Run by Martin Port
Owned since March 2011
Total mileage 87,698
Miles since February report 1053
Latest costs £137
SERVICE TIME FOR MISFIRING BUG
The Beetle had been doing what was asked of it for some time without any purposeful maintenance, so it came as no surprise when it suddenly developed a misfire one day without warning. A cursory look failed to throw up anything obvious, so I figured that it was time to carry out a full service and see if that resulted in an improvement.
VW Heritage markets a kit that includes plugs, leads, distributor cap and rotor arm (the car is already running a points-less ignition system), but I knew that I also needed to check the valve clearances, and that was a slight issue.
With no replacement for the C&SC workshop in sight, my own garage out of action thanks to ongoing construction work, and the driveway full of building materials, I was faced with carrying out the service at the side of the road.
I’m no stranger to kerbside maintenance but, with a wet winter in full swing, the thought of having to check the clearances while lying in the gutter didn’t appeal much. I was always going to be tempted by an offer from friend and Our classics regular Oli Cottrell to do the job in exchange for a few notes!
When he delivered the car back to me, he was full of praise for how it drove – an assessment that I was pleased with, given that he worked for a time at a classic VW specialist. As suspected, the valve clearances were out and one had closed up, but with everything adjusted the Beetle was full of pep once more… until the following day, when a text from Mrs P read: “Fine going into town, but stuttered all the way back.”
Sorting a loose ignition lead helped a little, but we also decided to look at the carburettor settings. The manual suggests that the volume control screw needs to be somewhere between two-and-a-half and three turns out, but this one was at six, which would explain the black electrodes on the new plugs. After a road test, we settled on three turns and, with a tweak to the air bypass, normal service was resumed.
Typically, with the Beetle ousted from its cosy garage, the cold snap took its toll and killed the battery. That was easily sorted with a visit to the auto factor, but outdoor living is also proving detrimental to the chrome. That is disappointing, because it isn’t even a couple of years old – raising the issue of quality when it comes to parts. With that in mind, when the wash/wipe switch appeared to fail, I was about to order an OEM replacement, but decided to check the rest of the system first. It turned out that the switch was fine and that the upper pipework and nozzle were gummed up.
After dismantling the whole assembly from the water tank upwards and repeatedly sucking out all the muck, the washers function again – but in the process I had succeeded in drowning the adjacent radio. It now only partially works, and out of only one speaker. I’ve never been particularly enamoured with this unit, though, so plans are afoot to conceal an alternative in the glovebox and reinstate the dashboard blanking plate.
With the underbonnet area emptied to attend to the washers, I noticed that the pipe from the fresh air box had disintegrated. This is meant to enable water to drain out, helping to reduce condensation on the windscreen. If, however, the pipe is absent or broken, water just collects in a pool above the fuel tank and will quickly corrode the metal. A new one was bought for £11 and so this is at least one part of the bodywork that won’t be disappearing anytime soon.
THANKS TO Oli Cottrell: 0118 971 2091 / #VW-Heritage
: 01273 444000; www.vwheritage.com
Not a Californian sunset, but sunrise over a multistorey in Twickenham. Inset: replacement air box drain tube will help to prevent corrosion.
Air box removed to access washer system Recent chrome already attacked by rust. Pipes and jets were thick with black gunk. Oli doing his best James Herriot impression while attempting to solve the ongoing misfire.