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1992 VW GTI Build Notes - 2008


1-22-2008
Been a little while since I've updated, so here's where we stand now. She's down for the Winter and I've got a few projects I'm working on. Wendy found a set of polished Porsche script handles originally off of a 944 that work with the Porsche theme of the car. I've got some work to do on those to get them ready to install. The polishing job is pretty good, but I'd like to see if I can get a bit more luster out of them. It turns out that the Mk2 handle gaskets actually fit these handles better than the Audi ones so that's great news. I'm going to have to go to the dealer and get a new set of plastic gaskets for those to finish them. Another interesting thing is that without the inside of the handle accessible like the VW and Audi ones, there won't be a front bolt on the handle. I'm going to have to put some material in the front clip of the handle to really keep it secure in there so it doesn't warp the body work. I've already swapped the lock cylinder over for one and it works great. Not quite as flush as the Porsche one that came out, but it works very smoothly.

Another new Porsche bit I found was a set of the lower offset Phonedials from a 944. They look a bit different, but I'm hoping that adapters won't be quite as much of a pain as the 65mm offset 928 ones. They will need to be refinished like the last set, but they are in better overall shape than where the others started and the price was just too great to pass up. I've also been thinking about getting them chromed. Now this is kind of strange for me since I never anticipated EVER wanting chrome wheels. I just think it will work so well on the car that I have to look into it.

This Winter is the interior as well. Seats, door cards and headliner are all getting redone. I'm holding off just a little bit on getting it done until after our trip to Australia in February, but I'll begin looking for shops then.

I'm also looking at the suspension again. I'm thinking I want to go with H&R UltraLows to get the ride height where I want it. I'm hoping that I'll be able to sell the Bilsteins to offset some of the cost there.

The other update is that I haven't been able to get all of the Porsche adapters off my hubs. The 4x100 to 5x130 adapters I got with my wheels use 6mm alan headed bolts to bolt the adapters to the hubs. I really wanted to be sure they were on for DATR this year so against my better judgment I used these. I couldn't get close to torquing them down to 85ft lbs with this kind of head, but I figured since they were conical bolts, they would be ok with just a bit of release-able loc-tite at 35ft lbs for the short trip down to the show and back.

As it turns out, I was in absolutely no danger of loosing a wheel. These fuckers will-not-release now. I have the passenger side wheels swapped back to the Corrado steelies, breaking only 4 alan sockets in the process, but the front driver side is a nightmare. As of now, I have broken 2 more alan sockets, 3 bolt extractors (two if which are still lodged in the bolts on this adapter), my Dremel, a bit on my impact driver and about 16 noise ordnance laws cursing at this thing. I think there's probably some sheering force being applied between the hub and adapter causing some of the problem. Ugggh. I still have some ideas about getting it off, including heat and more work with the impact, but we'll see.

I still have to swap out that driver side CV and the power steering return line has pretty much given up so I need to get a hydraulic replacement line for that and fill it back up with the bottle of steering fluid i have waiting for that job.

With that, I'll leave you for now.

2-03-2008
I received my door handle gaskets from VW and tossed the Porsche handles on the car. My camera battery also came in, so no more iPhone photos.

Here's also a shot of these DAMN adapters that suck so bad. The rust buildup on the rotors is because of my grinding in there on the adapter. It will be cleaned before driving of course.

I also found a company in the UK that is going to chrome some stuff for me. The pics below are not the actual items I have, but some previews of some of the stuff I ordered.

Also there's the new set of Porsche Phonedials next to some of my other wheels.

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2-09-2008
I think I figured out how to get the adapters off. After breaking more tools, including my Dremel, couple more extractors and several 6mm hex bits I sat staring at the things for some time. It struck me that since I can't drill out the bolts as usual with the hardened extractors embedded in them, maybe I could drill out around the bolts. Off to Home Depo I went!

Starting the holes without being able to use a pilot hole and the bit in the hole saw was a bit tricky, but I got all of them started. It's still cold here so I couldn't get to far along today, but I think my concept is sound. Only thing I'm concerned with at this point is damaging the rotors if I go to far.

Hardey also convinced me I should just walk away from them for now. With the warm weather will come longer days and I can actually enjoy working in the garage.

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3-22-2008
Click to EnlargeI put in the TT pedals, pulled the spline adapter off to get my new 944 Porsche steering wheel on which fits perfectly. The inside of the base has the VW and Audi logos on it. Kinda funny on a Porsche part, but it explains why it fits so well.

Also here's the begining of something else that's missing from the interior. Stay tuned.

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3-25-2008
I just got off the phone with: Motorsport-Tech.com. They are going to make me custom sized adapters for the Phonedials. $300 for all four including all the hardware. Not bad at all since the ones I have are total rubbish and H&R only makes one size (25mm) for 4x100. I'm getting 28mm for the fronts which is the same as my crap ones and wider 35mm rears to fill out those arches a little better.

Other new stuff going on soon include a new grille, new front badge, new BMW seals for the pop-outs plans to fix the headliner and probably that little something more...

4-03-2008
Picked up a new axle from Todd and Randy yesterday. New one this time so hopefully even with the car lowered like it is, it will last more than 100 miles...

While I was there I figured I'd slip next door and pick up some other stuff that I installed yesterday. Still have some work to do on another dash I got for her. I've got the same chrome-ish stripe that will fit into the slot for the red stripe on the dash to make that match to help complete the look.

Working on fitment on a new grille too.

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Thanks to Jason at:
        Blazing Auto Trim
        1015 W Evans Ave Unit F
        Denver, CO 80223
        (303) 783-9624
Excellent work, fast turn around and reasonable pricing. Jason also hooked me up with some left-over vinyl and a clip of fabric from the seat centers to recover my headliner with!

4-05-2008
Must be Spring! Lots of updates in the last little bit. Of course, the weather has been very nice.

David stepped up to the plate on the adapters. He took my original concept and made it safe for the rotors and then dove in and cut the sonofabitch off. The whole thing probably could have been made easier if I had pulled the knuckles off, but for a few reasons I decided against this. Surely if it had gone on any further, that's exactly what I would have done.

Perhaps it's not the most elegant solution, but when we reached it, it seemed a good way to get out some aggression on the crappy bits without the risk of damaging the good stuff.

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That sound of the aluminum hitting the floor was so bitter sweet. Dude, thank you again for your determination David. (We need to tear into your car!!!)

I went and put the mangled front one next to the last one still attached to the car on the rear to show it what I was willing to do to get it off. It sat there for a bit with some PB Blaster soaking into it looking at it's chewed up mate and when it came time to come off, it did so without the least bit of fuss.

4-10-2008
I got a length of proper hydraulic hose for the power steering return line installed yesterday. Based on a recommendation from Todd at Autobahn Premier Service I went to:

        Parker Store
        7030 E 46th Avenue Dr
        Denver, CO 80216
        (303) 289-2722

They had some very sweet black cloth braided hoses that even have some green braid to it that matches the car remarkably well. Picked up five feet of that and some T-Bolt hose clamps to hold it on with and re-did the whole return line from the reservoir to the t-fitting and back to the pump. It's all back together now and with a little charge on the battery, should be back on the road ready for Summer once I get the new axle installed.

4-25-2008
I decided to tackle a few things this week/weekend and I thought I'd update.

First thing, I've always hated the way that the Mk3 cluster fits into the mk2 dash. I recently picked up an early dash that uses plastic brackets to hold the cluster in place so I started experimenting. After a copious amount of measuring I found that I could two step the final product. Step one would be to leave the face of the mk2 bezel untouched, but trim the rear and fill the gap with part of the mk3 bezel and vinyl. This allows with less plastic fabrication/modification for the cluster to be fully visible with a clean finish. The second step which I will attempt eventually when I get enough bezels to destroy and time would be to expand the width of the mk2 bezel to cover up the first two dummy switches in the center which should match up to the width of the mk3 cluster nearly perfectly.

So the basic steps are:

Cut and move the existing plastic bracket to accommodate the wider cluster.
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Trim back the mk2 bezel on the inside. The first one shows an uncut bezel. Then cut down a mk3 bezel. I cut the back off with a lot of room to spare and then made a more fine cut of the piece on the right which is close to my final piece.
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The criss-cross plastic on the mk3 bezel needs to be smoothed to allow the vinyl to attach to it. The Dremel I used for cutting with a sanding head on it made short work of those bits as seen here. Then attaching the vinyl to the underside of the piece, you then fold it around the inside of the U to get your final piece.
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After that, some trimming of the plastic on the U was needed to make it fit just right and of course some trimming of the vinyl and this is what you end up with in the dash. Slide the trimmed Mk2 bezel in over the top and make sure it all fits.
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The nice thing about the early dash is that it uses plastic instead of metal brackets to hold the cluster which is very easy to work with. The bad part is, later cars have tilt steering wheels which won't fit in the dash. Well, at least not without some "minor" trimming. I took the plastic trim from my late dash and convinced it to fit.
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Next up is the dash stripe. Jason at Blazing Auto Trim gave me some extra chrome stripe that he used for the door cards to run through the dash. I cut these pieces and glued it into the gap. Then put it all into the car.
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The final product is pretty darn smooth. I'm well pleased with finally being able to see the majority of the cluster now. It's not perfect, but it's a world of difference with how it used to sit in there with foam and with the mk2 bezel sitting up against the buttons pressing the trip counter all the time.
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5-4-2008
I picked up a "new" headliner yesterday in trade for my old set of teardrops. It came out of my friend Jeremy's Mk2(thanks again man!). I drove up to his place and we pulled it and got it into my car. The fabric is sagging pretty bad and there is one crack behind the B-pillar and one break on the passenger side of the sunroof. However, the important bit in front of the sunroof is intact. I decided to do some experimentation with fiberglass on a piece of my old headliner. I took a piece and broke it by hand. I then followed the instructions on laying the fiberglass on the broken parts and it was much cleaner and easier than I had anticipated. I'll be pulling the headliner out in the next couple days, cleaning it and doing the repairs in preparation of fitting the new fabric on it. Judging from how easy it went, I'll also be adding the fiberglass to the most fragile parts of the board to reinforce it and HOPEFULLY it will end up being much more robust and I won't have to deal with cracking ever again. It's VERY exciting, since it's one of the last big pieces I needed to get sorted for the summer. Of course, I'll be posting pics of the fiberglass repairs go, as well as the recovering very soon.

In the mean time, I decided to tackle the sunroof cover. I got some of the same vinyl from getting the seats recovered last month to cover it. First, I removed the fabric from the metal skeleton for the panel and laid it out on the vinyl piece I was using. Then I traced the outline of the fabric with a ball point pen giving myself a few mm extra clearance all the way around so I could trim it back to fit.
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It was then a matter of cutting along the line. Once done, I made a trace of the location of the skeleton on the fabric and started trimming the round corner pieces so they would fit as neatly and flat as possible. I did end up with a few very small wrinkles on the edges which I then removed with a pair of sharp side cutters. Next comes the 3M Super90 adhesive and some fine tuning as I went. You can see here, I also cleaned the heck out of the frame with Goof-Off and then soap and water.
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The center section on the original fabric is stitched to a piece of vinyl that is adheased to the center rib. You can see this on the first couple pics, it's the piece in red. Since nothing on the side facing the interior of the car has any sort of support from the factory, this is needed to keep the panel from bubbling down in the center. I didn't want to add any spray mount to the underside either since working with vinyl is fairly tricky in that if there is anything under it, you will notice the imperfection. How I solved the problem was to use the spray mount and an extra strip of vinyl to attach this center section to the underside of the vinyl. I then discovered a new use for my Bently. Since the edge of the part that's attached to the underside will be visible since it will have the spray mount on it, I took a thin straight piece of cardboard and firmly rested it on the edge. Then I stacked the Bentlys and some magazines on top overnight to ensure a clean line. This worked great and the final product pre-installation is shown here. Next, the headliner!
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5-6-2008
Click to EnlargeHeadliner Time!
Wendy, bless her heart, was sick yesterday and today and still came out to the garage to give me a hand removing the headliner. It's not really a one-man job, and is absolutely not a one-man job if there's any damage to it.

Once we had the board out I sent Wendy back inside to relax while I got to work.

The last headliner board took a little while to get cleaned up, but it was nothing compared to this one. I had hoped to get it sanded down and the fiberglass laid, but it wasn't to happen. All hail(fail?) the previous owners of cars and their questionable "fixes". Not only had the person who owned Jeremey's car before him decided to try to fix the sagging headliner with some ineffective blue glue, but they had decided to use staples along the rear edge. Of course, the headliner was still sagging all over the place so it was all for naught, but it left me with some serious fun to contend with.

I cut the staples out carefully, and started in on the sanding off the blue glue crap. Normally, all you need is a plain scotch pad to remove the old adhesive from the board and maybe some fine sandpaper to take care of any rough bits. This took a little longer to get less distance. Three and a half hours later, this is what I ended up with before going in for the night.

I'll be back at it tonight if it isn't too cold and wet in the garage.
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5-7-2008
It was actually a very nice night, so back to work!
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I started the night finishing up some sanding, but I decided that I should go ahead and do the reinforcement of the fiberglass before I finished. I started by taking the sheet of fiberglass and cutting out the sections I wanted to either repair or reinforce:


After trimming them to approximate sizes, I went back through and trimmed them down for the corners and curves they would need to follow. After that, I started on some of the easy areas to get a feel again for the process. It really is quite easy. Aside from having to change gloves several times since they would get sticky and cling to the pieces I was trying to lay. I also learned :DUH: that I needed to work with fairly small batches of the resin. I tried the first batch with 10 tablespoons of the resin and hardener which hardened by the time I finished the four tiny squares in the center for the push plugs... In retrospect, I find it funny I made that mistake BEFORE inhaling the resin fumes.

Once I started, I couldn't stop for pictures. I had bought two brushes (get the cheeeeeeep ones!). The first was never the same after the first night I tested the stuff, even after a cleaning. The second one started firming up after about the fourth piece and I wasn't sure I had another to sacrifice. Needless to say, stopping for pics wasn't a priority. Luckily, however, Wendy came out to see how it was going and got a couple pics. She also probably saved me from a massive headache by convincing my "resin-stoned" butt to open all the garage doors. I did have the back door and window open, but once I started, I didn't realize how strong it was in there. *whew* Oh well, I figure the more mistakes like that I make, the dumber I get and the less it will bother me.

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Everything turned out great and after letting it set up over-night, the board is quite sturdy. I suppose I could have done the whole thing to be sure, but I don't anticipate any problems with it. It's not like it's a high use item.

Click to EnlargeA little something else showed up too. These should ease up a bit on the ride and allow me to hit the height I'm looking for. It needs an alignment after we did the new axle, though after marking the control arm it's very close. I also will need to lift it back up close to factory ride height for them to test me so I figure I'll leave the Bilsteins on til after it's smogged, then install the Koni's and get it aligned.

For Sale: Bilstein PSS coilovers - all hardware and spanners included. Seriously less than 2,500 miles. $800.00 Contact Me

5-17-2008
I wrapped up a few things in anticipation of Volkswagens on the Green this weekend. I haven't updated since I've been busy with all the detailing, but I had the camera ready.

First up, I got the headliner recovered. This is the same material as the seats. As you can see from the progress pics, I used a LOT of the adhesive. They say one can is supposed to be good for 100 sq. feet and I used almost three cans to cover the headliner. It didn't soak through, but I gave it between three and five minutes to set before putting the pieces together. There were some complications on the cutting stage which unfortunately means I will probably need to source another headliner at some point... BUT the final product turned out pretty well and the issues I have is more with it being "not perfect" than with it being actually screwed up.
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I spoke with Jason at Blazing Auto Trim about doing the sunroof crank surround piece as well as the sun visors. He said he didn't think the sun visors would turn out the quality he knew I wanted and suggested I use vinyl dye on them instead which is shown drying below along with the early grab handles I cleaned up.

I also put in the BMW 528 door seals on for the Happich pop out windows which turned out looking very nice indeed.

Then I took care of some errant wiring in the front end, re-wrapped and did some neater heat shrinking on some wires and relocated the horn in anticipation of getting the Corrado air box in at some point soon.
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Lastly I picked up a spare wheel from a local Porsche wrecker so if I should ever get a flat, I'll have a spare that can be attached to the adapters instead of having to pull the wheel and adapter to mount it to the hub. This is a late style aluminum wheel. I also got the small "euro" flares for the rear on which was an interesting bit of work since I had the holes filled when I did the body work. I got them on by using rare-earth neodymium magnets attached to the back of the flares that I first plasti-dipped to keep from damaging the paint underneath. This also gives me the advantage of being able to clean underneath the flares or remove them altogether in the future if so desired. The hole underneath was still there, so I was able to rivet the flare in place and then gently place the magnets against the body.
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Up next is off to the emissions test facility with the car raised up on the coils. Then the Bilsteins come off and Konis go on. Maybe eventually my chrome parts will show from the UK... and we'll see what the rest of the summer brings before getting ready for DATR.

5-18-2008
A couple Post-VWOTG on the way home.
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5-26-2008
To begin with, I received the parts from the UK (liquidmetalrefinement.co.uk) and I'm really not happy with the results on some of them. Maybe I'm being to critical, or maybe this is just the kind of stuff that the euro cars just deal with and doesn't show up in photos online or in magazines. Who knows. I don't really care, but I'm not keeping these things like this. The owner, or at least the only fellow I spoke with there, is Matt Johnson. He's not easy to reach via email which is the only contact I've had with him. I've had to send emails to him multiple times to get him to respond. On top of that, I ordered and paid the parts February 2nd 2008 and even though I was told they would be sent out in four weeks time, they didn't arrive until May 19th. At first I was told the strut tops didn't meet his standards and needed to be redone. I told him I appreciated his attention to detail, that the quality was very important to me and that I would be patient. This sort of delaying happened pretty much up until I got the parts. Now I've sent him another email over a week ago expressing my less-than-thrilled response to the quality and... nothing.

ANYWAY, since I'm not sending these back and throw more good money after bad, and not all the 40 some odd bits I had him do are bad, I'm going to install what I've got and make a trip to the junk yard and pull other parts to have someone else redo them. I haven't decided the extent to which I will be chroming pieces, but I'm working on a list now.
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On to more happy stuff, as I've mentioned, I needed to get the car smogged. To do this in Colorado, they run the car on a little dyno and measure the emissions at the pipe. Before they will let you run the car on the dyno, you have to be at or close to stock ride height. They also use this sort of fork thing that goes on both sides of the tire and I wasn't about to let them dyno it with my Porker wheels on so I needed to lift it up and get the Corrado steelies back on. Piece of cake.
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I also took a shot of the engine which I haven't done in a while and test fit the Porsche spare wheel while it was in the air.
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Emissions testing went okay -THE SECOND TIME... It failed the first time with high Nx. I had told Jason at Blazing Auto Trim I would swing the car by for him to take some photos of the interior installed and I poked my head into the shop next door, Autobahn Premier Service. Todd glanced at the results and said I was running lean. One new 3.5 BAR fuel pressure regulator later and we pass with quick-pass. Thanks Todd/Randy! I'll be seeing what I can do about fixing the problem more correctly.

Up next, I started installing the new Koni coilovers. I had some time on Saturday to get some work done and I should have the rest of that put together as soon as I can find an hour or two in the next couple days. It's so nice to be able to walk away from a project like that and know that I don't HAVE to drive it the next day.

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