Posted on 23/02/2012 at 02:40

Elvira : rebuilding the 36hp

Here's a project that was on hold for a long time... Way too long.
And, finally, it's gonna progress!

Some background explanations : the original little 36hp engine of my '59 beetle "Elvira", was totally breathless, barely any compression left. So, a dozen years ago (ouch! It hurts when you start counting years!) I replace the original engine with another one I bought from someone who told me it had been "rebuilt". I obviously preciously kept the original engine on the side, and started riding this new engine, which actually worked pretty well... for a few years.
But then, it started having troubles : oil pressure dropping down, a deep, loud noise at idle revs (sounded like "klong klong"), which disappeared as soon as I touched the throttle pedal... Well, it was difficult to trust that engine any longer.
So, I've decided to rebuild it, myself this time, in order to know exactly what's going on inside.

Step 1 : Opening the case.

All of this dates back to... 2008!! Four years!!
It's already been four years that I opened the engine, saw the damage, four years that the engine is waiting for some TLC, and Elvira is gathering dust! In the meantime, I moved, had no workshop, troubles to find 36hp parts, etc... Everything kept me from progressing on that project. But, finally, stars aligned, and Elvira should be back on the road soon! Woohoo!

So here we go, February 2008, with the help of my friend Laurent "Dangerous" (thank you for your help and advices buddy!), I opened and checked the lil' 1192cc...
Conclusions :
This block had been indeed "rebuilt"... But most definitely not the way it should have been :
  • Regarding the noise I could hear when idling, it looks like it came from the flywheel : the dowells didn't have the correct size, and the whole thing started to move. Consequently, the bored holes in the flywheel are now slightly oval : direct to the bin!
  • A quick measurement of the crankshaft runout shows it is of limits. Barely, but still : to the bin.
  • The cylinder heads are totaled : cracks between spark plug holes and valves seats, broken fins, more helicoils than proper threads : with its buddies, to the bin.
  • The oil pressure regulator piston doesn't look great, it doesn't slide smoothly in its housing, but it is probably still salvageable. Not going to the bin, but needs TLC.
  • The dowells of the cranckshaft's bearings do not have the correct size, thus allegedly allowing the bearing to move... To be honnest, they look like they were poorly handmade with a hacksaw and a file, not even properly debured...

On the bright side : the engine case bearings housings roundness is OK ; a bit of corrosion underneath and around the oil sump, but nothing to be concerned about. The pistons and cylinders look like new, they definitely had been replaced - that, and the ugly fixes on the heads, is probably what the seller of this engine called "rebuilt"...

Anyway, it means I need to find a crankshaft, a flywheel, main bearings, a pair of heads... And all of the above for a 36hp, means one needs to be patient... icone smiley sad
Posted in : 1959 Beetle
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