Fun in the Sun

Just a brief tinkering session on Herman today. There’s not really much else major I can be getting on with, until I get some sheet steel and a bit of welding practice under my belt - and then I’ll patch up the holes in his floor, so we can start panelling him out. It was such a lovely day tho’, that I just wanted to get out of the house for an hour or so - especially since it’s back to work tomorrow, after my two weeks off for Easter!

Anyway, just in passing let me mention that the panelling [and more importantly insulation] is going to need doing ASAP and deffo before Herman does any serious summer camping expeditions. When I got in the back today, it was like a fucking sauna. That black paint really absorbs the sun! [and I expect it’ll be equally adept at sucking in the icy cold in the winter]

However, I digress. Today was mainly about pootering around and enjoying a bit of sunshine.

The first job I decided to do was straighten Herman’s steering wheel. After the work I did before on the steering column, I just made sure the front wheels were pointed straight ahead and put the steering wheel back on in the proper position and assumed that was all there was to it. However, it’s not as simple as that. Apparently, the steering box can get ‘wound up’ [or words to that effect] if you’ve done a lot of recent tight turns [such as reversing into a tiny parking space for instance!] and, even if you turn the wheels straight again this does not ‘unwind’ the steering straight away. You need to drive in a straight line for a fair distance to ‘clear the custard’.

I discovered this to my annoyance when we went to Anglesey last week. When I was driving Herman in a straight line, the steering wheel was turned at almost exactly 90º, so that the ‘spoke’, which should be horizontal, was vertical, and obscuring my view of the dials. I had to keek* round the wheel to see them.

[keek in the Irish sense of peeping round a corner - not the Irish sense of having a shit!]

So today I took Herman out on the straightest piece of road I could find near me and ran him up and down a couple of times to ‘unwind’ the steering. Then slid him [at as shallow an angle as possible, so as not to turn the wheels any more] into the side of the road and, with hazard lights blinking, took off his steering wheel and put it back on straight again. People passing by must have thought I was the most blatant or most inept car thief ever, as I sat there in broad daylight, at the side of the road, with the engine running, my hazard lights on unbolting the steering wheel of a giant black van.

Aha! -that's were the gauges were hiding!
Aha! -that's were the gauges were hiding!

Anyway, it’s a lot better now. If I was being anal about it, it’s still just annoyingly very slightly off the horizontal, but at least I can see my dials and gauges while driving now!

When I got back home, I attended to another small but niggling job; the windscreen washer on my side is loose and also at the wrong angle - it only squirts a couple of inches up the glass. I took it off, cleaned behind it and Araldited it back in position. Then when the glue had dried I used a pin stuck in its ‘pee-hole’ to adjust the aim of the jet, so that it now hits the top of the glass instead of pathetically dribbling along the bottom. Not only will I am able to see my gauges when I’m driving. From now on I’ll be able to see through the windscreen as well!

Pathetic dribbler - and my van's windscreen washers need adjusting too!
Pathetic dribbler - and my van's windscreen washers need adjusting too!

I then did a couple of other minor twiddles, tightening up the winders for the door windows, which were a bit loose. Unfortunately, I didnae record this thrilling repair for posterity, so you’ll have to use every ounce of your imagination to summon up the mental image of ‘Me’, ‘tightening’ a ‘screw’ with a ‘screwdriver’.. exciting stuff!

Next up I decided to have a crawl around underneath. I bought a big tub of VACTAN rust cure a couple of weeks ago and I thought I might give some of the side panels underneath a quick going over with that. [as you’ll know from previous episodes, some of the side panels are suffering a bit from the oul’ ‘tin worm’]. I wire-brushed down a bit of one of the side panels and painted it up with the VACTAN and then, while I was under there, I idly started wire-brushing the crud off one of the chassis cross-members beside me. The chassis is actually in really good nick, for the age of the van, but I thought I might find another bit of surface rust to vent my chemical spleen upon, while I still had a bit of VACTAN left in my yoghurt pot.

When I brushed down the cross-member tho’ I was in for a surprise - and a pleasant one for a change! - there was barely a dot of rust on the thing. In fact, underneath the layers of dirt, the cross-member looked practically new. Either it has been galvanised at some point [it has that galvanised looking grey-silver colour about it] - or the VW people know a thing or two when it comes to mixing up a rust resistant underseal.

Methinks I shall have to ask the chaps down the Brickyard and see if anyone can shed any light on that one.

Typical chassis cross-member. Covered in muck and likely pretty rusty too - right?
Typical chassis cross-member. Covered in muck and likely pretty rusty too - right?
Not so! - after a quick wire-brushing it looks like it's only just left the factory.
Not so! - after a quick wire-brushing it looks like it's only just left the factory.

That’s yer lot for today!