Thursday, June 23, 2011

New shoes

I finally ditched the under-rated passenger tires that came with the bus.  I went with General Grabber AT2 27/8.5R14 tires on all four plus the spare.  Adds about 1.5" of lift and helps lower my cruising rpms just slightly.  Busaru now has a nice rugged stance in my opinion.  I also added coil over shocks to the rear, which helped out the slit butt drag present before. 

I was prepared for more road noise due to the tread pattern and all terrain ratings, but I am honestly surprised and quite pleased with how quite these tires are!  I'm toatlly satisfied on all accounts with the purchase of these tires.  Highly recommended.

Engine and accessories

Just thought I'd show a few pictures of the final engine set up, the control board and my Scan Guage set up.

Oh sweet Subaru.  It looks so native to the engine bay.

My junk yard find K&N filter.  Looks pretty good in there as well!

The control board and all the goodies...

And my Scan Guage, which allows me to monitor multiple sensors all from one unit, and allows me to detect trouble codes and clear them as well.  All from the OBDII connector.  Love it!

Rammat, insolite, and reflectix

My next project with Busaru has been to install Rammat and insolite, along with Reflectix and r-15 insulation.  I pulled the entire interior out and proceeded to install Rammat and insolite.  I also used Great Stuff expanding foam in some of the interior cavities.  I was paranoid about potential water spots and so used it only in areas that I was confident would never see water.  It was a very tedious and time consuming job, stealing quite a few evenings that I could have been drinking beer and watching "So You Think You Can Dance."  Just kidding.  I'll let the pictures tell the story once again:

The pic below is actually of my ECU and all of the fans, fuel pump and main relays for the Subaru.  I also have a dual battery isolator from Small Car installed to control my auxiliary battery charge (the thing in the top left of the board).  the control board mounts vertically on the inside of the closet back wall and the wires run through a hole cut in the wheel well.  Just thought I'd show it...

Reflectix going down on top of the insolite...

We are trying out vynal sticky strips that look like bamboo.  I wanted to find a solid piece of laminate but we ended up with these instead.  I am curious to see how well they hold up.

Utility carpet going in.  Some spray adhesive keeps it tight.

Interior going back in.  Kind of a pain to get the bolt and screw holes to all realign!  Lots of fussing.

This is my favorite sticker (the white one).  Look close and pay attention (if you have an attention span...uh, I'm sorry.  What? :-))

"No one can take thr place of Bob."

Details of radiator system and lines

In this post I have tried to capture pictures of the radiator support system as well as good shorts of the Stainless Steel lines to and from the engine-radiator.  Here goes:

In the photo above, you can see a bit of how the radiator support was constructed.  Angle iron constituted the main structure from frame rail to frame rail for the the front and the back of the system.  Small holes were drilled in for increased airflow.  At the end of the angle iron, you can see another small piece of angle iron welded on with a drilled bolt hole to attach the system to the frame of the VW.  The entire system is secured with four grade 8 bolts and nyloc nuts.

Front to back on the left and right of the system is yet another run of angle iron.  This is welded to the angle iron that runs from frame rail to frame rail.  Three holes were drilled per side to mount the radiator then to the front to rear angle iron as seen below.  notice in the picture above, a rubber pad separates the radiator from direct contact with the angle iron to help dampen some of the vibrations and torque of the unibody of the bus.

Once the side to side and front to rear angle iron was measured, cut, and welded into a square structure, the next step was to take some sheet metal and cut to size to fit the square structure.  It was welded on to the bottom of the structure and 2.5" holes were drilled into the sheet metal (5 holes left to right and 5 holes front to back) to allow air to flow from the top of the system down through the radiator (or to be pushed by the 2 14" pusher fans) and out.  Fine grade wire mesh from a farm and ranch store was then liquid nailed inside the sheet metal to prevent gravel and rocks and twigs, etc to make contact and possibly damage the radiator itself.   This system allows the whole radiator system to be dropped as one unit by removing four bolts (and of course draining coolant and disconnecting the two hoses). 

Also notice there is no air scoop or boxing of the radiator cavity along the side rails or back space. It simply sits there as is. 

The next picture attempts to show the space between the top of the low profile fan and the floor of the bus; still a decent amount of space.  I'll also point out that the rear of the radiator system sits higher in the belly of the floor pan and drops approximately .5" in the front.  This allows coolant to drain from the front facing petcock in a controlled and easy manner.  Point is the space between the top of the fans and the floor of the bus is greater in the front; and this picture is taken from the rear most vantage point...

The following pictures are shots of the custom stainless steel lines and support mounts that span the distance between the engine and the radiator.  Sorry, they aren't in any order and you'll have to do some detective work to determine driver side and passenger side.  I'll let the picture do the talking:

The picture below is how I control the fans.  I did not build the fan system into the Subaru ECU, which controls fans based on both temp and speed.  My fans are simply controlled by a thermo switch (210*) placed in a coupler T immediately after the coolant manifold exit.  So far based on watching my Scan Gauge, which reports coolant temps via the temp sensor as reported through the ECU, the fans seem to kick on at 206* and run until about 196*.  

The following pictures are how I plumped the thermostat.  You'll notice Tom Shiel's adaptor, which will allow me to set up a heating system without affecting the thermostat by reading luke warm coolant.  

You can see the radiator return line at the bottom.  The hose attached to Tom's adaptor is from the pressure tank, which is feed coolant from one of the stainless pipe runs immediately following the coolant manifold exit and fan thermoswitch.  That way, hot coolant is run from the manifold, through the thermoswitch and the takes two paths: one to the radiator and one to the pressure tank, where it is then routed down to the thermostat adaptor.

The top hose you see is the original Subaru heater return line.  Currently, I have the rear of the coolant manifold (i.e. the heater supply) simply connected via a short hose to the return pipe (just a big u-bend).  Once I am ready to set up my heater cores, I will run the entire system from the original heater supply and heater return pipes as a separate and complete system; no negative effect to the coolant temperature controlling the thermostat!


One word of caution regarding the Tom Shiel's adaptor: I actually had to shave down the adapter in the area where is is closest to the oil dip stick tube.  The adapted made contact with the oil dip stick tube and I was not able to get a solid seal around the thermostat housing.  A Drimmel tool and 10 minutes and I was in business, but not before I put a gallon of coolant in only to realize the problem as the gallon of coolant spread across my garage floor. Just something to be aware of (don't know if this is a common problem or a "my" problem).

Rear Engine Support Bar Details

It's been awhile since I've posted and have quite a few pics to upload to cover details of the build.  The bus is on the road and driving!  I've been using it to commute to work and back, we've taken a 150 mile day trip loaded with kids and dog, and have done a lot more work beyond the conversion since the last post.

First up though, I want to provide some detailed pictures of the rear support bar.  I tired to create my own version and quickly realized my effort was not very good.  I had Dan Coy of Coy's Customs in Longmont Colorado rebuild the bar and his design is simple and clean. 

I started with a Vanagon cross bar and ground off the hanger supports and then shortened the bar to span the frame rails. 


Dan did a better job:

First, he added a plate the is welded to the end of the bar and extends toward the front of the bus along the outside of the frame rails.  The bolt holes actually align with the bunged bolt holes for the original VW crossbar hangers.  No fuss, no muss. 

On the inside of the frame rails, he added a simple plate to reinforce the hanger and provide a bit more structural support.  The rear bar doesn't actually support the weight of the engine, it provides support for torque and rotation.  The Vanagon bar of course mounts perfectly to the Small Car engine carrier with stock Vanagon rubber mounts.  Clean, simple, and effective.

In the photo above, you can just barely make out the steel plate on the inside of the framerail with the two bolts that pass through the stock VW hanger bolt holes as well as a horizontal tab that bridges the bar and the plate on the outside of the frame rail (creates yet more rigidity).