21 January 2011

Makin' stuff for the Jetta on the lathe

Even though Jettas came from the factory as either gas or diesel, some of the diesel-specific parts are NLA (No Longer Available) from the dealership or simply missing from the local junkyard. So when you don't have the parts you need, you make them!

When my engine came from the junkyard, it had a crushed the oil pan. Unfortunately, the turbo-diesel uses a special oil pan with an oil drain for the turbocharger -- a special oil pan that is now unobtanium. So I took a regular oil pan, drilled a big ol' hole in it, and made a threaded bung on my lathe. "Made" might be too strong a word, as I bought a brass fitting at Home Depot, chucked it in my lathe, and modified it. I can cut threads on my lathe, but that is an "advanced" operation that I don't have the time or tooling to tackle right now so it was faster to just buy something with the threads I wanted and cut away the stuff I didn't want.

Brass if fun to machine, by the way. It hisses and sprays a lovely golden glitter everywhere. It's like a Barbie glitter gun for men. Makes me want to make more flashlights out of brass than aluminum... but not until the Jetta is done!

Anyway, I attempted to solder my bung to the oil pan and completely and utterly failed. Solder stuck to my brass fitting but not the steel oil pan. Conceding defeat, Lemontree took it to her father, a career welder, and he brazed it (you can't weld dissimilar metals -- brass and steel -- so brazing, which is almost as good, is required). It may not be pretty but it'll be hidden inside the engine where no one will see it (arrowed in green).

Next up was a blockoff plate where the blowoff valve used to be. You'd think VW knew what they were doing when they engineered a car, but believe it or not, they stuck some extra stuff on there that is not needed. One of these things is a blowoff valve which is designed to prevent the turbo from over-boosting the engine... it's unnecessary because the turbo already has a wastegate to limit boost. And anyway, I sort of lost the little clamp that clamps the blowoff valve (oopsie) and of course the clamp is now unobtanium too (anyone that has one, needs it for their car!). Solution? Turn a blockoff plate on the lathe! Took a long time to saw off some 2" aluminum stock... I could really use a bandsaw, but just don't have a place to put it. :(

Plate made (arrowed in red above), I again (foolishly) tried to solder it on. Even more dismal failure. It seems I am not destined to work with hot metal, just cut it. Fine. This part is not subject to stress and only needs to hold back 15PSI of boost pressure, so, JB Weld that sucker on. Gotta get 'er done!!

Next I needed to mount the alternator. I'd lost the arm (yeah, I've lost a lot of things) that braces the top so I got some 1" x 1/8" flat stock from a metal supplier in town (well, Lemontree did... thanks Lemontree!), measured, drilled two holes in the drill press, cut to length, and ground down the sharp edges and corners (arrowed in red above). The thing is though, the alternator bolt hole is scooted over half an inch from where the arm is attached, so the arm either needed to be bent or I needed a spacer. Hm, making a spacer would require using the lathe, so... no brainer! Faced some 3/4" aluminum stock, drilled, and parted off to length (green arrow above). Since I haven't equipped my lathe with precision readouts yet, I eyeballed it and ended up .004" too short... ah well, close enough!

Next, I was somehow missing the correct lower alternator bolt. I had one that was too long but didn't have enough threads, so I just whipped out a die and cut some more threads, then cut the bolt shorter to a more convenient length. My hands now smell of the lovely sulfur-based cutting oil I used, mmmm, reminds me of Yellowstone.

Tomorrow the engine should go in. I hope.

18 January 2011

Boltin' more stuff on

VW diesels are a little unusual -- the pistons poke up above the surface of the engine block:

This is due to the extremely high compression ratio of 22.5:1 (your gas car is probably between 8:1 and 9.5:1) -- it needs to squeeze all the air into as small a volume as possible.

Due to this piston projection, you need to keep the pistons from crashing into the cylinder head. As the amount of piston protrusion varies based on your main bearings and wrist pin bushings (you recall I just replaced those), VW supplies three different thicknesses of head gaskets. Why not just use the thickest for maximum clearance? Well you can, but the lowered compression ratio will make your car hard to start in winter. So you actually want as thin as possible for cold start performance without being too thin and things hitting each other. I measured my piston stick-up and determined that I needed the thinnest gasket available. This made me a little nervous, but after I bolted the head on

and installed the timing belt

I was able to turn the engine over just fine without the pistons bumping into anything. Whew!

11 January 2011

Boltin' stuff on

Bolted on the windage tray, oil pump, oil pan, water pump with upgraded rubber gasket (better than fiber, and re-usable), A/C bracket, A/C compressor, front crank mainseal, intermediate shaft seal with pulley, oil galley plug (machine shop forgot to reinstall -- grr), injection pump brackets, and injection pump with sprocket. Discovered the crankshaft sprocket bolt VW sold me was totally wrong (what is with me and bad parts?!), and also the water pump pulley is wrong (see?!).

A lot of the parts I'm bolting on are rusty and dirty, unlike the eat-off-it-clean and painted engine. I don't care. No time for pretty.

You can also see a mock-up of the alternator, this is just a random spare I had from somewhere I used to see how things will fit. The stock VW alternator tensioning system leaves a lot to be desired, so I will be making a new and improved one (having a lathe rocks :) ).

I could have had the engine in the bay this week if VW had sold me the right bolt -- tomorrow the head should go on, and once that is done (and I get my bolt) it's ready to install. I think.

07 January 2011

Found 'em

Can you spot the all-important engine-bolt-bag in this picture?

Just kidding, it's not there, it's safely in the garage where I'm about to start using it tomorrow. Lemontree found it in the place I'd looked about six times.

06 January 2011

Go watch Inception

...and in an attempt to set a record three postings in a day, let me say how awesome Inception is!! The best movie ever made, is, of course, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. But Inception just made #2 on my list. After the first time I saw it, I thought it was great and deserved to be the #3 best movie ever made, but it just came out on DVD -- and after watching it again, now I think it's #2. That's how good it is.

Fantastic (and very very appropriate) soundtrack, stunning visuals, good acting, good casting, good plot, good script... admittedly there are a few minor holes in the story but who cares when the other 99.9% of the movie is stuffed with awesome like a giant teddy bear stuck in the stuffing machine?! This movie makes you think, but isn't boring. Stuff happens fast, but it's paced so it doesn't wear you out. Unexpected things happen to keep you off your feet, but you aren't beaten over the head by obvious plot devices. This movie has subtleties: man I love subtleties, and they are so rare in movies.

I even, dare I say it, wasn't bothered by a little bit of shaky camera -- those of you that know me know I hate shaky camera movies (i.e., the second and third Bourne movies were totally ruined by the epileptic camera guy overdosing on meth). And I'm sure I'll catch some flak from you by admitting this, but Inception used it correctly -- i.e., sparingly -- and Made It Work.

So few movies are worth watching these days. This is one of 'em.

Anti-fatigue mats

Unfortunately, now I can't find the big bag of nuts and bolts that hold various parts on the engine... so tomorrow will be an excavating party in the boxes of Jetta parts to find it. In the meantime, I installed some more rubber mats to go all around the workbench. I got one of them a couple years ago and they make a HUGE difference when you're standing on concrete. Those things would still be a deal at twice the price, in my opinion.

I cut these a little to fit, easy to do with a utility knife. The sections snap together with little nubs. Dirt and swarf fall down in the holes, so you don't slip or get metal slivers embedded in the soles of your shoes. The mats still lift easily so you can sweep under them occasionally -- say, annually, or whenever the holes look like they're about to overflow. ;)

Pistons are in!

This lump of iron is finally starting to look like an engine again. Though I haven't posted for a while, I have been busy with things. Hit yet another snag after all the work I went to to install those wrist pin bushings -- the wrist pins did not fit!! I only discovered, after it was far too late, that new wrist pin bushings ship undersize and have to be reamed to fit your pins. Ugh. Thankfully, I found a really good machine shop that did it for about 1/4 the cost I expected so the damage to the wallet wasn't too bad. There was yet another delay of several days, though, which hurts the most.

Once I got my rods back from the shop, installation of the pistons went a bit easier than I expected. I purchased a cheap ring compressor from Harbor Freight, which, typical of Harbor Freight, did not work out of the box. Apparently it was designed to install the pistons in 18-wheel Mack trucks or perhaps ocean-going cargo ships, because it was way too big for my little VW pistons. However, cutting it down to 2/3 it's original size allowed it to compress my rings and the pistons were tapped into the cylinders with a chunk of wood and a rubber mallet. With any luck, I can finish the major portions of the engine block tonight and bolt the head on tomorrow. That means the engine might be ready for installation in the car on Saturday! Exciting times!! But I'm not getting my hopes up... some minor snag will probably delay things yet again. In fact, now that I think about it, I don't have a head gasket -- hopefully the local shops stock them so I don't have to wait for shipping.