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