Lingering Success

We’ve been lingering in PV for what feels like forever and we are really ready to get moving. Finally, we’re almost ready to go.

We had been camping under a mango tree and the fruit would fall off whenever the wind picked up throughout the day. They would hit the pop-top and make it reverberate like drum. We hadn’t been getting the best night’s sleep. Fortuntely, we were booted from our camping spot to make way for another French Canadian caravan.

When we landed in our next camping spot… it was full with another French Canadian caravan. These folks travel and they travel en masse. Nevertheless, there were a few spots still available and we pulled in between some giant RV’s. A day later, they all fired up their engines and drove off. We were essentially alone except for a few stragglers. Even better was that we were walking distance to Volks Vallarta.

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I made a few more trips to see Alberto and he kept us going with parts. The new coil was holding up and kept us running, but there was something else obliviously wrong. I had pulled the plugs many times and noticed that the #1 cylinder was burning far too rich, but but the rest were fine. This made no sense to me, since #1 and #2 share the same carb and intake, so the mixture should be the same. The spark was there and everything else seemed okay. I adjusted the valves way too many times, checked for vacuum leaks the best I could, and tweaked the carbs again and again but I couldn’t figure it out.

Finally, I decided to take off the carb and manifold and just poke around and clean it up and hope for some sort of indication of what was going on. It’s still a little baffling, but I think I figured it out.

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At the base of the intake manifold are the two ports. Mine are not centered. I don’t know if this is normal or if it’s a manufacturing defect. The metal seal used to connect it to the cylinder head is centered with the bolt holes. This causes the raised sealing surface to not be centered on the manifold intake  ports. Of course, I’ve been driving like this the entire trip (well, since Portland) and haven’t had a problem. I must have been lucky. Other than the miles and miles of vibrating, I’m not sure what would cause it to be problematic now, but it seems to have been my leak.

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I ‘fixed’ it by getting a new seal and cutting around the bolt holes with tin snips so I could center the sealing surface around the ports (rather than the bolt holes.) I’ve carried tin snips the entire trip and use them all the time – very handy.

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Since I had things in pieces and was already filthy, I decided to pull off the rest of my vacuum lines and go through those as well. Seemed okay.

I put it all back together and fired it up with more signs of improvement. I had to go back and re-tune the carbs and I’m almost happy with it. The thing about tuning the carbs is that they have to be synchronized. I bought the tool way back in Canada, but it doesn’t fit the top of the carbs because of the way the filters get attached. I’ve been to hardware and plumbing stores trying to find something to use as an adapter to make it work but haven’t found anything. What works? The top half of a Pringles can. Yes, I bought the chips just to use the can.

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One more thing to note. I’ve been driving the entire trip with the wrong jack and never noticed it. Every time I needed a jack, some friendly person had a floor jack or better on hand and I just used theirs. I’ve never pulled mine out from under the seat since we left. I never tried to use it before we left because I had my own floor jack. Anyway, I pulled it out to use it and it doesn’t fit. The jack insert is round and my jack points are square. Round peg into a square hole. Story of my life.

I made a few more trips to see Alberto and he kept us moving with the repairs.


8 thoughts on “Lingering Success

  • March 21, 2010 at 10:35 AM


    I would check the number one spark plug wire as well. High resistance can lead to poor spar at the plug and poor detonation of the fuel. Just my 2 cents.
    Also, the guru of the Kadrons has this to say about synchronizing the Solex 40/44 EIS…

    I do not use a synchronizer tool for adjustments or to setup.
    You can try and pinch off the crossover tube and make your adjustments, but then you will
    notice that the car will run like crap after you UN-pinch the tube.
    Yes I could sell you one of these synchronizer tools and make some money but why?
    So you can call me asking why your motor runs bad after you pinch off the tube
    and try to use one? Some shops will tell you to pinch off the tube to make adjustments.
    Do not pinch off the tube unless you plan on running your car that way.
    As long as the linkage is set up correct than the use of a sync tool is not needed.
    The Kadron carb is a plenum base setup. Trying to synchronize these carbs is
    like trying to synchronize one of the barrels on a 4- barrel Holley® carb. There is a open plenum that is shared by more than one cylinder under the carb. “You are wasting your time”. Check that each carb opens at the same time and will reach full open at the same time. If you want to set the carbs correctly than use a vacuum gauge and set at the highest vacuum reading at idle.. you may need to take the stock linkage off, so it is not pushing / pulling on the carb arms.

    I guess that makes 4 cents… Good luck!

  • March 21, 2010 at 12:21 PM

    Good luck with the carbs guys, you should check the rubber boots that hose clamp to the manifolds as well, those can develop cracks under the clamp.

    I find it amusing that you store your gas can in the same place where mine is, VW minds think alike I guess.

  • March 21, 2010 at 4:43 PM

    If there is an manifold air leak the piston would suck much more air than fuel thus not producing a rich plug but a lean one.I would check the pressure going into the needle valve and/or the needle valve washer/shim for proper chamber fill. Also if the carbs have an electric choke make sure it shuts all the way off quickly- you do not need one where you are. Whatever happens do not use the Mexican Champion spark plugs! Blown rod ahead. As to the spark plug wires first check the resistance of the ceramic connector- this can be bad while the wires are solid and cannot go to far bad except in the cap if there is a broken contact inside or corroision- green gook. Sorry I missed you in Dago, Russ

  • March 22, 2010 at 8:05 AM

    I checked with an old VW friend at work. . . he suggests checking the compression on that cylinder that is fouling. I there is a difference in that versus the others, it would indicate a problem in the head . . . either poor seating valve or leak in the head gasket. Just his two cents . . . good luck.

  • March 22, 2010 at 9:41 AM

    That standard jack not fitting is a blessing is disguise as they are death traps anyway. Almost crushed myself a few weeks ago when I used mine and the bus almost immediately started to roll. Need to get my handbrake fixed first before I attempt that crap again. Doh! 😉

  • March 23, 2010 at 3:14 PM

    the correct jack for your bus will be perfectly safe, if your hand brake doesnt work, block the tires.

    Bumblebus, your name fits………

  • March 29, 2010 at 7:59 AM

    hey jason I think you have a vannie jack. I always carry a rock beside my drivers seat just to block the tires with and also can be used to level the bus if needed . I am not a big fan of the Kadron carbs and seeing the intakes made me remember why>

  • April 1, 2010 at 12:13 PM

    still carrying that jack – thinking i might use my axe/hammer to try to bend it into shape. i’ve tried inserting a 1″ pipe and using it to connect to the bus, but bent the pipe before it got of the ground. As far as the rock goes… well, I think we can find some here 😉

    What is it about the intakes you don’t like?


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