Sunday, January 19, 2014

Last week I was a little unsure about the master cylinder adapters I was using, so I decided to order a few more.  My friend Chuck recommended these fittings from Pegasus, but the yellow zinc finish wouldn't work.  Paint doesn't mix too well with brake fluid, so I'm trying to keep everything bare.

So I ordered two more fittings from Summit - Russell 640431 and Fragola 650310, both of which are intended for M10x1.0 DIN/ISO bubble flares.  Overnight parts from Tallmadge, Ohio!  I was a little disappointed when they arrived.  I was pretty confident the Russell fittings would work, but it turns out they are identical to the Earl's dimensionally, and look ugly.  I only ordered one of the Fragola fittings, my "plan C" so to speak, and it turns out that's the one I want! 

Here are the Russell 640461, Earl's 592032, Fragola 650310, and the OEM bubble flare.  The Fragola fitting is clearly the best of the three, but not quite a match to the seal achieved by the OEM flares. 

I exchanged a few emails with Greg, the master of hardlines, and he confirmed that the Fragola fittings have provided him with several leak-free VW setups.  Problem solved!

I bent the rest of the rearward lines, following the OEM routing:

Now here is the tricky part.  I have to cut and flare these BEFORE I make the last bend into the proportioning valves. 

So I cut a scrap piece to exactly 3", flared it, and bent it to the proper angle.  I then transferred this mark to the stainless brake line.  I also marked the clock angle of the bend, so it goes straight up into the fitting.

Nailed it.

The second one didn't quite go as smooth!  I fucked up the cut a little bit, and ended up making a second cut which made the line about 3/16" too short.  I decided to flare and bend it anyway, and I was able to adjust the proportioning valve bracket to make it fit.  Two of six brake hardlines complete!

I've had this idea for months (possibly years), and decided that this weekend was the right time to make it happen. I wanted to build a drivetrain cradle that would hold the front and rear crossmembers, along with the engine and trans, so I can install the whole engine assembly using the lift in one shot.

I machined some delrin locating pins that fit in the tooling holes the factory used for this exact same purpose:

Fast forward a few steps, and this is what I came up with.  This wooden contraption fits into the tooling holes on the subframes, at the correct angle that matches the lift I'm using, and holds everything in perfect alignment for installation.

I added a few additional locating pins once I got the first 4 in place, and added some thin rubber washers to protect the painted finish. 

I bolted on some 330lb swivel casters from Harbor Freight:

Engine in place:

Engine removed!

This will really help prevent scratches and damage during final assembly.  The idea of a painted engine swinging from an engine hoist inside a painted engine bay keeps me up at night!  Now I can get everything aligned with plumb bobs and strings, and lower the body down over the drivetrain.  Eight M12 bolts will bolt everything up in one step!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I checked the contact area of the fittings I'm using for the master cylinder.  On the left is the contact area of the Earl's adapter I'm using, and on the right is the contact area of a metric ISO bubble flare.

Here is the contact area down inside the master cylinder fitting.  I would prefer a little wider contact band, but these fittings are supposed to work with bubble flare fittings.

I bent up a few more test pieces with scrap steel line.

I decided to cut down the master cylinder studs coming out of the brake booster.  There was a heat shield from the factory that I'm no longer using which required these long studs, but they were getting in the way of my lines.

More practice bends.

Now that I'm happy with the shape, I started copying the measurements using the stainless tubing. 

My Imperial 400-F flaring tool makes beautiful 37º single flares in stainless.  After using this flaring tool, it makes my OTC bubble/double flaring tools seem like junk.

Scrap steel on the top, stainless on the bottom.  Mistakes are $28 each now!

Good thing I started with the scrap steel lines before transferring to Stainless!

The first two lines are done from the master cylinder down to the firewall.  I'll finish the back half of the bends, then I will do the driver side (LF and RF lines).

Sunday, January 5, 2014

I made a few brackets for the power steering lines.

Tacked together.  The plate is 304 stainless and the fitting is 316 stainless. Rather than buy $30 bulkhead fittings that fit into a bracket, I bought the $7 union fittings and welded them directly to the bracket.  Because it's all stainless, it doesn't need to be painted or plated.

I made another bracket that bolts through one of the tooling holes in the engine block.  This will mount the engine-side of the power steering line.

I turned the hex off of this fitting in my lathe.

I visited Bill Lewis today, and he welded them all up for me!

Now this should make a bit more sense.  The hardline on the engine side goes from the power steering pump into this bracket, then a piece of hydraulic hose connects the bracket, and then the hardline on the chassis-side goes into the steering rack.  The factory line ran over top of the engine, mine is semi-hidden underneath.

This line may be replaced with something sexier in the future.  Right now it's just a cheapo SAE 100 R2 hydraulic hose.

Now that the power steering lines are complete, I started plumbing the brake lines.  This is just a mockup with scrap steel line, once I get the shape I want figured out I will redo everything in stainless steel. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

I haven't been very good about updates lately, so this one will cover the last ~3 weeks.

First of all... new tools!  I haven't been on the Snap-on truck in over 6 months... but I'm off the wagon.  I got a good deal on a whole pile of VGP12412 locking clamps. 

I also bought some Vise Grip 9DR and 6R clamps, an Imperial 3/16" OD tubing bender (for my upcoming brake line bending), and a 6 pack of Great Lakes Edmund Fitzberald.

.... and I bought a few more Vise Grip 6R clamps with a gift card from Lowes

I also picked up some circle templates, I have had my eye on these for years and always forget to pick them up.  They were only $5 from Michael's.

So why the hell do I need so many Vise Grips?  I have decided to replace the roof in my Jetta with a non-sunroof model. 

I started shopping for a clean donor car, and I haven't had much luck so far.  I battled the snow to inspect his junker at Millerstown Pic-A-Part, but it's not very clean.

There were a few dents, the most visible was the fist-sized dent above the rear glass.

Then I drove an hour to another junkyard, with my snow brush and microfiber towel handy, to inspect another pile of scrap metal.  This one was twice as expensive and twice as dented.  It looks like someone played a wicked drum solo on this one.

So the hunt continues.  If anyone reading knows of a non-sunroof, non-antenna MK3 Jetta roof available, please let me know.

Here is an interesting little side project I tackled last week before Christmas.  My grandparents broke the diffuser on their bathroom vanity, and of course the part is no longer available.  My dad came out to my shop to bend a new one from clear and frosted flat acrylic.

We built a form from a 4x4 and some tubing that fit the original piece.

We marked the cut lines on the form using the remains of the original piece.

After a few hours with the heat gun, we had two decent pieces.  They weren't perfect, but they worked.  I might redo these so it fits perfectly.

I also tackled a little project for the company I work for.  I would rather not say what this is, what it's for, or why I decided to do it myself, but it's a piece of 304 Stainless sheet.

The layout:

Some cuts

Some bends.  These were done with the brake, tipping wheel, and hammer/dolly.

The corners are notched and welded for clearance and sealing (this is a drip pan).


Merry Christmas!  We enjoyed the feast of seven fishes at my parents' house on Christmas Eve.

I spotted this old Pontiac cruising on the highway.  I love the "Survivor" patina!

Another totally random task I completed was straightening out this hose fitting.  I went to wash my car, and discovered that somebody had smooshed the hose.  I tapped it back into shape using a hammer and dolly. 

Perfect fit and leak-free!

For my Christmas gift to my grandparents on my Mom's side, I made them a set of attic access steps.  They have used various sketchy methods over the years to gain access to their attic, but this set of steps will help them get up a little easier. 

I took some measurements at Thanksgiving and did a little bit of math to layout the stringers.

The four people who will be using these the most - my Grandma's husband, my Uncle Rich, my cousin Mike, and the Orkin man - are all big heavy dudes, so I decided that wood wasn't going to work.  I scavenged some steel tubing from the scrap bin to use for the rungs.

If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right!  I lathe turned all of them to the same length.  I don't have 36" dial calipers, so I had to settle for tape measure accuracy.  31.25000.

I found some expanded metal laying around that was leftover from a previous project, so I bent it around some tubing to use for traction on the rungs.

I clamped up a welding jig so all three stairs would be identical.

I used 3/8-16 tee nuts into the wood and Grade 5 bolts to hold everything together.  Before finish welding and paint, I assembled this mockup.
Safety yellow!

My paint scheme turned out a little louder than I had planned, but I didn't want to buy more paint!  All ready for installation:

I assembled them into the closet where they live.  The stringers are a tight fit against the walls on all 4 sides, so these are just wedged in place with gravity and brace against the inside of the closet door jamb.  These should be pretty sturdy now!

6 Grade 5 bolts per step!

I received some new floor mats for Christmas, I would say it was time to replace these!

So after a couple weeks of these random projects, I got to work on the Jetta again!

I drilled the mounting holes in my catalytic converter heat shield.  I forgot to snap a pic of the hardware, but this will bolt in place.  I decided not to weld it directly to the cat, since this piece is ~1/2" from the ground I don't expect it to last forever. 

I decided that the weld joints on my main heat shield were just too ugly to leave alone, so I bent up some trip pieces to cover the seam.  These are riveted in the center (which are hidden above the exhaust pipes), and TIG welded along the ends.

All done!

My next project will be plumbing: brake lines, fuel lines, power steering lines, and hydraulic lines.  Almost everything will be 304 stainless steel seamless, annealed tubing with 37º AN/JIC single flares.

I ordered fittings and a fuel filter from Summit.

I started with the power steering return line in 3/8" OD .035 wall stainless.  It comes out of the rack and into the frame rail through a bracket that Chris D'Eramo and I made a few years ago.  I feel silly typing that, but it really was a few years ago!

Next is the power steering feed line.  This will come from the power steering pump into the rack, but I'm starting at the rack side.

This is where the hardline will mate with a soft line, so that the engine can vibrate without cracking the solid stainless tubing.  I will need to make a bracket for support.

I marked up some 1/8" thick 304 stainless plate.

This will make a bit more sense once it's welded, but this bracket will weld directly to the 3/8 stainless M-M -6 JIC union and bolt to the subframe.

That's all for now!  Back at it tomorrow.