Project BlackHeart

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My main interest in Volkswagens is Beetles, but recently I have been working on a lot of buses. Whilst browsing ebay one caught my eye and I noticed that no one had bid on it. The starting price was quite low and the bus looked sound. At the last minute I placed a bid and to my complete suprise I won. A bus is on my bucket list, so now seems the ideal opportunity to tick that one off!

After winning the bid I arranged to have my first look of the bus today.

 I had the day off work and together with my other half April we drove up to Nottingham. The bus looked really great and was very solid, but I was unable to start the bus as the battery was completely dead. The seller seemed a nice honest person so I handed over the money as it was exactly as described. Delivery is arranged for next Friday, so all being well it should arrive in one piece in Bedfordshire.
   I haven't many pictures of it yet, but here is one from the extended gallery from the advert.

As you can see the bodywork is bare metal covered in clear coat. It looks OK in the picture and actually in real life looks much better and is closer to grey which I really like. A small badge on the side denotes it to be a "Sundial" camper and also the window configuration matches this. The Westfalia campers had more slats to the window opposite the door. Sundial were competitors to Westfalia in the USA and bought bare bus shells from Germany and converted them to campers. I beleive this is much like "Devon" did in the UK. Underneath the van has had underseal which I actually really hate as it covers up rot until one day it all falls off. Having said that it is a nice neat job and I cannot see any bad patching at all. Inside there is no sign of the original interior, but a full sized bed has been added and is done in thick plywood. It is very usable as is and I have some plywood in the garage and am keen to add in another rear facing seat and maybe a little stove unit. Currently storage is very limited so this may need to change. I have all the plans for the Westfalia and Devon interiors, so maybe I can have a go myself.
   The engine seemed covered in black oil and I suspect this may be due to an incorrectly positioned cranckcase vent. I have done this myself in my first beetle. If the vent isn't outside the engine bay of into the air intake the engine over time breathes oil vapour all over itself. So at its heart it is black! This reminded me of what my partner sometimes calls me when I do something wrong. She is Thai and says "Jai Dam" which means "Black Heart" or "Bad Person". I thought this would be an unusual name for the bus!
   First job is to get "BlackHeart" on the road. I know the speedometer and fuel gauge doesn't work and this will have to be done for the MOT. I haven't actually heard the engine run yet, but the seller said he would try to get it all running before delivery. I am not too worried about this anyhow as there is currently and engine bieng built at Dub Club and might be complete by next week should it be needed. The seller also said the wiring wasn't too good, but it actually looks really neat underneath so is a good basis for me to work with. I rewired most of Bert owned by the Prof. so this hould be within my capabilities. I really like vehicles that have been changed from original as this means I don't feel the urge to keep them standard. It means the price of them will never be high, but it also gives me a free hand to do as I please (See Baja Bug for further evidence!). One more positive thing is that all the small items seem to be there such as aerial, indicators, switches, door handles and locks. These can be a real drain on the wallet if not there. I noticed the front interior door handles were missing, but there are a few boxes of bits in the back and I suspect all the door furniture may be in one of those.
   I have already purchased a cover for the bus from Just Campers as I know they are really good value. I may have to remove the top roof rack, which I might have to do to get it in any garage I have access to.
   I am looking forward to my new addition to the family!

The bus arrived without too much problems to my home. There was a slight worry about the payment as the banks nowadays are very slow transfering money by cheque. But in the end the cheque went through with only a day to spare.

True to the sellers word the bus had had its battery charged and started first time. I drove it onto the drive which is always a good sign! I already really like this bus. Looking in the engine bay I found a pretty standard 1600 twin port. The engine sounds really good and has very little end float. I won't know if it is tuned correctly until I get it on the road, but it ticks over quite smoothly. Engine rebuild I think is not a priority just yet even though the Prof. is itching to take it out for a bit of work! I am also happy to see that all the pipework is there and the heat exchangers look in good condition. This is a bonus and will be needed if I go travelling any distance.

The front footwells also look in really good shape. There are a couple of screwed on patches. I'm not sure why these are here, rust holes or just covers. I will have to investigate this further. Either way this isn't too big a job. Underneath the bus looks really solid. Again I need to have a better look until completely satisfied.

The steering column is in a bad state. The indicator stalk has been replaced with a toggle switch. These are about 130 to replace. I need to do this. The steering wheel is also badly cracked and wouldn't budge from the spline (A common issue). I'm not sure if I should repair this or find a replacement. The horn has been moved from the centre of the steering wheel to a red push button. This isn't original of course, but actually the centre wheel horn button is a weak point on vans as the connections in the column always fail. I may keep this idea and improve on it a little. This would also fit nicely if I wanted to renovate my existing steering wheel. I could cut back the worst bits of the centre hub and turn an aluminium or plastic boss. The red switch is the main beam light. This is usually on a relay. I need to replace this.

The worst part of the bus is the wiring. In fairness this was mentioned in the advert and so I was planning to replace the whole loom as had been suggested by the previous owner. I have just ordered a new loom and also a blade type fuse box which is much better than the standard one. This is what we did on "Bert" at Dub Club, so I know this is well within my capabilities. It's actually quite a bit of tedious work, but once this is done The bus will be much safer and reliable. I just hope I can get a few days warm weather so I can get this job complete. The car cannot have an MOT without doing this job as the dash board and gauges do not work correctly.

The previous owner also mentioned that the speedometer and fuel gauge didn't work. As luck would have it one complete unit popped up on ebay, so this is in the post. Using the two I should be able to piece together a working unit. On "Bert" I extended the wiring, so you could run the bus with the whole unit on top of the dash board. This makes fault finding easy as most of the connections are behind this as are the relays and main earths.
   Looking around the rest of the bus I noticed a few bits missing. The rear view mirror is broken and again ebay came to the rescue as there was a second hand one available for 16. This is on its way to Helium Frog HQ! Other bits such as the heater ducts along the front doors are not fitted, but they are in a cardboard box in the back of the bus. This is a real bonus as these are difficult to locate or are quite expensive. I will fit these as soon as I can so they don't go missing.
   One last job I managed to do was to remove the spare wheel on the front. The weight of these always distorts the front panel and they are often used as a makeshift bumper. This van is no exception and it is a bit dented. It has been filled with filler, but could be pulled out and done better. Again this is not an urgent job, but it would be nice to do at a later date. I also managed to remove the roof rack and get the bus under a nice new cover. This should keep it dry over winter.
   If this all sounds a little negative, I am being highly critical. I think the bus is really very sound and was a real bargain. I seem however to have inherited yet another project and I hope I can get this drivable soon. Once again the poor old Brubaker box will have to wait a while for some attention!
   One final piece of news is that a chance conversation at work with a VW T4 owner threw up some 16" steel wheels and tyres. The owner wants to get rid of them, so I may try them on instead of the current 14" rims to see how they look. These are quite an unusual find. I am toying with orange steel wheels as this may go well with the unpainted bus. We have also been lowering a bus recently (See Dub Club page) so I may do this bus as well. However first I must concentrate on jobs that actually need doing so I can drive the bus to London (Dub Club). This way the Prof. will be on hand to speed up the process during the working week.

A good weekends work on the bus. On returning home on Friday I was happy to see that a new wiring loom had arrived. The website had quoted a possible 7 weeks delivery if not in stock, but the loom clearly was in stock as it arrived within a few days. It is very comprehensive and even includes the front light loom which some do not. Also arriving was the replacement gauges ,the rear view mirror. These look in good condition. During the week I visited cool air and picked up a new indicator switch stalk and a new wiper blade kit. The switch is great, but the wiper kit is really a piece of crap. The blades don't fit the arms and the plastic pieces do not fit over the nuts. Most of this went in the bin. 44 quid down the toilet! Again another example of aftermarket garbage. I am not sure if anywhere now sells decent kit. I really do prefer old rusty original parts ..... sorry .... Rant now over!
   The Prof. came over on Saturday, and the first job was to remove the steering wheel. We used a bearing puller, which worked well, but the plastic just crumbled from the centre hub. I need a replacement or I may have a go at stripping the centre arms and doing a bit of customising. the wheel is essentially scrap now, so I am risking nothing.
   The second job was to remove the old loom completely. This took about half an hour. Installing the new loom was much more tricky not helped by the fact that there are no instructions. The main loom is fairly easy to understand, but there are some smaller ones which do not seem to tie up with the wiring diagram in my manuals or online. I think the best thing to do is connect up everything I can and then just see what doesn't work. This will then give me a clue as to what wires are missing! The bus has a conduit running for about half the bus length and this is where the loom feeds through. The new loom had rather loose sheathing on it and this proved tricky to push through. We taped it to a piece of pipe at one end and used WD40 to lubricate it. After lots of grunting it went through. The Prof. had to leave early, so tried to help me push the bus back in the garage so I wouldn't struggle later on my own. Oh dear one of the front brakes seemed to be dragging rather badly so the two of us couldn't move it. There was nothing for it but to hot wire the engine and get that to move the thing. This was a success and the bus moved back into the garage. It is a tight fit in the garage, but there is still enough room to work inside and around the engine. I spent the rest of the day tidying up and salvaging as much wire from the old loom as I could. These different coloured wires may come in handy if I have to modify the new loom in any way.
   Today I began to connect the front lights up. The indicators are badly cracked and I have ordered some of those. I chose amber lenses. The indicators are mounted on a back plate and one of the captive screws had broken free. I tried soft soldering it back in and this proved a great success. The fixing is now good and strong. It is probably how they were fitted originally. I also modifed the fastening to the body and now have 6mm bolts holding it in place which can be tightened from the front. This modification is invisible from outside and makes things much more secure.

 The dash instrument surround is also badly cracked and so I need one of those also. Behind the dash is a large cavity and this is where most of the wiring connections will go. The large strengthening beam front to back is quite stiff and this is a good place to hang the new fuse box. This is what we did on the last bus (Bert) and it works really well. Blade fuses are much better than the standard ones and easier to get hold of. Most of the day was spent mocking this up and making the backplate and support. Last time I used some 6mm brass bolts as terminal posts and connected all the wires using crimp eyelets onto the cable ends. This again works well as the fuse box has many wires connected to one contact. This way I can stack up the connectors on the terminal posts and also move them about easily should I make a mistake.
   I also found a nice place to mount the washer electric motor. This will replace the air pressure driven standard design which always leaks (I had this happen in my first beetle in the 80's ruining my expensive hifi!)
   I managed to find a place for the new horn switch. I didn't really want to drill the dash board, but as the gauge surround is badly cracked I drilled the top right corner and fitted the horn switch there. I'll see how it works out when I use the bus.
   I was a bit miffed to see the side of the drivers seat has been cut away. This is not easy to repair without having a cut panel from a scrap bus or the original bit to weld back in.

  Probably the best solution is to cover this with a neat panel. I have ordered some stainless laser cut pieces here and I will add one to the other seat side so they match. This bus is still a great buy though. I just hope the weather holds out a few more weeks as I do lose motivation when the garage gets cold!
  One last job was to rig up a better hot wire "bodge" on the engine so I can start it more easily. I connected a toggle switch and a few more wires so I can start it whilst I complete the proper wiring. Its nice to have the option of working outside rather than contorting in the garage. It also gives me the option of driving it out onto a trailer should I decide to bring it down to Dub Club in London.

Wheels, wheels and more wheels. Last week I happened to mention some 16" wheels that a chap at work had lying around. Unfortunately I'm a bit of a numb nuts sometimes and these have 120mm PCD. We tried them on the Prof's bus (Which has the same PCD as my vehicle) and quickly found my mistake. These wheels are now back on ebay. We might actually turn a profit... who knows. This evening I had a message that another chap at work has some 15" Audi alloys up for grabs. These look nice and are not too large to make the ride too harsh or the llok of the bus over wheeled. They might be just what I am looking for. Hopefully this time I can have a try before I buy! I have done a virtual mockup (Using Gimp) in the image below. The bus has been lowered and the alloys painted black. This is much cheaper than doing it for real! Hmm... I quite like the look of those. It would also look good if I later sprayed the bus Fontana Grey (one of my favourite VW colours)  Ohh.. Suits you Sir!

Progress on the bus is slow but steady. During the week I recieved a pair of reversing light lenses for the back of the bus. Unfortunately Just Kampers couldn't get the order correct and sent me two mismatched items. This seems to happen regularly with ordered stuff I'm not sure why. Hopefully this will be sorted next week. I also managed to have a look at the rear lights. I wanted to keep the US spec ones and I had trouble locating any new ones. I ordered a new pair from the US and about an hour after I had done that I got a message on the Early Bay of a second hand pair!. So I may now have two sets in the post!
  I then spent some time on the wiring loom. The one I bought from AutoSparks has proved very troublesome. I don't usually write letters of complaint as it is generally a waste of time, but this time I did. I did get a reply, but this basically said that they have never had complaints....It must just be me! The loom doesn't fit through the central tunnel and is far too long. It also has some random wire colours which mean I have to bell every wire just to make sure. Now I have stripped all the loom apart and am connecting each one individually as best as I can. I am glad I kept all the wire from the last loom as I can use some of this to extend some of the wires which are too short on the loom for the new fuse box position (Not Autosparks fault this time!). It's slow going, but at least it will be neat with all the wires cut to the correct length. I'll also take the opportunity to add in bullet connectors so I can separate the steering column and instrument cluster easlity should I need to at a later date.

Above is a view of the new fusebox arrangement. It is hung under the dash board. The main connectors to the fuse box are done using brass 6mm bolts. I have found this to be the best way as the connections are strong and allow multiple wires to be joined easily to one terminal which is required for the Bus. I think I am about half way through now and most of the difficult connections under the bus to the horn and brake switches have been completed and cable tied correctly. I still need to make the connections to the starter motor, but I was unable to contort myself under the bus to do this. I need the trolley jack and the axle stands which are down in London at the moment. There is still a couple of weekends  work here before I can have a go at starting the bus again.
   Whilst working on the bus I noticed a blister at the front corner around the light. This is in the clear coat and when I rubbed it with my finger it came away from the metal. I think this is bad preparation of the surface before the clear coat was applied. When the bus is running I may experiment with a paint job on the front. A chequered flag  design might look good just on the front section. Perhaps I could paint on the VW logo as well! As the front is the worst panel on the bus and although not rusty, is full of large dents pastered with filler. If it doesn't work out I can just sand it off again. I fancy hand painting it as then the paint will be very thick and can be easily touched up If I get any stone chips.
   One final piece of good news is that I got the V5 document through so now I feel I actually own the thing!
Another weekend spent on the camper. Last week I won a set of Empi BRM wheels and tyres on eBay and on Friday I drove to Towcester to pick them up. They weren't super cheap at 240 but when I arrived I was pleased to find the tyres looked new and the seller had cleaned wheels up really nicely, so the OK deal turned into much more of a bargain! On Saturday these were the first things I fitted. The locking nuts also came with the wheels and I managed to fit 3 of them easily. It was bitterly cold outside and I couldn't start the van to move it from the garage. The front right wheel I couldn't get to in the confined space and so will have to wait for later (As will any photos). All appears to be OK, but the wheel arch clearance at the rear is very tight. The left hand arch is about 10mm horizontally which is OK, but the right hand arch touches. The reason is a large dent in the arch, so I have ordered a slide hammer and will have a little go myself next weekend to adjust things to clear. It is a known issue that BRM wheels are a close fit due to the offset, but they came off an late bay, so should fit onto my 1971 early bay as well. I hope I don't have to do anything drastic here to get things to fit. 
   Quite a few parts arrived and were fitted. Firstly was the rear light lenses. These took quite a lot of effort to fit as the rubbers have shrunk a little, but they went on OK. I also fitted some plastic hinge pieces to the sun visors and so these no longer hang down. In addition I began replacing the safety belts with new items. Next it was back onto the wiring. I had brought my trolley jack back with me to do the wheels, so I was able to get under the car on axle stands to connect up the starter motor to the new loom. I managed to get all the starter circuit complete to the ignition key, but it just wouldn't turn over. I believe the starter motor is a bit shot and  so I have ordered a new one and also a high power Bosch battery which should make the bus start more readily. A good battery is also a must for a camper as it also runs the 12v lights when on a camp site.
   The wiring is progressing steadily and I think I am over half way to completing the work. The rest of the job is in the engine bay and behind the dash board, so I should be able to do this even if the weather is against me next weekend. I am taking my time to add in bullet connectors so it can all come apart easily should I need to make any changes or add in new wires. I am also trying to stick to the VW wiring colour scheme if possible.
   One final job was to have a look at the front brakes to see why they were binding. Whilst I had the wheels off I had a good look around. The calipers are very old and basically rusted solid. I need new ones anyhow when I fit dropped spindles, but for now the Prof. has a pair from his bus that might work for the MOT. I'll see what is lying around in his garage. This is my favorite supplier as the prices are very keen and he also does home delivery!
   Today I have been working on the interior design of the van. This is a long term plan as at first I will leave it as it is, but there are a few bits that would fit in even without modification to the bed, namely the seat, table and cooker unit (Shown in Green).

The Westfalia interior is similar in layout, but I have noticed the seats either side of the table are actually too far away from each other. By careful offsetting of the seats  these can be moved a little closer together and stil allow leg room. This way I can get a full height cupboard behind the driver. By having this just on one side the view to the rear whilst driving will still be very good. I have also moved the tall cupboard at the rear to the other side for two reasons. Firstly it allows good visibility when pulling out around traffic when driving a LHD bus on UK roads and also the spare tyre in the back will be hidden inside the cupboard. There may be an alternative position for the spare and that is low down in the space to one side of the bed base. There is lots more work to do here before I am happy, but even if it's not perfect I should be able to chop it about a bit to get it to work.

Whilst browsing the net my brother happened to spot some images that looked remarkably familiar. These were indeed of my bus in its first incarnation when it arrived in the UK.

As you can see the bus was in its original paint and had the bumper overriders as is typical for a USA model. I'm not sure why the roof is green in places as I do believe that the colour was supplied white over green from the factory.
   Inside of the bus was the original Sundial interior as far as I can tell. It was a little tatty, but it would have been really nice if this was there as I could have used it as a template to work with.

    The front drivers area was also much more complete with nice door cards and fittings. I have most of these parts so will put them back as soon as I can. Also note in the picture below that there was a crude sunroof in the bus. This seems to be a bent piece of polycarbonate screwed to the roof. This has now been filled and does explaing why the roof looks a little distorted in the middle.

The bus was fitted with large wing mirrors. These were included in the sale to me, but were broken and had a few bits missing. I don't really like them anyhow, so these have been binned. The above three pictures are just a sample of the ones I have located. Other pictures  show the underside before it was undersealed and they look very solid as does the front floor. I believe the bus in this condition was advertised for around 8000 which is more than I paid for it. I think the reason for this is that when I got it it was a non runner and the paint had been removed. This is OK, but the "Rat" look is not everyones taste (But is mine!) and probably why the price was lower. Another reason is that the original interior (if it is) does appeal to purists and busses with them do demand slightly higher prices.

This weekend I finally managed to move the camper out of the garage. The front brake is still binding so I was unable to do this myself. Luckily the Prof. made a special trip to my home and gave it a shove. I am happy as the garage is now free and I can do other work in there (Guitars etc.) and also get a chance to tidy it up a bit. I now have a second cover and this is now over the camper. I am looking forward to the betetr weather as I have been struggling in the garage to complete the wiring as I have to do it in torch light and in a cramped space. Unfortunately I think the first trip of the bus will not be Easter, but maybe later in the year, but this may not be a bad thing as the engine seems to be leaving oil on the garage floor. Maybe this should also come out and be reconditioned.

Both the Prof. and myself had a days holiday today and so we set about doing some major work on the bus. This was also the first time I had chance to get the bus out from under its cover and take a picture with the new BRM wheels.

They look quite good and are period 1960 - 1970s design. This image also shows the worst bit of the filler at the front. I think the bus will need painting here and I may just do the front panel for now. maybe airbrushed or a chequered flag or something.
  The prof and myself had gathered many suspension parts together and so the first job was to lower the front. We removed all the front assembly and replaced almost everything. We were lacking a few parts that need replacing and didn't have the correct sized bolts for the new calipers (M14 instead of M12), but we managed to get the bus back on its wheels. Here is the before and after shot. I added in the Prof. in the second shot to add extra ballast! Click for a larger view.

I was concerned that the front wheels were too wide as the new 2" drop spindles widen the track a little, but it does appear to be OK.
  next job was to lower the rear. One spline turn on the rear torsion arm gives about 2" drop. However we noticed on the Profs bus it seemed a little too much. We decided to go for half that and adjusted the inner and outer splines to give what we hope will be about 1". Again we found a few parts needed to be replaced (Brakes and slave cylinder, so for now the rear is still on axle stands. we will regroup in a weeks time when the new parts arrive. In the mean time I will clean the rear components to make assembly much easier. But i am pleased with the days progress as most of the messy jobs on the suspension are behind us and it is now a case of fitting new parts. When finished the bus will have new brakes, calipers, hubs and bearings all around. We resisted the temptation to remove the engine, but I may do this shortly and do a quick rebuild as there is a bad oil leak. We may also change the hockey stick bearing and linkage for the gearbox to make gearchange a bit crisper.

After removal of the rear hub todays job was cleaning and inspecting the parts I intend to reuse. In the past I have painted the parts, but now I just clean them and do an "oily rag" resoration. I prefer this look as the parts show their age.

I noticed that one of the wheel studs was badly bruised and I think we may have dropped it yesterday. i have ordered a tap and die set (M14 x 1.5) so I can clean up the nuts and stud.
The next job was to install the battery isolator I had built.

The plate bolts at the bottom to the body and one of the pins from the isolator is earthed through the upright bracket. The other flying lead goes to the battery. The install looks quite neat and should prove useful when the van is stored for a long time.
The Prof. has also been busy ordering all the parts I require to complete the rear suspension. I have packed the hubs in the back of the car so hopefully when the parts arrive in London we can build up the hubs at Dub Club.

My bus uses the J11166 type brake shoes. My J reg bus was built on Friday 23rd April 1971. As it's very close to the end of the early bay production and close to the cross over model. It has many of the parts that were fitted to the late bays, but with the old style body. This means I need to pay extra attention when ordering parts. In this instance I was OK, but had to make sure.

My brother Ian came over today and helped me rebuild the rear hubs. As usual with these things purchased parts never fit properly and some of the springs and clips were not correct. Fortunately I am in the habit of keeping many small parts from other rebuilds and this was a typical case where the spares box came in handy. After a bit of struggling everything went together. I was quite pleased as now the bus has all new rear bearings and brakes. The extra pair of hands was also welcome particularly when fitting the new handbrake cables. I still need to fit the new front calipers and make up some pipes, but the bus is now back on its wheels. The image below shows the rear brake assembly almost complete. The troublesome quarter turn clips which fasten the shoes with springs are the last to go on. These are always the most difficult, particularly when assembling them with cold hands!

The bus when placed back on its wheels is about the correct height and level front to back. This may change when I add in a heavy interior, but it is OK for now and I have saved myself a few hundred pounds not having to buy adjustable rear swing plates. I left the rear centre caps off to remind me that I have to torque and pin the rear hub nuts.

The rear wheels are really close to the inside lip of the arches, but I may shave the turn back a little, or even machine the rear of the alloys a bit. The second method is a little more costly as I will have to pay for this to be done, but at least there are solutions and nothing that will affect the ouside look of the bus. The right rear is about 10mm closer to the tyre than the left rear and this may be due to some minor body damage on the arch (Which I can pull out) or just vehicle build tolerancing. I have checked all under the bus at the rear and everything is very straight and original as far as I can see.

Sunday is the day I travel back to London, so there is less time to do work on the bus. I did however spend a few hours having a look at the front brake setup and did a trial fit of the calipers and hoses. The calipers are slightly offset making the disk pass closer to one side which is the same problem we encountered when working on the Profs' bus after fitting the drop spindles. Luckily he has had some 1mm and 0.5mm spacer shims laser cut, so I will fit a set of those next week. In addition I broke the hard brake lines which go to the calipers, however this week I took delivery of a professional flaring tool. I have had many types over the years and all work quite badly. The new one I have is easy and quick to use. I also used a proper bending tool which I have and the results are quite neat.

I knocked up a set of replacements in no time at all and also made a set for the Prof. On a VW bus the thread size of the coupling is 10mm x 1mm pitch and I have also now got a few hundred of these to play with. I have both kunifer and copper pipe, but I find the copper much easier to work with (Many on the net say otherwise). Copper is quite soft and even a slightly malformed end corrects itself when the union is tightened home. It is also much easier to tweak the bends when fitting the pipe in situ. I'll try to get some more of this pipe(3/16" OD 4.7625mm) for future use.

Friday night both myself and The Prof. worked on the camper. As there seems to be a oil leak on the engine and also on the gearbox these need to come out and be sorted. The Engine came out fairly easily, but the top two engine to gearbox bolts as usual proved troublesome. In hindsight we should have removed the two at the same time. In fact I would probably do this now if I ever removed the engine again.

We also managed to strip the engine down to the short block and the Prof. took this down to London for rebuilding. It actually looks very good and the bores are not stepped at all. I think this may have been rebuilt recently, but we will do it again anyhow so we know what we have got. I have now ordered new heads, cylinders and pistons and many other parts such as tinware. I will have a look at the crank and cam to see what needs doing later in the week. I am still not sure what to do as there is a twin carb engine already built down in London. I may just put this one in.

On Sunday I didn't feel like doing much, but I really needed to get the gearbox out. This took about 3/4 hour and it was the first bus one I had done on my own. This went well and once  got going it was quite enjoyable. The gearbox has a severe oil leakage and I also think that one of the driveshaft boots must have been split at one time as there are signs of grease around the bodywork. The driveshafts have been replaced recently, but the mess is still there. It looks like there is a leak from the side plates and maybe one at the nose. We will be removing the nose to refurbish the hockey stick bush, so this isn't such of a problem to reseal, but the side seals we need to think about. Both myself and the Prof. are in the dark on that one, so some research is needed first.

As is usual with USA hot state buses, the gearbox was covered with melted road tar, so I set about this with petrol and a wire brush. This took about 2 hours, but it now looks much better. It was clean enough to go in the boot of my car and this is also now down in London.

Tonight in London we had a chance to work on the gearbox. The Prof. is always helpful and often orders parts for me and so we had some new seals to fit. The side output shafts needed removing and there were a few circlips to wrestle out, but the old seals were soon removed. We did notice that the seals we took out were not correct and seemed far too shallow. It was possible to fit these along the bore anywhere within +/- 10mm. I don't think this was correct, and the new seals were much longer and bottomed correctly onto a spacer behind. We greased this up and refitted the assembly. I am a little more confident that we may have found the leak, but there could be another one at the front which we will sort out when we remove the nose to repair the hockey stick bush. It is interesting to note that The Prof.s' bus which is a later model has a different assembly with some plastic parts. This was clearly a cost saving introduced between 1969 and 1978! I hope to be able to bring the completed gearbox back next weekend.
 Myself and the Prof. had a discussion which engine to fit in the bus and the one we think we will use is currently sitting in the back of the Baja. This is a twin carb and has been completely rebuilt. The engine has a fan shroud with heater pipes and just needs heat exchangers (Which we have a spare set) and some tinware swapping over. There is also a monza exhaust on the other engine which we may fit to the bus. By doing this we can take our time to build the engine we removed. Many of the parts are currently arriving from GSF and VW Heritage (Over 700 so far with more to buy!)

Down in London I had a chance to do some more work on the gearbox. There seemed to be a leak coming from the front somewhere, but this could be that there is a small vent hole and whilst swinging the box about some has leaked out. In any case the nose had to come off as I wanted to change the small plastic bush which guides the "Hockey stick". Here is a stock photo showing the assembly

You can see the bush inside the casting. It's a small plastic one that always seems to wear quite quickly. Mine was a little loose, but it's quite cheap and was worth changing.

Here is my gearbox with a nice resealed end cover. We didn't use paper gaskets, but just red gasket sealant. You can see the bush we swapped out sitting on the top of the gearbox. The Prof. also gave me a new rubber boot to go on the selector arm. I stlll need to order a few more items, but the gearbox is now finished and back in the boot of my car ready for the trip home. The engine is also out of the Baja. This needs to be redressed in a few parts to suit the bus. I will be putting the gearbox and engine in as one assembly, but for now it can sit in my garage at home.

As the engine and gearbox is now out, it was the ideal time to have a look at the fuel tank. The tank is hidden behind a screwed in firewall. It took some time to remove as I failed to see 4 screws on the lower edge, which are accesed from under the bus. On removal I found the tank to be in very good condition. I have heard that a common fault is with leaking vent pipes, so I had a good look and replaced one section of hose. To do this I has to remove the tank. The previous owner had said that the fuel gauge didn't work, so I tested the sender with my multimeter. The resistance changed as the float moved, so I took this to be OK. The sender is an unusual cylindrical type and not the normal lever and float affair. This type is often used in boats (I bought a similar one for the Brubaker Box). It's a VDO Dip type 220mm long. Part number 224011000220
Whilst the tank was out I made up some new leads and renewed the earth wire. This is a short lead that screws into the body just above the tank. The rebuild took a few attempts as the vents are a little awkward. I also added some hose clamps for extra security (The standard setup doesn't have any).

This job took about 3 hours, but it is now done and all the bolts and screws are copper greased should anything need to come out in the future. Hopefully next week I can begin to re assemble the gearbox and engine in the vehicle. I have ordered a few parts (Heat exchangers, connectors and grommets), so I shouldn't be too long before I can get back to the wiring. A job which I started so long ago.