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

waiting for more parts...

2009 March 29 23:19

Owning a vintage car is an excersize in waiting for parts. Unless the previous owner was incredibly fastidious, you'll find as you take things apart that something was put in wrong, or had not quite the right fastener, or whatever. So my beetle is now approaching 8 months on the mend and I'm waiting for parts again. Last week I got measurements taken and I now know what compression ratio each of the shims that I have will generate.

So, I'm almost ready to put the cylinder heads on (one old, one new). In laying out the parts, I realized that the head washers were somewhat...assorted:

There's a thick washer on the right and three thin ones on the left. Of the 16 head washers, most are thin. Most of the hardware kits I've seen talk about the special "thick" washers for holding down the head. I assume that the thick ones, then, are the ones that are supposed to be in the engine. So now I have those on order.

But I really wanted to get working on the engine this weekend. One thing that needed to be done is pull the old oil pump out and install the new one. First, to remove the old pump you have to loosen the case bolts around the oil pump bore so that it will slide out:

The two 13mm wrenches are on the ends of a bolt that helps hold the two case halves together.

The oil pump puller doing its job:

Once I got the old pump out, I spent time following the instructions from Gene Berg that came with the oil pump about measuring the pump and the case to make sure they fit.

Everything matches except one. The raw measurement, according to their insructions, indicates that the oil pump sticks in too far. But the new pump is shallower than the old one. This calls for a model.

I created a 2-d cardboard template of the cross section of the oil pump where it sticks out the farthest.

then I tested that cardboard template in the actual engine

which shows that the pump comes close, but it clears.

So the pump is ready to be installed in the case

so that we can make the final measurement to make sure the driving shaft of the oil pump driven gear goes deep enough into the camshaft.

And parts are on the way. With luck, I'll have the heads on a week from now.

know how to operate...the dip stick

2009 March 25 20:59

You would think that correctly checking the oil dip stick on an engine wouldn't be rocket science; there's only one right way to do it, right?

It turns out that's not the case. I went flying this last Saturday, and it turns out that I checked the oil wrong during my pre-flight, before starting the engine. The reason I discovered this was because after taxiing to the gas pumps and filling up for the flight, I checked it again (just to see what the oil looked like when it was warmer), and it was quite a bit lower.

The first check was with the engine completely cold. The temperature at the time of my pre-flight was between 40 and 50 degrees F. The oil was dark colored and pretty thick; when I checked the dipstick, the oil covered the 6 quart mark. (I was flying a Cessna 150: 4 qt minimum, 6 qt is full).

I started the engine, got it running on the second start, and taxiied to the gas pump, and filled up for the flight. Just out of curiosity, I checked the oil again (I'd probably run the engine for 5 minutes at this point). It was much runnier and lighter colored. And there was only 4 and a half quarts of it. Plenty to fly on safely, but not what I'd thought. Someone else in the club had mentioned that plane had been using oil, so I added a quart. After some flying (maybe 45 minutes), I checked the oil level again. 5 1/2 quarts this time, basically none lost since I added some.

As I was buttoning the plane up, the next flyer came by and started to prepare for his student flight. I mentioned the dipstick giving two different readings to him, and he said "yes, when the engine is cold, you always have to wipe the dip stick to make sure the reading is accurate.". And that's our engineering moral for today.

spring cleaning...netflix

2009 March 15 21:30

I've been spring cleaning in the basement. Not the sort of thing that I normally spend a lot of time doing, or bragging about, but I decided that I have space in my life and in my house to take a serious go at Getting My Stuff Organized, which I haven't really all done at once in 36 years on this earth.

I'm almost at the stage that you can tell that I've been doing stuff down there. I've been hesitant to talk about it, because I also tend to start such projects and then never finish. However, I discovered something new and concrete the other day. I subscribe to Netflix, and about a year and a half ago, I ended up totally falling off the wagon and having not watched the two movies I had for so long, lost them. Last October I finally called the company, and they declared that I'd bought those two movies and send two more to me. Well, last week, I found the lost two, so now I have four movies that I haven't watched:

While on a trip recently, I picked up a slim-line DVD writer

which is really slick because it's powered by the USB bus, so it doesn't need its own power supply. It's really small, so it will be able to go in a carry-on bag easily. And the Windows DVD player app that comes with it works really nicely. I bought it at Best Buy for $100. Here's me on the trip watching 3rd season TNG:

So...finding lost Netflix disks and getting caught up watchingn them isn't a major watershed, but it certainly indicates progress.

no flying yet this year

2009 March 14 22:54

Sorry about the lack of flying posts. I've been trying to schedule flying on a weekend for the last two months, but the timing just hasn't worked out with the weather.

An aviation site that's come on the scene relatively recently is skyvector.com. It started out as just a site that gave a great interface to scanned aeronautical charts. But in the last two years it's added a whole bunch of features. If you mouse over an airport on the chart, the yellow box contains the official weather information for that airport. It now contains a flight planner, which you can invoke by typing the airport or navigational codes into the airport request box. And, very recently, if you left-click on an airport, it brings up the Airport-facility directory page for that airport.

some feel better

2009 March 14 22:30

I got my Nintendo 64

hooked up the other day for the first time in a few years. I hadn't played then in a while; here is the first boss in Super Mario 64, King Bob Omb:

I just have to say that aside from the very simple controller on the original NES, I think that the N64's controller is by far my favorite

I just like the feel of it. It's well shaped for my hands.

Certainly, the Playstation controller is longer lived

and has more instances out there, but I like the N64's better.

...and there isn't a decent ditch for miles around

2009 March 07 14:49

I have suddenly discovered that I have an afternoon totally free. My preference would be to chum around with our house guests for the weekend, but since they won't get here until really late, I suddenly have nothing to do until at least supper time. And it's the first really nice day of spring. To be fair, I did try to go flying this morning, but it was foggy and now it's windy.

I think it's likely that I'll be working in the garage. I expect work on the Beetle to be going at a faster pace after today. A blog post later when I have photos. I expect Permatex formula 3 to be involved. Yay!