With Wings As Eagles: Craig P. Steffen's Blog


2008 May 30 22:18

I miss having my on-ramp to the internet. Pathetic, huh? When I go to places like the Oshkosh show, I'm entirely without internet for days at a time, and I have lots of other stuff to do. It helps that I ususally have books to read.

It's been kind of annoying this time, not having a laptop. I just keep having things that I should make a note of, or send someone an e-mail about, or whatever. I can quit any time. :-)

I'll probably try to get one before the end of June. The one I've been looking at most is the Asus Eee. Interestingly, when I looked it up a few days ago, it was sold out at Amazon. Just now, when I looked up this link, it seems to be back in stock. Which is interesting because I heard about this new Dell laptop today.

Decisions, decisions.

no music without silence

2008 May 30 21:42

It's certainly not a profound insight, but I've decided recently that I need to meditate more. I often have the problem of option paralysis; too many things to do and so I don't concentrate on any of them well. My concentration gets spread out and I'm not very productive.

It helps to, every once in a while, to not do anything and sit somewhere quiet and let my brain slow down for 10 or 15 minutes. A couple of times a day seems to work nicely. It helps to prioritize things, both in doing stuff around the house and for work. I recommend it.

Speaking of work, some deadlines have just passed. I have a relatively light weekend, and then it should be relatively smooth sailing for five weeks. No conferences, or travel. I can get some real work done...and now that the beetle is on its wheels again, I can get used to drive it again.

they should all be made like this

2008 May 22 07:16

This post is going to sound like a country western song. Please bear with me.

My business trip to Scotland in April was very terrific, but it was long and took a lot out of me (our A/C failed while I was gone). Then I was home for a short while, then my wife went to her conference at the beginning of May. While she was gone I worked on the beetle in the garage, which was also cool, but I didn't get anything else done during that period.

She came back sick, and the following week, with every little break, we went to Missouri for a wedding and came back last weekend. This week has been not-very-productive because we had air conditioning/heat pumps being installed.

The status of things: - we're mostly well - the beetle is on its wheels, engine runs, rear break circuit works but leaks slightly, front circuit hasn't been filled yet - We have A/C again, so I can go back to working in my office - my laptop died last night. Fortunately, because it doesn't have an optical drive of any kind, but instead has a cradle that allows its hard drive to be mounted on a different computer, I am in the process of pulling a final backup

So...I need to go laptop shopping. Glad I spent time pre-shopping over the winter.

there was movement

2008 May 09 09:57

I'm happy to say that the new battery I bought for the beetle from Sears does in fact fit in the battery compartment:

The new starter cable is installed, along with the new battery terminal, which has a plastic shield to prevent shorts from the seat springs.

And finally, the engine starts and runs after 6 months sitting still in the garage:

Now back to the brakes so I can actually drive it.

did something right

2008 May 08 08:56

While waiting for the front left wheel bearings on my beetle to dry, I cleaned the garage. In its 6-months-plus convolescence, things have become stacked around and under it:

Afterwards, much better:

You'll notice here that the right rear tire is on. Whoo!

Seeing as I more or less killed the already weakened battery earlier in the spring, I bought a new one yesterday, and topped off its charge:

in preparation for the big start.

As of this morning, the left front bearings and drum are ready to install:

Yesterday I adjusted the back brake shoes, and then I checked the emergency brake. I'm pleased to report that it's quite a bit tighter than it was before, which means that i did the adjustment roughly correctly and I didn't screw up anything in the emergency brake assembly.

It looks like rain today, so I probably won't be starting the engine until tomorrow. That'll give me the evening to get the car on its wheels and get the battery installed and all.

3 for 4

2008 May 07 09:06

Three of four brake drums back on my beetle as of last night.

Top half of the front right brake assembly.

The same photo with some markings on the spindle. The red dots are where the inner seal rides. The three green dots show where the inner bearing sits, and the two green dots farther out are where the outer bearing rides.

Bottom half of the brake assembly.

I'm going to outline the procedure I used to install the right front brake drum. The procedure I've seen is to fill the reservoir with grease before putting it on the spindle, but that means you have to hold the grease in while you install it. I tried it a slightly different way here and it seems to have worked reasonably well.

A view down into the middle of the brake drum. The green dots show the outer race of the inner bearing, which is pressed into the drum. The red dots at the bottom show the outer race of the outer bearing. Between the two bearings, the hollow in the drum forms a grease reservoir, marked by the blue dot.

Here's the rest (the rollers, cage, and inner race) of the inner bearing in place to show where it goes.

The outer roller/inner race assembly just to remind you what they look like.

The drum, with some grease squeezed into the inner part of the reservoir with the cake decorator.

Greased rollers in place.

Just for good measure, I put some extra grease in on top of the roller assembly.

And the inner seal in place. This clamps around the fattest part of the spindle at its base and prevents too much grease from leaking around the base of the spindle and contaminating the brakes.

So this is the part I did differently. With the inner bearing and seal in place, and the reservoir only partially filled with grease, I put the drum in place, without the outer bearing. I'm holding it in place with my non-camera hand, so it's kind of wobbly. But I can use the cake decorator to inject more grease in from the outside end of the hub and fill the reservoir the rest of the way up with grease before putting the outer bearing in.

Filled and read for the outer bearing.

Outer bearing in (forgot to get a photo) and pressure washer in.

This pinch nut holds the whole thing in place.

Grease cap, and the right front is ready to go!

close, please

2008 May 06 10:16

Continuing to close in to having my beetle on its tires.

Last night, I installed both rear brake drums, for real this time. Hopefully that's the last I'll see of the inside of those drums for quite some time.

Just in case I need to check how something was set up, I took some photos of the brake assembly just before putting the drums on. Here's the right rear brake assembly, top and bottom:

And the drum on the left rear, including the axle nut and the cotter pin:

An interesting optical effect is that the rusty fingerprints you see in the photo are all but invisible to the eye.

no more M8

2008 May 05 01:52

I got a good number of things done today on the beetle. I'm finally on the home stretch to having it back on its wheels.

Left rear stub shaft in, rerservoir almost full of grease. :

Roller bearing instaled

Before gettin much farther, here's my nemesis the drive shaft.

Whaddya know! The draft shaft is re-attached and ready to go! This will be the last time I use the M8 triple-square tool for a long time.

rollin, rollin, rollin...

2008 May 02 22:21

When we last left our hero, he was working on the wheel bearings and brakes in his Volkswagenbeetle. The brakes have had a bit of a setback, but the bearings are coming along swimmingly.

Here is how the car sat while I went to Scotland, having just started dis-assembling the left rear wheel bearing assembly:

This time, the parts came out of the bearing assembly much more easily,

and they all got soaked in mineral spirits

over night.

The outer, roller bearing on the left rear of the car is a different type than the ones I've seen before. The rollers, instead of being held by a metal cage, are held in place by a plastic-like retainer. The retainer's job is just to keep the rollers from hitting each other, so it's soft enough that you can bend it a pull the rollers out, as seen here:

I guess maybe this is the original style that came with the car?

One of the things that put the brakes on the list of things to maintain/repair when I got the car is that most of the brake adjusting stars were stuck. As it turns out, 6 of them were fairly cruddy, and the two remaining were rusted solid. Here are all the adjusters that will go back in the car, about ready to get an overnight soaking. There are six orgininals and two new adjusters (the two shiny brass-colored knobs are new ones).