I mostly wait to post with big updates. Which is fine, but means I don't have much to say for long periods of time. I'm never in a hurry, I like to take my time with this car and really think before I do things. But it's also frustrating to make so little progress in such a long period of time too. I've been fighting sourcing parts, breaking things and the Arizona heat lately. I thought I'd share a recent hiccup, a part I'm very excited about picking up, and the start of the brake rebuild. This probably isn't the most interesting update in the world, but it's all part of the process.
The other evening, I was driving the 2002 home, went to turn into my neighborhood and heard a massive thunk before losing all connection to the rear wheels. I coasted to the side of the road, and just knew that I ruined my diff. Fortunately I was wrong, and had just broken the axle to diff bolts clean off. A friend came to my rescue, and we were able to thread back in a couple bolts and I could limp it 300 yards back to my house.
Only photo I have from that evening.
Sure enough, I snapped some bolts. The rest backed out, stressing the remaining two that snapped.
These were an absolute bitch to get out.
As it turns out, these bolts have previously been replaced, and were far too short for the output flange. There was also 0 sign of loctite, so they just backed out over time. The chunks I removed from the diff shows you all of the thread that could go in, with nearly twice that much room available. I put in new, longer bolts, and it seems to be fine now. But I have to go in and replace the other side this weekend, just to make sure this doesn't happen again. I also threw some blue loctite in there for good measure.
I also picked up a part that I honestly never thought I'd be able to source for the car. I purchased a set of original Auto-Plas louvers on Instagram of all places. They arrived safe and sound, but had no mounting hardware, and were obviously very orange. Yes, I am going to restore them and paint them black. What you see below are just some mock ups. It's a hideous color, but you can't be picky when trying to buy out of production, obscure parts.
Yes I'm going to paint them black.
I promise they won't stay orange, this is only a mock up.
I also happened to find a company that is reproducing the Auto-Plas mounting hardware, so I put in an order. It should be here by the end of the month, so I'll get cracking on repainting the louvers black. I realize the look isn't to everyone's taste, but it's something I have had in mind since I bought the car. So I'm pretty excited to have these in. And I'll be more excited when they aren't orange anymore.
Finally, I started preparing for the big brake swap. You'll note in a previous post that I wasn't about to put crusty junkyard parts on my car. The Volvo calipers were disgusting, and the Mk4 calipers weren't far behind. So I sourced some rebuild kits, blew everything apart and sent it all off for powder coat. For the Mk4 calipers, I took them to a friend to have them shaved down. If you are running 14 inch wheels on a 2002, you may run into clearance issues in the rear. Even though I currently have 15s, I have tentative plans to swap to 14s, if I can find a very specific set of wheels I've been dreaming about lately. So I took them to a friend's shop and had him sand down the rear section. Is it over kill? Yes absolutely. Will it look great? I'm sure, if you could really see them behind the RSs, it'd be fire. But I rather have fresh, new parts on the car. Might as well do things right.
Start of the Volvo tear down. Seals were blown, caliper puked water out everywhere.
Photo credit: @dauerhaftfab
Photo credit: @dauerhaftfab
It isn't much, but should be just enough to clear future 14 inch wheels. Side note, if you are a 2002 owner and looking to put together your own rear disc brake conversion, you'll likely end up getting Mk4 rear calipers. They're aluminum, easy to source, and bolt up to the Mk3 caliper carrier brackets that you need for the conversion plates. All the VW forums will swear up and down that you cannot get them powder coated because they are not rebuildable. This made no sense to me, reman units exist so obviously they have to rebuild them somehow. So I started digging into the issue and found the solution below.
Most rebuild kits for Mk4 VW Jetta rear calipers are listed as only including the piston seals, and dust boots. However Centric makes a full rebuild kit, which includes all the rear seals and clips. It is PN: 143.33037. You can find it on eBay, I'd advise not buying it from ECS as they're horrific to deal with. Then just follow this write up. It's a pain in the ass for sure, and if you don't really want to go to the effort of powder coating your calipers, you are far better off just purchasing a reman unit and slapping it on. However I wanted everything to match front and back, so this is where I find myself. I'm surprised this information isn't easier to find honestly.
So now I'm waiting for my stuff to come back from powdercoating. This weekend I'll be addressing a few more small issues on the car, cleaning some hardware, and start prepping for my big road trip to Big SoCal Euro. If anyone else is planning on being there, I'd love to meet up at the show!