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Shadetree's Wolfsburg Tintop
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shadetreetim
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2012 1:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, if you didnít read about it on the San Diego Meet thread already, we had some excitement today. I narrowly avoided a full on car-b-que this afternoon. It all began when I headed to the Vail Lake Bus Movie Meet. Leaving Riverside around 3:30PM, it was hot out. I fired up Vinnie, cranked on the air, keyed in the address on the GPS, turned on the tunes and took off. As I pulled out of my neighborhood I held my hand up to the vent and took a moment to appreciate the cold air pouring out.

About half an hour later Iím a couple of miles north of Temecula, running 65 in the fast lane, when I realize the AC isnít blowing cold anymore. I turn it off and start rolling down the windows when I think I might smell burnt wiring. As I head for the slow lane the smell gets stronger, so I pulled off on the shoulder. Now I can see smoke coming out from under the van. I grab my fire extinguisher and hop out.

Opening the engine compartment doesnít happen as fast as Iíd like. The only way to open the hatch is with the key. Got it right here, but you have to unlatch the tire rack and swing it out of the way first. Then I had a boxed up set of Carat Springs and a couple of lawn chairs in the way. I throw it all out on the ground and unlatch the cover. The foam on the underside of the cover is smoldering so I grab the mattress and carpet and throw them over the seat, then throw the cover on the ground. I donít see any open flames, probably because the pressurized coolant reservoir has melted and is spewing coolant over everything.

Okay. Now I can calm down and start taking inventory. The AC belt has been shredded and the power steering belt has been thrown off. The overflow container has the top melted completely off. The wires to the AC compressor are melted and bare. The compressor itself is so hot I can't touch it. The wires to the alternator have been very hot and look melted. The flexible tube feeding the air filter box has melted and sucked into it. Looks like I'll be needing a tow. I realize the hatch cover insulation is still smoldering so I grab a water bottle from the fridge and soak it.

I disconnect both batteries so there would be no danger of further shorting. Then reload the stuff I threw out, except the hatch cover. I think I'll leave it outside until the tow truck arrives. After calling AAA it was time to take a few pictures.
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It looks like the cap may be salvageable. I just checked the coolant yesterday, this bottle looked much better then.
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My poor spark plug wires. Fortunately the fuel lines look undamaged. If they would have ruptured these pictures would be far different.
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The flexible tubing was intact yesterday, I swear.
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Not the best place to be, but better than a car-b-que. Crying or Very sad
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Tomorrow I hope to spend some time removing damaged parts and cleaning up the surviving pieces.
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kuleinc
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2012 1:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pretty lucky, sums that up. You think the A/C started this?
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shadetreetim
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2012 1:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm thinking so. The AC belt was destroyed pretty good but it looks like it was slipping before it shredded. The majority of the heat damage was centered around the compressor with the exception of the air cleaner tube.
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kuleinc
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2012 2:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Makes me think twice about turning my newly repaired a/c on Shocked
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levi
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2012 3:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow Shocked

Really sorry to hear about this ShadeTree,
BUT...BIG congratulations on being able to bring it under control so quickly>!

You've put so much into this, would have been a tragedy had those fuel lines joined in.

Such a sweet looking van.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2012 7:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am very happy for you that it didn't end much worse but
damn dude after all your tinkering it doesn't seem fair.
Hopefully you get it back together soon...
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2012 7:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Tim, glad you stopped as soon as you did and are OK. I applaud your coolness under pressure.
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shadetreetim
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2012 4:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks guys. Cool under pressure? Not so much. More like frantic scrambling where I accidently did the right things. Shocked

kuleinc wrote:
Makes me think twice about turning my newly repaired a/c on Shocked

I wouldnít worry too much kuleinc, Iíve never heard of a failed compressor causing this much damage, VW or otherwise. Typically when they fail they just throw the belt. Iím just theorizing the order of events anyway based on the results. When I rebuild it Iíll run the AC without any worries of a repeatÖ fluke eventÖ knock on wood somewhereÖ YMMVÖ remember Iím just a shadetree mechanicÖ experts everywhere may differÖ etc, etc.

I checked it out this afternoon. After clearing any shorted wires I hooked up the battery and it started right up and ran fine for the 30 seconds I let it. Looking around I donít see any other wire melted or damaged except in the immediate area. I did find the wiring to the license plate lights and the hatch interior light switch were melted bare. The AC and Alternator wiring looked great as it entered the wiring loom in the drivers fender. I removed the damaged parts and started figuring out what I need to get. The only item I havenít pulled out yet is the coolant burp loop around the engine compartment. The end where it sits above the coolant tanks is slightly heat deformed.

Itís hard to get a good photo of the damage to the hatch cover. You may be able to see how much insulation was burned off in this one.
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Hereís a better shot of the compressor and surrounding damage.
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The passenger side didnít sustain much damage. Makes me wonder why the air cleaner housing and feed were.
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This hose that feeds into the yellow valve, did it always look like this? At first I thought it was melted, but I canít remember how it looked before.
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Looking at the discoloration of the paint makes me glad it wasnít worse.
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Smoke damage here as well.
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Most of the damaged parts. That compressor used to be silver.
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I think I will just build new wiring where I need it. Thereís not that much to it. With a couple of tanks, belts and hoses it should be on the road again, sans AC.

Wondering if I should flush the AC lines again before I reinstall a new compressor? Think the compressor was likely to contaminate them when it failed? Flush low side to high side first?
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crazyvwvanman
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2012 4:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That hose is melted for sure. It is the vacuum line for the brake booster.

The air filter intake damage seems odd. I wonder if flaming belt bits hit the intake hose and started it burning?

Not much damage though. Glad you stopped when you did.

Mark

shadetreetim wrote:
.....
I checked it out this afternoon. After clearing any shorted wires I hooked up the battery and it started right up and ran fine for the 30 seconds I let it. Looking around I donít see any other wire melted or damaged except in the immediate area. I did find the wiring to the license plate lights and the hatch interior light switch were melted bare. The AC and Alternator wiring looked great as it entered the wiring loom in the drivers fender. I removed the damaged parts and started figuring out what I need to get. The only item I havenít pulled out yet is the coolant burp loop around the engine compartment. The end where it sits above the coolant tanks is slightly heat deformed.

Makes me wonder why the air cleaner housing and feed were.

This hose that feeds into the yellow valve, did it always look like this? At first I thought it was melted, but I canít remember how it looked before.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2012 5:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not so bad, it seems.....

I'd spring for a new tank and cap and hoses.

The overflow tank could be a used one.


My real question is about the compressor.

Does the pulley turn?

Measure the clutch coil. It should be a few ohms or so.

If the clutch checks out, hook a battery to it and see what happens.

See if you can turn the compressor.

Later take it apart, it may not be bad and just need a clutch or front bearing or whatever.

I dunno, I poke at it all a bit now.

You have my number if you need a sympathetic ear.
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shadetreetim
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2012 4:55 pm    Post subject: AND IT'S A RUNNER Reply with quote

Good advise Walt. Yesterday I talked to Mark and he had enough parts to get it on the road again. I ran down to his house and picked them up. Itís great to know people not too far away that have extra parts. Thanks Mark.

With the replacement air box I needed to swap over my AFM. I had a lower mileage one from the Karma thread so I set it up the way my old one was. Screwed the CO screw 4.5 turn out from seated. Backed the AFM spring off 2 notches.
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While Iím here I may as well install the lower mileage throttle body I got as well. I checked the TPS switch for proper operation before I installed it with a new gasket. Looking at my old throttle body, the shaft could slide back and forth about an 1/8Ē. Then I installed the used expansion tank and filled it with coolant. I taped off the ends of the lighting wiring so I could take it for a test drive. Fired up immediately and idled at 950. Nice. On the long test drive I cruised past where I broke down Saturday. It was a nice feeling compared to the last time I was there in the Vanagon.

I have both coolant tanks on order as the temporary expansion tank has some stress cracks in it and I donít have a puke tank at all right now. Hopefully VanCafe ships as quickly as they normally do. Weíre supposed to go camping next weekend.

I still need to pull the license plate lights and run new wiring to them. Hopefully Iíll get that done this week. I donít have any urgent need to fix the AC wiring until I source another compressor or try to fix this one. Good thing summer is almost over. Wink
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kamzcab86
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2012 6:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shocked Yikes, that was a close one!

levi wrote:
Really sorry to hear about this ShadeTree,
BUT...BIG congratulations on being able to bring it under control so quickly>!

You've put so much into this, would have been a tragedy had those fuel lines joined in.

Such a sweet looking van.


Ditto... every word!

Kind of makes me wonder after these last few incidents, how many Bus/Van fires actually start out as electrical, then turn into fuel-fed... Confused
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shadetreetim
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2012 10:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kamzcab86 wrote:
Kind of makes me wonder after these last few incidents, how many Bus/Van fires actually start out as electrical, then turn into fuel-fed... Confused


I had that same thought. If the fuel line had ruptured from the heat/flames, we would all be wondering why the fuel lines failed when they're only 13-14 months old. Or wondering what I did wrong installing them.


So here is what I'm theorizing happened;
1. Compressor and/or clutch fails
2. Resulting heat melts rubber o-rings on back of compressor allowing Redtek to escape
3. Heat also melts insulation off large power wire crossing over compressor
4. Sparking power wire ignites Redtek
5. Burning belt pieces get flung around engine compartment melting Air Box
6. Redtek quickly loses pressure, flames go out without accelerant.
7. I open hatch lid to find damage but only smoldering foam on bottom of lid.
8. I head to Vegas 'cause I'm one lucky bastard this weekend.

Okay, the first half of #8 didn't happen, but maybe I should have. Very Happy
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kuleinc
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2012 11:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

While the compressor should never really get very warm, I saw the wires running over it On my van and worried. I put some extra loom over them. Perhaps the power wire should be re-routed...
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shadetreetim
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2012 10:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So Iíve been mulling this over today and I think I may have the order wrong in my post yesterday. Think Embarassed

1st, Compressors normally donít catch anything on fire when they fail.

2nd, I looked the compressor over pretty well and never found any indication of a short. You would think there would be a pretty good mark on the housing where it arced.

3rd, None of the burnt wire has any indication of shorting either.

4th, I didnít disconnect the battery until after having looked everything over AND rolling up the electric windows. No shorting or arcing observed.

So maybe a more plausible explanation would be to change the order thus:

1. Redtek leaks from high side hose in front of compressor, (need to check high side hose, it may have failed)
2. Freeway speed blows Redtek towards Distributor and/or Alternator
3. Sparks from one or the other ignited the Redtek
4. The fire melted all the plastic and wiring it came in contact with
5. Burning belt pieces get flung around engine compartment melting Air Box
6. Melted Expansion tank douses flames as accelerant runs out
d'oh!
7. I am one dumb bastard for not replacing all the AC lines earlier this year. What I saved in not having all the hoses rebuilt I will now spend replacing parts. Plus I still need to replace all the remaining old hoses in the AC system.
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'89 Vanagon Bluestar/Country Homes 1.8T & .77 4th
'10 Wrangler 3.8 6SP Manual
'12 Ford E350
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levi
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2012 1:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So is your afm still ok?
If not, I have a late model one I can send you.
Just let me know with a pm.
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shadetreetim
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 10:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The recovery from the great burn of 2012 continues. Laughing The new tanks came in today and are now installed.
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While installing them I also rewired the license plate lights. I was glad to discover the plugs were salvageable. New belts and a couple of new hoses and we are back in business. The only thing I have left to repair is the AC, but before I do anything else I need to pull the old lines out and have them rebuilt.

The parts came in just in time. Tomorrow we head out to Angelus Oaks to camp.
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shadetreetim
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 10:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Our camping spot this past weekend was in the mountains at an elevation of 5000 feet. Highway 38 heads out of Mentone at 1660 feet and winds its way up to 6000 feet before dropping back down to Angelus Oaks. Seven Oaks Campground is a few miles outside of Angelus Oaks, perched alongside of a nice little stream. Although there are a few homes scattered throughout the area it still feels pretty remote. As we drove out Seven Oaks Road around 8:00PM Friday a brown bear approached the road and turned back in the brush as we passed. A mile down the road we turned into the campground and there was another brown bear caught in our headlights. It darted into the underbrush as we pulled 100 yards further in to where our campsite was located. Glad weíre in the Vanagon. Our neighbors who came with us, tent camping, didnít feel quite as lucky.

We had several ďfirstĒ on this trip;
First time with the Engel Fridge, which kept everything super cold.
First time Lady Shadetree has seen the passenger seat swiveled since I added it. She was suitably impressed.
It was our neighbors first time ever camping.
And our 8 month old grand-daughters first time camping.
They all swore they had fun. The weather was cool and overcast, a welcome respite from the heat of Riverside. Hard to imagine we were only 50 miles from home. After all the recently reported drama with Vinnie, a nice short trip was perfect.

And perfect perfectly describes how Vinnie ran the entire way there and back. Itís interesting, with the stock ratio rockers reinstalled, it seems to have a little more torque below 3000 RPM. The 1.25s were flat below 3000, then the power came on and pulled strong to redline. I think itís much more drivable with the stock ones. In the mountains I seemed to have a larger range of usable RPM before needing to downshift. Now I really want to try it out with the 1.1 intakes and 1.25 exhaust as Iíve mentioned before. Would this combo give me more top end with sacrificing the low?

I was happy to check out Vinnieís backside after the trip. Typically I had a fine spotting of oil across the back hatch after an extended run. After this trip it was dry and clean. No drips marking my spot. Looks like the decision to install the new push rod tubes and clean up the plumbing crap from adding an oil pressure gauge was the correct one.

This trip also gave me an opportunity to try out the EZ-Up side curtains I bought a while back. I only put up one side to give us a little privacy. We didnít need all the sides this trip. We had a nice downpour Saturday afternoon and it worked well to have two sides effectively blocked.

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If you live long enough, the circle of life circles all around you. I coached my daughters under 14 soccer team 15 years ago and this young lady (in the hat) was on it. I haven't seen her since that season was over. My daughter invited her, her husband and young son to camp with us. They checked out the Vanagon and declared it would be perfect after their kids are grown. Why wait that long, I replied. Just get a Westy.
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The stream had just been stocked with trout on Friday. Easy fishing. Tasty.
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All loaded up. Time for lunch.
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My son-in-law enjoyed Verizonís NFL Mobile Live plugged into the stereo.
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We need more camping trips!
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Doing my best every time I drive it to dispel the myth these Vanagons have to be slow!


'89 Vanagon Bluestar/Country Homes 1.8T & .77 4th
'10 Wrangler 3.8 6SP Manual
'12 Ford E350
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shadetreetim
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 10:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I havenít done much to Vinnie lately. My time and attention has been diverted by house remodeling projects. During this time, Vinnie has been driven all over the place and done it with no drama. But then I noticed the right rear marker lens had cracked and half of it had fallen off. Hmm, when did that happen? Well, if Iím ordering a couple of lenses anyway, I might as well order the new coil and fuel pressure regulator Iíve been thinking about replacing. After installing those I figured a new Hall Sensor would be a good item to cross off the want-to-do list. It arrived at work today. I reluctantly gave the cookies to our warehouseman as thanks for carrying that HUGE box to my office. Laughing

After arriving home I broke out the Bentley and looked up the replacement procedure. It amounted to an exploded view of the distributor. I was hoping for a little more than that. Next I searched the Samba. I found no step by step instructions. I didnít feel like I necessarily need the step by step, but I had hoped to review the process before I started. No such luck. Confused So I decided to document the steps I took with the Digifant Distributor... and bury it here in this long winded thread. Wink How's that search button workin' for ya? Brick wall

Removing the distributor is mandatory for this procedure, so I started by popping off the distributor cap, disconnecting the hall sensor wiring, unbolting the bracket from the block, and pulling the distributor, leaving the clamp intact and tight on the distributor housing . Once I had it off I headed into the kitchen to talk to the wife as she cooked dinner and I replaced the hall sensor. Idea Husband of the year. Cool

After removing the rotor and plastic shield under it I made a mental note of the orientation of the rotor notch in relation to the ďclutchĒ (the cogged disc at the bottom of the distributor shaft). The clutch has two cogs on it that are off center. The larger side of the clutch was faced towards the rotor notch. The clutch needs to be removed to slide the shaft out of the housing, so I started by pulling off the spiral cover wound around the clutch so I could get to the pin holding it onto the shaft. That's when I realized the pin was pressed into the shaft, and the clutch floated on the pin (I had imagined the pin was floating and the spiral winding held it in place).

I ran out to the garage, set a socket on the bench and used a small punch to drift the pin out. In this picture it appears I have set the housing on the socket to pound out the pin. That would not be a good idea, I don't want to deform the housing and the clutch is getting replaced anyway. While actually doing the work I made sure the clutch was resting on the socket while doing the drifting. This picture was taken after.
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After the punch bottomed out I used a pair of pliers to work the pin out the rest of the way. I headed back to the warmth of the house.
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After pulling off the clutch, the three washers slid off, with the biggest washer closest to the housing. I kept the three washers oriented in the same order as I laid them on my workboard.
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Getting my first good look at the hall sensor it was obvious there had been some degradation of the assembly.
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Pulling out the broken piece, there were 3 screws holding the hall sensor in place.
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I found some dead critters in the housing under the hall sensor, along with some broken and mangled plastic pieces.
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Comparing the two side by side I was glad I had decided to replace it even though it was still functional.
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Reassembly was a quick process. The hall sensor came with a new clutch and pin. I drove the pin in as far as I could with my hammer, and used the punch to drive it in until it was centered in the shaft. After that it was mere seconds to have it completed and ready to reinstall.
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I headed outside to drop it back in before dinner was ready. Sliding it in place I pointed the rotor the same direction it was when I pulled it out. The clutch fell into place and I bolted down the clamp, attached the wiring, and clipped on the cap. Since I did not loosen the distributor clamp, the timing was still correct. It fired right up. I ran it through a quick mile round trip, and hurried inside to enjoy success... and my dinner.

Ready for the Buses By The Bridge trip. Dancing
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Tim Potts

Doing my best every time I drive it to dispel the myth these Vanagons have to be slow!


'89 Vanagon Bluestar/Country Homes 1.8T & .77 4th
'10 Wrangler 3.8 6SP Manual
'12 Ford E350
'12 Tiguan 2.0T 6SP Tiptronic - Lady Shadetree's
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kamzcab86
Samba Moderator


Joined: July 26, 2008
Posts: 6518
Location: Arizona
kamzcab86 is offline 

PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 11:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's amazing that some parts can be in poor shape, yet still function as normal... then you can install a brand new part and it doesn't work at all!

shadetreetim wrote:
Next I searched the Samba. I found no step by step instructions. I didnít feel like I necessarily need the step by step, but I had hoped to review the process before I started. No such luck. Confused So I decided to document the steps I took with the Digifant Distributor... and bury it here in this long winded thread.


Guess what's now in the FAQ... Wink
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~Kamz Anxious
1986 Cabriolet: www.Cabby-Info.com
Blue Vanagon 1990 Vanagon Westfalia: Old Blue's Blog
2016 Golf GTI S
"I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction; the world will have a generation of idiots." ~Albert Einstein
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