Sunday, March 21, 2010

Best $60 I've ever spent

I have always dreaded brake work on older aircooled VWs because of the hassle of dealing with the rear axle nuts. Getting the nuts loose involved a breaker bar, a good length of cheater pipe and some colorful language. Getting them tight again was something I was never able to master with hand tools, so I would do the best I could and then limp over to a local shop to have them torque the nuts to spec. I can't believe it's taken me this long to finally buy a torque multiplying tool to do the job. This tool, popularly known as the Torque Meister or Torque Dude, multiplies the torque nine times, allowing the high-torque axle nuts and flywheel gland nut to be removed and installed with simple hand tools and minimal effort.

Once I got the left rear drum off I found a hardened sludgy film on everything. I knew there was a brake fluid leak, but a lot of gear oil has been leaking over time too. The previous owner had the original rear drum replaced with a later style drum without an oil slinger (311 501 615 D), but the bearing housing and all the other internal parts are still the original '62 Type 1 parts, so the gear oil that would have been directed to the outside of the drum had the slinger been installed was instead just spun around onto the brakes. Nice. At least rust has been kept to a minimum.

Here's the source of the brake fluid leak. One of the nice things about 1962 model VW 1500s is that the rear wheel cylinders are the same as Type 1 front cylinders from the same time period (113 611 057 B), so they're easy to find. I was able to buy new OEM German cylinders from ISP West at a reasonable price. ISP also had the oil slinger I needed, used, but when it arrived I was disappointed to find that it was damaged—the drain tube is crimped flat. ISP noted the damage on the invoice and offered the take it back if I can't get it straightened, and that's a possibility. It'll be hard to get the tube straightened without causing collateral damage elsewhere. I'm going to see if I can find a better one first.

I still have the Ghia's original '62 left rear drum, part number 311 501 615, but the friction surface was heavily scored and very rusty. I had a local shop turn it to clean up the braking surface but the inner diameter is now about .5mm beyond the wear limit. This drum is toast. I'm going to have to locate a good used one somewhere, or have the later one that's on the car drilled for the oil slinger.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Quality control

I've ordered a lot of parts and some tools I need to get the Ghia on the road again. While I'm waiting for them to arrive, I thought I would do some durability tests on the water slide decals I had printed a few years ago.

Andy Holmes reported recently that the edges of his Ghia's decals began to flake, so I sent him a set of replacements. I don't know what the cause was—humidity? rapid temperature changes of the metal surfaces they were applied to? offgassing from recently applied paint? or some combination thereof?—but water decals are fragile in the best of circumstances, and I want to test a few ways of making them more durable.

Using a glovebox lid with original paint as a test board, I have applied three air cleaner decals. The one on the left was masked and coated with clear enamel (two mist coats and a heavier final coat with drying time between), the one in the center was given three coats of pure non-abrasive carnauba wax, and the one on the right was left untreated as a control. I'll be subjecting them to all manner of heat, cold, humidity, and abrasion over the next few weeks. I'll let you know what I learn.