What makes it go?

In the past, I always worked on and used stock VW engines because their simplicity appealed to me, they did their job well, and I like the idea of keeping everything as the VW engineers intended, engine or otherwise.  Moby’s engine is, for the most part, stock but is also a little bit of a mystery.  Apparently, a teenager rebuilt or had the engine rebuilt before he sold the bus to a woman who owned several other VWs. Why he sold the bus, no one knows, but the woman who took possession of her did no further renovation work and the bus sat in a parking lot outside of a condo complex for a couple of years.  As the story goes, she got into trouble with the complex owners for having too many “unsightly” vehicles and they forced her to sell some of them.  The man who bought Moby took her home and put her in a barn where he began the effort to fully restore her.  He replaced most of the steering components, brake lines, brakes, replaced the pop top canvas with original material, and swapped out all of the old rubber components, such as various seals, trim, pop top gaskets, and even window washer nozzles.  The attention to detail was impeccable and he made every effort to use original parts or the best replacement parts available.  He made it far enough in the project to repaint Moby’s exterior, pop top included.  The paint turned out well enough, better than any bus I owned before, but it does have an orange peel texture here and there.  That works well for me because the last thing I want is a museum quality restored bus; I would be afraid to go near it!  It was his work and desire for quality that made me want Moby as soon as I saw her for sale and he did just about everything I ever planned with The Big Red One or Big Blue. This PO is a split window bus (’67 and earlier) guy and therefore made a few mistakes as he went along but that makes Moby a nice project to tackle over time.  But mechanically she drives wonderfully and that was the big selling point.

For all the PO’s efforts, he did not do much with the engine.  He thought it was rebuilt by the teenager because of its cleanness and lack of oil seeps but the details on the engine were never passed along.  He added the dual Kadron carburetors and SDVA distributor you see in the picture below, replaced the fuel lines, and put about 50 miles on it during the 6 or so years he owned her.  After Moby came to live in Virginia, I installed a pulley with timing degrees and completed an all-around check to see if the engine seemed solid and found that the compression is excellent, the seals tight, oil pressure strong, and operating temperatures perfect.  Moby runs at 60-65 mph with ease and tackles inclines with little trouble.  The dual carb system still perplexes me at times, mostly because I am still getting used to them, but I enjoy the extra power they provide and am slowly learning their preferred adjustments and engine timing.  I would be surprised if this engine had more than a few thousand miles on it but since the history is unknown, I will begin to build a new engine over the next few years, just in case…..

Moby’s 1600 cc dual port 4-cylinder workhorse


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