Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Another Antique Comes Out of Storage

The pictures show two old-time air-cooled VW “beetles”, basically a 1933 technology. Both were actually running when the pictures were snapped.

The blue one is a 1973 model that spent two stints in deep preserved storage on the Idea Farm, one about 5 years, the second about 3 years. It has been running since 2005 as a daily job commuter, and since October 2006 as the “ethanol VW” experiment.

The white one is a 1960 model that spent a continuous 14 years in deep preservation storage on the Idea Farm. That is a very rigorous test of the preservation techniques, which actually proved very successful.

The blue VW runs just fine on E-85 ethanol fuel, which is 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. I did the modifications myself at no out-of-pocket cost, just some labor. Being an antique, I now drive it slower, but in earlier days, it was quite capable of hard use at full highway speeds, being about 60 HP. It was the car I bought for my wife, when we were first married.

The white VW “woke up” on a stiff gasohol blend, E-34, which is 34% ethanol and 66% gasoline. This blend burns fine in any 4-stroke engine, completely unmodified. I chose it for its high octane, much better than premium gasoline, and for its cleaner-burning characteristics relative to plain gasoline.

This old white VW is the car I learned to drive in, and that I drove to school and to work for over 30 years. The engine is about 40 HP, and its top speed is about today’s highway speed. It makes the other VW seem quite “new”.

The deep preservation methods actually worked quite well, in spite of the fact that this old white VW was the very first car I tried them on. About the only serious problem was some water-induced corrosion, traceable to a brake system flush I did converting over to DOT-5 silicone brake fluid. I now know exactly how to avoid that “next time”.

The only other one left to return to an operable state is the 1969 VW camper bus (not pictured here).

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