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

2nd start fine, need carb work

2009 November 21 23:46

I started my Beetle for the second time since the top-end rebuild. It did start, then ran out of gas, so I refilled the gravity-feed tank. I've run about a gallon through it so far, I guess.

With new oil in it, the oiling worked well as before. It took about 10 seconds for the oil system to prime. After cranking then engine a couple of times, on susequent cranks the oil light went out immediately and stayed on for 5 seconds or so after I stopped cranking, at which point I conclude the oil system is full and primed.

The engine started right up once I connected the ignition. I ran it for probably 10 or 15 minutes total. The ignition seems to be fine. The premature stopping after the first start I think was either something momentarily blocked in the carb.

A couple of things I need to work on/fix: - There seems to be an almost mis-alignment of the fan shroud/fan/generator. The fan was rubbing for part of the run. I could get it to stop if I flexed the fan shroud one way. I'll have to see if I can fix this by repositioning the generator. - After I got it running, I tested for intake leaks with starter fluid. The good news is there are no leaks around where the intake manifold goes into the cylinder heads, or in the intake manifold boots, or where the carb connects. However, air IS leaking in around the throttle shaft. I'm not going to drive the car until I get a carb that doesn't have this problem. I'll refurbish one of the ones I have or get a new one.

Good news: Pretty much everything else acted like it's supposed to. I checked the valves before the start. All the clearances had increased ever so slightly during the first start. This is probably to be expected; the new rods are settling into their lifters, and into the rocker arms. Before I start it again I'll be sure to set all the valves very carefully.

I didn't check the generator voltage, but the charge light didn't even flicker.

So far, so good. Given that I'm going to need to have some carb work done, I'll concentrate on the fuel system so that I can get the tank back in the car. My goal will be that the next time I run the car, it will be drawing from the real fuel tank.

Inch by inch...

I'm on the clock, darn it

2009 November 20 17:42

Just coming back from a week of work travel. The hotel taxi reservation system totally failed to work in a useful way, but fortunately the security lines at the departure airport were long but moving fast and efficiently. I made it to the gate about the time they started boarding. I made the flight, my suitcase didn't.

So I'm in town, waiting for the following flight to see if my suitcase shows up on it. If so, I'm all good; if not, then they'll jolly well drive it all the way out to my house.

I'm patronizing Barnes and Noble. Back in the day, they had free wireless. Then they didn't, much to our disgust. Now they do again, and I'm quite happy to throw money their way (books mostly, but in this case food and beverage too) in appreciation.

Right. Ok, drop off laptop, do some quick book shopping, then back to the airport. Blah.

Hopefully some fuel tank assembly going on this weekend. Certainly some engine starting.

the right search at the right time

2009 November 08 17:44

I've never been a garage saler. The goodwill gene, the food-shopping gene, the rummage-saling, garage-saling and bartering genes have never expressed themselves in my personality. However, the experience of maintaining a vintage car brings out the bargain-hunter even in me. Not that I need to find where the best deal is, but whether or not the part is available at all in its original form. Sometimes the original isn't available, and so you have to choose between refurbishing an old part or trying to find the closest after-market equivalent.

If you look at my other gas tank posts, You'll see me trying to figure out why and how my 1972 Superbeetle's fuel inlet screen is different than that of, well, basically all the other Beetles. You can get the replacement for the other style, but not mine, that I've ever seen.

Well, I managed to score bit on a set of classified ads on TheSamba the other day. The story follows:

Here's the screen that came out of the tank:

It has a sort of collar at the mouth. And since once it goes into the tank, the point is at the tank outlet, it has a plastic frame that allows you to easily remove it. The problem with this one is that It's almost torn through near the point of the screen.

So. I saw an advertisement for four things that looked like fuel tank screens, but they didn't look like the normal ones you get. So I was interested from that description. The ad was selling screens that look like this:

The plastic frame isn't there, so it's not original (assuming that the one in my tank was original). The screens look basically new. There's sort of a metal collar, but there's also a piece there further restricting the diameter.

So, I took the gamble, and bought the four screens, two tank plugs that look like mine, and a new-ish filler neck vent that also looks like mine. When I opened the package, first I wanted to try to remove the restriction in the entrance. Well, I didn't manage to get it out without breaking it (it's made of very soft cork), but here's the one that I was working on next to the original:

As you can see on the right with the cork partially removed, the collar on the screens I bought is the same as the original on the left. Score!

In fact, the weird collar on the inlet pipe inside the tank (shown highlighted here:)

is probably a fossilized version of those cork collars.

And the rest of the haul:

The two plugs I bought and the original from the tank:

Old filler tube vent and new:

and two of the new screens:

You just never know what you're going to find.

for everything there is a first time

2009 November 01 22:36

I've been interested in airplanes all my life, and I suppose vaguely in cars that long as well. I've always been interested in the mechanisms of things. I liked physical science labs in Jr. High and high school. I even took auto mechanics class in high school, but that was the extent of my working on stuff for a few more years. I liked the electronics aspect of physics in college. It wasn't until 1997 when I started working with my research group in graduate school that I got to build real skills in working on and building stuff.

But all along I'd sort of wanted to know how to maintain a car and work on engines. When I started getting more serious about becoming a pilot, it occured to me that owning a classic (air-cooled) VolksWagen would cover some aspects of both. They have simple, air-cooled engines (like piston-driven airplanes), so I decided that maybe buying one as a project car would be something useful to do. Our across-the-streen neighbor from 2003 to 2006 had a model-A Ford that drove around from time to time, which slightly fed this notion.

I bought a 1972 Superbeetle just before we moved away from Illinois in 2006. I drove it a lot at first, but in May of 2007 I discovered that there was a valve badly out of adjustment. In June of 2007, I realized that the valve was going out of adjustment REALLY FAST, which means that something is seriously wrong in the engine. I've basically been chasing that problem since then. In July of 2008, I realized that I was going to have to pull the engine and look at the heads to see what was going on. Well, I ended up replacing the heads, cylinders, pistons, oil pump, and some other stuff.

The engine went back in the car a week ago. Friday, I got everything wired up and spun the engine with the starter for the first time to prime the oil system. Today was the first start attempt.

Here's a video. It's over 4 minutes, and a 100 MB download: Beetle first start video

November 2 morning edit: also available, a shorter 10 MB version of the video without my speech, and just the start itself

Here's a still from the video just as the engine catches:

The severe smoke (seen in the photo and in the video) is because I've been oiling all the parts, particularly the insides of the cylinders, as I've been putting the engine together. In fact, I squirted oil into the cylinders before the first crank on Friday. So the engine is FULL of oil, so that had to be burned off. It's not that the engine burns oil normally. By the end of the 10 minute run, the exhaust was clear.

(By the way, I'm particularly please how fast it started once fuel is in the carb. When I replaced the starter, about 3 years ago, I managed to flood the engine and it took a long time to start.

Here I'm checking the generator voltage--it's working great!

I didn't get through my entire planned 20 minute break-in run. The engine quit after 6 or 7 minutes by itself. No nasty noises, just stopped. I'm not sure why. I took a quick look at it. The carburetor's full of fuel, as it should be. The points in the ignition are making and breaking contact. I'm going to be busy with work a lot of November, so the mystery may well stay that long.

Since I ran the engine as a break-in, I really should change the oil:

So oil's drained, taking little nasty stuff that happens in a break-in away with it.