We share a deep love of the outdoors, so we usually meet out in the wilderness at a backcountry camp; it is rare that we get together in civilization. However, his faithful Beetle Clementine has been giving him electrical fits. Well, the car anyway.
Clementine and friend
Mark has owned pretty little Clementine since the '90s. She is a clean and quite original 1972 Beetle, and she needs some attention.
Mark tells me he's been chasing an intermittent charging problem: he's already replaced the generator brushes and voltage regulator and checked wiring connections and other tail-chasing, but the generator will not charge. "Time for a new generator", we both agree.
My favorite part of Portland Volks Folks is teaching people how to fix and maintain their VWs themselves. There is no greater satisfaction then seeing the smile and confidence on their face after just a few hours of hands-on instruction. These cars were meant to be maintained, with basic tools no less. They really are remarkable pieces of machinery - to not only last 40 years, but to remain very reliable vehicles for their entirety, with the one caveat of crucial routine maintenance. Skip a couple of 3,000 mile valve adjustments, toast your engine.
Mark has never replaced a generator on a Type 1 engine, and needed my help. "It's a pain in the ass", I tell him, having been in this unfortunate situation numerous times over the years.
Reassured by my words, he offers to hire me for a day of instruction. We amass the necessary parts and cleaners and get on our way.
Original 1600 D/P engine (with Decel still on carb no less)
Replacing a Type 1 generator isn't necessarily difficult, but it is very time consuming. Most of the top end parts must come off, including the thermostat and carburetor. Then the fan shroud needs to be jacked up a couple inches to actually remove the generator and attached fan - it's a very tight fit.
We begin to disassemble the engine. Mark has been wrenching for many years, so he's an easy student.
As I begin to disconnect the generator connections, I notice something peculiar: one of the wires isn't even attached! It is only held in place by the rubber protective boot on the generator terminal. Not only that, but Mark tells me that he has never replaced the generator - meaning, that wire hasn't been attached for almost 20 years...astounding.
I have a photo of the loose wire but Mark won't let me post it
"Let's put it back together and see if that damn light goes off" I suggest, knowing the amount of work ahead of us otherwise. It takes no time at all to replace the generator belt and fresh air hoses. And wouldn't you know it, the generator light does indeed go off.
After dragging me all the way out to Maupin, there is no sense letting a beautiful day go to waste. Cleaning a very sooty carb seems like a good idea, so we spray prodigious amounts of Gumout down the barrel with a running engine. RPMs must be kept up or the engine will stall out, choking on the cleaner. The carb is still sooty after our efforts, so I advise Mark to take it apart to clean and rebuild it at a later date.
Next, with the help of Old Volks Home we obtain Clementine's distributor information so we may time the engine. Most people aren't aware that an engine must be timed according to the specs of the distributor, not by the year of the car. All distributors are stamped with model numbers, so finding the correct timing data is easy with the help of Old Volks Home. Correct timing on an air cooled VW is absolutely critical, making this data very important. We time the engine and adjust the idle, and soon she's running like a top.
"Well, NOW what??" we ask each other, and his dog Zoomer (who rarely zooms).
Appalled at the light desert dust and cobwebs covering an oxidized original paint, I suggest a wash and wax might be in order. So we do, like girls at a church carwash on a sunny Sunday. Well, sort of.
mighty fine, mighty fine indeed
and the faithful girl is ready for another 40 years of service
Way ahead of schedule, the call of the wild is strong. "Well, we COULD camp of course",we argue.
And we do.
Packed with provisions, Mark takes me to his favorite local spot just upstream, with the mighty green Deschutes hurtling noiselessly nearby.
Devils' Canyon? What the hell, this feels like sacred land.
sagebrush with new spring shoots
a campfire is a rare treat in Deschutes Country due to dry season dangers
Clifford (the big red bus) basking in lovely springtime
and the eye of the world closes
Thanks Mark for allowing me to help! You have a lovely little car.
And a wonderful camp to boot.
And then like a flash it's time to go home.
And then like a flash it's time to go home.