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NebulaicToaster

"Birtha"- 1989 mk2 for a European Road Trip

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NebulaicToaster

So I bought Birtha from a guy in Surrey without seeing her for very little. All I had to go on were a couple of videos and a phone call. After getting her trailered to Wiltshire I embarked on the long process of restoring her. The plan is to drive her from England to Portugal and back in April and May this year. I had very limited mechanical knowledge starting off (beyond working on tractors) so with my Hayne's manual and a lot of help from the forums (especially @dvderlm, with the pesky pierburg) I set out to get her running.

 

She arrived in Wiltshire not running and missing plates but chock full of spare parts (some of which have been useful). Cosmetically there was some rust on the sills, a ding on the front from hitting a bollard and a very "patina" roof.

A first look

 

My mate had a mk2f in his shed which he used to keep sheep feed in until the rats got to it so I figured I would have a fair number of spare parts to hand. This was a little naiive I admit.

The previous owner said it didn't need much work, just a manual choke fitting because the auto on the pierburg was broken. While the autochoke may have been duff, the main problem was that the base gasket was leaking air like a sieve. 

 

My first cry for help to the forum: 

 

After fitting a new base mount (to date I've managed to get three duff units, though I didn't know at the time. The threading sheared out of the rubber twice. The threads on the original bolts and the ones off a scrap car were a different size to the new mounts so in the end I managed to source some m6x100mm bolts which fit perfectly) I spotted a cheap manual choke pierburg on ebay I could skim a choke fitting from. When it arrived it was in much better nick than my pierburg so I decided to redo the gaskets on that one and put it in. This was a mistake, my lack of knowledge at the time caused a few wild goose chases down the road.

 

I parked up the car for a month while I went on a trip. Out in SA I saw a few cars in worse shape which bolstered my confidence a little:

 

IMG_20171007_151158.thumb.jpg.ee29e53147219aa578c55f423d9ca392.jpg

 

When I got back I did a bit more investigating with the car, she was idling now but there was an oil leak somewhere. Initially I thought it was the sump gasket but getting the torch out showed some very poor easygasket spreading on the front right side of the block. The head gasket was leaking. I decided it would be both wise and a good learning experience to sort this out properly. I resolved to replace the head gasket.

My second help thread:

 

I was very paranoid about messing up the timing but with all your help I didn't mess it up too badly. I decided to do the water pump and belts too. This proved to make the job twice as hard because of the pesky plastic back cover. I couldn't for the life of me work out how to get the cover off so I took to it with the hacksaw. It's now much easier to get at the belt and mostly covered up. 

A mate of my dad's runs a head reconditioning shop and did a full skim and rebuild for a couple of bottles (I tried to pay him but he wouldn't take it!). It came back absolutely spotless:

IMG_20171217_172747.jpg.aff1f5352227b2e1dbbaba317124f89d.jpg25593521_1713716372014459_1349816151_n.jpg.c47160bef03ddbfa953882d763fb414a.jpg

 

 

Managed to get it all back together, timed up (timing gun is my favourite toy, second only to colourtune) and idling (though still a bit high). After doing the discs, pads, ARB mounts, TCAs and rear wheel bearings I felt sure we were nearly ready to go. But then she sprung a leak. The radiator bottom hose had split. After another parts wild goose chase I replaced the hose with a flexi and all the jubilee clips someone had put on with new spring clips. I felt a little silly when I found a replacement bottom hose in one of the bags of parts the previous owner had left for me (it wasn't with the other hoses though :| ). I also replaced the thermostat housing and thermostat (which was non-existent when I opened it up, a clear red flag for head gasket going!)

All leaks unsprung I thought we were good so I sanded down the horrible patina on the roof and painted it with (don't crucify me) Hammerite Wild Thyme:

IMG_20180214_091928.thumb.jpg.0cdf23f0a5260a6e93342073c9788ab1.jpg

I also did the wheels in some metallic blue I had knocking about.

 

Anyway after driving her a bit I started getting coil problems:

So I swapped it out, though it turned out to be the hall sender arcing, so I swapped that out for another dizzy I had about. She drove well for a while, we went all the way to Wells, then to Wales!

Birtha looked a bit ridiculous with a roof rack (also 4 up with a full rack and a dog caused the back wheels to rub so we had to go in 2 cars):

received_1776685345717561.thumb.jpg.ced2c154fb4cfdca8e82cee788136e7d.jpg

It developed a problem about half way to wales, idling out of gear caused the motor to cut out. Not good but I had to nurse her back to Wiltshire like that.

This was quite the saga. She broke down for ten minutes 5 miles from home, but I got her in. It turned out another carb bolt had sheared the thread out of the base rubber because the original bolts had different threads to the threads in the rubber. I was driving using the engine vacuum to keep the carb sucked down. Risky. I got a replacement and some new bolts. They went on perfectly and the seal was solid. I thought that solved the problem so I headed off to work. She wouldn't start at work for a bit but I managed to get it going and nurse it home all the way until the big hill with a junction at the top. At which point the car in front decided to stop and I stalled. She wouldn't start at all so I had to call the AA. While waiting it not only started to snow but the police stopped by and helped me push birtha up onto the flat. Big up the wiltshire feds:

IMG_20180227_164439.thumb.jpg.c95d9212ef4bf9a2dcb3a0b13769b336.jpg

Sadly the pub was no longer in service so I could only offer a handshake. Mr AA turned up and promptly turned my fuel filter around and chucked a load of grime into the carb. @dvderlm suggested it might be a blocked part load enrichment.

Turns out that at some point in servicing the carb I had replaced the gasket on the #13 plate spring bit:

1b3partthrottle.PNG.9780720577fa3abf6b6d82a88857fad0.PNG 

And not put it back on the pin properly. The nub was rattling around in the cavity, blocking the hole when on a hill causing the car not to start. I cleaned the whole carb, replaced the fuel filter and replaced the low load enrichment unit as a whole from the old carb. The car drives perfectly now. 

 

We head off down to Portugal in April. Very excited. Stay tuned for nice pics and more updates. Cheers for all the help. You guys were ACE

 

 

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dvderlm

That's great news and nice write-up. Looking forward to the pics.

What spares are you going pack?

How far down Portugal? Obidos and Batalha are worth a detour. Was in Batalha when Portugal won footy world cup.. it was crazy!

 

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NebulaicToaster

Birtha, my brother, and I set off for the Alps on Friday (the good Friday traffic was awful in the tunnel) for the first part of the trip. After an overnight stop in Dijon we made it up into the mountains by Saturday afternoon! 

700 miles of nearly faultless driving, only breakdown was 20km from the end. I'd put in some E10 and having been warned that the ethanol sometimes acts as a solvent and breaks up the gunk in the tank i was not too worried when the car stalled at idle a couple of times. We pulled off the "motorway" (they're really just dual carriageways over here) a quick blast through with cleaner and compressed air fixed it. 

 

I had a go at fixing the gear linkage before I left because the stick was very wandering. Never found the correct size shift finger, mine is the older four speed, so did the "stick it in a vice" and degrease trick. It's worked a charm. It took me a while to work out the gear selection putting it back together but it's great now. 

 

Speaking of shifting, the only other potential problem I've uncovered is a slight knocking when the clutch is in and the shifter is in 1st when idling at a standstill. Any ideas what that could be, it's intermittent I think and seems to happen after driving a long time. Otherwise the rattles and clunks of the road have me plenty paranoid, but I'm sort of resigned to the fact that it's an old car and it's going to resonate and rattle at certain speeds.

 

Onwards through France over the next few weeks then down to the very bottom of Portugal! (My browser isn't letting me upload pics :( )

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dvderlm

Enjoy the trip. Glad the compressed air is working!

Is the knock with clutch pedal to floor. Clutch release bearing worn? Quiet in neutral?

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NebulaicToaster
2 hours ago, dvderlm said:

Enjoy the trip. Glad the compressed air is working!

Is the knock with clutch pedal to floor. Clutch release bearing worn? Quiet in neutral?

 

Knock with clutch to floor fine in neutral. Is there anything I can do on the road without an engine lift/proper jack, or do you think it'll make it the trip if I'm careful

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steveo3002

not much you can do ...check the oil level and c.v joints are tight

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NebulaicToaster
9 minutes ago, steveo3002 said:

not much you can do ...check the oil level and c.v joints are tight

Engine oil or gearbox?

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dvderlm

Gearbox oil. Truly hard to check without ramps, axle stands. Not a "widow maker"  tyre change jack.

 

17mm hex key opens fill port (on back of box?)  and the level is right when it nearly overflows and car is level, so lifting at front makes gearbox not level.

A wheel bolt will fit if you can get two 17mm nuts to lock together 

I find filling needs a tube and a funnel.

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NebulaicToaster

Birtha has made it 1500 miles! After making it to the Alps and doing some skiing we headed down through the Italian Alps to Turin. I highly recommend the Automobile Museum, it's bloody great. We then pootled to the northern Italian coast and are now jetting around the volcanic region of France. It's been a blast! So far the gear knocking has stopped too, though I will be putting some more gear oil in later to make sure.

Here are some pics from the journey so far:

IMG-20180411-WA0005.thumb.jpg.5cacdc1304721d0a14e5243ae5384c61.jpgIMG-20180411-WA0006.thumb.jpg.7ede8f9beccdedfe1af14973f1bc83e3.jpgIMG-20180411-WA0003.thumb.jpg.eca382cdebd837ad1e2acf4b0e4b99c7.jpgIMG-20180411-WA0007.jpg.dd78d8c3ba53d51eeacd5da2879bdeab.jpgIMG-20180411-WA0016.thumb.jpg.ea7ffaad025f49023dbb758b92951fc8.jpg

 

in terms of current faults, the idle has dropped by about 50rpm since leaving altitude peculiarly. The only other thing is a light rattle at 20-40mph coming from the wheels, it happens in or out of gear and stops if you touch the brakes. I think it could be loose or missing caliper clips? Any other common causes of such tapping, it changes with speed 

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steveo3002

yeah does sound like pads rattling ...if you have the spanners make sure the calipers /wheel bolts are tight though

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NebulaicToaster
15 hours ago, steveo3002 said:

yeah does sound like pads rattling ...if you have the spanners make sure the calipers /wheel bolts are tight though

Had a look and one clip is missing. Anyone know if the clips have a proper name because I couldn't find them with a search on eBay. The part number on oemepc I've found is 191615270A but for a set of four they seem pretty pricey.

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NebulaicToaster

Birtha and I have made it to the bottom of Portugal! 3000 miles later, no problems. The pad rattle was an easy fix once I had the part. The pierburg seems much happier in the heat, though she's sometimes hard to get started once hot. I have to use the choke to get high idle on the knuckle thing for about 5 seconds before dropping it back. 

 

It's interesting how altitude has changed the idle speed. In the Alps it was about 640, down here it's 720rpm. 

 

I'll be doing the drive back all in one go at the end of May. Hopefully she keeps up the reliability. Thanks for all your help. 

 

Lots of interesting cars down here, only seen 1 other breadvan. A few big body American cars flown in from south America. Lots of old Volvo's in sheds. Everyone here drives rovers and Vauxhalls from the 80s it's hilarious. Next time I'm doing this trip in a car that has cruise control or doesn't sound like a wind tunnel at 75mph. Any suggestions?

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dvderlm

Yeah, less oxygen high up there.  I've seen an altitude compensation chart - might be for motorbikes. Found it Mikuni.

http://www.iwt.com.au/mikunicarb.htm

 

correction.gif

Bring back a Rover SD1, if you can bear to swap it for Birtha.

http://www.vintagemodelairplane.com/pages/Downloads/Rover_PDFs/HellaCruise01.pdf

Edited by dvderlm
  • Haha 1

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MartinB

Great pics! 35mm?

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NebulaicToaster
22 minutes ago, MartinB said:

Great pics! 35mm?

Yeah, my brother brought a fancy camera for his part of the journey. Got some lovely pics. I've been carrying a little mini dvd camcorder for the whole trip so I'll try and edit together a little film of the Polo for you all to see.

 

I'm driving back from Portugal starting tomorrow, no passenger but loaded up with all sorts. Hopefully Birtha does as well on the way home as she has done coming down. Wish me luck!

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NebulaicToaster
On 09/05/2018 at 21:38, dvderlm said:

Yeah, less oxygen high up there.  I've seen an altitude compensation chart - might be for motorbikes. Found it Mikuni.

http://www.iwt.com.au/mikunicarb.htm

 

correction.gif

Bring back a Rover SD1, if you can bear to swap it for Birtha.

http://www.vintagemodelairplane.com/pages/Downloads/Rover_PDFs/HellaCruise01.pdf

I love the look of the SD1, it's like a British Ferrari Daytona! Sadly I missed out on a barn find sd1 just up the road from where I live at home, went for £300 !!

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MartinB
1 hour ago, NebulaicToaster said:

Yeah, my brother brought a fancy camera for his part of the journey. Got some lovely pics. I've been carrying a little mini dvd camcorder for the whole trip so I'll try and edit together a little film of the Polo for you all to see.

 

I'm driving back from Portugal starting tomorrow, no passenger but loaded up with all sorts. Hopefully Birtha does as well on the way home as she has done coming down. Wish me luck!

Good luck dude. Drive safe!

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NebulaicToaster

1000 miles later I'm 2/3 home. No engine troubles so far. Weirdly my rear wiper has suddenly decided to start working... I discovered that the rear hatch is not original when trying to diagnose the wiper, turns out the cables had just been cut. I soldered them back on but the wiper hasn't worked at all despite this.

 

Until today! I started hearing a regular click coming from the dash about 4 hours in to day 2 of driving. I thought it might be a faulty idle speed valve just behind the bulkhead until I looked in my mirror. The wiper started wiping! Very peculiar, I can only guess that the relay has decided to start working and that it was a problem along with the lack of wiring. 

 

The other problem that's developed is that the steering pulls slightly to the right. (As in the steering wheel is not central when the car is straight) This is the first part of the road trip without a passenger, could it be that the extra weight (along with the fuel tank) and luggage all on the right side of the vehicle could cause this? I probably need to get the wheels aligned when I get home. Is there a way to do that at home without asking a mechanic?

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steveo3002

plenty of ways to diy the tracking ...needs to be parallel

 

you can use string and a ruler or a stick with 2x nails /markers in ...measure the front and rear of the front tyres and adjsut until equal

 

lots of info online to read

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NebulaicToaster

So I finally got Birtha looking smart. A respray in the original colour (my first) and some boiled linseed oil has really smartened her up. I've added a thin blue coachline to accent with the wheels since these pictures. She still needs a final cut and polish once I get hold of a power polisher (my arms arent up to it)

 

IMG_2541.thumb.JPG.a4436b70545ce79f493d217d41c5a590.JPGIMG_2545.thumb.JPG.57526d06c3929f0657ef6fd0e781127f.JPG

 

 

IMG_2542.thumb.JPG.499f26cddeee0049cfdb51a52f3163c5.JPG

 

Birtha has been a brilliant first project car and we have had many memories together this year. Everything works as it should now and as such I was rather itching to get into a new project. So it goes.

I have recently bought a Scirocco Mk2 GT2 for peanuts which needs a respray and brakes:

IMG_20180802_171329.jpg.e0eca30bee9a420d01cad4bced1bc327.jpg

The day she arrived!

 

IMG_20180805_120925.thumb.jpg.43c3e54583e3462c740de5cbdacc0d55.jpg

During a quick weekend respray

 

It had a silly cherry bomb which has since been removed. I'm currently learning how to flare and fit new brake pipes the hard way. It should be ready for MOT in a few weeks (though I'm starting a new job so we'll see).

 

As such I really ought not to have 2 project cars at the same time so I think it may well soon be time to sell one. I have an emotional attachment to the polo (and this forum) but the 1L is really too small to ferry me around on the motorways which I'll have to do with the new job. The Scirocco however could make me a tidy profit once I've fixed her up. It's a tough choice. 

 

Either way, if there are any clubpolo members looking for a wonderful little car located near Wiltshire do send me a PM. It would have to be a loving home 😞

 

I'll keep you posted with further updates with both.

 

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kiran_182

Out of the two the scirocco will be the one to increase in value 

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dvderlm

Put the scirocco engine in the polo …. nah, I'm kidding.

 

Let Birtha the Polo be someone else's first car. You can honestly say how amazing she's been going all that way. 

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