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Parts finally arrived from Kingfisher Kustoms. These were the Empi Rocker covers and the Pertronix electronic ignition. Today I fitted the rocker covers. They were a tight fit behind the bugle exhausts, but when installed worked really well without any sign of oil leaks. I was at last able to test the engine fully with a long test drive and was amazed how the engine felt. With the ignition timing sorted it pulled really well and without any misfires and seemed to pull well at low revs in high gears. Hopefully tomorrow I can fit the ignition unit and double check the timing. Then its time to build some miles up on the clock and really start using the car.
Unfortunately the bug was not ready for the Bug Jam today, but I did go in my other car. The visit proved very fruitful and I managed to get several parts for that I was short of. These include Oil sump plate studs, New rear light lenses (To replace the old ones I have), exhaust gaskets etc. etc. There was quite a few beetles there as you would expect much more than last year, but not one Baja that I could find. The Rat look is still in vogue which always has appealed to me.
Today saw some progress on the engine. I fitted the new crank pulley which has timing marks so this enabled me to check the valve clearances and reset the ignition timing using a strobe light. The ignition timing was about 20 degrees out, which might explain the misfiring and general lack of performance. Whilst I was working on the engine I took the time to change the engine oil. The engine now runs sweeter and the idle is much improved. Unfortunately whilst disturbing the rocker cover gaskets to check the valve clearances I have introduced a severe gasket oil leak which prevents me from driving any distance. I have a pair of Empi rocker covers on order. These have rubber gaskets and bolt down so this will be fixed very soon. I also painted and fitted the fan belt pulley guard which now maked the rear of the car much safer should anyone stick there fingers near the engine. These new parts have the habit of showing up how poor the finish is on the rest of the engine!
Whilst I wait for parts to arrive I continue to tidy up around the car. The back seat is now fixed and the battery area is cleaned and painted. I also fabricated a battery retainer which will enable the battery to be firmly screwed down to the floorpan. These parts are drying in the garage ready for fitting tomorrow. Further work includes the fitting of a driver side mirror. This took most of the day to strip down, prime and paint black. The mirror adaptor from StatusVW enabled me to fit it to the door without difficulty. I shall paint and fit the passenger side one tomorrow. Further investigation revealed that the back tyres foul the body slightly when cornering hard. I don't want to raise the suspension too much at the rear, so I may take a hammer to the body to give me a few millimeters extra clearance.
I have now driven the car a few miles and found that there is a severe plug fouling problem with the engine. The engine seems to be running far too rich and is causing misfires. I adjusted the idle mixture down as a temporary fix, but this didn't seem to do the trick. This doesn't give me the confidence to go any distance in the car just yet. Unfortunately the crank pulley has no timing marks on it, so I cannot check the ignition timing or check the valve clearances as a preamble to adjusting the carb. I did try to find top dead center using several methods, but this proved too inaccurate to be useful. I have ordered a pulley and a few other parts such as an Pertronix electronic ignition kit so when these arrive I should make some progress on the engine.
I also found the tyre pressures to be miles out, so far in fact that I think someone may have been playing a joke! Front left less than 10 PSI , front right 40 PSI, back left 40 PSI, back right 10 PSI. I'm not sure what they should be with these tyres, so I took an educated guess from a standard beetle (16 Front 24 Rear). The rear tyres are quite larger than standard, so I settled on 17 Front 35 Rear. This improved the handling considerably as you might expect and the tyre bulge looks about right.
When driving I found there was a strange clunking sound from the left rear when going over a pot hole. On further investigation I found this to be a long bolt striking the shock absorber. This was fitted by me when I swapped the rear swing plates. This is now sorted. The suspension seems far too hard all around. I must look at the shock absorbers.
Today I replaced the seat belts as they were a little worn and did not reel in without assistance. I also changed the sparking plugs. I did notice that cylinder 2 sparking plug was considerably more sooty than the others, this may mean ring problems on that cylinder, but it could just be an old plug. Number 1 plug was also loose. This sometimes occurs as beetle plugs are difficult to access and when tightening the plug you think its tight when its not. The car should run better now! Hopefully at the weekend I get a chance to do an oil change and fit a few more parts. I got the parts from GSF which is very close to where I work, so this is handy for spares and the cheapest place I have found so far.
13/07/2010 Mileage 42903 miles
I couldn't wait any longer for the V5 to arrive so I decided to insure the baja and get a tax disk from the local post office. Even though I printed all the documents off online and took them in this went without any issues and tonight the car was finally road legal. I took a spin to my local main town, a round trip of 17miles to fill up with petrol. It was a little rainy so the handling was tested to the full. Even though wet, the handling wasn't as bad as I expected and the lowering of the rear of the car makes it feel quite secure. Body roll is quite off putting, but this is the same in any off road car and just takes some getting used to. The seats don't help driver confidence and had me sliding back and forth all over the place. There really is a need for some better seats in this car. Driving for the first time I noticed how it really does attract attention, but it also gave me a whole list of new things that need doing. These are :- Windscreen wipers dont switch off all the time, fuel flap needs adjusting, could do with some new seat belts, sound proofing, wing mirrors are urgently needed. I like these sort of jobs as they won't take the car off the road and can be done fairly easily in a few hours.
Replaced some of the fuel pipes on the engine.
There have been several distractions at bug headquarters. My main car (a Ford Fiesta) needed a service and also the garage still needs further tidying, so progress on the bug has been a little limited.
I have finally completed the rear speaker mounts. They are made from window sill UPVC cut and sprayed black. I attached them using small right angle plastic brackets usually used for making kitchen units. The Blaupunkt speakers fit nice and allow good access to the rear storage space. The wiring still needs tidying, but I will do this when I make brackets to fix the back of the rear seat. The only downside is that the car engine is so loud that you have to have the hifi on full blast to hear anything! I think some soundprofing of the back bulkhead is needed urgently.
Other news is that I have done a little tidying up of the body and resprayed some areas where the paint has come off. Its quite easy to do with a paint can and I have used plastic primer on the glass fibre parts to make the paint adhere a little better. In addition to this work I have done some rewiring in the front to move the washer bottle down and forward behind the apron. This enables me to fill the bottle without splashing the dash board electrics. This work is in preparation for making the bonnet hinged at the rear.
It looks like the V5 document is still not here so I may get the car on the road without it. I had a quite for insurance of £145 fully comp, so with free tax it looks like this car is going to be a real cheap one to run!
One urgent job seems to be the fuel pipes on the engine. The rubber seems to be a little perished in places and I think the fuel pump may be leaking a little. The parts are cheap so I will have to look at this soon. Its a good job the exhausts are at the side of the engine. I very nearly lost my last beetle due to a fuel leak from the carburettor many years back, so I don't want to take any chances with this one.
Replaced all the back seats and planned the fitting of some rear speakers to replace the cheap ones in the front. I want to have access to the space behind the seats as this is very handy storage, so I have come up with a idea to mount them either side on a little UPVC "gusset" shelf I have made one and am just starting the second. I'll post pictures when I have them fitted. Other news is that I have won the bonnet hinges on ebay and a few other items. Its time now to stop ordering any more parts and fit the ones I have, but I will keep my eyes open for a good pair of front seats. I hope the V5 arrives shortly as the Bug Jam is coming soon. As its only a few miles from my house it would be a fitting first outing for the Baja.
Not too much progress today as I have been reorganising the garage. There will soon be a time when the weather requires working under cover. I ordered a pair of wing mirrors so will have to find a way to mount one of them to the drivers door as it doesn't have a threaded boss in the door. I also put a bid on some bonnet hinges and won the auction for the heater channel vents. Over the last few days I have also been stripping out the rear of the car to have a good look at the condition of the body. It's not too bad but there are signs that the battery acid is starting to attack the paint on the floorpan. This needs painting and the battery placed on a plastic sheet as quickly as possible. I also found out that this car was blue, then red and then urban cammo in colour! There are some nasty repairs here, but also some tidy ones, but generally the car is quite solid.
In the garage I have also stripped down the 1969 rear lights I won on eBay. These should take a little work to get up to standard, but nothing too serious. The new rubbers also arrived and should look good when fitted. The lights were about £60 cheaper than new items and cost only £40 so its worth the time to sort them out.
I have spent the last few evenings after work renovating the front lights. After rubbing down and priming the metalwork I sprayed them satin black to match the "no chrome" military look of the vehicle. I was surprised as to how well the paint adheres to chrome if it is rubbed down well. The lights are now fully legal with the correct new right hand drive lamp units fitted. Another addition to the vehicle was the radio aerial. This is a Poddig P1731 from Germany and is completely black.
The visit to the local chap dismantling the 1303 beetle was less fruitfull, but I did manage to get some kick plates for under the back seat. This is one less bit that I need to put the interior back to a more original car. The following picture shows other areas that need attention. Paint is coming off the panels at the edges, these need rubbing down and then a little respray, the front apron is not fitted correctly and needs moving back to match the bonnet. I would also like to fit a hinged bonnet and remove the rear two clips....Oh and I still need some wing mirrors!
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