Engine and Gas Tank Issues…


One big unknown about this bus, was the condition of the engine. I was able to turn it over last year, but I never really had it idle for more that a minute. Since most of the mechanical components of this mobile money pit were needing repair/replacement, I held little faith the engine was solid. At best, I hoped it was usable and repairable.

The serial number on the engine generator stand was of immediate concern. The 71′ bus should have a 1600cc dual port engine with a single 34 PICT 3 carburetor. A common upgrade (and starting in late 71′) there was a switch over to a dual carb setup. However, the serial number, started with a “H” block instead of the “AE”. The significance is that this clearly indicates the core is from a 66′-67′ Ghia and was a 1500cc block. The carb was also a small 28 PICT – which was used on the Ghias and Bugs in the 60’s. So, apparently the stock engine is long gone, and this bus was fitted with a grossly under-powered Ghia engine.

It was possible that, the previous owners perhaps modified “H” block to displace 1600+ cc, but with such a small carb – it was unlikely. Never mind all that, I decided to see if I could get the ole’ girl running. So, I had my wife run around the neighborhood.

I also decided to see if I could get the engine running. Before the attempt, I gave it a tuneup, oil change, and adjusted the valves. I drained the gas tank of old gas, and replaced with fresh fuel and filter. I installed a new battery, and ground wire too.

Eager to hear the bus come alive, I joyously inserted the ignition key and tried to turn the key. The ignition wouldn’t turn. WTF! It turned okay last year. Yes, I was using the correct key. Hours spent jiggling, cleaning, and playing with the ignition left me in frustration.

Fast forward two weeks, and a new Meyle ignition switch was installed.

20131102_152301I followed this helpful link: Ignition replacement

Okay, let’s try to start the engine now. Starter is working great, crank crank crank. No go. Was there spark? Yes, good there. Fuel, check,  fair supply to the fuel pump. Very little came out of the pump however. So I switched it out, and decided to rebuild the carb while I was at it. Okay, all systems go! Turn the ignition, and VORRRUMMMMM. An immediate engine start at a very high RPM. I quickly left the driver’s seat to go back and adjust the idle.  I never made it.  A few seconds later, and all I hear was CA-CHINKKKK, BLUGGG, BLUGGG, and a deathly GHALLUNKK. She was dead.

Oil spewed from the crankcase like the blood from a slaughtered pig. To be truthful, I had to take a moment to regain composure. I might have used an expletive or two. The aluminum/magnesium crank case was split with a 1/2″ gap. There was no repairing this mess.

Long story short, and as of this post, I am having a 1776cc longblock built by the reputable Darryl’s VW. It actually should be ready to ship soon.

In the down time, I pulled the old engine to harvest usable parts.





While the engine was out, a decision had to be made on whether or not to remove and clean the gas tank. On the early bays, the tank can only be removed with the engine out.

I eventually decided to remove the tank, and at  least clean it.



Once removed, I could see a fair amount of internal rust and sediment on the tank bottom.

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This required several steps:

  1. Cleaning/Degreasing (I used this product)

    After Degunking

    After Degunking

  2. Rust Removal (I used this awesome product)
    Tank internals after cleaning and de-rusting.

    Tank internals after cleaning and de-rusting.


    Tank internals after cleaning and de-rusting

    Tank internals after cleaning and de-rusting

  3. Surface Etching (I used this)
  4. Surface Sealing (I used POR-15 Tank Sealer)

The process of prep soaking/cleaning/degunking took well over three days. The POR-15 Tank Sealer required 96 hours to fully cure. In the meantime, I disassembled and cleaned the Fuel Sender.

The sender works by a very simple design. The float rides vertically along a loop of Nickle Chromium resistance wire (about 40 AWG). The float bridges the circuit making less of a  loop as it rises, resulting in less resistance. Testing the lead and ground with a multimeter I could see something was wrong. With the float at the bottom (empty tank) the sender should read about 70 Ω, and at the top (full) it should read <5 Ω. My readings were all over the place.

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Under the head of the sender there resides a copper spring of sorts. This copper has lost its contact to the aluminum housing. This is likely the result of metallic electrolysis and microscopic corrosion. To remedy this, I soldered a bridge from the copper with a copper wire that I wrapped around the center pole. I then sealed the solder and copper with epoxy to reduce corrosion and carefully cleaned the length of the resistance wire.. The multimeter read a smooth transition between 73Ω with the float at the bottom and 1Ω at the top. Ready to reinstall…


Gas Tank ready to reinstall

Gas Tank ready to reinstall

New Gates Barricade fuel lines will pass through the firewall using a bulkhead:

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