Saturday, January 12, 2019

Special visit from Ron Fleming to Adelaide 2018

Late 2018, I was advised that Ron Fleming would be in Adelaide to see the sights and sounds of this wonderful city. I had met Ron a couple of times previously in the USA and Germany, and as Ron was staying with a mate of mine here who is assembling a VW drag car, it seemed the right thing to do to offer my hand out to show Ron dinner (on my birthday with my wife no less) and my pair of air cooled VW's currently in the garage while he was in town. And perhaps sign an original magnesium BRM as well.

Here we are behind the black 1500 in front of the signed FAT shirt I bought back a few years back while in California. I think Ron was a bit surprised to see it. He also liked the Berg shirt signed by Gene and Gary Berg under glass too.

Wearing my finest worn out DKP shirt with grease on it and welding holes no less! Who gives a toss.

We had a good chat about an engine currently under construction here in Adelaide based around a brand new 2-piece ARPM case bought back in the day by our friend Andrew. Roller lifter cam modifications have me excited. More than that I cannot elaborate yet...

Here we are in Adelaide after eating way too much decent French food and requiring a lay down! Sam the plumber pulled out the keys to his bug and took Ron home after dinner and didn't manage to hurt him so Sam is in the good books although seat belts were mentioned (!).

Thanks for heading over Ron and sharing your input and wisdom on a number of issues. It was rewarding to hear some of the insights into the early days of the scene I am so keen to be involved with and I hope you enjoyed seeing both my black and green VW's while here. See you in Germany 2019 at Bad Camberg.

Monday, January 7, 2019

2019 & another SPG crankshaft

Welcome to 2019.

Just before the new year began I found another SPG roller crank, this time it's an 82mm pinned unit with minor wear to the main journals and unused for many years.

As you may be aware (and contrary to a lot of folk who think SPG crank's are crap) I think they are fine if you use your brain and look after them. Yes, my 1602cc engine in the notchback right now has an NOS 74mm SPG roller I swapped 60 x semaphores for about 20 years ago! To be honest I did put 1000 km on the crankshaft as soon as I got it to see what it was all about and it is very impressive.

So why does the SPG come in for such a flogging? I think it's a little harsh to say these crankshafts are crap when the EMPI Inch Pincher (among other race VW's) was setting records with them back in the day. Very quickly, people worked out that due to the construction of the cranks (non splined joints), they did require pinning (look at the top photo to see evidence of this) to reduce the likelihood of the crankshaft from twisting when dropping the clutch at ridiculous RPM's and coupled to sticky rubber. Of course that was going to screw them up! It's a no brainer.

The other thing which does not bode well for them I am told (and I do agree) is that they do like to sit at reasonably high RPM's and not to idle them for prolonged periods of time which can kill the rod bearings. Why? It's all to do with the big end bearings and their oiling. Unlike a regular drilled crankshaft with passage ways from the mains to the big end journals providing pressurised oil, the SPG has no passages due to the pressed construction and relies on altered main bearings which have essentially slots cut (filed / milled) into them to enable oil to squirt out the side of the main journals into holes drilled on the cheeks (see the image above) of the crankshaft thus oiling the big end bearings (roller bearings) by a 'mist'. Yeah I think it's a bit crap and not ideal but it does work OK. I will keep the RPM's up and not race the notchback so it's no big deal.

So this 82mm SPG crankshaft - I saw it advertised locally and made inquiries. I am lead to believe this was originally bought back in the 1970's by a chap that taught me how to screw around with VW engines back in the late 1980's when I was young and stupid (I am now older and stupid).
Anyway, he bought it new, didn't do much with it and then it got sold to a well known chap here in Adelaide whom I believe did use it in a limited manner and then it went through another chap to the chap I bought it from just now. I am awaiting clarity around that story from the original purchaser but it seems I am correct and can trace it's history (my old boss from back then agreed it was correct). If so, it is cool to own another piece of Adelaide VW performance from back then and know it hasn't been overly abused.

What are my plans for it? Well nothing 100% at this stage except I have measured up the main journals and they are on the outer end of wear for standard journal dimensions which is a little sad so with that I took it to my crankshaft grinder man - Jim - who agreed to grind the main journals to suit a set of new main bearings (0.25mm) which I have now just received from Vintage Vee-Dub Supplies (
I have a brand new AS-41 case tucked away for just such an engine I had in mind for something like this as well as a set of NOS 90mm (no, not 90.5mm) NPR 'B' pistons and cylinders from the 1970's that were originally bought with a new Okrasa crankshaft back then. I have a number of other engine parts (as you may imagine) to go with all this and will begin the hunt for additional period correct items so the engine is 100% 1970's themed and visually correct.
The engine will not be installed in anything at this stage or even assembled but all measured up, machined, checked and boxed as a complete pile of boxes until I work out where it will go.

And in case your wondering about grinding a crankshaft like this - Jim the crankshaft man has ground one other SPG many years ago (also 0.25mm) the same way. You tie the rods together via piston pins (as per the images above) and then run a cable tie through the pins to hold them solid and not flap around. Simple as can be. And while on the subject of the rods, nobody can feel any 'wear' in the rod bearings so while this is not the way I like to do things (no measurement what so ever), I have always been of the belief that if you can feel wear in a bearing, the bearing is screwed and in this case I think I am in the clear with the rod bearings. A gamble of sorts but not the end of the world if it turns out that a bearing is naff as I can always slip a conventional 82mm crankshaft in there fairly quickly should that prove to be the case. I have swapped crankshafts out in air cooled engines previously over night in my youth so I couldn't care less to be honest! 

Fortune favors the brave as they say.

Some Notchback updates very shortly as the car nears the headlining stage and final assembly.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

LIGHT MOTORS foil sticker update

Huge credit to Chris Anderson ( for recreating the LIGHT MOTORS PTY LTD foil dealer dash sticker reproduction for my car.

The correct colour for your car as delivered by LIGHT MOTORS PTY LTD here in Adelaide is dependent on the sticker it came with - there was no hard and fast rule by the looks of it. All of them look fine (light blue, medium blue or black) and all are OK.

As you can see below, the reproduction and the original are almost 100% identical.
If anything, the new one is more accurately laid out as you might expect and the corners are nicely cut.

The rear window water slide decal for LIGHT MOTORS will be the next candidate to finish my car off and may prove to be a bit more difficult than I initially thought.

* UPDATE January 2019 * these foil stickers are all now SOLD. Contact Chris Anderson on the above URL if you require any of these for your Adelaide delivered VW please.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Another Dinky #144 VW Notchback

Another Dinky #144 VW Notchback found it's way to me plus the Corgi German Police bug which is a model I have been looking for, for some time.

This is about the scale of the VW toy collection now as I only collect 1960's models by Dinky and Corgi primarily from that period of time. The African safari bug and the Type 2 tow truck would be good models to find next.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

M265 & Ron Fleming

I was told a few months back that Ron Fleming from FAT Performance was heading to Adelaide. Fantastic. I had met Ron a couple of times previously including just last year in Germany so it got me thinking that a few of us should make the effort and welcome him to Adelaide.
While it might not be much of an effort on the face of it, my black VW has not been on the road since 2005 and even that was in a limited capacity so I have been working on this VW for some time now to rectify annoying things on it such as the pedal assembly and air filters. Small nonsense that was never 'right' from back in 2001 when it was completed.

Here is the black VW wheeled outside. I rolled both the black and green VW's outside to swap their positions in the 'car house' and to enable the black car to be driven if I so desired (or intend).

Now sitting on the CNC BRM's. Looks a billion times better than the Flat-4 replicas but unfortunately the cost of this exercise was borderline insane. Never-the-less I am a results driven person so I am very pleased with the results.

The 1965 366, the 1964 312 and the 1990 MK2 GTI enjoying the Adelaide sunshine.

Back in the car house. The pedal assembly is now almost how I want it with replaced throttle shaft in the pedal assembly and a carburetor style linkage (rose joints) now connect the throttle pedal to the throttle shaft (formerly the standard 1965 VW-1500 set up of the roller with the pedal not exactly rolling down on it). Air filters are now in situ too. Next step will be a ECU swap out and crank trigger ignition to replace the MSD ignition 100% once and for all with coil on plug. Fly by wire would also be worth considering too but unsure on that right now.

Anyway, all that aside, I am looking forward to seeing Ron again at German Auto later this November. If you are in Adelaide, head there the day before the VW show.

Corgi & Dinky resto's

I have a very small collection of VW models these days because I came to the realisation I could restore proper full size cars for the money 'invested' in small models. So while I don't specifically collect any models on purpose, I do have a small bunch of 1/43 Minichamps of interest as well as older (1960's primarily) models such as the Dinky and Corgi models shown below.

As you can see I have 3 of the Dinky #144 notchback's in white with two being excellent and one being a bit play worn. In the background are models left to me by my grandfather - the 1600 fastback and Corgi T34 in red were bought by Len brand new back in the day. The white Corgi T34 is a model I found at a swap-meet a few years ago and have recently fitted repro tyres to it. The Corvair is another Corgi model I found this year at the toy swap meet in Wayville, SA.

The gold Corgi T34 is a model I have just finished the restoration of. It was originally a very bad play worn red model with no paint or tyres. I had it wet blasted back to bare cast and then primed and sprayed it in gold as that was kinda a colour you could get them in back then. Not 100% correct but it looks fine now. The primer white Dinky notchback was in very bad shape and also had no paint or tyres as well as having the front hood missing. I bought a repro hood from the UK, wet blasted the body and chassis, POR-15 painted the chassis, primed the body and had some bronze paint mixed up to replicate the original bronze that these came in back in the day. The bronze didn't work out exactly as expected but looks OK for a model that was worth perhaps $1 previously.

I have since detailed both models with silver on the bumpers and headlights etc.

Not too bad an outcome for these two worn out models.

Here is the bronze Dinky #144 next to an original paint version.

The tyres seem huge in this image but they are the original size.

Details details details

It's been a while and if you know what rubbish my wife and I have had to put up with, you will understand the lack of updates!

First off, long story short, as many of my peers are aware around the world, the South Australian Government have decided that they require our Croydon Park property that we had only just purchased during February 2017. This has put us back about 2 years in our ability to retire so.... anyway, it's now in the hands of the legal professionals and I trust that the outcome isn't just a legal outcome, but an outcome commensurate with the effects of our displacement and 2 years of efforts. You may hear more about this soon and I won't commit a whole lot to here until its resolved unless there is a gag order involved too.
Those of you that know me can discuss directly with me!

So now we are back at Modbury Heights for the time being and I have been busy working on the notchback again in an effort to finish it off before we embark yet again on moving out of the area to somewhere else. Finishing the notchback will also enable the garage of the future to be somewhat smaller perhaps so there is method to the madness (doubtful I will get 146m2 approved again like at Croydon Park).

As can be seen, I have refit the rear insulation panels (original to the car) back in behind the back seat and it looks fantastic already. I need to make up some more insulation to cover the wheel wells as per original next and then the headliner can be fit and of course the rear seats and side paneling re-installed. I will show the seats perhaps in the next update (all redone as per original and looking fantastic).

The rear badge work is now installed too. The VOLKSWAGEN and 1500 badges are the original's to this car and were perfect when removed. I refit them with perfect clips and rubber buffers so it remains as it was. The housing and 'S' chrome emblem are NOS items as well as the lens and rubber. A very impressive bit of jewelry if I don't mind saying.

The front VW emblem and 'S' hood trim is now back on the car. The VW emblem is actually a NOS item because the old one had a weird dent in it. The hood trim is the original to the car and now installed with an NOS velvet green seal and original fasteners. The number plate is the original 1965 issued South Australian item and is fabricated of aluminium over steel which is correct for that period of time here. The paint is original and while the white number paint has lifted off in some area's, I don't see the point in repainting it as it's part of this car's history. The bracket and fixings underneath are the original items and re-plated.

I got around to reinstalling the NOS Abarth muffler recently too. This was a complete headache and didn't want to align as well as it should for what ever reason. After about 4 hours it was completed however and I used all original clamps and fasteners where appropriate. Bumpers need to be installed to appreciate the Abarth twin tips I think. Right now it looks out of proportion.

The ID plate is now back in place with alloy rivets.

These images show something I was quite pleased to find NOS from Josh in the USA - the brown horn earth cable from the top of the beam to the steering box. Correct and looking good. Amazing how dusty things are! I will need to give the car a complete detail before anyone gets to see it obviously.

The brake fluid bottle is installed now with correct screw thanks to Frank. Need to find a good quality cap. The repro items are garbage and the original one on this car was cracked.

Washer bottle and details look almost spot on from here.

And for now, this is the original jack back in place. I decided to keep it as is and not restored.
Next major update should have all 4 x fenders installed with the NOS velvet green beading's and that then leads onto the headlights, tail lights, indicators, side markers, antenna, side trim, reflectors and what ever else I can install (and thus remove the parts from the shelves). I must send the bumpers off for work too. Mario has the NOS over riders for me and the NOS brackets are in black paint ready to accept it all. Not far off now from resembling a complete car once again.

Special visit from Ron Fleming to Adelaide 2018

Late 2018, I was advised that Ron Fleming would be in Adelaide to see the sights and sounds of this wonderful city. I had met Ron a couple ...