It is with an almost indescribable sense of freedom that I sit here in my office tickling the computer keys and contemplate the above image as part of my past! Here in the warm glow of my office, away from the harsh florescent tubes of the garage, I can truly bask in the knowledge that Haifisch's engine is FINALLY reassembled and now sits patiently in the back of a small yellow car in our driveway waiting for the next start signal , that is - OUT of the garage! What started out as a "few days - maybe a week(s)" worth of work has finally ended after eight or nine weeks (we're not sure) of mechanical tribulation to levels never before experienced by this gear-head/writer. In fact this experience has led to a new "Time-To-Completion" formula to be developed. Being one of an overly optimistic nature, I have already developed a Time-To-Completion formula that I've used for years I call the "Over Optimistic Mechanics Formula." It go's something like this:

Tracy: "Skye, how long do you think it's going to take you to finish what you're doing in the garage? I'm thinking of going to the beach in a while and wonder if you could come with me."

Skye thinks to self: "Uh-Oh, motivation somethin' powerful - must be realistic! Well I'm not doing that much. It should only take five minutes (ISOTFM). even if I have problems it couldn't take more than - oohhh - an hour & a half." So (enter OOMF formula) 1.5 hours x .30, add to worst case time = 2 hours. Plenty of time to get to the beach & shred some gnarly tubes."

Skye answers: "Well I'm not doing that much Tracy. I just need to loosen the kingpin torque arm responder, get the jiggle of the wiggle in direct proportion to the angle of the dangle and tighten 'er back up. I'd say no longer than 2 hours!"

After years of excellent performance however, my trusty OOMF formula has been rendered obsolete by the arcane world of vintage Volkswagen repair/restoration. Now a new air-cooled VW formula must be created. I'll call it the "Old Volkswagen Error/Uncertainty Probability Principal." The OVERUPP principal! It takes the same estimated worst case scenario + 30% values from the OOMF formula and adds a multiplication factor of 4.609. The resulting answer will be the spread of which your estimated time is probably wrong! Example: 1.5 hours x .30, add to worst case time =2 hours x 4.609 = about a 9-1/4 hour window past the first 2 hours in which you could finish at any time!
    See, thirty years ago they didn't have as many design tricks for making things fit together well & hold themselves in place as you mount them, etc. You do lots of gluing, bending, & drilling things. The "Quality German Engineering" always adds a twist which, in the case of vintage Volkswagens, mostly translates as "So strange and unlike anything I've ever seen before that I never even could have imagined doing it that way had I not seen it first, but it does seem to work pretty good now that I understand it." This epiphany is usually reached the second or third time trying to do the same task and finally getting it to work. Years of mechanical experience, indeed even years of modern water-cooled VW experience has not fully prepared me for this.
    Finally there are the parts. When you suddenly realize that you forgot to order the end play thrust washer to finish the job, you don't exactly call Autozone & casually ask if they have one in stock for a 1968 Karmann Ghia. We're talking about parts that are so old they have developed multiple names. There is the name that the old-time VW guru's have always used, the official Volkswagen parts description, and the new-school name which usually involves some hyped up bending of the truth. Sometimes it turns into a debate over which part you're even talking about. And this is the way it works with parts; everything but one part comes in and there is no explanation for the missing part. They don't charge you for it, it's not listed, it's just not there. So you call and ask what happened. The conversation go's like this: "VW Dog's, this is Steve." "Hi Steve, I ordered a bunch of parts from you a couple of weeks ago and when I got the stuff I was missing the cylinder shims." "Cylinder shims? Do you know who took your order?" (Yell's across shop) "Anybody take an order for a guy down in Wilmington, supposed to be some cylinder shims in it? Where's Roger, is he still at lunch?" A call back later and Steve yells to Roger. Roger's answer, after a minute, is that they're unavailable. No information other than that. Just not available any more. You wonder why they didn't tell you that two weeks ago. Then, as recently happened with the above described shims, after speaking with several sources you find someone who says "No problem, I can order those things all day long. XYZ shop up in Raleigh has them." At first this seems puzzling, but who's going to argue? And indeed they do have them only to find out two weeks later that the cylinder shims are actually head shims!

    Ah but now we have learned a great many lessons (like the fact that cylinder shims really aren't available unless you get a company in California to cut and mill them out of a tube that is probably only found in the Czech Republic where it's used to clean salt mines or something) which is what we're all here for eh? It also occurs to me that my subconscious may have set this whole thing up as one last relationship test as our wedding looms only two months over the horizon. A test I must say, that two-out-of-three of us passed with flying colors (the motor seems to be afflicted with somewhat low blood - er - oil pressure which I believe may be the result of some confusion over whether a 30mm oil pump is called "heavy duty" or whether it's just the proper "standard" one for this engine, but this will be quickly resolved).
    Well the garage is empty & clean (as it gets), the car is in the driveway, and my celebration beer needs a refill. So thank you for reading my whining drivel, look forward to this engine stuff in a future update and now, on with the show.