Archive | May, 2015

Is it time to revisit your business plan?

Is it time to revisit your business plan?

172273013Don’t coast. Use a business plan to keep your company on track for reaching all your ambitious objectives. Matthew Moore from business website thehub.tips tells you how.

If business is ticking over nicely, purring like a mid-range Mondeo, it’s all too easy to take your foot off the gas and coast along perfectly pleasantly.

Doing so isn’t without peril, however, and at risk of stretching my car analogy, the only way to deal with unexpected bumps on the road – and to have your company roaring like a Lamborghini – is through spending time working on your business, not just in it.

A business plan should be much more than a document used to navigate the initial stages of starting up, before being filed away.

Instead, it should be a clear and concise working document, allowing you to take a diversion if necessary, but always pointing you in the direction of travel.

It’s also not something to draw up simply when you need to borrow money. In fact, whether you need finance or not, revisiting your plan can be the smartest move you make.

Refining, tweaking and challenging the details can keep your team focused and heading in the right direction. And – crucially – it will make sure you’re all going there together.

MM-Plain-Half[1]

Matthew Moore recommends that you regularly review your business plan

Whether launching a new product line, or exploring whether to expand into a different market, it’s important to keep referring to a business plan.

Do your new ideas meet the business’ long-term objectives? For example, if you specialise in parts and components for classic cars, how will your customers react to you branching out into caravan cleaning products?

Will reassigning resources damage existing business? Don’t take your best salesman off the forecourt and turn him into a backroom boy. Do the figures stack up?

Update your plan whenever your business encounters change, so your goals and strategies remain relevant.

If nothing major crops up, diarise at least an annual review to help you keep in touch with your over-riding objectives.

When you do dig it out from that filing cabinet and dust it off, remember it’s the finance section that rules the roost.

Have a look at the forecast you set out – are the figures as expected? Replace projections with actual figures and examine how this affects your cashflow and profit forecasts.

Map out cashflow in absolute detail for a year ahead and outline forecasts as well as you can for years two and three. A quick Google search should bring up plenty of pre-populated spreadsheets that will do all the hard sums for you – and highlight potential weakspots in a flash, months or even years ahead.

This will give you the chance to react quickly rather than being blindsided a couple of months down the line by a sudden cash crisis.

Advance warning of a financial avalanche means you can start trimming the fat and exploring ways to make your cash go further – before it’s too late.

If you’re the cautious type, consider running three sets of projections – the best-case scenario, a middle ground and a tricky year.

Broadly, expect the best, but plan for the worst. Get the numbers down on paper (or screen), and you’ll have a clear target to aim for. And if you have no goal, how do you know where you’re going?

Before you embark on revisiting your business plan, be aware that this exercise will cause change and inspire action. You would have originally created a plan based on a set of predictions and assumptions, thrown together to make all the edges fit. Now, in the future that you guessed your way to, it’s time to make sure the big picture make sense. So be prepared to be flexible and adapt to whatever is thrown your way.

Once you’ve worked your way through it, filling it full of fresh facts, time-sensitive figures and a renewed sense of direction, you need to infect all the relevant people with your enthusiasm.

Whether it’s your board of directors, the bank, your management team or your whole staff, you need them on-board and raring to get going.

If you think of the business plan as a roadmap, show them how far you’ve come, outline what great news the direction means for them and make sure everyone has clear signposts to follow. You’ve checked your bearings, now it’s time to carry on marching forward.

For more business advice go to thehub.tips. The Hub was created to strengthen relationships between Johnston Press and local businesses and offers advice, resources and inspiration to SMEs.

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Inside Line: Schaeffler

FAG

When replacing the wheel bearings it is important that the wheel hub unit must be cleaned thoroughly of all the old grease and a good visual inspection of the hub unit is carried out.

The FAG wheel bearing kit comes with two ball-roller bearings, seals and a grease pack. It is important to pack the new bearings with the grease provided within the kit, failure of do this will resort in premature wear.

LuK

A handy guide to changing the clutch on the VW Transporter T2, as with so many of these vehicles it is vital that the whole of the clutch release system is checked. Many have a clutch cable which over time can become stretched, and the release arm and pivot points/bushes can also become worn which all could lead to the clutch not clearing fully.

The clutch release bearing must be replaced as a matter of course on any clutch change. Watch out for modified vehicles which may require a non-standard or up rated clutch.

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Inside Line: Meyle

Sven Nielsen, Technical Director from MEYLE, says the following difficulties may arise with the Volkswagen T2:

Defective or porous brake hoses

Problem:

Defective or porous brake hoses and the prevalent hygroscopic conditions may allow moisture to penetrate the brake system. This causes the brake fluid’s boiling point to fall, facilitating the formation of vapour bubbles in the brake system, which may cause the brakes to fail completely under strain. Brake hose ageing is another risk factor. The cross-section could become smaller by swelling or bigger by loss of stiffness; in both worst-case scenarios, the brake pressure in the hose could not be transported as usual to the brake caliper or brake cylinder. Once the pedal is pressed down it takes longer until the brakes react.

MEYLE solution:

Brake hoses are responsible for transporting brake fluid and thus maintaining pressure levels inside the brake system. They should be checked regularly for cracks and bulges. Meyle offers high-quality brake hoses for all established vehicle types and also supplies the mounting materials required for professional repairs.

Only a few drivers are aware that brake hoses should be replaced every four or five years, as the rubber and fittings frequently become brittle after a few years. If a brake hose falls out of a brake circuit, the second brake circuit is usually efficient enough to stop the vehicle. However, if both brake circuits fail, there is hopefully enough time for the driver to get the situation under control by using the engine or hand brake.
MEYLE also supplies complete brake hose sets to achieve optimum repair results. This saves workshops from having to place time-consuming separate orders of essential parts. The sets contain all the banjo screws and copper gaskets required for certain vehicle applications. MEYLE in-house engineers recommend the installation of new gaskets every time the brake hose is changed and, because they are so critical for vehicle safety, only to have them replaced by trained specialists.

Defective wheel bearings

Problem:

Loud metallic rolling noises are indicators of defective wheel bearings. Increased wheel bearing tolerances can also be diagnosed by tilting the wheel while the car is not under any strain. In order to prevent more serious damage or the complete loss of the wheel bearing, the driver should seek the assistance of a repair garage as soon as possible.

In the event of a defective wheel bearing, Meyle in-house engineers recommend to always also check the other axle bearings because it has to be presumed that all wheel bearings are exposed to the same stressors and are thus likely to have similar life spans.

MEYLE solution:

To be able to warrant optimum repair results, Meyle also keeps complete Meyle wheel bearing sets in stock. These kits contain all of the essential installation materials, e.g. locking nuts and screws, lock washer, lubricant grease and other components that are relevant for repairs. Hence, repair garages can forego time-consuming individual orders that would otherwise have to be issued for the necessary installation materials.

A proper professional installation of the wheel bearings and the wheel hubs in the axle stubs according to the manufacturer’s recommendations are also of crucial importance to get the maximum life span out of these components. Hence, the technical trainers from Meyle offer periodic seminars on the professional replacement of chassis components.

Worn out ball joints

Problem:

Ball joints fail prematurely due to heavy load and a high dynamic strain, especially a high surface pressure that wears on the tie rod end.

MEYLE solution:

The recommendation of MEYLE is while changing the ball joint also to check and replace other surrounding parts such as shock absorber, tie rods etc. of the axles. If the ball joint failed, other parts may also be worn out.

Defect C.V. joints and bellows

Problem:

Broken/damaged bellows on the drive shaft cause ingress of contamination and humidity in the C.V. joints which leads to failure of the C.V. joints.

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Inside Line: Forté

With most Volkswagen Type 2s, we are dealing with older, high mileage engines evidenced by high oil consumption or excessive exhaust smoking.  Technical Manager, Dave Norton, recommends Forté’s Oil Fortifier to restore  performance and extend the life of the engine far beyond the stage where it would have required extensive repairs or a complete overhaul.

Forté Oil Fortifier is compatible with all crankcase fill oils, including fully synthetic, which meet the specification of API and ACEA classifications.

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Inside Line: Autoelectro

On VW Transporter T2 petrol variants, the Starter Motor is free floating and it is important that the bush in the gearbox housing where the armature locates is replaced to avoid slow or lazy starting issues, which ultimately causes the starter motor to fail.

The bush in the gearbox is difficult to replace and is often worn, checking of the armature shaft for wear or scoring will show if the bush needs replacing. Corroded terminals are also a problem and should be cleaned before fitting.

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Inside Line: Comma

A few notes about the VW T2 (inc air cooled):

Engine Oil

For this particular vehicle, VW list a number of viscosities and a very basic specification for engine oil; typically this would be a simple monograde however for a more modern alternative something like 15W40 may be an option as we have received feedback that this may work in these air cooled engines.

With service intervals being more in keeping with the age of the vehicle, so potentially twice a year with very short intervals, supplying the customer with a top up pack and reminding them that they should be checking the engine oil regularly might also be prudent here. A quick check before you change might be a good way of reinforcing the importance of top up to the customer.

Brake Fluid

VW used one or two specifications for brake fluid for the T2 Transporter which would typically be covered by DOT 3 however a more modern DOT 4 could also be used if required.

Most people don’t think of brake fluid as a service item however, as with many manufacturers, VW specified a change interval of 24 months for this Transporter. Brake fluid degrades over time by absorbing water from the atmosphere which lowers its boiling point. Boiling point is a critical factor in brake fluid performance because of the amount of heat generated during braking. If the boiling point of the fluid is too low then continuous or hard braking may cause the brake fluid to vaporise which in turn can result in a loss of hydraulic pressure within the system. The message here is that brake fluid is a safety critical item so check and change when specified – don’t assume that it will just be OK.

Power Steering Fluid

There are no power-steering fluid requirements for this series of Transporter.

Coolant

This series of Transporter was air cooled so there is no requirement for coolant in this model.

Transmission

For this particular series of Transporter, VW used a range of transmissions that includes mostly manuals but also some automatic alternatives later in this model’s production cycle. As well as different fluid requirements, change intervals and capacities will vary depending on the type of transmission so we would advise you to consult the handbook to ensure that you get the right product for the vehicle you are servicing.

Grease Points

VW specified the use of grease on various points as well as the wheel bearings on this series of Transporter as a routine service item. Typically for this we would recommend the use of Comma Multipurpose Grease and for the wheel beatings, High Performance Bearing Grease.

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Inside Line: Type2.com

Engine and Transmission Removal

APPLICATION: Vanagon, 1980-1983 air-cooled with manual transmission only. This will also loosely apply to late (’75-’79) Buses, but there are many different details, and the devil is in the details, as they say. This procedure is for the Type 4 2.0L fuel-injected engine, for all you non-US folks who had other engine choices.
First, before you attempt this procedure, go buy a copy of the Haynes manual. The Haynes procedure for this job is quite good and I will generally follow their order of operations.
What you should buy beforehand depends on a) how well-funded you are and b) how much time you have. If you have ample amounts of both A and B then you should go whole hog. Buy a new clutch disc and pressure plate, as well as a new clutch release bearing and pilot bearing. If you need to replace fuel lines, when the engine is out is the time to do it, especially if you’re dealing with the fuel rail in the engine compartment or the injectors themselves. Also, if those four big fat short hoses on your intake manifold are shot, now’s a good time to fix that. Anything else you think you should do with the engine out, buy what you need to do it.
This procedure does not concern itself with why you have to remove your engine. I’m just gonna tell you how. I’m telling you how to remove the engine and transmission as a unit from the car, and then separate them on the ground. It seems to be a little easier to do it this way. For this job you will need a helper. Period. You will also need a sturdy floorjack, preferably some kind of dolly you can set the engine/tranny on or a couple sets of jackstands. I had the privilege of performing this procedure with access to an automotive lift. You will also want some sort of largish piece of wood, to spread out the weight of the engine on the floorjack’s saddle. If you don’t have lots of jackstands or a dolly, you can always set the engine down on some sort of tarp or old piece of carpet. Be creative.
Well now let’s get started. I’m not going to quote a list of tools needed here, because it would take too much time. I’ll just mention them as the need for them comes up.
The first step is to disconnect the battery ground strap. Don’t forget this important step! Easy enough…
Next you want to remove the air cleaner assembly. Get your Philips head screwdriver and undo the clamp that holds the rubber S-boot in the engine compartment to the fuel injection system’s air flow meter. Separate the boot from the AFM. Next unplug the FI wiring harness from the AFM. Grasp the plastic plug and pull straight back on it. Next remove the charcoal canister hose from the air cleaner housing. Finally, you will find that on top of the air cleaner housing there is a clip that holds the air cleaner assembly to the body of the van. Unhook this clip (it is similar in operation to the clips that hold the air cleaner assembly halves together). Once you have all this stuff removed, wiggle the air cleaner assembly out of there and set it somewhere safe.
Now check down behind the alternator (toward the front of the van) and see where the wiring connects. You will find a plastic connector plugged into the alternator. Unplug this. Also you will find another single wire coming from the alternator that has a connector plug near the alternator. Unplug this wire too.
Now remove the rubber bellows for the heater blower. You can just pull it out of there.
Next detach the big vacuum hose for the power brakes at the manifold. Just pull it off of the left side of the manifold.
Disconnect the wiring from the ignition coil. On my van, the coil is mounted to the left side wall in the engine compartment. You need to determine which wires must be removed for the engine to come out. The wire to the condenser must be removed as well as the white wire to the fuel injection wiring harness. There may be others that I can’t remember right now. Basically any wires that go to the engine must be removed. Label them so that you know what terminal to place them on when you have to put it back together. Also, disconnect the wire from the oil pressure switch and label it. The oil pressure switch is located immediately forward of the distributor, buried beneath the tin.
Disconnect the wiring plug from the electronic control unit. The ECU is located on the right side of the engine compartment, it’s that electronic box with the huge plug going to it. One end of this plug has a spring lever — push the lever in while simultaneously pulling that end of the plug away from the ECU. Also disconnect the right-side wiring plug from the double relay (mounted to the left side of the firewall). The left-side plug can remain attached to the relay. Disconnect also the wiring plug to the series resistors, mounted near the double relay. Finally disconnect the vacuum hose to the deceleration valve (large cylindrical device mounted to the firewall).
Additionally, disconnect the accelerator cable from the engine. It passes through a barrel-type clamp, so loosen the bolt and pull the cable free, then push it out of the engine compartment, toward the front of the van. I seem to remember the bolt being 8mm.
Now is a good time to jack up the rear of the vehicle and support it on jackstands. Give yourself plenty of room to get the engine out — don’t forget to take into account the minimum height of the floorjack!
Now you have to disconnect the fuel lines. Crawl under the van and notice where the fuel lines pass through the breast tin. There underneath the van you will see where the rubber hoses connect to the metal fuel rail. There should be clamps on each end of the section of rubber hose — if not, you need to buy some. If the rubber hose looks at all questionable, be sure to replace it with quality FUEL-INJECTION RATED hose. A tip here is to take a pair of locking pliers like Vice-Grips and clamp on the rubber fuel hose before removing it to keep the gas in the tank from siphoning out. It helps to own two pairs of locking pliers. You also may want to have a pencil or bolt or golf tee handy to plug the fuel line after removal. Remove both fuel lines, on a fuel-injected van there is a supply line and a return line.
Now you have to undo the wiring from the starter. Remove the 13mm nut from terminal 30 on the back of the solenoid and remove all the wires. Put a zip-tie through all the ring connectors of those wires so you don’t lose any. Then pull the two push-on wires from the solenoid, labeling each one.
Now you have to unclamp the heater flapper boxes from the short pipes that lead from the flappers to the heat exchangers. Unclamp them at the flapper end. There will be some sort of clamp holding it on, probably rusty as hell. Do what you have to do, but the clamps must come off. Once the clamps are loose, unseat the flappers from the heat pipes.
Now you get to have fun with CV joints. You will need to put the transmission in neutral and remove the parking brake. Find out what sort of CV bolts you have. You will either have 6mm allen-head CV bolts (stock) or a set of 12-point bolts (Porsche replacement). You CANNOT use an allen head bit on the 12-point bolts, you will strip them out and will be up sh*t creek. Whatever you have, buy the appropriate bit that will fit on a ratchet. Once you’ve got the tool ready to go, loosen the bolts on each axle that hold the driveshaft to the transmission. You will need to 2 or 3 bolts and then rotate the wheels to get the rest. Once you’ve done that, withdraw the joints from the tranny and let them hang (actually, it would be better to support the axles with coat hangers or something but do what you have to do). You also should wrap the now-open CV joints with a plastic bag and rubber band so they don’t get grit in them.
Now you get to deal with the clutch slave cylinder. On the left side of the transmission you will find it. There are two bolts that hold the slave cylinder to the transmission and then there is another bolt more toward the front of the car that holds the hydraulic pipe support bracket to the transmission. You need to undo the bolt to the support bracket, and then undo the two bolts that hold the slave cylinder to the transmission. They are nuts and bolts, so a helper will come in handy here. It’s easiest to reach them through the left rear wheel well, while someone else underneath holds the nut to keep it from turning. Once you’ve got the slave cylinder loose, set it aside somewhere and support it so it doesn’t stress the hydraulic hose.
Now, look at the transmission nosecone, where the shift rod attaches. You will see that at the end of the shift rod is a big 19mm nut. Remove this nut from the shift rod and pop the shift rod forward so it is free of the transmission.
While you’re down there, remove the ground strap between the transmission and frame. Don’t forget! Also disconnect the two wires from the back-up light switch. You don’t have to label them, it doesn’t matter which terminal of the switch they go to.
OK, now take your piece of scrap wood and put it on the saddle of your floorjack. Now try to center the wood under the engine/tranny and jack it up so that the jack is just supporting the weight of the engine/tranny.
Now get under and head up to the front of the transmission. Find the front transmission mount. There are two ways to undo this, and I chose the way that I thought would be easier to put back together later. You will see that four bolts hold the transmission mount to the frame. Undo these four bolts and put them in a safe place.
Now crawl back out and find where the rear engine bearer bar bolts to the frame on each side of the van with 2 13mm bolts/nuts per side. Undo all of these bolts and put them in a safe place. Now the only thing holding the engine/transmission in is the jack.
Do one last check and make sure you’ve disconnected everything. SLOWLY lower the engine and transmission. It will usually want to tilt one way or another so have your helper steady it as you control the jack. Slowly lower it while checking to make sure nothing will be crushed or broken by the engine — WATCH THOSE CV JOINTS!
Once you’ve got the engine lowered so it will clear the body, slide it back and out of the way — or, if you’re lucky enough to be using a lift, just raise the body up out of the way.
Now you need to set the engine and transmission down. If you have spare jackstands around, you can set up a tripod of sorts by putting a jackstand under each side of the bearer bar and then another one under the transmission. If you have a dolly you can gently transfer the engine to that or if you have a soft surface on the ground, you can do that too.
Now you can separate the engine and transmission. There are two bolts at the top and two nuts on studs at the bottom. All are 17mm. The top right one is also the top mounting bolt for the starter. Once all nuts and bolts are removed and stored in a safe place (don’t lose the washers) then the engine can be removed from the transmission. If you have the engine and transmission resting on jackstands, then you will need to move the one under the transmission to somewhere under the engine case so everything won’t come crashing down when you pull the transmission. If you or your helper is sufficiently strong, then one of you can steady the engine while the strong one pulls the transmission straight back and sets it gently on the ground. If not, you can use the floorjack to help. The transmission weighs about 70 pounds.
While the engine is out you can do whatever you need to do that led you to remove the engine in the first place. You also may want to take this time to clean out the engine compartment, and anything on the engine that looks like it would be easier with the engine out.
Installation really is the reverse of removal. The tricky part comes in aligning the engine and transmission splines for mating the two and in aligning the engine and transmission upon putting them back into place — that is, aligning the bearer bar with the holes the bolts go through and aliging the front transmission mount with its holes. It takes some patience but once you’ve got it aligned then thread the bolts and nuts and then re-attach everything you disconnected. That’s it.

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Inside Line: Volkszone

Here is some advice from air-cooled VW forum – Volkszone, where more tips and fixes are available.

Ignition

If you need to adjust the idle speed its the large screw on the side number 3 in the picture. 2 is the mixture and 1 is the fast idle adjustment. Adjust when the engine is up to full temperature.

carbadj

Flat spot issues

1500 single port refuses to start seems to be flooding, was running okay-ish then seemed to run at very high revs cut out now not starting but very Strong petrol smell in engine bay, carburettor problems maybe?

I have a 1969 Westfalia 1.6 single carburettor. The last few times I’ve taken her out she has run very sluggish especially when I change up, seem to hit a flat spot. After a few miles she seems to sort her self out and run ok. I had a split in the air pipe but duck taped that up. Always starts on the button, just when driven cold she seems to play up. Choke correctly set? Carb Icing? All hot air pipes in place? Heat riser getting hot? Air leaks? Gaffer tape is not OEM fitting.

Battery tray

I’m having to replace the battery tray in my ’70 bay. Looking at it, the area doesn’t appear to be structural other than to support the battery. With this area being particularly prone to rusting (here comes the stupid bit) is there any reason it can’t be made from wood or heavy gauge perspex/plastic and bolted in? It would stop the rot.

The battery tray is a 5 mm thick fibre glass insert, bolted to steel angle iron around the edges. Good and strong, and rot free.

VW-Type-2-ignition

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CAT’S INSIDE LINE: VOLKSWAGEN T2

CAT’S INSIDE LINE: VOLKSWAGEN T2

Transporter-T2-300pxThe Volkswagen Type 2 is next on our ramp, with the family of vans ready to enter its sixth iteration. The original Type 2, which some class as the split window model, was built in the 1950 and 1960s before the revised, bay window T2 made its first appearance in 1967.

The Type 2 was eventually replaced in Europe by the T25 (known as the T3 elsewhere, but not to be confused with the VW Variant which is also known as the T3) but the air-cooled T2 continued to be produced in Mexico until 1994 and as the water-cooled VW Kombi as late as December 2013.

The European Volkswagen Type 2 was equipped with a range of flat-four air-cooled petrol powerplants, including 1.6-, 1.7-, 1.8- and 2.0-litre engines. These vehicles were fitted with 4-speed manual and occasionally with 3-speed automatic gearboxes along with half shaft axles and constant velocity joints which have provided some different challenges for the aftermarket.

A few late-model water-cooled versions have also found their way into the UK. These are fitted with a version of the original Polo engine.

Next month we’ll be looking at the Jaguar XJ X350 and X358, so wherever you work in the aftermarket if you have insight to share, we would be delighted to hear from you.

To get your advice included contact hemal.mistry@haymarket.com

Click below to see technical contributions on the Volkswagen Type 2 from:

Autoelectro – rotating electric considerations and foibles on the Type 2

Comma – discusses the importance of servicing the fluids and lubricants on the Volkswagen Type 2

Forté – on keeping the Volkswagen engine running at full performance

Meyle – advises on a number of mechanical issues affecting the Type 2

Schaeffler – explains why caution should be given when changing a clutch or bearing

The Samba – gives an insight into common faults when working on T2s

Type2.com – guides technicians through removing the engine and transmission on the VW

Volkszone – typical issues and foibles that T2 owners are faced with

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Inside Line: The Samba

A submission from VW forum – The Samba, visit its website for more tips and advice.

For both of those eras of vehicles I would say the top issue is usually rust. Typically on the floors or rockers but often elsewhere as well – wheel wells, undercarriage cross beams, and so on. Mechanical issues are usually fairly simple and most parts are available brand new from major VW parts places. In my own experience, most used buses need brake work.

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