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78 westy on road trip - won't start after a long day of driving
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BoltonFTW
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:18 pm    Post subject: 78 westy on road trip - won't start after a long day of driving Reply with quote

Hi there wondering if anyone could help me out as I'm currently on the road with a 78 fuel injected westy that doesn't seem to want to start once I park it in a camping spot. Here's my story so far.

Purchased car recently from original owner who had OCD in taking care of it and keeping records. Have original bill of sale, original plates from euopean tourist pickup program etc. The car is a gem-- though well used.

It has a rebuilt 2000cc motor about 20k mi ago and lots of components have been replaced since then from a reputable shop.

Enough about the car here is what I'm struggling with:

I started a road trip in the car a few days ago knowing full well the rosks involved Smile. It performed well on the road the first day.. drove about 300miles to first campsite. Leaving it overnight at the site it did not want to start the next morning. It would constantly crank and crank but not actually catch and start. My first thought is fuel delivery issue. And no I am not pumping the gas pedal when turning the key on FI.

Anyways I had to call AAA and have it towed to a local shop. The good news is that once at the shop it started up. Strange.. so it's not something major? The shop noticed a brake vacuum hose that was disconnected and a loose temp sensor connection and they firmed both of those up. Mechanic there also mentioned that he hooked the ignition system? Up to an oscilloscope to check the fuel injector voltage and noted that the "computer opening fuel injector is slow." I know the computer was replaced once already and he said it even looks like it was recently. He also said my fuel pressure looks fine. So with it all working for now I get the van back and went on with my trip.

Another full day of driving, through Lassen NP this time, starting and stopping no problem. Engine off for stops to stores and restrooms and it would start right up just fine. Great everything is working again! Until...

Same situation.. drove out of Lassen about 140miles ( in 100F heat- made one stop to rest car. Started up just fine) and arrived at my next campsite.. picked out a spot and pulled her in. Shut down engine. Immediately realized that I had to go back to the state park entrance to get something. Tried to fire her up and just crank crank crank with no start. Exactly as it were at previous site. Been over 24hrs now and I'm probably calling AAA tomorrow.

So my question is basically before I have to be towed again is there anything simple I can check on the road. I have basic tools with me.

I've tried the following so far:
- wait hours and try starting again
- give the fuel pump a few thumps with hammer and then try starting
- check the connections that the mechanic reconnected.. all good.
-disconnect the brake vacuum line that the mechanic reconnected, tried starting
- disconnected battery for a few hours, reconnected tryied starting
- disconnected CSV sensor and tried starting (read on another thread)
- pulled plug wire #2 and tried starting (read this on another thread)
- pulled airfilter out to check it.. clean as a whistle.

What am I missing?

Thanks and I apologize in advance for any typos I'm posting from my cellphone. Also this is my first post to the samba. And this is my second go at a bay window. I sold a nice '77 in 2000 and had some major regret recently so I bought this 78.

Cheers.
Drew
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andrewtf
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:30 pm    Post subject: Re: 78 westy on road trip - won't start after a long day of driving Reply with quote

Where exactly are you?
Someone just might be nearby who could help you out.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:34 pm    Post subject: Re: 78 westy on road trip - won't start after a long day of driving Reply with quote

can you hear the FP run when you actuate the door in the AFM?

how is the tank? venting properly? could be vapor lock. I recently took a tank out of a bus that was crushed to the point it probably lost 6 gallons of capacity
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:35 pm    Post subject: Re: 78 westy on road trip - won't start after a long day of driving Reply with quote

Welcome Drew!
Sadly there's not a whole lot you can do at a campsite without some basic tools, bottom line is you need to find out if it's flooded, starving for fuel or lacks ignition when it won't start.
I'd try a jumper wire between the battery + post and the #15 terminal on the ignition coil (the one with all the black wires on it) first to rule out a bad ignition switch (remove jumper whan done).
Then I'd try a spoonfull of gasoline into the rubber S boot between the AFM and throttle body to see if it's starved for gas.
If none of that elicits a hint of firing I'd pull all the spark plugs and see how wet they were, if visibly soggy leave them out, disconnect the green wire from the coil and crank it a bit to air it out.

Here's some helpful stuff that may also help you avoid a tow later: https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/search.php?searc..._chars=200
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timvw7476
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:34 pm    Post subject: Re: 78 westy on road trip - won't start after a long day of driving Reply with quote

wow you really do a lot of diagnostic stuff when it does not light off right away.
the first step is crank while slowly flooring the throttle, keep it floored & let
the engine try to catch, if you get no sign of life after 8 seconds. Then you
run around. Modern fuels suck, turns to vapor as soon as you turn your back
on it.
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yellowCOwesty
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:42 pm    Post subject: Re: 78 westy on road trip - won't start after a long day of driving Reply with quote

When you take the gas cap off to put fuel in is there pressure built up?
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Tcash
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 12:22 am    Post subject: Re: 78 westy on road trip - won't start after a long day of driving Reply with quote

As busdaddy said it would help to know if the problem is in the Fuel system or Ignition system.
As mentioned
Try the gas down the S boot.
Key on, open the flap in the AFM and listen for the double relay to click and the fuel pump to start running.

Please don't hit the fuel pump, it has an aluminum case and may be damaged.
If the pump don't run, clean the connections on the pump and retest.

Disconnect the battery ground cable and clean the connections on the starter. This is what powers the fuel pump relay during starting. Clean the connections on the ground strap that runs from the transmission to the frame.

Under the Plenum the black heart looking thing with all the hoses attached. Is three ground terminals with Two white ground wires attached. Pulls these off and clean the connections.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Check the connections on the Double relay for any loose or pushed out connections.
Double Relay Explained. . . In Color!

Next pull the coil wire out of the distributor cap and hold it about an 1/8" from the distributor metal body. Have an assistant crank the engine and look for a nice blue/ white spark. If it is orange or yellow, the spark is too weak.

You might have something floating around in the fuel tank blocking the outlet. Try shaking the shit out of the bus at the rear wheel area. This is where the fuel tank is located.

No mention of the Fuel filter. But usually when they are plugged there plugged. They don't unplug themselves.

Welcome to TheSamba and Good luck!
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Randy in Maine
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 6:40 am    Post subject: Re: 78 westy on road trip - won't start after a long day of driving Reply with quote

Put your foot on the throttle about 1/2 way as you start the car and see if that helps. Even a few pumps won't hurt anything.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 7:41 am    Post subject: Re: 78 westy on road trip - won't start after a long day of driving Reply with quote

Assuming you still have ignition points, have you inspected them? On Bosch points in particular the wear block will break off making it so the points barely open.

Do not buy Bosch points or many other Bosch parts, fifteen years ago they were the gold standard while today they are third world made junk.

Maybe locate the Cold Start Valve and pull the wiring connector off. If the engine is running too rich to start this may help. Your problem could be related to a failing TSII sensor. If need be you can ground the wire from the ECU to the sensor out to the block and take the sensor out of the equation. Note: the engine will not run well cold after you do this.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 10:41 am    Post subject: Re: 78 westy on road trip - won't start after a long day of driving Reply with quote

If you are at Lassen you are somewhere between 8,000 ' and 9,000' ASL in hot low pressure weather, which raises the density elevation more depending on which campground you are in. I see two possibilities (although there are others)

1) tight valves and the engine has to cool to get compression again

2) rich mixture maybe from a TS2 that is going bad. If so, the more you crank it the more flooded it will get.

I run a tad rich and had a similar issue one cold spring at Lassen peak turnout right after 89 was opened, 8,400 feet ASL. Hold the throttle open with the key off and give it a crank. If it doesn't catch turn it off and hold the throttle open again. Do that again. Give it a chance to clear wet cylinders out of the excess fuel. See if that helps. If not then it might be tight valves. Don't crank and crank lest you burn up your starter.

I do hope someone has tune a tune up with new plugs before you left on vacation.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 11:58 am    Post subject: Re: 78 westy on road trip - won't start after a long day of driving Reply with quote

Just want to thank everyone who responded to this thread. At my campsite with limited tools I wasn't able to test everything that was suggested. I did get a tow out of the site and to a reputable vw repair place near Redding, CA . Within minutes they found that a connection on the condenser had melted down causing an issue with the points. Guess I missed it when looking through the engine. I thought I had checked most electrical connections but I am clearly a novice.

Photo attached.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 12:44 pm    Post subject: Re: 78 westy on road trip - won't start after a long day of driving Reply with quote

looks like the distributor body got REALLY hot to melt it like that.
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alman72
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 2:09 pm    Post subject: Re: 78 westy on road trip - won't start after a long day of driving Reply with quote

unless you used a hand model to hold that condenser, it is nice to see a lady ready to jump in and troubleshoot in a hot campsite.
As mentioned above,(not that it matters to you, as it was your condenser, and not points....actually, I don't know, would bad points cause that kind of heat?) bosch can be crap out of the box. What is the samba consensus on good points? anyone but bosch? Available at FLAPS?
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 2:24 pm    Post subject: Re: 78 westy on road trip - won't start after a long day of driving Reply with quote

That is an unusual failure. I think several things likely contributed to it. First someone didn't get the rubber plug installed straight, second I think the rubber/poly material must be pretty crappy, and third as others mentioned your distributor may have been way hotter than normal. Maybe the entire engine is frying hot or maybe the bearings in the distributor are creating drag. I would certainly want to lube the dizzy by the book, you should check with your shop and see what they did. I would want to pull the dizzy and put oil directly in the oil hole in the lower part of the body, this isn't called for in the book, but I think considering the circumstances it is called for.

Carrying a spare condenser and points would a good idea. I have gone over to the Echlin brand sold by NAPA as of about 10 years ago and have had zero problems since.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 2:42 pm    Post subject: Re: 78 westy on road trip - won't start after a long day of driving Reply with quote

condenser probably shorted out like so many seem to do these days, pulling current thru the wires to melt the plastic. 2 wires = 2 x the heat in that area. it's been 100 F + in the valley, and the climb to Lassen is about a 7500' climb in 50 miles. That adds to any heat from the condenser leaking. Would mess up the FI baseline pulse too.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 2:59 pm    Post subject: Re: 78 westy on road trip - won't start after a long day of driving Reply with quote

Nah...not melted. Just crappy plastic molding and fit.

Blow that picture up large. See that fibrous white chafed looking area where the outer hold down fork fit into the slot?

Someone had a hard time getting that plug into the hole. Either it was a round hole in the distributor and they forced in a square plastic plug or vica versa.

And....they really mashed down on the plastic with the little fork clamp.

And possibly even worse....and I have seen lazy mechanics do this....not wanting to remove the distributor to install a new condenser and have to re-time it....and not wanting to risk trying to remove the screw and fork and dropping it on the engine....I have seen the LAZY mechanic just use a screwdriver and brute force to pry the connector plug into place or just bend the fork back and stick in the plug and then mash the fork down.

That one looks like a square hole type plug..and actually looks like it was molded off center with the side of the crimp barrel showing through the plastic and making intermittent contact with the distributor body.

Good catch! Ray
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Tcash
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 3:35 pm    Post subject: Re: 78 westy on road trip - won't start after a long day of driving Reply with quote

Well glad to see you got it worked out. Too bad it cost you another tow. May the rest of your journey be trouble free.

You should start another thread and introduce yourself. Share your adventure with those of us stuck behind a keyboard.

Good luck
Tcash

Here is a couple of things you should have with you. To easily diagnose if it is a Fuel system or an Ignition system problem.
Cranks Won't Start Test
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 4:15 pm    Post subject: Re: 78 westy on road trip - won't start after a long day of driving Reply with quote

The square black plastic insulator part does not always fit in the distributor right. Especially if the distributor is new and the square hole is the wrong size or has a burr in it. If it was forced in, it strips back a portion of the black plastic insulator. Resulting in the connector visible under the plastic, brass in color, contacting the distributor housing. Causing a short to ground which causes a lot of heat, which in turn would melt the plastic.
This would account for your hiccuping.

The question to ask the mechanic that fixed it is.
Did he find a burr in the square hole in the distributor?
Was is an unusual tight fit?
What measures did they take to make sure this is not going to happen again?

Did they replace your ignition points as well. It would be noted on your invoice.
The condensers job is to protect the points from premature wear. With it shorting like that, it would ruin the points or cause accelerated wear.

Can you give us the numbers off the side of your distributor? The reason I ask. Is there are some new distributors out there that are bad from the factory.
the numbers can be found here.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2018 1:46 am    Post subject: Re: 78 westy on road trip - won't start after a long day of driving Reply with quote

alman72 wrote:
unless you used a hand model to hold that condenser, it is nice to see a lady ready to jump in and troubleshoot in a hot campsite.
As mentioned above,(not that it matters to you, as it was your condenser, and not points....actually, I don't know, would bad points cause that kind of heat?) bosch can be crap out of the box. What is the samba consensus on good points? anyone but bosch? Available at FLAPS?


10/10 for both your hands and for getting it sorted. The spark test would lead you to this points fault and rule out playing with gas on the side of the road.

Interesting that it led to hot start problems, though, that should have just been “crank, no start”
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2018 7:49 am    Post subject: Re: 78 westy on road trip - won't start after a long day of driving Reply with quote

Thanks again for the kind responses.

To clarify that is indeed a hand model.. my wife is on the trip too and she held the condenser while I took the closeup. I wanted to get that huge vw symbol in the background Smile

The mechanic did say that the condenser was a super tight fit and likely was shorting out/getting too hot from current- He did also replace the points for sake of thoroughness I believe. He gave me the old ones as a backup. They seem to have minor wear.

He said he did not take the distributor out to reseat it but did make sure there was more slack? In the wiring for the condenser so it was not so tight and could fit better. I'll at least know what to keep an eye on now. I do believe the distributor is pretty new. I'd have to check records which I don't have on me for the trip.

I will get the number off the distributor when I'm done with the trip and I'll be sure to update the thread when I do so.

Just glad to be back on the road for now.
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