painting in winter : I'm putting all the parts in a large cardboard box, with a shop heater blowing in front of it. .. This way everything's at the right temperature for the paint to dry correctly. I actually even put parts before the first coat also, to prevent them from being too cold, possibly creating a condensation effect ; the paint spray itself goes in too, to get the paint inside more fluid before spraying.
While I was at it, I replaced the suspensions bumper that had been cut down at some point by the previous owner, as he was riding much lower... But I drive at original height now!
There were are, rear drums are ready to reinstall ; time to grab the big torque wrench to tighten the nuts at 30 mkg. Let's have a look in the front now!
Same treatment for the front brake plates, except I had to wire-brush them instead of blasting, as being in between workshops, I did not have my air compressor and blasting cabinet at hand.
And same as in the rear, I re-assemble everything anew, with a touch of copper grease on friction points. Note for self : the bigger of the two springs goes on the cylinder size... I had it wrong the first time.
Behind, same thing as in the rear, I had to make a new brake line on the right hand side, the original one being way too crusty.
Front drums were still within tolerance (barely), I could have kept them... But I finally decided to change them too, having everything new for my peace of mind. I'll keep the old ones if I ever need to go back...
The bearings were cooked : broken cage, balls falling away, steel filling in the grease... It was time to get them replaced. Those I mount instead feature conical rollers, which looks more "mechanical" to me than the original ball bearings.
I remove and re-install the bearings with the hydraulic press I found throw away on the curb - it's always worth having a look there, one man's trash being another's treasure and all this.
Drums go back on, and I replace the original nut+locknut setting with a split nut instead, like on more recent beetles, which is much easier to adjust.
In for a penny, in for a pound (make it cent & dollar if you're a yankee) : let's rebuilt the pedals assembly while I'm at it. The previous owner of this car repainted some parts with this ugly "vanilla-yellowish" color that I cannot stand anymore. So I repaint the whole pedal assembly, in L87 PearlWeiss, just like the wheels. Paint stripper, blasting, primer, 3 coats of paint : much better.
I'm using a rattle spray can L87 from Sprido, priced at 18.50€. Result looks clean, I'll probably use the same on the steering wheel when I get there.
To finally get rid of that God forsaken yellowish sh*t, I'll still have to repaint the seats frames, steering column, steering wheel, the bar below the rear seat, and the electrical circuit cover in the front trunk. But this will have to wait until another episode.
This yellowish horror had already been repainted on the hand brake lever, gear selector and wheels, back when I had given the whole exterior a lick of paint... in 1998!
And while I was at it, I change the clutch and throttle cables. They were still working, but not in a great shape.
But nothing being simple ever, the clutch cable wasn't the right model, too short, and the throttle one was kinda sticky... Anyway, after I took everything out, replaced the clutch cable, it finally works perfectly. Pumped some grease in the pedal assembly, and the feeling/touch of the pedals is completely different, much smoother. We'll see when driving!
OK, let's bleed the whole thing and we'll have enough to stop in security, enough for today... Safe trip everyone!
I had mentioned it last January (actually, already teased about it in January 2018...), but here we are, I've got a new playground!
A bit over two years ago, I moved to a new house, one of the main reasons being a hangar in the back garden... It's legit and on the land registry, but in a sore state, the steel structure being pretty rusty.
It took two years to tun it into a proper workshop. Authorizations, floods, heavy storms, suppliers delivery errors and delays, quarantine, Covid... Let's not go into details, but it's been hell to get stars to align! Well, at least it gave me ample time to refine my organization plans - I've have spent more time on Sketchup than I'm comfortable admitting.
So without further ado, here's the result!
One large garage door that allows two vehicles facing out, ready to drive through, and an integrated walk-in door. And a large bay window to bring in light :
A hoist on rail going all the way through the shop :
To store stuff, shelves on the back wall, made to fit my Eurocrate format boxes, and on each side, two large "mezzanines" 70cm and 90cm deep, at a 2.10m height so I can comfortably walk below. And for the most curious of you wondering why the lower shelf doesn't extend all the way to the left : that's so that I can fit in a Westfalia Campervan one day! (that's the definition of wishful thinking right there)
All my machines are not in yet, I still have to install all the electric outlets, and build a proper workbench, I'll slowly get to it step by step. And I use this time to sort out everything I've stored for like 25 years in my old garages...
All in all, a bit over 50sqm (540sqft), leaving enough room to walk around the 2 cars behind the garage door, plus a "work zone" for a third car :
So that's it! Full disclosure, that's a pretty big dream of mine made true right here...
A huge thank you to Gérald (and his two sons Kevin et Anthony!) for all the building work!
And big thanks to Bruno for lending me your tow bar to tow the cars between shops!
Now, I have to transfer all my tools/machines/parts from the old workshop...
Maintenant, il n'y a plus qu'à rapatrier tous mes outils/machines/pièces... And find time to actually work on my projects!
Do you remember Küby, my VW Thing? I had sold it in 2007 to a good friend of mine...
And as it happens, that very same friend doesn't have a garage for Küby any more, and was thinking about selling it... And since on my end, I do have one spare spot to store it, and more important since I always missed that car... I bought it back from him, 13 years later! KÜBY IS BACK!!
It's globally clean, but needs a bit of TLC.
The body suffered a bit due to several years of being stored outside, the paint job crackled in several places, a bit of corrosion... The wipers motor is stuck, the tires are those I mounted myself 14 years ago, they have a low milage but are cooked.
But Küby purrs and is still a delight to ride!
Thank you so much aSa for taking care of Küby all those years!
I've finally resigned myself to buying a "daddymobile"; a vehicle more suited to my fatherly duties.
The little one loves the Golf, but I gotta admit that once loaded with a trolley and the baby seat, there's not much room left... And it's not that comfy (nor secure!) to drive long trips for our family of 3.
So there it is, "Krapo Bleu" (Blue Toad) finally goes into retirement after 24 years of daily use, at the ripe age of 32. Almost a quarter of a century, every day, behind this steering wheel, this car has almost become an extension of myself. I'm not gonna lie, I choke up a little bit when I pushed her back into the garage ; and on this last picture I took before I closed the door, looks like she had a bit of a teary eye herself too!
There, you can have a rest now, "my old friend". See you back for weekend rides... Or on track maybe?