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First Breakdown
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Igeo
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2020 7:03 am    Post subject: First Breakdown Reply with quote

We were on our way to the Carson Pass area in the Sierras yesterday with hopes of escaping the smoke that is blanketing California now due to the terrible fires we have. I thought I felt a slight hic a couple of times along the flats, but thought it might be the AC compressor kicking in/out. It's rare that we use the AC, so I don't have a lot of time experiencing how it makes the van behave since this is only the second year we've had the van. As we neared Jackson, we turned the AC off- temps were in the low 90's (it's a dry heat!)

Anyway, 15 miles later, as we approached the edge of town, the engine cut in/out with a corresponding jumping of the tach. A couple of on-off cycles with the key demostrated we had a issue as he van would crank but not start. Lucky for us we could back into a large driveway of the local veterans center. A quick look in the doghouse did not reveal any obvious issues.

Since we were planning to head into some pretty remote country in hot weather, we made the decision to not attempt further diagnosis out of town, and opt for a free tow with AAA back to Oakland. That was a first for me. The rental car place was a 10 minute walk. Since that all lined up, I'm convinced we made the right decision to cut our losses, and do the diagnostics back at the house.

Here's a clue. Before I had the van smog tested on Wednesday, I set the timing back to about 34 degrees. After passing smog, I then put the timing back to the mid-40's where it runs so much better. To achieve that mid-40's timing, I felt that the rotation of the distributor became restricted as if something was begnning tp prevent further anti-clockwise rotation. Looking at the hall sensor plug wiring and the plug wires themselves do not really explain this as they appear to allow plenty of slack for rotation of the distributor.

But that timing adjustment was the last thing I did, so it's the first thing I'm suspecting. The van is sitting in the driveway now 12 hours later and I have not tried to start it cold yet which is probably the first thing I should try. Kinda hoping it won't start to make this easier. I'm convinced it's igniton related as it was a total cutting out/in/out with a jumping tach. Ignition switch is 6-months old.
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crazyvwvanman
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2020 7:23 am    Post subject: Re: First Breakdown Reply with quote

Lots of other common Vanagon failures can make the tach jump around or drop out and most have nothing to do with the distributor.

So looking at the distributor is a reasonable start but don't get tunnel vision.

Mark
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danfromsyr
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2020 7:39 am    Post subject: Re: First Breakdown Reply with quote

running the rear AC can/will cause the wiring to get hot..
this can/will melt the wire.
give the wiring to/from the black box in the firewall a really good inspection..
feel the length of the thick power wire. and see if the insulation is either melted or crisped. inspect the power wires @ the Alternator.
these can all interrupt the power for the engine relays.

I had this happen on a trip back one hot august running the AC.
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Igeo
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2020 9:31 am    Post subject: Re: First Breakdown Reply with quote

Of course it started and ran like usual this morning. Thinking to remove the distributor to allow for a close look. Hate the dea just throwing parts at it because that way you never determine anything.
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davideric9
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2020 9:41 am    Post subject: Re: First Breakdown Reply with quote

Sounds like vanagon syndrome. do you have the VW AFM harness installed?
VW #025906302A
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MarkWard
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2020 10:04 am    Post subject: Re: First Breakdown Reply with quote

There are 2 electrical components that can be affected by heat and have your symptoms. The Hall sender, can fail under high heat soak when they are on their way out.

The ignition coil can also fail due to overheating. Both will work again when cooled.

I've also seen fuel pumps fail after a long day when they are on their way out. The symptom usually is the engine looses power followed by the engine quitting. The pump cools and everything is normal again.

The problem is you need to be ready to diagnose when it happens. I've posted this here before. We recently had an owner that every time he drove all day, the coil was failing. He would notice on the last fuel stop of the day, the engine was harder to start. He drove the van in with 2 old coils in a box and the one that was beginning to act up. All 3 coils tested to spec even though 2 did not work and the 3rd was on it's way out.

The decision was made to add and MSD unit and MSD coil to try and pin down the problem. The MSD is essentially a standalone spark system. Using the signal from the ECU that would fire the coil, now notifies the MSD to fire. Essentially turning the ECU coil driver into a relay and removing all loads.

Since this, the van made it all the way to Washington State from South Florida and no hickups. The owner is stoked to have the engine dependable again.

So, a timing light is a quick way to check for a no spark condition. A fuel pressure gauge is a quick way to test fuel pressure. You will need to determine if its a spark or fuel problem. Since it runs ok when it does, Compression is probably fine.

Also, there are a lot of other things that can fail. But you need to narrow down where to work. It doesn't sound like typical vanagon syndrome to me.
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danfromsyr
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2020 11:26 am    Post subject: Re: First Breakdown Reply with quote

I've had this happen on 3 of our family fleet vans while on long warm/hot roadtrips..
I've replaced 2 of them on the road with 1989 Ford F250 fuel pumps from a FLAPS.

my next installation will have dual fuel pumps with a A-off-B switch.. will act as my kill switch too. since I carry a spare in case/the event of a pump failure. I just plan to carry my spare already installed Wink runs like crap, flip to the other pump and see if behavior improves... et' voila

MarkWard wrote:

I've also seen fuel pumps fail after a long day when they are on their way out. The symptom usually is the engine looses power followed by the engine quitting. The pump cools and everything is normal again.
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Igeo
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2020 12:15 pm    Post subject: Re: First Breakdown Reply with quote

Pulled the distributor, and although I see no breaks in the wires, based on the appearance alone I'm thinking to try a replacement. I wonder though if I'm better off installing a new Halls sensor and plug in my old one (at twice the cost) because I do wonder abiuut the quality of the $80 aftermarket new distributors. I will try to get inside the distributor I have to properly evaluate it.

Does the pin securing the drive dog drive out either direction?
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MarkWard
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2020 12:31 pm    Post subject: Re: First Breakdown Reply with quote

I don't believe you need to pull the shaft to swap out the hall effect sensor. You very carefully remove the shutter wheel for access. There is a tiny pin that acts like a key. Don't loose it.

Can't speak to the quality of a cheap import. You could swap it in and see if your problem goes away and if it doesn't, put your original back in and save the cheap one for a backup.

I hardly ever guess at a problem. I take the time to catch the problem and diagnose it. My wife will tell you, intermittent problems are the hardest to catch and repair. It's way easier when you can replicate the failure.

edit: In answer to your question, the pin should go in either direction, but sometimes it seems like one direction is easier.
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jberger
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2020 1:36 pm    Post subject: Re: First Breakdown Reply with quote

IIRC the shutter wheel is delicate and almost impossible to remove on a Digifant dizzy. I always drive the pin out and remove the shaft. It will drive out either direction. FWIW the hall sensors from the MK2 DigifantII cars is the same. Although I think the DFII suppliers show that part as unavailable so I use the Vanagon part. Yes, it's expensive. I would rebuild the one you have. The only other item is the fiber thrust washer at the drive end.. if broken. I cut mine out of Moly impregnated nylon.

J
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Igeo
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2020 2:03 pm    Post subject: Re: First Breakdown Reply with quote

Decided to rebuild. Drove the bottom pin out wothout issue. All washers are steel and look good. Shaft looks good with no play. Will clean up the casting, order new Halls sensor, o-ring, cap and rotor. I also need to find the 4th hold down screw at the hardware store. I may purchase a new coil too to carry with me.

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DanHoug
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2020 2:20 pm    Post subject: Re: First Breakdown Reply with quote

be very suspect of the coil. devilishly hard to test if intermittent but heat seems to be a consistent failure factor for the faulty, best to try a new and CORRECT coil. seeing these fail on this list with regularity now. maybe 30 years and 8,000 volts is taking a toll.

this is a case where putting the van on an old school ignition scope while it is acting up would tell much. rehabbed an old SUN unit and have acquired a couple publications on scope patterns. pretty incredible what can be revealed in both the primary and secondary ignition systems.
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Igeo
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2020 2:27 pm    Post subject: Re: First Breakdown Reply with quote

DanHoug wrote:
be very suspect of the coil.....


I think I'll carry a new coil as a spare. If after I rebuild the distributor this happens again, I woud swap the coil. I used those old sun scopes in high school auto shop. Great that you have one.
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jberger
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2020 2:27 pm    Post subject: Re: First Breakdown Reply with quote

Igeo wrote:
Decided to rebuild. Drove the bottom pin out wothout issue. All washers are steel and look good. Shaft looks good with no play. Will clean up the casting, order new Halls sensor, o-ring, cap and rotor. I also need to find the 4th hold down screw at the hardware store. I may purchase a new coil too to carry with me.

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If all the washers are steel then you are missing the broken fiber shim. Its pieces are floating harmlessly in your sump. You need to measure endplay and make or buy the appropriate shim. Too much end play can create loss of ignition as well.

J
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Igeo
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2020 4:32 pm    Post subject: Re: First Breakdown Reply with quote

I take it that the end-play is measured (estimated?) with the distributor installed in the engine? Or can I shim the bottom to give about 0.020" on the bench?
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2020 4:44 pm    Post subject: Re: First Breakdown Reply with quote

Igeo wrote:
I take it that the end-play is measured (estimated?) with the distributor installed in the engine? Or can I shim the bottom to give about 0.020" on the bench?


You set endplay on the bench and Id shoot for .004-.008

J
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2020 6:00 pm    Post subject: Re: First Breakdown Reply with quote

You need the fibre washers to complete the assembly. Yours have disintegrated.
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Igeo
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2020 6:54 am    Post subject: Re: First Breakdown Reply with quote

The Carrot wrote:
You need the fibre washers to complete the assembly. Yours have disintegrated.


So it seems. I will try to source them or maybe try to make one. There are 4 screws holding down the Hall sensor to the casting. One of mine has gone MIA so I need to go to the hardware store anyway. The three that were holding it down were very tight, so it's a little strange. Maybe I can find a suitable washer at the hardware store too.
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syncro surf
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2020 2:41 pm    Post subject: Re: First Breakdown Reply with quote

Fiber washers here:

https://www.vwnos.com/1230107011
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Igeo
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2020 3:26 pm    Post subject: Re: First Breakdown Reply with quote

Thanks for that SS.
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