15 years ago almost to the day (yeah, I know, I'm running a bit late on this article) I fulfilled a child's dream... Ride a 911!
Obviously, that is not a reasonable purchase ; just finding an insurance that accepts you at 26 years old is quite an ordeal! Finally, I only managed to keep that car for a little over a year and a half.
Long story short, late June 2001, I went to Autobase (which became AMS78 since then), in the Paris area, a Porsche specialized garage where a friend of mine (Jérome V.) spotted a vehicle that might scratch that itch of mine... And as you can guess, beginning of July, I drove "Malicia", a 1986 911 3.2L , 1000km back to Southern France!
The end of the story?
March 2003, I lost my job, belt-tightening period : I had to sell, reluctantly. At least she went in the hand of an enthusiast, in a heated garage somewhere in Normandy, beside a very lovable Alpine A110 Berlinette...
I sold it back exactly the price I bought it (17.000€), I've not lost a penny at that time ; since then, the prices for these cars has skyrocketed, it would set me back more than double the amount to get one of these today! It is, and will remain, above my pay grade. That's a pity, I would have loved to slip back into one of those bucket seats... Well, it probably wouldn't be the same anyway, nowadays there are speed checking radars everywhere!
Just looking back at these pictures, sounds and smells come back to me... Ok, gotta leave you now, I'm gonne play the Lottery!
Elvira : Rebuilding the 36hp, part 4 : Solex 28 PCI
episode 4 : Solex 28 PCI Carburetor
Just to change things a little bit, I decided to take care of my carburetor next,
Histoire de passer un peu à autre chose, je m'occupe de mon carburateur, le petit Solex 28 PCI.
After 57 years, it was long overdue for a rebuild...
Actually, I just found out about a cleaning method on a vintage motorbikes forum : they clean their carbies by putting their parts in boiling lemon juice, directly in a sauce pan! And I have to say, I was pretty amazed by the results!
So I tried the same approach, but using my ultrasound tank, filled up with 6 bottles of lemon juice, heated all the way up to 80°C!
So after I disassembled the Solex, I let it soak in for 3 ultrasonic rounds of 20 minutes, after which I rince everything in clean water (ideally it'd have to be warm to avoid thermal shock) in order to remove any remaining acidity left by the lemon juice... Then a quick blow dry. I immediatly lube the rotating parts to avoid any oxidization...
And the result is pretty neat!
I think the ultrasound are pretty useless here, being dampened by the particles in suspension in the lemon juice ; but they still help agitating the whole thing, and it probably helps.
I reassemble the carb with a renovation kit - all the gaskets were dry, the accelerator pump diaphragm completely rigid... It was time to do something about it.
But obvisously, everything was going fine. Too fine. So as I was reinstallint the jet on the emulsion tube, lightly tightening it as I know it a fragile part... Crack. F*ck me.
Fortunately, this emulsion tube can be bought NOS online on eBay in Italy... So 10 days later, here we go again, I replace the cracked tube... (note : there's an alternative to the NOS tube : one can buy a brass made replica at Bob Services : thanks SebCore for the info!)
To extract the tube, I first tap it with an M3 tap, pull.... But only the brass part comes. Second try, I tap the remaining tube with an M5 tap, pull it... And this time it's out. Yes!
The new tube is inserted after heating the carb body with a heat gun (on "low", be gentle!). The tube itself is cooled down with a couple of squirts of brake cleaner fluid + compressed air blow. It's not settling in that easy, so it took some convincing with a small hammer and a drift punch, the carb being held in the vice. Again, gently!
Now I only had to put everything back together with new gaskets, replacing as well the small metal pins on the linkage, with were prone to breaking due to their age.
And there you go, a new-ish carb!
It directly goes into a plastic bag, waiting for the holy day it will make my engine come back to life...
It's been 4 years since I've gotten my lathe, so as one can expect, I've been wanting a milling machine for quite a while now... (and the hours spent on the usinages.com forum have not helped)
But the thing is, in my area, these kind of machines are scarce ; unlinke in northern or eastern France, areas that have and actual industrial past, and where you can find second-hand machine adds regularly.
But the main problem remain the sheer size of my workshop : it's really small (that's what she said), therefore I need a small milling machine if I ever want to fit it in... Ideally a Deckel FP1 (beautiful but so expensive I'll never be able to afford it), or a small Graffenstaden, a WGM... Or if I accept to go with shorter travels, a Schaublin (overpriced), a Crouzet...
Anywho, I kept an eye on adds in the area (because when it comes to transporting 500kg of cast iron, it better not be too far!), without putting too much hope in it...
Untill last July when one of my alerts popped up : years of patience finally paid as this appeared on LeBonCoin (our CraigsList) :
A cute little Crouzet-Valence FC100, (same band as my lathe), just 30 minutes away from my place!
If you're curious, here's the documentation.
I first quickly check in Sketchup that it will actually fit in my workshop, and I gave a ring to the seller, who told me he already had several calls (he was actually surprised) : first come, first served! So I jumped into my car and went to see the beast in oder to lock the sale!
Negative points :
Limited travels : X 220mm / Y 100mm / Z 330mm. That seriously limits what I'll be able to do with it. Still good to learn, and enough to work on cylinder heads!
It's missing the X/Y handwheels, and Z one has its handle broken. Shouldn't be too difficult to find new ones.
Rare W20 attachment, won't be easy no find tooling.
No automatic feed (not because it's been remove, as it's frequently the case, but because the machine was ordered specifically like that), but I don't really care since I have something in the back of my mind.
Positive points :
The FC100 is a good machine, rigid and heavy.
It's in a pretty good state, with almost no play : it quite obviously has not worked a lot. I've been told it was originally bought by the Aérospatiale (they have an important complex not far from here), and has only ever been used for smell jobs.
It has the universal tilting head.
As much as the W20 attachment is not ideal, at least it's the same as on my lathe, therefore I already have a few collets to fit in!
But mainly : the asked price! For 300€, there was no way I'd miss it!
Long story short, I transport it back to the workshop on July 29th : I had to transport the machine laying on its back, as my garage entrance isn't high enough to do otherwise... Not perfect, but I had no other choice. And it looks like the rental Citroën Berlingo was made specifically for that machine, as it perfectly fits in!
Loading the machine in the truck was just a 5 minutes job at the seller's place thanks to his forklift... But unloading it was a whole other story! Even with a borrowed workshop crane from a nearby mechanics, it was 2 hours of heavy lifting! Many thanks for lending me the crane, and a 1000 thank yous to Xav'Yeah, my partner in crime whom I manage to involve it these hassles! Ain't moving 450kg of cast iron in an overheated 1 car garage a fun task?
The machine will end up spending the next 3 months on its back, until I manage to get my own crane (I had a lot of delivery problems with this one) and free up some time to deal with it. So finally, November 8th, the machine is finally standing up! More heavy lifting, done on my own this time, but it's finally resting where it belongs!
Now I need to find some spare time to take care of that old lady. I don't plan on doing a complete restoration, as it's in a relatively good shape already, a good clean up should be enough (well, it'd look great in the same green color as the lathe, though...). And why not a few step motors to pilot the whole thing...
If you're a regular on this blog, you've already heard about "Krapo Bleu" (that would translate as "Blue Toad"), my daily driver for almost 19 years now (ouch, I'm not getting any younger, am I?) : a 1988 Golf Mk2, edition 10 Millionen (or "Champ" for the French market).
As I said in my November 2013 article, its angine was starting to seriously wear out (270.000km... and I'll have to admit, I did not always take good care of it!), eating more and more oil (like a liter a month!), used to leak water, overheat... It was high time to do something about it, and finally take care of my "old friend" that helped my so many times, before I actually end up stuck on the side of the road with a broken engine.
After spending a year looking for the right engine, I finally found in may 2014 a block on LeBonCoin (the equivalent of Craig's List in France), for 200€. It wasn't that easy, as several times people tried to sell me broken engines, with broken timing belt (the valves-in-pistons kind) or blown head gaskets...
This engine is strictly identical to the original one (OK, I know, therefore the term"engine swap" may not be appropriate : sue me!) : 1.8L, 90hp, Pierburg 2E2 carburetor, but scoring "only" 130.000km (barely broken in, right? ). Enough to give my old car a breathe of fresh air.
This engine will wait a little over a year before I finally get some time in my hands to get it in the car.
I've used that year to completely clean the engine, changed lip seals and head cover seal, etc...
It's already July 2015 when I head up to Laurent's (Dangerous) to use his hoist, car lift and roomy workshop (which is a much easier way than using a jack in an underground one car garage!)
So there I go, starting with removing the whole front mask of the car, all the accessories, strapping the gearbox... And the engine comes out easily(-ish)!
At this point in time, my Golf has its engine out, my Beetle's 36hp is still not finished, and the Karmann's engine is not even closed yet... Not very reassuring!
With the engin out, I had room to clean the whole engine compartment from the 27 years of stratified gunk.
Up to this point, everything's going as planned ; with a bit of organisation, it's even simpler than it looks.
Now is time to get the new engine in (after I transferred on it the carb, clutch, flywheel, exhaust manifold, and a couple of things more) : it goes pretty swiftly, except for the exhaust clamps that are a PITA to install when you don't have the specific tool. Nothing a ratchet strap can't fix, though (#ratchetstrappower).
And... That's when things went sour... Argh, why is nothing ever simple!
1st start : the engine starts right on, that's the good news! In the other hand, an heavy water leakage appears on the side of the engine, Bellagio fountains like. Probably because the engine got a shock while being stock or transported (that's highly probable, I had nothing to strap the black in the rental truck, it was a bump ride!)...
I've been told that "when you've got a mechanical problem, the best solution is to do mechanics" (is it Confucius or Plato, I can't remember?) : we get the head out, and put it on the mill, fearing it may have warped. The joint plane is cleaned with only 12/100th of mm, so no, the head was fine, and it can go back on the engine with a new head gasket. Let's give it another try!
2nd start : this time, the intake manifold leaks water (water goes through it to heat up the carb)... It's not the Bellagio any more, but still a solid Manneken-Pis.
I take the intake manifold out, order new gaskets, reinstall everything with sealing compound, making sure it's tight...
I'll have to admit, from this point on, I took way less pictures, I was too busy to play the paparazzi!
3rd start : intake manifold still leaking. Less than the first time, but still leaking anyway.
Re-removing it, re-reinstalling it with again new gaskets and compound...
4th start : the manifold is not leaking anymore! Alleluia!!!
But now, I have a water leakage on the side of the block, behind the timing belt cover... Once again, we remove the distribution, to find out it's a bloody core plug! Has anyone seen this before?? It's not an heavy leak, more like a fast drip, but still...
So we find a new core plug, extract the old one, install the new... And here we go again.
5th start : the engine is not leaking anymore!!! Woohooo!!!
But the radiator is. HOLY MOTHER OF FUUUUUUUUU...!!!!
I mean, not much, a slow drip, but it's leaking nonetheless. It didn't like being taken off... Classic.
Long story short, I order a new radiator, purge the coolant for the Nth time, replace the radiator....
6th start : IT IS NOT LEAKING ANYMORE! At all! Woooohooooo!!!
I was about to call that car "Pissing Bitch" instead of "Krapo Bleu"!
In the end, the operation that was supposed to take us 3 days took 3 weeks (counting the ordering parts back and forth). Oh joy!
A huuuuuuuuge thank you to Laurent/Dangerous for his help, his time... And his workshop that I made a total mess of pouring so much coolant everywhere!
As you can guess, I still had some work to do after this, as the bloody Pierburg 2E2 carb never misses an occasion to act up... It was working perfectly before, but it has a few hiccups : some air intake (even though the flange is brand new), the choke doesn't work any more, etc...
In short, it needed a bit more tinkering around to get it to work neatly : changed the choke dilatation element, put a thin film of sealing compound on the carb flange, changed the head cover gasket that was leaking oil (it was brand new too...), replaced the 3 temperature probes...
But here it is, finally! Working as if it was new! Well, almost!
And now for something totally different : I'd like to talk to you about Ben, whom I've been following on his YouTube channel (and his website "Kombi Life") for several years now : he drove all the way through south america, then North, all the way up to Alaska with his Chili-bought Combi!
As one can expect, this wasn't an easy task, as he had to disassemble the combi's engine no less than 10 times!
But all this while keeping smiling, meeting hundreds of people, and enjoying fantastic landscapes!
So, in short : if you're cold during winter, go check his videos, it will for sure warm you up! And to help him keeping exploring, make sure you subscribe to his YouTube channel!
@Ben : Pura Vida buddy, thanks for sharing, can't wait for season 4!