Kombi windscreen washer pump


The pump on the right is part number 251 955 651 and it’s made of weapons-grade unobtanium-around-here. It’s also buggered.

The one on the left comes from… well, this one came from a VW Fox, but that’s just a Golf 1, the Golf 2 used the same thing.


The only difference is the connector.


Bit of work with a crimping tool and, as they say, Robert is your mother’s brother.

VW Microbus temperature gauge repair

On our recent Kgalagadi trip the water bottle burst because the water level ran low. And the little red light that’s supposed to tell me that the water level was low never came on.

So I took the instrument cluster apart to find the problem


Here’s the gauge on the bench. Apparently if the light stays on it’s the capacitor and you can replace that without taking things apart. In my case however…


I had to drill out the two rivits holding the face plate on.


Lots of electronics to multiplex the analogue temperature and the low water signal from the relay on one wire. The PCB hangs off the two pins, gauge on the right (also goes to the heating element that moves the needle) and earth at the top. The blue wire from the left carries power (regulated 10V).


Hmmm. I think I see the problem.

VW Microbus fuel tank fitting


I don’t think this part even has a VW part number – ETKA claims that it’s part of  251201166, the breather line. Anyway, it plugs into a grommet on the tank and if it’s in two pieces like this one, you get fuel leaking out when the tank is more than about 3/4 full.

Oh, and superglue is not an answer.


This hose repair kit, however, is.


Close enough for me. I used smaller pipe clamps than the ones in the kit. And for the record I’m getting pretty good at R&R-ing the tank.

Bad design

The intercooler on my Golf 4 has been dripping oil for a while. Lately it also developed a whistling noise. Time to investigate.

The plastic cowl presses against the aluminium intercooler and after about 400 000km, wears right through the aluminium.

Replacing this thing is a bit of a pain in the arse. According to Haynes, the front bumper and right-hand side headlight has to come off, and that’s the way I did it. But I suspect one might be able to do the job by pulling the windscreen washer bottle instead.

Meriva Indicator Relay

So the kid complains that the indicator lights on the one side of the Opel / Vauxhall Meriva stays on all the time. This is a well known problem, there’s a dual relay and the contacts burn and stick.

So I open the box up and give her a stick and show her where to beat the relay into submission lightly tap the relay with a stick to make the stuck contact release. Problem being that once that’s done, if you then lock the car the indicators flash and guess what? Yup, bloody thing sticks again.

Google tells me you can get a new one for under 15 Sterling, which at the current exchange rate is around three hundred rands if you hurry (the rand seems to be heading south a bit faster than normal right now). But there’s shipping on top of that and it takes a while so let’s see…

<ring> <ring> “Opel spare parts, how may I help you?”

Me: “Yea hi I need an indicator relay for a Meriva,  part number 09 134 880”

Them: “Yes sir, we have those in stock, one thousand seven hundred and twenty rands”

Me: “You Have Got To Be Shi, I mean, Surely that cannot be the case my good man?”

Them: “Oh yes sorry, my mistake, make that one thousand seven hundred and ten rands”

Me: “Kthanksbyeclick”

Not being a millennial, I do have some tools and spare parts. For VERY large values of “some”. This for example is my box of spare relays.

These ones look like just the thing.

Yup, it works. Cover doesn’t fit back on again, but it will with some surgery if required. I am not too concerned.

The kid’s father is coming down from the UK in two weeks’ time and he’ll bring down the Real Thing but in the mean time this will do. Very Nicely. R1710. Fsck.

A long time ago, Bob Hoover (no, not that one) needed a way to get home after delivering a car, and negotiations happened, and he bought a VW Microbus (sight unseen) with the idea of fixing it up and driving it home.

Things went badly downhill from there*.

But he ended up driving it home**.

What feels like a long time ago, we bought a T4 kombi in Slovenia, abused it hauling bricks and tiles and planks and stuff from Varaždin and other places, drove it to Prague and back and then to Budapest and back (7l/100km all the way!) and parked it for a few months at the end of that holiday. Said few months turned into two years and quite a bit of change. Armed with temporary plates and jumper leads, we went to get it… and it started up immediately, no jumpers needed.

Things went badly downhill from there.

You see, Bob’s Grendel had a badly seized back brake drum after being parked in a field for a number of years. He had a hella time getting that sorted out.

Our Grendel had developed a bad case of completely rusted and seized back brake disks while being parked in a dry barn for a couple years. I have no idea why. What I do know is it took a rather long pipe and some delicate (hah! Surely I jest) hammer-and-chisel just to get the wheelnuts off, and a lot more hammer work to remove the calipers.

And the driver’s side (this is Europe), up against the wall where a dog couldn’t piss on it even, was worse. So that wasn’t it. Also the resident dog is female. And the barn was locked.

So I got onto the interwebs and found a “local” website, being — .si is Slovenia, right? Nope, they’re in Germany and the parts get dispatched from Poland. My order placed on the fifth eventually landed on the twelfth. The internet is a lie.

Anyway, parts arrived — calipers, disks and pads — for a total of  149.81 Euro (buying new calipers was easier than buying a caliper windback tool or doing it with a G-clamp and a vice grip, both of which I would have had to buy in any case).

Fitted those, much swearing and abuse of tools specifically bought to solve the problem at hand (six point sockets and a breaker bar) and I had the new brakes fitted, and the kombi was on the road.

Unlike Bob’s tale, our story takes a downhill turn from here. We drove back to Ljutomer and left the kombi with Boštjan Kralj at the local (Renault) service station. Problem is by now we had less than a week left in the country, and in addition to re-doing the front brakes and replacing the exhaust pipe, they also reckoned that we would need to replace all the metal brake pipe lines under the chassis. All stuff that I can do, easily, but by now I had learned that parts take a week to 10 days to arrive, this was Monday, and our tickets were for Friday.

Combine that with also needing a place to park the kombi*** until Pieter returns next year (assuming no further Covid crazy) and it made sense to sell the kombi to one of the dudes at the garage. He got a damn good deal out of it, but there’s going to be a lot of soaking stuff in WD-40 and maybe even applying the blue-tip wrench here and there.

It was good while it lasted. Farewell, PartyBus.

* Go here, fast forward to page 212, spend a few days reading. Or read all of it. Bob wrote well.

** And the fsck up to Alaska the next year. It’s all in the Sermons. Go. Read.

***There happens to be one garage for sale in Ljutomer. They want 6000 Euro. That’s about 2000 Euro more than it’s worth, i.e. not a good investment.

2 Strikes, no more.

Back in December 2017 I had Tanya’s Golf’s turbo overhauled at Turbo Repair Master in Ndabeni. All good, car went well, things were good for almost a year, and then Tanya phoned from Paradise Motors — oil all over the place, chrismas lights on the dash (fortunately the Golf tells you when things go wrong, soon enough to prevent expensive damage).

Had the Golf flatbedded to Alan Edwards, they said it was the turbo feed pipe, had the car flatbedded to Turbo Repair Master, I bought a new pipe (R1098) and they fitted it, R850 labour. Chalked it up to wear and tear.

Except not that long afterwards, Tanya phones me from work, oil all over the place, christmas lights on the dash… so I scheme maybe Turbo Repair Master stuffed it up when they replaced the pipe, lemme do it myself. Bought another new pipe (R1121, inflation), fitted it.

And not that long afterwards… yea, same story, different place. This time it was on Hospital Bend. By now I had figured out that these pipes can be brazed for a lot less than the cost of a new one (Hosefit are the people to speak to) so that’s what I did — had the one from the previous time brazed, fitted it, took the other one out, had that brazed and kept it for a spare.

But by now of course I was asking questions. The answer: the turbo oil line bracket in the picture above is rather important. And somewhere along the way the guys at Turbo Repair Master had not bothered to refit it. That leads to strain on the banjo, which causes a crack, oil all over the place, christmas lights…

OK, live and learn.

So here we are in November 2021 and I figure it’s time to overhaul the turbo in my Golf. Go on over to Turbo Repair Master, offer to do the R&R myself, ask for a quote on the turbo work only. Fellow there makes me a good price (2k less than in 2017) for the whole job. I tell him about the saga with Tanya’s car, point out the bracket to him… get the car back… check… not only is the bracket missing in action, the feed pipe is bent way out of line.

Something is wrong here.

As far as I can tell the fellow didn’t have the patience to wiggle the pipe into place. no, he applied brute force. The pipe is wrecked. Fscking butcher.

Fortunately I still had the spare.

So after trekking back out to Ndabeni to give the owner a heads-up on this fuck-wittery (and to get my bracket back) I fitted the old pipe and both brackets (there’s also one behind the engine) and all is well.

But I shall not allow Turbo Repair Master to wrench on a car of mine again.


I blinked

Sometime yesterday. I only noticed when I reset the odo when I filled up. Yea, the price of fuel is going up again :-/

Next target, the second light-second.

Always Fun with a 101!

Twenty years ago, Tanya and I had been together for a short while and it was a good time to go on holiday.

So we went to France.

Gads. We were so much younger then :-/

It was a bit of a whirlwind tour (Tanya will claim they all are) — fly into Paris, find a place to stay (place we supposedly had booked via a friend in France knew nothing). Take the underground (? can’t remember) around the back of Montmarte, check out the Sacré Coeur (270 steps), walk down via Pigalle and the Pompidou. Day 2, Louvre, walk up the Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe, Musée de l’Homme, the queue was too long at the Eiffel, by complete coincidence found the bust of Antoine de Saint-Exupery on Square Santiago du Chili on our way to the Rodin Museum, and by yet another complete coincidence ran into Alison April, a friend from Stellenbosch, at the D’Orsay. What else, o yes, Cluny, then check out the stained glass windows and the gargoyles at the Notre Dame (which was being refurbished, scaffolding all over the place). Supper somewhere in the Latin Quarter.

Did I mention we were younger then?

Day 3, train to Epernay (Moët) and from there to Strasbourg, where we hired a car.

And by complete coincidence (no, really) friends Pim and Thandie were at close to Strasbourg with their Land Rover 101 Forward Control (OK, the coincidence was the time and the place, I had planned the route to meet up with them there).

(Rest of the trip? Drove all the way down to Marseilles sampling wine all over the place, hung out at Domaine des Anges where a friend was the winemaker and my brother was helping in the cellar, and flew out of Marseilles in time to beat the kids back home at the end of the school holiday).