Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Green Ghia Gone

Well dear readers, the time has come. I have not given up on the Ghia, but I cannot continue with the restoration, so I have sold it to someone who has promised to finish what I started.  It's a bittersweet moment, letting go, but I definitely think it's the right thing to do. Although the downside is essentially' giving up on the dream, the upside is that I don't have to think about the fact that I am not working on it all the time, it's cleared out the driveway so Valery can have access to her wonderful garden back, and it's cleared out my little 'studio' in the back yard, so I can create a little writing space for myself. Oh, and the sale helped pay for Maddie and my trip to Disney World earlier this month.

Time to go...
So, this all started when I lost my job at Hudson's and got the new gig at Valentina's. The original thinking was that I'd have lots more time to work on it after I retired, but the new work situation requires more of a full time commitment than I expected at HOB, so I just knew something had to give. The more I thought about the upsides, the less I thought it was a failure to finish and the more I thought of it as an opportunity to regain part of my life.

Bins of parts
And the doors...
I put it up on The Samba, a VW website dedicated to all things VeeDub. I put it up for sale at $3500, which is about $1500 less than I have put into it, counting the original cost. I did this because I knew I wouldn't be able to recoup all my investment, and because I wanted the next guy to actually finish what I started, so a little incentive seemed in order.

I got several bids for the car, but of all of them, only one guy didn't quibble with the price. Not only that, but he was as eager to restore the car as I had been, expecting to give it to one of his children and have it be part of their family.  That's just what I had in mind, and we wrapped up the deal in just a couple of days.
The empty crate

Air tools
That's when the rubber hit the road, so to speak.  First, I had to get a clear title, since when I bought the car, I didn't bother to transfer the title, figuring I'd get around to that when the car was actually drivable again. Well, that's easier said than done, of course, since it involved two trips to the DMV, a trip to bondsman and a two week wait for the title to come in the mail.  Oh and about two hundred dollars.

Filled with stuff...
Next was arranging for the transport. Now, I have acquired a few tools that I don't expect to use again without the car project--a large air compressor and a sand blaster--so I asked the buyer if he'd like to have then for an additional $250 and he agreed. This was a double bonus for me--the tools were out of my shed and I could use the extra money. It was also a good deal for the buyer, as those two tools cost me about $500 and I know he can use them in his restoration effort.

...and packed with paper
The buyer was not only patient with me as I acquired the clear title, but he also had the resources to ship the car and all the parts securely to California, where he lives. First, he sent a large shipping crate to the house, which I proceeded to fill up with all the parts in bins, plus the air tools and the glass, the gas tank and several other bits and pieces. That took about a week, since I had to make sure the crate was packed evenly and balanced, so things didn't shift and break during transport.

Ready for the last lift
After the crate was packed and sealed, someone came to pick it up, and my next task was to ready the car itself for shipment. The first step in this process was to put the body back on the chassis. This we have done before--twice--but this time I was not able to line up as many helpers as I have in the past.

My crew: Steve, Valery, Mike, Sara, Tom
Body back on!
The dolly is no longer needed
Come the morning of the lift, it was just six of us, and it was touch and go there for a minute, but we managed to get it off the dolly and back onto the chassis.

The doors in the body, strapped in
Next I had to put the doors and the convertible frame into the body, cover them and strap them down. This took another week, alas, as I am down to just one day off a week. But by early last week, I had it all done--doors and convertible frame in and locked down, and the whole thing covered in tarps to protect it on the trip across the country.

The guys come to get it...
...pushed out of the driveway...
By this time the crate had arrived in Los Angeles and the buyer reported that it made it perfectly intact. Again, he was amazingly patient with me, but I hope I made it worth his while by doing a good job of securing the cargo. I felt the same way about the car itself, and told the buyer when we got back from our trip to Florida that it was ready to go.

...up the street...
...and onto the car carrier
And go it did! Early last week, two guys with an enormous car-carrier showed up at the house. The truck was so big that they had to back it down the street and park it several houses up. it has no steering (but the wheels turn, of course) so they picked it up and pointed it toward the street, then pushed it out of the driveway an up onto the carrier.

Arrival in Los Angeles
In it's new home--look how different
the color is in the California light
And just like that, a five year project came to an end. As I said, I am a little sad, but overall it was a wonderful experience. I love to work with my hands, and during some of the toughest times in my life, this provided me with something to that would take my mind elsewhere, even if just for a bit.

Now I think I am in a different place, so to speak, both emotionally and physically. Emotionally, I no longer need the escape quite so much, and physically I have other things to do with my energy and time.

To both of my loyal readers, I say thanks for watching and supporting me all these years. It's been fun!

Thanks, Steve, Mike, Sara Valery and Tom!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Body Back On

Months of waiting for this day
The covers are off
With the engine seemingly out of the way, even though I have an number of things to iron out on the chassis, especially with the brakes, I have begun to look at the body and contemplate my path forward into the world of sheet metal.
In a way, it's what I have looked forward to since I bought the car, but it's also the area about which I know the least, so it's at least a little daunting.

Ready to roll back
All the musclemen are in place
One thing that has been troubling me of late has been the condition of the wooden dolly that the body's been resting on for over two years.  It wasn't really made to last, and by this time it was getting pretty darn rickety.  So, I decided that the next step would be to take the body off the dolly and put it back on the frame.  For one thing, doing this would allow me to see if it would actually fit.  For another, it would give me a place to put the body while I rebuilt the frame.

Ready, set, lift!
It's on and it fits!
So, just over two years after we lifted it off for the first time, we put it back on.  I enlisted the help of some strong-armed friends--Dan, Tom, Steve and our neighbor Derek--to help me with the deed.  I actually had six guys here to help with the lift off, but this time I figured we could do the job with just four.  Plus we had Maddie and Valery there to help move the dolly and I was there to supervise and make sure it lined up as we set it down.

It looks like a real car
But looks can be deceiving
First I rolled the body forward to take off all the tarps and covers.  Then we moved the body back over the chassis with two guys on each side.  Then it was a pretty easy lift and lower.  Although I had made plans in case it didn't fit, we never needed 'Plan B'.  It fit the first time and nothing was out of place.

Someday soon it will run!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Oil Leaks - Rebuilds # 2 & 3

Jacks first...
Engine has to come out...
It was a major milestone to get the engine in and running this summer, but it was hardly the end of that process.  One of the reasons for testing the engine was not just to see if nothing disastrous happened (it didn't) but also to see if any minor problems with the build cropped up (they did).
And away we go!
Back on the dolly it goes
If brevity were my goal here, I could list the things that went right, but in fact the purpose of this journal is to chronicle the actual events, and typically one step forward--getting the engine to run--is followed by two steps back, and this was no exception.
Shortly after shutting down the engine, I had a look up underneath it to see if there were any oil leaks.  Sadly, there were.  From what I could tell, it looked like I had three leaks.  One was from the front, and I couldn't be sure if it was the oil pressure relief nut or the main seal up under the flywheel.  Another leak was obviously coming from the oil screen cover on the bottom, and a third leak was abviously coming from the oil pump.

The clutch comes off first...
Then the flywheel comes off
This meant taking the engine back off the frame and putting it onto a dolly to work on.  All the steps were familiar by now, so I didn't have to spend a lot of time looking at the service manual, thankfully.  I did have to proceed slowly to see what exactly was the source of the leaks and make the necessary adjustments.

The main seal seems good... leaks here
After removing the clutch and flywheel, I had a look at the main seal, and thankfully my nightmare was not realized.  The main seal was fine, and even though there was a bit of oil visible, this was after the flywheel came off.  No oil was inside the flywheel, so this meant the seal was tight.  
The next possible source was the oil pressure relief valve nut.  Sure enough, this was loose.  Not just not torqued down, but actually loose.  Ack.  Embarrassing, but actually, this was an easy fix, as simple as tightening the nut.  That should do it for the front leak.  Now to the bottom.

This cover is a problem
Actually its the studs
This wasn't hard to find.  No question about it, it was leaking from the oil cover, and it was obvious why.  The cover is held in place by six little nuts, which are supposed to torque down the cover on six little studs that stick out of the case.  These studs are notorious for getting stripped when overtightened by an inexperienced mechanic with a ratchet and no sense of how tight these little suckers are actually supposed to get.  In fact, if they are not stripped, it doesn't take much to tighten down the cover, and it doesn't take a lot more to strip the studs.  

Don't worry, Dear Reader.  I didn't strip the studs.

Off it comes...
Studs get some thread locker
I did, however, manage to loosen those studs so that they no longer tighten.  Instead, as the nut gets tightened, the studs simply continue to turn up inside the case.  I couldn't think of how to keep those studs from moving, so I tried some thread locker.  This is a sort of glue that should, in theory, keep the stud in place and allow the nut to torque down the cover.  

Oil screen back in
And the cover is back on
I waited a couple of days for the thread locker to fully dry, then I replaced the oil sump screen and put in some new paper gaskets before I tightened it down.  For a moment, at least, it seemed to work.  I managed to get the nuts on securely and they didn't seem to be slipping.  I couldn't be sure, though, because the last thing I wanted to do was to over-torque them and break the thread locker, so I just gingerly tightened them to the spec torque and crossed my fingers.

The oil pump comes out
All ready for re-assembly
Next I turned to the oil pump.  Thinking that I had incorrectly installed the cover gasket, I took off the cover and remembered that I chose not to use a gasket.  Lesson learned.  I scraped off the case sealant I used when rebuilding it the first time, sanded the inside of the cover flat again (there were some marks from where the cover touched the gears because there was no gasket to separate them), installed the gasket and put the cover back on.  After all these adjustments, I put all the ancillary pieces back on, put the engine back on the frame and fired it up.
It leaked.  Not like it did before.  Not three leaks, just one, but it was still a leak.  The good news was that I knew where it was coming from and I knew how to fix it.  

And the cover is tightened down
A gasket this time...
This time I had to pull out the oil pump itself and see what the problem was behind it.  I know I put a gasket in behind the oil pump, but it was obviously leaking, so I knew something was wrong with it.  I thought I was going to have to order a puller tool just for this job, but after seeing a picture of it online, I realized that I still had one left in my toolbox from a previous VW rebuild!  It was easy to use and in a couple of minutes I had the oil pump out and knew exactly what the problem was.  

Add muffler and some tin...
Ready for another test!
Somehow I managed to leave a small piece of the old gasket on the surface of the engine block, so the new gasket never seated properly.  This was an easy fix, once I knew this.  I scraped off the old gasket and put a new one in, slid the oil pump in, put a new gasket in between the cover and gears and bolted it all down one more time.

Since everything was hooked up pretty much, I just had to drag the battery back over, put the fuel intake hose into the gas can and started it up again.  It ran like the proverbial top, and this time, there were no leaks!