Plan B

Several years ago I began getting a check engine light on my Subaru Outback. The code was being caused because the emissions self check determined there were unturned hydrocarbons, venting directly from the gas tank to the atmosphere, not through the char-coal canister as designed. This is often referred to as “the gas cap code”.

The light came on more frequently until several months ago when it remained lit all the time. A couple of weeks ago I pulled in to a gas station. The pump island was not level. The driver’s side of the car was several inches lower than the right side. As I topped off the tank I smelled gas, and saw gas dripping down from the tank. Ugh!

I put the car on the lift and found gas seeping from a plastic valve on the top of the tank. Now, Subaru was kind enough to put an access panel in the floor, under the rear seat, to access the fuel pump. They were also kind enough to place an access cover over the fuel sending unit. Servicing these two items is quite easy, and does not require dropping the tank. Unfortunately, there is no way to access this plastic valve without dropping the tank. The two access covers are very far from this plastic valve.

To remove the gas tank on this car, first the drive shaft, rear axle, rear suspension and the exhaust system needs to be removed. Then, the tank can be lowered. When pricing parts, I discovered the gas tank straps are no longer available from Subaru, and not yet available in the aftermarket.

I had a hard time justifying the time and expense to perform this task on a 14 year old car with 247,000 miles on it. If there was only a way to ac-cess the valve from inside the car, if only…

subaru gas tank removalWell, it took less than a minute to cut a hole in the floor with my saws-all. After the valve was replaced it took about ten minutes to weld the metal back the way it was. Interestingly, it looks like the valve failed because something dissolved the plastic, I believe it was ethanol. This was also a good time to coat the area with a liberal thick coat of Fluid Film.

With the valve replaced the threat of gas vapors was gravely reduced it was safe to weld. I was more than a little on edge welding so close to the gas tank. I placed a piece of sheet metal between the tank and the floor. I had two fire extinguishers and water on hand, just in case.

Yea, this was a hack job, but a very well done hack job.


Please email all inquiries to: Dave
or snail mail
32 Turkey Hill Road
Richmond VT 05477

The Thing is Napping

vw thingIt’s December 1st. The calendars have been changed, all the leaves raked up, the gardening tools put away, the snow shovels are out, the snow tires are on the cars, the chains are on the tractor that Gael plows the driveway with, the wood is on the porch, the storm windows are on and the winter coats, boots and mittens are out. It seems to take longer to do this than it used to. I can’t imagine why??

Oh, one more thing. The summer cars (Owen’s BMW and the VW Thing) are put away for the winter. Something about having a long winter’s nap. We even watched The Grinch the other night, our favorite Christmas program, can’t miss it.

It has been fun to have the Thing back after having it away visiting for a number of years. It’s interesting to hear the stories the kids tell us about. They all drove the Thing at some time in their teen years. There probably are stories that we will never hear about for one reason or another!! We drove to an event here in Underhill this past summer and I was telling a few people about my maiden trip with it. It was our daughter Susan’s birthday and I was taking a few of her friends and Susan to the Morgan Horse Farm near Middlebury (it was the little girl and horse love affair that Susan has never gotten over). One of the people I was sharing the story with, was one of the girls who made the trip on that June day many years ago. She remembered the trip well.

vw thing interiorWe hadn’t had the car more than a few months when on Halloween I was returning a few kids to their homes after trick or treating and I hit a bear. I stopped to see if it was all right (it was) but our kids were quite upset, not about hitting the bear, but because their Halloween candy had spilled on the floor and got mixed up with their sibling’s candy. We drove the Thing during the winter months for a few years and nearly froze. Ever try driving with a blanket wrapped around your legs? Actually, probably some of you have. Our son shared a story about having the whole Rice HS football team in the car one day! I used to take our goats to visit the vet in Jeffersonville in the Thing. They loved to ride in it. We have had pigs in the car too, but that’s a long story that I’ll share with you some other day.

So, the Thing deserves to be having it’s long winter nap where it’s dry and out of the weather until Spring…..when we can think about warm weather and day trips we’ll be taking in our well beloved Thing.

Ric & Donna Venner’s 1950 Chevrolet Deluxe Project

1950 chevy deluxe trunkRic is a retired Westfalia engineer where he spent much of his time installing and fixing the German company’s milk separators throughout Germany and the U.S. These were fantastic machines that could separate 100s of thousands of pounds of milk per hour. Donna is also retired after a career of working in medical administration. They are a great couple and their lives in Barre, Vermont seems right out of the “supposed-to-be” book. Ric falling on the ice recently, resulting in a head injury was not supposed to be and Donna discovering breast cancer last year was not supposed to be either; but guess what, they are doing fine… together. Donna swears by early regular mammograms and believes that is why she has beaten the disease. Ric has the Vet hospital in White River watching over him and is looking forward to being OK soon.

1950 chevy deluxe interiorThe ’50 Chev came into their lives about 5 years ago, purchased from a gent in Corinth, VT. A switch to 12 volts and some re-wiring has been done along with some rust damage work as you can see in the be-fore and after pictures to the right. You might also see a couple of other changes if you look sharp. The “three-on-the-tree” is missing and there is a stick coming out of the floor. Ric found the floor shift kit from a company called “Mr. Gasket”. You might also pick up something else that GM had nothing to do with… Bucket leather seats, front and rear! Ric found the seats in a 2002 Grand Cherokee Jeep and could not resist. He even has the electric seat controls working.

1950 chevrolet deluxe interior restorationHow many of us know the “real” name of the rope that goes across the back of the front seats of these early cars? Many of us think those ropes were there to help us pull our butts out of the back seats – NO. When talking of the old seats being taken out of the Chevrolet, Donna added that she missed the “blanket rope” that was there. Donna said she learned that term from her Grandfather many years ago.

The car could be driven very nicely when they first purchased it, in fact a number of miles were put on the vehicle that reached above 50 MPH. All the time there was an odd noise that Ric believed was some small detail that needed tending. Like all Chevys from 1929 to 1954 they had “torque tubes” where the rotating drive-shaft between the transmission and the rear-end was all incased in a tube that did not rotate. Ric found the “odd noise” was actually a totally disconnected U-joint that somehow was still doing its job. In fact, after replacing the warn bolts the original U-joint has continued to do its job. There are still things that need to be completed on the Deluxe Chevy including a new paint job. Ric has told Wheel Tracks he will send a picture when the new paint is on.

The Chevrolet Deluxe was a trim line of Chevrolet automobiles, marketed from 1941 to 1952. Ric and Donna’s Deluxe has the 216.5CID “Thrift-Master” engine that produces 92hp. It has a 3-speed transmission, a wheel base of 115 inches and weighs 3150 pounds. The average cost new was $1700.00 when gasoline was $0.27 per gallon. GM claims they produced 1,236,778 of the Deluxe models in 1950.