Monday, May 30, 2011

VW+VW1500 has moved!

I've decided to move the blog over to the Type 34 Registry site, which now offers an integrated version of the powerful WordPress blogging platform. The new URL is All posts from the last five years (!) are archived at the new location. This version of the blog will also remain live, but new posts will only appear at the new location. See you there!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Getting reacquainted with the front brakes

It's been many years since I've done a front brake job on an old VW. The last time the front brakes were done on this car was about 12 years ago, when NOS wheel cylinders were installed by a local mechanic. Initially I thought I'd be able to get away with a brake fluid flush and adjustment, but the right front brakes were locking up. Stuck wheel cylinder(s)? Collapsed brake hose? The car has probably only seen 1000 miles since the brakes were done so how bad could things be?

I was stopped in my tracks soon after starting by an odd thing: Both lock nuts turned together when I tried to loosen the outer one on the right side. That shouldn't happen. I didn't have a thin 24mm wrench so had to source one. Luckily Lanner Kahn at VDUBEngineering in Canada offers a nice purpose-made 24/27mm spindle wrench, so I ordered one up. Once I got things apart the problem was obvious. Someone had used a larger diameter lock plate from another VW. This is the kind of hackery that can cause you to lose a wheel on the road. Not only that, all the expendable parts were shot—bearings, seals, the whole lot. Luckily, with a little help from Bill and Steve's, I was able to find everything I needed to put things right. Here are the old and new parts for comparison—it's as if the last bearing repack was done using only a crow bar and a sledge hammer. Nothing like seeing someone else's shoddy work to remind you that you're better off doing it yourself!

Turned out it was the wheel cylinders that were the braking problem -- gummed up from lack of use. I cleaned and honed them and I think they'll be all right for awhile, though I'm going to start searching for another complete set of NOS front cylinders just in case.