Thursday, February 14, 2008

Nothing Up My Sleeve...

This was going to be the first time I would use the new trailer so it was going to be interesting. I now had a chance to see if the idea was going to pan out like I planned. On the road to Gary’s I would be driving over everything from highway to bumpy country road conditions, so it would be a good test.

The basic thought was to be able to load and unload the car with only one person, rather than having to have help to get it on or off the trailer. Surprise. It worked like a champ.

I loaded the car nose first this time because that is the way it was oriented in the carport. It just happened that way.

At low speeds it was fine, but at highway speeds it seemed a bit tail heavy and tended to wander a bit. I wasn’t too surprised since it had been designed to have the car loaded tail end first. That should get rid of the heavy end wobble. I’d have a chance to check that out on the return trip.

I got to Gary’s shop and found both he and his friend Jerry waiting. The “one man” unloading drew praise from both of them.

We got started by reviewing what the problem was.

The original front end on the car had a ride height problem. When the shocks were removed the floor pan suddenly rose to the point that it was seven and a half inches above the deck instead of the three and a half inches I was looking for. In order to get around that I had purchased another front beam which had a ride height adjuster on it. With the adjuster I could set the ride height I wanted but the front end would not work properly. If I pushed down on it, it stayed down or if I lifted it, it stayed up. In other words it was binding and would not allow the springs to work at all.

Normally, with a Vee front end, the are a number of minor changes made to the stock beam.

Remember. The original car weighed around 2000 pounds. A Vee, including the driver, is about half that. As a result we usually remove the lower set of springs and install a stiff steel bar in the lower tube instead of the springs. This functions as a sway bar and allows for the removal of the exterior sway bar that comes on the stock axle. I had already done that.

One of the problems is that for handling reasons we like to have negative camber on the front wheels. The normal condition for VW is positive camber. The way this is adjusted is by rearranging the shims on the link pins. This is a laborious process and not entered into lightly. The down side is that this sometimes caused the front end to bind up and not move properly.

One solution to this is use aftermarket offset bushings in the front end. I had ordered a set and had been keeping them in the freezer as recommended. (That makes it easier to press the into place. Again not a task entered into lightly). In order to do that we had to remove first, the Link Pins and then King pin carrier. Once the carrier was free then we could knock out the old bushings. Gary took this one over and tapped out the old bushings and wedged the new ones in place.

While we had the kin pin carrier off we took a look at the action of the trailing arms.

When working properly, the trail arms should move very freely and with as little resistance as possible. The only action should be from the springs in the upper tube and the sway bar in the lower. Not so in our case. The trailing arms themselves were binding.

We removed the upper springs and the sway bar and tried again. The trailing arms were still binding. We pulled the trailing arms out to check the needle bearing and got a nasty shock. There were no needle bearings. This beam was so old that it still had the original Micarta bushings and no bearings at all. No wonder it was binding. Those suckers were worn out.

The solution Gary suggested was the use of a set of urethane replacement sleeves. These replace both the inner bushing, the outer bearing and the grease seal. They had to be special ordered for the old Micarta type beam so we were at a stand still.

It is the knowledge of this kind of thing that makes Gary such a wonder. I didn’t even know that was such a thing as a Micarta bushing, much less what to replace it with or where to find it.

It was Miller Time anyway so we knocked off. Gary was going to be out of town for a couple of weeks, and we had to wait for the sleeves to arrive, so we just left the car scattered all over his shop floor and shut it down for the time being.

I didn’t even take the trailer home.


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