I finally got back to working on the car the other day.

First, I rebuilt the injectors, which involved taking them all apart and cleaning them, and then some of the parts had to be resurfaced to a shine so they would fit together cleanly and not leak. Vince Waldon has the detailed process on his blog, and I pretty much followed his instructions. It took a lot longer than I had anticipated. After I got the parts cleaned and resurfaced and then cleaned again with acetone and brake cleaner, I reassembled them with brand new nozzles and installed them in the car.

injector parts

rebuilt injectors

It took a couple of sessions to get it running. This car had sat for three years before I bought it, and a year since then. I was pretty worried that the injection pump might have dried out and would leak all over the place when I tried to use it. I spent one evening getting the injectors in and all the belts and power steering pump and alternator and what not back on and then trying to get it to start up. About the time I finally got all the air out of the system, the battery ran down, so I put it on the charger and came back the next night. I had to fiddle with the timing a little and then it started right up like it had been running just yesterday.

It’s not perfect yet. There are a few little problems and for some reason it has eaten two alternator belts already, but soon I will have that ironed out and can start enjoying the 50 MPG that this car should be able to get.

completed engine

OK, well it’s back to work on the broken Jetta. I just can’t afford to drive this truck everywhere I need to go! I went back to Portland a few days ago, and spent another pile of cash on more parts. Aren’t they purty?

hundreds of dollars

That’s about $720 sitting there!

Anyway, on to the task at hand. We left off with the head removed and marveling at the damage. The next job is to scrub the top of the block and the bolt holes clean, and get the head ready to install. Manifolds go back on now, and new glow plugs. Another task that you won’t find in the Bentley manual is peening the head around the pre combustion chambers. These little inserts are common to many indirect injection (IDI) diesel engines and have been known to work themselves loose and fall out of aluminum heads like this one. So a few strokes with a punch and a hammer are needed to deform the soft aluminum around the inserts and help keep them from coming loose. Careful not to peen where the sealing edge of the gasket sits! That’s what the little arcs in pen are for: to remind me of where that edge will be. Thanks to the guys at dieselvwparts forums for making me aware of this potential trouble spot.

Here’s a picture:

peened pre chambers

Make sure that none of the pistons are at the top of their stroke when you set the head down, so you don’t damage a valve. These diesel heads have next to no room to spare for a valve being open in the wrong place. After some futzing around and improvising to hold the gasket in place, I set the head down and started the bolts in finger tight to hold it in place. This is an awkward job if you are alone like I was. Careful of your back, that thing is heavy with the manifolds on. Next thing is to lightly oil the bolts around the washers, cross your fingers and torque the head to the Bentley manual specs. These are Torque to Yield (TTY) bolts and can only be tightened once.

head is on at last

At this point, I had to switch programs to deal with some tedious tasks: changing the water pump and the intermediate shaft seal. None of this part was very fun, and I was too distracted to remember to take any pix. I had to make a special tool to hold the IM shaft pulley while I removed the bolt. Here is version 2 of that tool; version 1 was partly made of flat stock instead of angle iron and it bent all to heck when I leaned into it. I sure love having a cutting torch around. I know this isn’t as pretty as one made with a bandsaw and a drill press would have been, but the torch is fast.

home made pulley tool

I lucked out on the water pump; often the bolts just break off in the aluminum housing, leaving you with a really annoying removal job or another trip to town for a new housing. Fortunately for me, someone had already changed the water pump once before, and all the bolts came out easily and without breaking.

So, at the end of the workday today, I have the head installed and torqued down, the water pump, thermostat and IM shaft seal all replaced with new ones, and I am ready to install the timing belt and rebuild the injectors. Stay tuned!

Tomorrow, though, is a kayaking day.

Well, after I towed home the green Jetta a while back, I looked it over and decided that it has so many things wrong with it, that it would be cheaper and faster to get my other Jetta going instead. The blue Jetta is an ’89 diesel, with only about 135k miles on it, half the mileage that the green Jetta has. I got it for $300 off of Craigslist about a year ago, because it had a cracked head. The previous owner had installed new injectors, but he overtorqued them and cracked one of the injector wells. It also has some damage to the front fenders. For $300 though, it has all new shocks and almost new tires on nice factory VW spoked alloys. The interior is pretty clean, although not as plush as the green Jetta, which is a Carat, with the sunroof, power window and premium seats and upholstery. I’ve been wanting another diesel VW for a long time. Many years ago I had a couple of diesel VW Rabbits, and they were great cars that were very cheap to drive. So I was initially really excited when I dragged this one home.

I think I can get this one going for about $700-800 and a few days of work, and it should get mileage in the high 40s to low 50s if my previous diesel VWs are any example. And I will be able to burn biodiesel in it. I have been using that in my Cummins powered Dodge truck off and on for the last year. It runs great and smells nice, too!

The cracked injector well:

cracked injector well

I looked for a new head for this car for a awhile, after I was told that the crack could not be welded. Turns out that the model of diesel engine I have here was not a very common one, and finding another head was not easy. I finally found a brand new one on eBay, located in Vancouver, WA and miraculously, I won, even though I was away from the computer when it closed. I got run all the way up to my maximum bid, too. After picking up my prize, I headed over to Halsey Auto Parts in Portland and got the requisite gaskets and so forth. It took me a half a day to clear out a stall in my shop and get the car rolled in there. Today, I dove in.

Here it is, with the valve cover, timing cover and air filter removed:

day 1

day 1

After a while and a little struggle with stuck fasteners, I got the head off and cleaned up the block:

day 1

Then it was on to cleaning up the broken head, removing manifolds and other parts that will go on the new head. By the time I got done with that, I was starting to get a new shopping list together. Several of the fasteners that held the manifolds on did not survive removal, and the glow plugs spun in the head when I tried to pull them. I also got my first good look at the extent of the crack in the head. The guy actually over tightened TWO of the injectors, and the crack traveled all the way through the water jacket and through two injector wells. What a mess!

day 1

I would have just kept going and put the new head on today; I need this car to be running soon, but the messed up fasteners and glowplugs necessitate another trip to Halsey before I go on. Can’t do that until Monday or Tuesday, so tomorrow will be a desk day, catching up on all the office stuff I have been neglecting for the last couple of days.

Here’s the end of day 1:

end of day 1

Yesterday was a long day!

I started out the day in Astoria, at Shannon’s house, having been there the night before to see Opal’s first band concert at school. She is learning the snare drum right now.

My plans involved going to see my friend Don Beale, in Manning, OR. Our task was to make a few Greenlandic harpoons, for practicing and competing at the annual SSTIKS event. Then I was going to go on to Portland that evening for the OOPS kayaking club meeting where I was asked to come and promote the kayaking business at their annual enticement event.

What I didn’t realize though, is how snowy the coast range actually was.

rear view mirror

My 20 year old VW Jetta was not really the ideal vehicle for this kind of driving, with its old, balding tires and lack of all wheel drive. But I just kept poking along, rarely getting out of second gear, and I made it all the way through the snow without incident. It must have been twenty miles or so of snow covered roads! What a well placed sign this one was. Slippery indeed!

slippery road - no kidding!

But when I turned off the highway, I suddenly was in deeper, softer snow, on a steep winding road. The car started slipping and then, there I was, stuck in the middle of the road. A couple of more tries, and suddenly my transmission was finished. No warning, no reason to believe that there had been anything wrong. It just stopped transmitting power to the wheels, and started instead making an unpleasant grinding noise. I think the ring and pinion actually broke. My $700 car, after 271,000 miles, came to a halt. Bummer!

What wasn’t a bummer though, is that I was actually only about 100 feet from Don’s house, and the driveway I was stuck in front of was his in-laws’ house. He came down and helped me roll the car into their driveway, where it is sitting right now. We went ahead and spent a couple of hours carving harpoon shafts and visiting and then headed into the city to the kayak club meeting. Did I mention that he was also going to the same meeting? What luck!

Don took me out to lunch at Sushi Town, my first experience with one of those conveyor belt style sushi joints. There is a little conveyor belt with different sushi and desserts and so forth that goes all around the restaurant, and when something you like comes by, you pick it off the track. The plates are color coded for pricing, and when you are done, the lady comes by and counts up your colored plates and gives you the bill. It was fun to watch the sushi going around and around. I wish I had thought to take some pictures!

Anyway, we made it to the meeting on time, and afterwards, Don was kind enough to drive me up to Longview, and Shannon was kind enough to come over from Astoria and drive me back home. Tomorrow I head back to Don’s house with the truck and flatbed trailer to haul the poor car home. Whew!

What a day!