The expansion tank in my 1985 Vanagon (Gertie) blew a few weeks ago causing the engine to overheat. It doesn’t seem like much other damage was done – one can only hope – and the expansion tank is a plastic $30 part that is easy to be replaced. After replacing the expansion tank, the coolant system needs to be bled, since air has gotten into the pressurized system. Somebody recommended lifting the rear of the van and opening the bleeder valve on the radiator for easy bleeding. This was indeed pretty easy until it came to to put the screw back in, which is when I discovered that the valve had become cross threaded.
Chasing the valve should have been a very easy job since the radiator is made of brass, which is a soft metal. The threading, in fact, WAS very easy, but getting to the the valve was not at first. Due to lack of space, it is recommended to drop the radiator so that you can fit the tap above the radiator and rethread. Dropping the radiator requires removing the spare tire out of the way, which then revealed two metal bars that start from inside the front bumper and end in a small clamp towards the middle of the van. The metal bars seem to stabilize the tire on its rack and also conveniently hold my radiator up as the radiator brackets are completely rusted through. After trying to pull the bars through the bumper, I realized it would be easier to remove them from their clamps first. After some hammering and lubricration, that part was successful, but I still could not remove the bars from the bumper. Yet another mystery. While under there, I cleaned up the bolts holding the nearly non-existent radiator brackets and almost uncovered some real metal. I will have to keep working on them. I did give up on dropping the radiator though, since I couldn’t remove the tire stabilizer bars and clearly could not get the radiator brackets off. I managed to move the radiator’s left corner enough to get the tap on straight and chased the thread enouh to get the original screw with a new washer back on. I am happy to say my coolant system is finally closed, and maybe fixed (for now). I
plan on replacing the hoses asap replaced the overflow to expansion hose and will probably replace the fan thermostat switch as routine maintenance.
I also had the exhaust system replaced last weekend by a good friend. The exhaust was rotted, full of holes and extremely loud. I would have replaced it myself except I couldn’t get any of the bolts off, so everything had to be cut away. She sounds OUTSTANDING now, with the new exhaust, but has revealed that there may be some misfiring, now that the engine can be heard on its own. I’ll be doing a standard tune-up this week to see if new spark plugs, etc help at all.