Saturday, September 14, 2013

Catching up

In July I got fed up with the A/C constantly running.  The house would just not keep cool.  In the winter the heat was on a lot as well.  Time to insulate that lousy attic!  Damn, more money leaving my savings.

Here's a glimpse of the pathetically insulated attic with the walking boards removed:
Looks like the original rock wool and boy has it settled!  The space in the upper half of the attic, where the bedrooms are, was just as low.  No wonder the house kept getting hotter at night instead of cooler, all that heat was soaking into the living space.  Grrr!

Here's after the requisite 15" of blown-in to get us up to code, R-19:
Bales of insulation are used to contain the fluff.
Looks like it snowed but, man oh man, did it make an immediate difference with how often and how long the A/C kicks on.  This was definitely worth it and was less than two thousand dollars with no interest for 18 months all thanks to Home Depot.

Trailer Improvements

I finally got all the parts needed and installed to make our trailer more versatile.  I used an Anchor-Trax kit from, L-track (exact same stuff as Anchor-Trax and what I'll refer to it as) from, and cargo quick-nuts from  The L-track allows flexible tie-down locations.  The stainless steel cargo quick-nuts are flush mounted so they won't damage anything placed on them but allow me to securely mount my motorcycle chock.  Though they come with a lock-washer I also used blue thread-locker as backup.
The L-track is the silver and black bits on the perimeter.

Cargo quick-nut, top view.  The screw above threads into the center of the quick-nut.

Bottom view of cargo quick-nuts.

Motorcycle chock mounted to trailer using the cargo quick-nuts.

Mia ragazza aboard.

The L-track in use, holding the ramps from slipping away.

Centered and less than 70 pounds on the tow hitch tongue.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Productive weekend.

A couple weeks ago my good friend Brian brought my Type III engine back to my place.  As a box of parts!  It's okay, he was taking it apart carefully and seeing if it would spin and thus figure out where it failed after the Pikes Peak drive to the hotel.  After pretty much taking it ALL apart -- like, splitting the case open -- it turns out that the front bearing (the one behind the flywheel) spun, thus blocking off oil to it which caused it to friction-weld and stop the engine.  Everything else looks really good so damage was minor over-all.  Engine is wearing very well, or should I say, not wearing.  Regular oil changes with a full-flow filtering system really seems to help keep the engine in top shape...cuz I ain't easy on her!  I'll get pictures up soon...

Busy weekend for me, which is satisfying.  On Saturday we went to the Portland Auto Show to check out the new models and, for me, the exotics and higher-end cars.  Kind of disappointed with the Audi interiors, very mono-tone & bland.  VW has stepped up their game and they look better inside.

Insulated the furnace air return in the attic space.  Not difficult, just time consuming, particularly the taping.

It wasn't leaking air but as a precaution I sealed the seams.

Insulation, HVAC foil tape and 175W area flood lamp!

Done!  R6 foil-backed wrapped ducting.
The turn that goes down to the furnace in the garage.

Next, I replaced the tank guts in the master bathroom.  You'd think that would have been easy but the POs (Previous Owners) used Jacuzzi toilets and good freakin' luck finding parts for them, they SUCK!  I was able to find a generic 3" flap and squeeze in the water flow valve/regulator.  Now it doesn't leak nor waste water down the drain while filling the tank.

Lastly, I replaced the rear brakes on the Passat.  That was the easiest job by far.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sunshine, on my roof top, makes me happy!

Okay, yeah, I'm behind on my blog so here's a partial update...

Well, we are now a provider of electricity for the power grid!  The last week of December the SolarCity crew came to our house an installed our solar array.

Before (click on images for larger view):

View from the back-yard.
Street view, facing the front of the house.
Ignore the tangled cable mess, that's left-over from the cable.

They got it up in a day and, because our house is a little funky in where the meter and breaker box reside, finished the meter install the morning of the next day.

During the install:

Here it is installed and since the panels are below the peak you can't see it from the street - nice!


If you look really close you can see the second meter on the lower left side of the house.

The extras

Breaker box feed location is bottom left.

Two inverters -- yeah, we are pumpin' the juice!
Second meter is at the top left with the inter-lock below it.
And finally, the receiver that transmits our monitoring data.

Last week we passed the Washington County inspection (the whole system is permitted).  Today PGE came by, inspected and approved our system, and TURNED IT ON!  YA-HOO!!!

Our system is 8.64 kW DC using two PVI-3.8-I-OUTD-S-US-NG-Z Aurora inverters.  And that's about all I can really tell ya.  Look at the Residential site at for more info.  It cost us NOTHING, SolarCity too care of everything and their customer service has been fantastic!  We are leasing the system for under $60/month, will have a lower electricity bill guaranteed, and have the option to out-right purchase it at fair-market value after five years if we so desire -- which we won't because they monitor the system, insure it, maintain it, etc. so why would I want to take all that up when my life is busy enough as it is?  So far I'm a very happy camper...bring on global warming!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Little Engine That Could, Did, and Is Now Back Home

Some updates here...

Got the engine that I borrowed cleaned up and sent back off to Nebraska.  While I was placing the engine on a pallet a neighbor, John, stopped by and we chatted a bit.  Turns out he works for a packaging company and said he could help me with shipping the engine.  So over the course of a few days he would bring supplies and we would build the box around the engine.  John did a great job and we built a first-class box!  I got it shipped out to Shakey at the end of August.  Here's some pictures of it:
One of the anchors.  Lag bolted in, she ain't movin'!

John and the lid he built.

Boxed up and ready to drop off at the shipper.

Where are we going to go camping?

That's all we kept hearing from Ronin.  The fuel injection (FI) on the Bus wasn't running reliably, running on three cylinders mostly instead of four.  A compression check showed that the engine was still good, averaging 137psi/cylinder.  I drove to Brian's so we could install carbs on it.  Due to missing parts we couldn't but we did fix several major oil leaks: Pushrod tube seals and a sucked in valve cover gasket.  The drive home was slow as only three cylinders were powering the 1.5+ ton brick.

At home I changed out the other pushrod tubes and the engine was done leaking.  Brian came up for a visit and fixed the carbs and got them mounted to the engine after I removed the FI, the engine looks much cleaner without the FI octopus on it!  Engine ran but not well.  Martin came over another weekend and adjusted them for me as well as got the engine timing dialed in better.  Because the Bus is 1976 it has to go through the sniffer test at the DEQ.  Had it been a '75 it wouldn't have required it...  With the FI the engine will pass, no problem, but with carbs I had serious doubts.

Come DEQ testing day the engine failed brilliantly.  Ronin and I hopped into the Bus and hoped for the best.  Before arriving I choked the idle by-pass needles down as low as I could to help the engine run leaner and thus "cleaner".  After finally making our way through the queue we parked in the bay, ready for our test.  The attendant said that, at idle, he was reading 3000 on the hydrocabons which was beyond the 300 max limit for this vehicle.  I laughed.  He said with them that high he wouldn't be able to measure them at higher RPM.  I told him that it was no problem and what I expected.  I left the DEQ station, put the idle by-passes back to where they were, and we went to mommy's work to have lunch with her.

Loaded up and ready to go!

Even though the tags were expired we decided to finish off the summer by going camping anyway.  Long story short, my friend dropped the ball on securing reservations so we ended up getting one night at L.L. "Stub" Stewart park.  Naturally, on the drive there I was followed by a Hillsboro patrol car and then, once out of town and on the back roads, a motorcycle cop!  Seriously?  Luck was on our side as they both ignored us and went about their merry way.  "Hey Sweetie, this is still insured, right?  Cuz if we get pulled over we need proof of insurance otherwise they could tow us" I asked...

The camp ground was quite nice and we set up camp.  We couldn't secure another night so by mid-day we went back home.  The Bus was running un-smoothly (best way to describe the induction system) and the tranny was giving me serious grief.  The two puddles of tranny fluid on the cardboard mat under her butt told me that she really needs to be rebuilt.  Sigh.

So I'm done with the Bus for now.  At a minimum I need the tranny rebuilt.  No doubt it's the original.  Something needs to be done with the induction system, I just don't know what.  I'm still trying to save money so I can get my Jetta's tranny rebuilt and the turbo system installed at the same time since the shop will already be in there...  No progress on my Squareback's engine.  Brian is waiting for me to come down so we can crack it open together but finding the time, sheesh!...

I've decided on the shop interior.  Plywood on the bottom 4' with sheet rock the rest of the way up.  This allows the bottom quarter of the shop to take abuse and easily secure stuff (like shelving) to the walls and have the upper 3/4 of the walls for my paint work since dry wall makes a much better substrate for paint and is more fire retardant than plywood.  Now to find some money to get working on it.  Freakin' never ends, does it?

Yesterday I finally got a few of the local Sport Classic owners in the area together at the Ducati dealership, MotoCorsa, for an informal coffee & meet-n-greet.  Great dealership and the boss and one of the employees each have a SC!
Kimberly, Patrick, Jeff, and Rick.

The End
 (for this post)

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Day 12
A beautiful sight:  The Cascade Mountains!
 The final drive home, yipee!  Oregon was cool and there were no winds to constantly battle.
Mt. Hood in the distance.
See where the road ends at the top of the hill?  That's about 14 miles away.
 On the drive down along the Umpqua river my left rear axle bearing started squaling and letting me know it wasn't happy.  To keep it quiet I would suddenly let off the gas, let the noise stop, then gently apply throttle to get back up to speed.  The transaxle had a growl in it and my flasher relay would randomly start buzzing unless I had the emergency flasher pulled out about a 1/16 of an inch.  My car was tired and she let me know.
Stark contrast to south Wyoming, eh?
 We got to Brian's house and breathed a sigh of relief.  30 or so minutes later we had my engine out of the cargo area and on his engine stand.  I topped up the tranny as it was weeping oil as well.  With a lighter load I was ready to head home.

The ride home was basically me in auto-pilot.  When I was a couple of miles from my destination I opened both side windows and pulled back my rag top.  The Oregon air was clean, cool, and crisp.  I smelled various plants in bloom and a wood-burning fireplace.  Pulling into my neighborhood and into my driveway I could smell the Douglas Fir trees and feel the ever so slightest kiss of humidity.  Such a sureal feeling, everything seemed different even though nothing had changed.  The contrasts of Oregon versus the other four states I traveled through gave me a reminding appreciation of home.
My baby, unloaded and tired, but safe in her bed now.
 I was greeted by the excited screams from my kids, "Daddy's home!  Daddy's home!"  They were so excited to see me, it felt weird but in a good way.  Ronin looked taller and more filled out.  Bella was all smiles and happy.  My Sweetie came out and I just melted in her arms, ran my fingers into her thick, soft hair, and nuzzled her neck.  It felt so good to be home.
Shakey's engine with my orange [and mechanical] fuel pump.
Super awesome resin from Dave Cassel.

-- Trip stats --

Total miles traveled (adjusted by 4.76% for tire diameter offset):  3,268.57
Total gallons of gas used (including 5 gallons to get home from Brian's house):  124.11
Total dollars spent on gas:  $466.38

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Believe it or not, I really do love animals!

Day 11

By the time Brian and I woke up, Dave had already left us.  He needed to be in Boise, ID, and was on a schedule so we understood.  So it was just Brian and I.  I went out to check out my poor baby and see how she fared the run-in with the #$%@! deer.  There was blood on the front gutter and there is some pitting of the wing window glass, along with a dent in the aluminum trim -- dang it all!!
Blood in gutter (center of picture), mirror gone, scuffing of wing window and black trim.

I'm angry that the glass is damaged but, ya know what, it could've been a LOT worse so I'm dang lucky!
Must be something with my car.  Yesterday I saw a piece of trash tumble across the road so I maneuvered my car to pass over it when suddenly the 'trash' stood up -- it was a ground squirrel.  And judging by the thump on the right side of my baby and what Brian saw fly away from my baby, it suddenly was a very dead ground squirrel.

Anyway, there was no killing spree today, just a long drive.  Utah was on the very warm side, almost hot, but things cooled down in Idaho.  The only thing was, we hit a major league head wind!  I was getting buffeted in the front and the left side.  My only respite was the zooming trucker that would temporarily block the wind.
The Devil's Slide - A cool rock formation along the way.

My 1972 VW air-conditioning was working strong!

We stopped in Parma, ID, for dinner.  This is where the Invasion was first held.  By this time the winds had died down and driving wasn't as bad.  When we hit beautiful Oregon the winds were gone and temps were wonderfully cooler.
Deja vu.
 As we approached Burns there was one long, long grade we...I...had to pull.  Please little stock engine, get us up!  Yup, I had to down-shift to third gear but she got us up and over the hill.  After a couple of miles of cooling down we pulled over, let the engine sit, and took some pictures of our girls.  When I checked the oil it was ever so slightly touching the BOTTOM of the dip stick.  This engine drinks and burps oil like Brian with Diet Coke!  So I topped her up and we were on our merry way.  By the way, thanks again to Mike and Jake for letting me borrow their engine!
Photo op 23 miles or so from Burns.

Brian's '64 Notchback.
My '72 Sqauareback.
What're you lookin' at, white boy?  (The Infamous Brian)
We're spending the night at the same hotel in Burns that we did on the last Invasion.  While we were unloading a group of older folks came up to check out our cars.  We had a good chat about our cars, their factory history in the scheme of VW, and about racing as two of the gents had done it (one drag racing, the other track).  Pretty neat.

For once the weather was so chilly I had to bust out my Levi 501s, a sweatshirt, and my fleece hoodie.  The beautiful Oregon sky was deep blue and cloud-free as I had my second Carlos Torano but it was a little bland...maybe the mind and body decompression, along with the chilly air, altered the taste.  But it drew well and gave a thick smoke, which is what I like.  Tomorrow we will be headed for beautiful Roseburg and then beautiful Portland for me.  I can't wait to see my Sweetie and the kiddos.  And snore in my own comfy bed.  But with the stress of the last few days, I miss my Trini Girl the most.

One thing (of many, by the way) I got from this trip is how beautiful Oregon is.  Just thought I'd mention that if I hadn't already.