Welcome to Running w-Heels. A monthly or some such column of the woes and joys I face running an ageing fleet of metal from Italy and Germany. So far the fleet consists of….

Barry. The 1976 VW camper van.
Jelf. The 1991 Mk2 Golf (with Jetta front) GL Auto
Tempra. The 1993 Fiat Tempra
Roberto. The 1982 Fiat X1/9

The X1/9 has been declared SORN and now off the road for winter. An 80’s Fiat full of Italian steel is not known for longevity over a British winter. My local council started to salt the streets early.

The Bus has finally gone off to the painters for a refresh. It’s only taken nine years since I bought it to get to this stage – eventually. More on the renovations another time.

The Fiat Tempra with its partial galvanisation has suddenly been thrust into carrying out the daily commute because the Mk2 Golf has once again decided to a bit bing-bong wrong. The Fiat I might add has been a solid example of reliability compared to the Golf.

I can wax lyrical about the virtues of an old Golf. Volkswagen PR would be happy with the enthusiasm I could spread about the ageing car. Ageing, however, is what the thing is doing and fast.

With the bus out of the workshop, I had planned on attending to a bit of rust l had noticed on the floor and sill by the driver’s side wing. This wasn’t to happen. The water pump had decided to shed its main bearing resulting in a noisy pump that could fling its pulley off at any given moment.

Replacement parts for the Golf are still readily available from most motor factors, and VW does stock some parts though I have discovered that Gates supply them with new cambelts, so that’s what I’ll be using next time and saving in the process too.

What’s so difficult about a water pump on an mk2 Golf? Nothing if I am honest. Nothing that is if the 4 Allen key bolts come free from the main crank pulley. The use of a spline drive bit needed to be hammered in to bite the four rounded Allen key bolts. A few choice words and some grunts and all was free.

Those who will know the wonders of the simplicity of the Mk2 Golf engine will be wondering why I was doing a cambelt as well when the water pump is run of an auxiliary belt. The answer lays in an oil weeping intermediate shaft oil seal. No mean feat and thanks to the Haynes book of lies and Barry Mc Gowan on YouTube, that job was a piece of cake. Also, the cambelt is now four years old and releasing the tension on a belt that is both stretched, and over 30k miles needs replacing. It’s good practice. After all it all that stands between the top and bottom of your engine meeting in the middle.

This isn’t the first time I had done a cambelt I might add. The first was some 20 years ago on a Ford Orion Ghia. That was so simple to do. Even the tensioner was a piece of cake to set.

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What I hadn’t taken into account was the plethora of markings on the VW pulleys. I failed if l am honest in timing it up correctly. My fault. Hands up. I did, however, mark it up to using my own marks, so it should have worked. What I hadn’t taken into account was the intermediate shaft being as loose as the Calvin Klein underwear of a rent boy from Kingscross. So the timing went out.

Thankfully I had marked the sprocket so all should have been easy. Not so. Unlike some cars where “special manufacturing tools” are required to lock bits into place, the intermediate shaft had a tendency to rotate a groove or two when lining up the cambelt.

After some more choice words, finding VW’s timing marks and about three attempts later I had it sorted. The belt was on, the tensioner set and to hell with it, I turned the key, and it started.

All bits were put back on, the crank pulley needed drilling and tapping on one of the four bolts because it stripped and the Golf was back to running again.

When I say running again, it wasn’t quite that simple. Six weeks in the sick bay have rendered it a bag of old spanners. It isn’t a car that likes sitting around so not the best car to own when I have others cars (or bicycles) to test over the year. The auto choke unit has now decided to throw over fuelling to the wind, but I feel this is caused by eight weeks of incarceration in the sick bay.

Doing the work myself has saved me a bit of cash. The Mk2 Golf is as simple as a frying pan. It’s been a faff to do all this, but at 110,000 miles it’s no spring chicken of a car. It is, however, developing a pattern of having a major strop at least once a year. This one has cost me £90 in parts. It doesn’t, however, cover the rear brake rebuild, wheel bearings and front brake calliper needed over the year of 2017.

All added up, it does still make for cheap running, but a Citroen Berlingo Multispace with sunroof is getting closer to being on the drive. It’s just that the three on eBay at the time were all red. I’ve two red Fiat’s and a new blue front door. I like coordination so brace yourselves for the shrieks from the TGUK workshop when a blue Berlingo goes for sale anywhere in the country.

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