Saturday, May 31, 2008

Waxing & Polishing

With show season fast approaching I decided it was time to get the Speedster polished and waxed. Bob's Bug has been at my place for the month too, so I felt I should get it looking its best as well.

In the case of Bob's bug, I also tried colour sanding and buffing some of the dry spots and orange peel from the hood. The good news is that it's possible to get it looking perfect. The bad news (for Bob) is that he'll have to do it. Knowing that won't happen any time soon, I used the Mother's clay-bar and zip-wax polishing compound where needed, then a thorough coat of Mother's cleaner carnuba wax for the whole car. I also painted the brake drums and installed the chrome lug nuts as well!

The Speedster was another story. First of all, I wanted as close to a show car finish as possible. Though the original gel coat appeared shiny and in good shape, I was amazed how rough it felt to the touch. I guess 15 years of sitting allowed a good deal of dirt and debris to work into the finish. I started polishing with a Meguire's fine polishing compound, but it wasn't agressive enough, so I switched to a Zip-Wax paste polishing compound, all by hand. You could not only feel, but hear the difference as you run your hand or a cloth from the unpolished to polished surface. After two nights of hand polishing the car was looking pretty great. I had to use some 2000 grit paper in some spots to remove blemishes, but the compound brought the shine back very well. After the polishing I picked up a Mother's Clay Bar kit and proceeded to clay bar the entire car. I was shocked that this process picked more black dirt up off the seemingly brilliantly clean surface! Following the clay bar I went to work waxing the whole car with Mother's Carnuba Cleaner wax. Vanessa used the same to polish the wheels. The results were pretty amazing to see. I really wish I had before pictures, but any of the assembly pictures would provide a good comparison... The final product I've been using is Mother's Instant Detailer, which is a spray bottle. I found it to be useful to quickly clean and polish the entire car if you've driven through any bugs or dust.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Speedster - Convertible Top, Windows, Engine Tin & First Big Drive!

Well, another week has passed and much has been accomplished putting the finishing touches on the Speedster. Today was a beautiful 20 degrees and sunny and we managed to do a 200km+ drive to Bobcaygeon and back. What a thrill!

Two big issues I've been struggling with do not have any pictures to go with them. Both are worth mentioning because they were real hair pullers! The first was the setup for the carburetor. Even when this engine was in the super beetle it would stall at stoplights, or coming off the highway. It would also flood when it was shut down hot and would take a lot of cranking to start again. I spent hours adjusting, readjusting, and rebuilding multiple carburetors to find the problem. In the end there are three main things I hadn't considered. Firstly, I read that the pilot jet (sometimes called the idle jet) in the carb can sometimes be seated too deeply by overzealous mechanics like me. This will cause the idle adjustments to have little to no effect. I learned by backing it out slightly for highest idle, then using loctite to hold it in place, you can get the idle circuits to work properly. The second issue I solved was the flooding and rich running. It turns out the cheap rebuild kits I've been using allow the fuel level to go too high in the bowl. I solved this by reinstalling the original Solex needle valve, with a washer beneath it of the correct thickness to keep the fuel level a little lower. This prevents the fuel from overflowing through the venturi when the engine is hot. The final issue was more simplistic, just that the carb was a little loose on the uneven intake manifold. Two gaskets allowed things to seal up nicely.

The other issue has been the freeplay in the steering. Despite adjusting the steering box (a new one, by the way) every possible way, there was still 3" or more of play in the steering wheel. With the car jacked up I found the source of the issue... The steering coupling was slightly loose on the box, allowing the splines to slip a little before they caught. The tie rods also needed adjustment to set the toe-in. All is fixed up now.

There are captions under the pictures below describing the other processes: Here I've painted the top bows, and installed them into the top and then to the car for the first time.
The car had to be drilled and the snaps installed, both on the car and the top. I used a couple kits from the camping section at Canadian tire to handle this task.

The front bow has been installed here. It is a fibreglass unit, shaped to fit over the windshield. I had to modify it slightly, then install the chrome latches that hold it to the windshield. The fabric is glued to the bow. The manual recommends a very expensive and hard to find adhesive. I found that five coats of extra strength contact cement were more than enough. And it only cost about $3.99.
Here's the finished top... In order for an aircooled engine to cool efficiently, the bottom (hot) side of the engine needs to be separated from the top (cool) side. This means the engine compartment needs shrouding to seal against the stock engine tin. Rather than use fibreglass or steel, I found some 1/8" aluminum and cut and bent it to fit.

Once installed a late bus "H" foam seal was used.

Vanessa and I also installed the mirrors.

When it came time to put the side windows in, the ones included in the kit didn't come close to fitting. I made my own template out of cardboard, then found some 3/16" acrylic at Warehoused Plastic Sales to make my own windows out of.
Most replicas have a fibreglass bow inside the door where the windows mount. I did not want to install one, so I decided to install the window mounts on the top of the door. They are an aluminum ferrule, into which the chrome brackets fit.
To make the acrylic fit properly I bent it. This allowed for a good fit against the front windshield (I'll need to source a good weatherstrip) and also a good fit against the top.

This morning we washed the Porsche and Vanessa's bug. We couldn't resist a couple pictures of them together.

After these pictures we went for a beautiful drive through the Kawartha Lakes region. When we got home we changed the oil out for new 15W-40, and cleaned the strainer. I thought the good run with the lighter oil that had been sitting in the engine would be good to clean out any gunk..
Still on the to-do list are the following:
-raise the front end about 1"
-do a full cut and buff on the finish, then apply a good wax
-adjust tachometer for accuracy
-adjust speedometer for proper operation
-replace gas tank sender with VDO unit

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Speedster - It's Alive!

After much wiring work, the car is fully connected! I eliminated over 2m of the wiring harness that was provided with the kit. All connections are soldered and heat shrunk. No crimped connector is just crimped, but also soldered. I adapted the CMC wiring diagram to fit my needs. I also put a voltage regulator on the firewall and fully connected the engine. All of this was done prior to the interior work, but made everything functional when I finally turned the key for the first drive!

The car has parking lights, or city lights which give it a cool eerie look.
Of course the standard headlights work too.
So, with most things buttoned up, I started it last Saturday morning, and moved it under its own power for the first time. Parked in the driveway I washed it, along with the other cars, and had the official appraisals done for insurance purposes. Thankfully the car was appraised for more than $10,000 more than I have into it, so my hard work would pay off (except we have no plans to sell!!) After the appraisal Vanessa and I took it for a quick shakedown cruise. Two blocks in I lost all power with lots of backfiring. We barely got home! I made some adjustments, then disaster - a huge pool of oil under the engine!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So, an hour or two after the first drive, the engine was pulled out again. I knew the oil leak could only be the main crank seal.
Sure enough, it had leaked significantly - the bellhousing still had oil in it.

I pulled the clutch and flywheel to find this:

The main seal was sliced slightly, and the o-ring in the flywheel was very worn.
I picked up a new one Saturday night from German Supply. I had it installed, and the engine in place by 11am the next day. This time, no oil leak!
I'm still having some troubles getting a smooth idle. I removed the carb and found all sorts of debris in it. I must not have used a filter when I first started running the engine... I cleaned it out, including the chunk in the end of the pilot jet. I still can't get a reliable idle, but I believe the pilot jet has been overtorqued. Once I can warm it up again, I'll back it out to find the sweet spot, loctite it in place, and readjust the carb.
Currently I'm installing the convertible top. I'm also working on aluminum tin to surround the engine compartment. I need to install the front bumper strip and licence plate, then finish things off with the side curtains (windows). Then the car will be ready for a good polish and use! There are a few cosmetic things to keep working at, but the bulk of the main items should be done this week.