Tanks for the memories

Tanks for the memories

Since getting the bus roadworthy I've spent the past week and a half cruising to work in it which has been pretty cool. It's great to have a veedub as a daily driver again and even cooler for it to be a bus. It's also given me a chance to iron out a few bugs and make a list of stuff that needs to be looked at.

One of the the things that found its way to pretty much the top of the list was a leaky fuel tank. Ironically when I was originally fitting the engine I looked at the bottom of the firewall tin and noticed that the foam seal looked a bit 'melted', I even thought to myself 'I bet that's due to a leaky fuel tank'. Well, guess what, I knew it! the darn thing leaks. Fortunately Volksfactory once again helped me out from their stash of stuff and provided me with a nice early style fuel tank (early bay tanks have a bolt in style fuel sender unit). I also picked up a few other bits and bobs as well, including a passenger window. 

So this past weekend I dropped the engine out of the bus and removed the old tank. At first glance things seemed okay, but a quick look underneath soon showed some tell tale rusty patches.

A quick scratch with a screwdriver revealed this...


The passenger window saga was another one of those 'I knew it' moments. I'd stopped off to get some window channels at the local Rare Spares. At this stage the door glass was simply resting in the bottom of the door. I'd been wedging it in position when leaving the bus in the driveway so that the worst of the weather was kept out, but as I was driving it I'd un-wedged the glass and had it sitting in the bottom of the door so that it didn't fall down and smash. Being ever security conscious since having the bug stolen I decided that I should at least wedge the glass back in position whilst I popped in to Rare Spares to buy the window felt channels so that I could properly fit the windows.

So I wedged the glass in position much as I have been doing for the past month or so since working on the bus. Unfortunately something must have moved and my glass wedging effort could not have been as good as previous occasions for after I'd locked the doors and just started to walk away from the bus, I heard a crash, smash and looked back to see the passenger window 'missing'. I knew I should have left the windows down. LOL. The whole thing was a bit ironic considering that i'd stopped at Rare Spares to get the felt channels so that I could refit the glass properly. Typical huh.

One of the other things that I overlooked was when I converted to doghouse cooling was the fan. Without thinking I used the fan that came with the engine. What I didn't immediately realise was that the doghouse fan is about 10mm wider. The extra 10mm helps to supply the extra cooling air required by the oil cooler. The effect was that there was excessive fan noise due to the large gap in the fan housing. Whilst I noticed the noise I couldn't figure out what it was. It actually sounded like I was over-revving the engine. It was only when I was scouring Just Kampers for some stuff that I stumbled across a doghouse fan in their online store and had a bit of a eureka moment realising that I had the wrong fan in there. Fortunately Volksfactory managed to come to the rescue again with a doghouse fan. (Thanks Paul).

So I spent most of Saturday wrestling with removing the engine in the pouring rain so that I could swap out a leaky fuel tank, the wrong type of fan and adjust the tappets.

I'd decided to adjust the tappets as the engine sounded like at least one tappet had closed up. What I found was that the new rocker arms that I fitted had a bit of a clearance issue.

I had already clearanced the arms once to prevent them from clashing with the springs, but I had failed to notice that they also were a tad close to the adjusters and valves as well. This hadn't been an issue when setting up the engine as I originally set the valves at 4 thou, but after deciding to reset them at 6 thou one valve seemed to have no clearance no matter how much I wound out the adjuster. When I looked a little closer it turned out to be the rocker casting clashing with the valve stem. The solution was easy enough, remove the rockers and grind them down the clearance them. 

With the fan swapped, tappets set, fuel tank swapped and engine refitted I stuck some fuel in the tank and checked that the engine ran.

Over the past week of driving the bus around, I'd also found that there was a horrendous flat spot. This was the dreaded PICT34/3 + 009 combination which meant that the bus was pretty ordinary to drive, especially when cold. The solution was to fit an SVDA distributor (Single vacuum / dual advance). These units provide the vac advance low down the rev range to prevent the flat spot whilst still giving the advantage of a mechanical advance for the high RPMs.

Swapping the dizzy over was pretty straightforward, but one thing to note is that the SVDA dizzys (or at least this one) has the rotor arm set at 90 degrees when compared to the 009 or a stock dizzy. The 009 rotor and cap would also not fit so I had to swap everything over. Setting the timing is done the same as a 009. approx 30 degrees at full (mechanical) advance. This means that you need to set the timing with a timing light, you also need to disconnect the vacuum pipe and seal up the vac port on the carburetor so that the distributor is only functioning with the mechanical advance. Once set, and with the vac hooked back up you should see approx 7.5 degrees at idle.

The difference that the SVDA has made to the way that the bus drives is phenomenal. Power delivery is much smoother and the flat spot has completely gone.  It is a much nicer bus to drive now, I'd recommend that anyone running a PICT 34/3 with a 009 should seriously consider swapping to an SVDA.

Since the weekend I've been gradually getting the rear seat installed. I got a spare full width rock and roll seat with the bus but unfortunately it had no base, so I've been busy making one up. I used the dimensions from the 3/4 width seat that came in the bus as a start and tweaked the design to suit. The full width seat is actually a tad deeper than a normal seat, perhaps it was custom made for someone really tall, but the end result is that the rock and roll frame did not fit the base I made so I ended up using the frame from the 3/4 width seat. I might eventually remake another base to take advantage of the extra couple of inches space that I would get from making it to suit the deeper seat, but for the time being I'm happy that it is in (and so by the looks of it is Izabella)

All that is left to do is to actually bolt the seat to the base and the base to the bus, but first I need to paint the floor and sort out something for the rear heater vents. The bus was originally supplied as a microbus so it was originally fitted with rear heater vents. These are two vents under the rear seat that tap into the hot air ducts running to the front of the bus. Normally all you can see is the top of the pipe where the floor meets the bulkhead. One of the vents was unfortunately removed when the interior conversion was done, but the mechanisms to shut the airflow off and the opposite vent survived. I've completely removed what remained as it takes up a lot of room under the seat which I'm planning to use as storage. This leaves me with the dilemma of what to do with the ducts. The extra heating is obviously a good thing in the winter so I'm thinking that I might try and hook the ducts up to a slimline ducting that runs out of the bottom of the seat base. This way I can retain the heating but not lose too much space.

The bus is running great but I still have a niggling problem with cold running. At the moment my best guess is that it is a bit of a vac leak in the advance circuit so I will try replacing the vac hose first. It could also be poorly set up choke. I did try resetting it as it was incorrectly set, but there is not a great deal of info on how it should be set so it could still be a way off. Will get to the bottom of it eventually, and will no doubt learn some more along the way.

But niggling issues aside, I'm completely stoked that the bus is on the road and can't wait to get the interior sorted so that we can go camping. With the seat more or less fitted, it's looking like it might be sooner rather than later.

Happy days. :D.


Interior in
It'll be all white in the end

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