Saturday, October 21, 2017

No turning back now...

Got my LocTite, and had a few free hours tonight, so I finished the crankshaft buildup by torquing the connecting rods to spec. Then I gooped up all of the head studs with Permatex Aviation 3H and installed those in the case halves. 

I got everything covered in moly grease, dropped in the cam lifters, crankshaft, camshaft, cam plug, and stud seals, then put the case together and torqued everything down just as if I was sealing up the case for real. 

I checked free rotation the whole way through, and man, is it nice and smooth. All the gears mesh up just fine, no weird noises or rough spots. With that, there was nothing left to do but tear it all down so I could add grease and sealer and put it back together one final time!

Got moly grease on the cam lifters, which in my case are hydraulic. Using moly on them really helped them stay in place; a big plus on aircooled VWs, since they want to fall out when you try to put the case halves together. Dropped in the crank and camshaft, then gooped up the cam plug with 3H and stuck that in its place. (Apparently this picture was actually before the cam plug was installed.)

Next came the excitement - spread 3H on the other case half, mate them together, and put all the nuts and bolts in.

I gave it one more free rotation check once everything was torqued and ready to leave, and sure enough - smooth as you please. I'm gonna have to find something else to complain about now that the crankshaft is doing what it's supposed to do. One final thing I did before I sealed the case up was check my end play at the flywheel. I've got three shims in between the first bearing and the crankshaft to act as a thrust bearing, and the remaining end play is shown below. I think I'm supposed to have it at around 0.005", but I'll have to check on that. I'll order a shim to put between the flywheel and the first bearing and call it good.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Crank Buildup... Again.

So, when I said earlier that the case was "torqued to spec" and that the crankshaft "didn't bind...." Turns out I lied. I didn't have two nuts on... and it turns out that those two little nuts caused a big problem.  Once I had *all* of the hardware on and torqued, the crankshaft stuck... pretty bad! I ended up doing a lot of digging, and it turns out that the piece that used to be the prop hub, which still provides a bearing surface, was the problem.

I started by trying different clocking orientations - pulling the hub, heating it up, rotating it slightly, and putting it back on - and I did find one position that was very close to perfect. However, it still had a sticking spot, and when I put a dial indicator on it, I could see why - while the hub was only out of concentric by about .0003, there was a single spot, like a lobe, that was more than a thousandth of an inch high. Now, I have a lathe, but I'm not confident enough in my abilities to do serious engine work. Nevertheless, I'm not willing to pay a machine shop another hundred to polish a single bearing surface into spec. 

So I chucked the crank into the lathe and set up to knock the lobe down with some emery cloth held in my tool holder, so I could just hit the high spot.

Once I thought I'd gotten close, I used some medium and then fine emery cloth to get all of the tooling marks off. Then I pulled the whole thing off the lathe and assembled and torqued the engine to spec again.


Rotates freely. Smooth as can be. I was pretty excited! It's still got contact across the whole bearing, too, so I didn't just turn it down so far it doesn't touch anything. (To give you an idea, I think I took about half a thou off of the bearing before I started with the emery cloth... so really, very long process for a very small amount of material.)

I cleaned the crankshaft up, re-lubed the connecting rods, and started to assemble them. Unfortunately, I can't find my LocTite to save my life. I think I left it in PA when I used it on my landing gear.

Yes, the connecting rods are pointing in wrong directions - that's just so the nuts are easy to get to. I couldn't just leave it all like that, so I went ahead and worked on setting up the distributor assembly. Because of the type of distributor I have, I don't think the orientation of the distributor drive shaft matters in the least. However, just in case I'm wrong, I oriented everything the way the book says to, marked it with red dykem, and put a holding screw in place to keep the distributor aligned correctly. I've gotta get a couple of new screws for that, though... these two are looking pretty buggered up.

I intend to assemble the crankshaft, then install it and the camshaft into the case, along with the correct end play shims on the flywheel, torque the case to spec and check free rotation one more time before the final assembly. If it all checks out, then I'll install the lifters, cam plug, and whatever else I'm forgetting, then put sealant on the case and bolt it all up for good. There's still a lot left to do, but this feels like a big turning point in this whole process.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Landing Gear (part 2)

(Continued from Landing Gear - Part One)

My landing gear legs finally showed up, so I took advantage of the last of the warm weather to get some fiberglassing done. I was pretty excited, since the plane has been sitting on jack stands for quite some time now, and I'm always nervous about it falling off when I'm getting in and out to make airplane noises.

Once I had the gear planed to thickness and edges chamfered, (ScotchPly is really hard on planer blades!) I wrapped a couple of layers of bi-directional cloth infused with epoxy around them, as per the instructions. After that cured, I hot-glued a couple of straws to the backs as a housing for the brake lines.

I mixed up some really thick micro and filled in all around the straws to help the next layers of fiberglass lay smoother.

Once that cured, I sanded it all smooth and wrapped the next layers of fiberglass cloth and epoxy around the back. Nothing to it, really.

The next step was to use some more micro and just squeegee it over the sides of the leg, so I could sand them nice and smooth (without adding much extra weight.) I also used a high-speed rotary tool to open up holes to the straws and sanded everything smooth.

Before I got to the fiberglassing stage, I had gotten the brackets all drilled and prepped. Because of the shape of the brackets, I had to get a little creative with the hole placement for the axles.

The next step was a little scary - the geometry of the axles and landing gear is sort of important, and I only got one shot at drilling holes into the fiberglass legs. I took my time and re-verified a couple times, and I still ended up with one axle not quite pointing the right direction - but I can machine a nice aluminum shim to fix it, since it's off by only a couple degrees. 

Once my holes were all drilled, I mixed up some flox, spread it on the brackets, and bolted the legs to the brackets for good.

While I waited for that to cure, I got my new rims and tires out, packed the bearings with grease, assembled them onto the axles, and the axles onto the brackets. It's starting to look serious now!

As soon as the epoxy showed the slightest indication of curing, I couldn't help but drag the whole assembly out to the garage and bolt it onto the plane. It's not a great picture, and there's a ton of crap in and around the plane, but it still looks a heck of a lot better with landing gear than it did on jack stands!

I haven't been idle with the engine - just frustrated, and lots of work for very slow progress. It was really good to get this out of the way, just to feel like i'm getting *something* done.