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 Engine runs bad 
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Location: Carrollton, Mo
Post Engine runs bad
My 68 bug went out of town for the first time last week and the event did not end well. After about 20 miles it started running bad and when I stopped it would not idle. The engine was very hot. When I got it back home and started looking at what may have caused the problem I found the timing to be off. Now, I had just checking the timing a couple of weeks prior. When I tried to turn the dist. to get it back where it should be, it would not run at all. I need to turn it counter clockwise to make it correct. I wonder if it jumped timing inside the engine. I hear stories of engines with a timing chain doing that. I understand this engine does not have a chain and the gears work together.
Is that a reasonable idea? I am open to ideas of what else could be going on?


Sun Jun 30, 2013 11:56 am
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Post Re: Engine runs bad
no way it jumped time. take a picture of your engine and post it on here and give us some details. what size, what type of distributor, ect.. we can help you if we can see what we are looking at. you could try starting at #1 TDC and go from there. there are so many different things that could be causing this.


Tue Jul 02, 2013 3:09 pm
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Post Re: Engine runs bad
This is just the stock engine. I have been working on this car for a couple of years and just got it on the road this spring. It's been my daily driver in town and has run great. This was the first time it went on the highway. I checked the dist. and found some play in the shaft so I ordered a new one with electronic ignition. Have not received it yet.


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Sat Jul 06, 2013 2:57 pm
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Post Re: Engine runs bad
Make sure your firewall insulation is not getting sucked into the fan. That is somewhat common.
There's probably nothing wrong with that distributor. Also, it looks like an SVDA - is that the replacement you ordered? I hope you didn't get a 009...
There's plenty of things you can check before you starting throwing new parts at it.

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Sat Jul 06, 2013 8:02 pm
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Post Re: Engine runs bad
The distributor in photo is the original - have not got the replacement yet. The distributor I ordered is not the 009. It just has electronic ignition rather than points. The firewall insulation is a good idea since I did have it out during the rebuild. That could cause the overheating problem. As I recall, there were just some metal things that stuck thru and bent over to hold it in place. Whats a better way to attached it? I need to pull the engine again anyway to correct a small oil leak that seems to be the rear main. I am not sure you call it "rear" on a car like this, but the seal on the engine between the engine and transaxle.


Sun Jul 07, 2013 5:45 am
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Post Re: Engine runs bad
Main bearing seal.
Just make sure that the tarboard insulation is firmly attached and not loose.
Time your vacuum advance distributor at 7.5 degrees BTDC with the vacuum hose disconnected and plugged, then check the max advance by revving it up until it stops advancing. It shouldn't go over 30-32 degrees. I like to time mine to around 30 max.
I see you don't have a degree wheel, so you can measure over to the right 30/16ths (as accurately as possible) from TDC and score a line. Use a strobe timing light.
The idle timing is less critical.
Also I'd try to find a stock oil bath air cleaner. They do not clog up and possibly make the engine run lean, which would affect overall engine temps.

Do you have the thermostat and flaps?

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Sun Jul 07, 2013 12:12 pm
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Post Re: Engine runs bad
I checked the firewall insulation and it is loose. Do you recommend using some screws to attached it to the firewall? You said to measuring over to the right 30/16 for a timing mark. I have three timing marks on the pulley, instructions say for me to use the one on the left. Where is TDC? Where do I measure from?
The thermostat is not in place but the flaps are. I think the spring holds them wide open. I figured that would be fine for summer and this fall I would put the thermostat on.


Sun Jul 07, 2013 12:30 pm
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Post Re: Engine runs bad
I got it started so I could check to see if the firewall insulation was really blocking the air flow and you were right on. That was the problem and it something I would not have considered. It's so nice to be able to talk with someone who knows the car. I live in a little town and this is the only air cooled VW here. None of my friends know anything about them. As I said I need to drop the engine anyway, so attaching the insulation better will be easy. Thanks again for the help.


Sun Jul 07, 2013 2:38 pm
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Post Re: Engine runs bad
Glad it was something simple.
As far as TDC...I think there might be a divot instead of a notch...? It's hard to say, and pulleys can get switched over the years...don't assume anything to be original to the car.
Personally, I'd find TDC by removing the #1 spark plug, bring it up near the timing marks, and use a dowel (or pencil, etc) to determine when the piston is exactly at the top, mark the location on the pulley, then go from there.
Accurate timing is really important on these little engines.

Also, make absolutely sure that your flaps are wired open.

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Sun Jul 07, 2013 9:00 pm
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Post Re: Engine runs bad
if your pulley has 3 notches usually the one on the left is TDC, the middle is 7 degrees before and the right on is 10 degrees. from my experience. another way to find TDC is to remove the valve cover for 1 & 2, rotate the engine and watch the valves open and close. TCD is usually when #2 exhaust is wide open and #2 intake and both #1 valves are closed.


Mon Jul 08, 2013 1:11 pm
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Post Re: Engine runs bad
Both of those methods work for finding TDC. I usually use the watching the valves method cause it's easy. As you rotate the engine clockwise watch for #1 exhaust to dip in and then come back up. The idiot book explains it fairly well. Do you have one?


Wed Jul 10, 2013 3:47 pm
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Post Re: Engine runs bad
I don't know anything about the Idiot book, but maybe I need one.
My new distributor (with electronic ignition) arrived today and I installed it. Before I removed the old one, I turned the engine to what I believe is TDC. The rotor was pointing to number one in the cap. The new distributor went in and the rotor is 90 degrees off. Pointing out toward the tail light. I checked TDC again and I don't understand why this turned the rotor different. Also there was no paperwork with it telling me how to wire it. I assume the orange wire goes to the coil just as the green wire did from the old one and the black is a ground. It would have been nice to see that on some paper that came with it. Also, the vacuum port is a different size. I did adapt the vacuum line. I plan to call the supplier and let them know how I feel about their product. Are some of you using a distributor with electronic ignition? I have just had so much trouble with condenser and points over the years I wanted to get rid of it.


Wed Jul 10, 2013 5:03 pm
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Post Re: Engine runs bad
The red wire goes to the switched ignition power side of the coil, and the black goes to the negative side where the old condenser line would have connected.

Different distributors have different rotor positions for #1.

I actually have a nice vacuum advance distributor with the electronic points replacement that I ditched for an older distributor with points... :lol:

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Wed Jul 10, 2013 9:51 pm
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Post Re: Engine runs bad
Ok im going to say something and dont take offense to it because people are way to sensitive today but take everything youve ever learned from working on V8s and forget it. even thought the VW engine works on the same idea gas-spark-exhaust its a totally different creature. its an incredibly simple engine but if you try to compare it to a V8 youll confuse yourself. with that said do you have any manuals? try to find a Bentley manual, they are the ones you used to get from the dealer back in the day and theyre the best. you can find them new or used online now. http://www.amazon.com/Volkswagen-Beetle ... +vw+manual also, the idiot book everyone keeps refering to ( http://www.amazon.com/How-Keep-Your-Vol ... 1562614800 ) is a repair book written by a guy in simple non technical language and can be useful for people new to the VW world.

back to the topic in hand

what kind of distributer did you by? BTW anything you buy nowadays with an EMPI brand is chinese garbage. from the pics of your engine looks like youve got an older engine 1500 or 1600 single port and the new distributor might actually be the wrong one for your engine. if your stock distributor was working fine put it back. you can buy an electronic ignition that fits inside your stock distributor and replaces the points and condenser. once a VW is tuned and the timing is set it should run like a sewing machine but if they're a little out of wack they can drive you nuts. good luck and keep us informed on your progess.


Thu Jul 11, 2013 8:17 am
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Post Re: Engine runs bad
I'm with Billy here. this electronic distributor ignition thing you've bought is complete overkill.

Keep the stock vac advance and put a Pertronix or Compufire style hall-effect points/condenser replacement in it and forget about it.

and step away from the car until you have a proper manual in hand! :?

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Thu Jul 11, 2013 8:34 am
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