Tuesday, May 31, 2011

California Central Coast 1500 Ghia sighting

Ivan Pang sent me these pictures of a '63 1500 Ghia he encountered on the road near San Luis Obispo—in May 1975. It must have had a rough life, as it's looking a little the worse for wear for a car that was only 12 years old at the time. I wonder if it's still around today?

One thing a really like about these photos is the fact that more than half of the cars in the background are aircooled—either VWs or Porsches. That's just they way it was in California back then. If you'd like to help increase the aircooled population of San Luis Obispo in 2011, you should consider joining the Type 3/Type 34 50th Anniversary Central Coast Cruise this fall. Details are being finalized now, so it's time to start planning.

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.