Basically, I like to fix the things on your vehicle that make it viable transportation, not the toy that sits in the driveway waiting for your friend to try and get the clutch to work after the recent engine rebuild. This is evidence of what I call the “super ball effect”. For instance. one customer had here 1977 bus engine rebuilt. It runs. It starts. But the exhaust is really noisy (muffler staged to literally fall off the bus) and clutch chatters (shakes the whole car violently) whenever she uses the clutch. It’s got a real nice oil leak too and repair of this requires engine removal. She’s a serious casualty of the super ball effect. She just had the engine rebuilt 2 years ago and now it needs to be taken out again and it’s already been out once before to replace the trans and since that replacement, that’s when the clutch started chattering.
So the engine’s been out once since the rebuild and it needs to come out again to fix the clutch and the oil leak. Of course, there’s quite a few other oil “seeps” too but that problem was created by the assembler of the engine. To make the entire engine dry would require complete disassembly of the entire engine.
The thing is, typical repairs done today result in minor and major cases of the super ball effect. I’ve realized that people like to drive their cars without worry or always having in mind that there’s still something else. So when I’m done with a project, it’s done – really done with no lagging issues.
There’s no reason for rebuilding and engine and not getting the exhaust into like new condition or ignoring the fuel lines (fire insurance), for instance. Particularly on later model buses and air cooled Vanagons. If virtually every thing attached to the engine itself is dealt with properly and “bulletproofly”, particularly with respect to the exhaust before installation and during a rebuild, I don’t see my new engine customers until they need a smog check. Drive to New York I say to them regarding reliablity. When I hear of a problem with work I’ve done, I’m shocked and to be honest, it’s usually insignificant and often “user error” – seriously. I’m very, very thourough. And thought does’t mean expensive, in many cases it means simply putting and extra washer on some particular bolt or nut or simply just putting a tiny dab of grease in just the right spot – and in some places on every vehicle of any make, a bit of grease in just the right spot makes all the difference in the world.
One of the things indirectly attached to the engine are the pedals. Clutch pedal and accelerator pedal. These are not just pedals, they’re “controls” , the enable you to control your car! They have to work well. Every time I do an engine, the clutch cable comes out and is checked for fraying strands, replaced if necessary and greased liberally. You can feel the difference and it’s good for at least anothe 20 or 30 years. From what I see, a lot of mechanics seem to skip the greasy part. The accelerator cable comes out and it’s checked for damage and greased/replaced as necessary and it’s linkage is fixed-up for reliability and free movement. When one pushes the pedal down all the way, it opens a “door” at the engine and gives maximum power. It the cable is mal-adjusted or improperly fitted, when one pushes the pedal all the way down, the “door” at the engine may only open halfway or even less resulting in a much slower car (when it’s “floored”, it’s not really floored). Yeah, it’s a VW but they’re not that underpowered but with improperly operating accelerator pedal and only partial “door opening” at the engine, it’s feel like you’re driving a slug. It’s amazing how many VW’s have this condition and when fixed, the owner feels like it’s suddenly has a much more powerful engine in it. And all it really needed was grease and a bit of care.
For a bus, the clutch pedal is removed entirely and the pivot is greased. For a bug, the complete pedal assembly is removed, disassembled an greased. And peforming this simple step makes a difference you can feel. And and improperly adjusted clutch cable can damage the engine, the transmission and the tube the cable itself slides within over the long term – I’ve seen it happen. Even destroys the engine case.
Realize, the last time 99 percent of bug pedal assemblies were greased was the day the vehicle was manufactured at the Volkwagen factory in Germany. And peforming this simple step makes a difference you can feel.Think it’s about time?
Recently I was asked to repair the handbrake for an 80 Vanagon. The ratchet for the handbrake lever was stripped – no teeth left to hold lever in on position. The handbrake cable adjustment was adjusted to the limit. It still would not work even just hold the handle up. It had new rear brakes – brand new. The solution was to find a nice handbrake lever assembly with a perfect ratchet. Incidentally, this is the first time I’ve ever seen that ratchet stripped.
Next step was to remove the cables and grease them within their respective guide tubes. With the wheels off, I noticed the brake shoe retaining springs at the wheel cylinders were reversed – front on on rear shoe, back one on front shoe. When these springs are reversed like this, it’s impossible to adjust the brakes and since the handbrake acts on the rear brakes, it’s impossible to make the handbrake work. The brake adjusting mechanisms on both sides were reversed too. The prior mechanics solution to poor handbrake operation was to continue tightening the cables until … it never worked. But this prior mechanic was not the one who recently did the brakes, the cable adjustment was like that for a a real long time (I could tell by the rust and dirt build-up on the parts) so that means the latest mechanic that did the rear brakes didn’t even look at the cable adjustment or even consider it – he just “did the brakes” and then the phone call “It’s’ all done now, come pick it up”. The poorly adjusted cables and coupled with driver who was desperate for handbrake habitually pulled the handbrake lever up every time he parked thinking “Maybe this time it’ll work” but to no avail. And it’s likely this activity is was destroyed the handbrake ratcheting mechanism.
So what else could have gone wrong? This vehicle lives in the heart of San Francisco, California. Famous for it’s bridges, beautiful architecture, cable cars, charm, fog, and hills and according to the media, rice. And all the cars in San Francisco have an affinity for mating with telephone poles and other cars and even pedestrians when the vehicle decides to take an uncontrolled ride down one of those hills when one just leaves it in gear without a working handbrake. Superball effect led Jim to me to get his handbrake fixed before it hit a telephone pole. No superball effect after telephone pole mating, it’s the scrapyard.
But if bring your car to me, NO SUPERBALL EFFECT HERE. I find the root of a problem and fix that.
I can repair anything on your vehicle to work for a real, real long time so can rely on it like the new car that it once was. And this doesn’t mean rebuilding and engine every time I see one ….
I fix windshield wipers that don’t work right.
I fix locks, using your orignal handles, not the very poorly manufactured reproduction products on the market now. Mostly I used grease when I’m fixing locks – remember, it may have been fifty years since yours were last lubricated at the factory in Germany. Parts are seldom required for this.
I can make a sliding door work as good as new and even easier than new if you ask me – yeah, I can do that
I make old bus tail lights brighter and more reliable than new.
I make old bus horn buttons work better than new.
I make a real nice safari window antenna.
I make windows go up and down real nice, usually no parts required.
I turn loose steering into like-new steering.
I make rattles and other noises disappear.
I can make you bug shifter tighter than new, even if you just had new shift bushing installed.
I make brakes real smooth and you handbrake will work properly for a real, real long time without constant attention.
I can make every single light on the dash of your 77 Superbeetle convertible work perfectly.
Sometimes I can fix a dash clock.
I can fix up Vanagon printed circuitry behind the speedometer, etc without having to find a used printed circuit most of the time
I wish I could make an Vanagon with an automatic transmission shift from 2nd into 3rd gear about 1000 rpm higher, but I can’t. VW needs to deal with that but I doubt it’s even on the back burner.
I make heaters work real nice.
My mufflers are the quietest.
My engines don’t leak and they’re the quietest around.
At least once a month, strangers comment that the vehicle I drive – a 1974 VW panel van – is the quietest VW they’ve ever heard.
I can do the same for you.